The Plight of the Palestinians


In the 1st Century CE, the Romans destroyed the second temple and purged all Jews from ancient Israel. The final battle was at Masada, wherein the final remnants of Jewish leadership perished by suicide just before the Romans breached the walls of the fortification. It was not until the 20th Century that the Jews began to return in significant numbers in response to the Nazi threats. In 1948 there was a great exodus of Jews from Europe to Palestine following the end of World War II to seek asylum and to establish the Jewish state of Israel. All returning Jews from around the world were guaranteed a home and citizenship in the new Jewish state.

This exodus from Europe in 1948 meant the forceful conquest of Palestine, and the attack on the Palestinian people. Violence and tension between Israel and Palestine have continued to this day.

In 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Israel continues to rule over these conquered lands. Israel did not annex these lands, so the Palestinians living there are not Israeli citizens and are not allowed to vote. These disenfranchised Palestinians number some 2.7 million.

The State of Israel treats the Palestinians as stateless refugees and enemy aliens. There is no denying that atrocities have been committed by both sides. The Gaza Strip resembles nothing so much as the Warsaw Ghetto of World War II. Where there is oppression people will struggle and even fight for freedom and dignity.

There are 5.3 million Palestinians living in the region governed by Israel, including Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The Jewish population of Israel is 5.2 million. This means that the Palestinians are the majority population in the lands controlled by Israel. Additionally, there are another 1.5 million Palestinians exiled to other countries in the region. (WorldPopulationReview.com/Palestine-Population/).

There are Israeli Arabs living in Israel proper who are allowed to vote. However, as Israel was constituted as a Jewish state the Israeli Arabs have little power. There are some 600,000 Jewish Israelis living in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank who are allowed to vote.

The Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has endeavored to establish illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories in order to deny a homeland to the Palestinian people. In the past, the proposed solution to the Palestinian situation was the “Two State Solution.” This meant that the Israeli controlled territories would be partitioned into two countries, Israel and Palestine. Palestine was to be given considerable autonomy, although Israel always claimed the right to maintain security over Palestine. Now it appears that Israel is no longer considering the Two State Solution. After decades of negotiation such talks have broken down. The creation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have created facts-on-the-ground that have made the Two State Solution impossible.

The United States has long been an ally and supporter of Israel, but has also sought to advocate for Palestinian rights. President Jimmy Carter is known for his efforts at creating a lasting peace in Israel with justice for the Palestinian People. Unfortunately, those efforts were never successful.

When Donald Trump moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, his actions were clearly a slap-in-the-face to the Palestinian people. It was a demonstration that Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the other conquered territories were both legitimate and permanent. It was a signal to his cohort, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel had a free hand to put an end to the Palestinian issue in anyway that he chose.

Israel claims to be a democracy. The United States government is its staunchest ally. Yet in truth, Israel is a religious apartheid nation where democracy only applies to the Jews. Netanyahu is a segregationist, not unlike America’s George Wallace. In supporting Israel without seeking justice for the Palestinian people, the United States has abandoned its principles and supported oppression.

If there is not to be a Two State Solution, then the only other method of achieving justice would be a One State Solution. And by this, I mean that Israel evolves into a secular democracy with equal rights and participation for all. But that is not a likely outcome for the foreseeable future.

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