Palestine and Israel: The Endless War  

  Palestine and Israel: The Endless War  

By Yousra Jouglaf

Conflict between Palestine and Israel has prolonged for many decades now, seemingly escalating with each passing day.[1] Members of differing parties are polarized by the issues they deem most pertinent to the ongoing conflict: from human rights violations by the Israeli government to declarations against Hamas as a terrorist organization, there is endless debate about which side is in the right.[2] And while the conflict appears to be between only these two countries, the issue itself has expanded beyond their borders, affecting many nearby regions and countries.[3]

Different factors have played into the escalating conflict between the two nations; beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the origins of the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration into Palestine in 1948. This began the initial dissolution of the Palestinian administration and hold over Gaza as conflict escalated post-WWII when Jewish descendants who had been displaced by the Holocaust sought to establish sovereignty in a new homeland.[4] Despite being able to choose anywhere in the world to settle, Jewish citizens felt a connection to the land of their self-claimed birthright, choosing to settle in the then recognized nation-state of Palestine and eventually beginning the process of displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes.[5] A Zionist movement had begun to take place, led by its father Theodor Herzl, and many Jewish citizens responded positively to the movement “in response to a rise in anti-Semitism across Europe.” [6] Despite providing a home to settle within for their displaced Jewish neighbors, Palestinians quickly began to become relocated by the new Jewish settlements, and petitioned Ottoman rulers to regulate the numbers of Jewish immigrants settling into their lands. The increase in settlements created a genuine concern that the Arab culture and religion of Islam would dissolve under the new Jewish influence, effectively dissolving the “Arab territorial unity of the Middle East” as well.[7]

The violence of the conflict has only grown with the cultural and religious differences each country is rich in, finding further conflict in key issues such as water rights, land rights, control of the shared holy land of Jerusalem, and their defined and constantly re-defined borders.[8] These issues have expanded into global complications, extending from human rights claims by Palestine against the Israeli government, to security issues each country shares against one another.[9] In 1997, both nations engaged in the Middle-East Peace Process in hopes of finding a resolution to the conflict that plagues their countries, and adopted the first of the Oslo Accords.[10] This led to the creation of Palestine from “the Israeli lands of Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza,” hoping to reduce the tensions they share.[11] However, this formal recognition of Palestine’s ownership of Gaza has led to escalating conflict, as Israel moved to explicitly declare its nuclear capabilities after its loss of the land.[12] Israel has further moved to illustrate its hegemonic prowess in other ways, and has often falsely depicted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “conflict between two equal sides with irreconcilable claims to one piece of land.”[13] Moreover, Israel has often disregarded international law and has continued its occupation through military-like rule, often denying Palestinian citizens basic democratic rights within civil, economic, and political forums.[14] In fact, Israel’s adoption of a liberal democracy has been rather ironic, as “[M]ajority rule in a plural society results in majority hegemony and minority suppression rather than democracy . . . .” proving their democracy is no democracy at all.[15]

Multiple groups have spoken out in protest against the unfair, military-like regime that Israel has imposed upon Palestinian citizens, often citing the up rise in violence as a direct response by agitated Palestinian citizens against the oppressive Israeli Defense Forces that are afflicting damage on their homes and families. While Israel holds a strong alliance with the United States (an alliance further strengthened under the new Trump administration), Palestine holds no such alliance. With Trump’s leadership, Israeli Defense Forces have benefitted from additional funds and aid from American taxpayer’s money, and have intensified their settler takeover efforts within Palestinian lands, an act that has the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia issuing reports determining that the Israeli occupation has become nothing short of “the crime of apartheid.”[16] Hamas, an infamous vigilante group led by frustrated Palestinian nationals, has attempted to navigate the difficult relationship it carries with Israel by embarking on a new reconciliation process, only to meet rejection by Israeli government officials.[17] Since then, Israel has continued to occupy East Jerusalem, and has obtained official international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital, an act that effectively circumvents the rule of law when it comes to politics on the international stage by formally pronouncing that Israel is its own nation-state, while denying Palestine the same courtesy.[18] While this act may not seem perilous in the status quo, its future implications could mean an endless war between Palestine and Israel as they continue to fight to find a two-state solution that could work.

