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  • Alright, this is gonna be the most controversial video I've ever made.

  • Even saying the word "Israel" will ignite an onslaught of tense debates between multiple people groups.

  • No matter what I say in this video, somebody will get mad on either side of

  • the argument when it comes to Israel's current place held in today's world.

  • I am not Israeli, I am not Arab, and I am definitely not claiming to be

  • your go-to authority when it comes to Israel and Palestine issues. All I can say is,

  • I have contacted many of you guys, the Israeli and Palestinian subscribers, for help with this video.

  • I've conglomerated all the information I could based off of what you said and added it with my research.

  • I will try, try, TRY to make this video as plain and objective as I possibly can based off of the data,

  • but it's not easy and it won't be perfect but I will try, so without further ado...let's begin.

  • [theme song jingle]

  • It's time to learn Geography NOW!

  • Now, to most people today, the USA and China might be the giants of geopolitical impact, however

  • literally over half the world is keeping their eyes on this one small sliver of land straddling three continents

  • smaller than the size of El Salvador. Why is it that this one piece of land has such a powerful hold

  • on billions of people? How did it become the epicenter of world view tension?

  • The answer is incredibly complex and in no way could I possibly answer everything in this episode,

  • but what I can do is try to relay as much information as I can to give a platform for insight.

  • Man, it is going to be really hard to be, like, funny and quirky in this video.

  • At least the first part is gonna be kind of eas-

  • actually no it won't.

  • Aaaaand our first course of controversy! Woo-hoo!

  • I can already hear the keyboard warriors typing up paragraphs in Caps Lock!

  • Not much I can do, so let's just ride this pony into the sunset, shall we?

  • Today, the state of Israel is located in the Middle East, surrounded by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon,

  • with the Mediterranean Sea to the west and a very narrow coast

  • along the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, which connects to the Red Sea.

  • The country is divided into six administrative districts, ormehozot”,

  • as well as the claimed but not completely internationally recognized capital of Jerusalem near the center.

  • Aaaaand here's what you're all waiting forthe Palestine stuff.

  • These two areas right here are known as the West Bank (Israelis call them Judea and Samaria)

  • and the Gaza Strip. These are, according to Israelis, disputed territories, and according to the UN,

  • Israeli-occupied territories that are not recognized as part of Israel but make up the larger entity

  • commonly known as Palestine (or at least the Palestinian State). Parts of these two entities are

  • currently ruled by different Palestinian authoritiesthe West Bank under Fatah and Gaza under Hamas.

  • In addition, even though Ramallah acts as kind of like a capital to the West Bank Palestinian authority area,

  • the city of Jerusalem is kind of seen as the rightful capital of both entities.

  • However, it's one big confusing mess of semi and fully barricaded neighborhoods with walls and checkpoints

  • that extend all the way to the West Bank that would make your head spin if you even attempted to explain it

  • But I'll try! Basically, this right here known as the Armistice (or the Green Line)

  • was established shortly after the start of modern-day Israel. Now here's the thing

  • although it looks like a concise division, the Green Line technically isn't a full nation-state border division,

  • as it was set up as a ceasefire line.

  • Aaaaand this is where legal semantics get really messy.

  • Israel has had a lot of conflicts since independence, but basically after the Six-Day War

  • in which pretty much everyone surrounding them attacked, Israel actually won and took over pretty much

  • the entire state, plus the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights which has the

  • UN Disengagement Observer Force zone that manages the border with Syria.

  • While everyone was taking forever to decide what to do with the newly-acquired land

  • (should they give it back for peace or should they partition it?)

  • Israelis just kinda moved in to the West Bank anyway since they figured the Armistice Line was

  • no longer under ceasefire status. Eventually they gave back the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt for peace,

  • but then by the time they addressed the West Bank there were already over 100,000 Israelis living there.

  • And that's kinda where things got really messy.

  • After all the settlements were set up in the West Bank,

  • it kind of chopped up the map into pockety Palestinian neighborhood islands.

