Illuminating the True History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict©
3 Pages
English
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Illuminating the True History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict©

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3 Pages
English

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Illuminating the True History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict©

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Illuminating the True History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
©
Are the 54 years of modern Israel a triumph or tragedy? Everything depends on one’s point of view.
To religious Zionists the return to Israel in 1948 must have seemed like the fruition of God’s promises
from the Torah. To the Palestinians who had lived there for centuries, it brought about what they call the
Nakhba, The Catastrophe.
Jews trace their ancestry in the land to Abraham, the patriarch who migrated from Ur of Chaldea (modern
Iraq) to Hebron sometime during the second millennium B.C. His descendants became the tribes of Israel,
ancestors of modern Jews.
The Romans used the name, Palestine, since the second century B.C. Christian Palestinians identify their
ancestors among the first followers of Jesus. The Palestinian Melkite Christian Church, for example, is
recognized from the early centuries of the first Christian millennium. Muslim Palestinians trace their roots
in the land to the Muslim conquest in the 7th century. A Palestinian is defined as an Arab (one who speaks
Arabic) whose homeland is Palestine. Today Palestinians are diverse ethnically (Arab, Armenian, etc.) and
religiously (Muslim, Christian, Druze).
We who are neither survivors of the Holocaust nor natives of Palestine can never fully understand the
experiences and emotions of the two peoples who share so much, yet who are so different. We may
express opinions from our limited understanding, but we will not approach even an elementary notion of
what it is like to be an Israeli or Palestinian today.
Some understanding of the roots of today’s strife can be found in the events in Central and Eastern
Europe during the early 1900’s. During the period from about 1900 through the 1930’s, pogroms were
conducted against Jews living in Central and Eastern European countries, in which serious oppression of
Jews took place. Jews were discriminated against, their businesses and assets confiscated, and synagogues
burned. Some believe that these pogroms conditioned people’s attitudes toward Jews and led to the Nazi
Holocaust.
Some Jews in Europe reacted to the pogroms with underground paramilitary operations. Many Jews saw
socialism as a solution to their problems. The result was a growth of socialist-underground groups. As
Hitler’s brutality against Jews increased, some of these groups and their leaders moved to Palestine. There
they continued their paramilitary activities, now directed against the British forces in the Mid East and
Palestinians. Menachem Begin was one of these insurgent leaders who left Poland in 1938 and became
commander of the underground Irgun in Palestine.
The Jewish population of Ancient Israel was diminished following the Jewish War of 66-70 AD and the
Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-135 AD, especially in Judea, and can be presumed to be a minority in the land
during the ensuing centuries. As late as 1900 about 5,000 Jews lived in Palestine.
As more European Jews saw Palestine as a place to escape, the influx of Jews into Palestine led to
increased tensions between Palestinians and immigrating Jews. In 1914 the Jewish population of Palestine
was 85,000 (12% of the total) - the rest being Christian and Muslim. In 1939 the Jewish population had
risen to 30% of the total. In 1947 those of Jewish ancestry were 34% of the population. Through the
promotions of the Israeli government the Jewish population had swelled to 5,443,134 (72% of the total
population) by 1995.