By Zachary Brenner
With constant conflict and controversy surrounding Israel’s endeavors, there have been continuous, impassioned discussions regarding the inhumanity of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. However, like with all arguments, context is essential.
For thousands of years, Jews have been searching for a place to call their home. Jews have been isolated, discriminated against, and even massacred. Jews have gone through pogroms, a Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, among other persecutions. Bringing this up is not meant to belittle the struggle of Palestinians, but instead call attention to the fact that both parties have endured their fair share of suffering.
The two-state solution—in which both parties have sovereignty—is a respectable, reasonable outcome. But historically, when Israel has given up land, the outcome was far from peaceful.
As a result of the Six Day War of 1967, Israel controlled an extensive amount of Arab land. Very quickly after the war ended, Israel offered to negotiate a land proposal with Arab leaders. The result was an ardent refusal by those leaders to make peace with Israel.
In 1967, Ahmed Shukairy, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said that the Six Day War was “a fight for the homeland—it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave”.
Similarly, in 2000, when United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat met at Camp David to finalize a peace agreement, Arafat refused to accept the offer.
Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time, told Arafat that if he failed to accept the generous proposal, he would be committing a “crime” against the Palestinian people. Arafat still rejected the offer.
Negotiations are not the sole things to consider. A prominent and understandable concern for Israel is that many Arab nations have been under the control of terrorist organizations. Whether out of loyalty or for lack of a better option, these terrorists were elected by the citizens themselves.
Since these terrorist organizations attained power—such as Hamas—Israel has been under constant attack and forced to take security precautions. Thus, anyone who believes that the security fence bordering the West Bank was built without reason requires more information.
The security fence, when complete, will be at least 400 miles long. The fence will constrict over 20,000 Palestinians in the West Bank (the area located north of Jerusalem and on the border of Israel and Jordan).
The security fence has often been compared to the Berlin Wall. The difference is, unlike the Berlin Wall, the security fence is meant to keep out terrorists, not all citizens. Since its construction, the Security Fence has reduced terrorist attacks by 90%.
Former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer restated the value of the Security Fence, saying it’s “the only thing that can minimize the infiltration of these male and female suicide bombers”.
Abdallah Ramadan Shalah, a leader of the Islamic Jihad (a terrorist organization), confessed that the wall indeed averts terrorist attacks. For his own organization, the fence proved to be an “obstacle to the resistance”. If the wall were not there, many more people would fall victim to violence.
In the past few decades, two intifadas (uprisings) took place, in which countless, innocent Israeli citizens died from suicide bombings at the hands of radical extremists.
Although Israel’s motives for the security fence are justifiable, the Palestinians also have legitimate concerns.
Freedom of movement has been restricted throughout the Palestinian Territories; harassment is common. Israeli soldiers stationed at checkpoints often appear unsympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, and frequently exacerbate already existing tensions.
The Palestinians also feel that the fence is not a security precaution, but serves as a de facto border— one that takes away a considerable amount of land.
With each passing year, the plausibility of different proposed solutions diminishes. Keeping this in mind, the best solution, in my opinion,
is still a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians coexist in harmony—each retaining their customs, beliefs, and security.
Hopefully, a compromise is reached in which Jews and Palestinians have a country where they are comfortable, safe, and free. However, in order to achieve this result, one must first acknowledge the intricacies of the conflict and the