So What's All The Fuss About

So What's All The Fuss About?

FTLComm - Tisdale - Saturday, April 6, 2002

Perhaps looking at these maps might help explain the predicament that confronts the world and confounds more than half of a century of attempts to bring about peace in the area.

As early as the 1920s a significant number of European Jews had begun the process that was referred to as Zionism. (The return to the holy land.) Following World War II the area on this map was controlled by Britain under a prewar mandate of the League of Nations. Those were tense times and the Jews were being released from Europe's death camps and were making their way to what they hoped would be a new homeland.

The one serious flaw in the plan was that the land they were going to settle was already occupied by Islamic people who spoke Arabic and called themselves Palestinians.

Almost immediately fighting developed between the arriving Jews and the British. Then with the Palestinians attempting to protect themselves from and invasion. The neighbouring Arab countries poured equipment and soldiers into the land and war began in earnest.

In 1948 the United Nations accepted the country of Israel with the borders seen here as a purple line. Israel was about 450 km long from the desert port of Elait in the South to the Lebanese border in the North. At its narrowest point the country is but fifteen kilometres wide, Most of the people of Israel live in the area shown here in this central portion of the country. (move your mouse to the map and click will reveal the Israel place names)

The Arab countries refused to accept the presence of Israel and were determined to force them back into the sea. They refused to grant asylum to the Palestinians fleeing their war torn country and since then, most of those displaced people have lived in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank or Lebanon. The Arab countries continue to the present day to provide them with an unlimited supply of weapons and military training.

With rockets raining down on the Northern part of Israel from Syria and constant threats from Egypt in the South in June 5, 1967 Israel launched attacks on Syria and Egypt. Then in October the next year they seized the West Bank and the Golan Heights to end the continued violence.

Clearly you will have realised that this struggle must have other dimensions to have gone on this long and indeed it has. Israel is not like other countries but established its citizenship by accepting only Jews as citizens. The Arabs who lived in the place found themselves without citizenship and mostly without a place to live. In the seventies and eighties the violence tapered off some as Israel's wealth and economy grew and Palestinians were able to get work in the country but seriously resented the status quo. Especially since Jewish settlers were making new Jewish villages in the West Bank.

Gradually the Jews and Palestinians were coming to terms with what was a difficult situation and there was a steady move toward total governmental autonomy for Palestine under the leadership of the terrorist leader Yassar Arafat. But the Arab countries were still unwilling to grant recognition to Israel and demanded that the Palestinians be permitted to return their homeland.

Seeing that every attempt at peace was failing the Israel voters decided it was time to get tough and elected former General Sharon to head up the country's government. He was certain to take a hard line with the Palestinians and immediately they launch yet another uprising. Only this one has escalated to daily suicide bombings of Israeli civilians which was responded to by retaking of Palestine by Israeli forces. Since they took over the West Bank no further suicide bombings have occurred but the world public opinion is on the side of the Palestinians.

Since 1948 there have been atrocities that are truly uncivilised and the Palestinians have taken their war against Israel to Muench Austria, to Europe and in September of 2001 to New York and Washington.

There are more Jews in New York than in Israel so it is easy to see why the United States has been a solid supporter of the state of Israel, especially during the cold war when all but a few of the Arab nations were receiving aid from the Soviet Union. Now much of the world is dependent upon the Arab countries for petroleum and money, and attacks on United States have made the Americans buddy buddy with the Saudi Arabians who made up most of the suicide killers (fourteen of nineteen were from Saudi Arabia) in the September 11 attacks.

The primary issue is that Israel and its people want the right to live where they are now. The Palestinians refer to the the Israelis as "occupying forces" and that does not refer to the West Bank and Gaza but to their very presence in the area. Clearly, those two positions are not compatible. Separate states with Israel in their place and the Palestinians in their place has not worked as the Palestinians have continued to attack the Israelis refusing to accept living side by side. Both sides are far more aware of these fundamental conditions than we can imagine. Sustained warfare and killing is the logical and intended action for both sides. You can see on the map that in that crooked line that formed the border between Israel and Jordan was the battle line when the UN declared Israel a state in 1948 and further South the Jordanian map points out that a border there was the armistice line in 1949.

The map below is a combination of four maps combined for display as a
QuickTime VR. (thanks to Ken Styan for passing on the source for these maps) The map below can be zoomed in and out to get some perspective on the whole area.