Currently, Israel has imposed several decade-long restrictions and taken punitive measures against Palestinian citizens that have many officials calling against Israel for the humanitarian crisis it has inflicted on destitute Palestinians.[19] From cutting off electricity to bombing hospitals and schools, Gaza has now been rendered “unlivable” by the United Nations. Further, Israel has been denounced by multiple human rights campaigns as its forces continue to cut off basic human necessities to Palestinian citizens and repeatedly use unethical live ammunition against citizens approaching the Gaza border.[20] Palestinian citizens are subject to collective punishment efforts by Israeli Defense Forces and consistent, oppressive searches and segregation within their own villages.[21] In fact, Israel’s human rights violations can be succinctly divided into five categories: “[U]nlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements. . . .”[22] The aforementioned unlawful killings included the killing of over 2,000 innocent Palestinian civilians; often, these deaths are attributable to the excessive force that Israeli Defense Forces use against Palestinian demonstrators along the West Bank border.[23] Despite the outcry for a cease-fire and for an official two-state solution, Israeli government officials (formally led by infamous right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) have chosen to deny the call for a more humanitarian and peaceful approach to the regional conflict.[24] When it becomes evident to human rights organizations, the UN, and several national leaders that Israeli officials are refusing to comply with the outcry for peace, the most imminent question to ask oneself is: what must be done next? And in an ironic twist, one wonders: truly just how dissimilar is the nationalist movement of Zionism in Palestine in comparison to the anti-Semitic sentiments displayed by Nazis in the 1940s?

The answers to these questions does not come easily; surely, whichever response prompts even the slightest deviation of Israel’s power will result in either direct refusal by its officials, or a potential increase in its hegemonic powers to defy the suggested course of action. Empirically, there has yet to be a recommended two-state solution that would be accepted by both sides. Each side is hesitant to lose the battle for the land it holds dear to its heart; however, at this point, it is evident that both sides have lost the war.


[1] Zack Beauchamp, Everything you need to know about Israel-Palestine, VOX (May 14, 2018, 10:20 AM),

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Evan Goldsmith, Comment, Could Commercial Arbitration Help Settle a Historic Conflict between the Israelites and Palestinians, 6 Y.B. On Arb. & Mediation 404, 404-416 (2014) (discussing solutions to Palestine-Israel conflict).

[5] Id.


[7] Id.

[8] Naomi Chazan, Oslo, Then and Now, 23 Palestine-Isr. J. Pol. Econ. & Culture 8, 1-6 (2018)

[9] Id.


[11] Evan Goldsmith, Comment, Could Commercial Arbitration Help Settle a Historic Conflict between the Israelites and Palestinians, 6 Y.B. On Arb. & Mediation 405, 404-416 (2014) (discussing rise in conflict between Palestine and Israel).

[12] Id.

[13] What is the Struggle between Israel and the Palestinians About?, JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE (last visited Oct. 10, 2018),

[14] Id.

[15] Roger I. Zakheim, Comment, Israel in the Human Rights Era: Finding a Moral Justification for the Jewish State, 36 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 1005, 1005-1012 (2004)

[16] Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2017/2018 (2018), 

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Human Rights Watch: Israel: 50 Years of Occupation Abuses (2017),

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2017/2018 (2018),

Dual Nationality Poses Double the Problems for Iranian-Americans

In December 2015, Congress passed a new Visa Waiver Program, which included substantial restrictions for travel between the U.S. and Iran for Iranian-Americans who have dual nationality.[1] Under the previous Visa Waiver Program, individuals from certain countries were able to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa in advance. Those countries reciprocated this policy, thereby allowing Americans the ability to travel to those countries sans visa.

Under the new program, if an individual is considered a ‘national’ of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria, or has travelled to any of those countries in the past five years, the individual must now obtain a visa prior to their travels. This poses considerable problems because the new law does not specify how the U.S. will define dual nationality. For example, an Iranian who was born in Germany may be denied entry to the U.S. based on where their parent was born. This person may not have ever even travelled to Iran, but they are now potentially barred from the visa-free travel that similar non-Iranian individuals are entitled to.

Jamal Abdi, the Executive Director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), argued that the legislation is inherently discriminatory, punishing individuals “solely based on their nationality or ethnic origin.”

HR 158 was initially intended to provide enhanced security measures by restricting travels of suspected terrorists in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings. The rhetoric that followed the mass shooting was aimed at instilling fear in order to promote the idea that tighter restrictions need to be implemented to protect Americans from future tragedies. It is important to note, the individuals responsible for the San Bernardino shootings, suspected members of ISIS, did not hold dual citizenship; they were citizens of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Neither of those countries is effected by the new visa waiver program. Trita Parsi of NIAC rightly points out, “if the intent truly is to protect America from ISIS and not target Iran and the nuclear deal, then why is Iran included but travel to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is not?”

