By: Ahmad Syah Ejaz Bin Hj. Ismail
The history of
According to the Israeli political scientist by the name Areyh Naor: Israelis wanted to built a Jewish state that would be located in the historical homeland of the Jewish people also known as the land of Israel which technically included all of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and even some areas beyond, in what is today Jordan.
Most of the historians assert that the development of the modern
i. The failure of nations to accept the Jews living among them as an integral part of society; and
ii. Insistence of Jews – to lead lives beside or on the fringe of societies and remain dwelt alone rather than being fully assimilated both physically and culturally.
Those statements later were supported by the unending facts which witness the turning of Jews into scapegoats, mainly by European societies, and their persecution throughout many generations, reaching an appalling climax during the Second World War, that turned ideas of building a safe haven for the Jews and gathering them together, into reality.
The safe haven seek by the Jews was then Filastin to its Arab inhabitants,
The Jews arrived to settle in
i. The first Aliyah (1882 – 1903)
ii. The second Aliyah (1904)
iii. The third Aliyah (1919 – 1923)
iv. The fourth Aliyah (1924 – 1926)
v. The fifith Aliyah (1932-1939)
vi. Ethiopian Aliyah (1980-1981)
vii. Russian Aliyah (1987)
In 1950 the Knesset passed the Law of Return which confirmed the right of every Jew to permanent settlement in the country; this was followed two years later by the Citizenship Law which gave immigrants the immediate right of citizenship. This results could not have been more dramatic, transforming both the number and the nature of the population. This migration had created internal communal problems for
Ashkenazim Jews could afford to live in the big cities with the poorer and usually with larger families while the Sephardim or the Oriental Jews were forced to live in ma’abarot (poor slump areas), but it was also the outcome of an almost impossible meeting between the two different worlds. These economic gaps were widening apart by their differences in ways of communicating with each other. The Sephardim spoke Arabic whereas the Ashkenazim spoke Yiddish (Hebrew), German, Polish and other European language. Sephardim were hardly read or write while Ashkenazim were more educated, sophisticated, professional western Jews and most of them were accepted to works as civil servants and policy makers while the Sephardim were conscripted into Israel Defence Force (IDF) and many of them works as a menial workers in the domestic industry.
The mass migration of the Ethiopian Jews (known as Falasha) in 1980 created further communal problems in
The Falasha arrived in
The double standard measure policies towards the African Jews and the European Jews were stark during the Russian Aliyah in 1987. The absorption process of the Russian Jews which were applied to the Falasha were reviewed when old methods of absorption centres was replaced by a policy of ‘direct absorption’. The government granted the Russian immigrants’ cash handout and absorption basket grant which allowed them preferential treatment in house purchasing, tax breaks, reduction on custom duties and unemployment benefits. Some claims that 30 percent of the Russian newcomers were not at all Jewish but single parents families which seek a new life outside the hardship of the old
The fact that the veteran Jewish Ashkenazi elite of
But perhaps the biggest contribution towards the internal integration between the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim were not the absorption policy but the outside threat. The important role played by the Sephardim during the 1967 war and the other Arab-Israeli War narrowed the gap between the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim in Israel which dramatically raised expectation by the Sephardim for a quick change in their conditions especially in terms of better housing, education and jobs opportunities.
The Palestinian were seen by the Israeli as part of a general Arab horde challenging their existence, and the Palestinians’ own unique identity was sub-merged to some extent in that pan-Arab coalition. But once the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza fell under Israeli authority, they were no longer an external threat that Israeli could juts build a fence against or unleash its air force on, instead, they became an internal threat that made the lives of every Israeli uncomfortable whenever they went in their own security.
Israel's conflict with the Arabs' world
The first Arab rebellion for the formation of
The Arab world in general and Arab in
The armistice between
At first the effort to regain back the lost territories which as the result of the 1948-49 Arab Israeli war were supported by the International community. But later the world community were preoccupied by the latent threat of World Communism especially in Korea and Vietnam which divert the attention of the United Nations and the International Community from Palestine. By 1966, terrified being forgotten, Palestinian groups were turning to a new militancy which, if it could not threaten Israel’s existence, could at least remind Israelis of the uncomfortable fact that major issues had been left unresolved. As such, came the new term known as terrorism to the language of the International Relations.
In 1959, out of the discussion about the depressing state out of the fear that the world gradually beginning to forget about Israel, a number of young Arab leaders by the name Yasser Arafat, Khalil al-Wazir, and Salah Khalaf formed Fatah, its name derived from reversing the Arabic intials of ‘The Movement for the Liberation of Palestine’ (Haraka Tahrir Filastin); its journal Filastinuna (‘Our Palestine’) proclaimed the revival of Palestinian political awareness.
