Bee Hive, City Centre – In search of the historical perspective of understanding the Israel and Palestine conflict, I’ve recently bought James L. Gelvin’s new edition of “The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War”. I’ve also googled for some reviews on his book and found some negative criticisms such as “appallingly shallow, shoddy, and slanted“. However, after reading a few chapters, I find that as a historian, Gelvin has attempted to be as objective as possible in assessing the history of both the Israelis and Palestinians in claiming their rights on the Holy Land.
Religious Claims Over Land As The Root of The Conflict
As I have wrote before based on my vague memories on Islamic history, religion is one of the main causes of the prolonged conflict. Gelvin verified this where he posits that the problem actually began with a “dispute over real estate”;
Jewish immigrants and their descendants, guided by the nationalist ideology of Zionism, and the Palestinian Arab inhabitants among whom the Zionists settled both claim an exclusive right to inhabit and control some or all of Palestine
Among all of the disputed areas, Jerusalem is the most important territory as it is considered as a sacred land by the Jews, Muslims and Christians;
For Jews, it is the capital of David and Solomon’s kingdom and the site of the Western (Wailing) Wall, which is the only remaining remnant of the second temple.
For Muslims, it is the site from which Muhammad ascended to heaven on his famous night journey.
For Christians, it is the site of the Passion and Crucifixion.
All of these stories are engraved in their respective sacred scribes; namely the Torah, al-Quran and the Bible.
Gelvin went on further by highlighting how the nationalist movements of the Israelis and Palestinians have fought against each other for the claim of rights on the land, and that religion has been politicized to achieve their aims;
Whereas all sorts of religious and ethnic groups feel sentimental attachment to places, nationalism converts sentiments into politics.
The politicization of religion by Israeli and even Palestinian political parties could refer to the manipulation of religious beliefs in preserving their own interests for power and wealth. (Note: The disagreement between Hamas and PLO is worth being a case study)
The conflict has been continuous due to religious causes where both the Jews and Palestinians have struggled to exert authority upon the fought territories. Nevertheless, it is truly saddening that in a modern era, the sanctity of humanity is still openly ravaged . Palestinians are oppressed and murdered without mercy by the Israeli armies.
Both supporters of the Israelis and Palestinians from all over the world may keep on sending funds to help the people but will it really end the war and proposterous killings? Do the funds really reach those in need? Is there any long-term solution that would be negotiated by both parties without having to compromise their faiths on the holy land?