General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

If you were to explain the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to someone else's kid, what would you say?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19041points) June 16th, 2011

If you were to give as unbiased an explanation of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as you could, what would you say?

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27 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

After World War Two, the United Nations recognized the Jewish people as being in need of a safe nation in their traditional homeland. The tension in the region had been a problem for many years as different countries had taken over Palestine.

When Israel was created, there was fighting from the very beginning. The Palestinians didn’t want to share their land with the Israelis. And other Arab countries resented the presence of Israel. Twice the Israelis were attacked, but fought back. In 1967, they actually took over land that had been reserved for the Palestinians, including the West Bank and Jerusalem.

There was another war in 1973, which ended with things as they were. Since then there have been efforts at peace, but over the years each side has become more and more stuck in their positions, and those who would work towards peace have been criticized by their own people. Many on both sides would rather live with violence than try to live in peace.

JLeslie's avatar

Depends how old the kid is. If very young I would just say there are two groups of people who both want the same land to be their own country. They both feel they have the right, so they fight about.

Pandora's avatar

Humans that rather kill or be killed for a piece of dried up land. People who are willing to risk their lives and the lives of the people they love than share a land. People who forgot about the value of life and sold their souls to the devil for what they call Holy Land. People who don’t understand that land belongs to no one person. We are simply the care takers.

jlelandg's avatar

I had this problem about an hour ago. A Chinese student is trying to write a paper on the cause of war, and he believed that the conflict was due to this, I tried to help him find research and I explained to him, that it’s really difficult to pinpoint because there are very passionate ideas on the subject.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I’d take one of the kids toys away and tell him his parents said it was okay because someone once stole one of my toys and I need a replacement. When the kid pointed out that made no sense and wasn’t fair, I’d say “See? You understand the situation perfectly!”

Qingu's avatar

Thousands of years ago a group of tribal savages concocted legends about how their imaginary deity promised them a magic land in the middle of a desert, and how they should commit genocide against the people living there. Some of the descendants of these savages—Jews—ended up settling there, getting conquered, reconquered, scattered, and absorbed into other cultures.

Flash forward to the 20th century. Some Jews, living in Western countries, who believe in the surviving religious tradition of these ancient tribal savages, “zionists,” want to resettle this supposedly magic land. In many such countries, Jews were treated horribly, which no doubt motivated some of them to leave.

The problem was that other people, Arabs (Palestinians), were now living on that land. Also, the British government colonially controlled the land. The Arabs didn’t want a lot of foreigners coming into their land all the sudden and taking over. So the British, to appease the Arabs, limited the number of Jews they let in.

Some of the Zionists settled there peacefully. Others got into conflicts with the Arabs, often because the Arabs attacked them. Still other Zionists became terrorists, carrying out vicious “revenge” attacks against Arab civilians and bombing British soldiers and property.

After World War 2, which saw the Jews suffer the worst genocide in history, European colonial powers became much more sympathetic to the Zionists and created a Jewish state, Israel, in the middle of this Arab land that other people were already living on.

Unsurprisingly, these foreigners deciding unilaterally that another group of foreigners could establish a country in the middle of their land angered the Arabs living there even more. So the Arabs attacked the new country of Israel. Israel easily won the war and conquered more Arab land. But rather than annex much of that land into their own country—which would give the Arabs there the right to participate in a supposedly Jewish state—the Jews kept the Arabs under military occupation.

The Arabs, hopelessly outclassed military, resorted more to terrorism. The Jews responded to terrorist attacks often with military force. The cycle continued for decades, with occasional wars where Arab states threaten Israel and Israel uses overwhelming military force to win. Although the Jews do not tend to directly target civilians as the Arab terrorists do, they end up killing many many more civilians through superior military technology.

The imbalance in civilian deaths, along with the basically apartheid state of affairs where Israel militarily controls millions of people who have no representation in Israeli government, enrages the rest of the Arab world and causes the majority of countries in the world to condemn Israel on a regular basis. The main exception is America, which has a disproportionately powerful Jewish lobby and a huge political bloc of insane evangelical Christians who believe it is their religious duty to support Israel because doing so will hasten the end times. Meanwhile, many Israelis believe they have the right to militarily occupy Arab population centers because they require “security” against Arab attacks.

