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Arab-Israeli Conflict. Survey: What issues are most important in understanding the conflict?. Sources of conflict since 1945. Ethnic and religious conflict within the region Palestinian / Israeli conflict Western influence and intervention

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Arab-Israeli Conflict

Survey: What issues are most important in understanding the conflict?

sources of conflict since 1945
Sources of conflict since 1945
  • Ethnic and religious conflict within the region
  • Palestinian / Israeli conflict
  • Western influence and intervention
  • Secularism vs. religious fundamentalism often a reaction against modernity and Western influence
the middle east and the west
The Middle East and the West
  • End of the Ottoman Empire Republic of Turkey
  • After WWI: mandate system in Gulf States:
    • Britain  Palestine, Iraq, Transjordan
    • France  Syria, Lebanon
  • “Independent” by end of WWII but Western oil interests remained
  • Cold War and competition for oil meant Middle East remained an area of Western intervention and influence
sources of anti u s sentiment
Sources of anti-U.S. sentiment
  • History: betrayal of Woodrow Wilson’s ideal of “self-determination”
  • U.S. actions during the Cold War
  • Growing U.S. presence in 1970s: bases in Gulf States
  • U.S. support for Israel; supporting dictatorships in Arab states
  • “Cultural imperialism”
palestinian israeli conflict
Palestinian – Israeli Conflict

Originated after WWI

Promise of independence to Middle East after WWI was broken; instead Palestine and other territories became “mandates”

two different narratives
Two Different Narratives
  • Religious
  • Historical
  • Political
  • Economic/Cultural
  • Identity
  • Moral
What were the goals and strategies of Zionism?What promises were made to the Jews (Zionists) and to the Arabs?
promises to the arabs mcmahon correspondence
Promises to the Arabs—McMahon Correspondence
  • 1. Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.2. Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognize their inviolability.3. When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories.

ME, pp. 115-116

zionist rationale

Zionist rationale:

“Everywhere we are rejected. We are pushed out of everywhere. We are considered aliens. . .But Judea shall rise again. Let our own lives be an example to our people. Let us forsake our lives in foreign lands and stand on firm ground on the land of our forefathers. Let us reach for shovels and plows.”


The Balfour Declaration,


Expressing support for

“the establishment in

Palestine of a national

home for the Jewish

people…it being clearly

understood that nothing

shall be done which may

prejudice the civil and

religious rights of

existing non-Jewish

communities in Palestine…”

See ME, pp. 170-171

three events that save political zionism
Three events that “save” political Zionism
  • Theodore Herzl’s message – secular and desire to gain Great Power okay.

See ME., pp. 165-167.

  • immigration – aliyahs, but gradually, “to proceed slowly without revealing their longtime goal” (ME, p. 149)
  • World War I and need of British for allies in the Middle East and in Britain.

“Too much promised land”

Prof. Sarsar

ME, pp. 117-118

king crane commission 1919
King-Crane Commission, 1919

“a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish state”

“nor can the erection of such a Jewish state be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”

“the fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conference with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to

a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish

inhabitants of Palestine”

“the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine, based on an occupation of two thousand years ago, can hardly be seriously considered”


Balfour’s Response:

“in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are. The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

What role did Great Britain play in Palestine after WWI?Why was partition decided on as a solution to the conflict?
factors contributing to the conflict
Factors Contributing to the Conflict
  • Immigration
  • Economic dislocations – the kibbutzim
  • Land transfers
  • The British role.
jewish immigration aliyahs people for a land in a land without people ben gurion 1917
Jewish Immigration (Aliyahs)“People for a land in a land without people”Ben Gurion, 1917
  • 1882-1903 20-30,000
  • 1905-1914 35-40,000

(Most in late teens, socialist leanings, kibbutzim)

  • 1917-1923 35,000
  • 1924-1931 82,000
  • 1932-1938 217,000

(By 1938, 413,000 Jews in Palestine)

1,100,000 non-Jews

(Between 1922-1939 the population doubled)

jewish migration to palestine
Jewish migration to Palestine
  • Began in the 1920s
  • 1920: 95% Palestinian; 5% Jewish [29,000]

1947: 68% Palestinian; 32% Jewish [630,000]

  • Jewish population after the creation of Israel:
    • 1948: 0.8 million
    • 1964: 2.4 million
    • Now: approximately 6.4 million
    • Latest population influx after the disintegration of USSR

