For centuries the Arab people and Israeli community have been at odds. Particularly throughout the last century, the battle for the “promised land” has been a transdisciplinary hot topic. What appears as a simple task to divide the land, isn’t so simple. The Israelis believe the land was a gift from God. At the same time, the Muslims claim rights to the land and have religious ties. Many people such as historians, theologists and politicians have tried to get the Israelis and Palestinians to agree on land division and reach a peace agreement; however, it has been proven unsuccessful on numerous occasions. The complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict requires all to work together and release their assumptions about the others.
CONFLICT BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Balfour Declaration in 1917 the League of Nations gave Palestine to Britain to create a national home for the Jewish people. The sudden influx of Jews angered the Arabs causing violence to break out. To avoid continued bloodshed, all Jewish immigration was halted. Immediately following World War II, there was a worldwide sympathy to give the Jews their promised land. Immigration resumed and in 1947 the land was divided into two states in hopes of ending the fighting. The Arabs didn’t accept the land division and war broke out in 1956. Since then, there have been numerous other wars, as well as unofficial violence, such as (suicide) bombings and rocket launches.
CURRENT CONFLICT ISSUES
Peace negotiations are currently taking into consideration the demands of the Arabs and Jews have to be taken into consideration. The Arabs want all the land returned from the 1967 war and the Israelis to evacuate all of their settlements. During that time, Israel continued to conquer land and build settlements after peace negotiations begun. During the peace negotiations, Israel agreed to return 97% of the conquered land during the 1967 war, including Arab sections of Jerusalem. The Arabs refused this offer and will settle for no less than 100 percent return. Palestine also wants the release of their refugees, which in 1967 was estimated at 726,000. They believe that under the UN General Assemblies Rule 194, all refugees should be allowed to return home. Israelis oppose the return of the refugees because it would create an Arab Palestinian majority, thereby, eliminating Israel as a Jewish state.
Jerusalem, the water supply and security are other factors considered. The United Nations has declared Jerusalem an international city; however, both Israel and continue claim the eastern part. Jerusalem is the capital of the ancient city of Judea and the home of the Jewish holy temple. Palestine regards the city as the third holiest sites in Islam and the Al-Aqsa mosque is located on the eastern side.
A bi-state division, as proposed by most politicians, could interrupt water supply. Currently, the West Bank Aquifers have been reserved for Israel, while the Sea of Galilee carries water for Palestine and Israel. Because of the scarcity of water, both sides demand equal water consumption to support their large populations and standards of living.
Surrounded by Islamic states, Israel is concerned about their safety. If the West Bank is released to Palestine, Israel is demanding that they not allow any foreign army to enter its borders. Israel also wants their bases to remain on the West Bank.
DISCIPLINE CONFLICT SUMMARY
Reestablishing the big picture goals, instead of focusing on the smaller issues first is vital to making progress. If individual disciplines continue to dwell on specific conflicts and ignore the others, nothing will get accomplished.
Finding common ground and moving past individual interests are also necessary from the Israeli and Palestinian governments. As New York Times journalist, Ethan Bronner tells us, “‘Every American ambassador in the region knows that official meetings with Arab leaders start with the obligatory half-hour lecture on the Palestinian question’, said a senior American diplomat who has spent his career in the Middle East and asked not to be identified to protect his work. ‘If we could dispense with that half-hour and get down to our other business, we might actually be able to get something done.’” (1) Pope Benedict describes finding a common ground best, “Although walls can easily be built, we all know that they do not last forever. They can be taken down. First, though, it is necessary to remove the walls that we build around our hearts, the barriers that we set up against our neighbors.” (Pawlikowski 477)
Relationship development will begin when each side recognizes the common ground:
Working towards an overall peace solution based on justice, while maintaining the dignity of the Palestinians and Jews and allowing them to travel freely and live securely.
To accomplish this we will use the integrative technique of transformation, working from the inside out and transforming the I’s to We’s.
