We Need To Talk About Palestine

Cece Phillips, Reporter

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Let’s face it: the world is big, busy, and confusing. It’s hard to decipher fact from fiction, and harder still to form your own opinion on those facts. There is always someone whispering in your ear, telling you what to believe, what to think.

But if you think things are crazy here in the U.S., let me take you 6,136  miles to Palestine…or is it Israel….?

The simple run-down of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is this: Both Israel and Palestine are countries, the only problem is that they are both claiming the same land. Both countries feel that the other is stealing their rightful territory, and both countries are fighting each other with heavy-duty weapons, like bombs and missiles. The conflict has escalated to the point that the U.S. has gotten involved, as well as many of the United States’ allies. Everyone is picking sides and defending either Israel or Palestine’s claim on this land. So who is in the right?

Way back in 1917, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, British officials issued what is known as the Balfour Declaration in an effort to gain the loyalty of newly nationalistic Jews (known as the Zionist Jews). This document promised the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” according to the Balfour Declaration. Between 1920 and 1939, the Jewish population of Palestine grew by over 320,000 people, and by the end of 1938, the Jews made up just under 30% of Palestine’s population, as stated by John Green in 2015.

During this time of mass immigration, the Palestinians living on the land at the time naturally became upset at the prospect of having to give up their land. This sparked a massive revolt, which was quickly squelched by the Brits. Nevertheless, the British slowed the immigration of Zionist Jews, and even called for the establishment of a joint Arab-Israeli state in Palestine (within the decade). This, of course, did nothing to ease the tensions between the two peoples. Zionists became upset at having to slow their immigration at a time when it was necessary for Jews to escape Nazi persecution in Europe, and Palestinians became upset at the idea of having to wait a whole decade for their own state. Not-so thankfully, World War II began at this time, leaving the issue in a dead heat.

After the second World War, the creation of the United Nations gave the British a way out of their predicament, and they left this puzzle for the Allied Powers to solve. In 1948, the UN issued a Partition Plan, which divided the land of Palestine (fittingly) “like a jigsaw puzzle” between the newly-nationalistic Palestinians and the Zionist Jews, according to Green. Again, this did next to nothing to ease the tensions between the two peoples. Both nations were unhappy with the way the land was divided, so in 1948, a war broke out. After a ceasefire was issued in 1949, the Israelis occupied a third more land than they were initially given by the UN. As a result, over 700,000 Palestinians were left without homes, and became refugees in neighboring countries. This event is known by the Palestinians as the Nakba, or “the catastrophe.”

 

Over the next six decades, thousands of lives were lost on both sides, more Palestinian land was stolen, and walls have been constructed by Israel’s leadership in order to keep the Palestinians out (this wall reaches over 25 feet in some places). Peaceful protests have proven unsuccessful, and now the people of Palestine are resorting to violence and terrorism just to be heard by the world. In 1948, the UN issued a Partition Plan, which Israeli government has completely disregarded (deliberately breaking international laws), and yet nothing is being done to solve this problem. In fact, the US is even providing the funds for Israel’s military forces and weaponry. The question we are all asking now is, how many more will have to die, how high do the walls have to grow, how many more violent attacks have to be committed before someone finally starts paying attention?

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to stand up and say, “No more funding weapons for Israel,” “Give the Palestinians back their land,” “I stand with Palestine.” At a time when everyone deserves a voice, why silence the ones who cannot speak?

It is in your best interest to side with Palestine on this issue, if not to save Palestinian lives, but to advocate for standing up to injustices. If one of your friends were being bullied, would you side with the bully? I should hope not.

Many will state that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an unwinnable argument, based solely on the conflict of the two countries’ religious beliefs. But when faced with the facts, the issue really boils down to whether or not the Israelis can get away with criminal acts. According to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, over the past seven years, the Gaza Strip (Palestinian land occupied by the Israelis) has been undergoing a siege directed by the Israeli government. This siege is described by an Israeli official as putting the Palestinians “on a diet, but not make them die of hunger.” Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency all say that this siege is illegal and goes against the UN Partition Plan of 1948.

Palestinians are clearly suffering more than Israelis. Their land was stolen, then stolen again, and then stolen again. According to Julia Bacha, a videographer, Israel is literally building its walls on top Palestinian villages and homes. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed. Since the year 2000, there have been a recorded 8,166 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict-related deaths. Of those, 7,065 come from Palestine, and 1,101 come from Israel. In other words, 87% of deaths since 2000 have come from Palestine, and only 13% have come from Israel. In even simpler terms, for every 15 people killed in the conflict, 13 are Palestinian and two are Israeli.

This battle has gone too far and lasted too long. It is time for change, and those changes can start with you. Please make the right choice and side with Palestine.

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