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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Why study this topic?

Why is it really, really hard to

discuss in any meaningful
MY Israel...
Unit Essential Questions
■ How did the Zionist movement contribute to the creation of
the state of Israel?
■ How has the relationships between Israel and surrounding
Arab states evolved, especially since 1967?
■ What are the major internal divisions within the Israeli
society and Palestinian societies?
■ What have been (and continue to be) the major impediments
to the peace process?
■ What has been the U.S. policy toward Israelis and
Palestinians throughout this conflict, and what shapes that
policy today?
■ What are possible pros and cons to the one and two-state
I. Defining the Conflict
• Religious battle? No. A political struggle over
land and competing national aspirations
– But, strong religious ties do make it difficult to
compromise over their claims to the land

• Who’s telling the story, & when do they start?

II. “Arabs,” “Jews,” and
• Definitions of a “nation” vs. “nation-state”
• Language? Religion? Ethnicity? Common history?

• Corresponding definitions of “Arab” and

– Jewish History = persecution & perseverance
Palestine Was Part of the
Ottoman Empire
The Western Wall
Dome of the Rock

Church of the Holy

Ernest Renan, “What is a
“A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which are
really one, constitute this soul and spiritual principle. One is
in the past, the other, the present. One is the possession in
common of a rich trove of memories; the other is actual
consent, the desire to live together, the will to continue to
value the undivided, shared heritage....To have had glorious
moments in common in the past, a common will in the
present, to have done great things together and to wish to do
more, those are the essential conditions for a people. We
love the nation in proportion to the sacrifices to which we
consented, the harms that we suffered.”
III. Birth of Zionism
- Modern Zionism has roots in history of
Antisemitism; examples?
III. Birth of Zionism

• Zionism
– Involves issues of territory, security, &
ethnic and cultural differences
– Secular? Religious?
– Theodor Herzl
• The Jewish State (1896)
– World Zionist Organization, JNF
III. Birth of Zionism (cont’d)

Max Nordau, vice-president of the First Zionist Congress

“The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in
Eretz Israel secured by law.”

Chaim Weizmann, Zionist Leader, 1919:

“One fundamental fact – that we must have Palestine if we are
not going to be exterminated.”

Abba Eban, former Foreign Minister of Israel & Ambassador to

the U.N., on Zionism:
“ How do you define Zionism? Is there only one definition?
“Zionism is nothing more — but also nothing less — than the
Jewish people’s sense of origin and destination in the land linked
eternally with its name”.
IV. Jewish Settlement
(1880s – 1930s)
• “The Birth of Israel” (BBC 2008)
• Conflicting promises made during WWI
• 1919: Faisal/Weizmann agreement
• Treaty of Versailles: provisional agreement
between Faisal and Weizmann (President
of W.Z.O.)

• But...nope. Sykes-Picot → 1922 Palestinian

Mandate (GB) created. Agreement void.
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)

• 1922: British
Mandate; > 90%

• 1922-1939: Jewish
Zionist population
rose from 84,000
→ 445,000 (30% of
total population)

– Zionists bought
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)

• Kibbutz system: communal living

• $$ from Jewish Diaspora → Zionist settlements
– 1918-1939: 1 million collection boxes found in Jewish homes
throughout the world

“The box is hanging on the wall

The blue box
Each penny put inside
Redeems the land.”
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)

- 1920: 10 Arabs:1 Jew

- 1947: 2 Arabs: 1 Jew.

Increase in
Pan-Arabism: Arabs felt
that they were losing
control of their
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)
Jewish Immigration
1919 1,806 1931 4,075

1920 8,223 1932 12,533

1921 8,294 1933 37,337

1922 8,685 1934 45,267
1923 8,175 1935 66,472
1924 13,892
1936 29,595
1925 34,386
1937 10,629
1926 13,855
1938 14,675
1927 3,034
1939 31,195
1928 2,178
1940 10,643
1929 5,249
1941 4,592
1930 4,944
Total Population of Palestine

Year Jewish Arab

1883 15,300 356,000
1914 61,000 737,000
1922 95,000 726,000
1931 176,000 881,000
1939 458,000 1,083,000
1946 603,000 1,340,000 
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)
Palestine Arab Revolt (1936-39)
1. An end to Jewish immigration to
2. An end to the transfer of lands to Jewish
3. A new “general representative
○ Result?
Mohammed Amin al-Husseini:
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
“...As soon as this
breakthrough was made, the
Fuehrer would offer the Arab
world his personal assurance
that the hour of liberation had
struck. Thereafter, Germany's
only remaining objective in
the region would be limited to
the annihilation of the Jews
living under British protection
in Arab lands.”
IV. Jewish Settlement (Cont’d)

- Peel Commission Partition Plan,

1937: a Two-State Solution?

