Arab Israel Conflict:
Q1. Who are the Jewish people?
Ans. Jews are an ethnic group that originally believed in the religion of Judaism. Their origin dates back to the 2nd millennium BCE in the West Asian Levant region. They trace their ancestry to a group of Iron Age Semitic-speaking (an Afro-Asiatic family of language) tribes known as the Israelites.
The modern state of Israel is the only country in the world where Jews constitute a majority of the population.
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Q2. What is anti-semitism?
Ans. Anti-semitism is prejudice and hostility against the Jews. The word was first used in print media in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for ‘Jew-hatred’.
The word is a misnomer which gives a false indication that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic people. which includes Arabs, Assyrians, and Arameans.
Amongst the Jews, a counter-movement called Zionist Movement grew as a response against anti-semitism.
Q3. How was anti-semitism used in the Soviet Union?
Ans. Under the Russian Tsars in the 1880s, Jews had been confined to a Pale of Settlement (a region in western Russia) where they faced prejudice and persecution. As a result of being victims of oppression, many Jews joined radical (far-left) parties like the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
After the Russian Revolution, when Bolsheviks gained power, they abolished the Pale of Settlement but they were strongly opposed to Judaism. Lenin always spoke against anti-semitism officially but his words were often in contradiction to the policies. Jews were frequently deployed at the frontline of Russian wars for dying, and hardly given any administrative posts.
When Stalin emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union after a power struggle with Leon Trotsky (a Jew), he openly adopted anti-semitic policies. He viewed Jews as pro-western, secretly working against the USSR. Antisemitism in the Soviet Union was used as a campaign against the ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, which was a pejorative term against the Jews accusing them of lack of full allegiance to the Soviet Union. Even the victimization of Jews at the hands of Nazis was denied in USSR. Stalin’s antisemitic campaign ultimately culminated in the ‘Doctor’s Plot’ in 1953 which was aimed at total liquidation of Jewish cultural life.
Q4. What is UN Resolution 181?
Ans. The UNGA adopted a resolution on November 29, 1947, recommending a partition plan for Palestine and the creation of Isreal, a homeland for the Jews.
The resolution recommended the creation of-
- An independent Arab state,
- An independent Jewish state, and
- A special international regime for the city of Jerusalem.
The resolution also provided for the termination of the British mandate in the region.
Q5. Who fought in the war of 1948?
Ans. The Arabs did not accept the UN Partition Plan. Arabs waged a war at midnight on 14 May 1948, ie. the same day when the British mandate ended and the Israeli Declaration of Independence had been issued.
Five Arab states- Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan declared the war on Israel (although Lebanon did not participate in the attack). The war resulted in the exodus of Palestinians and a massive territorial gain for Israel. About 7,00,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes.
Q6. Who fought in the war of 1967?
Ans. The 1967 war or the six-day war was a pre-emptive war (an offensive defense) by Israel against Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. In this war, Israel occupied:
- The Sinai Peninsula from Egypt
- Gaza strip from Egypt
- Golan Heights from Syria
- West Bank from Jordan
Q7. How many Jews used to live in Arab countries?
Ans. Before the creation of Israel in 1948, 0.8 million Jews were living in lands that now make up the Arab countries. Another 0.2 million Jews lived at that time in Iran and Turkey. Most of them migrated to Israel in multiple exoduses between 1948 to 1970s.
Q8. How many Jews used to live in European Countries?
Ans. Before the Nazis seized power in 1933, approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe which is roughly 1.7% of the total European population at that time. More than 60% of all Jews at that time lived in Europe.
Q9. What were the Oslo Accords?
Ans. Oslo Accords are a pair of agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel aimed at bringing peace between Israel-Palestine. The negotiations for these agreements were secretly conducted in Oslo, Norway.
Oslo Accord I was signed in 1993 in Washington D.C. It provided for the creation of Palestinian interim self-government called the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The accord only recognized interim self-government in the Palestinian territories and not an independent Palestinian state. The accord also called for the withdrawal of Israel Defence Forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Oslo Accord II was signed in 1995 in Taba, Egypt. It created three administrative divisions called Areas A, B, and C in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority was given some limited powers and responsibilities.
Q10. What was the Camp David Summit?
