The region that we refer to as the Middle East has lately been marked with violence and terror. Many of the Arab nations in the region are fighting amongst each other. The Israeli-Palestinian question is one of the many conflicts that have risen out of this seemingly chaotic part of the world. As of recently, the violence has only been escalating more and more. With all of the bombings, attacks, violence and terror, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, has finally ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to take cities in the Occupied Territories. The West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights make up the Occupied Territories. These incursions by the IDF are in an attempt to stop the violence between the two people and are based on the basic idea of self-defense. They are not mean to strike fear into the Palestinians. Sharon simply wants to secure his people in Israel.
This is his motive for sending the IDF into the Occupied Territories, and he is, in a way, sending the message of his desire for peace out to the Arab nations and to the rest of the world.
Israel claims that the lands which they occupy are rightfully theirs, and have been since biblical times. According to Scripture, God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants, his descendants being the Jewish people. As a result of the large amounts of anti-Semitism, the Jewish people have had to relocate many times going as far back as the middle ages. One of the reasons for all of this anti-Semitism is that the Jewish culture does not blend well with those of other cultures or religions. Thus, there is no better place for the Jews to settle than Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish religion.
This idea or desire of a Jewish homeland is known as Zionism. During the 1800's and 1900's, Zionism became an important political movement. The Dreyfus Affair jumpstarted this political movement. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was an officer in the French Army, was accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. Although his innocence was proved, the fact that he was a Jew increased Anti-Semitism in France. An Austrian Journalist by the name of Theodore Herzl observed this trial. All of his studies and observations of the trial led him to believe that Jewish culture would never be able to harmonically blend with any non-Jewish societies.
Another instance of extreme hatred toward Jewish people was during the reign of Hitler and the Nazis. Anti-Semitism reached it's pinnacle throughout World War II during the 1930's and 1940's. According to Hitler, the Jews had none of the characteristics that defined the perfect race of which Hitler set out to create. Because of this, along with the raging anti-Semitism in the Europe, the Jews became a main target of Hitler's cruel and barbaric campaign. This is how the Holocaust began. Many Jews were sent to concentration camps and to death camps where they were tortured and killed. Millions of Jews died as a result of the Holocaust. Any that were spared from the concentration camps were forced to flee for their lives. The events of the Holocaust only support Herzl's theory that the Jewish culture would never be able to adapt in a way that would allow it to fit into other cultures. With evidence like this, Herzl found it obvious that the Jewish people needed a homeland.
At the time, the Jews had chosen to settle in the "Promised Land," which happened to be occupied by Arab-Palestinians. This land is, however, very important to the Palestinians and their religion. Because of this, they were not ready to forfeit these lands so easily. Nonetheless, the Jews were able to successfully take control of Israel. Ever since then, the Israelis have been forced to fight many wars, such as The Six-Day War, The Yom Kippur War, and the Suez Canal Crisis, against the Palestinians and many other Arab nations. In addition, Israel gained the "Occupied Territories" as a result of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The Palestinians began sort of a Jihad, or Holy War, in response to the taking of the occupied territories. On a further note, according to the Oslo Accords, Israel would allow the Palestinians to settle in the occupied territories as long as the Palestinians remained peaceful. It seems, however, that the Palestinians have not kept their part of the bargain. The Palestinians continue to terrorize the Israeli people on a regular basis.
Even though the Palestinians have been living in Palestine for long time before the Jews decided to move in, many other countries and organizations have supported Zionism at one point or another. The British made the Balfour Declaration, stating their support of a Jewish homeland. Soon following the Holocaust, many countries sympathized for the Jewish population and also vouched their support for a Jewish homeland. Even the UN decided that the Jewish people needed a homeland. In 1947, there were even plans to split Palestine in half, giving half to the Jews and half to the Palestinians. The Palestinians, however, did not accept the offer. When British rule of Palestine ended in 1948, the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel for themselves. This began the 1948 War in which Israel lost the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Then again in 1956, when Gamel Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, the Israelis attacked and took the Sinai Peninsula by force. As a result of UN intervention, the Sinai Peninsula was given back, however the Arab community was angered greatly. As a result of their anger, the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was formed. Since then, the PLO has orchestrated numerous terrorist activities that plague the Israeli people everyday.
Once again, in 1967 the Israelis became concerned with Egypt. They were afraid that Egypt was preparing an attack. However, the Israelis attacked Israel to ensure that nothing would happen. This conflict is what we know as the Six-Day War. During this time, the Israelis gained the remainder of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. This time around, Israel managed to hold on to the territories. In doing this, they sent a stern message to the rest of the Arab nations instructing them to think before acting hostilely towards Israel. Egypt and Syria retaliated in anger attempting to push the whole of the Israel into the Mediterranean Sea. With the much needed help of the United States, Israel was able to fend off the invaders. This is known as the Yom-Kippur War. Following this war, President Jimmy Carter arranged a meeting between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and The Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin in 1978. As a result, Egypt recognized Israel as a country and their right to exist, while Israel returned the part of the Sinai Peninsula that it had occupied since the Yom-Kippur War. Israel had now reached a peace agreement with one of the many Arab nations; however the majority of the Arab nations still despised Israel. Peaceful processes didn't seem to be positively effecting the strive for peace in the region.
Since then, the Palestinians are reluctant to cease the redundant acts of terror in violence in the area. The Israeli people are sick and tired of living in fear; they simply want the violence to come to an end. It seems to be doing just the opposite, however. Ariel Sharon positively believes in and affirms his actions and incursions with the IDF. His policy is tightly based on the basic right of any person or entity to defend themselves and the lives of others which they are entrusted with. It is the basic idea of self-defense. And in order to successfully defend against the Palestinian terrorists, Sharon must destroy the terrorist infrastructure. The few steps that Sharon has taken, are attempts to stop some of the violence or eliminate it altogether. Meanwhile other countries are taking no action in order to stop the violence. Some believe that Sharon's activities are not beneficial to the Israeli people. Sharon has realized that working for a cease-fire doesn't seem to be working, so he must protect the livelihood of his people in whatever way necessary as is his basic right as a person and as the leader of a nation.