Two-State Solution: Palestine & Israel

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 45

Language is a powerful tool.


We are meeting out first guest speaker: an Israeli peace activist named Yariv Opphenheimer, and he is part of a movement called Peace Now. Peace Now advocates for two nations--Israel and Palestine, which is the classic "two-state solution." However, the idea of a "two-state solution" looks and sounds different depending on who you are talking to; Palestinians have a different idea from Israelis of what two states should be, but even among Israelis and Palestinians themselves, there is disagreement.

Yariv Opphenheimer is an example of this. His perspective of a two state would make many Jews and Israelis angry, and it would also make many Palestinians angry.

To give context, we need another history lesson. After 1920, the British Mandate of Palestine was created. This came about after the French invaded the Arab Kingdom of Syria (which encompasses the land that is now Israel and Palestine AND present-day Jordan), and the British and French had to work out who would get which chunk of land.

In 1919, the British were given control over the land of Palestine and the French over a piece of land called the French Mandate of Syria. A side note: within the French Mandate of Syria, there was an autonomous region called the Jabal Druze State, which was one of the few times the Druze had their own autonomous region (again, we will get to the Druze in a later section).

Anyway, the Balfour Declaration (which was the British government declaring that there should be "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"), coupled with the creation of the British Mandate of Palestine, led to Arab riots in 1920 and 1921. The British split the British Mandate of Palestine (remember, it's Israel/Palestine and Jordan at this point) into Palestine and a land called Transjordan (today, just Jordan) so that the Jordanian land would be excluded from the Balfour Declaration.

There was nationalism on both the Arab-Palestinian side and the Jewish side. A bunch of quotas were put into action on how many Jews could come into the land under the Balfour Declaration every year, and while Palestinian nationalism grew rapidly and heavily in this land, Jewish nationalism grew urgently in Europe when Jews began feeling hostility by their host countries.

By 1933, there was a growing wave of Jewish immigration into the land under the British Mandate. We will get into the Anti-Semitism of Europe later, when we walk through the Holocaust Museum called Yad Vashem, but by 1948, the world felt there was a desperate need for a Jewish state.

In 1948, there was a war between Jews and Arabs. It is called the Israeli Independence War by Israelis and An-Nakba by Arabs. An-Nakba, or النكبة‎, literally means "the disaster" or "the catastrophe." Arab Palestinians saw the events of 1948 as the causes of their exodus out of their homes, and they dubbed the war accordingly. You can see how the rhetoric surrounding the same event is so drastically different depending on which side you hear the story from.

The war happened as a result of the British declaring the state of Israel in May 1948; previously, from November 1947 to May 1948, there had been internal conflict between Jews and Arab Palestinians. The War of 1948 saw the invasion of the newly formed state of Israel by forces from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

In January 1949, the war ended and armistice lines were drawn; these lines were known as the "green lines," which separated the land into Israeli territories and Palestinian territories. The lines were drawn up in accordance to the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947, which is as follows (image from the New York Times):

We see here that the Arab state was proposed to be much larger than it is today. MUCH, much larger than it is today--it decreased as a result of more conflict between many sides in addition to the infamous Israeli settlements encroaching on the what is the West Bank today. Anyway, the history does not get any less messy from here. In 1967, another war broke out. This time, it was called the Six Day War by Israelis (because it only lasted six days) and An-Naksah (النكسة, meaning "the setback") by Arabs.

Later, on our trip, we will hear a touching rendition of this war by Roni while we are at the Banyas waterfalls in the Golan Heights… but we'll get to that later. For now, the Six Day War was when all of the neighboring Arab countries fought against the new state of Israel.

Israeli Defense Forces fought hard, got a bunch of extra land including the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula (and they "took back" the land around Jerusalem, which was previously controlled by Jordan as a result of another dispute), and then eventually gave Sinai back to Egypt on account of a successful peace negotiation.

This was a long tangent, but Yariv Opphenheimer's Peace Now agenda is working to push the borders back to those negotiated after the 1967 War. Here is what that would look like, and you can see how much Arab land has decreased from 1948 to 1967 (image from The End Times Forecaster):

It is basically what many people today believe the borders of the West Bank (the larger chunk of orange land on the East side of the state--we'll get to why it's called the "West" Bank in a hot minute) and Gaza Strip (the smaller "strip" on the west side) are.

In reality, the true Palestinian (Palestinian civil and military control) areas in the West Bank has been decreasing as a result of Israeli settlements that the Israeli government has not put a stop to; of course, there is way more nuance to this issue than currently meets the eye, but we will get to that.

For now, what else does Peace Now suggest we do? Yariv says that Jerusalem should be split into East and West Jerusalem, so that there are two capitals--one for each state in the two-state solution. East Jerusalem has a larger Arab population because of its history. I previously mentioned that Jordan controlled a bit of the area around Jerusalem; in fact, after 1949, Jordan controlled what is today considered the West Bank, and Egypt controlled the Gaza region.

This is because there was no real, established Palestinian government in those regions at the time, and the surrounding Arab nations wanted to keep a hold on whatever they could. Not only did Jordan control today's West Bank region, it controlled East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City. As we have mentioned before, the Old City is very important to a lot of different groups of people, so everyone who wasn't Arab had a problem with Jordan controlling the entire Old City.

The border today between Israel/Palestine and Jordan is the Jordan River. On the East side of the Jordan River is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and on the West side, there was the region Jordan controlled between 1949 and 1967. Since that part was on the West side of the river, it was the--wait for it--West Bank of the Jordan River! And that is why the West Bank is called the West Bank, even though it is on the East side of Israel--it was originally just known within Jordan as the West Bank of their most important river.

So anyway, both propositions given by Peace Now--the 1967 borders and splitting Jerusalem back into East and West Jerusalem--sound very nice and lovely in theory, but are hard to carry out in action. It would require moving families who are living on the "wrong side of the line" (according to Peace Now) and who have already been living there for decades.

In the end, while I think that Yariv Opphenheimer has a very optimistic view of reality, and while he has tried his hardest to accommodate to everyone's needs and wants, the plan proposed for his narrative of the two-state solution is not very feasible.

In the next section, I will talk about what we did the next day: enter the West Bank!

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.

Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.


A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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