ITHACA, N.Y.(WENY)-- Around 100 people attended a protest on May 16th on the Ithaca Commons to show opposition to the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli Government. 

There is not much that is new about this conflict, as it has been going on for over 70 years; what is new is the number of protests and attention this issue has received within the United States.

Malak Abuhashim, a Cornell student who is Palestinian but grew up in Cleveland Ohio said she started spreading the word about the oppression of her people at a very young age after she noticed that Americans had little interest in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. 

“I switched to the public schools and I was like wait, people here do not know about Palestine,” said Abuhashim. “ I was in second grade and I was going around in my little class being like hey guys, support Palestine and it just shows I have always had to speak out about the oppression my people face at such a young age.” 

Abuhashim’s family originated from Yibna Palestine and fled during the 1940s because of the conflict. 

“ Our family lived there for generations, we had houses there, farms and everything and we was forced to flee,” said Abuhashim. 

The experience that Abuhashim is describing, the 1940s, is when an increasing number of Jews were arriving in Palestine, after fleeing persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland following the Holocaust of World War 2. Prior to this Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the Ottoman Empire was defeated during World War 1. Tensions between the Jews and the Palestinians were growing during the 1920s to the 1940s  as Britain was tasked with establishing a home for the Jewish people. 

Like Abuhashim’s family, many others had considered Palestine home for decades, but on the other hand, the Jews said it was their ancestral home. 

Tensions between Jews and Arabs eventually turned into violence, from 1920 to 1948 there were an estimated 20,600 lives taken. 

A popular solution that has been discussed many times throughout this 73-year conflict has been a two-state solution, which envisions an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. 

The first time this was tried was in 1937, The Peel Commission Plan, which was a recommendation by the British Government to split the state into a Jewish state and an Arab state. This plan would have allocated a large majority of Israel to the Palestinians and was ultimately rejected by the Arabs. 

Uriel Abulof, Associate Professor at Tel Aviv University School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs said looking back at that decision from 1937 says a lot. 

“I think at that point and in many ways even today, the very existence of a Jewish polity, no matter at what territory, is considered almost an immoral abomination, a form of colonialism,” said Abulof. 

This two-state solution was tried again in 1947 and was rejected by the Arabs, which ultimately led to British rulers leaving and the state of Palestine being declared the state of Israel. 

War followed the creation of the state of Israel and led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, like Abuhashim’s grandparents, being forced out of their homes in what is known as the Catastrophe. Most Palestinians who fled ended up living in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, two areas that have received aerial bombardments from Israel airstrikes in the past few days. 

“I have cousins I have never met, I have uncles and aunts I probably never will be able to see, everything that is happening [with the bombings and the conflict] is happening to them and around them,” said Abuhashim. 

Abulof said through speaking to students about this conflict he found that the majority of his Jewish students agree that Palestinians should have their own state. He also feels that the majority of his students have a liberal political view system, that is clashing with Nationalism spread by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel.  

“They find it very troubling because they see themselves as part of the Jewish people, in principle, that the Jewish people have a right to have their own state,” said Abulof.  “It has been increasingly hard for Liberal Jews to say ok, we support a Jewish state, what does it mean to support a Jewish state, do you support people like [Benjamin Netanyahu]?.”

Abulof said Netanyahu stocks the fear of Jewish people around the world by pushing an anti-Palestinian narrative, a narrative that would proceed the Jewish state, leaving only Palestine where “Jews will at best be able to survive”. 

“People like Netanyahu manage to leverage the fear, the anxiety of many Jews in order to sustain the occupation, in order to include elements that are purely racist into the Israeli parliament,” said Abulof. “This has been tearing apart the Jewish communities worldwide. “

Abulof said in his two years of being in the U.S., he had hope of bringing people from both sides of the conflict together. 

“To see if there is any possibility here, you know, so far away from where the violence is to try and come together, to grieve together, to mourn together the deaths,” said Abulof. “ To somehow build some bridges, but... there was no willingness for that.”

Abulof argues that the concentration should not be about where this conflict started or who is right and who is wrong but instead on the fact that this has become an existential conflict. 

 “It's the belief that the world, the land, whatever is not big enough for the both of us and so it's either us or them,” said Abulof. 

Abulof does not think that the Israeli’s or the Palestinians will solve the problem on their own. 

“ The solution lies within mitigating the radical veto, to stop the radical veto one way or another,” said Abulof. 

Abulof believes there are two ways to do that, one is the top-down method, which establishes a Palestinian state before a negotiation for peace happens.  

“ So far what we have done is negotiated the establishment of a Palestinian state,” said Abulof. “ One way to resolve the issues is to say no negotiating, Palestinian state tomorrow. “ 

In order for this top-down method to happen the Biden administration would need to take out its own veto right in the Security Council. 

“ If Biden tomorrow morning said to Israel, you know what, forget about the American veto in the Security Council, the day after, the Security Council approves Palestine as an independent state,” said Abulof. 

The other possibility is the bottom-up method or as Abulof calls it, “the Double Referendum.” This method would require both Palestinians and Israelis to go to the ballot to say yes or no to a very basic outline of the two-state solution. 

“The Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will go to Palestine, the Jewish to Israel,” said Abulof. “ The Palestinians will take 100% of the land and if there are parts that will remain in Israel, there will be a territorial exchange in a rate of 1 to 1.”