  • These areas are divided into three separate types of divisions

  • established by the Oslo Accords in the 90's: Areas A, B, and C.

  • Type A makes up about 18% of the West Bank but with the largest populations,

  • classified as being under the full control of the Palestinian Authority.

  • Type B, about 22% of the land, is under Palestinian civil authority but under Israeli security control.

  • Finally, Area C, which makes up about 60% of the land, is the mostly-uninhabited area of the West Bank

  • which is pretty much under Israeli control and Palestinians must obtain a permit to build there

  • (although getting a permit is pretty difficult). This is where most of the Israeli settlements are and

  • about 5% of Israel's population lives, with about half a million Israeli citizens.

  • But the biggest issue, finallyJerusalem. Why is Jerusalem so important?

  • First of all, Jerusalem was completely annexed after the Six-Day War even though it was split previously

  • by the Green Line. They tried to establish a very carefully structured, religiously sensitive format that

  • allowed the three major religions to each grab at Jerusalem, giving pre-1967 Arab residents in

  • East Jerusalem and their descendants permanent residency status and the ability to apply for citizenship.

  • However, to this day, the move is still not well-received

  • and the majority of UN member states do not exactly recognize the annexation as most of them

  • believe that Jerusalem should be under international status.

  • And in terms of why everyone makes such a huge fuss over Jerusalem,

  • well, in the shortest way I can answer this, it contains

  • the holiest site to Jews and the third-holiest in Islam, the Temple Mount.

  • What is the Temple Mount? Well, according to what we know from ancient recorded history

  • from both internal and external sources, this place was the claimed site of

  • the First and Second Jewish Temples thousands of years ago until it was destroyed by

  • the Babylonians first and then rebuilt only to be again destroyed by the Romans.

  • Then it was made into a temple for the god Jupiter until the Umayyads came in the 7th Century AD

  • and built the Dome of the Rock (which is a shrine, not a mosque),

  • the Dome of the Chains (which is a prayer house, not a shrine),

  • and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (which is…a…mosque).

  • To the Jewish community, the dream is to one day rebuild the Jewish temple

  • a third time on the Temple Mount, but, yeah, unless something absolutely insane and

  • globally unprecedented happens, the Muslims will probably never let that happen.

  • And then you get into the Bible and the propheciesit's very complicated.

  • UGH, this episode is so complex! What have I gotten myself into?

  • OK, so that kinda covers most of the administrative confusion I think. But honestly,

  • one thing you have to understand is that outside of Jerusalem, the country is actually pretty chill.

  • It's weird, but Israel is a place where everyone can be friends if you just don't talk about that one thing.

  • Otherwise, the largest cities outside of Jerusalem are Haifa and Tel-Aviv on the coast.

  • And the busiest airports are Tel-Aviv (Ben Gurion) International,

  • Eliat-Ramon, and Haifa Michaeli International.

  • As a holy site for the three Abrahamic religions there are too many places to list

  • in terms of notable sites and landmarks, but some of the top ones

  • in both Israeli and West Bank Palestinian areas might include places like:

  • the Rosh Hanikra grottoes, the ruins of Caesaria,

  • Masada, the Shrine of St. George,

  • the Church of the Holy Sepulcher,

  • the Shrine of the Book, Ades Synagogue,

  • Zedekiah's Cave, the Honey Bee Hive House,

  • the Tomb of the Prophet Samuel,

  • Bethlehem and Galilee, the areas where Jesus was born and lived,

  • the Mount of Olives, garden of Gethsemane,

  • the ruins of Jericho, and Mount Carmel.

  • And of course pretty much everything in Jerusalem is a historically significant landmark.

  • Oh, and there's that weird micronation, Akhzivlandjust look it up, I don't have time to teach you about it.

  • Alright, well that was pretty intense. Luckily, this next segment will be pretty easy

  • not much to argue about when it comes to dirt and plants, right?

