International conflicts have complex nature involving many nations. The Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a long history that started in 1882 and continues to evolve with minimal chances to resolve the issue (Palmer, 2006). The evaluation of events in the middle of the twentieth century helps to understand the essence of disagreements between the Arabs and the Jews willing to reside in Palestine. The influence of Europe, Arab nationalism, and Zionism has emerged in a complex conflict that can hardly have a solution that will satisfy both parties. The main reason is that the Arabs and the Jews aspire to the unity of the nations because it will ensure their power and protect from discriminatory tendencies across the world in relation to the land of Palestine that representatives of both nations cannot share.
The core of the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews is land issues at the end of the nineteenth century. Religious views were not the main background element that contributed to the ignition of the situation. However, historians pay attention to religion in discussions of potential reasons that have led to severe disagreements between the parties to the conflict. As soon as World War I had ended, the latter called the land that became the center of arguments Palestine. The same name defined the “Holy Land” that representatives of monotheistic religions considered valuable and sacred (Palmer, 2006). After World War I, the land included three regions: the West Bank of the Jordan River, Gaza Strip, and the State of Israel (Palmer, 2006). The roots of the conflict vary depending on the historical viewpoint that differs according to the elements of European colonialism, Arab nationalism, anti-Semitism, and Zionism.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Palestine became an epicenter of political interests and territorial claims between nations. Since the Ottoman Empire started to lose its power, Europe used an opportunity to strengthen its position in the Eastern Mediterranean. Palestine became a tidbit that ignited European colonialism. Its first traces date back to World War I, when Sir Henry McMahon decided to unite with Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the Ottoman governor, in order to support an Arab revolt and defeat the Ottoman Empire (Palmer, 2006). McMahon’s purpose was to combat forces of Germany and France who aligned with the Ottoman Empire. In return, he promised the Arabs to establish an independent Arab state in Palestine and the rest of the Ottoman provinces. The agreement was partly successful, since the unity of Britain and the Arabs contributed to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
After the war, Britain obtained power over Iraq and the area consisting of the West Bank, Israel, Jordan, and the Gaza Strip. The former failed to fulfill terms of the agreement and evoked danger and rage among the Arabs who had dreamt of independence and self-determination in a separate state (Nets-Zehngut & Bar-Tal, 2017). Palestinian Arabs did not support the British Mandate over Iraq and neighboring areas because it threatened their aspirations for self-rule and independent regulation, and they started actively oppressing Jewish immigration as a threat to independence.
As soon as Britain had understood the reasons for Palestinian resistance and rage of the Arab population, it had to reconsider governing policies and support order in the surrounding environment full of tension. In 1939, it issued a government policy called the White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration and promised the Arabs independence in ten years that would help to establish the Arab Palestinian state (Palmer, 2006). As a result, the Zionists considered the White Paper as an egregious act because of a desperate situation that the Jews had faced in Europe trying to handle extermination. The Jews perceived the policy as a betrayal of the Balfour Declaration supposed to increase Jewish presence in Palestine. The White Paper initiated the end of British-Zionist cooperation that disrupted ambitious plans of the British Empire to satisfy interests of both parties.
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Arab nationalism was the movement aimed to unify Arabs in order to create a pure Arab nation without the influence of other ethnicities and religions. The Arab language, values, and traditions have always guided them in the desire to make their nation outstanding and meaningful in the global arena. In the middle of the twentieth century, the Arabs ignited nationalistic intentions in order to oppose the Western penetration of the former land of the Ottoman Empire with Western cultures (Nets-Zehngut & Bar-Tal, 2017). Arab nationalism spread the belief that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had a negative influence on the Arab culture by implementing western ideologies in Turkey. In addition, the Arabs disrespected the impact of Britain and France. In conflict with the Jews, Arab nationalism boosted the desire of the Arabs to be the only owners of the land that could make them powerful and independent without the need to share it with other nations.
Arab nationalism flourished during French and British mandates in response to governing decisions that the Arabs considered unfair. Its development dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century that set the tone of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews (Palmer, 2006). After World War II, the Arabs revived the ideas of Arab unity that supported the conflict with the Jews following their own interests in the fight for the land. Arab nationalist ideologies started uniting Arab states for the purpose of socio-economic development that would foster the evolution and growth of the nation. Stability in the government promised Arabs moral and ethical decisions. As a result, socialism helped Arab nationalism to evolve and increase a fierce desire of the Arabs to fight for the land against the Jews who could not find their place in the world.
