Israel/Palestine in a Nutshell
We here at Art With Impact understand that some issues may be convoluted and pretty tricky to maneuver, so it can feel overwhelming just getting the basic information needed just to decide where you stand one way or the other (or if you even want to stand on one side or the other). THEN you have get even more information to decide who to yell at and who to be friends with so you can make your new-found issue go away / get better / change the world. That is a lot of work, so we don’t blame you for shying away from it in the past. But that is the past, and moving forward, we’d like to help make some things a little bit easier for you.
Where to Start?
Let’s start with Israel and Palestine, shall we? This is up there in the tricky to maneuver scale, but is relatively easy to get information on – it’s just that a lot of the information is intertwined with people’s emotions and prejudices, and it tends to break down even more when it comes to the language used.
For instance, Art With Impact calls the wall between Israel and Palestine the “Separation Barrier”, to keep the term understandable yet neutral. Israel calls it the “Security Fence” (sounds like a tiny little fence in your front yard) while Palestinians and their supporters call it an “Apartheid Wall” (which conjures a VERY different image). So which is it? Well, it’s any and all of those things, depending on what you believe and feel. What you call it comes from what you learn over time.
There are many opinions and viewpoints surrounding “The History of the Conflict” and I’m going to try and break it down as best I can, as neutral as I can, while still honoring people’s memories and history.
How Did it Start?
You may have heard that this conflict has gone on for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. In reality, the conflict that we hear about today is relatively young. You can see an abbreviated timeline of the region here on our website, which DOES begin waaaaay back in the Roman Empire, but take note that the meat of the matter (and present day issues) actually begins around 1947. This is when Britain ceded control of Palestine to the UN, who then partitioned it into two parts: one for the Jews (who had been immigrating over since World War I) and one for the Arabs. The Arabs rejected the plan while David Ben-Gurion declared the foundation of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948. Following this were several attempts to gain control of the land with aggressions from both sides – the capturing and release of the Suez Canal, the Six Day war, the Yom Kippur war, Israeli invasion of Lebanon, establishment of Jewish settlements, increased suicide bombings, erection of a separation wall, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.
And thus began the struggle for right to the land in its entirety, with little to no understanding or empathy around finding solutions for the other people in the region who are clearly not going to leave. The main issues that have arisen from this lack of understanding (called the Final Status Issues) are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and legalities concerning refugees (all of these are elaborated in our glossary).
Check out the Israel / Palestine 101 page on our website, which has links to Timelines, Glossary of Terms and Maps for easy viewing.
There are also some other great resources out there that quick and easy to get started with, such as this very informative flash timeline. We also love Pro/Con, which tackles some great and tough questions in a neat way.
Obviously, I don’t want to oversimplify what has been happening in Israel and Palestine, but my point is that we can learn about and understand “complicated issues” (even in a blog) one step at a time and this new information will continue to grow, a little or a lot at a time. Maybe one day the paradigm will actually shift because of all these new little learnings. Now that would be cool.