Israel and the Arab World: People at Odds
By Heather Lehr Wagner
I chose to read “People at Odds,ISRAEL AND THE ARAB WORLD” because I lived a part of my life in this region. I was born in Egypt a year before Israel proclaimed itself an independent country in May 1948. At that time, conflict between the Jews and the Arabs began. The newly established United Nations approved a partition plan by which the Jews and the Arabs coexist in the same region. The Arab inhabitants viewed this partition as unfavorable to them as it turned huge sections of Arab inhabited land to the Jews. David Bin –Gurion, Prime Minister, laid out bold plans to encourage immigration of Jews to settle in this “new land.” In 1948, the state of Israel was established. Thousands of Arabs had to abandon their homes and started to live as refugees. These refugees maintained the Palestinian identity and their desire to return to their homeland. In 1964, with the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) they had a governing authority and Yassir Arafat as its founder.
Conflict escalated as Israel was granted status as an independent state. At that time, the government in Cairo, Egypt was changing. In 1952, King Farouk was overthrown and Nasser was elected as the new Egyptian president. Nasser’s vision was a united Arab Nation bound by common interests, beliefs, religion.
From 1952 to 1967, Israel had started to build and develop its new acquired settlements. In order to build and expand, it needed water for irrigation so it seized a large amount of the region’s water. In 1967, the Six Day War started .The Arab nations suffered severe economic, military, cultural losses for many years to come.
Golda Meir, a 70 year old Jewish Russian woman became the new Prime Minister. She attempted to create more Jewish settlements .In 1973, Egypt and Syria waged another war against Israel. Golda resigned and was followed by Menachem Begin. In 1978, Jimmy Carter, U.S President, attempted to bring the Egyptian President Sadat and Begin,Israel Prime Minister, to negotiate a Peace Accord at Camp David. Little progress followed because there was still disagreement over the fate of crucial territory such as the West Bank and Gaza.
From 1980 to 1993 several skirmishes ensued between Israel and the West .In 1993, after decades of violence and disagreement, PLO leader and new Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin met in the U.S to sign another peace accord which suffered several setbacks since then. In 1996, Sharon Perez, Prime Minister lost the election to Binyamin Netanyahu who was not in favor of giving up the Golan Heights to Palestine.
The Peace process has since suffered many setbacks. In 1998, President Clinton mediated another peace deal between the Arabs and Israel. In 2001, Netanyahu lost to Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister and the head of the Likud Party. In 2006, Sharon died of a massive stroke and was followed by Ehud Olmert who is the current Prime Minister of Israel.
For now the Arab World and the State of Israel are still fighting for territory in the Middle East.
My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by Magda Assaad, LWIT Counselor
Labels: Book review, Nonfiction