"A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning house in which many members of his family had already perished. He managed to save his life; but as he was falling he hit a person standing down below and broke that person’s legs and arms. The jumping man had no choice; yet to the man with the broken limbs he was the cause of his misfortune. If both behaved rationally, they would not become enemies. The man who escaped from the blazing house, having recovered, would have tried to help and console the other sufferer; and the latter might have realized that he was the victim of circumstances over which neither of them had control. But look what happens when these people behave irrationally. The injured man blames the other for his misery and swears to make him pay for it. The other, afraid of the crippled man’s revenge, insults him, kicks him, and beats him up whenever they meet. The kicked man again swears revenge and is again punched and punished. The bitter enmity, so fortuitous at first, hardens and comes to overshadow the whole existence of both men and to poison their minds."
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 the 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 in the conflict; many of said countries have managed to 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
. For whatever else it was, Israel was a secure democratic foothold into the rest of the Middle East at a time when the closest other thing to it was Lebanon
and the rest was divided between pro-Soviet revolutionary dictatorships and dubiously reliable (from a Western POV) reactionary autocratic dictatorships, and that made it valuable for Washington. Thanks to the Gambit Pileup
involving both regional and international politics, this meant it was yet another battleground at the height of the Cold War
. In that time, Israel served as a NATO surrogate against Soviet-backed allies in Egypt
or Sadat and Syria
under Assad. Nowadays, Israel currently works as an enemy of Iran
, a business partner of both China
, an ally of America, and a grudging one of Saudi Arabia
One of the more interesting side effects of the war is how often it is used for domestic chest-thumping and PR work. Supporting pro-Israeli causes helps Western politicians to curry favor with the local Jewish constituency (especially in the US — which for a long time had a higher Jewish population than Israel, though ironically the increasingly secular nature of the American Jewish community has made it divisive). Likewise, the countries of the Arab and Muslim worlds have politicians and firebrands of their own who are all too happy to jump on their own anti-Israeli bandwagon for more or less the same but opposite reasons; though as we will see, this has often bitten them in the rear.
More religious officials like to curry favor with a common deity/co-religionists while not being so supportive that it pisses off the nearby Palestinian-sympathizing nations who do
have the oil/ the Israelis, Pro-Israeli Lebanese, and the rest of the West who they need to do business with frequently (pick depending on the slant of said officials). The many Islamic countries and terrorist organizations treat the real and imagined oppressions of Palestinians as a unifying rallying point, or use it as a convenient excuse to justify acts of terrorism, which then exacerbates the same pressures that causes the Palestinians such grief in the first place.
On top of the rampant We ARE Struggling Together
that both sides deal with, another complicating factor also is the ironic regional hostility between the Palestinians and their other Arab (or at least Arab-identifying) neighbors. While the Arab League governments are by and large very supportive of the PLO and Palestinian nationalism, they tend to view them or the Palestinians themselves as The Friend Nobody Likes
. All of the neighboring nations have received Palestinian refugees to one degree or another, and *all* of them — to one degree or another — made the decision to exclude them from integrating into society as a whole (ironically often to avoid rocking the boat and as a bloody toga). The results typically have had destabilizing effects on the politics/society/economics/you name it of the host country. This has led to the Palestinian people getting something of a stigma in the neighboring countries as The Scapegoat
, not helped by the PLO's prior policy of militarizing Palestinian camps and other infrastructure across the borders as foreward bases.
This is one of the reasons why Right of Return is so emphasized; in addition to one of the original reasons (and one still used by hardliners) being to more or less "flood out" the Israelis and force them demographically back, one of the main reasons *now* is that Egypt/Lebanon/Syria/Jordan want to get rid of what a lot of them view as The Load
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 side
... so 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
- World War One: Actually not an example, since the Turks with Troops hated almost everybody equally and Arab Nationalists fought alongside Zionists in the Western Allied militaries to throw them out of what is now Israel/Palestine, which they eventually did to much rejoicing. What makes this important enough to list is that it sets the groundwork of the conflict since now it comes time to divvy up the spoils. And for the purposes of this article, that is where the big problems start.