1939 British suspends ALL immigration to Palestine

key events in interwar period 1939 1949 tragic decade
Key Events in Interwar Period1939-1949 “Tragic Decade”
  • 1929 and 1936 Arab Revolts. See ME, pp. 177-182 (Role of al-Qassam)
  • 1937 Peel Commission – recommend eventual partition. See ME, pp. 184-186.
  • 1939 White Paper – halt Jewish immigration.
  • Zionist Terrorist Groups – Irgun, Haganah, Stern Gang. See ME, pp. 174-176.
  • WWII and the Holocaust.
united nations partition plan 1947
United Nations Partition Plan, 1947

Tan: Jewish state

Grey: Arab state

White: International zone

See ME, pp. 188-192

holy city of jerusalem
Holy City of Jerusalem

The Western Wall

Dome of the Rock

Church of the Holy


armed conflicts over israel
Armed conflicts over Israel
  • 1948-49: War after creation of Israel
  • 1967: The “Six-Day War” initiated by Israel
    • Preemptive war to create protective buffer around Israel
    • Tripled Israeli territory in six days
    • Placed 1.5 million Palestinians under Israeli rule
  • 1973: “Yom Kippur War”
    • Egypt and Syria attack unsuccessfully in Sinai and Golan Heights

After 1967

Before 1967

occupied disputed territories
“Occupied” / “Disputed” Territories
  • After 1967, the focus of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict shifted from recognition of Israel to status of the “occupied” or “disputed” territories
  • Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt 1982
  • Jewish settlers left the Gaza Strip summer 2005
the palestinian liberation organization plo
The Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO]

Created in 1964 as a government in exile

Leader: Yasir Arafat [d. 2004]

1974: PLO recognized by the U.N. as representative of the Palestinian people

1987 and 2000 used strategy of intifada [uprising] to oppose Israeli rule

Became Palestinian Authority 1993; current leader Mahmoud Abbas


Where are the Palestinians?

The largest group of refugees

in the world today.

Israel: 1 million

Jordan: 1.5 million

Gaza: 825,000

West Bank: 583,000

Saudi Arabia: 123,000

Iraq: 90,000

Syria: 383,200

Lebanon: 376,500

Egypt: 40,000

N. Africa: 13,000

Kuwait: 35,000

80% left in 1948.

44% of Jordan’s population are

displaced and refugee Palestinians

Israel rejects the “right of return” for


pursuing peace
Pursuing Peace
  • U.N. Resolution 242 (1967)
    • Called for withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in 1967
    • Called for Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan to recognize one another
  • Separate peace agreements between Israel and Egypt (1978) and Israel and Jordan (1994)
  • Oslo Agreement (1993) “Land for Peace”
    • Palestinians abandon armed struggle and accept Israel’s right to rule over 78% of mandate Palestine
    • In return they receive the remaining 22% (West Bank, Gaza, Arab East Jerusalem)
  • George W. Bush: 2002 “two-state solution,” Roadmap

Egypt-Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak –Arab Socialism and Pan-Arabism

Iraq - Hussein-Baathist Socialism

Syria – Asad – Baathist Socialism

Libya – Qadafi – Green Socialism

Turkey - Secular Republic

Iran – Shah, Khomeini, Ahmadinejad –Islamism

Saudi Arabia – “Family w/ Flags”, Wahabi Islam

final status issues
Final Status Issues
  • Jerusalem – who should control it?
  • Israeli security – right of Israel to exist.
  • Palestinian refugees – right of return
  • Borders – how to determine?
continuing conflict
Continuing Conflict

Hamas, Hezbollah, and other extremist groups reject right of Israel to exist and reject all negotiations with Israel

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

Wall and Jewish settlement in West Bank

Gaza: Palestinian state or “prison?”


Until civil war [1975-90] Lebanon was the “Switzerland of the Middle East”

1976-2005 Syrian forcesLebanon

1978-2000 Israeli forces S. Lebanon

Hezbollah forms against Israel

Summer 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel

Until 1975, Beirut was considered

the “Paris of the Middle East”

the cornerstone of peace in iraq
The cornerstone of peace in Iraq?

“The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless [it] deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

RECOMMENDATION 13: There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon and Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

The Iraq Study Group Report