Unfortunately the origins and complexity of the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian Conflicts cannot be squeezed into a single Instagram post. For a more complete, well-rounded, nuanced understanding, I recommend reading the following posts first:
A TIMELINE OF RULE OVER ISRAEL-PALESTINE
JEWS & INDIGENEITY: A CONVERSATION WITH NATIVE JEWS
WHY DID THE JEWISH POPULATION IN JUDEA/PALESTINE DRASTICALLY DECLINE?
THE ZIONISTS & THE BRITISH: WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
THE ARAB RIOTS IN MANDATORY PALESTINE
LET’S TALK ABOUT JEWISH REFUGEES
HAMAS & ANTISEMITISM
- Israel has been open to diplomatic efforts since the 1947 Partition vote at the United Nations, as evidence by its 1975 peace treaty with Egypt. On the other hand, Egypt was temporarily kicked out of the Arab League for pursuing a diplomatic solution with Israel. Since its founding in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (now the Palestinian Authority) opposed diplomatic efforts. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the PLO engaged with Israel. Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip, adamantly rejects diplomatic solutions to the conflict.
- Since its founding, the PLO attacked Israel via acts of terrorism, including attempts to poison the Israeli water supply (an act of ecological terrorism) and a school bus bombing. Hamas has long been open about its aim of annihilating Jews. Israel adamantly denies targeting civilians, claiming that it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas hides its military arsenal among the civilian population, which Israel asserts is the reason for most civilian deaths in the conflict. That said, it’s undeniable that Israel has at times fired at Palestinian civilians.
- Israel, within the 1967 lines, is indisputably a democracy. That said, Israel controls part of Area B and all of Area C of the West Bank. Palestinians living within those areas are not Israeli citizens and as such cannot vote in Israeli elections.
- Israel recognised an Arab state in Palestine via its acceptance of the 1947 Partition Plan, whereas the Arab states did not. Since the late 1980s, Israel has accepted the sovereignty of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a two state solution. The PLO/PA only officially recognised Israel in the mid 1990s, while Hamas does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty to this day. Most Arab nations, with the exception of Egypt (1975), Jordan (1994), the United Arab Emirates (2020), and Morocco (2020), do not recognise Israel.
WHAT ARE THE WARS ABOUT?
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is a conflict over territory between two groups with longstanding ancestral and/or Indigenous claims to the land. In 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of partitioning the territory into one Jewish and one Arab state, which the Jews accepted but the Arabs did not. As soon as Israel declared its independence, 5 much stronger Arab nations invaded the new country in a war with the stated purpose of totally annihilating the Jewish population. Israel won, and the various parties have been fighting over the territory ever since.
Before the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1975, the conflict was largely between Israel and its surrounding Arab neighbors, not between Israel and Palestine (until 1967, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, renamed the West Bank during the Jordanian occupation. The West Bank is actually east of Israel). Israel currently occupies area C and part of area B of the West Bank, while the Palestinian Authority governs area A and part of area B. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005; however, following the election of the Islamist* and virulently antisemitic group Hamas in 2007, both Israel and Egypt enacted a blockade on the strip, which has come at a devastating humanitarian cost for the Gazan population.
In addition to territorial disputes, ~750,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled in the 1948 war. Meanwhile, ~850,000 Jews were expelled from the surrounding Arab nations. The issue of the Palestinian right of return is arguably the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinian people.
Beyond Israel and Palestine, some geopolitical experts consider the conflict a proxy war between Israel and Iran, as Iran (as well as Qatar) funds Palestinian militant/terrorist groups.
*Islamism and Islam are not the same thing.
Israel-Palestine is a territorial conflict between two ethnic/national groups with longstanding ancestral claims to the land. Jewish national identity dates back over 3000 years, to the period of the Kingdom of Israel (which later split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel). Like other Indigenous groups across the globe, most Jews were displaced from their land at the hands of foreign empires. Nevertheless, for 2000 years, the Jewish People never lost hope of recovering sovereignty over our land. Today’s Jews are — as proven by genetic science, archeology, and historical record — the descendants of those Jews.
In the 600s, the Arab Islamic Empire conquered the Land of Israel. Today’s Palestinians are the descendants of converted Jews, Arabs that arrived to the Holy Land at various points throughout history, as well as others who’ve passed through via migration and colonialism. Palestinian national identity, independent of a greater Arab identity, dates back to the 20th century.
The Russo-Ukrainian War, on the other hand, is not a conflict over territory between two groups with longstanding claims to the land. It’s a war where one much larger country (Russia) does not accept the sovereignty of the other (Ukraine). Ukraine’s national identity predates Russian colonization of the territory. The Russian Empire occupied Ukraine in 1793. After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, Ukraine briefly became an independent state until it was once again invaded by the Soviets in 1919. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state for the first time in 800 years (minus that brief period between 1917-1919). Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin does not accept Ukrainian national identity, independence, or Ukraine’s allegiance with western countries. Ukraine is not interested in Russia’s sovereign territory, whereas Palestine is interested in Israel’s sovereign territory (by this I mean that Palestine is historically interested in Israel’s territory within the 1967 lines; I am not referring to the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel).
Russia is exponentially larger than Ukraine, while Israel and the Palestinian Territories are roughly the same size. However, like Russia, Israel’s surrounding Arab territories are exponentially larger than Israel. Ukraine poses no threat to Russia’s sovereignty or security, while, historically, both Palestinian and non-Palestinian Arab leaders have threatened to annihilate Israel and/or its Jews.
Official Hamas Charter: “Islamic groups all over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best equipped for their future role in the fight against the warmongering Jews.”
Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) in 1948: “If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea.”
Ahmad Shukairy, the first chairman for the PLO (now the Palestinian Authority) in 1967: “This is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave.”
Beyond verbal threats, the surrounding Arab nations have invaded Israel at various points with the stated goal of annihilating the country. Since its establishment in 1964, the PLO’s “resistance” modus operandi was to hit civilian targets, which is considered a war crime.
On the other hand, Ukrainian resistance does not target civilians, but rather, soldiers that have invaded their country and are in the midst of engaging in violent acts. Ukraine does not fire missiles into sovereign Russian territory.
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