Last week on October 7, 2023 militant Palestinians, led bay a group called Hamas (an Islamic Resistance military organization), fired rockets attacking the nation of Israel killing many Israeli citizens and soldiers.
After recently speaking with coworkers about the war earlier this week, I realized a lot of people are ignorant of how this war started. I feel most people don’t fully understand the historical context of the conflicts between Israelis (Jews) and Palestinians (Arabs, Muslims).
I will acknowledge that it’s hard for Americans (who often view things as black and white) to understand all the deep-rooted issues that involve faith, legitimate ownership of land, prophecy, and family ancestry. In this blog, I will provide my understanding of it all.
It’s safe to say the current Israel–Hamas war is impacting the whole world. Even my pastor, Dr. Conway Edwards was traveling on a Bible Tour through Greece and Israel at the time of the attack by Hamas militants. He was forced to cancel his travel arrangements in Israel due to the war. This is a serious situation. As of right now over 3000 people have been killed (including Americans, innocent civilians and children).
This war is soon becoming a humanitarian crisis. As both Israel and Hamas have targeted civilians and by targeting civilian infrastructure, they are breaching international humanitarian law.
As I see how my friends on social media are responding to this war, I realized I needed a deeper understanding. As I inherently know, there are two sides to every story. Nevertheless, everyone I know is supporting the Jewish community and condemning Hamas for attacking them.
The conflict between Jewish and Islamic groups (like Hamas) have existed for centuries; it is literally the longest running conflict in recorded history.
A Timeline of Historical Events
- Around 2000 B.C. – Abraham had two children by different women, which ultimately created different faiths, truths and communities. The Israelites (Judaism and Christianity) and Arabs (Muslim/Islam).
- Abraham married Sarah >> they had a son named Issac >> Issac had a son named Jacob (Jews and Christians believe God spoke to Jacob and changed his name to Israel) >> Jacob had 12 sons which eventually became the 12 tribes of Israel
- Abraham had a son with his wife’s maid Hagar >> their son was named Ishmael >> Ishmael is considered an Islamic prophet and forefather of Arabs, and is the ancestor of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (Muslims believe that the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, was revealed to Muhammad by God)
- Around 1500 B.C. – The descendants of Jacob (Israelites or Hebrews) were enslaved by Egyptians for around 400 years, and God uses the prophet Moses to lead them out of slavery and establish Israel as its own nation
- Moses is a prophet who wrote the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the foundation for the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths
- Around 1000 B.C. – After King Solomon died, the nation of Israel was divided into 2 kingdoms: Northern and Southern
- Northern kingdom (Israel) – 10 tribes of Israel, led by the tribe of Ephraim. Settled around Samaria. Was conquered by the Assyrians around 700 B.C.
- Southern kingdom (Judah) – 2 tribes of Israel, led by the tribe of Judah. Settled around Jerusalem. This kingdom is noted for remaining loyal to King David (which Biblically holds the lineage of Jesus Christ, as Jesus is called the Son of David). Was conquered by the Babylonians around 600 B.C.
- The term Jew or Jewish essentially means – “from the Kingdom of Judah”
- From 0 – 1500 A.D. – During the first century, most of the civilized world was under the Roman empire. After the Roman empire fell Jews migrated and established communities across the Mediterranean, North Africa, and southern Europe (Italy and Germany). The Islamic faith was created, and it spread mainly throughout North Africa and South and East Asia due to Arab military conquests and economic trading
- Jesus lived around 30 A.D. Although Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God, those of Jewish or Islamic faith do not believe that Jesus was a holy man, nor do they accept his teachings
- Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church was created during 0 – 500 A.D. The term catholic essentially means “universal”
- Muhammad lived around 600 A.D. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of the Islamic/Muslim faith
- From 1500 – 1940 A.D. – As the Middle Ages ended, and Early Modern Period began, Jews began fleeing Russia and Germany, many immigrating to Britain and America. However, Jewish leaders sought to develop their own nation and they migrated to Jerusalem and into Palestine
- Around 1900 A.D. modern antisemitism as we now know it came to existence. Russians, Germans, and Americans all persecuted, harassed, or denied civil rights to Jewish people living in their respective countries. A Jewish-German, Theodor Herzl, wrote a pamphlet called The Jewish State. He argued that the best way to avoid antisemitism in Europe was to create an independent Jewish state, and encouraged Jews to purchase land in Palestine
- Around 1922 A.D. Britain obtained rulership over Palestine. Britain attempted to create an agreement to establish Palestine as an Arab and Jewish nation
- From 1941 – 1945 A.D. – Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million European Jews across German-occupied Europe (the Holocaust) during World War II, around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population
- From 1948 A.D. – present day – The next day after Israel was established as a Jewish nation ending British rule over Palestine in 1948, tensions between Arabs and Jews increased drastically. The repercussions of the United Nations assisting Israel in establishing a Jewish nation is still felt today as Israelis and Palestinians engage in wars and conflicts
- Arabs in Palestine didn’t want to be under Israeli authority so they soon joined forces with armies from Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Yemen and fought the Israelis in the Arab-Israeli War. However, Israel’s alliance with the United Nations ultimately made them victorious over the Arabs
- Due to the complexities involving the relationship between Arabs and Jews, the United Nations soon established an organization to provide the military command structure to enable the peacekeepers to observe and maintain the ceasefire between Arabs and Israelis
- Between 1948 and 1958, the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million, as Jews fled Arab and Muslim countries, and Eastern Europe
I do not see how the Israelis and the Palestinians can ever reach a mutual agreement, as they both believe they own the same property. They have to fight in order to get what they feel is rightfully theirs.
Who am I to judge either side? Everyone knows the Palestinian government is corrupt and has ties with terrorist organizations. Plus, many Palestinian leaders still do not recognize Israel as a nation.
Presently, Israelis seek to expand their territory and settle in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, knowing that land is claimed by the State of Palestine as its sovereign territory. Nevertheless, Israelis see it as their rightful land. These clear lines of disagreement of ownership remain a critical issue in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
As a Christian African-American, I was born into a nation where I faced prejudice because of my ancestry. So, my perspective on all of this is layered. My faith causes me to be more compassionate towards the Israelis. However, I logically understand why the Palestinians feel victimized. Plus, I hate war. But, I respect people who fight for what they believe in.
What I feel people should take out of all of this is that… this war is deeper than you think, and no one is turning the other cheek.
It’s crazy to me that the majority of Americans still want African-Americans to forget slavery even happened, regardless of whether they say it or not. Yet, the same majority make sure the slavery of Hebrews in the Bible is taught in every church, and the Holocaust is taught in every public school history class.