According to the Jews, Allah gave them Israel through Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) Alaihi Salam. They left it for Egypt due to years of famine and were taken as slaves by the Egyptian Pharaohs. Later Prophet Musa (Alaihi Salam) rescued them and led them back to the “promised land” which is present day Israel. This is why Jews consider Prophet Musa (Alaihi Salam) as their “Savior”.
For the Arabs there is a very different narrative. Allah gave the land to Prophet Ishmael (Alaihi Salam), the first son of Prophet Abraham (Alaihi Salam) for him to care for it, live in it and support all Arabs in the region.
Moving forward to World War 1, the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) lost the war to the British and French Armies. This created disruptions in the region leading to the then Sharif (Ruler) of Mecca to take control of the state of Palestine (there was no Israel then!), Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
A meeting after the war between Hussein, then Sharif of Mecca, and the Allies namely the British and French came up with an agreement that resulted to the founding of a Jewish state west of Damascus-capital of present day Syria.
Furthermore, Sir Arthur Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary in the UK made a declaration in 1917 that all Jews residing in the Kingdom to return to the newly proclaimed “Jewish” state. This prompted Jews around the world to return to their so-called “ancestral” homeland.
Thereafter, Jewish settlements started on Arab lands in what was then the state of Palestine. Arabs were not happy about the intrusions on their land as a result of an agreement reached by some Europeans. It was this Arab anger that resulted in the formation of groups such as the “Black Hand” in the 1930’s with the singular objective of driving the Jewish settlers out of Palestinian soil.
As a result of the disputed “Holocaust”- the so-called genocide of more than 6 million Jews and the displacement of about 5 million Jews in the hands of Hitler, further calls were made for the creation of a distinct Jewish state. This resulted in a UN resolution dividing Palestine (present-day Israel) into the State of Palestine and the State of Israel (with Jerusalem as its capital) in 1947. This led to the resettlement of a further 5 million Jews in the newly created Israel.
However, this heightened the conflict between the Arab owners of the land and the Jews in the newly established Israeli settlements. In a bitter rage to drive the Jewish settlers away, a group of Arab countries namely Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt orchestrated a war against the “Israeli state” in 1948.
The war ended with Israel as the victor over the United Arab Front of five nations albeit with great military assistance from France and England. Israel occupied a further 70% of Palestine after that war-leaving 70,000 Palestinians stranded as refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon. Jerusalem was split into two, east and west respectively.
There have been further happenings since then leading to the present day debacle between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinian owners of the territory.
Follow us on “Root of the Matter-Understanding the Israeli-Palestine Conflict” Part 2 for a deeper understanding of this conflict that has occupied centre stage in the global discourse in the last 100 years.