I guess that’s probably too long and complicated for a child to understand. Of course, part of the problem with this conflict is that so many people tend to look at it in black and white terms as if they were children.

mote's avatar

If you want to follow the vile and anti-Semitic route, choose @Qingu‘s answer. Those words readily could have come out of notorious anti-Semite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mouth. Note the confluence of attacks on religion (but really only Judaism), attacks on politics (Zionism, but not pan-Arabism) and blatant anti-Semitism ”disproportionately powerful Jewish lobby” (code: those filthy Jews that run Washington…)

That Jews have been living in the land known as Israel for >2000 years is not mentioned. That Jews were emigrating for 100 years prior to 1945 is not mentioned. That Jews legally purchased a lot of the land of Israel is not mentioned. That the Arab countries attempted to exterminate the Jews and “drive them to the sea” in both 1945 and 1973 is not mentioned. That borders have always been fluid is ignored and that indeed most of the borders of the entire middle east were drawn by the British and French is also ignored. That Arab and Persian dictators have conveniently used Israel as a scapegoat for their plethora of internal problems is ignored (witness Syria cynically allowing protesters to attack the border with Israel at the same time as they are killing their own people in a desperate attempt to shift the news to “the Israeli problem”).

There are many more evenly balanced views to be found on the web and in books. I strongly urge you to avoid those that express their hatred of Jews and Israel as noted in the prior answer.

DeanV's avatar

People be mad.

Never been good with words/politics.

jlelandg's avatar

That land has switch hands for 3000 years. Jews settled it first, left, took it back, then taken from, then came back (maybe I’m missing a step or two). Seems like an established Israel and Palestine would make sane people happy-but there is no sanity. I wonder if aliens attacked if these people would band together?

gorillapaws's avatar

@mote one can criticize the political and military decisions of the Israeli government without being anti-semetic.

One could certainly argue that attempting to keep Gaza’s economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis is also a form of terrorism, collective-punnishment and the act of a brutal regime. Just as the people of Israel have many things to be proud of, and a great many accomplishments, there are also many acts perpetuated by their government that are quite shameful (not unlike some of the darker moments of US history).

Qingu's avatar

Hi @mote,

As it happens, I myself happen to be a Semite. In fact, my grandparents’ relatives were killed in Hitler’s concentration camps! So it’s a bit odd to be called an anti-Semite.

If you are looking for an ad-hominem slur to shut down the discussion rather than respond to what I wrote, I would suggest instead calling me a “self-hating Jew.” Of course that’s not exactly accurate either, but at least it’s not quite as absurd.

Qingu's avatar

Oh, and pointing out that the pro-Israel lobby in the United States is disproportionately powerful is simply a matter of fact.

It’s not “balanced” to respond to matters of fact with ad hominem attacks, and I think it is obscene and shameful that so many pro-Israel people respond to criticism with knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism. The despicable history of anti-Semitism is not something that should be trotted out to score debate points, and doing so disrespects all of the people (including my relatives) who have actually suffered anti-Semitism.

Qingu's avatar

With that said, I actually agree with many of your points… and I disagree that I left many of them out.

I did mention the Jews had been emigrating there prior to the 1940’s. I said “some Zionists moved there peacefully.” And the limits on emigration by the British was the source of Zionist resentment and the motivation for Zionist terrorist attacks against British.

I did mention the Arab attacks, both in general and in the case of actual wars, though I did not give the years. And while I left out the disturbing language, I think that was implied by the fact that the Arabs were enraged by the existence of this country in their land.

I agree the borders were the result of colonialism (I would say callously and stupidly so, the legacy of which ruinously affects people all over the world, not just in Palestine).

