Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Middle East
The land where Israel is currently established has been characterized by fierce fighting and change in control over this region for centuries. These battles have been in existence since the period before World War II as Palestinians and Israelis continue to fight for control of this region. The historical war between Israel and Palestine and the situation in the Middle East has escalated to become a major security issue across international borders, particularly to the United States. Actually, Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East have relatively been regarded as the source of terrorism in the United States and other parts of the world. This implies that the most significant source of terrorism facing the United States is the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. This conflict has been characterized by fights between Israel and Palestine in attempts to gain control over this region. Therefore, maintaining safety from terrorism in the United States not only requires strategies to address domestic terrorism but also requires dealing with the most significant source of terrorism.
Historical Background of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
As previously mentioned, the land where Israel is currently established and control over the Middle East region has been the main sources of conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Before World War II, several crusades were carried out to obtain control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land by Christian soldiers on several incidents and occasions. Following the Second World War, the United Nations divided the land that is currently known as Palestine and created regions for Jewish immigrants to occupy in light of Nazi persecution. However, Jewish settlers were already living in most of these areas and quickly consolidated control while declaring their independence from the British Mandate of Palestine in 1948. Consequently, Arab neighbors quickly invaded the Jewish areas in support of the Muslim Palestinians. This created a conflict which was ultimately won by the Jewish forces that proceeded to establish the country of Israel while Palestinians remained in control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
After the Jewish forces won and established the country of Israel in this conflict, Palestinians formed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964 in efforts to regain control over Palestine. Since its establishment, the organization has developed to an extent that is currently part of the Fatah political party in Palestinian territory. Moreover, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was most prominently led by Yasser Arafat from 1969 to 2004 and is currently under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. The formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has been a major factor in Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. As previously mentioned, these countries have been engaged in fierce fighting regarding their territorial borders and control over the Middle East region.
Link between Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Terrorism
The single most significant source of terrorism facing the United States is the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East because of the strong link between this conflict and terrorism. As the historical has continued, it has become a breeding ground for terrorist and terror organizations with precise strategic goals and objectives. The first link between the Arab-Israeli conflict and terrorism is the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was listed as a terrorist organization until 1991. In the initial years of its existence, the organization under the leadership of Yasser Arafat advocated guerilla warfare and many Palestinian Arabs became radicalized and performed terrorist attacks. Therefore, the Palestinian Liberation Organization acted as the main source of radicalization of Palestinian Arabs and the basis for conducting terrorist attacks. The military wing of this organization has been identified as the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and still listed or designated as a terrorist organization.
Secondly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provided the basis for formation of Hamas in 1987, which currently controls the Gaza Strip and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. Hamas carries out regular attacks on Israeli using homemade rockets and Katayusha and also smuggles illegal goods through tunnels from Egypt. Third, Yasser Arafat and Fatah used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to authorize terrorist attacks against Israel such as the killing of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic weight lifting team by Black September, a terrorist organization, in 1972 Summer Olympics. The terrorist organization was named after two Palestinian villages whose inhabitants were either expelled or killed by the Jews in 1948. This conflict has escalated to include terrorist attacks in other regions, especially the United States such as the 9/11 terror attacks.
As demonstrated in this brief historical background, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is strongly linked to terrorism. Actually, terrorism can be regarded as the core component of this conflict to an extent that every debate about it is centered on charges and counter-charges of terrorism (Primoratz, 2005). Israelis and Palestinians continue to commit terrorist acts against each other and against allied forces or countries in attempts to achieve their specific strategic goals and objectives. However, these countries provide different explanations of their activities and argue that they are fighting for freedom. Palestinians who are regarded as the villain have been using terrorism mercilessly and nearly throughout the conflict. In contrast, Israeli’s or Jewish’s role in the conflict has been characterized by involvement in terrorism as evident in strategies employed by the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. Israel has utilized terrorism in a large scale to accomplish its objective of maintaining control of the territorial boundaries and over the Middle East region. These terrorism strategies have expanded beyond the boundaries of these regions and included other countries like the United States depending on their role and side in the war or conflict. Therefore, Israel and Palestine have resorted to terrorism during different times in the course of this historical and protracted conflict (Slater, 2014, p.79).
Link between Terrorism in the U.S. and Events in the Middle East
The previous discussion demonstrates that current terrorism problems and the threat of terrorism in the United States have international origins. Generally, the threat of terrorism in America is inevitably associated with events in the Middle East, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Terrorism in the United States is not simply a domestic problem but has international origins since it is more than a by-product of oppressive fundamental Islamists with the goal of creating a potent Muslim Caliphate or instituting Sharia law. Terrorists have very specific strategic goals and objectives, which is a major driving cause of their activities and is regarded as more important than their own lives.
The Middle East is turbulent and extremely complex since it is characterized by events that enhance the threat of terrorism to the United States and across the globe. Many countries in this region such as Israel and Palestine are faced with cross-border issues that contribute to delicate situations and war. The threat of terrorism in the United States is inexorably linked to events in the Middle East, especially Israeli-Palestinian conflict since they contribute to the rise of Islamic terrorism, which threatens the safety and security of American citizens. These events contribute to the rise of Islamic terrorism since they generate ungoverned areas in the region that act as bases for terrorist to plan, equip, train, and launch attacks (“Middle East,” 2015).
