Commenting the Middle East conflict

The Middle East conflict began with founding the Zionist Organisation in 1898 which aimed at establishing a homeland for Jews and the massive immigrations of Jews from all over the world with this intention to Palestine.

Well, it maybe began with Balfour's Declaration of 1917 where the British government committed  to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people".

No... the conflict began with UN Resolution 181 in 1947, when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a plan to establish two independent states, one Arab and the other Jewish.

Well, ACTUALLY, it began in the war that immediately followed and its results: an independent state, Israel, and many thousands of dislocated Palestinians, who settled in refugee camps and are longing for the right to return.

No... The conflict really began in 1967, when the Israeli army occupied more lands and the Palestine Liberation Organization became increasingly active in attacks against Israelis.

Is it rooted in religion and culture of the peoples involved?
Maybe it is all about a very practical and real inequality and injustice concerning the distribution of goods – from land, through water, to political and human rights? Perhaps it is a conflict which is fuelled not by the interests of Israel and Palestine, but by those of other countries, such as USA, Iran, and others – from the days of the cold war to the multi-polarized world which followed?

If the history of the conflict may be seen through many different prisms, its future is surely open to even more speculations.

The conflict in the Middle East has resulted in decades of violations of international law, alongside peace talks, international summits and UN resolutions. From a pessimistic point of view, the situation in the Middle East is ever deteriorating and may even be perceived by some as the embodiment of the “Clash of Civilisations”. Such a perspective is easy to adopt when considering the consistent failure of world leaders to mediate a resolution or better their management of the conflict. Nevertheless, history and experience with past conflicts around the world have taught us that only when one transcends the habit of looking back, and makes the difficult conscious decision to look forward, can such conflicts be settled.

The Middle East Simulation at the University of Konstanz is an opportunity to foster such a future-oriented point of view. It is the role of young people, directly and indirectly involved in the conflict, to compose and refine the necessary peace building strategies. 

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative will be the first resolution to be discussed in the simulation, and is merely the starting point from which we expect the participants to develop their own initiatives and make full use of the opportunity to promote a new approach to reshaping the political reality of the region.

Tal Harris, Coordinator MES 2009