LANSING, Mich, (WLNS) – Understanding the historical underpinnings of the conflict in Israel starts with understanding the convergence of three of the world’s main religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
As European antisemitism increased in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people of the Jewish faith fled pogroms in Europe to the ancestral lands in the Middle East that would become known as modern-day Israel. The immigration increased in the wake of the Nazi holocaust. After the conflict in the region, the United Nations granted chartered land in the country Palestine, then predominately Muslim.
“People came after World War II – even before World War II – to escape pogroms against Jews in Europe,” says David Weiner, a member of Kehillat Israel, a synagogue in Lansing.
Weiner says the land was granted to the Jewish immigrants in part because the region was part of the cultural and ancestral lands of Jews. But Christians and Muslims also claim the region with significant religious sites in modern-day Israel.
“The place of worship does not belong to Palestine. It belongs to Muslims as a whole from a religious standpoint being a place of worship and shrine,” says Thasin Sardar, a board member of the Islamic Center of East Lansing.
But as the Jewish state became more fixed, conflict arose as the community worked to establish and rebuild holy Jewish sites in Jerusalem. The city is home to holy sites for both Christians and Muslims – including one of the most important Mosques in the Islamic world.
“This has alienated and offended Muslims who have one of their holiest sites – the Al-Aqsa Mosque – at the same place,” says Wiener.
The tensions have reached open conflict between Israel and Muslims over the decades. Since 2008, the religious tensions have boiled over into four notable conflicts.
Despite the conflicts, people believe peace can be achieved in the region.
“We all need to share this common space of worship and make sure that each of us can fulfill our religious obligations, peacefully,” says Sardar.
“We have to work at it,” he says. “We have to have hope that we can get there.”