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Arab-Israeli Conflict: Religious or Political?



Reply Date

Oct 10, 2016


Can you answer the question why the Palestinians and the Israelis have been fighting for so long? What is it all about? Why do they seem to hate each other so much? Is it related to the Catholic/Protestant faith, Judaism and Islam?



Arab-Israeli Conflict: Religious or Political?

Salam Dear Annie,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

In the Bible, in the Book of Genesis there is a verse which reads:

“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:8)

You can read this verse in the Jewish Book called Torah also. Here Jehovah is addressing Abraham, the Patriarch. Because Jehovah (God) was pleased with Abraham, He wishes to give the children (“seed”) of Abraham the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.

It is the present Palestine that is meant by the Land of Canaan. The Jews interpret the expression “thy seed” to mean the people who later came to be known as the Children of Israel.

Israel was the second son of Isaac; and Isaac was the second son of Abraham. Jews argue that they are the people to whom God or Jehovah gave Palestine as an everlasting possession, that is because they claim to be the Children of Abraham through Isaac.

But here they ignore Ishmael, the first son of Abraham, and his children. (The Arabs are the Children of Ishmael). They deny the right of Ishmael saying that he was the son of a slave woman Hajar, whereas Isaac was the son of a free woman, Sarah.

In fact, in the Torah itself it is clearly stated that the firstborn should get double portion of his father’s share, even when his mother has a lower status. Read the verse in the Book of Deuteronomy of the Old Testament of the Bible and the Torah:

“If a man has two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: but he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” (Deut. 21: 15 to 17)

You find here two rules:

  1. Of the wealth of the father, the eldest son should get double portion;
  2. If the eldest son happens to be the son of a hated woman (hated for some reason such as her lower status), his double share should not be refused to him, on that account.

This simple rule of the Torah is ignored by the Jews here, when they argue that Ishmael should not get his right.

What I mean here is that even if we appeal to the Torah, the Jewish religious book, the Jews have no exclusive right to the Land of Palestine. The fun of the matter is that the Christians of the world, with the exception of the Palestinian Christians, have accepted the claims of the Jews, even when their own Bible is against it.

And all the modern secular states of the so-called civilized world accept the claims made by Israel on the basis of a book at least 2,000 years old, in order to deny the birthright of a people who have no other land but Palestine.

We must also understand that the present day Israelis are mostly European Jews who have migrated to Palestine. They have settled there ousting the original people, massacring them, or making them refugees in their own land.

Now how did the present crisis originate?

You know that the Jews were a tribe of hunted people in the whole of the Christian world; because they were considered to be the murderers of Jesus. In all European cities, they were confined to the dirty areas in the suburbs, called the ghetto.

The Jews were treated like animals and they were not allowed any rights by the Christian countries. In fact the Jews were given the freedom to live as citizens only in the Arab Islamic world. It is here that you can see the most horrible instance of ingratitude, in the way the present day Jews reward the Muslims for the consideration they used to get.

The persecution of Jews in Christendom reached a terrible level during the Second World War in Germany. Hitler and his Nazi Party killed thousands of Jews in Concentration Camps.

This incident in the history of the world is usually called the Holocaust. (The Jews of today have made the Holocaust look far more terrible than it really was; just to get the sympathy of the world so that they will be excused for the Palestinian Holocaust. But there is nobody to call the plight of the Palestinians a Holocaust, even though the conditions are comparable).

At the end of the Second World War, Britain promised the Jews a state in Palestine, because they wanted to rid Europe of the curse of the Jews for one thing and they wanted to keep a promise they had given to the Jews while fighting the Nazis.

What is the right of Britain to offer such a gift? None whatever. They were promising a land where the Arabs, (who were also the children of Abraham) had been living for 2000 years. It is true that there were some Jews also in Palestine at that time. But it is noteworthy that these Jews did not want a Jewish state there at that time, by ousting the Arabs.

The whole project of Israel was the scheme of a group of (chiefly European) Jews called Zionists.

