Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation

What hope is there of a workable peaceful outcome in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation?

Presenter: Barrie Webster

May, 2013

Israel, a country of 6 million, is a key player in global politics today. It was conceived as a country that Jewish people could call home. Looking for a ‘homeland’ for people of Jewish heritage was a popular concept beginning over 100 years ago, not only for Jewish people themselves, but also for many who were happy for Jews to live ‘somewhere else’. The choice of Palestine as the site for that homeland (other sites included Argentina, Texas, and Uganda) required that the existing Arab inhabitants of that area, whether Muslim, Christian, or secular, be removed to accommodate the influx of Jewish people from around the globe. Initial plans were to buy the land (99% owned by the existing residents), but if that failed, then the people were to be forced to move by any means, including intimidation and violence, such was the policy agreed among Zionists and their supporters. These supporters included many prominent Canadians, British, and Americans, particularly those who were practising Christians.

Y. Engler, Canada and Israel, Fernwood Publishing (2010)

Distortions in the western media of the enduring friction between the current government of the state of Israel and the surviving citizens of the former Palestine (Arab Israelis, West Bank Palestinians and the refugee Palestinian population of Gaza) support and prolong unrest in the Middle East. The USA supplies sufficient foreign aid (the largest annual lump sum – more than US$3 billion) to enable Israel to maintain a large military force equipped with modern weapons. Israel is also able to maintain a vibrant modern technological society. However, the former residents continue to seek a fair solution to compensate for their treatment, particularly in 1948, and to recognize the ongoing military behaviour that treats them with disrespect as displaceable and disposable persons.

Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld Publications (2006).

UN Report: How Dispossession Happens – the humanitarian impact of the takeover of Palestinian water springs by Israeli settlers, March 2012 (attachment).

Our view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is largely distorted by media that are influenced by a strong pro-Israel lobby. Media Distortion on the Israel-Palestine conflict (these links are long but are worth reading if you possibly can) is documented in the following articles:

While Zionism is clearly the major original driving force behind the move to create and enlarge the State of Israel, Zionism itself is an ideology (with right-wing Christian support) containing, within itself, elements of anti-Semitism.

There is a colonial attitude within the Israeli stance (as opposed to that of all Jewish people, both within Israel and elsewhere). It appears to be linked to the religious conviction that Israel ought to occupy and control the whole of the former territories historically making up Palestine. Could a solution to the conflict be found in giving the surviving Palestinians citizenship within Israel, a country that is now dominated by Jewish immigrants from all over the world? Could Israel find it within itself to recognize and admit to the documented brutal tactics used to acquire the territory that became Israel? Would the setting up of a truth-and-reconciliation commission help to create an enduring peaceful and stable country? To what extent could a response to this conflict resemble what is taking place with our own First Nations, or in post-apartheid South Africa?

An interesting development is the construction of the eco-city, Rawabi, by Palestinian interests:

And another indication that the spirit of the young is very much alive:


How can we as secular Humanists help to facilitate the process of overcoming the confrontation?

To what extent does the continuation of a “blame religion” theme stand in the way of a solution? What is the actual role of religion? Whose religion? What religion(s)?

What is the actual role of regional power politics?

What will be the effect of the initiatives developing within the Palestinian community?

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, what would happen if US aid were to be diminished or withdrawn altogether?