Generally, events in the Middle East provide the non-state actors with areas and tactics to plan, equip, train, and launch their activities. For instance, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has contributed to the rise of several terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Black September on the premise of Islamic terrorism. These non-state actors find the Middle East as a safe haven for planning and launching their attacks to perceived Israeli allies like the United States. There are numerous examples of Islamic terrorist acts that have been carried out against the U.S. because of Islamic terrorism emerging from such events like the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some examples of terrorist attacks that were targeted against U.S. interests at home or abroad and linked to the country interests or involvement in the Middle East include the suicide truck bombing of a multinational force in 1983 in Lebanon and the 9/11 terror attacks. Therefore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generates unholy anger and rage that is used by non-state actors and terrorist groups in the Middle East to justify war against the United States resulting in terrorism threat.
United States’ Position in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Since the Second World War came to an end, the United States has played a vital role in promoting, facilitating, and negotiating cease-fire agreements between Israel and Palestine (“U.S. Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” 2006). As a result of its role, other countries that participate in the peace efforts between these two countries usually work in collaboration with the United States and United Nations. While these efforts have been helpful in promoting peace in the Middle East region, they have seemingly been ineffective in completely ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Despite playing a major role in peace negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United States has seemingly taken sides, which has affected its ability to act as a non-partisan and honest arbiter in the negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Throughout the history of this conflict, the United States seemingly favors Israel since it has constantly provided military and financial assistance to Israel. Actually, the United States has seemingly used its leverage to encourage Israel to end the conflict with Palestine in order for plans for an independent Palestinian state to continue. Moreover, America continues to point to its large military and financial assistance to Israel as part of its commitment to end this conflict, obtain lasting peace, and promote democracy and economic growth in the Middle East region. The military and financial assistance that the United States provides to Israel have been opposed by Palestinians who consider America as an enemy to lasting peace in the region.
The United States’ seeming favoritism of Israel has been motivated by the consideration of Israel as an important political and economic partner in this region. America has taken Israel’s side in the conflict because it perceives Israel as a major partner or ally in the oil-rich Middle East region. This trend has in turn affected America’s ability to act as an honest broker since its role and efforts in the negotiation process are based on a partisan approach. Palestine considers America as Israeli’s ally whose role in the negotiations is to promote Israeli’s interest rather than finding an amicable resolution to the crisis and lasting peace in the region. Therefore, Palestine finds it difficult to trust the United States in the peace negotiation processes.
Importance of Finding a Peaceful Resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted for centuries and continued to have significant negative impacts on events and peace in the Middle East region. The protracted conflict has lasted for long to an extent that it has continued to have destructive impacts, which has heightened the levels of hostility and mistrust in this region. In light of the volatile situation in the Middle East, finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly important. According to security experts and international relations professionals, finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict is important because Israel is running out of time whereas Palestine is short of options (Mitchell, 2014). A peaceful resolution to the conflict is important for peace in the Middle East region and for the United States due to several reasons.
It is in the United States’ national interest to be devoted to finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because peace in the region will help the United States unite its allies to deal with and establish preventive measures against extremists and Islamic terrorism on their home turf. Generally, the United States has many adversaries who are based in this region and continue to take advantage of the hostility in the Middle East to plan, launch, and justify war against American citizens home and abroad. The absence of a peaceful resolution to the conflict not only complicates America’s presence in the region but also endangers the life of its people at home and abroad. Moreover, the instability in this region is likely to cause instability in another region, which will complicates America’s efforts in promoting global security and peace, especially of its citizens. It is also important for America to find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since such a measure would help lessen terrorism targeted towards America. A peaceful resolution to the conflict would result in stability in the Middle East region, which will in turn assist in depriving extremists the favorable conditions they thrive in and eventually lessens the threat of terrorism against the United States and its citizens.
Impact of United States’ Withdrawal of Support to Israel
The United States has strongly supported Israel in the Israeli-Palestine conflict through providing military and financial assistance. Actually, America has constantly endorsed Israel, which is considered a major political and economic ally in the oil-rich Middle East region. In addition to the support, America has used the territories of Israel as its strategic base in the Middle East region. As the United States continues to strongly support Israel in this conflict, America’s Arab partners have argued that the support worsens the conflict rather than helping in finding a peaceful resolution to it. America’s support for Israel has also been cited as a major motivation and justification for terrorism against the United States.
