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Who, What & Where is Palestine?


Palestine, a country still struggling for recognition, was originally where the modern state of Israel is. This tiny piece of land doesn't even compare to the likes of their Arab counterparts, but it's this microscopic land that has been the centre of such controversy throughout the 20th century as well as in the 21st century. Palestinians are ethnically Arab who have before the First World War, have been living under Ottoman Turk rule for half a millennium. They share similarities with their Arab neighbours like Jordan and Syria but also have some diverse ethnic differences that society can look at a Palestinian and say "He or She is from Palestine or what used to be Palestine." Today, the land of Palestine has been divided through years of struggle against the Israelis into two sections which the Israeli government somewhat controls. The lands of Gaza Strip and West Bank are the two remaining Palestinian territories in which Palestinians still live in but many are separated throughout the world because of the severity of living in Gaza Strip or West Bank.


Forming the nation of Israel


Palestine had for the most part of its existence has been occupied territory but it wasn't until World War I that Arabs started to voice their frustrations against the Ottomans for colonial rule which has lasted for half a millennium. This caught the attention of imperial powers like Britain and France, who saw this as an advantage to demoralize the Ottomans to surrender during the war.Sir Henry McMahon, the high commissioner of Egypt, who was at the time a part of the British Empire, discussed with Husayn ibn Ali to lead a revolt against the Ottomans who were allies of Germany during the First World War The promise was that Britain would allow the Arab to govern themselves if they assist the British in defeating the Ottomans, a promise which would allude the minds of Arabs for many years. The leaders of the revolt were T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia and Husayn's son: Faysal. The plan was successful and the Ottomans were eventually defeated by the Arabs.

Even before the war broke out, Jewish immigration to Palestine had been rapid among Europeans Jews because of a movement during the late 19th century an idea created by Aham Ha'am known as Zionism was inspiring Jewish people everywhere to reclaim their land once more. Arabs had no issue with this since Palestine wasn't even ruled by Arabs and the Ottomans were by then too weak to provoke citizens to up rise their rule, so both Arabs and Ottomans allowed these immigrants into Palestine. After the war however, the Arabs began to question their presence in Palestine and would soon disturb them greatly. Britain's foreign secretary at the time; Arthur Balfour declared that Palestine should be in control by the British and that a land of the Jews should be given to create a national home of the Jewish people. This declaration is part of the Balfour declaration which is included in the Treaty of Sevres, the very treaty that the Allies declare victory over the Ottomans and that the Ottomans should had over foreign territories to France, and Britain. Before the war ended though, the British and French were so focused on the division of the Ottoman Empire that they met to divide the Levant region of the Middle East accordingly to their needs. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was the final agreement between the French and British in which they decided that France would get Lebanon and Syria, while Britain got Iraq, Jordan and Palestine. Palestine was the most important of all the countries because Britain was trying to create the Jewish homeland that Balfour wrote about in 1917.

Jewish immigration was ever increasing when Palestine was in British hands. By 1922, the Jewish population in Palestine was increasing by 6% each year while the Arabs were still angry with the British about their agreement. What upset the Arabs even more though was the Jewish treatment of Arabs in Palestine. Although the Jewish were still a minority, they thought of themselves as first-class citizens who decided the best solutions for everyone in the communities. Arabs were even allowed in Jewish stores because Jews had some racism towards Arabs that dates back centuries. Violence was soon erupting between the two groups during the 1920s and 1930s, yet the British Mandate of Palestine still remained. Soon though, the British were concerned about the reasons of the violence and started to reduce Jewish immigration to Palestine in the late 30s.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, thousands of Jewish people were homeless and had lost everything during the Holocaust. They had no place to turn until they realized that Palestine was available and it was where Jewish people were naturally. The British though still refused such massive immigration, in which resulted in massive amounts of illegal immigrants living in Palestine who were Jewish. The U.N. decide to have a vote on the problem with Palestine in which it voted that a separation of Arab and Jewish territories be made by the British, which both parties strongly disagreed to. By then, both Arabs and Jewish groups have been fighting for territory so that they can extend their borders to defeat the other but neither was successful in controlling the other. Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Britain had announced that on May 14, 1948 they would terminate their control of Palestine and that it would be its own nation. On that very day, the state of Israel was declared by the Jewish and declared independence from the Arabs, and British. Immediately, the United Nations voted and this time they were in favour of the creation of the state of Israel. On the other side, the Arab League was furious at the world for allowing such a thing and they were extremely angered with the British, who some 30 years ago promised the Arab community independence had they fought against the Ottomans still had not gained such a promise but instead were used and manipulated for Britain's own agenda.