  • Former Prime Minister Golda Meir once jokingly said,

  • First of all, Israel is located in the region of the Middle East known as the Levant,

  • or a strip of land bordering the coast of the Mediterranean known for having its unique

  • semiarid lush zones that harbors various types of flora and fauna.

  • The country is divided into four main physical geographic regions:

  • the Coastal Plains where about 3/4 of the country lives,

  • the central or Judean hills mostly located in the north and West Bank Palestinian regions,

  • then there's the Negev Desert in the south,

  • and the Jordan Rift Valley which surrounds the longest river in the country,

  • the Jordan, that pretty much makes up Israel's entire eastern border.

  • The tallest mountain is located in the disputed Golan Heights area, Mt. Hermon;

  • otherwise, within the Green Line, Mt. Meron in the Northern District would be the tallest.

  • The interesting thing is that the entire Jordan River pretty much is a by-product of being located on

  • the Dead Sea Transform Fault system, which lies right where the African and Arabian tectonic plates meet.

  • This means that Israel sometimes is subject to earthquakes,

  • potentially destructive ones, on average about every eighty years.

  • Right at the end of the Jordan River lies the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth

  • at over 430 meters below sea level.

  • Rainfall is rare between May and September, which means water can be scarce.

  • To combat this, Israel created a unique drip irrigation system in which

  • water directly goes to the roots of plants with little evaporation.

  • To this day, Israel has the highest percentage of recycled water usage, solar power per capita,

  • and the highest density of ecofriendly companies. Hmm!

  • It came with a lot of difficulties, though. They had to drain the swamps and replace them with citrus trees,

  • terrace and spray the land, and change the irrigation canal flows to disrupt mosquito breeding patterns

  • after twenty years, the country officially became malaria-free.

  • Even animals have seen a breeding resurgence, such as

  • the Nubian ibex, oryxes, green toads,

  • and the national animal the hoopoe bird.

  • Israelis might say that much of this agricultural innovation is attributed to the kibbutz program.

  • It's hard to explain exactly what a “kibbutzis

  • it's like a program that pulls all labor and resources together for sake of social and economic flourishing.

  • It's kinda like a hippie commune, but without the hippies or drum circles and crystals

  • and it has like actual government-funded motivation.

  • Actually, now that I think about it, it's kinda like the anti-hippie commune.

  • Anyway! Not all Jews are kosher, but the ones that are avoid anything with pork and

  • Israel actually has the highest percentage of vegans per capita at around 5%.

  • Nonetheless, Israel's economy is more heavily based on free enterprise and entrepreneurship

  • as well as the science and medical sectors. To this day, over 4000 tech companies

  • and over 80 of the 500 largest tech companies in the world have subsidiaries in Israel.

  • With limited space for agriculture and industry jobs, they realized,

  • Oh shoot, we kinda have to, like, make money off of ideas.”

  • But what's a great way to grow revenue without having to take up much space?

  • Research and programming! Today, Israel has one of the best environments for

  • entrepreneurial capital in the world, since venture capital investments rose from 20 to over 500 in the 90's.

  • Tel Aviv ranks as the second-most important technological center in the world after Silicon Valley

  • and has the third-most companies listed on the NASDAQ after the US and China.

  • Your iPhone hardware, Google's innovations, Intel microchips

  • all these things have some correlation to Israel's tech sector. In addition,

  • they are the 34th-largest economy in the world by nominal Gross Domestic Product as of 2016.

  • This means amidst the controversy Israel kind of moves forward in tech innovation.

  • And that brings us to the climax of this entire episode:

  • who are the people living here and what is the story behind them?

  • *exhales* Here we go.

  • Now, here's the thing:

  • in many ways, yes, there is a perpetual lingering ambiance of tension that hovers above Israel.

  • However, the people living here today are now third-, fourth-, and even fifth-generation citizens

  • that still might carry the strife of their ancestors to some extent,

  • but, like we studied in the Iran episode, kids are more interested in

  • entertainment and money than they are with ideological disputes.

