What Really Goes on Between Israel and Palestine
For citizens of both Israel and America, the ongoing discord between Israel and Palestine is one of the most heavily scrutinized issues of foreign affairs. American politicians and members of the media have offered a wide range of opinions on the strife between the two sides and have asserted various methods to be used to solve the issue. Some believe that Israel should abandon all of its settlements in disputed territories and that doing so will convince the Palestinians to seek peace. Others opine that numerous Palestinian terror attacks, despite only being actively performed by a minority of the citizens of Palestine, are evidence that Palestinians do not ultimately seek to coexist peacefully with Israel, and that Israel should perform any possible measure to prevent further attacks.
However, one of the biggest misconceptions about the situation between Israel and Palestine, which often leads to distorted understandings of the nature of the situation, is that Israel and Palestine are locked in a long-term, military “conflict”. When the hostility between Israel and Palestine is analyzed, many seemingly view the two sides as essentially being in a constant state of war with one another, which ultimately results in casualties to both sides and an outcome that benefits neither. In reality, this situation is very far from being a military conflict, because military conflicts involve the mobilization of one side’s military against the other. The Israeli army is not currently fighting the Palestinian army (which may or may not exist), and the action of the IDF is not for the sake of conquering land or advancing the agenda of Israel’s leader. It is rather for the sake of protecting Israel’s citizens.
Very often, American news outlets will report on events in Israel or Palestine and will paint a specific picture of what defines the conflict. For example, over the summer, the head of the Otniel Yeshiva, Rabbi Michael Mark, was shot and killed by a terrorist while driving on a highway with members of his family, all of whom were injured in the attack. No doubt, there were media stations that portrayed this killing as an act of political protest. At the time of his death, however, Rabbi Mark had absolutely no political or military affiliations with the state of Israel (other than being a citizen), and his murder can only be defined as a killing at random. Regardless of the perpetrator’s personal feelings about Israel’s policies, including Jewish settlements in the West Bank, it would be an understatement to say that the killing of a rabbi driving with his family is a distortion of the concept of political protest. Even if every single complaint ever made about the State of Israel’s policies was justified (not exactly), it would be impossible to think that that somehow justifies the random murder of its citizens. Therefore, the perpetrator of the attack on Rabbi Mark is neither a victim of Israel, nor a military actor. Terrorists who kill civilians are not soldiers, and cannot be compared to Israeli soldiers who fight to protect their country.
Additionally, when Israel launches military campaigns into Palestinian territory, it only does so for the sake of ending a terror threat. Israeli soldiers are not fighting battles against Palestinian soldiers, who simply want to protect their home country in a way analogous to the Israeli military. The actions performed by Palestinian terrorists do not have a single element of self-defense, or even of the promotion of their own interests. Terrorists are not helping Palestinian citizens or defending their homes when they attack Israelis; if anything, they are sabotaging their own interests by worsening an already hostile situation. The nature of the actions performed by Israeli soldiers and Palestinians are thus incomparable. In fact, the actions performed by Palestinian terrorists are the polar opposite of those performed by IDF soldiers, because Israeli soldiers seek to achieve an outcome of protecting their home country and making their fellow citizens safer, and Palestinian terrorists only want to bring more violence, death, and destruction into the world. It is not a question of how far the Israeli government has “pushed” the Palestinian people into committing acts of violence, because no matter how much abuse the Palestinians may or may not have theoretically suffered, it is inexcusable to kill other people at random for the sake of expressing displeasure at their country’s policies.
Because of all of these factors, it is incorrect to label the Israel-Palestine situation as a “conflict”, because the word “conflict” implies that two sides are meeting in some kind of battleground, in order to fight for a prize that each side wants for themselves. For example, the American Revolution was fought over whether Great Britain would retain control of the Thirteen Colonies or if the colonies would acquire that control for themselves. Both sides participated in many battles in order to achieve control of the Thirteen Colonies, and in the end, one side, the Continental Army, prevailed. That situation is absolutely not what is happening in Israel and Palestine right now. Terror attacks are not acts of political rebellion, because they are not generally concentrated on bettering Palestine’s political situation. Even if Israel was as morally reprehensible as some claim (it’s not), Palestine doesn’t control any commodity that Israel would be willing to wage an offensive war in order to obtain, except its own citizens’ safety. It would be impossible to claim that there is some kind of alternative reasoning for Israel’s military campaigns into Palestinian territory, other than Israel’s self- defense, simply because there is nothing within Palestine that appeals to Israeli interests so much that they’d fight a war for the sake of acquiring it.
Israel and Palestine’s current situation is certainly unfortunate, but to label it a “conflict” is an inaccurate portrayal of the events taking place in either country. The motivations of the actions performed by Israel’s military are in total contrast to those of terrorists, who have no objective other than violence. In order to fix this situation in the future, it is important to understand precisely what is transpiring and what motivates the actions of both sides involved.