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Useful Notes: Arab-Israeli Conflict
Egypt's gonna get one, too
Just to use on you know who
So Israel's getting tense
Wants one in "self defense"...
Tom Lehrer on the state of the conflict as of the early 60s, Who's Next?.

A 60note  year long ongoing conflict involving Jews, Arabs, a few Iranians, suicide bombings, F-15s, hatred, Jerusalem, and refugees. Don't start here on the rights and wrongs of it, as this will cause an Internet Backdraft.

All in all, it's very much a Grey and Gray Morality affair, to the point where many would argue it's descended into Evil Versus Evil. Depending on which side you take, you may see tropes in Real Life here such as The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified, The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized, The Empire, La Résistance, The Remnant, We Are Struggling Together, Villain with Good Publicity, Hero with Bad Publicity (and no one can agree on who has the good or bad publicity), The Kingdom, The Federation, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, and Idiot Ball. There's also plenty of Cultural Posturing to go around on both sides. The exact combination of these you perceive depends on your nationality, religion, and political bent. And everyone can agree that foreign discussion of the conflict tends to suffer from the Golden Mean Fallacy and the Wounded Gazelle Gambit. Additionally, with so many sides playing or trying to play subtle games to their own ends, you find that the whole thing is a mess often conducted by gibbering idiots, with a dash of nationalism to make things that much more explosive (we mean that literally as well as figuratively).

The conflict can fall into the lines in the With Us or Against Us category as well. Countries and groups taking sides of this conflict will often find themselves with really negative attitudes and diplomatic relations with the other party. This is one of the main reasons why United States's support of Israel makes it extremely difficult to maintain good diplomatic relations with many Arab majority countries. At the same time, Russia's military and economic support with many Arab regimes like Syria's Assad's regime note  made it difficult note  to maintain good relations with Israel. Other hand, many countries managed to Take a Third Option and decided not to take sides of the conflict and maintain stable and reasonable relations with both parties note 

Oh, and due to this conflict, many Jews will suffer from the same Misplaced Nationalism as Iranians if someone suggests that the Middle East is all Arabs.

On top of everything else, for a patch of land the size of New Jersey and without a single drop of oil or gas (until 2011, and not much even then), the conflict has become a massive fodder for international diplomatic machinations and shady dealings. Western powers, most notably America, treat Israel as a democratic foothold into the rest of the Middle East, which was yet another battleground at the height of the Cold War. In that time, Israel served as a surrogate against Soviet-backed allies in Egypt under Nasser or Sadat and Syria under Assad. Nowadays, Israel currently works as an enemy of Iran, an ally of both China and Russia as well as an ally of America and Saudi Arabia.

Supporting Israeli causes helps Western politicians to curry favor with the local Jewish constituency (especially blatant in the US — which for a long time had a higher Jewish population than Israel). More religious officials like to curry favor with a common deity whose messiah the supporters (but less so the supportees) expect to return at any moment (even more blatant in the US with the Conservative Christian elements of the Republican Party) while not being so supportive that it pisses off the nearby Palestinian-sympathizing nations who do have the oil. The many Islamic countries and terrorist organizations treat the oppression of Palestinians as a unifying rallying point, or use it as a convenient excuse to justify acts of terrorism.

It should also be noted that despite its length (well over 60 years) and the attention it gets on the international media, the Arab-Israeli Conflict is actually one of the least bloody of the ongoing conflicts in the world today, with the combined death toll not even reaching the 60,000 mark. On the other hand, literally everyone in the area, Israelis and Palestinians, knows someone who was killed or injured by the other perhaps the stubbornness involved is a little more understandable, no?

See also: Israelis with Infrared Missiles, Egyptians with Eagle Fighters, and Warriors Of The Desert Wind.

