Arab-Israeli conflict

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They [Americans] have allowed unremitting violence between Israel and the Palestinians with hardly an effort to stop that through U.S. leadership. And now, it’s almost too late. ~ Wesley Clark

These quotations relate to the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Organized alphabetically by author.

  • We are not asking for the moon.
    • Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader, as quoted in the Observer (London, 7 February 1982).
  • Whoever thinks of stopping the uprising before it achieves its goals, I will give him ten bullets in the chest.
    • Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader, as quoted in the Daily Telegraph (London, 19 January 1989), on the Intifada.
  • My generation, dear Ron, swore on the Altar of God that whoever proclaims the intent of destroying the Jewish state or the Jewish people, or both, seals his fate.
  • It is … undeniable that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged by the hazards and strategy of the armed conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The majority of these refugees have come from territory which … was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion. It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.
  • We came to a region that was inhabited by Arabs, and we set up a Jewish state. In many places, we purchased the land from Arabs and set up Jewish villages where there had once been Arab villages. You don't even know the names [of the previous Arab villages] and I don't blame you, because those geography books aren't around anymore. Not only the books, the villages aren't around...
    • Moshe Dayan Address at Technion University (19 March 1969) A transcription of the speech appeared in Ha'aretz (4 April 1969).
  • We, the people of Palestine, stand before you in the fullness of our pain, our pride, and our anticipation for we long harbored a yearning for peace and a dream of justice and freedom. For too long, the Palestinian people have gone unheeded, silenced and denied, our identity negated by political expedience, our right for struggle against injustice maligned, and our present existence subsumed by the past tragedy of another people
    • Haidar Abd El-Shafi, head of the Palestinian Delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference, Opening Remarks (Madrid, 30 October 1991) [2]
  • The most important departure from determinism during the Cold War had to do, obviously, with hot wars. Prior to 1945, great powers fought great wars so frequently that they seemed to be permanent features of the international landscape: Lenin even relied on them to provide the mechanism by which capitalism would self-destruct. After 1945, however, wars were limited to those between superpowers and smaller powers, as in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, or to wars among smaller powers like the four Israel and its Arab neighbors fought between 1948 and 1973, or the three India-Pakistan wars of 1947-48, 1965, and 1971, or the long, bloody, and indecisive struggle that consumed Iran and Iraq throughout the 1980s.
  • Palestinians and Israelis were connected by a fatalistic dialectic towards an apocalyptic conclusion. One might argue this dialectic enveloped a land, mythical and actual, spiritual yet earth-bound, ancient yet very much poised towards unfolding actualities. This land conjures images of return and redemptive possibilities. Palestine and Israel are two strands intertwined in our collective imagination. They are linguistically exclusive and yet reference a singular place.
    • [R.F. Georgy] quoted from Absolution: A Palestinian Israeli Love Story. May 26, 2014
  • Peace is not a discrete event; rather it is a renewable proposition, filled with affirmations designed to mitigate against the collective distrust of two people who knew little beyond hatred, suspicion, blame and counter blame, intellectual gamesmanship, fear, paranoia, historical necessity, retribution, and a host of other deeply engrained emotional projections that are constantly lurking beneath the surface.
    • [R.F. Georgy] quoted from Absolution: A Palestinian Israeli Love Story. May 26, 2014.
  • We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative.
A man lives in an upper floor of a house that catches fire. In desperation the man jumps out of the window and lands on a passer-by down below, who is grievously injured and becomes an invalid. Between the two, there erupts a deadly conflict. Who is right?
~ Isaac Deutscher
  • Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.
    • Golda Meir, Statement to the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. in 1957, as quoted in A Land of Our Own : An Oral Autobiography (1973) edited by Marie Syrkin, p. 242
  • The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.
    • Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister. Speech at the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) at the end of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. (August 14 2006). [3]
  • [When asked about Peace negotiations] I'll be honest with you. A) This is just really hard. Even for a guy like George Mitchell, who helped bring about the peace in Northern Ireland. This is as intractable a problem as you get. B) Both sides — the Israelis and the Palestinians — have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation. And I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that. From [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas' perspective, he's got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process. And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures. And so what we're going to have to do — I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high. Moving forward, though, we are going to continue to work with both parties to recognize what I think is ultimately their deep-seated interest in a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty and can start focusing on developing their economy and improving the lives of their children and grandchildren.
  • Whatever the outcome, the Arabs will stick to their offer of equal citizenship for Jews in Arab Palestine and let them be as Jewish as they like. In areas where they predominate they will have complete autonomy.
    • Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Palestine Post, 21 May 1948, p. 3.
  • We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes; we who have attended their funerals and cannot look in the eyes of their parents; we who have come from a land where parents bury their children; we who have fought against you, the Palestinians-we say to you today, in a loud and a clear voice: enough of blood and tears. Enough.
  • Not only [are] our states . . . making peace with each other,. . . you and I, your Majesty, are making peace here, our own peace, the peace of soldiers and the peace of friends.
    • Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Prime Minister. The New York Times, (July 27 1994), after signing a peace declaration with Jordan's King Hussein.
  • We cannot here analyze the entire contradictory and tragic history of the events of the last twenty years, in the course of which the Arabs and Israel, along with historically justified actions, carried out reprehensible deeds, often brought about by the actions of external forces. Thus, in 1948, Israel waged a defensive war. But in 1956, the actions of Israel appeared reprehensible. The preventive six-day war in the face of threats of destruction by merciless, numerically vastly superior forces of the Arab coalition could have been justifiable. But the cruelty to refugees and prisoners of war and the striving to settle territorial questions by military means must be condemned.
  • Should there be maniacs who raise the idea, they will encounter an iron fist which will leave no trace of such attempts.
    • Yitzhak Shamir, Israeli politician, prime minister, as quoted in the The Times (London, 11 August 1988), on advocates of Palestinian self-government.
  • It’s true that this conflict is not special in how bad the violations are. What is special is how much the liberal west actively supports [Israel].
  • It was a psychological turning point in the history of the Middle East. The speed and decisiveness of the Israeli victory in the Six Day War humiliated many Muslims who had believed until then that God favored their cause. They had lost not only their armies and their territories but also faith in their leaders, in their countries, and in themselves. The profound appeal of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt and elsewhere was born in the shocking debacle. A newly strident voice was heard in the mosques; the voice said that they had been defeated by a force far larger than the tiny country of Israel. God had turned against the Muslims. The only way back to Him was to return to the pure religion The voice answered despair with a simple formulation: Islam is the solution.
    • Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (2006), p 45
  • A man lives in an upper floor of a house that catches fire. In desperation the man jumps out of the window and lands on a passer-by down below, who is grievously injured and becomes an invalid. Between the two, there erupts a deadly conflict. Who is right?

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:
  1. A Confession. Gush Shalom (9 September 2017).