Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Essay
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Essay on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Tragedy of the Israeli/ Palestinian Conflict: Social Constructs of Warring Societies
The recent situation in the Middle East is a continuation of a cycle of violence that has engulfed a region with a long history of turmoil. The death toll has been great and the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. The subject, of course is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the eyes of the world are upon it. A few days ago a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists, organized by a Turkish solidarity movement, was attempting to break through a blockade of Gaza.
After repeated attempts by the Israeli authorities warning them not to enter a restricted military zone, the flotilla moved toward their objective. When all attempts to stop them failed, Israeli commandos attempted to board the vessels in order to diffuse the situation, after which a fight ensued, where consequences were a number of casualties on both sides. (Shavit) To understand the sociological ramifications of the event, some background to it needs to be established. The strategic blockade of the Gaza Strip, orchestrated by the State of Israel began in 2007 immediately following the violent overthrow of the Palestinian unity government by Hamas in the Gaza strip. Known as a terrorist organization that repeatedly has called for the destruction of a sovereign nation-state, Israel; Hamas, after winning Gaza elections in 2006, deposed the Western-backed Palestinian Fatah government in a bloody coup in which hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives. Immediately following the coup, the West began to see Hamas’ hard-line Islamic government as a threat to Israel as well as to their own interests in the region. It was therefore agreed to impose a land and sea blockade of the territory in order to weaken the Islamic regime. Immediately following the takeover, Hamas and other extremist terrorist organizations began to shell Southern Israel with rockets and mortar, which up to date have totaled approximately 8,000 projectiles. (Tran)
From a social constructionist standpoint, one must ask what has happened to have this clash of peoples, which from the outside seem to be so similar to one another. With the advent of Zionism in the mid nineteenth century, the Jews of Europe began to migrate to Palestine to create their national home. The Arab natives of the land began to feel more and more threatened with the coming Jews. So as pan-Arabic nationalism began to grow, so did the creation of the Palestinian people, through culture, art, food and history. All of a sudden, as the Jews began to create their identity and therefore a claim to the land, so too did the Arabs living there, as well as those who began migrating to the area.
Following the creation of Israel and the subsequent capture of the West Bank and Gaza during the 1967 Six Day War by the Israelis, a new society emerged. The society was stratified with the victorious Israelis as the ones with all the rights, and the Palestinian Arabs left with doing the menial jobs within Israel proper. Restrictions on land purchases, schools, employment, utilities and other measurements were taken to separate the two peoples from one another, especially by the settlement authorities in the occupied territories. (Saunders) As expected, animosity and resistance began to grow within the Palestinian population against the newly-founded settlements on hilltops scattered throughout the West Bank.
Full control by the occupying force was instituted upon the people in order to maintain a status quo that was beneficial to the settlers. Almost complete isolation took place and the full control of the population was initiated by the authorities. Movement was controlled through check points and water rationing was imposed. People turn to crime for the most part when they have no other options, hence, as the people living in the occupied territories began to have less and less options and lacked any future opportunities, they began to turn to crime. The crimes that they mostly went for were suicide bombings in cafes and busses against innocent Israeli civilians. As in every society, deviance takes place when a person is isolated and cannot adhere to social norms, but what would be considered deviant behavior in a normal society such as ours, in the occupied territories, hate and murder became a part of the norms, thus deviant behavior turned into a social norm, even being hailed as heroism.
The reason it is important to understand the social construction of the two societies, is to find ways to bridge the gaps between the peoples, so instances such as the one that happened this week, with the savage beating by the ‘peace activists’ of the soldiers and the subsequent killing of them, will hopefully become a distant memory when the people have found a way to coexist and find a way to live with each other side by side.
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