Authors: Asfandiyar Khan and Areeja Syed
Palestine is a disputed territory between Palestine and Israel. The West Bank and Gaza has been a disputed territory throughout history. It still is today. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a contest over a particular territory. The parties to this conflict are mainly Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, and the territory is called Palestine by Arabs and Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) by Jews. The West Bank and Gaza is disputed territory in the eyes of great powers Washington, New York, London, Cairo and other capital cities of the Middle East and Europe, and in the hearts and minds of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Jews and Muslims around the world. The dispute between Israel and Palestine have also been considered a very massive contest in the world’s Media among historians and scholars. The conflict between Palestine and Israel is very intense, and it have very little chances that it will end in the near future. It will not end until there is an agreement, not only on today’s contested issues but also by all sides on the need to recognize and acknowledge the wrongs and injuries inflicted by each on the other.
The disputed territory have been interpreted by Israeli and Palestinian differently. Zionist interpretation: many Jews have a particular interpretation of their history and the place they call Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). This is often called a Zionist view because Zionism was the ideology of those who promoted the state of Israel in the 1948 and have supported it since. The central idea of Zionism is that Jews have a historical birthright to Israel as a homeland or state. This historical claim is based in part on a narrative of continuous Jewish entitlement to the region over the past 4000 years, and in part on a religious tradition in which the God of the ancient Israelites- and the same God worshipped by Christians and Muslims-promised the land (which they believe included modern Israel) to Moses and his descendants, the Jews. Zionist  narratives and beliefs portray the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of Israel as a heroic epic, involving great sacrifice and hardships, against overwhelming bitter European and Arabs. Palestinian Arabs also have an interpretation of their history and the territory they call as Palestine. It is very different from that of the Zionists. They believe that they are descendants of the original inhabitants of the region, and that Palestine is theirs by birthright. They regard the Jews who have arrived in the past century are unwelcome intruders. They believe they have been engaged in an equally heroic attempt to resist the takeover of their homeland, first by Zionists and later by Israelis, to create an independent Palestinian state against overwhelming belligerent powers (European, Israeli and American Zionist) (Hill, 2005).
The modern boundaries of Palestine and the other Arab states were established by the British and their allies after World War I. Palestine is a small region on the east coast of the Mediterranean sea, measuring approximately 230 kilo-meters north-south and extending inland to the east between 51 and 117 kilometers (Hill, 2005). The term “Palestine” for the time before 1948, refers to the area west of the River Jorden, extending south from the borders of Syria and Lebanon to the Gulf of Aqaba, the Sinai and the Egyptian border. Palestine, with a total area of about 27000 square kilometers, would fit into New South Wales (with an area of 800640 square kilometers) about thirty times (Hill, 2005). Palestine have different cities but the most important and sacred city is Jerusalem, One city, three faiths (Armstrong, 1997). British religious scholar Armstrong has
Written a provocative, splendid historical portrait of Jerusalem that will reward those seeking to fathom a strife-torn city. Jerusalem has been a central to the experience and “sacred geography” of Jews, Muslims, and Christians and thus has led to deadly struggles for the dominance (Armstrong, 1993).
The most secular Israelis and Palestinians pointed out that the Jerusalem was “holy “to their people. The Palestinian even called the city al-Quds, “the Holy, “though the Israelis scornfully waved this aside, pointing out that Jerusalem had been a holy city for Jews first, and that it had never been as important to the Muslims as Mecca and Medina (Armstrong, 1999). Palestinians claim that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence for the Jewish kingdom founded by King David and that no trace of Solomon’s Temple has been found. The kingdom of Israel is not mentioned in any contemporary text but only in the Bible. It is quite likely, therefore, that it is merely a “myth.” Israelis have also discounted the story of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem- a myth that lies at the heart of the Muslim devotion to al-Quds-as demonstrably absurd. One of the earliest and most ubiquitous symbols of the divine has been a place. People have sensed the sacred in mountains, groves, cities, and temples. When they have walked into these places, they have felt that they have entered a different dimension, separate from but compatible with the physical world they normally inhabit. For the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Jerusalem has been such a symbol of the divine. This is not something that happens automatically. Once a place has been experienced as sacred in some way and has proved capable of giving people access to the divine, worshippers have devoted a great deal of creative energy to helping others to cultivate this sense of transcendence. Jerusalem turned out to be one of those locations that “worked “for Jews, Christians, and Muslims because it did seem to introduce them to the divine.
