It is a period in time that the world is left to watch helplessly as certain nations are engaged in a titanic battle to hang on to the global reins of power. It is a classic battle that pits the powerhouses otherwise known as the super powers in a race to control the whole world. As such, wars are a common sighting. This acts to explain why all the news in media outlets is awash with war stories. The result has always sent the intended messages albeit in a treacherous manner; death of innocent citizens and the ripping of economies among other devastating outcomes. There is, however, one war that cannot go unnoticed despite the recent developments in the number of participants in the global wars; the Israeli-Palestinian war. This is a war that has managed to bring together various aspects in an intricate pattern. These aspects range from religious alignments to territorial rivalry as well as grievances of an economic and historical nature.
The result is a global impact on certain sectors of the economy and international relations among others. The Palestinians as well as the remaining Arab and Muslim populations are driven by anger of the humiliations suffered in the past such as the colonization by the westerners among other incidences such as the Holocaust. The Israelites and the global Jewish community on the other hand, have their fair share of qualms concerning the issue at hand. To them, the other factions of religion had for far too long sat on them as seen in the Holocaust and the pogroms against Jews in North Africa among others. This is a battle that has raged on for decades and is particularly interesting as the causative agents are yet to be fully determined. Considering the religious trend that this war has, in more than one occasion, assumed, it is only right for us to consider the possibility of it being a religious battle between the predominantly Muslim Pakistanis and the Jewish or rather Christian-oriented Israelis.
Of importance, is to particularly note the nuances of religious conflicts and their coexistence within certain contexts such as this one. The consequences borne out of religiously instigated wars could have far reaching and devastating effects as has been the case in the Israel-Palestine war. None of the nations have in the entire course of the war rested on its laurels considering the nature of the course of the war. This essay will take a deeper look into the role that religion has so far played in as far as the magnitude of the war is concerned. It is clearly evident that this war has taken a religious turn so that it is the Jewish population (the Israeli camp) and the Muslim community (Palestine) with few elements of other religious affiliations such as the Christians embroiled in a tussle to keep hold of certain geological areas; around the Gaza strip. The degeneration into a religious battle as opposed to a national tussle has only acted to fuel its intensity.
Origin of the Palestine-Israel conflict
The origin of this huge war that has transcended the limits of time can be traced back to the settlement period of the Jewish people in a piece of land that was predominantly occupied by the Palestine citizens. Theories that have been advanced so far in as far as the settlement patterns are concerned can be traced back to the biblical era wherein, the good book; the bible categorically states that the Israelites were a chosen nation with an already determined destiny. Such determination included the Promised Land among others that the Lord had promised to the chosen nation. Against this backdrop, it is clear that the Israelites are, from time immemorial, a religiously defined nation. The prospects of settling in the Promised Land among other formalities led the Israelite community to quickly make assumptions that the land (originally occupied by the Palestine individuals in part), was rightfully and lawfully theirs. This is a process that was made possible by the Zionist movement that was a creation of the Jewish intellectuals. It aimed at establishing a national homeland for Jews and the Israeli community as a whole around the holy city of Jerusalem that had been promised to them in the biblical era.
This situation was further worsened by the fact that the Israelites were a wholly Jewish nation and as such wanted to settle on that land in their great numbers and without any interferences from other religious factions. The major cause of the war was the resistance staged by the native Palestine population which felt like the Israelis were intruding into their territory. The position held by the Zionists was that they had come to reclaim their ancestral homeland that had been taken over by the Palestinians. When the Jews decided to construct a Jewish community, the Palestinian Arabs reacted by staging violent oppositions. The Zionists also responded by fighting back and the ramifications of that war is what is evident today as the war between Israel and the Palestinian groups. In as much as the war started as a geographical tussle, the religiously alignment that characterized it would do little to lessen the idea of it having been a religious fight.
Course of the Israeli-Palestine war
Even though the commencement of this big war dates back to timeframes running into centuries it is important that we concentrate more on the periods after 1967 and the developments that were witnessed thereafter. Since the rebellions in the 19th century, various wars between these two countries have been recorded most notably in 1948 when Israel became fully independent. So far the following wars are documented to have taken place between these two rivaling countries in a span of 40 or so years; The 1967 War (The Six-Day War). Here, Israel attacked Syria, Egypt and Jordan in border related incidences and the three countries responded with retaliatory attacks later on. It was viewed as an attack on the Arab world by Christians.
