Account for Arab animosity towards the state of Israel.
In this essay the reasons for the Arab’s animosity towards the state of Israel will be outlined. For this purpose a chronological strategy will be applied. We will begin with the very roots of the animosity beginning with the Prophet Muhammad and continue to the creation of the state of Israel. The events from 1948 until today do not claim to be complete. Instead excerpts of the so-called highlights of the conflict between the Arabs and Israel will be emphasised.
In addition to that it should also be noticed, that the discussion will be mainly limited on the quarrel between the already mentioned parties. The West will be just mentioned where it is necessary to make the context comprehensible. Finally some possible solutions to end the conflict will be sketched.
Usually the animosity of the Arab world towards the state of Israel is approached by beginning with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and proceeds to 1948 where the state of Israel was founded. Here another approach shall be made. Part of the hostility between Arabs and Israelis seems to be based on the religious issue of Islam versus Judaism. We will therefore start at the very beginning, when Islam was founded.
Muhammad ibn Abullah was born 570 CE and is regarded by the Muslims to be the last and final prophet. God’s revelation was first sent to the Jews and Christians but over time they interpreted it falsely, so that God sent down his revelation one more time through Muhammad. Muhammad spread Allah’s true word and could soon gather a community around him. He founded Islam. God’s words were written down in the Quran which is similar to what the Torah is for the Jews and the Bible for the Christians.
In the following centuries the Islamic religion spread all over the Middle East and became the major belief of its people. At the borders to other regions with another belief systems, especially at the border of what now are Turkey and Europe, discrepancies occurred after centuries of a peaceful coexistence. This led to “missionaries” like the invasion of parts of southern Europe by the Muslims. The counteractions of the Christians were the Crusades from the 11th till the 19th century; those were warlike pilgrimages for the liberation of Jerusalem (Esposito 1992: 25-42).
There had always been Jewish people in Palestine, the Holy Land of the Bible, but they were a small minority. This changed when their number increased through emigrating Jews who fled from the rising ethnic nationalism that began to spread throughout Europe in the last two decades of the 19th century. It was just a small number of Jews who came mainly from Russia and Poland to Palestine. The majority fled to Western Europe and the United States of America. Those who settled in Palestine did so to seek a better life (Andersen, et al. 1990: 80).
Under the McMahon-Husein agreement (14 July 1915 - 30 January 1916) it seemed like Palestine was to become an independent Arab state. However the following Syces-Picot Agreement (1915-1916), which allowed France to control the Levant coastal area and Syria and the British to control Iraq and Jordan, made Palestine to become an international zone. The famous Balfour Declaration that Lord Rothshild received on 2 November 1917 still did not clarify the fate of Palestine. It just recommended establishing a Jewish homeland for the Jews in Palestine (Andersen, et al. 1990: 79).
After World War I the control of the areas in the Middle East were changed to translate the Balfour Declaration in to action. This resulted in Palestine coming under British control.
By 1920 the issue was which group has the right to control the area, the Jews or the Muslims? After twenty years the British still did not have a solution. For the reason that the Arabs were afraid of becoming a minority in their own land, the British authority limited the immigration of Jews. By 1936 27% of Palestine’s population was Jewish and the number still rose due to Jewish immigrants fleeing form Nazi Germany and other parts of Europe. The Arabs could not suppress their bitterness over immigration, and in 1936 violence broke out between the two communities. Eventually it could be stopped by 20,000 British troops. Each group rejected several variants for partition proposals. When violence flamed up more frequently the British became frustrated with the issue of Palestine and handed this problem to the United Nation. (Andersen, et al. 1990: 94).