Palestine have strategic importance to the western world: Palestine is not only a geographical place with shifting and imprecise boundaries: it has political, strategic, and culture significance as well, and is why the rest of world is also interested in this conflict. To the protagonists in the Arab –Israel conflict, Palestine /Israel represents a homeland and is the repository of their history and culture. To the rest of the world, Palestine is located at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Developments from the mid-nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, such as the building of the Suez Canal, World War I and world war II, the discovery and the use of the oil reserves of the Middle East, as well as the establishment of the first Jewish state in two thousand years and the subsequent conflict, highlighted its strategic importance. Palestine/Israel is also the home of the three monotheistic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For all these reasons, the area has been the site of innumerable wars over the centuries (Hill, 2005). Jewish immigrants to Palestine from the late nineteenth century on ‘knew’ the landscape from their knowledge of Hebrew/Jewish history and religious tradition, but most did not see the Arab population or acknowledge the impact they had made on the landscape. Thus, in ‘making the desert bloom’, Jewish settlers destroyed existing, ancient olive groves tended by Palestinian farmers because they were ‘unseen. They created a new landscape of farming settlements very different from those they found, but to do so they destroyed the existing one. For their part Palestinians refused to see or accept the Jewish settlers and their transformation of the landscape. They were determined to resist any changes-even beneficial ones- and destroy the landscape created by the intruders. The first contests in the Arab-Israeli conflict were over the changing shape of the landscape. The military combat of 1948 that resulted in the establishment of Israel was, therefore, inevitable.
The current Arab-Israeli conflict had its origins in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. During that period a number of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe began arriving in Palestine. These Jews called themselves Zionists and they came with the view of settling on the land and building, or as they saw it ‘rebuilding’, a Jewish homeland in Palestine. They purchased land, built farming communities and established a new town, Tel Aviv, on the coast near Jaffa. The local Arab population looked on these developments with alarm regarding the arrival of the Zionist and the growth of Jewish settlements as a threat to their own economic, culture and national future. They tried to prevent the sale of land to the new immigrants, formed anti-Zionist groups and in some cases physically attacked Jewish settlements. Both sides disagree about almost all aspects of what happened in Palestine (and why) during the period from the first arrival of Zionist groups in the 1880s to the outbreak of World War I. Since 1948, the physical boundaries of Israel/Palestine have changed a number of times as the result of wars and treaties. In addition, Israel has ‘redrawn’ the map of the area within its own boundaries erasing many Palestinian/Arab landmarks, renaming and replacing them with Israeli towns and historical markers. Israelis have reshaped and made Israel their own. In so doing they have denied Palestinians their experience and their ‘signposts’ of memory.
More than 400 Arab villages were demolished and depopulated, after over 700000 Palestinians fled during the war of 1948 (Hill, 2005). Before 1948, Palestinians had a thriving urban culture as well as village life, and more than one-third of the population lived in sixteen substantial towns and cities. There was a flourishing, affluent, Palestinian middle class in Palestine before 1948. Much of the tension between Jews and Muslims in Palestine/Israel has historical centred on the occupation and use of the land, which is holy to both religions. It is no accident that Jerusalem and its future are the core of the conflict. AS the site of the first and second Temples, the focus of the Jewish worship, Jerusalem is the holy city for Jews and Palestine/Israel is dotted with Jewish sacred sites. Jerusalem is holy for Muslims as the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, from where Muhammad briefly ascended to heaven, symbolizing to Muslims the beginning of their journey to God. It is clear that the historic and current landscape is far more important to people than it might at first seem, and any changes that occur produce violent reactions unless handled with great care and understanding by both sides.
