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Middle East Conflict
East Conflict - Why?
R. Jerry Adams,
Evaluation and Development
Parable of the Family
with an Orphan
A Short History of
Israeli and Palestinian Conflict
View of the Conflict
Israeli View of
A Road to
Continued - Part II
of the Family with an Orphan
A large family takes in an orphan. The house is already crowded so
the orphan must share an attic room with a child too weak to
protest the intrusion. The parents give each of the two children
half of the room but ask each child to share a beautiful cabinet,
treasured by both. The parents take a long trip, leaving their
strongest son in charge.
When the parents leave, other children in
the family attack the orphan and try to get him to leave. The
weakest child, in particular, fights unfairly. He waits for the
orphan to sleep and then attacks him. The orphan wakes up each time
and hurts the weak child; he also takes over more of the
room, including the beautiful cabinet.
As the orphan continues to
take over more of the room, the weak child continues to take revenge. The strongest son tries to bring peace and sometimes succeeds for short periods.
The basic problem, however, is that each child believes that he should have the entire attic room to himself.
Finally, the parents return. They realize that they made a mistake
by leaving home while there was such a difficult situation in the
attic. They don't just ask the two children to stop fighting,
however. Instead, they take immediate action.
The parents decide that the boys need temporary separation, something constructive to keep them busy, and careful supervision. The parents work with the two boys to build shelves and
cabinets down the middle of the room, with private storage space
for each boy on each side. They install plumbing so each side of the room has plenty of fresh water. Finally, when the crisis is over, the parents set up a way for the boys to share the beautiful cabinet.
The parents do more than just provide better space, however. They provide the love,
kindness, and supervision that each child needs to do well. They also make sure that the other children support the solution.
Each boy reverts to his old behavior a few times, but the parents remove his
privileges each time and the old behaviors stop. Besides, each boy becomes too busy pursuing his own goals to be distracted by fighting.
They lived happily ever after...with a few disagreements here and
The "large family" is the United Nations. The "orphan" is Israel.
The "other children" are the Arab states. The "weakest son" is the
Palestinian people. Attacking the orphan unfairly means "terrorist
attacks." The "attic room" is the territory of Palestine before the
United Nations carved Israel into it. The "beautiful cabinet" is
The "strongest son" is the United States. Alas, there are no wise
parents to supervise the boys. The UN Security Council has not been
able to perform this essential role.
The "strongest son," therefore, must work with the "other
children" to implement peace. If the "strongest son" and the "other
children" work together effectively, then peace
will spread throughout the entire family.
Recently, this has not happened. Instead, extremist Palestinians have engaged in bombings when Israelis agreed to work on peace. Extremist Israelis have engaged in assassinations or other acts of aggression when Palestinians agreed to work on peace. Israelis are swiftly completing a wall between Israel and Palestinian territory, but the wall is not on the 1967 border. Rather, it snakes into Palestinian territory to unlawfully take land and water rights from 200,000 Palestinians. Extremists from both sides have destroyed the peace process.
The Palestinian people are allowing extremists to lead them. The Israeli people are allowing extremists to lead them. As the violence keeps increasing, wisdom from any quarter would be welcome.
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A Short History
of Israeli and Palestinian Conflict
After World War II, the United Nations gave land to the Jewish
people of the world so they could live together in peace.
This land, Israel, includes holy places for the Jewish religion and
is surrounded by Muslim countries. Palestinian Muslims lived
on the land at the time that the United Nations gave it to the
Jewish people. The Palestinians and neighboring Arabic nations did not accept the creation of Israel. "Hoping to annihilate the new Jewish state, the armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq invaded... thus starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War."
Portions of the land given to the Jewish people, or taken over by
them when they won wars when Arab states attacked, are also holy for
Muslims. Certain portions of Jerusalem controlled by Israel,
called "East Jerusalem," are very important to Muslims. For
religious reasons, Palestinian Muslims believe that they must gain
control of East Jerusalem as part of any lasting peace settlement.
Further, Palestinians view themselves as living in an occupied
nation, where invaders (Israelis) have placed them under military
rule. To fight back, Palestinians have built a terrorist network to
attack innocent Israeli civilians. Israelis feel they must continue
to control Palestinians with military force to protect themselves
against more terrorist attacks.
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Palestinians feel that they are not a free people because Israeli
soldiers stop them at checkpoints between cities. Many
Palestinians, therefore, must get Israeli approval each day to go
to work, return home, go to the hospital, get groceries, or visit
their own families. After a terrorist attack, soldiers sometimes
refuse to let Palestinians through the checkpoints to get to work
or other essential places, infuriating Palestinians even more.