- The World War One Aftermath and the 1920's: What is now the British Mandate of Palestine receives two hordes of very different immigrants and sees the fault lines for what comes later emerge. Jews and Zionists come in to create the dream project they've envisioned for so long and often to escape a war-torn Europe and Middle East while Arabs-most of whom were poor tenant farmers from the North who were arguably worse than Serfs under Ottoman law-take their chance to ditch their feudal overlords and the war ravaged homelands to try and run to what they hope will be greener pastures in Israel/Palestine. Both succeed rather well, and within a matter of months huge and relatively thriving immigrant communities have latched on to the pre-existing Israeli and Arab communities just in time to take sides in the tussle between the Western Empires and the Hashemites over who gets the Middle East. This eventually culminates in a French war to toss a Hashemite monarchy out of Syria that has some splash over into the Palestinian Mandate. This doesn't seem like much, but it does trigger ideological awakenings of Arab nationalism among the Palestinian Arabs and Zionism among the settler Jews. Quickly take militant turns, and soon the decade is wracked by increasing tension and infighting. See the Battle of Tel-Hai and the pogroms of 1920, 1921, and 1929. In the midst of all this, the British decide to appoint a new Mufti of Jerusalem to legitimize their rule and decide on Amin al-Husseini, a distinguished cleric and Haj. In spite of warnings from just about everybody else-including the Arab community they eventually do so. This proves to be a big mistake.
- The Arab Uprising of 1936-1939: Started by the Mufti of Jerusalem and 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. Most of the active rebel fighters wind up dead, the Mufti flees into exile, and the strain of civil war greatly weakens the Arab economy while turning its Jewish equivalent much more self-sufficient, all with a net accomplishment of "not that much."
- World War II: From a base in nominally Vichy Syria-Lebanon, Haj Amin al-Husseini casts his lot with the Axis and takes part in a coup in Baghdad in 1941 that unseated the British-insalled Iraqi Monarch, declared itself for the Axis, and began a bloody purge (the Farhud) in Baghdad.... for all of a few weeks before the British shifted enough troops over and smashed the revolt with the help of loyalists. From there, the British track down the source of Axis air support for the coup and where a lot of the fighters fled to the largely nationalist-run Syria-Lebanon colony and promptly invade that too, along with Iran for good measure. 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, up to and including plans for a death camp at Nablus and recruitment and propagandizing for Arab and Muslim recruits to the Axis militaries. At the same time, Mussolini tries to cash in by claiming Fascist Italy as a protector of the Muslims of the world, and various other pro-Axis conspirators move around in dark alleys and try to support Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Ironically this is the same time a group of Zionist militants who were out there even by the low standards of paramilitarism in British Palestine try to make an alliance with Hitler, possibly up to a death camp of their own for use on the resident Arabs in Israel. To their credit, most don't really notice. But a lot of the conspirators either leave a lasting mark on the discourse the issue will be fought with (Haj Amin in particular is often credited as the founder of Palestinian nationalism) or would would later become important, like Nasser and Sadat.
- The Jewish Insurgency in Palestine, 1939-47: In response to British Restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine, certain militant Zionist groups decided to get violent. Fairly quiet during WWII but kept going afterward. Incidents like the bombing of the King David Hotel, which at the time housed the British military HQ of the region, did a lot to tarnish British credibility as far as managing the region and interest in continuing to do so.
- 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(with the British-commanded Arab Legion), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon invaded Israel upon its establishment as a state with the stated goal of destroying the new Israeli state and its people. The actual reasons are a bit more complicated; while there were plenty among the Islamist and/or Arab Ultranationalist factions that wanted to wipe the Israelis from the face of the map, 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. Many historians–even Arab ones–now regard this as a huge but inevitable mistake: 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, many before the fighting began at the behest of the Arab League itself promising it would allow the armies to have a freer hand in winning the inevitable victory, a significant number being forced out at gunpoint by Israeli military forces or militias, and far too many falling victim to one atrocity or another by the warring sides. 900,000 Middle Eastern Jews were expelled from Arab countries 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 and make a deal with the Israelis 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 or more bloodthirsty 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 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, but given the heavy influence of ex-Axis conspirators, militants, and allies this sentiment was terrifyingly common.
- The Suez War, 1956: Nasser-having sponsored various terrorist strikes on Israel and the outgoing British forces for a while- closed the Suez to Western (especially Israeli and British) shipping in a game of oneupmanship to try and exert squatter's rights over the Suez Canal from the British who still theoretically owned it. In response Israel attacked Egypt as part of an Anglo-French ruse (namely a painfully-obvious Batman Gambit) to prevent the nationalization of the Suez Canal; 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). Nasser said "I Lied" and kicks out the UN Peacekeeping forces, starts making increasingly ugly noises about what should happen to the Israelis, starts cobbling together an alliance, and eventually shuts the Straits of Tiran-Israel's main waterway-, marking the Rubicon at which war becomes inevitable if he does not pull back. He doesn't, and 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 there was also no official plan to take starting off, but which Defense Minister Moshe Dayan reversed himself on the fourth day and decided it was worth taking after all in order to stop the bad habit Syrian artillerists had of shelling the Israeli territory below even in times of peace-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. In the aftermath of the war, the Arab League met at Khartoum in Sudan and drafted the Khartoum Declaration that largely serves as a benchmark for the League's stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict even if not that of all its' individual states. One of the more important and most quoted parts is the resolution that there be "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." Summed up as the "Three Nos", this would lead to yet another decade of more or less direct conflict, s well as major roadblocks to peace that remain today.