The most significant factor shaping the attitudes and actions of Arabs and Jews to each other, and the contested space, is differ religious traditions of Islam and Judaism respectively. Despite the fact that both are monotheistic religions that believe in the same one, God (Hill, 2005). Islam and Judaism are not only religious faiths of the present, they are religions with a history. Each has shaped the world and transformed entire civilizations as well as influenced each other. The main problem between Jews and Muslims is politics: religions is using as a tool to achieve the national interest of country. By the sixteenth century, attacks by Christian’s armies on the Islamic world had transformed Muslim attitudes toward Christians and Jews, who were seen as Christian’s allies. During the nineteenth century, the British and French found Jews to be attractive agents for their commercial and colonial activities in the Ottoman Empire. Jewish-Muslim conflicted increased in the Arab state as Jews were seen as foreign and instruments of colonial designs. It’s means that western powers have also a great role in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. The creation of Israel in 1948 became a focal point for Muslim-Jewish relations, which had steadily deteriorated since the end of World War I.
 Zionism is Israel’s national ideology. Zionists believe Judaism is a nationality as well as a religion, and that Jews deserve their own state in their ancestral homeland. OR- Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Canaan, the holy land or the region of Palestine).
U.S. multiple goals for possible military action in Iraq
The spread of the coronavirus and its devastating impact on the US economy and US efforts to reduce Iran’s regional influence are possible motives behind US potential military action in Iraq.
While the world is fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak, regional countries including Iraq have been witnessing widespread US military moves in recent days.
Most News outlets and political analysts have anticipated an imminent massive military action in Iraq due to the extent of US military moves.
Any possible military aggression carried out by Trump’s administration comes as the US and the world are struggling to contain coronavirus and the US economy, and consequently, the global economy has fallen into a major recession.
Trump is pursuing a number of goals by launching military aggression against Iraq and creating new military conflicts in the Middle East:
*In line with its maximum pressure policy, the US occupiers seek to target Iraqi groups close to the Islamic Republic such as Badr Organization led by Hadi Al-Amiri, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq led by Qais al-Khazali, al-Nujaba Movement led by Akram al-Kaabi, and also Kata’ib Hezbollah. Washington assumes that adopting such an approach can reduce Iran’s influence in Iraq and undermine the economic, political and cultural cooperation between the two countries which play a significant role in reducing the impact of US sanctions on Tehran.
*After COVID-19 outbreak which triggered a global economic recession, Crude oil price dropped below $ 30 a barrel, causing serious damage to US companies producing Shale oil and severely jeopardized their future production. Therefore, a military conflict in the Middle East can raise the global price of oil and prevent the bankruptcy of oil companies.
*Moreover, regional military conflicts and consequently a rise in the oil price can be a threat to the Chinese energy security, whose economy is heavily dependent on the Middle East oil. This can be used as a tool for the US to contain China and additionally obtain more business privileges from this country and other major economies, such as Europe whose economy are also dependent on the Middle East oil.
*Regional clashes can also possibly affect Saudi oil facilities and reduce their oil production which makes them lose some part of their share from global energy market which will be ultimately replaced by US oil.
*The US unemployment rate went up after many Americans lost their jobs due to the spread of coronavirus in the country and the world. Any US military adventure in the region can boost its military industry and consequently , to some extent, control the US unemployment rate.
*Ultimately, all of these goals can possibly save Donald Trump in the upcoming US election. Many polls suggest that Trump’s lying about the spread of coronavirus and his belated measures to contain the virus and also the subsequent economic pressure on the US citizens have cast doubt on his victory in the upcoming US election and helped his democratic rival have the upper hand.
From our partner MNA
Global Response to Coronavirus Exposes Governments’ Fault Lines
There’s a message in Pakistani and Egyptian responses to the Coronavirus: neither ultra-conservative science-rejecting worldviews nor self-serving autocratic policies aimed at regime enhancement produced initial prevention and mitigation strategies that could have blunted the impact of the disease.
To be sure, Pakistan and Egypt, although different in what drove their responses, are in good company. Overwhelmingly, governments across the globe with the exceptions of Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, failed to take the initial warnings signs seriously.
Unlike western democracies that have little to boast about in their handling of the crisis, countries like Pakistan and Egypt lack the checks and balances, robust civil societies, and independent media needed as correctives.
And both Egypt and Pakistan have gone out of their way to keep it that way.
