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A History of Isreal

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Israel, slightly larger than Massachusetts, lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Egypt on the west, Syria and Jordan on the east, and Lebanon on the north. Its maritime plain is extremely fertile, but only 17% of the land is arable (Figure 1). The southern Negev region, which comprises almost half the total area, is largely a desert. The Jordan River flows from the north through Lake Hule and Lake Kinneret, finally entering the Dead Sea, 1,349 ft below sea level, the world's lowest land elevation.

In a time of war, it is far too easy to get caught up in the violence, and forget that the true goal is peace. Hate, death, and pain make it difficult for the belligerent nations to think rationally and come up with a plan to end the violence. This is why a third party is necessary. A third party sees the situation from an outsider's viewpoint. Therefore, they are able to offer better advice and solutions. This situation is applicable to the current Middle East Crisis. Palestine and Israel cannot come to a peaceful solution without the help of the international community. In order to help the feuding parties, the United States needs to be neutral, fair, and unbiased. The current leaders need to avoid the mistakes made by the historical leaders and nations that led to the escalation of the conflict, like McMahon-Hussein Correspondence did.

The McMahon-Hussein correspondence is essentially "a series of letters exchanged, in 1915, between Feisal Hussein, who was Sherif of Mecca at the time, and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon (Khalidi 1980, 92)." The British were willing to negotiate with the Arabs because they needed military support during the First World War, and the Arabs could provide this support. In this correspondence, the British representative promised to Hussein that if the Arabs revolt against the Turks, the British government would grant them independence.

The main controversy in McMahon-Hussein correspondence and the question of Palestine at large lies in the certain areas, that McMahon claimed "cannot be said to be purely Arab" and should therefore "be excluded from the proposed limits and boundaries, of the Arab state (Khalidi 1980,117)." There is also an opinion that the correspondence at issue has no legal grounds, since it was never concluded in mutual agreement. The Arab community took the British promise seriously, and the events that took place only a couple of years after the series of letters were passed certainly infuriated the Arab population. The question of Palestine after the correspondence was the most heated debate, and largely due to British indecisiveness and inability to keep its promises.

Zionism was the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. It was a movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism.

In the struggle to establish a Zionist state, the some Palestinians were eventually forced to leave their country, beginning a cycle of conflict that characterized Palestine as a state since the beginning of the Zionist movement. The Palestinian Arabs, who felt their very existence was threatened by the Zionist movement, waged official and unofficial wars against the Zionists as a means of liberation. After fleeing Palestine in the first century, the Jewish people sought a return to the Holy Land for centuries due to the strong religious significance of the location.

"However, until the 19th century, Zionism was a small, unorganized movement lacking leadership (Laqueur 1989,50)." The Zionist movement gained more popularity when, in 1917, the British announced the Balfour Declaration, stating "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object (Khalidi 1980, 92)." After gaining control of Palestine a month later, the British decided that negotiations between Chaim Weizmann, the leading proponent of the Zionist movement, and King Faysal of Syria, the foremost Arab



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