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Terrorism: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By student888
Words 2399
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Alexandra Gadi
THST 398 – Dr. Soomekh
Final Paper
Due: April 29, 2011 Terrorism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an impacting factor on both sides, resulting in numerous and unnecessary casualties. Israel’s terrorism was rooted mainly from Gush Emunim, “Bloc of the Faithful” . On the other hand, Palestinian terrorism has spawned from a wide scope of different beliefs ranging from secular Palestinians through religious Jihadists. Jihad literary means struggle in Arabic . These Jihadists and secular terrorists blow themselves up with the belief that they are furthering their cause and feel as if they are warriors fighting in the battle for a homeland and freedom, one explosion at a time. Gush Emunim started as a Jewish fundamentalist movement in Israel that sought out to reclaim the lands of Abraham through a combination of propaganda, religious justification, and military force . Gush Emunim’s action “shows the growing resentment by Jewish fundamentalism of moves for peace. This, logically, was to lead to the “righteous” killing of [Yitzchak] Rabin” . Gush Emunim has used its religious power as a stepping-stone into Israeli politics in order to gain legal support for its settlement plans. The Gush Emunim movement has been made responsible for evicting Palestinian refugees from their homes in order to build their own settlements . Basing their existence off of religious platform, “Gush Emunim has used its own misuse and misinterpretation of halakha [codes of Jewish Law] to advocate its position and it has carried sway with a significant section of the population” . By gaining public approval through its propaganda, Gush Emunim has been able to harass the lives of Palestinian settlers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with little to no government intervention. Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist/political organization founded on extremist Islamic beliefs. As far Palestinian society, Hamas claims to be dedicated to improving the living conditions in “Palestine” by improving the education and health systems. Hamas wants to accomplish this mission by the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state throughout all of “Palestine” including Israel. Hamas plans to achieve this through the “Destruction of the Zionist Entity”. According to Hamas, the only solution for them in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict is the fighting of a Jihad against Israel” . Hamas serves both as a governmental organization and a center for terrorist groups. Although martyrdom is not a new concept to the world, suicide bombings broke all pre-existing notions on the matter. The practice of an individual strapping an explosive around him/herself, then detonating the bomb in public and crowded place, and praying for the greatest number of casualties possible to inflict the most damage is a new and evolved form of terrorism. By definition, Palestinian Islamic Jihad is “the destruction of the State of Israel through violent means”. In addition, “the Islamic Jihad rejects any peaceful settlement with Israel” . The Jihadist approach is counterproductive on both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as to finding a fair solution. On the other end of the terrorist spectrum are the secular terrorists that don’t base their monstrous acts on any religious reasons. Whether it is committing a suicide bombing or launching Katyusha rockets into Israeli villages, these Palestinian extremists have committed such terror acts as a result of their hatred for the State of Israel and Zionism. On behalf of most Palestinians, the terrorists explain their hatred by saying that Israelis ripped their homeland out from under them, left them as refugees, and then oppressed them ever since. On June 9th 2002, the General Secretary of the Palestinian Authority stated:
“Suicide missions are the highest form of struggle of the Palestinian people in the war against Israel for existence”. He then added, “suicide missions are heroic” and “the arena of these operations should be the conquered territories of ‘67” .
Furthermore, although secular terrorists may attribute their attacks and bombings to different motives than Jihadists, the result of both their actions are undoubtedly catastrophic. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is a major Palestinian political party comprised of various groups. The group with the largest majority in the PLO is Fatah, a secular Palestinian movement founded to take up an organized arm struggle against Israeli occupation. Fatah members view themselves as freedom fighters and are praised by Palestinian society when they take up arms against Israel . As a result of many battles fought by Fatah against Israel, “thousands of young Arab nationalists flocked to Fatah and the resistance movement, wanting to join the ranks of commandos, or fedayeen (“those who sacrifice themselves”) . As far as the Israel is concerned, Fatah is a terrorist organization and a major threat. Fatah is a prime example of a secular terrorist organization that does not base its killing on Jihadist views. Fatah and the PLO justify their violent actions by calling themselves freedom fighters against oppression. For example, in class we watched Lisa Ling’s documentary on female suicide bombers. The automatic assumption is that all martyrs, whether Jihadists or secular terrorists, are men. Lisa Ling shows us that as time goes on, more and more women are participating in these violent acts of terror as well. In the documentary, Lisa Ling states:
“In Arab culture, women have traditionally served as keepers of home and family. Not as front line fighters, let alone suicide bombers. Yet, since 2002, 8 Palestinian women have exploded themselves killing at least 37 and wounding hundreds more”.
Through extensive interviews, Lisa Ling learns that mothers are training their children from small on to become martyrs. Wafa Yidrees was the first female suicide bomber to detonate herself in a shoe store in Jerusalem in 2002, killing an 81-year-old man and injuring many. Lisa went to interview Wafa’s mother to find out more information. She concludes that Wafa was not religious and her “motives were linked to her personal life…and that she knew she had no future” due to the failure of her marriage . Wafa quickly became a celebrity and turned into an icon for younger girls. This is a major threat to Israel because women martyrs are much harder to detect. The idea of martyrdom in any form shocks people. But when people see other people blowing themselves up with the intention of harming as many people as possible, they ask themselves, how could someone do this? It is desperation and the feeling of no way out that gives suicide bombers the will to commit these acts of terror and murder just like Wafa. Although I am very pro-Israel, I must say that Gush Emunim has also committed acts of terror in different ways. Gush Emunim has been accountable for a variety of disturbing acts against Palestinians by the “poisoning of farm animals, to brutal attacks on Palestinian farmers, the destruction of their crops, and the theft of their produce” . While the media constantly points the finger in regards to terrorism at Palestinians, Gush Emunim has contributed to the great pains and struggles to a number of Palestinian communities. In a way, Gush Emunim can be a contributing factor to Palestinian terrorism. Settlement projects promoted by Gush Emunim generate hatred towards Israel that in turn manifests itself through uprisings and terrorist attacks.
“It has been a simple matter to describe Palestinian suicide attacks against civilians as acts of terror, for so they are. The outworking of Gush Emunim, aided and abetted by the Israel Defense Force, with state policies and government bureaucracy, can be seen to be essentially the same”
Through its imperial measures, Gush Emunim has not only violated the laws of halakha that it bases its movement on, but also international law and moral code. Extremists on both sides, be it Palestinian or Israeli, evoke the other to elevate to extreme measures in their terrorist acts. Gush Emunim can harass Palestinian villages that would cause Fatah or Hamas to take action on Israel. While these terrorist groups launch attacks; their battlegrounds are cities, villages, and towns. They are not attacking each other directly; yet they are unleashing their hatred on the Palestinian and Israeli people as a whole through their malicious terrorist attacks. Suicide bombing has had damaging consequences on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years and has been a terrible cycle of action and blame. Palestinian fanatics strap themselves up with bombs and detonate themselves on buses, in cafes, and various crowded places where the most damage can be inflicted. As a reaction to the attacks, Israel feels the need to heighten protection, security, and to seek reprisal for deaths of its innocents. Gush Emunim uses the memories of terrorist attacks to evoke fear into the Israeli public in order to gain support. In turn this angers more people on both sides and as a result there is now a wall dividing Israel from the Gaza strip (Palestinian territories). The backlash leaves a number of disgruntled people who want to seek revenge for their feelings and abandonment. As a result, this negative energy is focused towards the people who took their homes. This cycle is what provokes more upset and catastrophe in the conflict: Palestinian feelings of oppression opens the door for Hamas and other Palestinian Islamist groups to recruit more people to sacrifice themselves in the name of Jihad and Allah. Regrettable, not much can be done about the public opinion in the Palestinian territories concerning Israel. People are left in the refugee camps and the children of refugees from 1948 and on, are scarred by