The political awareness of the Palestine movement later saw in May 1964 the existence of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), where its activities governed by the Palestine National Charter. The basic premise of the Charter was the familiar one of the illegality of the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel. In May 1996, the PLO revoked the clauses in the National Charter which referred to Israel’s destruction in due obligations of the Peace Process brokered by President Bill Clinton.
The PLO had seen the formation of the Palestine Liberation Army which started to attract recruits from the ranks of Fatah. Under Arafat, PLO concluded that military action was needed against the Israel that would precipitate an all out war through gradual military escalation between Israel and the regular Arab armies. The 1967 war known as Six Day War between Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria) with the Israel Defence Force left Israel firmly in control of all the land of mandatory Palestine, as well as extensive Egyptian and Syrian territory, and tilted the balance of Middle East power firmly in an Israeli direction.
The Israel victory in the Six Day War not only had the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria decimated, but Israel now controlled the future of east Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Desert and the Golan Heights, and also enjoyed the overwhelming support of Western public opinion. The annexation of the Old City was regarded with dismay throughout the Muslim world because it perceived threat to the Haram al-Sharif and did nothing to encourage Arabs to compromise. Nor was it recognised by the international community.
Some of the Arabs leaders were hoping that the Six Day War would break Israel to pieces by the armies of the Arab states, but what happened were contrary. They were left confounded and they do not see in much closer time that Arab armies would be credible enough to be pitted against the Israelis armies. As such for the post-Six Days War, PLO had organised a terror attack against the conventional army of the Israel Defence Force. Fatah had gone for underground campaign in the West Bank through numerous terror attacks. Under Arafat, PLO had been very effective especially when Arafat ensured that its activities were adequately financed through a tax on the income of the Palestinian employee’s throughout the Arab world and support from the sympathetic states like Saudi Arabia and Libya.
In the early 1970s, when Fatah pursued its policy of conventional raids, the Popular Front from the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), led by Dr. George Habash, pioneered the technique of striking at the more vulnerable, but headline catching, target or airliners thus setting a pattern for conventional terrorism striking air freight with civilians on board as it can be seen that such tactics despite its brutality managed to catch world attention to the Palestine problems once again.
After being ousted from operating organized terror attack from Jordan by King Hussein in 1970, the Palestinian guerrillas made Lebanon as the main focus of their activities, not least because they had a steady stream of recruits from amongst the 400, 000 inhabitants of the country’s refugee camps. The growing strength of the Shi’ite and Palestinians brought to the surface the gnawing fear amongst the Maronites that their privileged position in the country’s political and economic life was fated to disappear. These factors then lead a grabbing opportunity for the Israel to strike back to the PLO of all their terrorist attacks against the Israel civilians by uniting with the Lebanese Maronites against the PLO. Later in 1981, Israel invades Lebanon on the pretext that Palestinian had been launching rockets against Israel towns, especially Kiryat Shmonah. This invasion lead to new problems which threatens the security of Israel public when the war precipitates the formation of another Islamic movement known as Hizbollah (The Party of God) whose activities came to torment the Israelis in the years ahead. Most of the Hizbollah members were Shi’ite sects and fiercely anti-Israeli.
The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan appear to open up an opportunity for the Israelis government for a closer tie with the United States government. The containment policy adopted by the United States had created a strategic relationship with Israel. Later to show how much assertive Israel had become to their security, on 7 June, Israeli jets destroyed the nuclear reactor at Osirak that Iraq had been building with Soviet and French help. Although the pre-emptive strike was condemned by the United States that saw the Americans were forced publicly to rebuke the Israelis; privately, they were quite pleased. In the course of the 1990 Gulf War, Iraq under Saddam Hussein had fired missiles at Israel in the hope that by retaliating, she would shatter the unity of the allied coalitions that at the time expelling the Republican Guards from Kuwait. Israel did nothing to retaliate gave it a claim on American goodwill in the post-war period. Arafat backed Iraq’s missiles launched had only estranged Palestinians caused from the United States and Saudi Arabia which had been PLO patrons for years in the field of financial back up.
During the Operation Iraqi Freedom launched by the coalition forces in 2003, Israel had declared that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein regime could begin a new stage for the Middle Eastern peace and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. Arial Sharon at that time had presented the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime would deprive terrorist networks of a patron, and hence encourage Palestinian to choose new leaders, ‘leaders who strive for peace’. As the threat of terror was removed, Israel would ‘be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state’, and bring an end to its settlement activity.
The Israel’s policy of the ‘iron fist’ against the Palestinian revival organisation such as Hizbollah inspire more resistance, including suicide car bombs against IDF which conventional resistance was hopeless. The feeling of neglect during the Cold War era contributes to a growing sense of frustration amongst the Palestinians. This feeling was particularly high in the Occupied Territories (West Bank - East Jerusalem and Gaza), which about to enter their third decade under Israeli rule. By 1987, the increasing numbers of Jewish immigrants and raising numbers of Jewish settlements, the Palestinians begin to see this as obstacle to their own political hopes.