War of 1948

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The Arab community was very upset about the decision on Israel and decided to finally act. Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq invaded the new state of Israel to eliminate this new country of Israel and to establish a Palestinian state that's ruled by Arabs like its neighbours. The territory of Palestine had been originally divided by the U.N. suggested by U.S. President Harry Truman into several pieces between the Arab and Jews, so what the invading Arabs wanted do was to take over the Jewish pieces and to unite Palestin under one Arab government. It failed terribly for the Arabs as the Israelis fought back the invaders and extended their territories far greater than that of the original U.N. borders. The remaining Palestinians now lived com pletely under Israeli control while thousands of refugees lived in neighbouring countries like Egypt and Jordan.

Finally on 1949, peace was negotiated between the Israelis and Arabs which also ended bad for the Arabs. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel was the clear victor against the Arab League leaders like Farouk I of Egypt, Abdullah I of Jordan, Prime Minster Muzahim Ameen al-Pachachi of Iraq and President Husni al-Za'im of Syria. By the end of the Mandate of

Palestine, all the Arab countries had been allowed independence by Britain and were starting to govern themselves but in a sense, the countries were still loyal to the British which upset Arab civilians in for example Iraq and Egypt. Ben-Gurion succeeded in securing Israeli peace and stability by now because they had united all of Israel together and they secured themselves against another Arab invasion for some time.

The Arabs leaders though, had more problems to face themselves before conflict with Israel would happen agian. Israel was also starting to allign itself with the Western Powers of the world like U.S. and Britain during the war because of the countries that accepted the state of Israel, the Western Allies were the first to consider the state. The Western Powers also wanted the state to exist because Zionism was such a powerful force that it was influencing most of the powerful men in the world like Churchill. This friendship would soon bring the Cold War to the Middle East as the Soviets find allies in the region to fight against Israel and the U.S.

Arab recognition


By the 1950s, the Arab population were sick of their leaders and their failed attempts to modernize their country as well as protect the identity of the Arab world. In 1952 however, a new leader would emerge to lead the Arabs to greatness and was hailed as the official leader of the Arab world. Egypt had been British free for almost 30 years now and the government of Farouk I was as corrupt as any monarchy but it was Egypt's defeat to the Israelis that the people finally had enough and were rioting against his reign and wanted a federal government. A revolution led by
Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser ousted Farouk I and established the Egyptian Republic to great popular demand. Nagiub was Egypt's first president and Nasser was a close advisor to the president. In 1954 though, Naguib was ousted by Nasser because of such conflicting ideas on Egypt and on the Arab world. Nasser felt that Egypt should stand on its own feet while Naguib thought that foreign investment into the country would benefit both the the investor and Egypt. Nasser became Egypt's 2nd President in 1954 and many believe he was the leader the Arabs wanted since Arab nationalism started with the end of the Ottoman Empire.
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Nasser introduced a form of government that was somewhat socialist but wasn't closely aligned with the Soviet Union and was against imperialism in the Arab world. His most controversial and defining moments was during the Suez Crisis. For decades, the British and French controlled Egypt's Suez Canal to bring ships into the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean and Nasser saw this as outrageous for the Arab world. He nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 which greatly angered the British and French because they had invested thousands of dollars in the Canal. Arabs saw Nasser's actions as revenge against the British for their false promise to them during World War I but the British weren't going down that easily. What stuck with Israel about this nationalization was the Nasser wouldn't allow Israeli ships to pass through the Canal, which was fital in foreign aid to Israel at the time.