In the World War II, Germans were fighting against the Allies (i.e. Great Britain, the US, France, etc.). Since the Jews were the most persecuted people in Germany, they (i.e. the European Jews) helped the Allies in the war.

By this time Jews had started their Zionist movement. Zionists demanded a reward from the Allies for their role in the fight against Hitler; and the Allies offered the Arab land of Palestine to the Jews for their state. Towards the end of the WW II, Jews from Europe started coming openly and secretly to Palestine which was under the British rule.

Backed by both the United States and the Soviet Union, a plan was adopted as the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29, 1947 for the partition of Arab lands for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, without taking into consideration the rights of the people who were living there. The Arabs protested; but their protests fell on deaf ears.

In April 1948, the Palestinian Arab community panicked after a Jewish terrorist organization under Menachem Begin (who later became the Prime Minister of Israel and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978!) called “Irgun” killed 250 Arab civilians at the village of Deir Yasin near Jerusalem.

The news of Deir Yasin precipitated a flight of the Arab population from areas with large Jewish populations. It became convenient for Jews to bring more of the European Jews to settle in the land vacated by the fleeing Palestinian Arabs.

On May 14, 1948, the Zionist leaders proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. On the following day Britain relinquished a Mandate it was keeping in apparent support of the Arab cause; and the United States announced de facto recognition of Israel.

Soviet recognition was accorded on May 18. By April 1949, fifty-three nations, including Britain, had extended recognition. In May 1949, the UN General Assembly, on recommendation of the Security Council, admitted Israel to the UN.

In 1947, there were about 1.3 million Arabs in all of Palestine. By 1949, about 750,000 Palestinian Arabs were living in squalid refugee camps, set up virtually overnight in territories adjacent to Israel’s borders.

About 300,000 lived in the Gaza Strip… Another 450,000 became unwelcome residents of the West Bank of the Jordan. There were many Arabs living in Israel as citizens. But the new state was bent on facilitating the growth of the Jewish nation at the expense of Arab rights.

Thus, Arab land was confiscated to make a way for Jewish immigrants, the Hebrew language and Judaism predominated over Arabic and Islam. Foreign economic aid (mostly American) poured into the Jewish economy while Arab agriculture and business received only meager assistance. Meanwhile, Israelis severely restricted the Arabs’ freedom of movement.

After independence, the areas in which 90 percent of the Arabs lived were placed under military government.

In 1994, the Palestinian Authority was established under Yasser Arafat. Some areas were given as a result of negotiations. But the different groups in Palestine are fighting for the establishment of a state for the Palestinians.

Since the homes of the Palestinians are being demolished by the Israelis every day and in the same place houses for Jews are being constructed, the Palestinians continue their ineffectual struggle.

The Israelis have even nuclear weapons, not to speak of US F-16s, and tanks and all other modern weapons. The Palestinians pelt stones at the occupying army; and the stone-throwers get shot down.

Palestinians are called terrorists, while Israelis are said to defend their right to exist. Every other day the Israelis kill half a dozen Palestinians, demolish the same number of their houses, where they eventually construct houses for Israeli settlers.

The whole world knows that the Palestinians are refugees in their own lands as elsewhere. The “civilized world” looks the other way when Israel brutally shoots down Palestinian children. Israel gets the maximum amount of US aid and all kinds of weapons including fighter planes, tanks and God knows what else.

This has been going on for half a century. Even the land which was permitted by Israel to be under the Palestinian Authority is being gradually taken by the Israelis. UN have passed dozens of resolutions censuring Israel, which does not care two hoots for such resolutions. Any important decision against Israel in the UN is promptly vetoed by the US.

The above policies of Israel and the US make Arabs, as well as all free thinking persons really angry. The double dealing and hypocrisy in the “free world” is so evident, so brutal, that many great men have spoken against the injustice of the whole scenario.

In short, the problem of Palestine is basically a conflict between the Israelis (who occupy the land of the Arabs) and the original people of the land; actually the original people of the land are mostly Muslims, but there are Christians too. Really it is not a fight between Islam and Judaism. Yet, questions of religion come up from time to time.


I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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