The intifada which first broke out on 8 December 1987 was not planned but it as the culmination of all the disappointment, anger and frustration felt by the Palestinian on their future political hopes. As such, the form of protest through throwing stones and riots far surpassed any previous form of protest in the Occupied Territories. What became worst is that the Israeli authorities were unprepared to deal with it and saw them to use live ammunitions, tanks and conventional securities issues that gave rose to serious allegations of brutality, backed by television images which contributes to growing supports for the intifada and terrorist attack in Israel.
Through the intifada, the West Bankers and Gazans put the whole Palestinian movement on a new track and implemented a new method of resistance with massive effort, relatively non-lethal civil disobedience and a new message that they accepted the two-state solution.
The Israelis were not alone in being surprised by the nature and extent of the intifada. The PLO too had to define its political response, not least because of the growth of a potential rival, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamia, or Hamas. Founded by the religious teacher Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hamas first emerged at the start of the intifada in December 1987. The movement developed in two ways, its religious, social and educational work steadily attracted support, especially in the Gaza Strip, while its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigade, become a formidable opponent of the Israelis and a powerful rival to Fatah. As such, it posed a nascent, but growing, challenge, not just to Israel, but to the secular PLO.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Israeli Government knew that the collapse of Communism meant that they could not call for much longer on the strategic relationship with the United States. In as much, the Arabs too had been profoundly affected by these changes. Syria, the main military power confronting Israel, had lost its patron and arms supplier. Iraq, the only other significant Arab power likely to confront the Israelis, had been ravaged by the Gulf War. This international changes cause the Israelis and the Palestinians to review its feud and lead to the Oslo accord in Norway. In short, Israel was willing to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza.
The real threats from the agreement were the future of the Israeli settlements which were set up post Six Day War. This agreement also posed a threat to the right wing PLO when Arafat’s concessions would be challenged by those that wanted no compromise with Israel spearhead by Hamas. Together with Islamic Jihad, Hamas was to provide the spearhead of Palestinian opposition to the Oslo process. Its tactics were to resort to violence in order to provoke an Israeli response, and hence discredit the PLO’s concessions.
Attacks on Israelis increased as a result and in the end it would be the PLO’s own policeman who would have to confront Palestinian dissidents of whatever persuasions. For the Jewish settlers, the settled area was an inalienable part of the Jewish inheritance which they determined to retain. This causes the Jewish settlers to be hostile towards any relocation of the settlers. Most of the clashes between settlers and the government also PLO’s police were felt in Hebron and Gaza Strip. Hebron was one of the four Holy Cities of Judaism, it was deeply holy both to Jews and Muslim, because the presence of the ‘Tombs of the Patriarchs’, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with their wives Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. By Jewish tradition, too, Adam and Eve rested there: hence the ancient name Kiryat Arba (‘The Town of the Four’, in honour of the four couples), which the modern settlement’s name revived. The atmosphere in the city was invariably uneasy; the prime focus of tension being that what to Jews the Tomb of the Patriarchs was was to Muslim the Mosque of Ibrahim.
On the 26 October 1994, after intricate negotiations between Jordan and Israel, a peace treaty was concluded between those two countries. From this treaty, Israel gained security on its eastern flank, and Jordan agreed to renounce force and to ensure that acts of violence towards the Israelis would not originate from Jordan. Boundary disputes were apparently resolved in Jordan’s favour where 135 square miles were returned to Jordanian sovereignty with certain areas leased back to Israel. Jordan also was accorded a special position with regard to the holy sites of Jerusalem, to the fury of the PLO leadership which marked another key stage in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
On the 22 May 2000, Israel took a bold step to withdraw from the Southern Lebanon security zone. Israel was previously under increasing pressure in southern Lebanon as Hizbollah militiamen mounted attacks on its soldiers. But this step also creates an opportunity for Hizbollah to deploy its militiamen along Israel’s northern border. For the Palestinian, this withdraws seemed to confirm that Israel was vulnerable to sustained attacks, even to the extent of abandoning her long-standing Lebanese allies.
On 28 September 2000, a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Haram al-Sharif/ Temple Mount sparked the second intifada. Unlike the intifada of the late 1980s, the Palestinian security forces now had arms. More critically, the suicide bomb was to become the weapon of resistance for those who felt they had no other option. The only obvious method adopted by Israel for its defence was pre-emption, which is to kill people believed by the Israeli security forces to be a terrorist. By July 2001, the Israeli strategy had become one of targeting prominent Palestinians they believed were instrumental in orchestrating the violence. This tenet can be seen through the retaliatory strike adopted by the Israeli security forces by bombing the Palestinian Authority buildings in the West Bank and Gaza and also the launching of the ‘Operation Defensive Shield’, where the operation’s initial target was Ramallah, where Arafat’s headquarters were surrounded.
