Vincent Black

The latest conflict in the Middle East

This past couple of weeks, tensions flared in cities across Canada and globally as people took to the streets to make their voices heard on the latest conflict in the Middle East. People have the right to have their say, they have a right to gather in responsible and respectful ways…this fundamental right to protest is integral to the Canadian way of life – pandemic or no pandemic.

Many may still be asking the question… why are these people protesting and for what?

Israel Jews and Palestinian Arabs both want the same land. And a compromise has proven difficult to find. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located just east of the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinians, the Arab population that hails from the land Israel now controls, refer to the territory as Palestine, and want to establish a state by that name on all or part of the same land. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled.

The latest conflict in the Middle-gaza-mileniostadium
A Palestinian man holds his son as he sits outside a closed shop in front of his destroyed home in a residential neighbourhood in Gaza City. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Though both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the land back a couple thousand years, the current political conflict began in the 20th century. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe wanted to establish a national homeland in what was then an Arab and Muslim majority territory in the Ottoman and later British Empire. The Arabs resisted, seeing the land as rightfully theirs. An early United Nations plan to give each group part of the land failed, and Israel and the surrounding Arab nations fought several wars over the territory. Today’s lines largely reflect the outcomes of two of these wars, one waged in 1948 and another in 1967.

The 1967 war is particularly important for today’s conflict, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to large Palestinians populations.

Today, the West Bank is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority and is under Israeli occupation. This comes in the form of Israeli troops, who enforce Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian movement and activities, and Israeli settlers, Jews who build ever expanding communities in the West Bank that effectively deny the land to Palestinians. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist party, and is under Israeli blockade but not ground troop occupation.

The primary approach to solving the conflict today is a so called two state solution that would establish Palestine as an independent state in Gaza and most of the West Bank, leaving the rest of the land to Israel. Though the two-state plan is clear in theory, the two sides are still deeply divided over how to make it work in practice.

The alternative to a two-state solution is a one-state solution, wherein all of the land becomes either one big Israel or one big Palestine. Most observers think this would cause more problems than it would solve, but this outcome is becoming more likely over time for political and demographic reasons.

To date at least over 100 Palestinians and several Israelis have died in the fighting, while hundreds have been injured. It is not clear how much longer the fighting would last, but an Egyptian delegation was trying to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The developments are reminiscent of the last major clash between Israel and Hamas, a 2014 war that lasted around 50 days, killing more than 2000 Palestinians and over 70 Israelis.

One other question in my mind is whether the new Biden administration has anything to do with this escalation of tension at this time?

Is the new Biden administration viewed on the global scene as weak…? And is the United States under this administration seen as one that would not retaliate? It seems by all accounts in my opinion that the Biden administration is being tested and thus far has not responded in any form of strength. This President and his top deputies, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been calling parties involved in the conflict as well as other governments in the region to cease fire and issue very weak threats, actually there were no serious threats by the Biden administration.

The former Trump aides and supporters have called for cries that the Biden administration should be more unequivocal in siding with Israel, because statements that seem to offer any sympathy for the other side give Hamas a sense that they should continue launching rockets. Trump supporters also urged the Biden team should urge Palestinians to push out their corrupt leader and stop trying to revive a nuclear deal with Iran that could help Hamas.

This week the Biden administration is being pulled into this growing crisis and some blame is being put on them due to the fact that no swift decisive attacks are being logged at anyone group. Hamas is testing the Biden administration to see what side they take and if there will be any military push back. It seems that Biden and many of his supporters are leaning towards the Palestinian side of things and may support their cause through funds sent to them…. the rumour is that the United States will send over 100 million to the Palestinian cause. This transfer of funds is still not confirmed but looks very likely. If this is the case, it will ignite a whole new conspiracy of who is really behind this recent problem.

Joe Biden entered the White House hoping to avoid entanglement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But, like US presidents before him, a crisis is dragging him in sooner than he would have liked. The flare up in violence is putting Biden on a tightrope not only diplomatically but at home where progressives in his Democratic Party are increasingly vocal in criticism of Israel, which enjoyed good support from former president Donald Trump.

We need peace… can we get it is a completely different story?

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