Student Question

How does the state of Israel come to express Jewish identity across the world, and what does this represent for Jewish people in the United States? How can the current conflict between Palestine and Israel be addressed in a political, rather than a religious, frame of reference?

Expert Answers

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The state of Israel represents Jewish identity across the world because it is the considered the Promised Land of the Jewish people, according to the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The creation of the nation of Israel is considered by many Jews to be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. This is especially important when one considers the hardship that the Jews underwent during the Holocaust and in the Soviet Union. Israel was to be a place where Jews could practice their religion and culture freely without persecution from other groups.

The current conflict between Israel and Palestine can be considered politically as well as religiously. The Western powers created Israel in 1948 out of land that belonged to other states for years. These other states did nothing wrong and did not feel as though they should have to give up sites that had cultural value to them, as well. Palestinians also resented Jews coming from all over the world; in many cases, the new immigrants demanded that their Muslim neighbors move elsewhere. Since its formation, Israel has also increased in size much to the consternation of Palestinians who wish to preserve their own culture in the region. It is difficult to separate the religious aspect from the political one in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; one can see that the expansionist policy of Israeli leaders has led to Palestinian unrest, as Palestinians feel as though they need their own state as well. This has led to many people all over the world to push for a two-state solution to the problem in which the Palestinians also have their own country with access to holy sites.

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