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Israel: Apartheid or Not?

24 November 2012, 15:45

On the face of it, it looks ugly. But, if you look deeper well, then, it looks much worse. I guess the Israel/Palestine may be the eternal question with no plausible answer but with death comes blame so, who is to blame for the violence?


As the Eastern media becomes more and more popular, coupled with the valid expectation that Western media is bias toward Israel, one’s decision is made up for them by the media. Who is to blame? Israel, the Apartheid state.


However, let’s consider the facts.


To begin, it’s important to note that both Jews and Palestinians have a valid claim to the land in the sense that both peoples have been inhabitants of the land for thousands of years.


From recorded history until 1920, there have been numerous rulers of the land including the Jews, Ottomans, Roman et cetera. In 1920, after World War I, the land known as Palestine was under British administration. However, Palestine was nine times bigger than the current borders – about the same size as current day Syria. The total population in this vast country was only 750 000 people; 78% Muslim, 12% Jewish and 10% Christian.


It may be noted here that the nativity of the Jews may be questionable due to the low numbers in Palestine at the time. It must however be remembered that under foreign rule, Jews were expelled from Palestine or made to convert out of Judaism. As aforementioned, it can’t be disputed that both peoples have a legitimate claim to the land.


It is this vast and underdeveloped land that the 1917 Balfour Declaration makes reference to. The Balfour Declaration supported the establishment of a home for the Jewish people - it also stated that nothing shall be done to prejudice the non-Jewish existing communities in Palestine. The gravity of the declaration meant that Palestinians now had rights that they never had under Turkish rule. Palestinians, with their new found rights, immediately demanded that Jewish immigration into Palestine must be immediately prohibited and no land be transferred to the Jews. The famous quote from the Paris peace conference from a Palestinian representative goes as such: “We will push the Zionists into the sea or they will push us back into the dessert”. The request for the prohibition of Jewish immigration was denied.


Still in 1920, and toward the end of the French-Syria war, the Palestinians aligned themselves with Syria while the Jews decided to remain neutral. It is here we note the first physical violence between the Jews and Palestinians. Jewish villages were pillaged by Palestinians under the pretext of “searching for French spies and soldiers” – a handful of Jews were killed, hundreds injured and widespread damage was caused. Further, the Balfour Declaration which hinted at the inkling of a Jewish state caused the second bout of fighting when 60 000 Palestinians were riled up chanting “Palestine is our land, the Jews are our dogs” and then proceeded to pillage the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.


A turning point was 1921. As a token of goodwill to the Arab Kingdoms, Britain gave up Transjordan which left Israel almost 10 times smaller – the current day size.


Many more years of fighting lead to 1937. Lord Peel of England was tasked with resolving the ongoing violence in Palestine. Chaim Weitzman, the Jewish representative pleaded that the land be divided while the Palestian representative, Amin al-Husseini, opposed any partition. The Peel Commission concluded that the land be divided – 20% to the Jews and the remaining 80% to the Palestinians. Here we have the first proposed division of the land, with 80% of the land available for an independent Palestinian state; it was rejected by the Palestinians  The Jews accepted, to no avail, as they were desperate for land to which European Jews could escape to, away from Nazi Germany.


Following World War II, the British relinquished control of Palestine to the United Nations. The UN set up a commission to deal with the issue and in 1947, the result was another two state solution. The division was now proposed as a 50/50 share – accepted by the Jews, rejected by the Palestinians. In response to the UN’s partition plan, a war between the Palestinians and Jews broke out. This is known as the War of Independence when newly founded Israel was attacked by not only the Palestinian states but surrounding Arab states: Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The Arab League president at the time stated: “this will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre”.


Israel won the war. The consequence of this victory was more land for the Jews and the displacement of 650 000 Palestinian refugees. It must be noted that a third of the Palestinians left on free will or by recommendation of their Arab neighbors as they were soon to bomb the Jews.


After the war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt annexed Gaza. Neither Jordan nor Egypt sought to establish an independent Palestinian state in the aforementioned land and no Palestinians protested the occupation of their land by foreign rulers.


After decades of more fighting, and the turn of the millennium  the Palestinians conducted a brutal campaign of suicide bombs killing close to 1000 civilians – suicide bombings happened in shopping malls, restaurants, public transport, night clubs, et cetera. It was after these attacks on their civilians that Israel built the “Apartheid Wall” which decreased suicide bombs by 100% and instituted a siege on Gaza to stop rocket attacks.


The last time the Israelis and Palestinians had direct negotiations was in 2008 when Olmert offered the Palestinian all of Gaza and the West Bank as well as half of Jerusalem - needless to say, it was rejected.


To conclude, Israel is in no way innocent, the Jews are in no way innocent. There may be disproportionate attacks against Palestinians and too many civilian casualties as well. However, to say Israel is a racist and Apartheid state is unfounded. Firstly, the Jews are native to the land and secondly, as early as the 1930s, the Jews were willing to accept only 20% of the land. So, we need to be mindful when reading about the Apartheid state of Israel as it may be considered that it’s the Palestinians who have never accepted a Jewish state or any division of the land.

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