Major wars of the Arab-Israeli Conflict includenote :
  • The Arab Uprising of 1936-1939: directed against Jews, the British, and those Arabs who didn't support Haj Amin al-Husseini. Ended up backfiring badly against those who initiated it, by greatly weakening the Arab economy, and turning its Jewish equivalent much more self-sufficient, while not achieving all that much to show for all the trouble it caused.
  • World War II: Haj Amin al-Husseini takes part in the Farhud in Baghdad in 1941, a coup that unseated the British-insalled Iraqi Monarch and declared itself for the Axis.... for all of a few weeks before the British shifted enough troops over and smashed the revolt with the help of loyalists. Al-Husseini spends the remainder of the war making propaganda broadcasts in Germany and recruiting Muslims into the Waffen-SS. Al-Husseini even befriended Adolf Hitler and was rumored to help Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.note  Husseini's ties with Nazi Germany had established a Godwin's Law Strawman Political for many political critics of Islam like Pamela Gellet and Robert Spencer; and many far-right wing websitesnote  To their credit, most Arabs don't really notice.
  • The Arab Uprising of 1947-1948: again led by Haj Amin al-Husseini. Since the British were leaving, it was mostly directed at the Jews (with the Jews fighting back with the paramilitary Palmach, regular Haganah, irregular Irgun, and the terroristic — and occasionally quasi-fascist — Lehi), but once again, level-headed Arabs got caught in the crossfire.
  • The Israeli War of Independence, 1948-1949: Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon invaded Israel upon its establishment as a state. Many historians — even Arab ones — now regard this as a huge but inevitable mistake: the Arab governments were almost all very unpopular at home — most of them on the verge of revolution — and so they stirred up resentment against the Jewish settlers in Palestine to get the people's attention off the home front. This worked too well, and the Arab governments found themselves facing a war that they knew they were going to lose. The Arabs are defeated for a variety of reasons, but not as badly as they would be in later wars: Egypt managed to get the Gaza Strip out of it, and Jordan got the West Bank and part of Jerusalem, including the Old City. As many as 800,000 Palestinians fled and were mostly not allowed to return to Israel, with an uncertain but significant number being forced out at gunpoint by Israeli military forces or militias. 900,000 Middle Eastern Jews were expelled from Arab countries (again, to get the people's minds off rebellion) and settled in Israel and elsewhere. The event is generally known as Al-Nakba (the Disaster) by Arabs. For a final irony, the Arab governments' plans all failed utterly: within the next ten years, Egypt and Iraq both had revolutions/coups d'etat, Jordan's king was assassinated by a disgruntled Palestinian, Syria entered a ten-year period where coups happened not once but twice a year, and Lebanon had to call in the United States Marines to avert a civil war. Meanwhile, whipped up by government rhetoric against the Jews (again, a means of distracting the populace, just like the war), many of the dumber segments of Arab society began to conduct pogroms against the local Jewish populations, leading to the aforementioned mass exodus of the (formerly substantial) Jewish communities of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq to Israel (ironically creating exactly the sort of large, disenfranchised, and bitter power base needed for the most radical segments of the Israeli Right to eventually take power in the 1970s). The stupidest of the pogromites unfortunately started to think that Those Wacky Nazis had the right idea in demanding the total extermination of the Jewish people; we should note that most Arabs thought that this was rather extreme even at the time, although the complete elimination of Israel remained a major goal/dream for some time.
  • The Suez War, 1956: Israel attacked Egypt as part of an Anglo-French ruse (namely a painfully-obvious Batman Gambit) to prevent the nationalization of the Suez Canal; the Israelis joined for related reasons (ending an Egyptian blockade of Israeli shipping through the Red Sea, and ending terrorist attacks and other nuisances originating from Egyptian-held territory). Israel seized the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, while Britain and France took over the Canal itself to "separate" the Egyptians and Israelis "in the cause of peace." While the unprepared Egyptians frankly got their asses kicked militarily, clever Cold War political maneuvering by the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser (convincing both the Soviet Union and United States to oppose the venture) made up for that; France and Britain soon folded and evacuated their troops. Israel withstood combined Soviet and American pressure into 1957, obtaining a new cease-fire agreement with Egypt that ended the blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea, demilitarized the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and inventing the UN peace-keeping force to place in those two territories as a means to keep them separate.note  This was regarded as a humiliation by the Egyptians. Arabs often call this one Al-`Idwan al-Thalathi — the Tripartite Aggression (i.e. Israel, Britain, and France; thanks to colonialism, the Arabs had plenty of reason to hate the last two).
    • This war and its build-up led to an alliance between France and Israel. Yes, France and Israel. The Fourth Republic was desperately trying to hang on to Algeria, making it a particular enemy of pretty much all the Arab states; by that logic, Israel was a natural ally. The fact that Israel was likely to get into a shooting war with its neighbors made it even more attractive; Israel's wars could and did serve as a proving ground for much French military equipment (particularly the various Dassault fighters, including the Ouragan and Mystère). France is also believed to have provided Israel with nuclear technology.
