Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tensions over religion rise and cause strife in Israel

BHUMIKA CHOUDHARY ’17

STAFF WRITER

Israel has been an unstable region since the 1890s. The presence of two religious groups in one county is the core reason to the social turmoil. Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting for territorial and regional dominance. Foreign presence worsened the Arab Israel conflict further because false promises were made to both the groups. The stark religious beliefs and years of bloodshed have caused Israel to become an unstable region.

Jerusalem has always been the middle ground of conflict for both the Israelis and Palestinians. So it is no surprise that on Nov. 10, an Israeli soldier and woman were killed. Usually the death of an individual is highlighted if they are famous, but in this case, the death due to religious identity is significant. These attacks occur frequently, which explains people’s fear regarding my visit to Israel in the summer. Instead of my parents, my friends voice their displeasure about my trip to Israel. I do not blame them because a week ago the police killed a Palestinian citizen. Moreover, even the leaders of Fatah described these attacks as “natural” or “normal.” Representatives of the government are not hesitating to be part of the knife intifada either. Therefore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under severe pressure to resolve matters as soon as possible.

Being in a high government position is indeed the worst job ever. One is criticized more rather than appreciated. Mr. Netanyahu is put in a difficult spot because of the distinct opinions of the right and left. The left blame the Prime Minister for not initiating a peace process with the Palestinians while the right accuses him because they believe that his security policies are lenient. The abhorrence is so strong against the Prime Minister that a left-leaning member of his cabinet resigned in protest of his policy toward Palestinians. Despite all this criticism, Mr. Netanyahu made a statement saying that Israeli-Arab citizens “who demonstrate against Israel and in favor of a Palestinian state” can “move to the Palestinian Authority or Gaza.” Clearly, talks of territorial divides still continue.

The United States ambassador of Israel, Daniel Shapiro, reacted to the attacks on a Twitter post by stating, “There is no justification for terrorism, under no circumstances.” But what is the definition of terrorism? Will there ever be a solution to the ever-lasting Arab-Israeli conflict? Most of the attacks are aimed at all parts of the country because both communities want to get rid of each other. So restoring peace in Israel is tedious. Nonetheless, to resolve the problem the country’s internal security minister ordered a crackdown to arrest members of the Palestinian militant groups. This explains why the Israeli authorities attributed to the stabbing of Palestinian men. The Israeli police even arrested an 18-year-old man from a refugee camp on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus. A security guard from a nearby Jewish settlement shot the second suspect. He was a member of the Islamic Jihad and spent five years in an Israeli prison. These attacks will not stop because there is a deep-rooted hatred between the two religious groups.

Israel comprises of numerous religious groups that have different viewpoints. The leader of Hamas, Fathi Hamad, stated that, “Even he who owns nothing but his faith has a kitchen in his house in which he has a knife. He must grab his knife and confront the Zionist enemy.” Another Hamas official said, “Anyone who owns a knife, a baton, a weapon and a car” and does not attack Israelis “does not belong to Palestine.” Moreover, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said Israeli “crimes led the youth to fight back and take revenge.” These strong statements reinforce the hate that has manifested between Israelis and Palestinians over the years.

The religious violence that exists in Israel is not unique to this region solely. The Hindu-Muslim hatred is another example of religious violence. Since the 1920s frequent riots have occurred between the Hindu and Muslims. The riots took place because of Hindu processions disrespecting Muslim prayers, which eventually led to communal killings. This hatred gave birth to the question of territorial division once the British decided to free their colony. Thus, Pakistan was created to create peace within a multifaceted nation. The Hindu and Muslims were given their own territory but riots continued to persist. This shows that the creation of two different nations for the Israelis and Palestinians may not be the solution either.

The Israel Prime Minister has a tedious task of establishing peace in Israel. Mr. Netanyahu will face opposition because people will blame him for the killings, but he needs to take action soon because this is not an isolated attack. The car and stabbing attacks are stimulants for an intifada. Action needs to be taken because unless a decision is made, this wave of violence will continue to swell.

 

Leave a reply