The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A History in Maps

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A History in Maps

People at War

A recent post on this site featured the Washington Post’s Worldviews blog, and its “40 Maps that Explain the World.” Among these 40 maps are a handful that target the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The first is a simple Google Maps map that shows the range of a variety of the missiles in possession of Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamist militant group. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Hebron, three of the region’s largest cities with a combined population of nearly 1.5 million, are all within the range of the Fajr-5 missile–a scary prospect.

View GazaMissiles in a larger map

The next is a Washington Post map that details the different ethic groups of the Levant region (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Cyprus and parts of southern Turkey). The striking number of different groups, not to mention their varied religious affiliations and associated animosities makes it painfully clear why there is no easy path to peace in the middle east. Particularly, try zooming in on Israel and note the persistence of the Green Line as an ethnic divide. The orange speckles in the West Bank? Illegal Jewish settlements.

The Levant - Ethnic Composition

However, contrast this with a gene map of the ethnic origins of Jews and Palestinians, who are thought to have emerged from the same group of Levantine Jews thousands of years ago.

In fact it is interesting to observe that the various Levantine Arab groups are rather close to Syrian Jews when set next to the Iraqi and Iranian Jews, at least in total genome content.

Y-chromosome map of various populations

The ethnic Jews and Palestinians in this region have nearly the same Y-chromosomal genetic history. So, complexities of the conflict and densely layered maps aside, we get down to the real heart of the conflict: brothers fighting brothers in a world where blood is not stronger than water (or religion). No easy solutions, but through the dissemination of clear information and real data, perhaps we can at least raise awareness of what is really going on in living rooms around the world.

Have you seen other maps or visualizations that help to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Update (8/26/2013): For a fascinating and heartbreaking read on the challenges of doing humanitarian research in Palestine, please read Carina Kurban’s blog entry on her attempt to enter Israel–and subsequent deportation. Kurban, the 20-year-old daughter of Andrew and Gina Kurban who are organizing our project in the West Bank, was jailed, humiliated, and banned from the country for 10 years for reasons that were never explained to her. In addition to the mesmerizing and appalling story, her blog post also includes visualizations and infographics of the injustices faced by Palestinians on a daily basis. As an Arab in Israel: Reflections on Being Interrogated, Jailed, and Deported.