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Religion's Role In The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Several causes drive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including ethnic, national, historical, and religious. What is less well understood is the extent to which religion influences the identities of the people involved in this struggle, the practical concerns at stake, and the related policies and attitudes – even of non-religious participants on both sides.

Bernard Horne
Nov 08, 20237506 Shares147182 Views
Several causes drive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including ethnic, national, historical, and religious.
What is less well understood is the extent to which religion influences the identities of the people involved in this struggle, the practical concerns at stake, and the related policies and attitudes – even of non-religious participants on both sides.
As a result, religion must also be a component of any true solution to this terrible and prolonged war, as outlined in the final paragraph.

Why Is Religion At The Core Of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Religion is important in the struggle between Islam and Judaism, notably in the sanctity of sacred places and the apocalyptic themes of both faiths. Extremely religious Zionists in Israel see themselves as the custodians of the Jewish state, whereas Islamist factions in Palestine urge the liberation of "holy" regions and places for religious reasons.
Rumors of a "Jewish Plan" to demolish al-Aqsa mosque and establish the Jewish third temple on its ruins heighten tensions. Worsening socioeconomic circumstances in Arab and Islamic countries contribute to the rise of religious radicalism, driving a greater proportion of youngpeople to fanaticism and religion-inspired politics.
Since extremist political ideas frequently challenged previously stable governments, the Arab Spring also posed a threat to Arab-Israeli peace. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for example, threatened to jeopardize the peace accord with Israel after becoming president in 2012.

How Do Israel And Palestine Define Religion Differently?

Religious leaders who want peace in the Israel-Palestine issue see their faithas a contrast to religious nationalism. They place a greater priority on their country and the right to exist than any other religion or nation, and they consider violence against one's fellow man to be a breach of God's credo.
These leaders also identify with the Abrahamic faiths, a set of Semitic-originated groups that claim ancestry from ancient Hebrew rituals.
In chronological order of origin, the primary Abrahamic faiths are Judaism (seventh century BCE), Christianity(first century CE), and Islam (seventh century CE).
Judaism began as a tribal religion, and the Abrahamists expanded it internationally through the adoption of Christianityby the Roman Empire in the fourth century and the Arab military conquests that spread Islam starting in the seventh century.
In terms of followers, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the three major Abrahamic faiths. Abraham is central to the Abrahamic faiths, and he appears in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur'an.
This finding verifies Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussaini's contention that Jewish claims to the Holy Land are founded on passages from the Torah and the Qur'an, demonstrating that Judaism and Islam are derived from the same spiritual source.
Because Judaism and Islam are descended from the same root, they both believe in a single everlasting God who created the world and bestows equal mercy on all individuals.
View of Temple Mount
View of Temple Mount

Clash Of Cultures Or Narratives Of Western Imperialism?

According to Samuel P. Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis, wars are unavoidable owing to the shared culture and identity of two civilizations with comparable economic and military might.
This argument has been applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is largely a territorial struggle. Religion frequently serves as a metaphor for the conflict that pits various nationalities and religious beliefs against one another.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the product of British imperialists' "imaginative geographies," which resulted in a land dispute. Following World War II, the British fulfilled three agreements about the split of Ottoman Palestine, resulting in the purported ideological dispute between Israel and Palestine.
The argument is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy that encourages Western imperialism in Arab nations. Politicians acting in their own self-interest have made Huntington's forecast a reality, sustaining the vicious cycle of misrepresentation and hate while also functioning as a weapon for the West to influence others.
It was not taken into account in Huntington's thesis how much Western dominance really affects modern politics or how hard it is to let non-Western states shape historyalong with major Western powers.
According to Huntington's notion of civilization, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be classified as a fault-line war. The culture of conflict is also a prominent aspect in the conflict, with themes such as nationalism and Palestinian dissatisfaction with the status quo playing a larger role.
In conclusion, the Middle East conflict is a complex issue that depends on a number of factors, including nationality, religion, and historical context. The "clash of civilizations" notion is a strong political instrument used by the West, as well as a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy that has the potential to change the path of contemporary politics.

How Serious Is Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Israeli police actions against Palestinians protesting home evictions and praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, cross-border fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, marches from Jordan on the West Bank border, and violence in Israel's mixed cities are all contributing to the rapid escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli leaders are still considering a ground operation into the Gaza Strip, which might exacerbate the current crisis. If Israel sends military battalions into the multiethnic cities, the situation will only worsen.
Police actions against nonviolent protesters in East Jerusalem have resulted in 250 Palestinians being hurt, a number that is both human and materially devastating.
Since then, Israeli aircraft and artillery shelling have resulted in 830 Palestinian injuries and 119 deaths, including 31 children. Over 400 Israelis, including a kid, have been wounded, and 9 have been killed due to Hamas rocket fire.
Dozens of people have been hurt throughout Israel's diverse cities and communities as a result of an unprecedented surge of violence. In Lod/Al-Lid, Palestinians torched a synagogue and police vehicles, while a Jewish shooter fatally shot a Palestinian amid scuffles. Israeli ultra-nationalists stormed Al-Lid's Al-Omari mosque ahead of the curfew, resulting to a state of civil war.
Government buildings, service institutions, houses, security installations, and police stations have all taken heavy hits from Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. This is the largest and most coordinated Palestinian response against military occupation, repression, dispossession, and institutional discrimination since the September 2000 intifada.