Egypt, apparently taking a leaf out of China’s playbook, reprimanded foreign correspondents for The Guardian and The New York Times in Cairo for reporting that the number of cases in the country was exponentially higher than the 495 confirmed by authorities as of March 29.
The coverage was based on conclusions by infectious disease specialists at the University of Toronto who had analyzed flight and traveler data as well as infection rates.
The scientists estimated that “Egypt likely has a large burden of Covid-2019 cases that are unreported.” They put the number of Egyptian cases as high as 19,130 as of March 15.
In response, authorities withdrew the press permit of The Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson and expelled her from the country while The New York Times’ Declan Walsh was forced to delete a tweet. Furthermore, several Egyptians have been detained on charges of spreading false and fabricated rumors.
Yet, Egypt imposed strict measures including the closure of all educational institutions and the suspension of flights on March 15, the day the scientists published their findings. The government also announced a $6.38 billion USD fund to fight the virus.
A World Health Organization (WHO) official in Cairo said the group could not verify the scientists’ methodology but added that “it is possible that there are many other cases with mild symptoms which did not result in hospital visits, and therefore are not detected or reported.”
Independent reporting is a crucial node in an effective early warning system. It creates pressure for a timely response. The effort to suppress it was in line with Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s initial reaction to the virus.
Rather than focusing on early preventive measures at home, Mr. Al-Sisi sought to benefit from China’s predicament.
With only one officially confirmed case of a Chinese national arriving in February at Cairo airport who was hospitalized and cured, Mr. Al-Sisi sent his health minister, Hala Zayed, to China to praise it for preventing a far worse global outbreak by taking very strong precautionary measures. This despite Beijing’s costly failure to confront the disease firmly from the outset.
Pakistan’s approach in recent months was no less negligent.
Like Egypt, a country in which the power of the military is thinly camouflaged by hollowed out institutions, Pakistan waffled until last week in its response to the pandemic.
The Pakistani government refused early on to evacuate some 800 students from Wuhan in a bid to earn brownie points in Beijing. It also failed to manage the return of potentially infected pilgrims from Iran. And finally, it catered to ultra-conservative groups whose worldviews were akin to ones long prevalent in Saudi Arabia with its significant cultural and religious influence in the South Asian nation.
As a result, Pakistan, a deeply religious country that borders on both China and Iran, allowed Tablighi Jamaat, a proselytizing group with a huge global following in some 80 countries that is banned in Saudi Arabia, to continue organizing mass events.
The group organized a 16,000 people mass gathering in early March in Malaysia where scores were infected with the Coronavirus.
Hundreds of Tablighi gathered from March 21 to 23 in the Mardan District of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to pray, listen to speeches, and eat and sleep in congested quarters.
One participant, professing his belief that God would protect the Tablighi, described spending almost six weeks together with thousands of others at Tablighi headquarters near Lahore, a city of 11 million, just before traveling to Mardan.
Pakistan Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri caved in to demands by the clergy to keep mosques open but capped the maximum number of people at prayers at five.
The minister’s concession reinforced a popular perception of the government’s message that the virus crisis was less grave than projected by health authorities across the globe.
“If the pandemic was serious, the government would’ve shut down all the mosques,” said Sadiq Bhutt, speaking through an interpreter, as he entered a mosque in Islamabad for Friday prayers.
Eventually, overriding government policy, the Pakistan military intervened in recent days to impose a lockdown like in much of the rest of the world.
But as in Egypt it may be too late for Pakistan, the world’s most populous Muslim nation of 207 million, that is ill-equipped for a pandemic.
Ultimately, the lesson of Egypt, Pakistan, and China’s initial handling of the Coronavirus is that neither self-serving autocrats nor authoritarians have the wherewithal to confront a crisis like a pandemic in a timely fashion. Their much-delayed responses have failed
to take the public’s interests to heart rather than those of elites that prioritize geopolitical or political advantage.
Western democracies have performed not much better with US President Donald J. Trump seemingly more concerned about economic impact in an election year than about public health and people’s lives.
The difference, however, is that western democracies have the potential of holding leaders to account and implementing lessons learned from the costly mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s hard to hold out a similar hope for Arab autocracies or countries like Pakistan whose democratic façade is at best skin-deep.
