Middle East: A Brief summary?

Can someone provide a brief summary of the events in the middle east for me, explaining how it all got started, when, who’s involved, why they feel the way they do, and any other important things I should know?

I’m completely green when it comes to history and non-Canadian politics, so I am (and my wife) a little uninformed about the situation over there.

And I know it looks like a homework question, but it is not.

It’s very hard to answer all of your questions with a brief summary, so I’ll just direct you here.

If you click on the link labeled “Timeline”, you get a fairly brief slideshow with significant events.

Have fun!

Also, read Dexter’s very good (and fair) overview to help give some context.


As a matter of fact, his presentation includes a number of factual errors and biased glosses, however bland the language used.

The “Arab propaganda” issue in re P’s fleeing has been substantively challenged by Israeli historians (e.g. Benny Morris) who have rather pointed to black ops by Israeli and Jewish groups, combined with war hysteria and localized incidents of inter-militia agitprop.
The characterization of the early Zionist acquisition of land is highly slanted and tenditious, which is to say nationalist agitprop. The historical reality is far more complicated than good Jews showing dumb Arabs how to make a desert bloom.

As I don’t have time to go on, I shall refrain, however Dex’s presentation is hardly fair or unbiased.

Dex’s summary is somewhat slanted. After WWI, when the Ottoman empire sided with the Germans, it signaled the end of that empire. Britain was given a “Mandate” over what is now Palestine and Israel. After WWII, Britain opted out (after some “persuasion”) and the UN divided the land equally between Israel and Palestine to set up their own states. Palestine did not bother because it figured it would, with other Arab states, drive the Israelis to the Sea, and the attack came the day after the UN resolution. As we know, Israel was not driven to the Sea, primarily because they had veteran fighters from WWII, that fought against the Nazis in resistance movements. I guess, also, because God was on their side. :slight_smile: Egypt had air superiority, but with an amazing hold on the southern border by veteran Israel fighters, where one infantry company held off Egyptian forces consisting of 2 infantry battalions, one armored battalion, and one artillery regiment, for five days, Israel was able to purchase much needed aircraft and othe weapons from both Superpowers.

Adding to Dexter’s post, many Russian Jews came over to Israel in the 1920s because of antisemitism after the Revolution. These Jews bought the land, but sometimes the owners were absentee landlords who lived in various other Arabic countries. So, some natives had to leave unvoluntarily.

After the initial attack against the state of Israel (which we, the US recognized right away as a de facto state - and the USSR not to be outdone recognized it as a de jure state), hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled Israel. After the second attack, which came only one month after the Security Council of the UN mandated a truce (and all the parties were too happy to accept - the various Arab countries having been startled at an easy victory that was not), 500,000 more people fled Israel. The PA said they were forced out. Israel said they fled. It is true that Israel asked many to stay, especially in Haifa, so more likely they fled, as not to be attacked again by the Arab countries.

Sigh. Here we go again. I was asked to give a brief, overview summary and that’s what I did. I was not asked to write six volumes nor, as Collounsbury would wish, to describe the detailed exceptions to every broad statement.

We are talking about large movements of people, about strained relations, about normal human activity. There will always be exceptions to any generalization. I figure, if my overview covers over 75% of the situation, that’s close enough. Note that Barbitu8 starts his post by saying that my presentation was “slanted,” but then goes on to agree with me on every point. (I actually thought my presentation was relatively balanced, but then.)

I concede, Collounsbury, that my summary contained a number of trivial omissions (I did not track every single sale of land from 1880 through 1930 to justify my statement that the Jews purchased land that the Arabs viewed as worthless.) And I cheerfully concede that a one-page summary must necessarily include some “gloss.”

Anyone interested in more details than were provided in my earlier presentation, I recommend the library and some in-depth reading.