Clearly, the war had taken a twist for the worst. This is considering the aim was win territorial dominance and not a religious war. But the perceptions extrapolated especially by the Arab faithful were in deep contrast. Secondly there was the 1973-74 War (The Yom Kippur War). This is a war that was purely religiously instigated as it was conducted on a Jewish holy day. The Arab community chanced upon a holy day to attack the Jews who they knew only too well would be vulnerable to their attacks. The choice of a holy day represents just how much the war had degenerated into a religious fight. The group of attackers was drawn from pro-Arabian states (including countries that offered any form of support). Then there was the 1982 War. The Israeli attacks were aimed at Muslim strongholds in south Lebanon. This is clearly not a territorial war but a religious affair considering they later maintained a Lebanese-Christian-policed buffer zone in some areas. Other wars include the war of attrition (1967-70), 1978 South Lebanon conflict, the first Lebanon War (1982), the south Lebanon conflict (1982-00) , the first intifada (1987-93), the second intifada (2000-04), the second Lebanon War (2006) and lastly the Gaza War (2008-09). The latest war was the most highlighted of all as it came at a time when realignments were in tow.
Various religious groups that have influenced the course of the war
The question asks you to consider the role played by The religious traditions have, in a big way, played a big role in legitimizing and perpetuating conflict in Palestine/Israel when viewed from both the historical and contemporary aspects. The two warring nations are known to have major religions that shape up their religious aspects. It is a well known fact that the Israel nation is predominantly Jewish and practices Judaism extensively while the Palestine nation comprises majorly the Muslims. As such, these two nations have well defined religious outfits. However, the problem that exists is the fact that these two religious factions harbor different opinions in as far as certain issues are concerned. This has, therefore, placed them at crossroads on which one to adopt. This has subsequently led to religious wars. Apart from these two major religious factions, Christianity also exists especially in Israel.
Therefore, any religious based confrontation would pit three major religious wings as has been the case always in these two nations. The misunderstandings that have rocked the two religious camps found in these two states can be traced back to the biblical era and contexts. While the Quran documents that Muhammad is a disciple of the Almighty, the Bible portrays Jesus as the son of God through whom redemption is sought. The problem that arises is the fact that Muslims think their book is the truthful one and as such should be followed. The Christians on the other hand have varied reservations about the whole idea. This is actually the root cause of the problem. The differences may look small but the repercussions that have been borne out of it could be said to be great as has been witnessed in other religious wars in countries such as Sudan and Nigeria. Like the old adage says, what separates us only acts to bring us closer. The case is true in the context of religious wars. Despite the fact that religion could be taunted as the leading cause of the conflicts in the case of Israel and Palestine, it has also acted as a wakeup call for the respective religious leaders to try and find amicable solutions to the widespread problem of Muslim-Christian rivalry.
In a show of unity of purpose leaders from these two religious factions have met to try and harmonize certain aspects that could be responsible for the disagreements. As such, religion could be credited for fostering dialogue between various groups of people albeit against a backdrop of a fierce battle. The complexity of this matter is as difficult as it seems. The case of Palestine/Israeli war is not any different when it comes to complexity in the issues. The religious aspects of that war seem intricately woven into one piece of a puzzle that is very difficult to unravel.
The widespread nature of the war could be further traced to the strong relationships that exist between the various religions to the apparent states. This is to mean that each country is strongly attached to its religion to an extent that none is ready to understand the other. Each country is deeply engrossed in their religions and as such makes it difficult to strike compromises. The attachment to Judaism is so strong that the legislative channels of the Israeli government recognize it as the official religion despite the presence of other religions such as Christianity and bits of Muslim. The same scenario is applicable in Palestine. Apart from the major religious groups, it is also important to recognize the efforts of minor religious groups such as the Palestinian Christianity as well as external religious factors, such as the strong pro-Zionism of sections of Evangelical Protestantism. These religious outfits might not have had widespread effects but their contribution all the same is very important. The Palestinian Christianity group, for instance, is a group that acts as a buffer zone in the conflict. They are basically arbitrators whose job is to search for all-inclusive grounds that would benefit both factions. Their role can therefore not be overstated and at the same time underestimated. Another aspect that should be considered is the existence of political-cum-religious groups that fuel the violence. One such group is the Hamas group that traces its origins into the vast Muslim population found in Palestine. Such groups are always driven by ill-fated agenda that in most cases always result into war. As such, their contribution is such that they fuel the violence rather than ease it. There are also other Islamic groups that could be functioning in the same manner as the Hamas in the fight against this war.
Apart from the religious factors, there could be other factors influencing the outcome of this war in one way or another. These factors are numerous but their contribution could be lower as compared to the religious aspects. The first case could be economic factors. Israel is a more developed state as compared to Palestine and as such would want to exert its dominance over it. This way, a rebellion could be easily fostered as this would mean the Palestinians would be forced into the imperialistic ways that they are fighting so hard to eliminate in the face of increased insurgence of super powers. Secondly, it would be a case of secular nationalism. For far too long, nationalism in these two states has been viewed from the religious perspective considering religious monopolies exist.
