Jerusalem ‘Terrorist’ Attack, Killing Four, Shines Light On The Misunderstanding Of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict [Opinion]

A “terrorist” attack took place in Jerusalem killing four Israeli soldiers. A truck plowed into a group of soldiers on a popular meeting area, which also injured 15 others. Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to label this as a terrorist attack even though an investigation is ongoing.

There are many elements at play in regards to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is a confusing dispute which has been poorly represented by media, leading to a misunderstanding by the general population.

As the U.N. was looking for a new location for the millions of displaced Jews to thrive as a community, their eyes turned towards Palestine. A United Nations resolution was passed in 1947 to split the land of Palestine between the current inhabitants and the Jewish community. This obviously created immediate conflict as Palestinian Arabs refused to acknowledge the resolution, only exacerbated by Israel claiming their independence a year later.

Intermittent fighting has taken place since the inception of the resolution. Israel has been better funded by western backing and they have been gradually decreasing the land in which the Palestinians possess. Through settlement programs, Israeli territory became a vast minority to an overwhelming majority.

The historical significance of this region, as confusing as it may be, lends itself to understanding the actions of the many ethnic groups surrounding the area. Hamas and Hezbollah were countermeasures to the ever increasing Israeli presence. Terrorist attacks became common after their creation, subsequently provoking military responses.

Terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are clearly not the answer to institutional encroachment on sovereign land; however, the tragedies against the Jewish population during the Second World War should be a reminder of how hard it is on an oppressed people. Israel has dealt with resistance from multiple governments in the region, creating a situation in which all parties involved have been socially constructed to become overly militant.

The supposed Jerusalem terrorist attack can best be placed in the ongoing conflict of the region. Although the history of the Middle East is much deeper than what has been laid out, this simplification lends one to ask if this is a terrorist attack or if it is simply a response to their own people’s atrocities. The definition of a terrorist is someone who uses violence for political aims. It is irresponsible to label the atrocity in Jerusalem as a terrorist attack until it is determined through investigation.

The other side of this debacle is the western media labeling Arabs and those of Islamic faith as terrorists while failing to brand those of other faiths and ethnicities involved in violence all the same. Excessive and inappropriate force has been carried out by both the Israelis and the Arabs; however, Israel is backed by western money which has us generally looking at their cruelty in a softer light than those who do not abide by our values and influence.

This conflict is not necessarily about religious structure either, but institutional structure and global forces. Militant groups like Hamas, although created during the expansion of Israel, have stated their intention of wiping out the Jewish state and creating a full Palestinian state. These groups create a problematic religious wrinkle in the institutional power struggle of the region. Otherwise, we have seen a power struggle between states that just so happen to have certain religious affiliations.

Terrorist attacks have become a common theme in the Middle East and beyond. An attack on other’s ideological way of thinking that is divergent from western culture has been the major culprit. Allowing our Islamic counterparts the same apprehension in regards to being labeled a terrorist would seem sensible. The global influence of western money and power will most likely not shift anytime soon. Until that day, it’ll be confusing if these types of events are terrorist attacks or simply reactions to the abuses of their own people because the general population most likely won’t get a transparent story. This is not to downplay the attack in Jerusalem, but to shine light on the nuanced and complicated structure of the region and how we are quick to label things that just may not be.

[Featured Image by Olivier Fitoussi/AP Images]