And I certainly agree that many Arab countries and Arab people use Israel as a scapegoat, that Arab resentment towards Israel has largely overreached any rational basis (in large part because it has become mixed up with insane Islamic religiosity and jihadism). But I think it’s much more important to focus on the core of such resentments—the colonialist origins of the state, the constant military occupation and apartheid status of Arabs in occupied territories, the imbalance of civilian deaths—which clearly does have a rational basis.

flutherother's avatar

I would arrange with the parents of the kid that my kid move into his bedroom on a permanent basis. They wouldn’t share the room, but it would be divided down the middle and the other kid would have no say in the matter. And my kid would be bigger than his kid.

mote's avatar

None of my comments were ad hominem attacks (I think you ned to learn what an ad hominem attack really is). They are, quite simply, true. Your comment comparing Jews to savages is disgusting.Your follow-up statement that Jews have disproportionate influence is a canard thrown around constantly by anti-Semites. Who are you (or anyone else) to decide what is proportionate?

In any event, I’ve been here long enough to encounter your “balanced” comments on Judaism. Indeed, since you have a long and distinct history of attacking Judaism, I find it absurd that you would claim Jewish heritage as a “defense” against anti-Semitism. You are either Jewish, or you are not, in which case your anti-Semitism is just as natural as that demonstrated by the KKK. Furthermore, for someone who claims to have lost relatives in the Shoah, you have an awfully narrow and naive worldview. Do you really think that Jews can trust anyone given the past? The Inquisition, pogroms in Poland and Russia, Dreyfus affair, Holocaust, worldwide anti-Semitism as manifest by the “United Nations”, Arab nationalism and jihadism and so on? Think another Shoah isn’t likely? It is awfully easy for someone like you to espouse your virulent leftist ideas from the comfort of your own home. However, there are many people whose lives depend on military strength (some of those people may actually be your relatives). Those who neglect the past are doomed to repeat it.

Qingu's avatar

@mote, you called me an anti-Semite instead of actually addressing what I said meaningfully. That’s the definition of an ad hominem attack.

I absolutely stand by what I said regarding the ancient Hebrews being savages. They were savages. According to the Bible, they committed genocide against their neighbors. The Bible is in fact the only religious text to command genocide (Deuteronomy 13:12, 20:16). The entire book of Joshua is essentially a victorious description of multiple genocides. Whether or not the historical Hebrews actually committed these acts is in doubt by scholars, but the fact that their religion condoned genocide, celebrated genocide—the entire pretext of their receiving the “promised land” is the genocide of the Canaanites—is absolutely despicable. Not even the Babylonians and Romans did such things to the people they conquered.

As for “disproportionate influence,” I’m sure you’ve heard of The Israel Lobby (and probably dismissed it as anti-Semitic instead of paying attention to what it said).

Also, you need to learn the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. I am anti-Jewish; I am also anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. I’m an atheist and I think the content of the BIble is morally despicable. So should you. Any book that commands genocide, and any religion based on it, belongs in the dustbin of history. Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is the idea that Jews are a race that should be denied equal rights or exterminated. I don’t believe Jews are a race; I don’t believe any person should be denied equal rights or exterminated.

Finally, I think your last post demonstrates a pathetic, paranoid, tribal worldview that I sincerely hope you grow out of someday. You wish to define Jews as the eternal victims, unable to trust anyone who is not a “Semite,” because the world is just waiting for the chance to commit another Holocaust. Anyone who even dares to criticize your tribe is just another Hitler-in-waiting, therefore you are entitled to exert your “military strength” to secure an apartheid state and lash out at anyone who criticizes it. It’s the cultural equivalent of an abused child growing up to be abusive himself.

I don’t see the Holocaust as a tragedy that is owned by Jewish people. The tragedy of the Holocaust is that an entire culture was deluded enough to systematically murder almost 10 million innocent human beings—most of them Jews, but others as well. It was, like all the other genocides in history that did not affect the Jews, a tragedy of the human race. And this tragedy should never be used to justify further oppression of other human beings.

And yes, it may be easy for me to say that sitting in the comfort of my own home. But it’s also a lot easier for you to espouse neocon militarism than it is for a Palestinian to forgive, forget, and seek peace when his family has just been killed by Israeli airstrikes. If you continue to respond to criticism of the policies you support by calling critics anti-Semites, you are simply demonstrating how utterly thoughtless and callous your position is.