To no avail, the United States has led peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Each discipline expert will begin the peace negotiation favoring one conflict. Politicians seek to start with changing governments and persuading Egypt to be more involved. Historians often jump right into looking at old agreements and land divisions. Theologists use religion to pick sides and make decisions. As we have seen, each conflict is equally important to the Israelis and Palestinians, which makes the solution that much more difficult. By changing the influences that cause the hostilities between the Arabs and Jews and the opposing assumptions, we will begin to move towards a resolution.
HISTORICAL PEACE EDUCATION
From a young age children are taught about their history. As in the case of the Israeli and Palestinian children, their “constructed between Israelis and Palestinians as a function of their mutual denial and their respective nationalist ideologies, and these histories effectively rule out the possibility of the legitimacy of the history of the Other.” (Feldt 191) Through education and we can change the mindsets of the nations’ future politicians, soldiers and educators. Peace education can help bring up the next generations of peace makers. The children and adults will begin to question their actions. They will begin to ask themselves peace education questions, “inspired by Nietzsche’s questions: ‘What actually is it I am doing? And what is it especially that I want to do with it? This is the question of truth.’” (Feldt 206) The question of truth is, how do I co-exist with my neighbors?’
Over the past semester I have volunteered at the Orange County Regional History Center performing a variety of tasks. Out of all the jobs assigned, their educational department was the most inspiring. Children from all over the city would learn about important history through fun workshops and activities. Volunteers taught about our country’s great accomplishments, as well as our failures. They children would listen and ask questions where they were able to formulate their own opinions from unbias material. Observing the children’s enthusiasm and inquisitiveness reminded me of an article I read about a summer camp in Israel. During the summer of 2009, a summer camp organized by the Peres Center’s Sports Department was held at Kibbutz Galon. The camp six day camp brought together 32 Israeli children and 28 Palestinian children. Most children had never interacted with anyone outside their communities, much less people belonging to the ‘opposition.’ Wondrously, the children played together and enjoyed learning about each other’s cultures. (Isseroff)
Children have virtually no life experiences. They can be shaped into many things from peaceful leaders to radical militant terrorists. It is through ‘education’ that they are taught to hate, but it can be through education that they are taught to love. It appears that from the perspective of Israeli history, peace is achieved through the eradication of the Palestinians or their total acceptance of Israeli history. From the views of the Palestinians and Israelis, ‘peace’ is achieved through the victory over the other and acceptance of their perspective views. In actuality, we know that peace “first and foremost means the absence of war between states or larger ethnic, national or religious collectives and, second, that is means stability.” (Feldt 193)
Martin Indyk supports this idea in a 2009 article printed in Time Magazine. He says that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “[needs] to demonstrate to their irate population that pro-American moderation and reconciliation can actually provide a better future for the Palestinians. Israelis too need to see that there is an alternative to the deepening dread of hate-filled Islamic extremists on their borders…” (Indyk 31) Historians, political scientists and theologists will need to come together to rewrite history and the ideals of peace. New documentation and explanation of events from a non-Israeli view and from an non-Palestinian view. Through this type of peace education, a solution could be found giving proper justice and dignity to both the Israelis and Palestinians.
In order to reright history to create a historical peace education, historians, political scientists and theologists will have to work together to rewrite years of one sided information.
Addressing issues such as water supply and refugees are important in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. But before that happens, the experts from both sides must begin peace negotiations with clear heads. Like experienced interdisciplinarians who have developed the mental flexibility to shift easily from one disciplinary perspective to another, peace negotiators must shift from one view point to another. By examining the big picture, we see that there is a greater internal conflict that is manifesting itself as fighting over Jerusalem, security issues and land division. Through a grassroots campaign to change the Israeli and Palestinian’s historic perceptions and deep seated beliefs about the opposition, the symptoms of the conflict will resolve much easier because the “I’s” will become the “we’s.”