The practical effect of the legislation punishes individuals who travel legitimately; artists, journalists, academics, teachers, and businesspersons. It certainly won’t stop terrorists from travelling through illegitimate means across Europe, so is it really a form of protection or a legal form of punishment?


Atusa Mozaffari is a 3L and a Student Work Editor of the Journal of Law and International Affairs at the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law.

Citations to articles & documents are included in the aforementioned underlined hyperlinks.

[1] Dual nationality is not the same as dual citizenship. In Iran, an individual who was born in Iran, who then moved to America and gained citizenship there, is only recognized as an Iranian citizen. As such, they are required to have an Iranian passport, as opposed to a visa, and are subject to the laws of Iran as any other natural born citizen. This extends to the children of Iranian-Americans born in the US, as well as to non-Iranian married spouses.


Displaced and Misplaced: Growing Humanitarian Need for Syrian Refugees

While the hot topic involving Syrian refugees has seemed to fall out of the latest news cycle, it hasn’t changed the rising numbers of refugees knocking on Jordan’s door. The number of refugees at the border is estimated to be about 20,000 with an estimate of 4,000 more arriving in the remote desert area every month. Jordan’s hesitation stems from the fact that many refugees have fled from areas controlled by the Islamic State group and therefore need to go through strict vetting. Pressure has been felt by Jordan from international aid organizations to hurry the process along and to transport the refugees to the UN run Azraq refugee camp which could accommodate thousands of the refugees. Currently, Jordan is only allowing several dozen refugees to enter each day leaving many Syrians stuck along the Syrian-Jordanian border.

The refugee agency chief in Jordan, Andrew Harper, has stated that he is working with Jordan to provide the necessities to those refugees stuck in the desert and is working with local officials to find a way to speed up the vetting process. The agency is also preparing itself for the predicted increase of 5,000 refugees every month at the border.

U.N. agencies are trying to get pledges from countries for Syria’s humanitarian needs. The U.N. agencies are looking for $7.73 billion for Syria’s needs this year. Malala Yousafzai will be attending a conference in London looking to commit $1.4 billion this year in order to get access to education for refugee children. This conference, “Supporting Syria and the Region” aims to raise funds for the humanitarian crisis in Syria. It is estimated that about 700,000 Syrian children living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries are out of school and out of reach of educational resources. At this conference, Malala will appear with Muzoon Almellehan, the only young Syrian refugee to address world leaders at the event.

There is an estimated number of 13.5 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance, 4.6 million are refugees, 6.6 million are displaced within Syria and half are children. Since the Syrian civil war began 320,000 people have been killed (12,000 children), and 1.5 million have been wounded or permanently disabled. Health care, education systems and the economy have collapsed. And worst of all, children have suffered the loss of loved ones, have witnessed violence, and have been recruited to serve as child soldiers. There is a lot of talk on raising funds for humanitarian needs for Syrian refugees. According to the World Vision, the greatest needs are:

  • The basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, health assistance, shelter, and household/hygiene items
  • Reliable supply of clean water, and sanitation facilities
  • Safe environment for children to play and go to school
  • Employment options for adults
  • Winter essentials: warm clothing, shoes, bedding, heaters, and heating fuel

Overall, as can be seen in various articles concerning this issue that the Syrian civil war has caused calamity. It has bred more violence, collapsed infrastructures, displacement and caused the most vulnerable class of persons- children- to experience loss and violence, and to be recruited as child soldiers. It is clear that a resolution is needed, but for now international organizations, various countries and people like Malala Yousafzai are advocating for those without a voice.


Ginny Nunez is a 3L and a Senior Editor for the Journal of Law and International Affairs at the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law.

Citations to articles & documents are included in the aforementioned underlined hyperlinks.

Number of Syrian Refugees on Jordan Border Reaches 20,000, ABC News, The Associated Press, Jordan Amman, Jan. 31, 2016 (

Malala Seeks to Raise $1.4 Billion to Educate Syrian Refugees, Business Insider, Estelle Shirbon, Jan. 31, 2016 (

What You Need to Know: Crisis in Syria, Refugees, and the Impact on Children, World Vision, World Vision Staff, Jan 27, 2016 (