Palestinian-Israeli conflict

A contest in word and deed

Authored by: Donna Robinson Divine

The Routledge Handbook of Muslim–Jewish Relations

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415645164
eBook ISBN: 9781315675787
Adobe ISBN: 9781317383215


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The Arab-Israeli conflict is a subject more thoroughly discussed than understood. Consider the many names of the dispute that have gained popular currency and note the implications for its scope, its combatants, and even its aims. The Middle East as modifier suggests the conflict is primarily regional, telling us little about its global dimensions. To call it an Arab-Israeli confrontation implies a dynamic arising from antagonistic self-interested territorially bounded states rather than from the contested claims of two people fighting over the same land as a means of securing their national identities. However, the notion of the conflict as primarily a Palestinian-Israeli rivalry for the same land may lend geography more of a coherence than is warranted when regional and global factors that have frequently turned ominous threats into armed clashes are brought into the accounting. Most recently and with seemingly increasing assent, the conflict has become wrapped around religious principles ostensibly providing fertile ground for a zealotry that translates all notions of compromise into violations of sacred commandments. The varying terms that have entered the lexicon to describe the conflict are not simply indicators of disagreement about what to do to resolve the long-standing dispute but rather indicators of profound discord about what is actually at stake.

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