- 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: Perhaps the best way to put this would be a high-tech, high-gloss version of the tit-for-tat violence of the Intifadas. 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
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, unsurprisingly. 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 devastated
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 seriously harming the American economy if they were not satisfied with American foreign policy/wanted to. 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 balance between the two to make sure the Arab countries were not too upset by aid to Israel and vice versa.
After 1979, the character of the conflict changed, shifting emphasis from Israel's Arab neighbors to the Arabs living in the territories taken over 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. Which in practice meant getting out the firebrands and hooking up the posters, protests, bombs, and guns. 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 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 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 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.
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 by either side eventually led to turmoil, and in particular the hiccups in 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 Palestinian protests/riots against Ariel Sharon's (highly controversial, even among Israelis) visit to the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount and the resulting Israeli responses. 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 some 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 considering Hamas's publicly stated policy refuses to allow for the Israelis to exist
, 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, because Hamas and other Palestinian guerilla movements are nothing if not creative the list of items that the Israelis claim (often justifiably) have "military applications" is large, effectively devastating economic activity in Gaza. 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.
Israel is currently keeping a wary eye on someone else, namely Iran, whose atomic noises and sponsorship of Hezbollah have tossed the PLO and its' offshoots off the top of the "to-worry-about" list. Since Iran is also a major enemy of the Sunni Arab mainstream that includes most of the PLO and especially its' financiers, the Gulf States have found it convenient to work with Tel Aviv for a while
against what they believe is a bigger threat. 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, supposedly building transparent institutions and a professional police force that have managed to create stability and attract serious investment. Terrorism and 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 national unity pact, which sent the Israelis into hysterics, not the least of which because it involves the "legal" Palestinian Government making a major alliance with what most of the developed world brands a terrorist organization. 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. Unfortunately, yet another
- 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. 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 presence in 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); the problems with the one-state solution is dependent upon two different groups who've been fighting off and on for 70 years, who both have very different ideas of nationhood, and who have significant members with a history of going back on their agreements and otherwise tearing up treaties
to come together and try to become one unified nation, and that any unified state would be a de facto Palestinian-dominated state with any and all the problems that might entail (something that supporters of Israel both in and outside it 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 and the history books are full of many more binational states that split up than ones who came together, but commentators on both sides will often postulate about whether or not the one state solution is inevitable.
The related military activity in Lebanon is also worth noting, particularly that of the PLO, Israel, and Hezbollah.
- While the Mandate years had already seen sizable expat populations of people who we would define as "Palestinians", the most important migration came in the aftermath of the defeat in 1948. Thousands upon thousands of Palestinians fled across the border into Lebanon- along with the other countries- seeking refuge and even asylum. However, in Lebanon in particular the "native" communities that held political power- especially the Christian-majority- made a conscious decision to not allow the Palestinians to integrate, forcing the creation of refugee camps. Having solved this and deciding they had bigger fish to fry due to threats from Syria to assimilate the entire country and the urgency of detente with Israel, they decided to leave the problem to fester. This would prove to be a catastrophically bad idea, as it made the Palestinian refugee population into a long standing problem and led to the PLO's militarization of the Lebanese refugee camps in the decades to come.
- In the fallout from the Suez War and Nasser's increasing ambitions of Pan-Arab unity, the Syrian government (which was now joined in a union with Egypt) sought to press its' long-standing territorial claims to Lebanon internally. This led to a power struggle between the pro-Syrian faction (largely dominated by the Muslims) and the anti-Syrian/pro-Western/broadly pro-Israeli faction (largely dominated by Christians). Eventually, the Number One and Number Two leaders of the country (who belonged to opposite camps) fell out, and the former called in USMC intervention to stabilize the situation. They did, putting down some pro-Syrian agitation and supervising a transfer of power, which helped cement Lebanon's course of detente with Israel and affiliation with the West.