On the 4 October 2002, carrying the pre-emption policy, the Israeli Air Force struck at what their government claimed was a training camp near Damascus. The attack on Syria was both a stark warning, and carried the threat that the conflict could once again assume wider dimensions. Later on 22 March 2004, Israeli missiles killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was Hamas inspired leader in Gaza. Israeli government evidently hoped that it was decapitating Hamas’s leadership in Gaza, and hence undermining its ability to strike, but at the same time they were also running a grave risk of creating martyrs whose deaths others would seek to avenge.
The Israelis security were put to tense situation when on 26 October 2005, the newly elected leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began to express controversial anti-Israeli sentiments. After Iraq, Iran which was the world’s major Shi’ite power also the attracting point for Shi’ite Hizbollah militia in Southern Lebanon, strongly posed a major threat to Israel security especially across the Israel’s northern border. The issues of Iran’s nuclear programme further triggered fears in Israel moreover the signing of a defence pact between Iran and Syria did nothing to reassure a febrile Israeli public.
For most of the Israelis, the main issues concerns their daily life were that of security. On the ground and in their daily life reality, there seemed to be no defence against the suicide bomber even with their security forces and their utmost vigilance, the construction of security fences, and pre-emptive and retaliatory strikes against those identified as the Israelis enemy.
The frustration felt among the Palestinian people for their cause to oust the Jews from the land which was theirs before would castigate any effort in gaining the world attention as terrorist attack. Israel would use this violence method as a pretext to gain supports from the Western government to keep Palestinian problems in control. Problems of the nature of the Jewish state remained. Zionism always had a complex relationship with religion and there is also a tension between secular and religious Jewish traditions.
Israel will always be marred by the various splits within Israeli society, for there remained an ultimate consensus around the nature of the state and its Jewish identity. Further internal contradiction will be contributed by the Israeli Arabs, who formed over 20 per cent of the country’s 6, 426, 679 inhabitants, and were a local majority in parts of the north of the country. This Israeli Arabs had been left behind in terms of building the Jewish state and they are determined to demand their rights as full citizens.
The effect of the intifada launched by the Israeli Arabs make the Israeli Jews to realize that the Israeli Arabs riots were a reaction not only to feelings of solidarity with their brethrens under military occupation in the occupied territories, but also to historic prejudices and inequalities in Israel itself, where the average income of Arabs in the early 2000s was the lowest of any ethnic group in the country, the infant mortality rate was almost twice as high as for Jews (9.6 per 1000 births, compared with 5.3) and Arab Israelis were discriminated against when it came to social security and other benefits. Above all, the Al-Aqsa intifada increased the sense of frustration within Israeli society towards a peace process which rather than producing security, brought war and devastation.
The peace initiative was based on the belief that the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 was the principal source of Arab radicalism. At this current time, Arab radicals and nationalist were not seeking peace with Israel, honourable or otherwise. To them, the Jewish state was an alien presence injected into traditionally Arab lands on the basis of a 2,000 year old claim and to expiate the Jews’ suffering, which the Arab peoples had not caused.
- Ahron Bregman, A History of Israel, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003;
- T.G. Fraser, The Arab – Israeli Conflict, Palgrave Macmillan (Third Edition), 2008;
- Thomas Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, HarperCollins Publisher, 1995; and
- Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1994.
 Ahron Bregman, A History of
 Thomas Friedman, From
 Ahron Bregman, 2003, p. xvii
 T.G. Fraser, The Arab – Israeli Conflict, Palgrave Macmillan (Third Edition), 2008, p. 1.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 51.
 Sephardim – Oriental or Eastern Jews, mostly dark skin coloured and poor economic background.
 Ashkenazim – Jews of European and American origins, fair skin coloured and well economic background.
 Ahron Bregman, 2003, p. 221 – 222.
 Ahron Bregman, 2003, p. 225.
 Ahron Bregman, 2003, p. 225.
 Ibid. p. 167.
 Thomas Friedman, 1995, p. 346.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 25
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 45.
 Ibid. p. 49.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 77.
 Ibid. p. 75.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 78.
 Ibid. p. 85.
 Ibid. p. 89.
 Known as Black September
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 114.
 Ibid. p. 115.
 Ibid. p. 127.
 Ibid. p. 134.
 Ibid. p. 126.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 139.
 Ibid. p. 175.
 Ibid. p. 136.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 136.
 Thomas Friedman, 1995, p. 388.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 136 – 137.
 Ibid. p. 137.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 141.
 Ibid. p. 144.
 Ibid. p. 145.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 147 – 148.
 Ibid. p.160 – 161.
 Ibid. p. 167.
 T.G. Fraser, 2008, p. 186.
 Ibid. p. 198.
 Ahron Bregman, 2003, p. 285.
 Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1994, p. 527.