Standing in front of the Knesset, the Prime Minister-designate gives a stern welcome to his fellow legislators. “I do not stand here with the glee of victory, but with a sense of grave responsibility in testing times,” he says. What has brought Benjamin Netanyahu to the head of government in Israel is the need to bring peace, to bring about an end to violence, and to erase the misdeeds of the past and renew the spirit of cooperation and harmony in the Middle East. It is a task of mammoth proportions, rife with possibilities for failure, but one which is the responsibility of any government that is to be taken seriously by the international community to undertake. The peace that Israel seeks is often hampered by those who claim that the violence and unrest in the region is solely their fault. However, what people will not tell you is what blame the Arab nations hold for destroying any viability in the hope for peace.
While the history of the Jewish people in Palestine goes back to Biblical times, the current conflict there has an origin in tensions that began to brew during the late 19th century. Theodor Herzl, often considered the father of modern Zionism, published Der Judenstaat, or The Jewish State, in 1896. In his book, he called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, citing fears of hostility in the places where Jews were already living, such as Russia and France:
No one can deny the gravity of the Jews’ situation. Wherever they live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted. Their equality before the law, granted by statute, has become practically a dead letter. They are debarred from billing even moderately high positions, either in the army, or in a public or private capacity. And attempts are made to crowd them out of business also. (Herzl 1)
According to Benny Morris’ 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, Jews were subjected to pogroms (riots directed against them) in many parts of Europe such as Russia (4). There were over 200 pogroms in Russia in the four year period of 1881–1884 (Morris 4). These pogroms led to an ever increasing call for the Jews to find a place that they could be under their own sovereign rule, and many saw that place as Palestine (Morris 4). The beginnings of mass immigration to Palestine began when, according to Lesch and Tschirgi’s Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Herzl created the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1897. Among other things, the WZO helped immigrants to Palestine with purchasing land with the express intent of establishing a homeland there (Lesch and Tschirgi 5). With this immigration, Israel’s detractors have claimed that the Jews who did come to Palestine displaced those who were already there. According to Alan Dershowitz’s A Case for Israel, Professor Mohammad Abu Laila of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo has said that the Jews stole the land. M. Shahid Alam has said that the Zionists conceived their plan for a...