The situation in Palestine and Israel is more complicated than most media will acknowledge. Despite the diverse variety of political attitudes on the ground in both Palestine and Israel, today and throughout the past century or so, there are a number of key issues which continue to guide and define the Palestinian struggle, despite changing historical and political circumstances for people both in Palestine and Israel as well as around the world. Many things have changed and will continue to change–what will not are the rights and grievances of those Palestinians who, in 1948, lost their homes to colonizers who later became Israeli citizens, as well as all those who suffer injustice after injustice to this day. They continue to seek redress for the wrongs that have continually been committed against them.

General Background Information

Palestine PendantUnderstanding the situation in Israel and Palestine today is impossible without knowing exactly what areas of land are in question as well as to what certain key terms refer. If you want to know where Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and 1948 Israel are, or who Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas, and Fatah are, read this article.

Refugees and the Right to Return

Palestinian Man Holding Key to Lost HomeWhen Zionist militia groups violently took over the land that became Israel in 1948, they committed mass atrocities that led to the expulsion of approximately 700,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homes. These people have never been allowed to return, and many continue to live difficult lives in refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East, as well as in temporary refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank. To learn more about this issue and its centrality to the Palestinian struggle, read on.

Occupation and its Realities: Restriction of Movement

Palestinian Child Waits Behind Occupation FenceMilitary occupation has come to define the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. The Israeli military has governed Palestinians’ lives arbitrarily through the use of checkpoints scattered within Palestinian lands, Jewish-only roads, land confiscations, home demolitions, arbitrary curfews, and illegal extra-judicial executions.

The Apartheid Wall

Palestinian Child Plays with Toy Car at Apartheid WallIn 2002, the Israeli government announced its plans to build what it termed a “security barrier” encapsulating the West Bank. While this wall ostensibly was built out of security concerns, it is not built along the “border” between the West Bank and Israel, but rather in large part on land within the West Bank. This land grab has had disastrous consequences, isolating towns and villages from other communities and separating farmers from their lands and livelihoods. To learn more about the apartheid wall as well as various forms of resistance that have formed as a response to it, browse this section.

Inequality in Israel

Bumper Sticker in Israel: No Arabs, No TerrorWhile most discussions about the Palestinians tend to focus on the peope living in Gaza and the West Bank, it is worth noting that Palestinians also account for 20% of the Israeli population by citizenship. While many of Israel’s crudest supporters tokenize them for their own political ends, the truth is that while these Palestinians have many of the benefits of Israeli citizenship–including the right to vote and participate in political institutions–they also face a number of institutional and social barriers that clearly demarcate them as second-class citizens who are unwanted by a state which excludes them from the national identity. To read more about their situation, browse this section.

Apartheid

Qalandia CheckpointThe parallel between contemporary Israel and apartheid South Africa is striking. From visible efforts to separate Palestinians from Israelis, as well as a humiliating, indifferent, and inhumane security state system, to strong similarities in the rhetorics used by Israel and apartheid South Africa, it is evident that the Israeli system of controlling the Palestinian people and maintaining Jewish control over the state apparatus matches many of apartheid South Africa’s goals of maintaining White control over the government as well as the indigenous African populations. The apartheid framework helps to make sense of many facts or realities which might seem confusing. To read more, browse this section.

(Courtesy of UC Berkley SJP)

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