their parents’ disappointments and want nothing more than to know the feeling of having a home to call their own. Just like Lisa Ling had mentioned in her documentary, it is these sentiments that are ingrained and instilled in the Palestinian youth and also one of the main motivating factors that allows extremists to recruit and capitalize on these people’s disdain and use it in their favor for terrorist attacks. The act of suicide bombing itself has evolved. These are not random acts of violence, but rather strategically planned acts that involve decoys and disguises. Witnesses of suicide bombings often report the terrorist as being dressed in modern trendy clothes, or the bombs are hidden in brief cases; the scariest part to fathom is how calculated these attacks are and the notion that all this negative energy could be used to achieve peace instead of war. Perception is the most delicate yet critical principle pertaining to the conflict and role terrorism has. From an Israeli perspective, Gush Emunim is an Israeli movement set out to better the lives in Israel and to assure a home for the Jewish people. The ways in which Gush Emunim operates is not openly publicized to the Israeli people, and therefore it can explain the low level of discontentment towards it. To the religious and in some cases non-religious Palestinian people, Hamas and its members have been praised as the freedom fighters for Palestine. This same notion applies to Fatah and the strong feeling that it is set out to wage war at all means against Israel for a Palestinian homeland. Not one of these groups view themselves as a terrorist organization; they exist to further their causes, beliefs, and objectives at all costs. Unfortunately, for Israeli-Arab citizens who live and work in Israel, they are subject to being mistreated due to terrorist acts committed by extremists. Due to these bombings and attacks, Arabs are seen simply are Arabs and Israelis have a difficult time differentiating between who is a citizen. When an Israeli-Arab boards a bus, people may be stricken with fear praying that they will not become the next victims of another terrorist attack; the preceding attacks created a developing dynamic of prejudice and racism between the two cultures. It is the ongoing struggle and fear present in Israel and the unwillingness of the Palestinians to negotiate a peace plan that slows down the peace process between the two. The damaging consequences of the suicide bombings bring the possibilities of a peaceful solution to a standstill. Unfortunately, the good and innocent people in Palestine suffer the consequences for these terrorist actions. They are forced to live with a wall, armed patrol in their areas, and constant checkpoints because it is the only way Israel feels it can assure its safety for their citizens. Since the wall, fewer suicide bombings and terrorist acts have occurred. Palestinians participate in Intifadas and attempt to arm themselves against Israeli occupation with the intentions of defending their people and land. The notion of freedom fighters arise from the belief that groups like Fatah and Hamas are protecting the Palestinian people at all costs. Gush Emunim, Hamas, and Fatah are all contributors to the terror arising out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In their own ways, the fanaticism that has emerged from each group has caused harm to others and inadvertently caused harm to their own people. While Palestinian terrorism is more exploited by the media, Gush Emunim has committed a number of acts that are destructive as well. The evolution of terrorism throughout the entirety of the conflict serves as a narrative to express how bad things have become in the region. Merriam Webster defines terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” . While Hamas, Fatah, and Gush Emunim all meet this definition, I ask you two questions, can killing an individual even be compared to poisoning a farmer’s crops? I understand that two wrongs don’t make a right, but what happens when one wrong, is more wrong, than the other’s?

Works Cited

Alexander, Yonah. Palestinian Religious Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 2002. Print.

Alexander, Yonah. Palestinian Secular Terrorism: Profiles of Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Democratic Front for the Liberatiom of Palestine. Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 2003. Print.

Esposito, John L. Islam: the Straight Path. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Harms, Gregory, and Todd M. Ferry. The Palestine-Israel Conflict: a Basic Introduction. London [u.a.: Pluto, 2005. Print.

Shindler, Colin. A History of Moderm Israel. Cambridge [etc.: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

"Terrorism - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. Web. Apr. 2011. .

Whitfield, Geoffrey Victor. Israeli and Palestinian Terrorism: the 'unintentional' Agents. Lexington, KY: Emeth, 2009. Print.

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