HTS 2041: The Modern Middle East

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possible silver lining to the grim middle east

During class this week a majority of the discussion has been centered around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and what the average person on both sides faces on a daily basis. After reading the readings this week as well as watching the movie I was interested and decided to look more into what is going on. It is clear the Hamas is very much against the Israeli people and it would appear that they would like nothing more than to rid the state of the Israeli people. And on the other side the Israeli government in turn do not like the Hamas and demand that they would recognize the Israeli state. When looking at the news this is the main message that is told over and over again and you don’t see much more. To make things worse some of the prominent Palestinians in Israeli jails have been going on hunger strikes which has in turn caused the Palestinian people to participate in more demonstrations. I believe that although things are looking and have looked bleak for a good amount of time if you look hard enough there is silver lining to some of the current events that we have seen on the national news in the last couple of months.

It appears that through the brokering of Egypt these two sides that have hated each other for years appears to be participating in a series of negotiations with each other through a third party. It seems that in these quiet talks that have been taking place Israeli officers have been talking to Egyptian counter-parts while at the same time the Egyptians have been talking to the Hamas leaders. This is a good start and in a very clever way because it allows for each side to be heard by the other but to not make anything official and to just see what the other side is going to do. This is a very unusual way of discussing peace but maybe that is what is needed in this situation. These two sides have been fighting each other for so long that it might take an unconventional strategy in order to better the conflict that has been raging. While this is very far from being even a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel it does show that these two sides are trying and thus gives hope to people that have been living without hope of a change for a good amount of time

Another newer situation, which has developed recently, was that the Saudis reminded a diplomat that peace offer of King Abdullah was still on the table. The peace offer that is being referred here is also known as the Arab Peace Initiative, which was initially proposed in 2002 and would allow if completed the recognition of over 50 states of Israel. This peace initiative calls for the complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, as well as “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugees following UN resolution 194 which calls for the Palestinian people’s right to return to their homes or be compensated for what their home. This initiative has been brought up briefly since then every once in a while but each time is overshadowed by something else. However, as time has gone by more and more people have looked at this initiative and put more thought into it before outright rejected it. With both the Israeli government and that of Hamas very much divided on their opinion of the initiative. The latest news on this is that the US is thought to have added to this at least in some part to its Middle East policy. So while things are still looking bleak there at least are proposal for peace being created that can be lead to real peace with time and effort on all sides.

The most recent event that has happened, that should give a bit of hope to the beginning of an end to the conflict is Obama’s visit to Israel. In which one of his main messages was that the Israelis need to put themselves in the Palestinian’s shoes. That they need to realize that they are not the victims in this conflict and that their country has devastated the Palestinian agriculture since they have been there. This is a good thing because it goes to show that while the United States is still a firm ally of Israel, the United States also realizes that there needs to be lasting peace in this region. This will not happen overnight or anytime soon but hopefully with time and patience and more people getting involved that through working together there can be some sort of end to this conflict that is alright for all involved.




  1. marymsherman says:

    This is a good modern day summary of your opinion. I feel like in class we are talking a lot more about the Cold War era Israel-Palestine conflict that I get confused about what’s going on now. In regards to the Saudi Arab peace initiative, I am wondering how the splitting of Jerusalem would solve anything. It seems like Jerusalem is a non-negotiable area when it comes to ownership. I wonder if setting Jerusalem up as its own religious country, kind of like the Vatican, would be possible. Granted, the Vatican is united under one religion while Jerusalem is important to at least three, but maybe its something to consider.

  2. flambert3 says:

    I agree set up Jerusalem as a Vatican city and treat it as a multi religious church for all. Most of the worlds religion thinks that Jerusalem is sacred in some way. I would like to know more about the 2002 offer to establish multiple states and where these states would be. I think the only true peace would be to take the ownership out of Jerusalem

  3. kolson23 says:

    It is good to see other countries getting involved in peaceful relations from time to time. No military involvement, no serious initiatives, just good old fashioned conversation. Relations between two sides can get very tense in such a conflict and having another party involved in the discussion process can be beneficial. I also think the Jerusalem issue is interesting. I do not know how one would split it up without angering one group or another. .

  4. John Girata says:

    I think that Jerusalem can remain a part of Israel and the West Bank (if the West Bank were to be separated from Israel in a two-state solution). Unlike Berlin (which was separated during the Cold War), Jerusalem is on the border between Israel and the West Bank, so both sides would have land access to the city.

    I would have little hope for a theocratic “State of Jerusalem”. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre ( is a church in Jerusalem run by clerics from six Christian denominations. If Christians can barely agree on how to run a church, I can’t imagine how clerics from different religions could cooperate enough to run a country.

  5. jdowling6 says:

    It always boils down to Jerusalem.

  6. Yes, Jerusalem will indeed be a hard one when both sides claim it as their own. I’m glad to hear that there are peace talks happening, and although things won’t change over night, I bet the situation could not get any worse than it is now. Setting up Jerusalem similar to the Vatican is a very interesting thought.

  7. akranc3 says:

    It’s good to see that someone is taking the initiative to try to calm these folks down. Egypt acting as a middle man was a good thought, but it will likely bear no fruit because each side refuses to accept any terms set forth by the other. However, Egypt bringing these two to the table is a major accomplishment and a step in the right direction. Obama, on the other hand, while he does try to look for some sort of morality in the Israelis, will ultimately have no effect. Morality does not go far when atrocities are committed here and there.

