Debaters might find the topic for the Spring 2018 NHSDLC season difficult. However, debaters do not need to know detailed information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to succeed at tournaments. The debate topic is mostly about whether China should play the role of broker in the conflict.
If debaters understand the following 500 words about Israel and Palestine, debaters will have enough background information to debate successfully at this season’s NHSDLC tournaments.
First, it is important to understand basic information about Israel and Palestine. Debaters should know that Israel is a Jewish country in the Middle East. Israel was founded to be a country for Jews, and most of Israel’s 9 million people are Jewish. Israel has a very close relationship with the United States, and has the most powerful military in the Middle East. Other countries in the Middle East have bad relations with Israel.
On the other side of the conflict, the Palestinian people are an Arabic-speaking, Muslim national group. Palestine is not an independent country. Most Palestinians live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories that are controlled by Israel. There is a desire among the Palestinian people to have their own country. The Palestinians have a very close relationship with the other countries in the Middle East, in part due to shared religion, language, and culture.
The source of the conflict is that for over 100 years, both Israelis and Palestinians have claimed the same land to be their national territory. This has caused decades of war and violence.
An Israel-Palestinian peace deal would settle the dispute over the territory. In international relations, a third country often helps two conflicting countries negotiate a peace agreement. This third country is called a broker. The brokering country is usually a powerful, respected country that both sides view as unbiased. Israel and Palestine are very hostile towards each other, so they need a respected third country to help them negotiate an agreement. The United States has brokered past attempts to reach a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, but has failed in these attempts.
Debaters at NHSDLC tournaments might ask themselves: Why has a deal not been achieved in the past? There are several complicated issues that separate the two sides. The main issue is Israel’s security. Israel is concerned that if Palestine becomes an independent country, with a military and strong economy, Palestine will threaten Israel. Because of this fear, Israel occupies the Palestinian territories to prevent Palestine from being independent.
Another issue is Jerusalem, a city that contains many important religious sites that are important to both sides. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem to be their capital. In December 2017, Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, which angered Palestinians and caused violent protests.
Israeli citizens have also moved into the Palestinian territories to establish settlements. Settlements are fully developed towns, protected by Israel’s army. There are approximately 500,000 Israeli citizens living in settlements inside Palestinian territory. Settlements are a challenge because Israelis are living on land that the Palestinians believe should belong to them.
It is important for debaters to keep in mind that both sides of the conflict have legitimate views. The issue of the debate is not which side is right, but if China should become involved in the conflict. Large countries can grow their international influence and reputation by helping smaller countries end conflicts. Sometimes, small regional conflicts also threaten the economic and security interests of large countries. Does a deeper involvement in one of the most visible conflicts in the Middle East improve China’s reputation as a global superpower? Does being a broker promote China’s interests in the Middle East - or does it put those interests at risk? Can China be an effective broker?
These are the questions that the Pro side and the Con side will need to answer in the Spring 2018 NHSDLC season.