ENGL 1054 NA-BS 1205

Comparison Essay (Final Draft) E3

02 June 2003

Palestinians – Israelis
Lately, we have been hearing stories of terrorist attacks by Palestinians on the Israeli population, and Israel’s retaliatory strikes against the Palestinian seats of power and alleged “terror cells”. But do we really understand what the conflict is about? Religion? Partly, but there is more to it than that. It is mostly about land, and who has the rights to it. Both sides argue that the region west of the Jordan River is theirs, but only one of them truly has a legitimate claim to it.

Since the area formerly known as Palestine includes both modern day Israel and Jordan, both Arab and Jewish residents of this area are referred to as "Palestinians”. The Arab Palestinians, who are indistinguishable from other Arabs of the region, originated from surrounding Arab lands. The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, is Egyptian. Palestinians feel that they are the indigenous people of the land and that the Jews are invaders bent on the elimination of the Arab people.

Although many peace proposals have been offered to the Palestinians, they refuse to accept any plan that does not include the expulsion of Jews from the areas known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, areas in Israel designated as Arab territories by the United Nations. Furthermore, they insist that Jerusalem be the capital of Palestine, a demand the Jews cannot live with due to the religious significance the city holds for them.

The Jewish Palestinians trace their lineage back to Abraham who lived in Canaan, which is modern day Israel. After the exodus from Egypt, they trekked across the Sinai desert for 40 years to the land that they claim God himself promised to Abraham and his descendents. Archeologists believe that some Hebrew were already living in the land of Canaan before the Exodus. Thus, Jews have had continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years. They also refuse to agree to any deal that does not include the West Bank and the Gaza strip as part of Israel, areas they feel were part of the land God promised to Abraham.

The Israelis claim that there has never been a nation called Palestine that was ruled by Palestinians. It was the British Empire who drew the modern boundaries within Palestine during their control of the area. The British allocated all the land east of the Jordan River, almost 80% of Palestine to the Arabs. Thus, the country now known as Jordan was meant to be the Arab portion of Palestine. While Israel, an area significantly smaller than Lake Erie, was allocated to the Jewish Palestinians.

Therefore, by a promise from God and a decree from the British Empire, it is the Israelis who have a legitimate claim to all of the land of Israel.