Israel then suggested something that both France and Britain had not considered before. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion was fearful of Nasser's pan-arab views, so he suggested that all three invade Egypt, oust Nasser and reclaim the Suez Canal from the Egyptians. Britain under Prime Minister Anthony Eden, were trying to protect their interests in the Middle East as it already controlled most of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, so it made sense not to loose their primary means of transportation from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Israel though had another plan to take over Gaza Strip and the Sinai penisula from Egypt to extend their borders to better "prtect" themselves. The U.N. though intervened and each nation resolved their dispute but their anger towards each other remains present. It taught Nasser a good lesson in who to deal with in the world. It ended badly for the invaders as Anthony Eden's reputation was ruined in the West, retiring from politics shortly thereafter the Suez Crisis. When Nasser wanted to build to Aswan Dam during this time, he decided to have Soviets help build the dam as opposed to the U.S. previously. Nasser believed that America wanted him to be their representative in the Middle East like Israel and Iran were at the time but Nasser wanted the Arab world to independent from Americans. The Soviets showed the world that they were firmly alligned with Nasser and most of the Arab world while the U.S. stood beside Israel against its neighbouring Arab nations. Nasser was somewhat a role model to the Arabs as many countries tried to follow his lead like Muhammad Najib Ar-Ruba'i in Iraq for example.

Arabs saw Nasser as their hero fighting aginst Zionism and imperialism in the Middle East from years of foreigners like the British. The Arab naitons also saw Nasser as their leader, someone who they looked to adivce on what to do. He even went far to declare the untiy between Egypt and Syria under the United Arab Republic, which was also led by Nasser. Israel on the other side, was trying to defend itself against Arabs constantly through military supplies from the West, to creating alliances with other countries in the region like Iran. Iran was at the time a big ally of the United States and was a target of Arab criticism from Nasser and other leaders like Faisal I of Saudi Arabia. It made sense to both countries and to Ben-Gurin and Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi that a alliance would better protect themselves against Arab aggressors like Egypt and Syria. The Cold War was now entering the Middle East but it would be years until a conflict between the Arabs and Israelis would occur in which both America and Soviets would be supliers to their allies. The Soviets wanted a clear ally to secure petroleum and to protect Soviet interests in the violent region while the U.S. was seeking someone to watch Soviet activites because of how close they were to countries like Turkey and Iran.

Palestine & Israel Today:


Palestinians today still live under Israeli forces and is just as terrible as it was 40 years ago. Israel has now become the sole defender of Western interests in the region as the Pahlavi Dynasty fell in 1979 and since, Iran has been a central foe of the U.S. in the region. The Arab countries that once defended Palestine against Zionist Israel have been quiet on the Israel topic recently. Most countries of the Arab League have signed treaties with Israel in which they've recognized the state of Israel and have stopped any military action towards the tiny country. It still is highly controversial but where the Arabs were the foes of Israel, it's now replaced by Iran and its attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon according to current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nehanyatu. President Obama has also stated that he will "stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon at any cost." The problems are still primarlily the same, but it seems that they are new players in the game of Palestine such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Nehanyatu. Although the Palestinian Liberation Organization has partial control of the West Bank nad Gaza Strip from the late 1990s, Israel has still enforced its will to the small regions where thousands of Palestinians live daily. The clear observation is that no one has clearly learned what to do with the issue of Palestine/Israel. One tiny sliver of land has caused so many deaths and controversy in the Middle East that even today, people seem to figure that there's never going to be an answer to the question: what should the fate of Palestine/Israel be?

Works Cited:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab-Israeli_conflict#1967.E2.80.931973
http://www.science.co.il/arab-israeli-conflict.asp
http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intro-pal-isr-primer.html
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/gamal_abdel_nasser.htm
http://www.historyguy.com/suez_war_1956.html
http://www.lermuseum.org/en/canadas-military-history/1945-to-present/peacekeeping/suez-crisis/
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Declaration+of+Establishment+of+State+of+Israel.htm