- 1939 British White Paper:

- Limited Jewish immigration to
Palestine to 75,000 over the next
five years.
- Ended Jewish land purchases.
- Independence for Palestine within
10 years (an Arab majority state).
- Zionists: “BETRAYAL!” → Armed
revolt against GB
“Freedom Fighters” or

Avraham Stern &
The Stern Gang
• Benjamin Netanyahu:
– "Imagine that Hamas or
Hizbullah would call the
military headquarters in Tel
Aviv and say, 'We have placed a
bomb and we are asking you to
evacuate the area.' They don't do
that. That is the difference."
V. World War II & Aftermath
• Post-War:
• Refugees: immigration to Palestine =
only hope

• Huge wave of Zionist sympathy in US;

Truman personally committed
WWII British
“Arab Legion” &
“Jewish Brigade”

The Jewish population in each country in 1942.

Aliyah Bet :
- “Illegal” Jewish Immigration (1947 “Exodus”)
Aliyah Bet

in 1946
VI. Partition and War
• 1947: GB’s problem → UN’s

• Resolution 181:
• Two states:
• Jews: 33% of
population, get 55% of
land s
• Arabs: 67% of
population, get 45% of
• Jerusalem:“international
city” controlled by UN
in 1946
Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion,
1st President 1st Prime Minister

Israel Becomes a Nation:

May 14, 1948
• Zionists: “War of Independence” (

• Palestinians: “Naqba” (“Catastrophe”/”Disaster)

– Egypt: Gaza. Jordan: West Bank & East Jerusalem

– 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from homes

and became refugees
• “Right of Return” (or get compensated by Israel)
• By 1950, 1 million Palestinians in UN refugee camps
in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria

– 800,000 Jews in Arab countries fled or were forced from

homes → Israel
- Armistice 1949

- Israel given
>77 %of the

- The Palestinian
Arab State
envisioned by
the partition
plan was never
1948 War → The “Palestinian Diaspora” begins
UN Resolution 194: “Right of
• Refugees wishing to
return to their homes and
live at peace with their
neighbours should be
permitted to do so at the
earliest practicable date
• Compensation should be
paid for the property of
those choosing not to
VII. Suez Crisis (1956)

Gamal Abdul Nasser

President of Egypt
VIII. 1967 War / “Six Day War”
● Causes:
○ Israeli pre-emptive strike?
○ Nasser: masses troops in
Sinai, closes shipping route,
kicks out UN peacekeepers

● Results:
○ Emergence of a strong
mythic movement: “West
Bank is part of greater

○ Israel → occupying power in

Sinai, Golan Heights, West
Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem

○ Disillusioned Palestinians
turned away from Arab
states for leadership
○ “We're going to take
matters into our own
hands. The Palestinians
will stand up and fight for
themselves. We're going to
transform ourselves from
being destitute refugees
waiting for charity
handouts from the U.N.
and turn ourselves into
freedom-fighters, people
Yasser Arafat, with dignity.” - Palestinian
Palestine Liberation scholar Yezid Sayigh
- 5.6 million Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank,
Palestinian Refugees & Gaza; “Palestinian” or “Occupied
The largest group of refugees
in the world today.
- 85% “left” after 1948 war

- Another ~300,000 after 1967 War

- 1.4 million “Israeli Arabs” (20% of pop.;

Palestinians living inside the country’s
1949 armistice borders)

- 2.6 million in West Bank, 1.7 million in the

Gaza Strip.

- Palestinian Diaspora: 5.6 million outside

country they claim as their national
homeland (e.g. 44% of Jordan’s population)

- 2014: 1.5 million Pal. refugees living in 58

UN camps

- Israel rejects “Right of return”

IX. 1973 Yom
Kippur/October War
Gas lines in New York during 1973
VII. Camp David Accords
VIII. Israel-Lebanon War 1982
IX. First Palestinian Intifada
X. Oslo Accords (1993)
XIII. Gaza & The West Bank
XIV. Current Conflicts,
Prospects for Peace
• Jerusalem
• Gaza: Palestinian state or “prison?”

