Let's take a huge step backwards. Tell me what you know about Israel.

I know bupkiss about Israel and the general conflicts in that particular part of the world. I have this strong desire to know more about the background regarding the Jews, Lebonese, Syrians, Iranians, Hezbalah, Hamas, Palestinians, etc. and how they all play a role in the current skirmishes. I’ll tell you some of my thoughts and what I think I know and then you can fill in the rest for me.

I suck at US history, I sat next to a beautiful girl (who was a senior, I was a mere junior) in History class. But I did gleen a few things about Israel and the Jews. The area referred to as Zion was supposed to be the resting place for the Jewish nation. That, historically, has been less than successful. Jews have continuously been prosecuted throughout the ages and throughout Europe and the middle east. The Arabs and the Jews have been sometimes forced together to fight common enemies and other times were, to each other, the enemy. The Jews have been under the direction or control of numerous parties throughout history.
Recently, it seems that just when they get things settled down, things become unsettled.

First, Briefly describe the relation between Lebenon, Palestine and Israel.

Israel, US ally, why? What prompted our bond with Israel in the first place? How strong is it?
Israel has given in before by handing (returning) over land to the Palestinians, right (Gaza strip and West bank)? Wasn’t this supposed to quell the violence and satisfy the terrorists?

How strong is Israel’s millitarily and how did they get so strong given their location among their enemies? IOW, why weren’t they overcome long ago, before they were able to develop their millitary might? I sense that the Arab world around them would rather see them not exist and that it may have been that way forever.

I also sense that if the US wasn’t an ally of Israel that they would have been squashed by now.
Iranian missiles are being launched into Israel proper and probably from launched from locations that deter Israel from striking back with force (private homes, schools, Religious sites, etc). So Israel must invade with ground troops and to house to house searches to find the missiles, time consuming and deadly.

Israel is being provoked, for whatever reasons make sense to the terrorists, maybe they want a multi-country war to put an end to Israel once and for all.

If Syria, and or Iran get more involved in some type of war, is it a given that the US will get heavily involved? Will Russian countries step in? China? Who would be on whose side?

What are some general misconceptions and what are some things that are taken for granted and possibly overlooked regarding this theatre.

Lastly, give me your personal thoughts on this topic.


I did briefly skim this site and will continue to do so.

If you go over this timeline, it seems like every 13 seconds there’s some type of conflict…

Take a look at a map of the Middle East. Better yet, print out a world map. Color in all Islamic nations, and nations with over 50% Muslim populations. Now, in another color, color in all of the Jewish nations, and nations with over 50% Jewish populations. Now compare. Remind me again of the World Zionist Threat and why “Jews should be pushed into the sea,” as I have repeatedly heard both publically and personally. NB, I am not commenting on Israel’s politics and policies, but merely addressing one of the common rhetorical statements made about the state of Israel.

Typical Zionist reply.

I suppose there is no such thing as the Zionist controlled western media either.

Of course I kid… ;j
I do think that the share of the blame that Israel holds in all this is not being able to integrate the indigenous Palestinian population well enough so that it would effectively neutralize the Palestinian cause. But as we often say, “Who knew?!”

Of course Palestinians have been used by fellow Arab nations as the stick with which to beat Israel with and as a result became a victim of circumstance. Lot’s of poor decision on the side of Palestinians as well.

Now, after so many years, the hatreds are well entrenched and it matters little who cast the first stone. What’s important is the rhetoric.

Still, in my opinion, land for peace was a good strategy on behalf of Israel. I suspect that they knew that it would not work because Palestinians are still being manipulated by unfriendly Arab groups and the traded land is just a simple invasion away with justifyable cause.

Would you mind elaborating?

He means basically this .

I’ll say in general that this is about the most polarizing topic you could raise right now. Without addressing specifically the things you mention in your OP, I will say that they represent the Israeli point of view/argument fairly well, and the Palestinian view not at all. Here are a couple of factoids that will hint at the Palestinian perspective:

  1. Great Britain, the colonial overlord of relevant bits of the Middle East (Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Mesopotamia) was to have a significant impact on the eventual disposition of that territory. Unfortunately, the British made three separate promises during the first world war regarding these territories: the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1915, promising to respect French control and interests in the Levant; the promises to Hussein Ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, that the British would support an Arab nation in his lands in return for an Arab uprising against the Ottomans; and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising British support for a Jewish homeland. The crucial question is the extent to which these three promises conflict, particularly given the lack of specificity as to geography, particularly of the latter two. But it’s the Arab perspective that they were promised a state in the lands of the Sharif of Mecca, which in their view included Palestine, and that Britain, by supporting a Jewish national home in the same territory, had in effect lied to them.

  2. Much is made of the Arabs’ lack of acceptance of the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, which would have divided Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The key point to remember here is that prior to Partition, the Jews held 8% of the land. Partition gave them 55%. This fact alone explains why the Arabs were so resistant to Partition, and why the Zionists jumped at it. The Arabs regarded Jewish embrace of Partition as a grab at half the land of Palestine, and saw it as a casus belli.

