Twitter and email info

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Historic Issues Behind The Conflict In The Middle East (Part I)

Link: The Crusades

The Birth of Israel

Part I

Trying to explain the genesis and motivations behind the Arab/European/Jewish conflicts in the Middle East is probably a bit much for my modest little blog.  But my dear friend Jennifer's brilliant, inquisitive 10-year old daughter Amanda asked her mother for an explanation, and I decided to give it a shot.  Not that Jennifer didn't respond to Amanda; I'm sure her answer made complete sense (Jennifer is fluent in the reasoning of young people....she is a teacher).  But if Jennifer is brave enough to give it a shot, I will as well.

The link I provided is the typical Wikipedia (I keep typing Wikileaks by accident...Freudian?) collection of useful and streamlined details regarding the various European Crusades during the High and Late Middle Ages.  My explanation begins earlier, at the time of Roman occupation of Judea.  The Romans were originally allied to the Jewish state, but under Pompey, absorbed it into the Empire in 6 CE.  In 66 CE the Jews rose in revolt, and the entire population was either wiped out or sold into slavery (give or take...).  The area we know as Palestine was occupied by various Muslim nation-states for almost ten centuries (with times of conflict involving the Byzantine Empire), with Christians usually welcomed as pilgrims to the Holy Land.  This changed in 1096, with the occurrence of the First Crusade.  At the time, Palestine was occupied by Seljuq Turks.  The Crusaders were successful in capturing both Antioch and Jerusalem (the city of Jerusalem was defended by both Muslims and Jews against the Crusaders, and together the Muslims and Jews of Jerusalem were put to the sword).  The First Crusade established what came to be known as the Crusader states- the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  I would love nothing more than to dive head-first into the history of the Crusades, but I've already taken up too much time.

Over the next two centuries, eight more Crusades would be attempted (the last in 1272); the former rulers were not happy with the Christian occupation of land that was just as Holy in their religion as it was to the Christians.  Eventually the Kingdom of Jerusalem was sacked, and the land reverted to Muslim control.  Lets fast-forward to 1914, with Palestine as a province of the Ottoman Empire.  Then in World War One, the Ottomans chose the wrong side and ended up losing control of Palestine.  The entire area we now know as the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan) was occupied by France and Great Britain until the conclusion of the Second World War (see Sykes-Picot Treaty for a taste of European land-grabbing at its best).  At first, with the Balfour Declaration, it appeared that the British government was seriously considering establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.  The opposition of the Arab Palestinian community ended any such plans.  During this time, attempts were made to locate land for the creation of a Jewish state in other areas, including Africa (the Jews of Europe and Russia had suffered great hardships even before the Holocaust).  The displacement of so many European Jews by the Nazis left many without a home.  In 1947, a United Nations partitioned Palestine into two-separate nations, one for a Jewish state and one for a Palestinian state.  The Arab nations bordering Palestine (Egypt, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and even Yemen and Saudi Arabia sent troops) declared war against the nascent Jewish state.  The war was completely one-sided, as have been the two wars since that were fought to destroy Israel.  The Israeli Armed Forces earned a reputation from the very beginning of being disciplined, courageous, cunning and formidable in the methods of war.  That reputation exists today.  The history lesson is complete.  Now on to the difficult part.

No comments:

Post a Comment