At our Sunday, December 16th meeting, political science PhD student Simon Pratt took us through a brief history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Here's Ian's brief summary from memory.
First, my apologies for any gaps or mistakes in the following notes. We have a video from the talk which will hopefully be available on our YouTube channel later this week.
Simon's presentation centred on the geo-political root causes for the ongoing conflict in the region, which stretch back about 130 years.
The land has traditionally been settled by both Jewish and Palestinian people, with growing numbers of Jewish labour farmers during the early part of the 20th century. As the Jewish community grew in numbers they also earned the support of the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
The Jewish community solidified its strength through their tight bonds and developed a strong intelligence and defensive force, which is mirrored in the modern IDF.
After the Second World War, Britain wanted to get out of its colonial roles and transferred authority over the region to the United Nations which attempted to settle the issue by carving up the region into Israeli and Palestinian states, with large swaths of desert going to Israel and the borders set to offer disincentives to both nations from attacking the others.
Israel's conflicts with Egypt led to strategic territorial expansion and slowly the Palestinian land became part of Israel.
A couple attempts at creating lasting peace were tried during the Clinton administration, each of which inevitably failed.
Simon ended by sketching a brief roadmap to peace (though admittedly not his own), involving concessions on both sides which would signal dedication to peace. He also attempted to dispel myths about the moral purity of either side in the conflict.
The discussion spanned the complexity of the issue, with some expressing frustration at the ability of a minority of religious fundamentalists on both sides effectively holding a veto over the entire region.
It's a complex issue, but one for which Simon argued Humanists should support a two-state solution.