The Arab-Israel conflict history has a level of convenience elasticity due to inability of objectively presenting the timelines of the events, in regard to the conflicts. The term Arab is not used in reference to a self collection of a certain society, for example, in Palestine. Rather Arabs are mostly centered in various states, in Asia such as Saudi Arabia, Palestine, United Arab Emirates among others. However, Arabs are also centered in the North of Africa and fragmented in various countries around the globe. The Arab-Israeli conflict can trace its roots in the 18th century when Zionist movements were founded in response to increased persecution of European Jews. Additionally, the Jews founded the Zionist movement out of a desire of joining a community of modern nation-states, which defined Europe (Hammond para 8). Therefore, the majority of Jews began migrating into Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman empire.
Therefore, the history of Jews and that of Palestines are interdependent but characterized by periods of conflicts. The immigration into Palestine in the 19th century according to the Zionist movement was for the purpose of reclaiming their ancestral land. The Jews started buying land, building and settling, which was met with violent opposition from the Palestines who were mostly Arabs. The Zionists started defending themselves, which is observed as a situation still in play, in the current conflicts. The aim of the Zion movement from the beginning was a complete dispossession of the indigenous Arabs land and establish a Jewish state (Kramer 14). The policy adopted by the Zionists was that any land bought or leased from the Arabs could not be sold or leased back to them, a policy still at play presently.
The actions and intentions of the Zionists aroused the Arab community who started opposing further immigration of jews, as well as selling of land. These actions of the Zionists were perceived as a real peril to the existence of Arab society in Palestine. However, the opposition of the Zionist project could not have been realized without the support of the British army. It is imperative to recognize that the vast majority of the Palestine population comprised of Arabs or a long period of time. Therefore, Zionism was based on colonial faults in disregarding the rights of indigenous communities.
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Arab Society and Politics
Although Arab comprise a collection of different states that assert differences and different identities especially in times of crisis, it can be taken as a single overarching society. This focus particularly on the social perspectives rather than the political perspectives of Arab society. The Arabic society contains the potential of decisiveness and unity, rather than the image portrayed especially in the west presenting Arab society as one comprising mosaic sects, regional entities and different ethnic tribes and groups. However, the Arabs have been confronted by a dilemma especially in the modern times, in their wit to combine unity and plurality. This results from the political fragmentation of the Arab society following the collapse of the Ottoman empire (Kramer para 11). Therefore, Arabs have been faced with the challenge of enhancing unity without compromising the richness of diversity in different regions.
A central flaw adopted in the ideologies of Arabs is the conception that identity is something that exists in people rather than something achieved. The social structures and institutions in the traditional Arab society comprise social classes, family, religion, politics and God in the Monotheistic religion. The contemporary Arab society is characterized by an alarming gap between reality and dream. The society has been suffering from profound fragmentation and erosion of civil life, with efforts of integration being thwarted by regionalism and the pursuit of idiosyncratic interest by the ruling classes. The society has also been direly affected by the power of traditional loyalties, high dependency and high-rural-nomadic differences persisting under repressive conditions. The society is characterized with disparities and communal cleavages where certain ethnic, tribal, religious and regional communities enjoy more wealth, power and prestige while others are languishing in abject poverty (Barakat 37). Therefore, this presents a challenge in achieving national unity with the existing gaps in reality.
Arab Nationalism and Ottoman Empire
Arab nationalism was traced back in the 18th century during the Ottoman empire in Lebanon and began with the famous Ibrahim Al-Yaziji. This term was used in their desire for independence from the Ottoman rule. Arab nationalism has been perceived as a way of creating the Arab identity, which has been eroded by Israel and the west. Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish wrote a poem, which was engraved in the Arab nationalist canon and recited by school going children. This was adopted as a way of awakening millions of people in portraying the Arab identity (Hammond para 8). It was also being referred to as Arabism or pan-Arabism. However, currently it has been eroded and the majority of Arabs is suspending their belief in the Arab nation.
This development has been due to increased Islamic activism, which emphasize more on first expressing as Muslims rather than Arabs. Other Arabs prefer being being associated with their countries and regions such as Egyptians, Syrians, Moroccans rather one single identity Arabs. This has been due to differences in interest of Arabs from different societies. However, there are few intellectuals and individuals who have kept the flame of Arab nationalism burning. The intellectuals persist that Arab nationalism is an identity of Arabs, which has existed through history and every generation contains some sense of Arabness (Barakat 6). However, increasing modernity continues to present a challenge for maintenance of Arabic nationalism ideologies.
