Letters to the Editor
October 12, 2023

To the Editor:

“Israel:” one land, many peoples and names. “Canaan,” later two kingdoms of “Israel” and “Judah” (origin of “Jew”) and “Palestina.” Ironically, it is also the source of a common ancestor significant to three of the four Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). By more than 1,000 years, “Israel” predates “Palestine.” After the Diaspora of Jews to the East by choice or force, the land then became home to an Arab population, again for more than a millennium. Here, the history is necessarily summary.

After the Islamic conquest of the Middle East in the seventh century, Arab peoples began to settle in “Palestina,” which included a small Jewish population. Excepting a century of Crusader domination, the land fell under Muslim control for nearly 1,200 years. Although Jewish habitation never ceased entirely, the population was overwhelmingly Arab, and the land was their ancestral homeland.

In the second half of the 1800’s, the deep-rooted yearning of Jews of the Diaspora to return to the territory of their ancestors, and their recognition of rising hatred toward Jews in Europe and the Middle East, cultivated the nationalistic movement, “Zionism.”

Zionism eventually succeeded because the Western Allies ¬forcibly restored the Jews surviving the Holocaust to their ancient homeland, and that of the Palestinian Arabs. It seemed “just and compassionate.”
In November 1947, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181, partitioning the land into “Independent Arab and Jewish States.” The resolution met immediate violent Arab rejection of the “invaders.” On May 14, 1948, the Zionist leadership declared the founding of the state of Israel.

In the Jewish “War of Independence,” for Palestinians, it was “al-Nakba,” “The Catastrophe.” The new Jewish state was immediately invaded by the armies of several Arab countries, alongside Palestinian militants. Vanquished, seven hundred thousand Arabs were driven from their homes, with no right of return, to the present. As 20% of the Israeli population, Arab Israelis and are considered as “second-class citizens” in what they consider to be “their country.”

In the Six-Day War of June 1967, Israel repelled a heavy Arab military force massed at its borders. Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza (considered illegal under the UN declaration by much of the world), claiming much of the West Bank and leaving Palestinians under painful Israeli occupation in Gaza, one of the most poverty-ridden, densely populated and isolated places in the world. Since the 1990s, there have been several failed attempts to negotiate the two-state solution, as promised by the UN.

Under Israel’s prime minister, “Bibi” Netanyahu, Jewish settlement expanded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and violence against the Arab Israelis has accelerated. The UN declaration of a two-state nation has been discarded by both populations.

As I write this, Israel has promised a retaliatory “complete siege” of Gaza, “No electricity, no food, no water” even for innocents. Hamas is threatening to kill all the hostages taken last weekend if Israel does not provide needed items to Gaza or attacks them in retaliation.

The well-meaning gift of Israel to the Jewish people by the West was not ours to give, and both Jews and Arabs have a legitimate claim to the land. The UN is clearly reluctant to resolve the conflict against Jewish interests, and the memory of the Holocaust revives passions in the Zionists. The rest of the world is at a nexus of millennia of regional conflict. It appears that no act of vengeance, however vile or extreme, can satisfy the sons of Abraham. What are the rest of “Abraham’s sons and daughters” to do?

It is as tragic as it was inevitable.

History of Israeli and Palestinian conflict and the latest conflict in Gaza in maps (usatoday.com)

Kelly Scoles,
Fillmore, Ca