Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Essay

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1. The terroism eras before and after 9/11 are quite different with respect to the role that the Israel/Palestine conflict plays. Since 9/11, the majority of terrorist incidents in the United States are committed by domestic, right-wing terrorists (Neiwert, et al, 2017), and the majority of "jihadist" terrorists are domestic, not imported, there remains a threat from the Middle East. Within the segment of homegrown jihadist-inspired terrorists, there were some 20 attacks carried out by about 178 people since September 11th (Jenkins, 2017). Among foreign-born terrorists who committed or plotted attacks in the US, the largest number were from Pakistan, at 20, and the remainder were from 39 other different countries, mostly Muslim-majority (Jenkins, 2017). A study of documented jihadist ideology, featuring jihadists from around the world, highlighted three common features: idealistic commitment to a righteous cause, individualism in interpreting religion, and a conviction that Muslims today are engaged in defensive warfare, or jihad al-daf (Lahoud, 2010).

Lahoud's (2010) study of jihadist ideology found that the most common arguments of jihadist are actually that the United States defends their own regimes – regimes that when they do not govern according to sharia are committing apostasy from Islam.

Prior to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the conflict in Palestine was one of the stated motivations for attacks, and certainly it was for al-Qaeda, as anti-Israel sentiment forms the basis of al-Qaeda's ideology. Bin Laden (2002) published his letter in which he detailed what drove him and al-Qaeda to the 9/11 attacks. While there are other areas, his primary statements are about the conflict in Palestine. His logic rests on the claim that the Jews did not historically live in Palestine, but rather "If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this."

Al-Qaeda was also responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. The group claimed responsibility and there was evidence of their guilt (Isikoff, 2010). Given that al-Qaeda ideology strongly references US involvement in Palestine and support for Israel, there is no reason to believe that the motivation for the group in this attack, against an American military target was motivated by anything else.

2. If anything in the complex, nuanced world of international relations can be oversimplified to "taking sides', then perhaps the US skews towards favoring Israel, but the US also lends a tremendous amount of support to many Arab nations as well. Just not the Arabs living in Palestine.
Some Americans favor Israel because they see the current conflict as relating to Crusade-style conflict over control of the Holy Land. Outside of those religious circles, other Americans simply favor a state that promotes democracy and equality over the abuses of Arab rule. Imagine a homosexual person supporting Palestine – where their very existence would subject them to the death penalty – over Israel. Israel's culture of democracy, education and openness is much more aligned with traditional American values than Arab culture.

Interesting that a "tilt" is pre-assumed. I assume this attempt to lead the students is not at all rooted in bias. But in all honesty, America's role in the Israel/Palestine conflict reflects its power in the region, not a desire or goal to be some magically neutral third party. There is no neutral negotiator in this conflict; all parties have agendas and they negotiate on the basis of their agendas and their relative power. Even assuming the US wants to be neutral, or should be, is quite odd.

3. A peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is in the interests of all parties. I do not, however, have any reason to believe that a lasting peace would reduce the terrorism against the United States. Lahoud's study of terrorist ideology highlights several key commonalities. The belief in a defensive struggle, jihad al-daf, is one of them. This defensive struggle is against many forces. In some cases, the jihad against other sects of Islam, but it is also against one's enemies and the allies of those enemies. So for example, Shiite Muslims are locked in a centuries-old conflict with Sunni, and the US has clearly staked itself against the main Shiite country, Iran, which is labeled a member of the Axis of Evil. Some, but not all Sunni, would consider that a reason to target the US. The US also props up the corrupt Gulf Arab regimes, and is engaged in extended conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US backs other conflicts in which Muslims suffer. In the end, it is that Muslim suffering that drives the desire to do harm to US citizens and interests. The Israel-Palestine conflict makes for great messaging in recruiting videos, and it definitely drove….....

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Bin Laden, O. (2002). Letter to America. The Guardian. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

Emerson, S. (2003) Third public hearing to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

Isikoff, M. (2010). US failure to retaliate for USS Cole attack then – and now. NBC News. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

Jenkins, B. (2017). The origins of America's jihadists. The Rand Corporation. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

Lahoud, N. (2010). The strengths and weaknesses of jihadist ideology. Combating Terrorism Center. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

Neiwert, D., Ankrom, D., Kaplan, E. & Pham, S. (2017) Homegrown terror. Retrieved January 24, 2018 from

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