While the support has generated terrorist attacks targeted against the United States, withdrawal of military bases in the Middle East and withdrawal of economic and military support to Israel will not make terrorists stop their attempts to attack the United States. This is primarily because the main motivation behind terrorism targeted against America has not been its role in the conflict but very precise strategic goals and objectives like establishing a strong Muslim Caliphate in the region. Terrorist groups have utilized the volatile situation to their advantage since the conflict provides them with a safe haven for planning and carrying out their activities. In most cases, terrorists have used America’s support to Israel and establishment of military bases in the Middle East region as justification for their activities though they have other precise strategic objectives and goals. Therefore, the withdrawal of support to Israel and military bases in the region would only embolden terrorists and enhance likelihood of attacks on the United States. This is primarily because such a measure would not end the conflict but escalate the situation by contributing to increased volatility, which terrorists will capitalize on for their activities and attacks against America, the perceived enemy.
Global War on Terrorism
Since its commencement, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has been characterized by several debates and controversies regarding the strategies that have been utilized in the war and their overall impact in achieving respective goals and objectives. Notably, the major point of concern in this war is whether it can ever really be won and what can be considered as victory in this war. These concerns have emerged as terrorists continue to look develop sophisticated means to carry out their activities in light of the rapid technological advancements. Moreover, there have been numerous, intensive debates on how to win the global war on terrorism given the sophisticated means used by terrorists and their ability to carry out terror acts or activities from different locations across the globe. The concept of what would be considered victory in this war is also controversial since the conventional idea of winning a battle is defeating an enemy on the battlefield and forcing the enemy to accept new terms (Gordon, 2007).
The global war on terror can indeed be won but requires acknowledging that it is a new and different kind of war that has never been witnessed in the history of humanity. This victory on the war on terror will be achieved when political changes wear down and eventually weaken support for ideology and strategies of terrorist groups and organizations. This war will not be won through the conventional means of defeating an enemy i.e. capturing or killing all terrorists but when ideologies, tactics, and opportunities of terrorists are completely discredited and undermined. Victory in the global war on terrorism would not necessarily be the total elimination of the threat any probable terrorist attack but lessening the risk of such acts to an extent that they do not have significant impacts on people’s lives. This would be a significant victory in the war since terrorists will realize their activities are futile. The death of Obama has had little impact on this fight against terror since the main goal of terrorism was not to protect Osama bin Laden (Watkins, 2011). Actually, the death of Osama only had a symbolic and informational impact rather than enhancing current operations in the global war on terror.
Maintaining Safety from Terrorism in the United States
As events in the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, continue to escalate, maintaining safety from terrorism in the United States is increasingly important. The United States is constantly facing the need to employ effective measures to fight terrorism, especially because of increase in the global threat of terrorism. While the United States has developed and employed several means for dealing with terrorism and promoting the safety and security of its citizens home and abroad, it needs to focus on the most significant source of terrorism i.e. the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.
The United States should be committed to finding a peaceful resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and promoting stability in the Middle East region. The need to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis is because the current conditions and events in this region contributes to the rise in Islamic terrorism, which is characterized by attacks targeted against American citizens home and abroad. In order to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, the United States needs to examine the historical components that motivated this war and engage both sides towards a peaceful resolution. In this case, the United States should adopt a bi-partisan approach where the interests of both countries are taken into consideration in the peaceful negotiations.
While this process of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict may not involve withdrawal of military bases in the Middle East and financial and military support to Israel, America should avoid more complications and consult Arab allies in relation to Palestinian interests. Moreover, the United States should mainly focus on securing long lasting peace in the Middle East region instead of obtaining economic cooperation in the region. Therefore, America’s strategies should primarily be based on the principle of enhancing peace and preventing war or conflict in the region (Abo-Sak, 1999).
In conclusion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted for centuries and been characterized by fight for territorial boundaries and control over the Middle East region. Together with other events in the region, the Arab-Israeli conflict has had destructive effects on safety and security in the region and worldwide. This conflict has developed to an extent that it is most significant source of terrorism against the United States and its citizens. Therefore, America’s war on terrorism should also focus on finding a peaceful resolution to this conflict.
Abo-Sak, C.M. (1999). U.S. Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Solution or Complication? Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://www.alhewar.com/LtCol.htm
Gordon, P.H. (2007, November 1). Can the War on Terror be Won? Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2007-11-01/can-war-terror-be-won
“Middle East.” (2015). The Heritage Foundation — 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://index.heritage.org/militarystrength/chapter/threats/assessing-threats-to-us-vital-interests/
Mitchell, G. (2014, September 8). Israeli-Palestinian Peace is Needed Now. Boston Globe. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/09/07/israeli-palestinian-peace-needed-now/xhBUr7GXi3EVSdFR6TVD9M/story.html
Primoratz, I. (2005, October 1). Terrorism in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict. Retrieved from Macquarie University website: http://www.mq.edu.au/research/centres_and_groups/centre_for_middle_east_north_african_studies/research/materials/terrorism_in_the_israel-palestine_conflict/
Slater, J. (2015, September 15). Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Middle East Policy, 22(3), 79-99.
“U.S. Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” (2006, May 11). PBS Newshour. NewsHour Productions. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/middle_east-jan-june06-us_05-11/
Watkins, T. (2011, May 3). Bin Laden’s Death May Have Little Impact on War, Terror Threat. CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/05/02/bin.laden.legacy/
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