  8. mjuren3 says:

    I think that mediation between the Israelis and Palestinians by another country, especially Egypt with its unique position of being a leading Arab state that has officially signed a peace treaty with Israel, is an excellent idea. That way the leaders of each people would be able to go into the negotiations with more of an open mind because they were talking to a mutual friend, instead of direct negotiations where both sides would be going in with an aggressive and very negative attitude from the beginning.

  9. kledbetter6 says:

    The Saudi Arabian treaty is an interesting potential solution that I hadn’t heard of. Thank you for sharing it. I have to wonder, though, what’s their angle? What does Saudi Arabia stand to gain from this treaty? Have they suggested this solution merely to achieve peace in this nearby area? Or is there something else? It’s rare that a country will get involved in such a precarious conflict unless they have some sort of stake in it.

  10. tnatoli3 says:

    Interesting to hear current news about the topic and I am glad the United States is trying to look at both sides in the debate. I think we have shown a lot of support to Israel which can make it feel like we are one-sided, so to hear we are not blindly supporting a cause is good.

  11. I just told my boyfriend that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is unsolvable, and I saw this blog post. Well, it is hard to say that this conflict can ever be solved even if they ARE really trying to negotiate. If two people have problems about different ideologies, they can debate, but peace can be easily made between them. However, I do not believe that two large populations of people can make peace between religions which are regarded to be more important than their lives. I do hope that they can negotiate without discussing religions, but for the sake of their citizens, and it may be the only solution for them to make peace in the Middle East.

  12. jkipp3 says:

    “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.” — George Washington, farewell address, 1796.

    This mode of thinking might be dated, but I think it’s worth thinking about…

  13. ojanus3 says:

    I think marysherman’s idea of Jerusalem becoming its own nation state much like Vatican CIty seems very plausible solution, and I wonder if this has been thought of before. I also think it is a good that you brought up Obama’s recognition of the issue happening in Palestine. Perhaps this will be a wakeup call for Israel.

  14. jbholleman says:

    Even if Jerusalem becomes it’s own nation state, there is still the problem of who would rule there? What would be the major religion of the city? The Vatican works well because it is a Catholic entity and are governed by those rules. Jerusalem still has the problem of both the Jews and Arabs claiming it as their holy city.

  15. I think the Arab Peace Initiative seems like a viable solution. I believe there also needs to be a mutual respect between the two countries. I’m not sure now what are the responses to terrorism in countries from their own citizens–i.e. Palestinian trying to launch an attack at Israel and vice versa– but unless there’s a concerted effort at a crackdown on terrorism from both sides then these two countries will never be able to trust each other. If another country is not securing its borders and punishing citizens that try to harm yours, then you have no choice but to act aggressively.

  16. nholdaway3 says:

    I don’t think it the splitting or joint owning Jerusalem will work. In both situations one side will feel slighted by the other and the attacks will continue. On top of their religious differences, both see the situation as them vs the world. This has lead to a no compromise mentality which keeps the tension high.

  17. Jeffrey Lester says:

    I’m glad we have started having these discussions in class. I never really knew too much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than it has been going on for a long time. It is good that they are making efforts at peace talks and it is also good that they both seem to realize that nothing will ever get accomplished if they just keep bickering at each other. Hopefully all the mediator states take their role seriously and make honest efforts to advance peace. It would be awful if the position were abused and the conflict expanded.

  18. ccostes says:

    While it is good to hear that there are groups working to find a resolution to this seemingly endless conflict I don’t think any real progress will be made until Israel is willing to make significant concessions to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, I can’t see any compelling reason for them to do that with the situation as it is. Israel essentially holds all the cards and can do as they please while the Palestinians are powerless. Hamas carries out rocket attacks on the Israeli people, but that only strengthens the image that the Israelis are the victims here, giving Israel more support in their actions. The rocket attacks certainly don’t do anything to hamper Israel’s military capability which is ultimately what matters in conflicts like this.

    With Israel having military superiority, massive financial backing from the US, and relatively quiet international support for the Palestinian cause there really isn’t any reason for the Israelis to back down from their demands. Until this changes I don’t see what could bring and end to this situation.

  19. shaimsn says:

    Peace is possible. It has been an option several times, and has been turned down repeatedly. We should talk about these several occasions in class.

    Shintan, you commented “I do not believe that two large populations of people can make peace between religions which are regarded to be more important than their lives”. I wanted to clarify that life is the most important thing in Judaism. It is above everything. Even above family (which is deeply important according to Judaism). So for Jews, Judaism as a religion is not more important than life. Moreover, it would be disrespectful to consider the religious traditions more important than life per se.

    Going back to the peace talk, it is possible. I’m sure that it’ll happen. I’m convinced that the majority of the population involved in the conflict desire it. We just need prudent leaders. Leaders who don’t look for power or money. Leaders who actually look for the prosperity of their people.

    This land was an empty desert 65 years ago. We all know how that land looks now. Which parts are developed and which parts aren’t. It is straightforward to see which leaders have looked for the prosperity of their people.

  20. mnicholas6 says:

    A previous comment about mediatior nations reminds me of serving as a peer mediator in elementary school. Are these conflicts similar to a fifth grader’s drama? How much do personalities change from age 10 to 50?

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