Home   »  Our Work  »  Challenging U.S. Policy  »  Archives  »  Understanding the Conflict: A ...  »  PART TWO: The Other Players

Why is the Israel-Palestine conflict so important on the global stage? Why does the rest of the world care, and get so involved, in this conflict in such a small place?

Global interest in Israel-Palestine reflects two different kinds of concerns: personal (including religious affiliation and national or ethnic bonds) and strategic (including military, diplomatic and other considerations). As the site of holy places of all three of the world's main monotheistic religions, it is perhaps inevitable that passions will run high.

Strategically, in its earliest days Palestine was a crossroads of trade between three continents. Since 1967 Israel played an important role as a Cold War ally and sometimes surrogate of the U.S. Today Israel stands as one of perhaps the two or three closest U.S. allies, and for most nations around the world, maintaining good relations with Washington requires at least amicable ties to Israel.

Palestine today stands at the symbolic center of Arab consciousness, giving it a regional and indeed international significance far beyond its size. Palestine is also, since the independence of East Timor, one of the last remnants of a once far more common phenomenon: what the UN used to call "non-self-governing territories". In other words, colonies occupied by another nation.