  3. The Occupied Territories. In 1967, Israel staged a preemptive strike against Egyptian troops massing on the border. Their Arab neighbors jumped in and got their clocks cleaned, and Israel wound up in control of Gaza and the West Bank – and the million Palestinians who lived there. At a summit in Khartoum following the war, the Arab League issued its famous “three no’s” – no peace, no recognition, no negotiation. On this basis, Israel held onto the occupied territories, as it does today. During the 40 years of Israeli occupation, the Palestinians who have lived there have been stateless – citizens of nothing, with no civil rights. Israel, in the Palestinian view, has refused to find a resolution to this problem, and aggravated the situation by establishing settlements on lands cleared of Arabs. Economic conditions in the territories are harsh, and contrast strikingly with those in the settlements. Israel is also accused of using a disproportionate share of water from the aquifers that underlie the West Bank.

  4. Terrorism. Armed conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is a classic example of assymmetrical warfare. The Israeli military is one of the best in the world, with a full complement of arms and armaments – jets, helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, submarines, spy satellites, atomic weapons even – and superbly trained troops. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have little beyond small arms, explosives, RPGs, and crude rockets. Wherever we see huge assymmetries in opposing armies, we see a lot of targeting of civilians – see Iraq for an example. But in spite of targeting of civilians by Palestinian militants, the Israeli armed forces, year after year, kill more Arab civilians – usually dramatically more. In the second intifada, for instance, Israel has killed 734 children and minors, compared to 121 killed on the Israeli side by Palestinian terrorists. And it’s not like terrorism is unknown on the Jewish side, either. Settlers in particular are guilty of a number of terroristic attacks against Arab civilians.

  5. In short… the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine came at the expense of Palestinian wishes and interests. Millions of Palestinians were driven out or were not allowed to return to their homes. Even in Israel proper, where Arabs are citizens and have the vote, they are second-class citizens. In the territories, they are still citizens of nothing. What Palestinians want is what you and I want – life, liberty, equality before the law. If they are fighting, it’s because they have been systematically denied those things.

NOTE: I realize all too well that everything I have written above could be attacked by someone with an agenda. I will not respond to any of those attacks. The OP has asked for my personal thoughts on the topic, and it was my thought to set out some elements of the Palestinian position.

Yes. And that map doesn’t include many countries with high Muslim populations.

Thankyou Sal, I appreciated that point of view.

…and that map is very interesting. I suspected as much.

Question, how did Israel become such a millitary force so quickly, given it’s location in the world?

I believe it was by conscriptions. I spent a couple of hours reading up Israel’s military forces and battles at wikipedia, but that’s the only part I can really remember. There was a period of time when there were incurisons in all parts of Israel, and getting volunteers to form an army was the fastest way.

A can full of other cans. All of those are full of worms.

Israel is a European creation. The desire for a Jewish nation (Zionism) is a European idea and rather recent in The Great Scheme of Things.

The Balfour Declaration (of 1917 or so) was a British promise to give to the Zionists things the British did not own. They made this promise (with a clause about the right of the people who were actually in the place they were giving away) for mostly domestic political reasons during the Great War.

I bet it surprised the heck out of them that people took it seriously.

So Zionists began to move to the area, and generally got along with the locals. (Well, this is the Middle East, the idea of ‘getting along’ is rather elastic.)

Then of course came Europe’s next great moral failure of the last century; the Holocaust. After that, the Europeans could not get rid of their guilt by any less a means than offering Palestine to the Jews. Besides it didn’t cost nothin’.

(In all of this do not in anyway discount the bravery dedication and bloody-mindedness of the Zionists. It is a fascinating stuff, both uplifting and terrifying.)

So anyway, by 1947, the Zionists got what they wanted. They have ruled with the mixture of wisdom and idiocy, kindness and cruelty that is man’s nature. Same same with the Arabs who were surprised as heck that a bunch of Europeans were taking over their country.

Much excitement ensued.

Israel proved what bravery and organization could do when backed by tens of billions of other people’s dollars. Generally, their military has be very successful against their numerically greater neighbors.

But this has disguised a great danger. What does it mean to be a Jewish State? Does it mean racial purity? Democracy? A garrison state? What happens when most residents of a Jewish State are not really practicing Jews? Nobody knows the answers and figuring it out will define what sort of nation Israel becomes.

Israel is a European creation, yes, but your statement that Zionism is a European idea is a little misleading, imho. Modern Zionism comes from the ideas of Theodore Herzl - an Austrian Jew - and his writings. Zionism is a Jewish idea, and although as a philosophy it is rather new, the Jewish desire to return to Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael is ancient.

Today, a slight majority of Israel’s Jewish population is not of European extraction at all: they or their ancestors are from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, etc.

I wrote out an explanation of the history Israeli-Palestinian conflict in my Livejournal in 2003. It is comprised of three parts here, if you want to read it. I’m not a historian or anything, though; to the best of my knowledge, all my information is accurate (although written in a pretty casual manner), but it’s hardly a replacement for a good book on the subject.

I too am no expert, but I have to wonder what dear old Teddy Herzl would make of his Jewish state. All those middle-eastern people running around. I suspect he had another mental image planned.

But he was a European Jew, and Eretz Yisrael did not take major steps to reality until European Jews convinced European governments to give away what was not theirs.

You know the book I would like to read would be on all the minorities in Israel. Christians (you want hostility look at eastern and western Christians!), Muslims, Sephardim, Ashkenazim and who knows what else. I have never seen anyone address in any realistic way what the heck will happen to the Israeli state when the demographics shift all to heck.