  • The Six Day War, 1967: Yet another war caused by most if not all sides acting like gibbering morons; Israel gets props for being the least idiotic country in this festival of stupidity (when your situation is "oh shit, we might all be dead within a week", you get a pass for making the occasional stupid decision). Israel makes a preemptive strike on the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian Air Forces to prevent a war they could see a mile away; Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq had been massing troops for weeks (although King Hussein of Jordan had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing so). Ironically, the reason that the Arabs had been massing troops was that the Soviet Union informed the Egyptian government that Israel was planning to invade Syria (it wasn't). By the time the Soviets had a chance to say "whoops, they weren't, our bad," the Israelis had already mobilized and the Arab populations, stirred up by nationalistic propaganda, were itching for war (both the Syrian and Egyptian leaders feared that they'd be overthrown if they backed down). The war was an unqualified Israeli victory: in less than a week, the IDF had taken Jordanian-held Jerusalem, the West Bank—which the Israelis never had any intention of taking and which they literally just stumbled into because they were pursuing the Jordanian defenders—the Golan Heights—which they also had no intention of taking to start with, but Defense Minister Moshe Dayan reversed himself on the fourth day and decided it was worth taking after all—the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula. Due to this last seizure, the Suez Canal remained closed for the next eight years. When Arabs don't just call it "the '67 War" or something similar, they call it An-Naksa: The Setback.
    • A side effect of this war was the beginning of the US-Israel alliance. In the lead-up to the war, the US reluctantly agreed to provide some material support for the Israelis, but regarded them with some suspicion; the Israelis were losing their alliance with the French (after the end of the Algerian War of Independence, De Gaulle began to pursue a conciliatory policy towards the Arab states in order to secure France's oil supply) and were desperate for a new protector. The USS Liberty incident did not help matters, turning US public opinion against the budding alliance. (No, really.)
  • The War of Attrition, 1967-1973: Egypt and Israel trade missiles, artillery bombardments, air raids, ground raids, etc. across the Suez Canal. This amounts to little but random destruction; its biggest impact—besides confirming the bad blood between the countries—is probably an Israeli artillery shell randomly killing one of Egypt's best generals while he happened to be visiting; his participation in the next hot war might have made a difference, given the impact of poor generalship on the Egyptian side.
  • The Yom Kippur War, 1973: A joint surprise attack by a coalition of the Arabic states led by Syria and Egypt. Waged during Yom Kippur, a date of great religious significance to the Jewish people; by sheer coincidence, it also happened on the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. So it kinda balances out. Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed ceasefire lines to enter the Israeli-held Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights respectively, which had been captured and occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. The conflict led to a near-confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, both of whom initiated massive resupply efforts to their allies during the war. The war began with a massive and successful Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal during the first three days,note  after which they dug in, settling into a stalemate. The Syrians coordinated their attack on the Golan Heights to coincide with the Egyptian offensive and initially made threatening gains against the greatly outnumbered Israeli forces. Within a week, Israel recovered and launched a four-day counter-offensive, driving deep into Syria. To relieve this pressure, the Egyptians went back on the offensive, but were decisively defeated; the Israelis then counterattacked at the seam between two Egyptian armies, crossed the Suez Canal, and advanced southward and westward in over a week of heavy fighting. An October 22 United Nations-brokered ceasefire quickly unraveled, with each side blaming the other for the breach. By 24 October, the Israelis had improved their positions considerably and completed their encirclement of Egypt's Third Army. This development led to tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union (in the middle of detente at the time). As a result, a second ceasefire was imposed cooperatively on October 25 to end the war. Despite the fact that it was Israel and not the Arab states that achieved their initial war aims, the fact that the war really could have gone either way (if not for some rather foolish generalship on the Egyptian side and the failure of the promised Libyan and Algerian assistance to materialize) meant that Arabs finally felt that they could take pride in their military prowess (something shattered in the wake of '67) and thus gave the Arab peoples and governments confidence to deal with Israel on an equal footing; however, it also convinced the Arab leaders that Israel could not be gotten rid of by military might alone. The war had far-reaching effects outside of the Middle East as well; it moved the United States to new efforts of mediation and peace-keeping, but it also solidified the US relationship with Israel (until this point, the US had maintained a cool and suspicious alliance with the Jewish state). Within Israel, the war had a tremendous psychological impact, shattering the sense of invincibility the Israelis had enjoyed since 1967. So much so that anger began to rise up at the Israeli government by its own people, asking for an inquiry into the first events of the war. Arabs are likely to refer to this war as the "October War" or the "Ramadan War" (understandably, the former is most common for secular Arab Nationalists and the latter is more common among Islamists).