- By 1976-77, Palestinian guerrillas-having created a major military infrastructure in-country utilizing militarized refugee camps-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 the PLO practically invades downdown Beirut in violation of the ceasefire they and the Israelis signed the July before, causing an acceleration in a messy ethnic and religious balkanization. In response Israel heavily bombs Beirut *also* in violation of said ceasefire; and unsurprisingly the ceasefire collapses and 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 both the ANO and PLO in Lebanon. Rocket attacks are launched by the PLO as it steps up attempts to depose of the relatively Israeli-friendly Lebanese government and Israel invades Lebanon again, this time as part of a byzantine alliance with various Lebanese militias fighting against the PLO and other Lebanese militias aligned with it. Israeli troops and their allies besiege the PLO-held areas of Beirut for a month, inflicting heavy casualties on the PLO but leading to immense carnage amongst both both Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians caught in the crossfire. 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 because of their failure to figure out what the Phalangists were about to do and to stop them, and that then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had "personal responsibility" for the events as he was the CO who was caught with his pants down; Sharon was forced to resign. In the end the Israelis withdraw and PLO leadership in Lebanon is exiled for nearly 20 years, but is quickly replaced by various Lebanese Shi'a militias. Hezbollah makes a name for itself in this period with shockingly effective attacks on Israeli and Southern Lebanese Army bases and effectively drives Israel out of Lebanon using the skills Iran taught it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBWEQpsFTFs
- 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 unable to dislodge Hezbollah from southern Lebanon and Hebollah's military remained intact to assist in Syria, and suffers an even exchange ratio of 250 Hezbollah members killed of whom only 80 were actually Hezbollah soldiers the rest were civilian employees, 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 and lost to in the Southern Lebanon War previously. Politically and militarily, it is a major victory for Hezbollah allowing it to dominate the political sphere of Lebanon and discredit its opponents, then gain the political capital to intervene in the Syrian Civil War and drag Lebanon with them politically. However, most of Beirut and several other Lebanese cities suffer extreme damage from both sides, 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, and it involved letting several convicted Hezbollah terrorists have a "Get out of Jail Free" Card; the politicians just didn't care.
One particular Big Lipped Alligator Moment
that probably doesn't classify as part of this (since it was Arab-Arab rather than Arab-Israeli) but which is worth mentioning anyway was the Black September War in Jordan. It was a result of the aforementioned hostility between the established Arab governments and the PLO-ruled expat populations, made worse because the Kingdom of Jordan has a largely (possibly majorly) Palestinian population *and* was part of the old British Mandate, meaning that technically the PLO might lay claim to it. Eventually, the PLO's policy of autonomous rule over the refugee camps and their use to influence and dominate the surrounding area ran headfirst into the Hashemite monarchy's policy of centralizing power on them. In the years after the Six Day War, both sides started headbutting each other in a game of a little give-a little take until eventually the situation boiled over. The result was an unholy, nearly-year-long borderline civil war (with Syrian invasion to mix it up) with no quarter given or taken. By the time the dust cleared and the PLO, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria hashed out a deal *thousands* had been killed, including at least 3,000+ Palestinians (and most likely far more). For the scale of this war and its' traditional lethality, this is shocking, and it led to the PLO to more or less make an exodus out of Jordan for years to come.
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
, hot militant-on-settler, settler-on-militant, and both-on-civilian action, and others.
As for when peace will occur? Nobody knows.
Media in this setting :
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- 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.
- O Jerusalem is set during the 1947-1948 conflict, through the point of view of two American friends (one being Jewish, the other being of Palestinian Arab descent), who fight on opposite sides in the war.
- 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 III. It seems to have been a Curb-Stomp Battle in Israel's favor, with the Arab nations ending up as Israeli puppet states.
- The conflict was settled by the zombie invasion in World War Z, by virtue of many involved parties being dead or infected (Iran and Pakistan destroyed each other in nuclear warfare, Palestine and Egypt became completely overrun, and hard-line, ultraconservative Jews who didn't want to share space with non-Jews rebelled, and were quickly crushed), and Israel making peace by inviting in Palestinians previously in Israeli territory, with strict but fair conditions. Even that didn't stop people from trying to carry out the war, and Israel suffered daily mortar attacks, but those decreased as the zombies began swarming in.
- An argument over the conflict triggers the fight that forces Greg to flee from Columbia in A Wolf In The Soul.
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 .
- The Clash's Rock The Casbah has been interpreted to be about this, although it was really about censorship of popular music by Ayatollah Khomeini after seizing power in Iran in 1979. Subverted in the music video, where a Haredi Jew and an Arab sheikh are seen skank-dancing together all the way to a Clash concert.
- 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 a 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 mentions 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).
- The webcomic series Joseph And Yusra talk about the topic while putting supernatural powers into the lot.