History of Arab-Israeli Conflict: How Long?

I was having a discussion with an acquaintance about the current state of Arab-Israeli relations, and he remarked that Jews and Arabs had been fighting each other for thousands of years. This struck me as unlikely, given that the State of Israel has only existed since 1948, the culmination of the modern Zionist movement lead by Theodore Hertzl beginning in 1896. But prior to 1896, the Jewish population of Palestine was only about 47,000 out of a total population of 500,000. cite

What was the relationship between the Jews and Arabs of Palestine prior to 1896? Have they been at each other’s throats for thousands of years, or is this a relatively modern development?

Relatively modern. You’ve pretty much got your history right, though I believe Jewish immigration into the region started just a little bit earlier than 1896 ( that might be my faulty memory talking though ).

Remind your friend there haven’t even been Arab Muslims around for multiple thousands of years :slight_smile: ( a little under 1400 years, actually ).

Generally speaking ( very generally, you can find numerous exceptions if you look hard enough ), Jews fared better under Muslim regimes vs. comparable Christian regimes up until fairly recently. And the area of Palestine/ Israel was, barring the Crusades and a few other aberrations, mostly a sleepy, not particularly violent backwater, since at least the Roman period.

  • Tamerlane

That is a bit misleading, to say that.

Of course there weren’t Arab Muslims over 1400 years ago for that fact that Islam wasn’t around that long, but it was their ancestors who built the city of Jericho around 10,000 years ago.

They may not have been Muslim, but they have been in that area for longer than 1400 years.

1882, to be precise.

And Efrem, if anyone is descended from the founders of Jehrico, it’s the Jews. After all, archeological evidence shows that the Israelites did not so much conquer the local Canaanite civiliziation as absorb it.

I’m going to have to question that statement of “10,00 year ago” also.

I’ve not seen any archeology that dates Jericho back that far. Got any cites?

One of the arguments used to support the “thousands of years of conflict” argument was the battle with the Philistines in 1050BC, in which the Ark of the Covenant was taken captive.

What is the relationship between the ancient Philistines and today’s Palestinians? Is this a valid argument for long standing enmity, or are they in reality two unrelated cultures?

I would like to see this archeological evidence, since it was my impression that the Hebrews (under Joshua) had smote the Canaan poeple, destroyed the city of Jericho, and took over when the Canaan population had fled or died.

I do know there were some who survived the attack and stayed, but they were a minority. It might be that there was some mingling of blood during that time too, but that is a far cry from saying the direct descendants of the founders of Jericho are the Jews. This claim also doesn’t dispute that Arabs are the direct descendants too; it just provides a weak link for present day Jews.

Er… have you looked? I did a simple check on Encyclopedia Britannica for Jericho here is what I found:

In short, you can find evidence everywhere on the net. Try looking up a woman named “Kenyon, Dame Kathleen” she was an English archeologist who proved that Jericho is one of the earliest continuous settlements in the world. Armed with her name I’m sure will find much more info on google then I could ever produce here.

The local Coptic Orthidox Preists in Eritrea (then Ethiopia) always said that the Ark of Covenent was sitting in a church across the Mereb in the town of Aksum. The Tabot (Arks) was taken from Soloman by Menelik “the First” (an illegitament son of Soloman) who was born in Asmara by Queen Sheba and had founded the country of Ethiopia from Aksum. The story is still being told in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

That’s the standard, biblical description of what happened. A lot of modern archeologists, though, think that the “conquest of Canaan” wasn’t really that violent…that actually the Hebrews either gradually came into the area (or were themselves a Canaanite tribal grouping) and, over a period of time, assimilated the various Canaanite tribes, so that the Canaanites became Israelites.

Fear Itself, the Phillistines were a Greek group, probably from Crete, centered on the coast, around Gaza. As to theirs, or the ancient Canaanites’ relationship with the modern Palestinians, it can be really difficult to say “this group became this other group”, when you’re talking about 3000 years. Modern Palestinians probably have Arab, Norman, German, North African, Greek, Hebrew, Canaanite, Phillistinian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Babylonian and fill in the blank ancestory. The area has historically been diversely populated.

There is a dispute on what happened in Jericho? That is interesting, do you have a cite?

Wow, did this thing ever get hijacked. Back to the OP: the Arab-Israeli conflict is a relatively new affair, dating back only about 60 or 70 years. As has been noted, there was not even a significant Jewish population in the region until the 20th century.

A few key moments in 20th century history that set the stage for the fighting today:[ul]
[li]The Balfour Declaration (1917), by which Britain promised the Zionists a Jewish homeland[/li][li]The White Paper (1939), by which Britain promised Palestinians an independent Palestinian state, and limits on Jewish immigration[/li][li]the creation of the state of Israel (1948)[/li][/ul]You can see where confusion and animosities developed, as Western powers were promising the farm to both sides. It’s been argued that the Balfour Declaration was issued to legitimize a British invasion of the region in 1917 (Britain & France had already agreed on a partition of the former Ottoman territories in 1916). The White Paper was issued to limit Arab extremism and keep the area calm so Britain could focus its energies elsewhere.

So throw in Western meddling/backpedaling, a burgeoning Arab nationalism, and a strengthening Israeli state, animosities have become intensive and extensive.

This is of couirse just a brief skimming of the story, so forgive my efforts to keep it brief.

Well, there’s been a dispute over what happened in Jericho for a long time, ever since archeologists discovered that it probably wasn’t a walled city in the time frame that Joshua traditionally was supposed to have conquered it. The more recent, and admittedly more controversial theory, is that the entire conquest of Canaan didn’t happen.

This site, from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, includes an article by David Gavron, reflecting the current state of Biblical archeology.


He includes the theory by a number of archeologists from Tel Aviv University that

Yes, but though the OP didn’t directly allude to it, I find people often both couch this conflict in terms of a religious struggle ( which it largely isn’t ) and mistakenly assume that this supposed religious struggle is as old as the hills. I just wanted to pre-emptively strike at that :).

As to who built Jericho, while it is quite possible that semitic-speaking people built it ( hmm…where is Jomo Mojo - we need a ruling on the early spread and differentiation of the semitic linguistic group ), given the enormous age of the settlement, I don’t think it is necessarily accurate to say anybody, of any particular group, can be isolated out as their descendants today.

But that’s just an academic exercise anyway and IMHO doesn’t really have any bearing on the conflict today ( I’m not a fan of the ‘my ancestors were here first’ arguments ).

Alessan - Thanks for the catch and assist on the dates :).

peepthis - You can also toss in the very deliberately ambiguous ( on the British side ) Macmahon-Hussein Correspondances of 1915-1916, which promised much to the Arabs, but in a very deviously vague way in terms of geography.

  • Tamerlane