Making Sense of the Israel/Palestine Conflict


If you even casually browse the news, you can’t avoid the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But how many of us know what’s actually going on? We can’t provide all the answers in this brief primer, but here are some basics that can help get you up to speed. (And guess what—we have an in-depth feature coming soon.)

### 1. The Holy Land
The land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, often referred to as the “Holy Land,” is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity and is also sacred to Muslims. It is alternatively known as the “Land of Israel” and “Palestine.”

### 2. Zionism and Israel
Zionism is Jewish nationalism—the idea that the Jewish people should have a state of their own. It was born in 19th-century Europe, partly as a response to centuries of Jewish oppression.

### 3. Palestine and the Palestinians
Though never an independent country, Palestine is one of the historic names given to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinian nationalism is the movement to create a state in some or all of historic Palestine.

### 4. 1948
The birth of Israel in 1948, just three years after the horror of the Holocaust, was a great celebration for the Jewish people. But Palestinians call it their “Catastrophe” because 750,000 of their people lost their homes and were not allowed to return.

### 5. Occupation and Settlements
In a 1967 war, Israel took control of neighboring territories. Israeli military control of these areas is called the “occupation.” “Settlements” are Israeli-Jewish towns and cities built there.

### 6. Hamas
Hamas is a Palestinian political, religious and social movement much of the world classifies as a terrorist organization. It is responsible for suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israel, which they claim are a response to Israeli blockades, bombings and settlement expansion.

### 7. Two-State Solution
The two-state solution is a proposal to divide the Holy Land into two countries, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Most countries around the world—and the majority of Israelis and Palestinians—support this solution, but increasingly, many question if it is still possible.