Practical Implications For Negotiations

The permanent status issues of borders, security, mutual recognition, refugees, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the issue of authority over Jerusalem are closely linked to the faiths of Jewish and Muslim people worldwide.
The original ownership and authority over Jerusalem are highly contested due to the presence of holy sites for Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the city. The conflict is deeply rooted in history, with Jerusalem being attacked 52 times, captured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice.
In Jewish and Biblical history, Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Israel during King David's reign and home to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
In Islamic history, Jerusalem was the first Muslim Qiblah and the place where Prophet Muhammad's Isra' and Mi'raj occurred, according to the Qur'an. The sanctity of Jerusalem resonates among many Muslims worldwide, not just Palestinians.
The issue of West Bank settlements also has a religious aspect, as it concerns the physical restoration of the biblical land of Israel before the return of the Messiah. Some orthodox Jews continue to settle in the West Bank to fulfill this prophecy, clashing with local Palestinians.
Fundamentalist schools of Islam believe that the whole land of Israel and Palestine should be under Islamic rule, with prophecies surrounding this issue deeply rooted in some versions of the Hadith.

Historical Consequences Of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Historically, Jewish extremists have rationalized their engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of a divinely promised return to Israel. However, Israeli authorities have recently outlawed radical organizations like the "Gush Emunim Underground."
Religious extremist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which aspired to seize power, resurrect Islam, and re-establish the old Islamic Caliphate, have also been active in the battle. They see Israel as a "foreign object" in the continuity of a prospective Islamic Caliphate and continue to garner adherents via religion.
Iran, on the other hand, has been the most vocal opponent of Israel since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Its hardline government advocates for Israel's annihilation and backs Assad's troops in Syria, presenting a direct security danger to Israel.
Iran's extreme leadership purportedly funds Hezbollah and Hamas, provides them with weapons and training, and backs Assad's troops in Syria, all in the name of Islam.

Social Consequences Of Conflict

Direct peacemaking between Egypt, Jordan, and Israel has occurred, although it has not necessarily resulted in the intended people-to-people or cultural normalization. Accepting peace with Israel may be considered as religious betrayal, against the views of both radicals and moderates in Arab governments.
Religion-based conflict drivers are not restricted to religious organizations but are also related to broader socioeconomic grounds. There are two main reasons for this: first, religious extremists' goals are similar to those of other groups in Arab and Islamic civilizations; second, people who have ties to larger parts of society abuse those ties in a planned way.
Ideologically, ties with a broader society are developed by radicalizing components that have this capacity, either owing to inherent dispositions toward community self-defense or superficial understanding of their faiths. For example, radicals can exploit individual acts of violence against the Jewish population to justify reprisals by their larger society.
Extreme Imams have powerful instruments to propagate violence via their mosques and privately sponsored media, continually exposing people to the narrative and vocabulary of violence against Israel and Jewish people in general.

How The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Got Worse

According to European Union foreign policy leader Josep Borrell, the Gaza war has converted the nationalistic Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a struggle of faiths and civilizations.
Previously seeing the matter as a patriotic conflict between two people, both of whom have a right to exist, Borrell noted that recent developments have made the situation much more difficult and explosive.
For decades, the international community has been committed to a two-state solution, but without a realistic blueprint, the forces of denial in both camps have risen. Israeli colonialization of the West Bank has continued with impunity and brutality against Palestinians, while moderate elements in Palestinian society have succumbed to radicals.
The "barbarism" of the October 7 Hamas assault, which was "un-excusable," shattered the hope that regional reconciliation between Israel and Arab countries would result in peace with the Palestinians.
International diplomats have asked for a cease-fire or humanitarian halt in Gaza, citing the heavy civilian cost of Israel's armed campaign to depose Hamas.
Ignoring the human cost may eventually backfire, and Israeli overreaction may result in the loss of international support. Europe has a moral and political duty to participate, not just by delivering help but also by assisting in the development of a long-term solution. The ability of the EU to contribute to a political solution will be a crucial litmus test for its credibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Israel-Palestine Conflict About?

The Israel-Palestine conflict is primarily about competing national aspirations and territorial claims in the region. Both Israelis and Palestinians have historical and religious ties to the land, leading to a protracted dispute.

When Did The Israel-Palestine Conflict Begin?

The conflict has deep historical roots but intensified in the mid-20th century, particularly around 1948 when Israel declared independence. This event marked a significant turning point in the conflict.

What Are The Main Issues At The Heart Of The Israel-Palestine Conflict?

The core issues include borders, the status of Jerusalem, the rights of Palestinian refugees, security concerns, and the recognition of Israel as a state.

Have There Been Attempts To Resolve The Israel-Palestine Conflict?

Yes, numerous attempts have been made to resolve the conflict, including peace negotiations, international mediation, and agreements like the Oslo Accords. However, a comprehensive resolution remains elusive.

How Does The Israel-Palestine Conflict Impact The Broader Middle East?

The conflict has regional implications, influencing diplomacy, security, and politics in the Middle East. It is often linked to other regional conflicts and challenges.

Final Words

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been influenced by two approaches to religion: absolute nationalism and adversarial approaches, such as Hamas, and post-nationalist approaches that prioritize peace, reconciliation, and mutual respect.
The conflict is viewed as a good versus evil conflict, with God on one side and violence on the other. Religious nationalists view war and violence as legitimate means of achieving national objectives, while religious post-nationalists view it as destructive and evil.
Intra-religious dialogue should be initiated and intensified within the Israeli and Palestinian communities, and inter-religious dialogue between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims should also be pursued.
Interfaith dialogue can be used for peace and justice-making, allowing conflicts to be addressed, misunderstandings corrected, and solutions negotiated before large-scale violence breaks out.
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