Further, Israelis control much of the Palestinian water supply and give Palestinians
less access to water than they need. Palestinians feel humiliated
and abused by the Israelis.
Another issue causing Palestinians great anger is that Israelis
have continued to build settlements in Palestinian territory,
illegally converting even more Palestinian territory into Israeli
territory. Palestinians see the settlements as a sign that Israelis
do not want peace.
In March and April of 2002, Israeli soldiers attempted to destroy
Palestinian terrorist networks and attacked several of the largest
Palestinian cities. In addition to attacking the terrorists, the
Israeli soldiers destroyed much of the Palestinian government,
including records, equipment, buildings, electricity supplies,
water supplies, roads, and more. Palestinians see the attack as an
Israeli attempt to keep them from ever having an independent state.
In addition, representatives of international relief agencies, as
well as Palestinians, accuse Israel of committing war crimes during
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Israel to comply with international law and retreat to the borders
that existed in 1967.
Palestinians express this demand as
four key conditions for peace, including:
Isralis have occasionally discussed
supporting a separate Palestinian state, but insist that it must be
in the distant future. In addition, Israelis may not be willing to
give up actual control of Palestinian territory for security
reasons, even if Palestinian territory is eventually called an
"independent state." Meanwhile, Israelis have continued to place
Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, expanding Israeli
territory at Palestinian expense. Palestinians no longer regard
Israel as sincere in its negotiations for a separate state.
- A separate Palestinian state (with
the same borders as were in 1967),
- Palestinian control of East
- Ending Israeli occupation of
Palestinian terroritory, and
- Freedom of Palestinian refugees to
return to their homeland.
Regarding control of East Jerusalem, Ehud Barak, former leader of Israel, offered to negotiate the control
of East Jerusalem. This is something no other Israeli leader had
offered and something the Israeli people did not want offered.
In fact, Barak was removed from power partly because of the
offer and was replaced by
Ariel Sharon. Although Barak had offered to
negotiate control of East Jerusalem and make other concessions,
Palestinians were angry that all of the key conditions they
considered essential for lasting peace had not been offered.
Israelis were angry because they were told that most of the key
conditions for peace had been offered and that Arafat had refused
Regarding the third Palestinian condition for peace, ending
occupation of Palestinian territory, Israelis seem willing to do
this--as long as Palestinian borders are redefined so that Israel
can continue to control Palestinian movements through checkpoints
between cities and other means. In other words, Israelis are
willing to end the appearance of occupation but they are not
willing to reduce their control over the Palestinians.
Barak may have offered real independence to Palestinians, but
Israelis and Palestinians disagree about what Barak actually
offered. The specific offer of restoration of Palestinian land has
remained secret, so it is difficult to determine which side is
correct. Palestinians claim that Barak's offer to return
Palestinian land was not sincere and would have continued Israeli
control of land between major Palestinian cities.
Israelis claim that the Barak offer
did not break up the Palestinian land and that Arafat's refusal to
negotiate the offer means that he will never accept peace. Much of
the current conflict rests with the different views of what was
offered. Additional information on the offer and disagreements is
At about the same time as Barak's offer, Sharon deliberately provoked Palestinians by an act viewed by Muslims as
extreme disrespect to their religion. Terrorist attacks by the
Palestinians started in large measure in response to Sharon's
actions. Israelis were then angered by Arafat's refusal to negotiate in good faith and by
the resumption of terrorist attacks on innocent Jewish men, women, and children.
In short, Israelis believe that Barak offered Palestinians their land back and that Palestinians then responded with extreme violence.
Palestinians believe that Barak offered no real freedom and that Israelis deliberately insulted
their religion (Sharon's visit) and killed Palestinian protesters during negotiations.
The fourth demand of the Palestinians, for Palestinian refugees to
have their land back, has not been solvable. If all of the
Palestinians who lost their homes to the Israelis were allowed to
return, then Israel would have almost as many Palestinians as
Israelis--ending Israel as a Jewish state. Israelis have not been
willing to consider this as an option. Some Palestinians, however,
vow to continue fighting until all Palestinian refugees can return
to their former homeland. Negotiators have proposed that Israel
allow Palestinian refugees to return to the West Bank and Gaza, but
not to Israel. According to international law, the West Bank and
Gaza are Palestinian territories and should be under the control of
the Palestinians, not the Israelis.
If Israel retreats to 1967 borders
and provides Palestinians with complete independence, will
Palestinians stop terrorist attacks? As of October of 2010, the answer
is "definitely not." Although many Palestinians simply want an
independent nation, others, such as the powerful Hamas
organization now controlling the government, consider all of the territory called "Israel" to be
part of Palestine. Hamas leaders have vowed to continue their
terrorist campaign until their demands are met, including the
destruction of Israel. Further, when Arafat failed to accept
Barak's offer of a separate Palestinian state, many Israelis
concluded that Arafat did not want peace. Arafat did not make a
serious effort to stop Palestinian terrorism against Israelis.