To make a long story short, the results of the Yom Kippur War forced — or perhaps allowed (it's possible that Sadat had planned the war as a win-win all along) — a change in Egyptian policy; with American encouragement, Egypt came to a rapprochement with Israel, culminating in the Camp David Accords of 1978 and the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979. As a result, Egypt recognized the State of Israel, becoming the first Arab country to do so; in return, it got Sinai back in stages over The Eighties and abandoned the Soviet Union to became a major ally of the United States — with all the cash and arms that come with that status. To this day, Egypt (as a "major non-NATO ally" of the United States — a status it shares with Israel) receives annual shipments of (old and surplus) U.S. versions of most American military equipment (rather than the watered-down export versions available to most countries) and billions of dollars in U.S. aid (most of which, the Arab Spring discovered,note  went straight into the pockets of the president and his friends). So... um... yeah.

This war also had another very big effect on world politics. When it looked like the Israelis were losing, the US began to airlift arms and other supplies to them. Israel likely wouldn't have been able to turn the war around in their favor without these weapons. This really pissed off the Arab countries, understandably. These countries, under OPEC, retaliated by raising the prices of oil by 400 percent for the countries allied with Israel in the war. While the Western world was already going through some shaky economic situations (namely, inflation was rising and the baby boomers entering the work force were causing higher-than-usual unemployment), there were signs that this was improving, but the oil embargo destroyed the Western economies for the rest of The Seventies. America, which consumes loads of oil and gasoline, was especially hit very hard, with the notorious gas-line rationing of 73/74 being a hard memory for many older people. This was the moment where Americans realized that the countries which produced their resources were capable of breaking the American economy if they were not satisfied with American foreign policy. Inflation skyrocketed for the rest of the decade - it bottomed at just below 6%, and reached almost 14% in 1980. Even after the embargo ended in 1974, the runaway inflation continued. The United States began a quest to find alternative energy sources (a quest they are still continuing), and from now on the country always has to make sure the Arab countries were not too upset by aid to Israel.

After 1979, the character of the conflict changed, shifting emphasis from Israel's Arab neighbors to the Arabs living in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. With Egypt out of the picture, the Arabs in the Occupied Territories realized that no great Arab army would come to rescue them, and they took it upon themselves to get statehood. Hence comes:

  • The First Intifada, 1987-1991: Intifadah meaning "shaking-off" or "uprising" in Arabic, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Sparked by an unusually violent Israeli security action at a funeral at a West Bank refugee camp, Palestinians conduct organized resistance against the Israeli occupation forces and authorities; while much if not most of the resistance is nonviolent (protests and strikes — Israeli industries had grown dependent on Palestinian labor since 1967 — proved particularly effective), there was also a great deal of guerrilla warfare, primarily with rocks, which the Israeli responded with full gunfire. The sad tactic of suicide bombing is perfectednote  during this period, but it doesn't see quite as much use as in other conflicts or later on. The harsh Israeli response garnered the attention of the global press, and got the Palestinians the kind of attention and recognition as a people that they had never had before. Several important Palestinian organizations were formed during this period. Most importantly, Hamas came into existence in 1987, forming from an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ironically, the Israelis had previously funded because the Brothers had historically focused on peacefully preaching to Palestinians, encouraging them to become better Muslims. Oops.
    • Hamas came into prominence in Palestinian politics during the First Intifada because the PLO (led by Yasser Arafat) had been exiled to Tunisia by the Israelis in 1982, and thus really only had nominal control over Palestinian territories: a political, economic, and social hole very quickly filled by Hamas, which, as mentioned before, started out as more of a religious social welfare organization. Ordinary Palestinians began referring to Arafat and the PLO as "The Tunisians" and were less than thrilled when the PLO tried to assert its authority from Tunisia by acting as the face of the Intifada.

The First Intifada is generally deemed to have ended in 1991. Israel engaged in talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a loose organization headed by Yasser Arafat that had served as the face of the Intifada despite not actually being in control of most of it. In the end, the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, granting the Palestinians a measure of self-rule within the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the form of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Palestinian Authority was effectively a state within a state: while it could not engage in foreign relations, maintain an army, or collect its own taxes, it did have the power to set policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (within certain bounds) and speak for the Palestinians on the international stage (as observers at the United Nations). This was seen as a sellout by many Palestinians - not only extremists who rejected negotiating with Israel, but also by intellectuals, pacifists, and the like (such as Edward Said and Raja Shehadah) who objected to Arafat's deal as essentially buying political power for himself at the cost of furthering the Palestinian cause.

