Tabia AhmedMs. ConnEnglish 1015, December, 2017The one-state/two-state debate is highly fraught not least because of proximity. Too much history, too little land. This is not India and Pakistan; the map of Ireland is a veritable continent compared with Israel and the Palestinian territories. Gaza is about as close to Herzliya as New York is to Maryland; the West Bank, as Israelis are quick to point out, is just seven miles from the Ben Gurion Airport. Any two-state solution with a chance of working would have to include federal arrangements not only about security but also about water, cell-phone coverage, sewage, and countless other details of a common infrastructure.
The talk of a one-state solution, limited as it is, will never be serious if it is an attempt to mask annexation, expulsion, or population transfer, on one side, or the eradication of an existing nation, on the other. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional. Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together.The path to Israel declaring itself a nation in 1948 was complicated by world war, religious beliefs, and imperialism. The origins and contributing factors of the Palestine/Israel conflict have been the center of debate between Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine historians. These historians have competing interpretations regarding historical and religious claims to the land, the goal of the Zionist movement, and the impact of British involvement.
Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine historians are deeply divided on every aspect of the conflict which further reiterates the deep divide among the people that live in arguably the most holy place in the world. The history of the region of Israel is long and complicated. According to biblical scripture, the children of Israel inhabited the holy land from 1400 BCE until the Roman Empire removed them in 136 CE. It was during this time that the name of the region was changed from Israel to Syria, Palestine and the Arab people took control. Palestine was ruled by an Arab majority under the Turkish-Ottoman Empire until they were defeated at the end of World War I. It was during this time that the British made multiple promises to both the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish Israelites that began the war known at the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Hitler’s war against the Jews further complicated the fight over Palestine due to the Jews fleeing persecution in Europe and their need for a homeland. Arabs were in fear of losing their land to Jews and thus ensued in a battle to control the area. Both Palestinians and Israelis lay claims to the land based on their religious Historian Edward Said disagrees with Thomas Suarez, arguing that the Jewish people lost their land when the Romans took over and removed them in 136 A.D. Said’s 1979 book titled, The Question of Palestine, argues that the Palestinian Arabs had continuous control of the area from 136 A.D. until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 thus giving them the rights to the land.
Said argues that, “Palestine became a predominantly Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics – including it names in Arabic, Filastin – became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance.” Said furthers his argument by stating that the Arabs were the ethnic majority living in the region and that the Jews were the minority. He states that, “despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonist after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority.” Said goes on to state that in 1931 the Jewish population totaled 174,606 while the Arab population was 1,033,314.4 Said concludes that the Palestinian Arabs are the true owners of the land due to their continuous inhibition and control of the area leading up to 1948.
While Suarez and Said take different sides on the issue of land ownership based on biblical and historical information, Alan Dershowitz disagrees with both men. Dershowitz’s 2003 book, The Case for Israel, argues that neither the Arabs nor the Jews can lay stakes to the land due to biblical or historical records. Dershowitz argues that there must be a statute of limitations for ancient grievances. He explains that, “just as the case for Israel can no longer rely exclusively on the expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel in the first century, so too the Arab case must move beyond a reliance on events that allegedly occurred more than a century ago.
” In short, Dershowitz is arguing that the Jews can’t lay claims to the land based on biblical text and Arabs can’t claim the land based on them having the ethnic majority and they also should not be able to make claims that Palestine would still be an Arab nation if it had not been for the fall of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire and the eventual takeover by the British government at the end of World War I. Dershowitz explains that his main argument for the statutes of limitations is based on the inability to reconstruct the past. He states that, “as time passes it becomes increasingly difficult to reconstruct the past with any degree of precision, and political memories harden and replace the facts.
” It is Dershowitz’s opinion that both Suarez and Said are incorrect on their assessment that the Palestinians or the Israelis should be able to claim rights to the land based on historical events that happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago but expresses that there must be a statute of limitations regarding rights to the holy land. Both Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine historians agree that the Zionist movement that began in the late 1800s enabled the Jews to claim Israel as their homeland in 1948. What these historians disagree on is as to why the Zionist movement was established and what their ultimate goal was. Pro-Palestine historians claim that the Zionist goal from the beginning was to take over Palestine and displace the Arabs already living there, while Pro-Israel historians argue that the persecution of Jews made the need for a Jewish homeland imperative to the survival of the Jewish people thus justifying the actions of the Zionist leaders. NOT DONE