Cultural Barriers by Alexa Fox

Imagine for a second not having a place to call home. For the Jewish community in Israel, the need for a state to call their own has been an on-going struggle for centuries. Jews have been persecuted for centuries and still continue to fight for their rights, even if there is a democratic Jewish state that is set up for those of the Jewish descent to come and prosper in this place they call the Holy Land. However, this land is not only Holy for Jews, but for other religions as well. Christians, and Muslims find this land Holy according to what is found within the Bible, or the Qur’an. The question is, how do three different religions learn to share the same place that they call Holy? But an even bigger question that lays at stake is how do two different ethnic groups living within the Holy Land claim what is rightfully their “land”?

Many stories within the Bible, as well as the Qur’an contain evidence as to where the Holy Land is supposed to be. So far on this trip, I have understood that Jews, as well as Christians, believe that Israel was a God-given land that was set up for the Jews. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Jews have been coming in big waves throughout time back to the place that they believe, according to the Bible, was given to them. However, even though Israel was a state that was created for a Jewish democracy, another group of people have been here before the creation of the state itself. Palestinians have resided within Israel for many years, but the British Mandate of Palestine had been around prior to World War I, and continued into World War II. During World War II, the big event that changed the course of history would forever be the Holocaust. The Holocaust is arguably the number one cause of the Jewish state of Israel; a place for Jews to be secure and safe. Once Israel was declared a state in 1948, the mandate for Palestine ended. This left Israel in turmoil since day one. Palestinians, and Israelis were to somehow figure out how to live in peace within the borders of this new state. As time persisted on, so did the struggle in overcoming new challenges such as cultural clashes.

Even with the backing of the United States since 1948, Israel has fought nail and tooth with neighboring Arab countries, as well as its Arab neighbors within. Palestinians and Israelis have been fighting since the creation of the state. The land-grab continues to this day as both sides cannot come to an agreement as to who deserves what in this land they both find Holy, as well as their place to call home. After the Holocaust, another event that changed the course of history for Israelis is a war known as the ’67 War, or the Six-Day War. Since day one in 1948, Israel has struggled to keep a hold of territories known as the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and of course, the West Bank. Appeasement plans had failed in the past, and the only thing that could keep Israel from losing land was war. The Israelis invaded Egypt on June 5, 1967,  and attacked the Egyptian air defense, known as the first day of the Six-Day War. By day three, Israel had finally taken back control of the Jerusalem, as the Israelis walked once again next to the Wailing Wall that they found sacred to their culture, as well as their religion. By the sixth day, Israel had finally gained back the territory that they had lost. For the Palestinians, there was no choice but to comply.

UN Resolution 242 was supposed to help guide the road to peace between the Arabs and the Israelis, but did not end up being the solution. Ever since the end of the war, both sides have been struggling back and forth to find peace within the small borders that make up the state of Israel. The timeline since the war included events such Camp David Accords set up by Jimmy Carter in the late seventies to the first and second intifada. Both sides in this conflict have failed repeatedly overtime to hear one another out and give each other a chance to explain themselves. Until differences can be put aside, the continued struggle to find a solution between both sides will persist. Our small group from FPU continues to push themselves to challenge the question as to how there can be peace between two groups of people who both believe they have an equal right to live within distinct areas of this small nation.