As a result of the Oslo Accords, Jordan (whose population is at least 50% Palestinian refugees) became the second Arab country to formally recognize Israel (in 1994). Before this time, Jordan had had good relations with Israel under the table; the agreements allowed these relations to become more open.

The Nineties were a relatively quiet time in the conflict. The Palestinian Authority, although corrupt and fraught with a myriad of problems, functioned fairly well, and despite the occasional bombing, etc., things were as peaceful as anyone could hope for under the circumstances. Israeli-Palestinian trade in particular flourished, with Israeli firms setting up factories in the Palestinian territories, and many Palestinians finding work in Israel.

However, the failure to make progress on getting an independent Palestinian state led to frustration on the part of the Palestinians. Eventually, things came to a head, leading to:

  • The Second Intifada, 2000-2004. Or 2005. Or 2006: Sparked by the Israeli response to Palestinian protests/riots against Ariel Sharon's (highly controversial, even among Israelis) visit to the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount. More or less a repeat of the First, but Hamas very often took the lead on this one. They managed to figure out how to make rocket launchers, and used them on Israeli towns. Suicide bombings were also somewhat more frequent than in the First Intifada. Throughout the 2000's, Israel began and continues building a wall around and in the West Bank. It serves the dual purpose of keeping suicide bombers out of Israel, and effectively annexing Palestinian land into Israel; needless to say, it is a major point of contention in the current political [lack of] negotiations.

The Second Intifada eventually petered out; exactly when is a question for the historians. What matters is that by 2006, some semblance of stability had returned: Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip helped calm heads, and a controversial wall in the West Bank eventually frustrated attackers. However, the Palestinian Authority elections of 2006 returned a resounding majority for the Islamist party/militia Hamas in the Palestinian parliament, mostly because the (nominally-socialist, really just secular) Fatah had gotten itself a (not undeserved) reputation for cronyism and corruption (though foul play on Hamas's side is also suspected). This was unacceptable to Israel, which stopped sending the PA the tax revenues it collected on the PA's behalf; aid from the US and Europe was also reduced. Eventually, the Hamas Prime Minister found himself in an untenable situation, and tensions between Fatah and Hamas broke out into outright civil war in 2007. This war left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank, leading to...

  • The Siege of Gaza, 2007 - Present. After the dispute between Fatah and Hamas broke out into open violence, Hamas (as noted above) took control of Gaza, claiming to be the legitimate government of the Palestinian Authority. As a result, Israel imposes an economic blockade on the entire territory, to prevent Hamas from arming itself and launching rocket attacks into Israel, only allowing humanitarian equipment into the strip. However, the list of items that the Israelis claim have "military applications" is large, effectively destroying economic activity in Gaza; many around the world are outraged by the sheer humanitarian cost of the siege. The overall result is that while Hamas is weakened militarily, even Israel's allies have gotten extremely frustrated.
    • The Gaza War, December 2008 - January 2009: In December 2008, Israel launched a large military offensive against the Gaza strip over rocket attacks. The attack, while proving successful, also involved the use of tactics and weapons that are at best controversial, and resulted in a large number of dead noncombatants (Israel claims it's due to a combination of Palestinian fighters utilizing human shields, and Gaza being so densely populated that you can't fire off a round without hitting anyone, while the Palestinians claim deliberate targeting of civilians), with Israel going through yet another round of criticism at the United Nations over them. Although rocket attacks have in fact died down, those which continue are generally conducted by tiny groups even more radical than Hamas (and which Hamas is actively trying to destroy for its own reasons). The IDF refers to this war as "Operation Cast Lead."

That particular bout of nastiness pretty much concluded a few weeks before a new guy took power in Israel's chief weapons supplier.

Things are fairly quiet at the moment — Israel is currently keeping a wary eye on someone else, namely Iran. Meanwhile, Hamas is still licking its wounds in a besieged Gaza, while the PA has managed to keep the peace with Israel and start something of an economic boom in the West Bank, building transparent institutions and a professional police force that have managed to create stability and attract serious investment. Terrorism from the West Bank has virtually ceased, but Israeli settlement expansion continues despite a freeze set to end soon.