International law is on the side of those who advocate for two
independent states sharing the land that was called "Palestine"
before 1948. However, recent violence against each side has been so
vicious that the majority of people may be more interested in
revenge than negotiations.
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Israelis view Palestinian militants as terrorists who will not
compromise to gain peace. Palestinian extremists have, in fact,
engaged in terrorist acts against Israeli civilians when peace
negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians seemed (to the
Israelis) to be moving forward fairly. Because Palestinian
terrorists attacked at key times, moderate Israeli leaders have
been replaced by more extreme Israeli leaders who do not want to
compromise. Israeli leaders do not trust Palestinian leaders to
negotiate peace. Israelis do not feel safe enough to reduce their
control of Palestinian territories.
In more recent years, the Palestinians elected a Hamas government. Hamas is a "terrorist organization" according to the U.S. government, Israel, and many other nations. Hamas is on record that it wants to destroy Israel. The Israeli government does not consider Israel safe with Hamas ruling the Palestinians.
Israel does not see itself fighting just the Palestinians. Israel views the covert support of the Palestinians by Arabic nations to be a core part of its problem.
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Israelis want the
Palestinians to stop the terrorist attacks.
Israelis have four key conditions for
By comparing the Israeli demands with
the Palestinian demands, one can see that the two sides are
unlikely to find peace--the demands are completely contradictory.
In addition, many Israelis believe that Israel is entitled to all
of the Palestinian territories. Every time a compromise is reached,
Israeli and Palestinian extremists work against it--often with
- Palestinian borders that ensure continuing Israeli security
from Palestinian attacks, not the 1967 borders,
- Israeli control of all of Jerusalem,
- Enough Israeli control within Palestinian territories to allow
Israel to destroy terrorist networks, and
- Prevention of Palestinian refugees from returning to their
If Palestinians stop their terrorist
attacks on Israelis, will Israelis retreat to 1967 borders and
allow Palestinians complete independence? As of October of 2010, the
answer is "definitely not." Although a majority of Israelis are
willing to have their military leave the Palestinian territories, a
powerful minority consider all of the territory currently called
"Palestinian" to be part of Israel. They do not want to compromise
or pull back. Instead, they want to keep expanding Israeli
settlements into Palestinian territories.
Sharon, before entering a coma, began reducing the
settlements. However, when Sharon talked about an independent state of
Palestine, he meant a Palestinian state that is still under
the control of Israel. Past proposals have, in fact, allowed Israel to maintain control over a new Palestinian state.
Palestinians have not found such Israeli offers of "independence" acceptable. Now that Hamas won the last Palestinian election, Palestinians may be even less likely to compromise.
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A Road to Peace
With hate so intense on both sides,
and demands of each side so completely incompatible, peace will
require very powerful outside intervention. The United States and
Arab Nations, especially Saudi Arabia, need to join forces. Perhaps
an international group, with the United States and Saudi Arabia as
leaders, needs to negotiate where to put borders to ensure Israeli
security and also Palestinian land integrity. Left to themselves,
neither Israelis nor Palestinians can make a lasting agreement on
borders. If an international group negotiates the borders, it will
also need to determine how to separate the two sides. International
forces will probably need to stand between Palestinians and
Israelis for a long, long time. Israelis and Palestinians may even
need a physical wall to separate them.
destroyed much of the government and infrastructure of
the Palestinians. The Palestinians will need a great deal of
outside support to rebuild themselves into a separate nation.
Without such support, the world will be facing "another
Afghanistan" where anarchy will again breed terrorism.
Muslim nations will need to play a strong role in helping to build
a new Palestine without terrorism. Muslim nations will need to help mentor new
Palestinian leaders who do not support terrorism. Palestinians will need another type of
leadership, other than Hamas, to build a new strategy for long-term peace.
The United States will need to use its influence to help Israel
shape a new strategy also. Israel has had to mobilize for war,
justifiably, since its beginning. If an international group insures Israel's security, Israel will need a
different kind of leadership than it currently has, as well as a new strategy for
An outside group will also have to determine how to allocate water
rights fairly between the Palestinians and Israelis. Without
outside intervention, water wars are likely to erupt, even if the
land borders are settled peacefully.
What ideas do you have to move us toward a lasting peace?
It is very important to realize that the Muslim religion teaches
peace and tolerance, not terrorism and war. In fact, the Muslim
religion does not allow a person to commit suicide or hurt innocent
even during war.
Continued - Part II
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© 2016 EDI
and Dr. R. Jerry Adams
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