The most recent escalation of conflict in Israel and Gaza show that the current situation is untenable. This paper examines the history of the creation of the state of Israel and the aftermath of the Balfour Declaration and its subsequent United Nations resolutions in 1947. After providing background information on the situation in Israel, the author will examine the security risks that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have taken to achieve their respective goals.
It is hypothesized that the policies of the Israeli government have allowed Israel to cement itself literally and figuratively onto Palestinian land. The Israeli approach toward national security has had tremendous economic, social, and political impact on Palestine as well as Israel. As Yiftachel (1999) points out, the situation can be described as an "ethnocracy," as Israel has systematically imeded the organic evolution of Palestinian citizenship in the state of Israel. Although Israel does not wholly fit the ethnocratic model due to the inherent ethnic heterogeneity of the Jewish state, the ethnocratic concept reveals the way key democratic tenets such as equal citizenship for Palestinians, territorial continuity of political community, universal suffrage, and "protection against the tyranny of the majority" have manifested in the Palestinian conflict (Yiftachel, 1999, p. 1).
The ethnocracy model has succeeded in breaking the will of the Palestinians and attempting to force a wedge between them and said land by various means. As a result, Palestinians have repeatedly supported the organization of Hamas, which has a strong and overt militant and terrorist methodology. Therefore, Israel's segmentation of its geopolitical boundaries has led to its own security problems. Israel's ethnocratic model of governance needs to be called into question at this vital and sensitive historical moment. In particular, the Palestinian issue is vital to the security of the State of Israel becaue they have countless financial, economic, and political interests and stakeholders scattered all over the globe. In other words, how Israel acts has a strong bearing on the global balance of political and economic power.
The Palestinians who have become nationalized Israelis pose a genuine security threat to Israel, primarily because Palestinian citizens can gain access to internal state secrets malicious outsiders might abuse. This reality has led to a paranoid public policy in which citizenship rights are restricted for Palestinians. Palestinians are prohibited from engaging in dialogue in the Israeli public sphere; barred from genuine social and political participation in a society that claims to be a model for democratic rights and freedoms in the Middle East. The result is a paradoxical scenario, in which the security of both Israel and Palestine is threatened.
This threat creates such notions and manifest realities of segregated roads, schools, and the lack of voting and employment privileges in the name of national security with a shrinking platform for Palestinian citizenship. If Israel were to occupy Gaza and control all Palestinian lands via brute force, the result would be essentially an apartheid-style system of governance.
Explanation of the Issue: Background of the Security Issues
The birth of the state of Israel emerged in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which was itself a culmination of centuries of persecution and anti-Semitism throughout Europe and indeed the rest of the diaspora. Zionism emerged as a reaction to anti-Semitism, providing a collective cultural dream to which Jews in the diaspora could cling and for which they could strive. The British strongholds in the Middle East in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars gave Zionism a foothold, from which to become a manifest destiny for the Jewish people. While there were thousands of Jewish people living in Palestine at the time of the Balfour Declaration, they were in the minority amid a diverse group of Muslim, Christian, and Bedoin Arabs. The presumption of peace was never made in the Balfour Declaration, which was itself an expression of European hegemony in the region. Thus, when the Declaration was issued, resentment was the logical reaction among the indigenous Arabs. Resentment blossomed not just in response to the influx of Jewish refugees to their spiritual homeland, but also to the overt Western European hegemony the Balfour Declaration represented. Having recently divested themselves of the Ottoman colonial occupation that lasted for centuries, Arabs were not happy about being subjugated to yet another -- and this time Christian -- political overlord. When the state of Israel was created, anti-colonial sentiment and resentment was targeted at the Jews instead. The Jewish people in Israel became the scapegoat for Arab frustration, which continues to emerge in the 21st century.
As Finkelstein points out, Israel from the outset had two options for creating the state. One model was based on apartheid right away: enabling the influx of Jews from around the world to integrate with Arabs but rule over them from an Israeli hegemonic perspective. Another model was based on "the way of transfer," which was to essentially displace Palestinian residents, moving them to zones were they could self-govern and leave the Israeli Jews presumably in peace in exchange for national sovereignty. "With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability of forced transfer -- or its morality," (Finkelstein, 2003, p. viii).
Yet there were few other options on the table. Palestinians, fearing for the annihilation of their own state, were in a subjugated position due to the authority of the United Nations. The result was the beginning of what Yiftachel (1999; 2006) calls ethnocracy.
Ethnocracy as a Security Issue
According to Yiftachel (1999), an ethnocratic regime is "neither authorirarian nor democratic," (p. 1). Instead, they are "states which maintain a relatively open government, yet facilitate a non-democratic seizure of the country and polity by one ethnic group," (p. 1). The problem with Yiftachel's (1999) analysis is that the ethnic composition of Jewish Israel is far too diverse to accuse it of being a true ethnocracy. With Jews from Ethiopia, Morocco, Argentina, France, and Russia living together, is cannot be possible for Israel to fit an ethnocratic model. Complicating matters is the diverse social landscape of contemporary Israel. As Yiftachel (1999) puts it, there are "three major Israeli societal cleavages: Arab-Jewish, Aschkenazi-Mizrahi, and secular-orthodox," (p. 1). Still, the analysis offers a sensible starting point from where to launch a serious discussion about the current security issues plaguing Israel, and to offer possible solutions that can create a peaceful future.
Critical Examination of Security Policies
The challenge is clear: given the current situation, how are the Israelis and Palestinians to coexist peacefully? From a security standpoint, this question is difficult to answer, which is why it has yet to be answered with adequate policies for domestic and international relations. In a 2011 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, it was determined that there are deep flaws embedded in the Israeli foreign policy decisions to exclude Palestinians systematically from the discourse related to their own position or existence. "The notion that delivering security would ultimately yield a Palestinian State actually excluded Palestinians from the political process," (United Nations General Assembly, 2011). Systematic exclusion of Palestinians from the political process involves techniques such as the taking and keeping of political prisoners, and the construction of actual walls dividing key parts of the country to prevent the mobility of people, goods, and services. This has impacted the development of the Palestinian economy, cutting off its people from access to social, cultural, and financial capital. The result of political oppression has been the creation and widespread support of terrorism as a surrogate national army and surrogate national defense of Palestinian political objectives. In lieu of an internationally-recognized government, the Palestinians have resorted to techniques and political philosophies that are endangering both themselves and Israel. "The negative image of Israel as occupier/apartheid state has been used as a means for creating policy by both the PLO and fedayeen groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These groups have legitimised their existence with the Israeli threat to Palestinian identity," (Coskun, 2007, p. 2).
Israeli security is therefore at extreme risk, causing the Israeli government to support a variety of hard-lined, albeit sophisticated, measures to maintain is tenuous position. Yet the Palestinian approach to political integrity is also harming the Palestinian's core goals too. One of the ways Israel has dealt with its own security problems is to solicit and secure support from powerful allies such as the United States. With American support, Israel has not only a friend in time of need but also a means by which to legitimize the Israeli position vis-a-vis the Palestinian one. "Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and many other militant groups take their places in Western governments' lists of foreign terrorist organisations, in spite of their claims to be national Palestinian movements centered on mobilising a community to resist occupation," (Coskun, 2007, p. 3). By labeling Palestinian organizations as "terrorist," the Israelis have achieved a powerful propaganda tactic that ensures their continued support from the United States. In many ways, the Palestinians have done precisely the…