Internal conflicts on both sides are a problem for peace deals: between Hamas, refusing to recognize Israel, and Fatah, which is open to the peace process, on the Palestinian side, and between those Israelis favoring withdrawal from the West Bank in order to achieve peace, and those insisting Israel must continue expanding settlements and moving more of its population into the occupied territories. In many cases, internal politics frustrates both sides' attempts to get or keep the peace ball rolling: in Israel, religious parties like Shas keep making ridiculous demands on things like Jerusalem not out of any particular position on peace, but because they want more money and entitlements for their poor, large-familied voter base; among the Palestinians... well, let's just say that Hamas taking over Gaza in 2007 is merely the most extreme example of Palestinian We Are Struggling Together. Extremist rhetoric and undisguised bigotry also comes from the elected leadership of both, with a rise in power of the extremist nationalistic parties in Israel, and Hamas continuing to call for the destruction of Israel and ethnic cleansing of Jews (the latter of which is uncomfortably similar to the activities of Those Wacky Nazis). While a lot of this is just rhetoric (both Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman have proven far more level-headed in practice than their speeches might lead you to believe), a lot of it isn't, and optimism about peace tends to be regarded as at least a touch naive.

On the other hand, 2011 brought a development out of nowhere: the protest movement/revolutionary wave that swept across the Arab world. Though it didn't get that much press, the Palestinians did that as well, chiefly directed at Hamas and Fatah, asking them to give up their petty differences and get done with the independence thing already. Under pressure, the parties have already signed a notional unity pact, which sent Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu into hysterics, as a united Palestinian front is the last thing he wants. This comes ahead of the culmination of Mahmoud Abbas' big Plan B, launched upon the failure of the most recent round of talks (on account of the aforementioned settlement thing): try to get the United Nations to admit Palestine as a member in its upcoming meeting in September 2011. While likely to fail, a large enough number of member states voting "yes" — or a slightly smaller number, but including France and Britain (who have indicated that they might be persuaded to do it) — would be a huge embarrassment to the Israelis, who are doing their best to stop it happening. As for the rest of the world, it appears that at least some countries would like Palestine to have a government at least theoretically capable of running its territory in one piece (rather than divided against itself) before considering voting in favor of the motion, which is where the unity pact comes in: if they can get it working (which is not guaranteed), there will be an interim all-Palestine technocratic government within a matter of weeks or months, with a permanent elected government coming within no more than a year.

  • Operation Pillar of Defense, 2012: Suffering weeks of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas throughout October 2012, the IDF launched an eight day November military operation in the Gaza Strip, with the stated intention of killing Ahmed Jabari, a key leader of Hamas in the region. Destroying hundreds of known rocket launch positions and weapon stores was also a major objective. The attack was quite successful in achieving both, but brought the sobering revelation that Hamas possessed a great deal more rockets and weapon stores than the IDF believed, despite strict embargo efforts. Photography and footage of war crimes committed by the IDF (though Hamas was equally as criminal), refueled global anti-Israeli opinion. The fighting spilled into neighboring nations and suffered repeated failure to achieve a ceasefire.

2012 saw the United Nations accept Palestine as a non-member observer state, a sovereign nation free to submit a petition to join as a full member at their discretion. It basically means that Palestine can now be considered an "ally" of the United Nations. For reference, the Vatican is also a non-member observer state, as was Switzerland until 2002 (when it became a full member).

There are two commonly spoken of solutions to the particular Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the so called "two-state" and "one-state/binational" solutions. The two state solution, largely favored by the Israeli public, the United States, the European Union, and at least nominally the current governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, would end the Israeli occupation of most of the West Bank (certain large settlement blocks close to the Green Line would probably be retained) and allow the PA to establish a capital in East Jerusalem and to rule over the Palestinians of the West Bank (and, assuming Hamas could be persuaded to join in, Gaza). Additionally, a certain amount of Palestinians who had been pushed out of their homes during the Nakba would be allowed to move back to Israel, and most of the settlers whose settlement blocks haven't been absorbed into Israel would be moved (forcefully if necessary) back into Israel proper (although there have been occasional proposals to allow those Jewish settlers who don't want to move—generally non-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox whose loyalty is more to the land of Israel than the State of Israel—to become Palestinian citizens). The one state solution, favored by a significant portion of the Palestinians, some Palestinian Israelis, and various left-wing pro-Palestinian groups, would essentially integrate the West Bank (and, again assuming it could be persuaded to join in, Gaza) into Israel with equal rights for everybody, possibly with Jewish and Arabic areas given some measure of self-rule. The issues with the two state solution are that Israel and Palestine are largely entwined in a way that makes it hard for them to be separated, that the Palestinian state may not be viable, and also that both sides have extremist factions whose "one state solution" is to push the other side out of the land entirely (who may not stop their efforts even if a peace deal is struck); while the one state solution is dependent upon two different groups who've been fighting off and on for 70 years and who both have very different ideas of nationhood to come together and try to become one unified nation (and the history books are full of many more binational states that split up than ones who came together), and that any unified state would be a de facto Palestinian-dominated state (something that Jews both inside and outside of Israel are concerned about). As noted before, largely the international community (and therefore reluctantly the governments of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority) supports the two state solution, although commentators on both sides will often postulate about whether or not the one state solution is inevitable.

