Economist.com | Israelis and Palestinians: “The struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians has captured the world’s imagination like no other. It is not the death toll that sets it apart. Some 2,500 Palestinians and 900 Israelis have been killed during the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, that started in 2000. That is terrible, but not much by, say, Congolese standards. What distinguishes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the reality, grim though that is, but its symbolism. This is where the modern world’s fault-lines meet: divides between rich and poor, secular and religious, Islam and the West.
To many people in poor countries, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians means that the rich always abuse the poor. To many Muslims, it is proof that the West conspires to crush them. To many Jews, Israel is the last refuge for a persecuted people. To some fundamentalist Christians its existence is an essential precondition for the return of the Messiah. Some westerners applaud Israel as the Middle East’s sole democracy, a beleaguered ally in the struggle against Islamist terror. Others revile it as the new apartheid regime.
This last accusation is inexact. Unlike blacks under apartheid, Israel’s own Arabs enjoy full political rights. What is more, the Israeli-Palestinian struggle looks less tractable. The South Africans had plenty of land to share, and none of it was holy. White South Africans feared expropriation; Israelis fear extinction. And the Holy Land has no Mandela.”