• Settlements
• Security Barrier
• Movement
• Security and Terrorism
• Hamas, Hezbollah, and other extremist groups reject right of Israel to exist and
reject all negotiations with Israel

1) Violent acts on both sides invite violent reprisals, continuing the cycle of

• Right of Return
• “Special Relationship” with US (New presidential administration)
• Relationship with Iran; nukes
Options have included military action
(including targeted killings and house
demolitions of terrorist operatives),
diplomacy, unilateral gestures toward
peace, and increased security measures
such as checkpoints, roadblocks and
security barriers.
Debate: Revisit Essay Assignment
• It’s 2016. What do we do now???
A December public opinion poll found that
two-thirds of Palestinians believe a
two-state solution is no longer feasible.
p, suicide bombings and other attacks
across Israel are down 90 percent,
nched Operation Defensive
Shield, a military reoccupation o
West Bank towns and cities. The

Netanya bombing also catalyzed
By 2000, peace process had stalled
Ariel Sharon visits Temple Mount – Western Wall and Al-Aqsa Mosque in
• Sharon's
Palestinian violence erupts plans to speed up

construction of Israel's wall.
Buses, discos, hotels, fast food restaurants blown up by Palestinian suicide
• Israel responds militarily
• 2000-2008: 4500 Palestinians killed, over 1000 Israelis
• In 2005, Israel removed its settlements from the Gaza Strip and gave much
control of the area to the Palestinian government (with exceptions such as the
border, airspace, coastline)
• ●Gaza later comes under the control of Hamas, a group considered by Israel
and other countries to be a terrorist organization.
• ●As of June 2008, Hamas and Israel have entered into a cease fire agreement.
Understanding the
Arab/Israeli Conflict:
An Introduction to the Origins of the Present
Conflict - from British Mandate to First
Understanding the Arab/Israeli Conflict
Nine Questions to Answer . . .
• What does Israel mean? Who are the Zionists?
• What was the British role in the Middle East after WWI?
• How was Israel founded in 1948?
• Who are the Palestinians?
• What is the Palestine Liberation Organization?
• What sort of relationship does Israel have with its Arab
• What are the "Occupied Territories" or the "Palestinian
• What was the first Intifada?
Map: The Ottoman
Empire circa 1900

What does Israel mean?

Who are Zionists?

Mediterranean Sea
Anatolian Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
Ottoman Empire
Theodor Herzl
Map: The British
Mandate of Palestine
circa 1917

What was the British role

in the Middle East after
World War I?

British Mandate of Palestine
Balfour Declaration
Map: United Nations Proposal for
Jewish and Arab states circa 1947

How was Israel founded in 1948?

United Nations Proposal (1947)
David Ben-Gurion
Arab-Israeli War (1947-1949)
Map: The borders of Israel from
1949 to 1967.

Who are the Palestinians?

What is the Palestine Liberation


Palestine Liberation Organization
Yasir Arafat
Map: The borders of Israel from 1967
to 1982.

What sort of relationship does Israel

have with its Arab neighbors?

1956 Sinai Crisis - Egypt-Israeli War
1967 Six Days War
1973 Yom Kippur War
Cold War Alliances
1978 Camp David Peace Treaty
(Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin)
1982 and 2006 Israel-Lebanon War
Map: The borders of Israel from 1982
to present.

What are the Occupied Territories?

West Bank
Gaza Strip
Golan Heights
Map: Israeli settlements in
the Occupied Territories
circa 2002

What was the Intifada?

Intifada (1987)
Palestinian Authority
Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 7th edition - Sir
Martin Gilbert; Publisher: Routledge (Taylor &
Francis), 2002; Map: NPR Online

CIA World Factbook 2001; Map: NPR Online

Foundation for Middle East Peace, ゥ Jan de Jong; Map:

NPR Online

Gettleman, Marvin. The Middle East and Islamic World

Reader. New York: Grove Press, 2003
Understanding the
Arab/Israeli Conflict:
An Introduction to the Present Conflict and
the Prospects for Peace: The Two State
Solution and the Hamas Roadblock
Map: The borders of Israel today

How did Hamas gain control of the

Gaza Strip?