However, the results of the religious wars have forced many individuals into finding separate ways to foster a sense of belonging and cultivate nationalism. By so doing, they have reverted from the conventional religious channels into more tribal outfits. The apparent insurgence of tribalism has also brought with it its fair share of problems in wars and misunderstandings between members of varied factions. Lastly, the war could have been fuelled by the external links of the major warring countries. By this I mean that, the intervention by some countries such as the US could act to increase the violence rather than contain it. The US has been viewed by many Arab nations as an enemy considering its stringent policies in as far as some matters is concerned. It has also been seen to secretly support the Israelis and as such its participation would only be a pointer to a fully blown war that could as well degenerate into a world war pitting the Arab nations on one side and the Christians on the other.
Effect of the war on the two countries
It is very logical that instances of war would generate specific outcomes that would be hard hitting on the participants and this war is not any different. Just like in any other war, deaths of innocent citizens from both divides have occurred leading to social and psychological problems especially among the affected families. These problems include trauma among other pain-related outcomes. Financially, the war has done the biggest damage. Projections made into the losses incurred reveal huge figures running into trillions of shillings. This is clearly a disadvantage to the economies that are involved. Socially, the war has definitely led to the displacement of large groups of people from various geographical areas. For instance, the regions bordering the hotly contested Gaza Strip as witnessed from the last confrontation are normally the worst hit.
The 2008-09 confrontations for the ownership of this geographical strip of land led to widespread bloodshed as well as massive displacement patterns. Displacement of persons only acts to worsen the existing economical patterns of the affected country. Apart from the displacement, other social consequences that have so far been witnessed include increased insecurity levels and poor living conditions. Individuals forced out of their homes as a result of the war are forced to live in fear of any attacks as well as dwell in poor living conditions that are occasioned by their life in camps or other safe places. This war has also accentuated the ill-relationship between the Arab (Muslim community) and the Christian factions as such would easily be referred to as a civil war. The more the gaps and differences between these two groups of persons are enlarged, the more the intensity of the war is observed and this paints the efforts of international peace keepers in a bad way. It helps to accelerate the levels of hate among the Arab community and the Christians in the global front.
Potential future contribution of religion to either conflict or co-existence
Religion is a multi-faceted tool in as far as conflict and peace are concerned. Depending on what side one looks at it from, it is important that we analyze the contexts within which this is possible. It is a general knowledge that religion is often associated with the good side of occurrences and as such would be expected to be a medium through which peace would be achieved. However, the contemporary world has increasingly witnessed religious alignments that have only generated more antagonism in the name of religious affiliations. The differences in the Muslims and Christians present a classic example as to how inculcations into religious beliefs would be dangerous. The religious topic has become such a huge talking point to an extent that individuals of different religious affiliations seem to be embroiled in a religious rivalry whereby each religion tries to outpace the other by shunning practices carried out by their rival religious groups.
Certain individuals have also been deeply engrossed in the religious debate to an extent that they do not respect or in the slightest of ways accept any religious practices that counter or do not align to those that they are used to. This lack of understanding has been credited to be the major cause of religiously instigated wars. This is coming off at a time when the aspect of religion is being considered in almost all the nations so that laws are even formulated to make it easier for the religions to coexist. It is important that we recognize the importance of religion in as far as conflict resolution is concerned. Every individual should have a free mind in matters to do with religion as this will help individuals drawn from various religious backgrounds to be open minded about religion. This consequently helps to foster unity and understanding between various individuals hence achievement of peace and stability.
We must also consider the potential threats that lie in trying to use religion as a tool for fostering peace. It means that religion could also be a perpetrator of violence. Let us take the classic example of the Muslim community that has been constantly painted as a terrorist-laden community. This means that the religious status of the Muslims has been used to portray otherwise malignant propositions that only act to fuel violence. This is considering members of other religions would always associate Muslims to terrorism even in situations that are uncalled for. As such, the Muslim community would try to fight back in a bid to restore their image and this would lead to war. It therefore, means that the future portends mixed reactions especially in as far as the contribution of religion to the global peace is concerned.
In light of the discussions projected herein, it is correct to say that religion has been a major cause of rift between the two Middle East countries; Israel and Palestine. Developments witnessed in the course of the war since 1967 have acted to clearly point out the effect of religion. Taking into account that the two or three religious factions at war in these two states are nemesis, we can almost tell for sure how bad the war can be. Information sourced so far from the developments of this war also tend to support this proposition; that religion is a key factor to the prevalence of the war. However, it is also important to take note of power play and dominance as some of the other reasons as to why the war is far from over. The input of developed nations such as the US and the UK among other global power houses seems to advance this theory of power balance in a perfect way. Social degradations on the part of the Muslim community (Arab world) could also count in a big way. The fact that it is them who are being associated with indecent acts such as terrorisms would only act to scale the heat levels in as far as the war is concerned. The period between 1967 and today may seem only years away but the effect of this war cannot be measured well. At this rate, the future looks bleak especially in as far as efforts to foster peace are concerned.