The emergence of Arab nationalism was not initially focused on the west rather it was a critique of the Ottoman empire, which had extended in most Arabic speaking countries. The domains of the vast region were administered in Ottoman Turkey and the main seat based in Instanbul. The Ottomans professed Islam and the majority of the Arabic speaking subjects were also Muslims, which made the empire emerge as an Islam partnership. The Muslims were allowed to retain pride in their language celebrating their history of early Arab conquests. The vitality and zeal of the Ottoman remained unshaken until in the 15th century when it started to weaken. In the 19th century, the Ottoman empire experienced a significant decline weakening the symbiotic partnership with most Arabic speaking regions (Jews for Justice in the Middle East para 4). There was an increase in discontentment among Christians subjects Europe and increased rivalry with great powers in Europe.
The Ottoman started introducing westernizing reforms in different regions, but lost the trail in the Caucasus, Balkans, North Africa and Egypt, dwindling the confidence of remaining subjects in the empire. This discontent arose as the Arab ‘ awakening’ also referred to as Arab nationalism. There was an increase in the settlement of Zionist in Palestine, which threatened the political status quo. The empire had tolerated the immigration of Jews believing that they could benefit by countering Spanish inquisition. However, some of the Sultan opposed the influx of Jews in the regions due to a perceived threat to their land. The Sultans observed that the Jews not only settled as refugees but a state in the making. Therefore, the subjects started being apprehensive to the influx of Jews due to the looming possibility of being disposed their land. Therefore, there was growing criticism of Ottoman’s policy towards Zionism among the Arabic press (Kramer para 10). This led to an increase in Arab nationalism in opposition of the Jews settling in their land.
The first world war led to decline and the fall of the Ottoman empire, after which the British and France conspired dividing the territorial spoils between themselves. For example, the British used the Balfour Declaration in the promise of establishing the Jews a new state, which formed the basis assigning a mandate over Palestine, which led to the split of the Jordan region in 1922. The British was supporting the Zionist goal of establishing a state for the Jewish people permitting the immigration of Jews into Palestine. However, the aims of Zionist did not augur well with the majority of the Arabs as they were being displaced from their land. After the fall of the Ottoman empire, the British was the power controlling Palestine and they promised the Arab independence on condition that they aided and cooperated in the defeat of the Ottoman Turks (Hammond para 7). The British also supported the Zionist policies allowing and encouraging the influx of Jews into Palestine. However, they recognized and stated that the objective of the Zionist could not have been achieved through any other means other than the use of force and arms.
Therefore, as the Jews immigration continued unexacerbated the displacement of Arabs was inevitable, which was followed by violent clashes between the Jews and Arabs. For example, in 1921, there were Arab riots, and Jewish communities were attacked and again in 1929 Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron. In response, Zionist formed terrorist organizations, which not only targeted the Arabs, but also the British. For example, in 1946, King David hotel was bombed by Zionist terrorist commonly known as Irgun. The leader of the terrorist group Menachem Begin later became the prime minister of Israel. After the end of the second world war, the British were unable to reconcile the conflicting policies prompting the United Nations to establish a special commission on Palestine. The commission resolved that Palestine was to be divided into two, but the partitioning was naturally rejected by Arabs (Barakat 28). However, the popular myth state that U. N created Israel, but it was created when the Zionist movement self declared its existence in 1948.
In conclusion, the Arab-Israel conflict is deeply rooted in history with scanty details on the timeline of event preceding the conflict. However, the rise of Zionism and influx of Jews in the 19th century played an imperative role in refueling the conflict. The support of the British after the end of the Ottoman empire for the Zionist movement objectives enabled the continued influx of Jews. However, this was met with violent opposition from the Arabs leading executions and violent confrontations. Although Israel has already been recognized as a state, the conflict with the Arabs still looms to date.
Barakat, Halim. The Arab World Society, Culture, and State. Berkely: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, 1993.
Hammond, Jeremy R. ” The Simplicity of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” 24 May 2010. Palestine Chronicle. 1 october 2013
Jews for Justice in the Middle East. ” The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict.” 2013. 1 October 2013
Kramer, Martin. ” Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity.” 9 September 2002. SandBox. 1 September 2013