  • That being said, Israel has about 9 million people

  • (and if you include the West Bank Palestinian populace, the number swells up to about 13 million altogether)

  • and Israel is the only Jewish-run state in the world with about half of the entire world's Jewish population.

  • Of the country, about 75% identify as ethnically Jewish, of which

  • the majority (at about 75%) being Mizrahi Jews that originally came from the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Then you have the Ashkanazis at about 17%,

  • whereas the Sephardic and African and Asian Jews round out the rest.

  • Whereas the non-Jewish citizens number at about a quarter of the population, identifying mostly as Arabs.

  • They also use the Israeli shekel as their currency,

  • they use the Type C, D, and H plug outlets,

  • and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • Now here's where things get pretty intense, because Israel has a very unique system of

  • community and residency that isn't really found anywhere else in the world.

  • First of all, I think this would be an appropriate time to mention that

  • not all Israelis are Jews, and not all Palestinians or Arabs are Muslims.

  • IsraeliandPalestinianare nationalistic titles, not necessarily ethnic.

  • There are tons of Christians that identify as either Israelis, Arabs, or Palestinians.

  • Even a couple of Bahá'í, Hindu, and Buddhist residents.

  • And many of the citizens don't even practice religion much on a regular basis to begin with.

  • Today, about one out of every three citizens were born abroad and

  • nine out of ten of the people in the country are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

  • Part of the reason for this is because of the Law of Return, oraliyah”,

  • a unique immigration policy that only applies to the State of Israel which states that

  • every Jew across the world has the right to come to the country as anoleh”, or migrant.

  • To this day, non-profit Jewish organizations even fund birthright trips for Jews across the world,

  • sponsoring a free ten-day heritage trip for young adults between ages 18 to 26.

  • But how did all this start to begin with? Well, if you really want to tackle this

  • (which I will try my best at doing), there's kinda like two sides to this story:

  • one of them ancient and one of them modern.

  • Throughout most of Jewish history, Jews were dispersed in diaspora across the world. However,

  • there always seemed to be at least a few small communities left in Israel, especially around Jerusalem.

  • Basically, the modernkey word, MODERNState of Israel was initially conceived through the ideals of

  • Zionism, which gained a movement in the 19th Century by this guy. He suggested that

  • Jews should actively take measures to move back to the land of their ancestors.

  • Over the years, more and more Jews moved in, the Ottoman Empire fell,

  • then the land came to the Mandate of Palestine under the Brits, the Balfour Declaration was made,

  • the Brits handed the issue to the UN, and they agreed to set up a new country calledIsraelin 1948

  • which became the first time Jews had a state in over thousands of years.

  • Now, if we're gonna talk about the ancient history then it gets way more complicated and touchy.

  • What we do know about this area is that in the past it was ruled by multiple kingdoms, empires, and

  • regional powers; however, like mentioned before, we do have historical data that tells us that

  • there was an ancient Jewish inhabitation period in this place.

  • There are some debates on the exact legitimacy of historical claims made on both sides,

  • but contemporary historians, both religious and secular, do agree that there was at least for sure

  • a first Kingdom of Israel that existed somewhere around 900 to 1000 BC, as it was taken over

  • by the Neo-Assyrians and then the Babylonians, as recorded by the Babylonian Chronicles

  • that match up with the claims made in the Tanakh, or the Old Testament of the Bible.

  • Over time, the Persians came in, and the Greeks, and the Romans, and the Byzantines,

  • each of them at some point recording some kind of document about a Jewish populace inhabiting this area.

  • Again, these are outside, non-Jewish ancient sources matching up the claims

  • that modern historians from all world views can attest to.

  • So this is kind of the basis of where Jews make their claim towards the land of Israel

  • being their ancestral homelandthey do kind of have a historical tie.

  • Nonetheless of course, that doesn't excuse the fact that during all the years of diaspora

  • numerous other people groups<