Ashley Belohlavek: Roles and Responsibilities within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

When discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people are often quick to pick a side and completely denounce the other. This situation is not black and white and there is no absolute right or wrong. Unfortunately, this does not stop foreign nations like the U.S. from interfering and showing clear preference to Israel and refusing to suspend their support for Israel unless it stops its all-out attack on innocent Palestinian lives. This, however, does not excuse some Palestinians’ hostile reactions to the influx of Jewish refugees post-WWII or their continuation of discrimination and inhospitality. False narratives created by Western guilt deserve much of the blame for this hostility emanating from both sides, and any chance at a solution to this conflict must come from the contribution of us all.

The problematic narratives perpetuated by a lot of Western powers arguably have a lot to do with the current state of this overwhelming support of Israel despite the massive spike in human rights violations. One of these narratives is that of false accounts of Muslim-Jewish relations throughout ancient and modern history. This fictitious tale denies the deep roots that Palestinians, specifically Muslims, have to the land and identity that they’ve held for so long. For instance, it is historically true that Palestinians have had control over their land for even longer than the Israelis have been living in their own state. Along with this, it is also completely forgotten that the Muslim community in countries such as Palestine served as a refuge for Jews fleeing Spain during the vile Inquisition of the 15th century. This is also part of the atrociously fictitious narrative of Judeo-Christian relations, claiming that Christians have historically supported and been hospitable towards Jews, when in actuality it has always been Muslims who have welcomed Jewish brethren and Christians have often been the perpetrators of the violence. Due to the creation and perpetration of these narratives it can be hypothesized that the U.S.’s continuous support of Israel could stem from the need to uphold this savior complex of Christians helping Jewish allies against the terror of Muslim rivals. While it is very possible that there is much more to this complex story, a lot of interfaith history and political factors suggest that the U.S. is trying to make up for its past mistakes including not doing enough to stop the disgusting and vile acts of the Holocaust or simply to keep the narrative of Judeo-Christian relations alive.

In the midst of this ongoing conflict between two very different neighboring states, it is questionable if an outside power such as the United States should butt in. In most situations, this might be best left to the parties directly involved, but with the constant wrath of violence being unleashed against the human rights of Palestinians civilians, the U.S. has a responsibility to address this immense violation of peace and humanity. Just as the U.S. was called to action in the face of senseless genocide against Jewish people in World War II, it must take a stand against this ruthless attack on Palestinians, no matter the perpetrator. It is apparent that Israel has been the receiver of unconditional financial and military support from America since the end of WWII, but this unbreakable alliance raises many questions and concerns. Where is the line that Israel must cross for the U.S. to break ties and call them out for their brutal treatment of Palestinians? While Israel has made its own share of inhumane suppressions that by no means decrees that Palestine should be given the same blind trust that Israel was graced with. It is clear that once unconditional support is granted to a struggling country, a vicious cycle of corruption can easily manifest.

Despite the blame that has thus far been placed on Israel, this is not to say that Palestine and its Arabian neighbors have not had a hand in their own fair share of mistreatments. Israel may have continuously been using its steadily increasing power to persecute its Palestinian neighbors, but Palestine and other Arab nations also have a long history of refusing to recognize Israel as a legitimate state as well as having allowed open discrimination towards Arab Jewish citizens. The sudden increase in Jewish immigrants to Palestine after WWII is a clear example of hostility and frustration forming in Palestinians towards their new neighbors. While this is overall an irrational fear or an unprecedented anger in the Palestinians, this behavior can even be seen today in a large portion of the American population towards refugees fleeing terrorist organizations in the Middle East, specifically in Syria. In the end, though Israel and the U.S. are essentially pinning Palestine against a wall militarily, this does not excuse Palestinians from further exacerbating the conflict by holding prejudice themselves and justifying their own violence towards Israeli Jews for the sake of being the “right” side.

After analyzing both sides of the conflict, it can be seen that both sides have been in the wrong at some point. Instead of merely picking sides and blindly fighting, it is important that Palestinians, Israelis, and even foreigners like Americans realize that everyone is fighting back against their own oppression. If this is true, then why would anyone fight oppression with oppression? That is simply doing to someone what one wishes would not be done to them, and that’s definitely never been a lesson of morality in any creed or tradition. Everyone, no matter their background or religious beliefs, has a responsibility to recognize that no belief system is inherently right and we must all respect each other’s differences or civil society simply cannot function. Muslims and Jews living outside of the conflict have a similar responsibility to denounce the unfair actions of their brethren in Palestine and Israel, as Muslims and Jews have historically been shown to be very capable of living in harmony and solidarity and it is crucial that we remember this in the face of this bloody, unprecedented conflict.