Antisemitism has many definitions that follow the same concept of discrimination. Anti-Semites are people who have a negative perception of Jews that leads to open racist acts and discrimination. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the breakdown of Islamic society disrupted the worldview of the Arabs and led to the development of antisemitism. The influence of Europe and Western imperialism along with Christian Arabs were the main triggers of antisemitism, which emerged in the middle of the twentieth century. The Arabs did not want to share the land, which they thought had to belong to them in order to contribute to the development of the nation. Regardless of the fact that anti-Semitic tendencies had taken place before the twentieth century in the history of the Arab world, the phenomenon emerged along with the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After 1948, Jews had to leave Palestine for disputed reasons that historians cannot clarify even today (Palmer, 2006). The majority of Jews moved to Israel and France looking for peace and avoiding discrimination from the Arabs. Over the next few decades, they left the Arab world forcefully or willingly (Palmer, 2006). The Arab world put significant pressure on the Jews who had to leave the land that they considered their own. As a result, anti-Semitic tendencies led to the reduction of the Jewish population in the region.
Anti-Semitism has always been the cornerstone of the Arab world, which guided political decisions and military strategies against the Jews. Anti-Semitism and Arab nationalism are inseparable terms that started guiding the Arabs in the middle of the twentieth century and continue to influence them today. Israel and the Jews create significant challenges for the unity of political power and religious views in the Middle East since they develop substitutes to the values of the Western world (Waxman, 2017). Anti-Semitism is powerful enough to unite the Arabs supporting and opposing the conflict.
Religious Aspects and Zionism
Religious aspects of the conflict deserve special attention since the reason for the involvement of Jews has religious roots. They claim that the Bible promised Palestine to Abraham and his descendants. The historical background of Jewish persistence in obtaining the Palestine land lies in the presence of the Jewish kingdoms of Judea and Israel during ancient times. Jews have always considered Palestine as a haven protecting them from anti-Semitism on the part of Europe. The Arabs residing in parts of this land claim that their ancestors have been living here for hundreds of years and support this opinion with demographic facts before World War I and II. Differences in religious views and perceptions of historical facts prevent the Arabs from justifying the rights of the Jews to reside in Palestine. Kingdoms of the biblical era are not enough for allowing the latter to be the only owners of the land. Moreover, the Arabs emphasize family relations with Abraham, including his son as their ancestor. It means that they have the same right to own Palestine as the Jews do. Anti-Semitist tendencies in Europe are not enough to convince the Arabs to welcome the Jewish population in the region.
The Jewish population has had several Diasporas across the world contributing to the development of Zionism starting from the nineteenth century. The Zionist movement started in 1882 with the first Jewish immigrants who had come to Palestine from Europe (Palmer, 2006). The Jews formulated a national movement that aspired to find a place that could unite the nation in a single region. They have always wanted to reside with their families in the same state without the need to migrate continuously. Palestine has Jewish origin appealing the Jews at the beginning of the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Palestine, a small portion of Jews residing there did not prefer to move to another country because of religious views that had no connection to Zionism. They spent the majority of time learning more about religious studies and living in cities of religious significance, including Jerusalem and Safed. Traditional orthodox teachings united Palestine Jews in contrast to the Jews from Europe aspiring to create a Jewish nation in an independent state.
The evaluation of the historical background of the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict has unveiled many facts that clarify the reasons for continuous disagreements between two nations. First, both the Arabs and the Jews claim that their ancestors resided in Palestine. Secondly, they aspire to unity and independence that can strengthen their power and global representation. In addition, biblical references, that the Jews consider significant in supporting their right to reside in Palestine, also refer to the Arabs. Throughout the history, the latter have not supported self-determination of the Jews in Palestine and forcefully made them migrate to Europe and the United States. A detailed evaluation of the conflict in the middle of the twentieth century proved that the Jewish population considered Palestine as a potential haven protecting them from anti-Semitic tendencies across the world. Nevertheless, the parties have not managed to reach consensus.