Author’s note” This story was first published on Inside Arabia
Iran Proposed Five-Nation Bloc for Regional Stability, Peace, and Progress
In February this year, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received Syed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, an Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign minister Qureshi expressed his thoughts through praising the traditionally strong ties between both the nations and showed his consent to further strengthen collaboration in all dimensions which would be mutually beneficial for both Tehran and Islamabad. As for as the historical, cultural, and religious affinities are concerned, both nations enjoy rich support of commonalities including similar views on the foreign occupation which proved as a source of disaster for them. Besides, Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan after its independence in August 1947. As both Pakistan and Iran’s basic factor of the independence was Islam and current scenario portrays a bad picture of Islamic countries which are suffering from a cluster of problems under foreign agenda. In this connection, the role of Islamic nations has not been effective in addressing issues of the Islamic Ummah. Hosseini also expressed his grievances over the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) by explaining that it was not producing fruitful results for Muslim Ummah. He further talked about the sufferings of Muslim Ummah and the malicious plan of the United States along with Israel to subdue them.
Moreover, FM Qureshi showed consent to visit Iran for meeting with its leadership to talk about their concerns and disputes and their possible diplomatic solution. Moreover, during a meeting with Hosseini the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, told that the government aimed at expanding the bilateral trade with Iran. So, giving more boost to the relation of both the nations, the Iranian Ambassador proposed a new bloc for addressing regional issues and promoting cooperation among themselves. This bloc will include Russia, China, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran because these nations are capable of forming such an alliance that could effectively handle regional issues for the better future of the region. Similarly, he expressed his consent and help for solving the Afghan problem which is a great hindrance to regional peace and stability along with creating security issues for Pakistan. Iran aims at linking Pakistan’s Gwadar Port with Chabahar Port of Iran via rail link which ultimately generates the economic benefits for both the nations.
He dubbed the recent “Deal of the Century” proposed by American President Trump for peace in the Middle East irrational and unjust which consists of many doubts over American-Israeli Alliance. In this situation where the whole world is trapped with the fatal disease of Corona Virus, the United States which considers itself the oldest democracy, protector of human rights and most developed nation on earth, has imposed more sanctions on Iran. While UN Security Council Members and signatories of the 2015 Nuclear Deal with Tehran namely Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany rejected Trump’s call for sanctions on Iran. President Trump’s action portrays that he is under stress in whichhe looks unable to understand repercussions and results of the policies and actions taken by him. While at the same time he is ignoring the traditions and values of the founding fathers of his nation as well as he has no respect and obligation for international rules and laws.Furthermore, the Iranian Ambassador showed enthusiasm for increasing and strengthening the multilateral economic cooperation. In this regard, Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline is an important project and will even become more productive if it is linked with the CPEC which not only brings the huge economic development in both Tehran and Islamabad but also the region through making it more stable and developed.
Thisnew regional bloc could prove productive through solving themulti-faceted issues faced by the countries of this region. Whereas America has remained unsuccessful in eliminating the problems of the region, therefore, it is the responsibility of regional states to become serious in making such bloc which seriously takes the vast problems towards the solution for the development, peace, stability, and progress of the underdeveloped nations of the region. Besides, the Iranian President has also proposed cryptocurrency for Muslim nations for settling payment transactions as an alternative to the US dollar such as proposed by BRICS nations earlier. He further explained that the US always uses economic sanctions as the main tool of domineering hegemony and bullying of other nations. As stated by Iranian President that there is always room for diplomacy, therefore “let’s return to justice, to peace, to law, commitment and promise and finally to the negotiating table” which is the last and effective solution for any issue.Iran’s proposal of five nations bloc portrays a rational and real picture of solving the staggering and long-lasting problems of the region. Furthermore, the nations which are proposed by Iran in the bloc have no history of worsening or spoiling the situation of the region as America has been involved in generating the multiple problems throughout the region via its policies and actions. All these five regional nations have stakes in the region such as political, economic, social and financial. Therefore if the region is developed, peaceful and protected than they collectively can secure their interests along with giving the benefits to other regional nations as well.
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