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Post-Decolonization: Southwest Asia
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“The relationships between Israelis and Arabs combine so many compelling issues and tell
so many intertwined stories that collectively they have touched the imagination of much of
the world. Of all issues in the modern Middle East, Israeli-Arab relations have been the
most contentious and the most discussed by historians. The conflict of religious identities
between Jew and Muslim seems, at first glance, to be the most important. Ever since 135
C.E. when the Romans exiled the Jews from Judaea (Israel), they sought to return. They
believed that God had promised this land to them, as recorded in the Bible, and their
prayers regularly included a reminder to God of his promise. After the Jewish exile, other
peoples occupied the land. After its conquest by Muslim empires, at the end of the seventh
century, the overwhelming majority of the residents of Palestine (the generally accepted
geographical name of the area through the centuries after the Romans departed) were
Muslims. When Jews actually did begin to return to Palestine in significant numbers,
toward the end of the nineteenth century, the hundreds of thousands of Arabs resident
there saw that return as a challenge to their own religious supremacy. In some ways, then,
the Israel-Arab conflict is based on a religious conflict that dates back at least 1300 years.
Politics, however, was perhaps even more important. The Jews who began to return to
Palestine were motivated less by a religious quest than by the perceived need for a political
homeland and refuge. Europe, where most Jews lived, was permeated by nationalism in
the nineteenth century, and Jews absorbed this spirit. At first, the goal was expressed in
national-cultural terms: to restore Hebrew as a living language of everyday national life; to
work the land again after centuries of urban ghettoization; to live as a ‘normal’ people with
a land and culture of its own. Then, as pogroms against Jews resumed with unprecedented
ferocity under Russian Czar Alexander III after 1881, the movement of Jewish nationalism
became far more urgent and far more political. Persecuted Jews needed a refuge. When
anti-Semitism resurfaced strongly in the 1890s in France, the Austrian-Jewish journalist
Theodor Herzl founded the modern political Zionist movement – ‘Zion’ is a Biblical
designation for Jerusalem – to restore to Jews a political homeland in their ancestral land
of Palestine. At this time, with the Ottoman Empire still in place, and the period of the
mandates still in the future, Arab nationalism had not yet surfaced.
In 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, redistributing parts of the
conquered Ottoman Empire:
‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national
home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement
of this objective, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may
prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.’
A central factor in the creation of Israel in 1948 was the Holocaust. For Jews, that
catastrophe reaffirmed the desperate need for a political state and refuge.”
~ The World’s History
1- Identify and explain tensions between Israelis and Arabs, particularly Palestinian
Arabs, as well as the factors which gave rise to the modern state of Israel.
Geopolitical Significance of Southwest Asia (The Middle East)
Region’s strategic/economic importance as world’s key source of petroleum
Two thirds of the world’s crude oil is produced in the Middle East
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), founded in 1960, to unite
the oil-producing nations in an effort to control the supply of oil and thus price
II. Egypt
A. Arab nationalism in Egypt, which became an independent republic in 1952
B. By 1954, Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser had taken control of the government
C. Nasser was a proponent of nationalism and pan-Arabism (unity among Arab states)
D. Pan-Arabism failed, but Nasser was successful in modernizing his country
E. In 1956, Nasser took step of declaring Egyptian ownership of Suez Canal
F. Suez crisis: French, British, and Israeli troops tried to seize canal
G. USA and USSR, wishing to avoid a serious armed conflict, backed Egypt
H. Nasser strengthened ties with Soviet Union, at least temporarily when received
USSR aid to Aswan Dam but then expelled Soviets for exerting too much control
I. Nasser died in 1970 and was succeeded by Anwar el-Sadat who drew Egypt closer to
U.S.A., and in 1978, became first Arab leader to recognize state of Israel
J. Sadat was assassinated by Islamic militants in 1981 and afterwards, Hosni Mubarak
served as Egypt’s president until Arab Spring (2010)
