Remembering Israel and Gaza: The Complexity of Selective Historical Memory

The war in Gaza is an incredibly complex and tangled historical event involving many relevant actors. It has potentially profound implications for the future relationships among all the parties involved, and for the world as a whole. Given the unimaginable suffering of all sides, it is too complex to fully comprehend in a blog post. However, one aspect of this complicated situation that is particularly disturbing involves the way Israeli conduct is judged by different standards than those applied to any other country in the world in similar circumstances. Additionally, the grievances of Israel’s enemies seem to be viewed more sympathetically than the grievances of any other group in the world. For example, people concerned with ending the violence and suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian territories should advocate for Hamas to surrender, sparing its people further misery. However, there is a lack of balance in the attention and outcry about the suffering of Palestinians compared to others who have experienced similar tragedies around the world. It is important to acknowledge the actual historical record and the role of the Arab states in contributing to the current situation. The narrative that Israel is responsible for the plight of Palestinians ignores important facts about the history of Palestine and the role of neighboring Arab states in shaping this conflict. For example, the 1947 UN Resolution created both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, but it was the neighboring Arab states that destroyed the Palestinian state shortly after its creation. Additionally, the neighboring Arab states controlled most of the land that was meant for the state of Palestine for almost two decades following the 1949 Armistice. The Arab states’ control of Palestinian lands was not given back to the Palestinians. Lastly, it was the Arab states’ attack on Israel in 1967 that ultimately led to Israel gaining control of Gaza and the West Bank. These facts are often overlooked in discussions of the conflict, and it is crucial to address how the actions of the Arab states have contributed to the suffering of the Palestinians.