Israel's activity in Lebanon is also worth noting -
  • In 1976-77, Palestinian guerillas launch attacks from Lebanon into Israel. In 1978, Israel invades Lebanon and fights against PLO fighters, and the various factions in Lebanon's civil war. A year later, Israel withdraws, but retains control over a 'Security Buffer' in southern Lebanon. They don't leave this "buffer" until 2000.
  • In 1982 Israel heavily bombs Beirut, in violation of a ceasefire with the PLO signed the previous July; over 300 people are killed and a thousand wounded. A group known as the Abu Nidal Organization, headed by a man who had parted ways with the PLO a decade earlier and had since launched attacks on both Israeli and PLO officials, attempts to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to London; in response, Israel heavily bombs the PLO in Lebanon (despite the fact that they were also enemies of the Abu Nidal Organization). Rocket attacks are launched by the PLO and Israel invades Lebanon again. Israeli troops besiege Beirut for a month, inflicting heavy casualties on the PLO and both Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians before withdrawing. PLO leadership in Lebanon is exiled for nearly 20 years, but is quickly replaced by various Lebanese Shi'a militias. During the conflict, the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia massacred up to three thousand Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila; the independent Israeli Kahan Commission finds that the IDF was indirectly responsible for the business, and that then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had "personal responsibility" for the events; Sharon was forced to resign.
  • The July War (2006): In the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War, an organization known as Hezbollah, literally the "Party of God", rises to represent Shia interests. In 2006, Hezbollah successfully captures two Israeli soldiers, holding them up for ransom for a list of demands. Israel declares this to be an act of war and invades. The conflict is ultimately inconclusive; Israel was able to dislodge Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, but "suffers" an estimated ratio of one soldier lost for every 4-7 Hezbollah militants killed, which is less than Israel's usually far more one-sided ratios in previous Arab wars—this is comparatively extraordinary for a militia force that Israel had previously underestimated. Politically, it is a major victory for Hezbollah. However, most of Beirut and several other Lebanese cities suffer extreme damage from Israeli airstrikes, more or less undoing most of the progress and economic development since the end of the civil war in 1990. The two kidnapped soldiers are returned to Israel in a prisoner deal which sparks massive controversy in Israel. Not only were both soldiers Dead All Along, the IDF's medical analysts examining the wreckage of the soldier's now ruined transport had known so and reported so from the very beginning; the politicians just didn't care.

There are also various acts of outright terrorism throughout this debacle, such as the assassination of a large segment of Israel's athletic team during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich or the multiple deliberate bombings of Palestinian civilian centres thought to have connections to the Palestinian military/terrorist operations (depending on who you ask).

Media in this setting :

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    Comic Books 

  • The Last King of Scotland also touches on the Entebbe Incident; Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy's character) uses it as his cover to leave a Uganda he finds increasingly to be a hellhole.
  • Sword of Gideon, and the Spielberg remake Munich.
  • The movie "Cast A Giant Shadow."
  • West Bank Story, the 2007 Academy Award winner for Best Live-Action short film, a musical (based on another musical; which one should be obvious to anyone not living under a rock) about a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers and their families' feuding falafel huts keeping them apart. A real-life Crowning Moment of Heartwarming occurred at the Oscars when the delighted filmmaker collected his statuette, and he thanked the Academy and meant it, for once, adding that "Hope is not hopeless."
  • Paradise Now, a 2005 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film (from "the Palestinian Territories"), told the story of two suicide bombers who are sent on a mission to attack in Israel.
  • The Israeli film Beaufort is about Israeli soldiers about to pull out a base in Lebanon after the 1982 invasion.
  • American and Russian pilots team up to defend Israel in Iron Eagle II from an unnamed Middle Eastern aggressor (probably Iran, though No Middle East Dictatorships We Don't Like Were Harmed).
  • The Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess with the Zohan was based around this and had plenty of political points made about besides playing it for laughs.
  • All of Eytan Fox's films; most notably The Bubble and Yossi And Jagger.