Fatah (same as the PLO)
2006 Palestinian Election
Palestinian Civil War (2006-2007)
Blockade of Gaza (2007-2015)
Israel/Gaza Wars (2009 & 2014)
Map: The borders of Israel today

Who are the major players in the

Israeli/Palestinian conflict today?

Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel, Likud Party
Mahmoud Abbas
President of Palestinian Authority, Fatah Party (PLO)
The Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank
Khaled Mashal
Chairman of Hamas, International Spokesman
Hamas controls the Gaza Strip
Barack Obama
President of the United States, Democratic Party
Map: The borders of Israel today

What position does Benjamin

Netanyahu hold?

photo: New York Times

Netanyahu and the Likud Party

advocate for the continuation of Israeli
settlements, continued Israeli control
over the Palestinian territories, and the
use of military pressure against Hamas.
Map: The borders of Israel today

What position does Mahmoud

Abbas hold?
photo: New York Times

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority

seek peaceful negotiation with Israel to
establish a co-existing Palestinian state.
The PA disagrees with Hamas’ policy of
armed struggle but also wants to unit all
Palestinians under one political front.
Map: The borders of Israel today

What position does Khaled Mashal hold?

photo: Wikipedia

Mashal and Hamas still maintain that the only

Palestinian state they seek is one that replaces
Israel. Hamas continues its policy of armed
struggle against Israel. Because of the 2007 civil
war and the 2008 blockade, Hamas coordinates
nearly all daily operations of Gaza, including
hospitals, schools, local government, and social
Map: The borders of Israel today

What position does Barack Obama hold?

photo: New York Times

The Obama administration is calling on Israel to

halt all settlement construction and accept a
two-state solution.
The Obama administration is calling on the
Palestinian Authority to increase security in the
territories and combat Hamas’ growing
The Obama administration will not talk to
Hamas as long as it uses violence and does not
recognize the state of Israel’s right to exist.
Three years after famously calling Palestine “a land without people for the people without land,” Israel Zangwill
reversed himself in a little-known 1904 New York speech:
There is, however, a difficulty from which the Zionist dares not avert his eyes, though he rarely likes to face it.
Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The Pashalik of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly popu-lated as
the United States, having fifty-two souls to every square mile, and not 25 percent of them Jews, so we must be
prepared either to drive out by the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did, or to grap-ple with the
problem of a large alien population.

And in 1969 Moshe Dayan said to a group of students:

We came to this country, which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is, a
Jewish state here. . . .Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names
of these Arab villages, and I don't blame you, since these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books
do not exist—the Arab villages are not there either.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Zionism:

"These two goals of Israel as a Jewish and a democratic

state must coexist and not contradict each other. So, what does
that mean, a Jewish state? It is not only a matter of the number
of Jews who live in Israel. It is not just a matter of numbers but
a matter of values. The Jewish state is a matter of values, but it
is not just a matter of religion, it is also a matter of nationality.
And a Jewish state is not a monopoly of rabbis. It is not. It is
about the nature of the State of Israel. It is about Jewish
tradition. It is about Jewish history, regardless of the question
of what each and every Israeli citizen does in his own home on
Saturdays and what he does on the Jewish holidays. We need
to maintain the nature of the State of Israel, the character of the
State of Israel, because this is the raison d'etre of the State of
A religious variety of Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity defined as adherence to religious Judaism, opposes the
assimilation of Jews into other societies, and has advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be a majority nation in
their own state.[1] A variety of Zionism, called cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha'am, fostered a
secularvision of a Jewish "spiritual center" in Israel. Unlike Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, Ahad Ha'am strived for Israel to be "a
Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews".[10]

Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a
variety of nations to their ancestral homeland.[11][12][13] Critics of Zionism view it as a colonialist,[14] racist[15] and exceptionalist[16]
ideology that led advocates to violence during Mandatory Palestine, followed by the exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial
of their right to return to property lost during the 1948 war.
"I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again. Let me repeat once more my opening words: The
Jews who wish for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by
our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully
and beneficially for the good of humanity."
Theodore Herzl, concluding words of The Jewish State, 1896

“One fundamental fact - we must have

Palestine if we are not going to be
exterminated.” – Chaim Weizmann,