Ans. The Camp David Summit was held in 2000 as an effort to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It was a meeting between US President Bill Clinton, Israeli PM Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman, Yasser Arafat.
The summit ended without an agreement as the negotiations were based on an ‘all or nothing approach’ with no written record of the proposals.
Q11. What happened in Gaza in 2005?
Ans. Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and North Samaria in the year 2005. The 800 Jewish settlers in the 21 settlements of the Gaza strip were relocated after giving compensation.
The purpose of the plan was to improve Israel’s security and international status.
In 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza strip from the Palestinian Authority.
Q12. What were the first and the second Intifadas?
Ans. Intifadas were the two Palestinian uprisings against Israel.
The first Intifada in the late 1980s was a series of non-violent demonstrations against Israel. It was suppressed with heavy military force by the Israelis.
The second Intifada grew out of the failure of the peace process in the early 2000s. This was a bloodier uprising with heavy loss of lives of both sides.
Q13. What is UNRWA?
Ans. The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) is a UN Agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. More than 5.6 million Palestinians are registered with UNRAW as refugees.
The 7,00,000 Palestinians that were displaced in the 1948 war were not given citizenship by any Arabic country except Jordan. The Right to return of these refugees is one of the sticking points in Israel-Palestine negotiations.
Q14. What is UN Resolution 3379?
Ans. UN Resolution 3379 adopted in 1975 determined that Zionism is a form of racial discrimination. This resolution was adopted a year after PLO was granted a Permanent Observer status at the UN.
The determination that Zionism is a form of racism was revoked later in 1991 by another UN Resolution.
Q15. What is a Dhimmi?
Ans. Dhimmi (literally, ‘the protected’) is a historical term for non-Muslims living in an Islamic State with legal protection. The protection is the state’s obligation guided by sharia laws in exchange for tax. The Jews formed part of the dhimmi community in many Muslim states.
Q16. What were the ‘three no’s’ of Khartoum?
Ans. After the defeat of Arabs in the Six-Day War of 1967, an Arab League Summit was held in Khartoum. In this SUmmit, “The Three No’s” were adopted:
- No peace with Israel
- No recognition of Israel
- No negotiations with Israel
It was decided that the oil-rich Arab states would give financial assistance to those who lost in the war and will help them rebuilt their military forces. This summit influenced Israeli foreign policy for decades.
Q17. What is Hezbollah? What is Hamas?
Ans. Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist political party and militant group of Lebanon. It was created to resist the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and represent the long marginalized Shia community of the region. It is led by Hassan Nasrallah since 1992.
Many countries including the EU and Arab League countries (except Iraq and Lebanon) have designated either the entire organization or its military wing as a terrorist organization. It has grown into an organization so powerful that it has seats in the Lebanon government, a radio and satellite TV station of its own. It is often referred to as a ‘state within the state’. It received military and financial support from Iran and political support from Syria.
Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization founded in 1987 after the first Intifada. It is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Many countries including the EU, Israel classify Hamas or its military wing as a terrorist organization.
Q18. What is Pan-Arabism?
Ans. Pan Arabism is a political movement that promotes the idea that all Arabs should unite to form one country. They believe that Arab populations should unite and western powers like the US and Great Britain should not have any political influence over the Arabian Peninsula or North Africa.
After the Six-Day War and the Camp David Accord of 1979, Egypt’s role as the leader of the Pan-Arab movement severely weakened. Pan-Arabism was on the decline.
After the Arab Spring of 2011, many scholars argued that Pan Arabism is coming back.
Q19. How many times have Palestinians been offered a state?
Ans. Palestinians have stumped the offer of forming an independent state on more than seven occasions:
- The Peel Commission in 1937 had proposed the creation of an Arab state by the partition of Palestine
- The British White Paper in 1939 also proposed the creation of a unitary Arab state
- The 1947 UN Resolution 181 proposed for the creation of an independent Arab state by the partition of Palestine
- The Camp David Peace Accords of 1979 gave way to self-rule to Palestinians which would have led to complete independence ultimately.
- The Oslo Accords of the 1990s too laid out a plan for Palestinian independence, but the process was derailed by terrorism.
- The unilateral withdrawal of Israel from Gaza in 2005 was another missed opportunity by the Palestinians
- The peace offer by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to withdraw from West Bank and partition Jerusalem was rejected by Mahmoud Abbas
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