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The Struggle Over the Holy Land

On May 14th, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. That same day, our president at the time, Harry Truman, was among the first to recognize it as a nation. On December 6th, 2017, our current president, Donald Trump, declared the holy city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Prior to the British Partition, the ethnic cleansing, and the June War, almost all of the land now known as Israel was home to Arabs. In 1947, the newly formed United Nations partitioned historic Palestine, giving fifty-five percent to the Jewish population (which made up approximately 31% of the population) pretty much as an apology for the mass genocide of Jewish people that took place in Germany and much of Eastern Europe during World War II. The idea was that because historic Palestine was once the “homeland” of  Judaism, their community deserved to have a home after the Holocaust, and so they were entitled to Israel.

That would make sense, except for when you remember that for thousands of years this land has been home to a majority of Muslim and Christian Arabs.  From 1948 to 1967, approximately 1,180,000 Arabs were pushed out of the land they called home; Arab villages were destroyed to build Jewish ones. And, after the June War, some Palestinian refugees attempted to cross back into Israel to find lost loved ones or retrieve belongings, but approximately four thousand were shot and killed.

As the remaining Palestinians were pushed against the border, tensions between Israel and Palestine have risen, although through it all Jerusalem was considered a neutral ground between Israel and Palestine because of its importance to many religions: Jerusalem is one of the three most holy places on earth for Muslims as it is associated with many prophets, and has a strong link with Mecca. Jerusalem is also a holy site for Christianity and Judaism as well, as it is the birthplace of Jesus Christ and home to the Western Wall.

Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians die each week in Jerusalem, even before Trump decided to recognize it as the capital of Israel. Western powers have taken the people of Palestine’s land, the closest connection they have to God, and won’t even recognize Palestine as a country, or their Palestinian identity. Trump believes that this action, taking away the claim Palestinians have to Jerusalem, will bring peace, but peace is not created by fueling a war. Peace in Israel can only occur if both parties are willing to compromise, which will not happen if divisions are being fostered by authority figures.