Qingu's avatar

Also, as a purely practical matter, I don’t see what the holy hell securing a Jewish state in the promised land has to do with protecting the Jewish people against another Holocaust.

If the fourth reich comes to power, a tiny Jewish country surrounded by brown people is the absolute perfect target for a thermonuclear ICBM.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s cool off, folks. No need to make this personal.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
mattbrowne's avatar

“Hatred breeds hatred. Here’s an explanation of a so-called vicious circle…”

josie's avatar

“Together we share our diverse experience and knowledge”
Fluther. You gotta love it.

Response moderated (Spam)
gorillapaws's avatar

@zensky Cute song, but it seems to conveniently merge the ideas of oppressing millions of people under the umbrella of “self-defense.” Also, I think you’ll find that much of the world does in fact care about Israeli blood/lives lost, however they would argue like I would that the current political trajectory practiced by hardliners in the government who continue to expand settlements, and respond to provocation with grossly disproportionate force will ultimately result in prolonging the conflict indefinitely, foster even further resentment by their neighbors, and result in many orders of magnitude greater Israeli deaths over the decades to come.

I personally would love to hear that no Israelis died from violence, and I think much of the developed world would as well. The problem is that the state of Israel has gone from being the underdog, scrappy kid on the block just trying to get by with neighbors that wanted to take it out, to being a regional superpower (bolstered by massive military aid) who has begun behaving like the picked-on-child who becomes an abusive cop later in life, madly drunk with it’s own power. The “poor me” approach has lost a lot of it’s validity when an order of magnitude greater number of Israeli people loose their lives to traffic accidents than to terror, and it’s taken the oppression of millions of people, and destroying the lives of innocents to achieve this “security”.

So, yes I do feel sad for the lost Israeli lives, but I feel sadness in proportion to the losses suffered, if you consider how many innocent Palestinians have lost their lives as a result of violence, food shortages, or the inability to access medical care I feel much sadder for them (because there are so many more of them). Furthermore if you consider the “separate but equalesque” policy with regards to the Arabs who are citizens of Israel, the overwhelming lack of opportunities they have to succeed and the accompanying sense of destitution, the racist laws passed agains them, the radically disproportionate distribution of funds and other factors, and it’s easy to see how a young man with no hope of a future can be sucked in by fundamentalists and brainwashed into committing atrocities.

Israel’s policies are creating the very environment that is most conducive to turning potentially peaceful people into terrorists (oppression, hopelessness, fiscal hardship, racism, etc.). So you’ll have to forgive me when I hear that chick squawking about the right to self-defense and then roll my eyes when Israel is responsible for 25 Palestinian civilian deaths for every Israeli civilian death since 2001 (this excludes Palestinian deaths due to suicide, or the victim of a targeted killing).

zensky's avatar

Sung to the tune of @gorillapaws.

gorillapaws's avatar

@zensky Believe it or not, I really do care about the Israeli people. I would love for my proverbial grandchildren to grow up in a world where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was something they only ever read about in history books, and not on the news. I have a lot of respect for the Israeli people themselves, which is why I’m so critical of the policies of the current government. I’m confident that Israelis will look back at this period in its history as Americans do on the Japanese Internment camps, or on the way Native Americans were treated, with sadness and shame.

A lot of Americans could really care less about a problem on the other side of the planet, they’re too busy looking for jobs, trying to raise families, or handling other problems of their own. I care enough to take the time to be critical of Israel’s approach because I think the current policies will ultimately prolong the suffering for all people involved. I would love to see Israel return to it’s former reputation as an example nation that others should respect and emulate. It’s amazing that one radical Israeli was able shift the course of his country so dramatically by assassinating Rabin.

zensky's avatar

Rabin was responsible for more settlements than any other Prime Minister. When the Intifada broke out, he said “break their bones.”

You really need to read more in depth articles about Israel first – and not just the article de jour – from the Palestinian’s perspective. I would normally ignore you – but I have a challenge for you: though I disagree with most of Netanyahu’s policies, I did agree with much of what he said in his recent Un speech. If you listen to it – I will discuss it with you – if you want.

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