III. Israel
A. In 1917, British issued Balfour Declaration, stating intention to create a Jewish
homeland in Palestine; prior rise of Zionism in response to Dreyfus Trial
B. After horrors of Holocaust, international sympathy for Jews, along with strong U.S.
support, led to establishment of state of Israel, in May 1948
C. But founding of modern state of Israel in 1948 stirred up Arab outrage
D. Israelis had to fight a war in 1948 simply to keep the state that had been given them;
wars led to displacing millions of Palestinian Arabs
I. In 1964, the Palestinians gained a semblance of leadership with the formation of
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a terrorist group led by Yasser Arafat
J. Arab states fought several wars against Israel, most notably the Six-Day War in 1967
and the Yom Kippur War in 1973
K. In 1980s, Palestinian population of Israel staged an uprising called the intifada
L. Peace efforts continued but issues of land and security made peace difficult
IV. Iraq
A. Iraq came under the control of Saddam Hussein in 1979
B. Originally sponsored by the United States because of his opposition to Iran
C. In 1990, invaded the oil-rich state of Kuwait
D. Gulf War (1991): forced Hussein to accept 1991 cease-fire agreement, which included
abolishing of chemical and biological weapons programs
E. Continued refusal to cooperate with UN’s inspectors in search for weapons of mass
destruction led to USA invasion of Iraq in 2003; Hussein tried and executed
VI. Afghanistan
A. Islamic fundamentalism led a theocratic government under the Taliban
B. Comprised of Afghans trained in religious schools in Pakistan along with former
Islamic fighters or mujahedin (fighters against the Soviet invasion)
C. Overthrown by USA after 9/11
1- What nations comprise the modern Middle East (Southwest Asia)?
2- Why do many national leaders consider the Middle East a vital region?
3- What is OPEC?
4- Who was Gamal Abdel Nasser?
5- How did Nasser change Egypt?
6- What is Pan-Arabism?
7- Why has Pan-Arabism been difficult to achieve?
8- Define nationalization.
9- What did Nasser nationalize?
10- How did the international community respond to Nasser’s nationalization plan?
11- Why did Nasser strengthen ties with the Soviets?
12- Why did Nasser expel Soviet advisers from Egypt?
13- How did Anwar el-Sadat change Egypt? What happened to Sadat?
14- What happened in Egypt after Sadat’s leadership?
15- Why was the Balfour Declaration significant?
16- Define Zionism.
17- Why was the modern state of Israel created?
18- How did the Arab world respond to the creation of Israel?
19- Why does conflict exist between Palestinians and the state of Israel?
20- What conflicts arose between Iraq under Saddam Hussein and the United States?
21- What was the outcome of those conflicts (in Iraq)?
22- Why did the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan? What did the Taliban create?
23- How and why were the Taliban removed from power in Afghanistan?
1. Theodor Herzl's Zionism was the direct
result of
A) His shock at a government order
revoking the citizenship of all French
B) His shock at the army's persecution of
Alfred Dreyfus.
C) His frustrated desire to emigrate to
D) A religious revelation that European
Jews should return to the Holy Land.
E) A wave of persecution against Jews
living in the Ottoman empire.
2. In which Middle Eastern nation did a
Shiite theocracy succeed a secular,
modernizing monarchy?
(A) Iraq
(B) Jordan
(C) Syria
(D) Saudi Arabia
(E) Iran
3. Britain withdrew from Palestine in 1947
(A) Their mandate had ended.
(B) They could not resolve the conflict
between Palestinians and Jews.
(C) The United Nations demanded that
they leave.
(D) The Arab states demanded that they
(E) All of the above.
5. Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser
gained great international prestige when
(A) He negotiated a peace settlement with
(B) He succeeded in retaking the Suez
Canal from the British.
(C) He aligned Egypt with the United
(D) He aligned Egypt with the Soviet
(E) He reclaimed the Sinai Peninsula from
6. The French fought to retain Algeria
(A) They refused to be intimidated by
(B) Algeria provided valuable mineral
(C) There were two million French settlers
in Algeria.
(D) President Charles de Gaulle had
dreams of a restored French empire.
(E) All of the above.
7. The nonalignment movement failed
(A) Of a lack of vision or leadership
among member states.
(B) Too few states attended the Bandung
Conference to achieve consensus.
(C) Many nonaligned states needed and
accepted aid from either the United States
or Soviet Union.
(D) Many new states were afraid to
alienate the United States.
(E) All of the above.
4. Since the creation of Israel, Israel has
fought and defeated all of the following
neighboring states except
(A) Egypt.
(B) Iraq.
(C) Jordan.
(D) Syria.
(E) Israel has defeated all of the above.
Thesis Practice: Continuity and Change over Time
Analyze political and cultural changes in the Middle East (Southwest Asia) from 1453
to 1980. ___________________________________________________________________