The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Two Rights Do Not Make A Wrong
The Israeli Palestinian conflict is a vastly complex and intricate issue that is rooted in a deep-seated mutual distrust of each side towards the other based on their differing respective narratives. The conflict stems from the fundamental belief held by each side that they alone are entitled to and have the undeniable right to reside in the same land that is defined by Jews as Israel and by Palestinians as Palestine. However, this conflict cannot simply be explained by the wrong doing of one side against the other or even the very different narratives that attempt to explain a collective history. It is the unfortunate result of a convergence of intentional action, unfortunate occurrences and most importantly evasive outside intervention. However, when analyzing a complex conflict such as this it is important to determine how the occurrences defined within a specific theme add credence to its explanation. Therefore, a very significant theme that underlies many of the complexities of this issue is the idea that woven completely throughout this conflict is the influence of the Western world on its many facets and idiosyncrasies. The West has had a vast and wide ranging history of interference and intervention in the Middle East over the last two hundred years. Whether it is through the form of Western ideals that bolstered and spurred the formation of the Zionist movement or Western direct intervention in Palestine in the early part of the 20 century, the West and its policies have been inextricably linked to the various occurrences and outcomes that define the region and the conflict today. In fact it is much deeper than even that. It is possible to say that Israel and the Zionist movement that brought about its creation serve as symbols to the Palestinians of the Western colonialist era and Western failed or ill advised intervention in the region as a whole. In fact the creation of the Zionist movement can be directly attributed to the influence of the Western European enlightenment and revolutionary movements. The West has certainly played a major role in setting the stage for the creation of the Jewish state and at the same time given the Arabs and Palestinians reason to be upset. The Jews of pre-enlightenment Europe, according to Smith, were a Lateral Ethnie which is a group of individuals with a common culture, collective identity and set of traditions based on a view of “common descent and belonging” (Smith, 1989, p.346). This lifestyle encompasses the religious aspects of Jews at the time who were bonded by a tight knit “community of fate”(Smith, 1989, p.356) that believed one day God would return them to Zion. At this time they were content with the religiously associated view that it would be God’s will that determined when and how they would be returned to the land of Israel. During the 2000 year time period of the Diaspora the Jews experienced harsh oppression and persecution at the hands of Christian Aristocratic governments that attempted to impose their will and views on the lesser and weaker minorities. This oppression forced the Jews to seclude themselves within their small Jewish enclaves because according to Avineri, in a Christian or Muslim society “a person who did not believe in Christ could not hold public office, could not exercise authority over Christians, could not enter into a feudal bond and hence could not possess land”(Avineri, 1981, p.7). Jews were willing to accept and deal with this oppressive and unfair system that, according to Avineri, was based on an “unequal equilibrium” because the alternative was death. Still, Jews stuck with the belief that it was the will of God that would determine their return to the homeland in Zion. Therefore, what was it that changed in the 19th and 20th centuries that spurred the creation of the Zionist movement and the push for an...
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