The land that encompasses the distance from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River means many things to many people. This is the land of Israel and Palestine. This area, and Jerusalem in particular, is important to the three major monotheistic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even though these religious traditions trace their origins to this area many thousands of years ago, the current conflict taking place between Palestinians and Israelis today is neither ancient nor religious in origin.
This is the problem at the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; land. A small stretch of land that two peoples lay claim to currently. These two peoples have different stories and different trials, both of which deserve to be acknowledged and understood. Unfortunately, the story told about this conflict is more often than not very one sided. The battle currently being fought by the Palestinians is not only for their homeland, which their families had lived on for centuries, but also for the world to understand that they are a legitimate people who deserve to be heard.
The issues between Palestine and Israel have never been more pressing as they are today. According to the World Factbook, in July of 2014 1.89 million of Israel’s 7.82 million are Arab (“World Factbook: Israel.” Central Intelligence Agency). When those 1.89 million Arabs are added to the 2.73 million Arabs in the West Bank (“World Factbook:West Bank,” Central Intelligence Agency) and the 1.81 million Arabs of Gaza (World Factbook:Gaza,” Central Intelligence Agency) the Arab population of the region is 6.43 million to the Israeli population of 5.82 million people. This means that 6.43 million Palestinians are under the direct or defacto rule of Israel, the minority.
Of course, these numbers are hotly debated among those who wish to believe that Israel is not yet an apartheid regime. But even those who still believe that Israel holds the majority today acknowledge that Israel will lose it’s majority within this decade. I tend to believe the numbers provided by the CIA which, despite being hidden within multiple pages and split in ways that make the comparison hard, show that apartheid already exists in Israel. And that is not even taking into account the fact that the population growth rate for Palestinian Arabs is 1.99% in the West Bank and a whopping 2.91% in Gaza as opposed to a growth rate of 1.46 for Israelis. The numbers are hard to ignore.
It is clear that the time has come for Israel to decide the future of the Jewish state. The choices are equally clear: allow a Palestinian state with the pre-1967 boundaries to be formed and recognized with the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as outlined by the United Nations and proposed again by the Arab League in 2002 in return for Arab recognition and peace with Israel, continue as one state with a bi-national government where Arabs are free participants thereby costing Israel its Jewish identity, or continue as a Jewish state ruling over an Arab majority, creating an apartheid state.
**This post was adapted from the Introduction of my thesis: “THE FUTURE LEADERS: THE HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES THAT CREATED THE PALESTINIAN YOUTH EMPOWERMENT MOVEMENT”**