  • Three films and several novels based around the Entebbe Incident (known to Israelis and the IDF as "Operation Thunderbolt" or occasionally as "Operation Yonatan" after its commander, Col. Yonatan Netanyahunote , KIA), the Israeli commando rescue of over 100 hostages held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP—the Palestinian communists) and the Revolutionary Cells (of Germany, also communists) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
  • The novels The Hope and The Glory by Herman Wouk cover the conflict from the 1948 to the 1980s.
  • The John le Carré novel The Little Drummer Girl
  • The Chosen aludes to the 1948 war as seen by Jews in New York. One of Reuven Malter's schoolmates dies there.
  • Looms large in the backstory of the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of All Fears (the film version substituted Nazis for Arabs).
  • The novel and film of the novel Exodus, by Leon Uris, deals with the events surrounding the 1948 creation of the state of Israel and the invasion by Arab states that immediately followed.
  • The novel Cyborg, which was adapted as The Six Million Dollar Man, has Steve Austin (the astronaut, not the wrestler) stealing a Soviet fighter from Egypt during the War of Attrition.
  • Implausibly, the Left Behind series posits a frankly ridiculous end to the conflict (based on Israel's amazing advances in agriculture, of all things) and (like Warday) leading to the Arab countries (or rather what's left of them, with the Biblical "Nile-to-Euphrates" prophecy requiring Israel to absorb all of Syria and Jordan and good chunks of Egypt and Iraq) becoming Israeli puppets. All this is in preparation for Israel to miraculously survive an out-of-the-blue nuclear attack by Russia and Ethiopia. Yes, we know.
  • The Barrett Tillman novel Warriors involves a group of Saudi pilots in an Arab-Israeli war using F-20 Tigersharks and trained by a pair of Americans, with the prologue set during the Yom Kippur War.
  • The Odessa File. set in 1963, involves a group of ex-Nazis trying to provide Egypt with rocket guidance technology to deliver bio-weapons against Israel.
  • South Of Jericho details the exploits of a Mossad operative.
  • According to an offhand comment in Warday, the Israelis and Arabs fought another war some time after the Americans and Russians took each other out in World War Three. It seems to have been a Curb-Stomp Battle in Israel's favor, with the Arab nations ending up as Israeli puppet states.

    Live Action TV 
  • The West Wing episode "The Birnam Wood"
  • The Israeli drama series Prisoners Of War depicts two IDF soldiers' attempts to readjust to their old lives after spending 17 years in captivity. Served (loosely) as the inspiration for HBO's Homeland.
  • The controversial 2008 Channel4 mini-series The Promise, directed by the equally controversial British director Peter Kosminsky (who himself is of Polish Jewish descent). It focuses on British paratroopers fighting the Irgun (real-life Zionist Freedom Fighters/Terrorists) post-1945, as well as contemporary Isreal fighting off Palestinian extremism in Gaza in very much the same way. Arguably has a pro-Palestinian slant note , but blames the British mandate more than anyone else note .

    Video Games 
  • Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator allows you to play as the Israelis, and you have the main goal of destroying Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. The good news for doves though is that you can choose to please the Americans and the International Community by establishing an Palestinian homeland. Don't expect to win the Nobel Peace Prize though.
  • The Steel Panthers games feature many scenarios from the various wars, usually (but not always) intended to be played from the Israeli side.
  • One of the eBooks scattered in the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution mentiones the formation of a United Arab Front sometime before 2027, followed by a joint Pan-Arab invasion and occupation of Israel. The prequel novel implies that Jaron Namir, one of the enemies in the game, sustained injuries in said conflict and thus became augmented.
  • In the backstory for Rise of the Reds, the Arab-Israeli Conflict got subsumed by the GLA War. The conflict is essentially over now, as Israel has become an isolationist police state while the Arab nations effectively no longer exist, their territories devastated by the use of weapons of mass destruction (GLA bioweapons and Chinese nukes).

    Web Comics 
  • The webcomic series Joseph And Yusra talk about the topic while putting supernatural powers into the lot.

Alcohol-Induced IdiocyThis Index Means TroubleBerserk Button
East GermanyHollywood HistoryThe Fifties
TunisiaUsefulNotes/The Middle EastIsraelis with Infrared Missiles
    UsefulNotes/IsraelIsraelis with Infrared Missiles
The Seven Wonders of the WorldUseful NotesThe Hashshashin

alternative title(s): Arab Israeli Conflict
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