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Stanford EDGE 297A - Visions of America in the Holy Land - A Look at How the Past Continues to Shape Present Perceptions

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Visions of America in the Holy Land: A Look at How the PastContinues to Shape Present PerceptionsThe last century has bred undeniable hate in the Middle East region. However, thefocus of this hate has been shifted form the directly affected nations to “The Great Satan.” Otherwise known as your very own United States of America, this nation is not held in such high esteem as it is in other nations around the globe. So far our endeavors inforeign policy in the Middle East have been all lose-lose situations (at best)!! Why is all this hate directed toward our nation which seems to hold a neutral stance on the current situation? It can be broken down into two parts: past and present. In the past our allianceswith our nations, plus some clandestine political decisions put us in bad standing with both sides. Now it seems our past is irreprehensible and the press continues to slaughter our public image. This public slandering not only affects the United States, but the overall peace process because we are the main litigating party. (Moore 1) If the world is serious about peace in the Middle East, all nations must back the United States or at least help clean up our image in that area. To understand why that must be done and how it canultimately be achieved one must look at several things. First, examine the history of this conflict and then look at how the United States has fit into some crucial points of the story. Then take a look at how America is perceived by individual groups in the region. Finally, combine both areas to see how the United States can be a positive factor in achieving the seemingly impossible: peace in the Middle East.Since the end of the Christian crusades the Holy land had been controlled by various Muslim leaders and inhabited by indigenous Arab people. In the year 1897, the Ottoman Empire was in control of Palestine. One wished to change this fact: Theodor Herzl. Herzl called the 1st Zionist Congress in 1897 and held it in Switzerland. At the Congress a plan was proposed to create a homeland for Zionist and what better place thanthe Holy land of their ancestors. (History of the Middle East 1) Following this decision some Jews began to migrate but they met staunch resistance from the pre-established Arab people. Tensions continued to rise through the end of World War I. With the conquering of the Ottoman Empire in 1917, Britain became the protector of the Palestinian region. They searched for an easy solution to this growing problem. Enter the Balfour Declaration; this document created the first Zionist haven in the world. The declaration split up the region into two separate areas: Islam and Judaism. Like the resolutions that would follow years later this proposed partition caused more problems than it solved. (History of the Middle East 3) The clashes between ethnic groups only grew in tenacity and frequency. These conflicts culminated in the Arab Revolt of 1936: a bloody assault on Jewish property resulting in the capturing of some cities and towns as well. After this outburst the killing was overshadowed by the outbreak of World War II. Itwas during this time many more Jews flocked to this so called haven to escape from the grasp of Hitler and his war machine. So by avoiding one problem they created a potential more deadly one. The influx of refugees caused overcrowding and would eventually lead to multiple violent engagements for both parties. At this point the British Empire realizes that nothing good can come from their supervision of the region and thus they pull out and hand over control to the newly formed organization known as the United Nations. (History 3)When the U.N. stepped in all the problems had been on hiatus due to the war, but nevertheless a solution had to be reached and the sooner the better. Make-shift resolutionswere passed to try and solve the problem. The new partitions held up for a couple of decades until the outbreak of the Six-Day War. This conflict was a swift, decisive victory for the Israeli side. Also this is a crucial time for the introduction of the United States intothe Middle East scene. The battle went as so: after a month or so of very tense times Israel did a “blitzkrieg” of its own and garnered all of Gaza and pushed its army all the way across the Sinai Peninsula until a cease fire was called after just six days. Seemingly a great victory for the Israeli people, whose country of Israel is now almost twenty years old in 1967. However, in actuality, they owe their victory to the use of American military equipment (www.uncommonknowledge.com). At this point in history, why would the United States get involved directly or indirectly in such a foreign conflict? Let’s just say it was a matter of consistent foreign policy.At the end of the Second World War decisive world powers were crowned: the United States of America (Champions of the Free World and Democracy) and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (Proponent of the Communist Way). Over nearly the next half century both nations would base their foreign policies around each other. For example: the Korean War, Vietnam War, numerous nuclear threats, and yes even the Middle Eastern conflict. U.S. intelligence discovered that the Soviet Union was backing much of the Arab nation in their fight against the new nation of Israeli by giving the Arabs planes, tanks, and other military devices. Not to be out done by their competitors (and also fearing the global spread of Communism), the United States supplied the nationof Israel with similar tactical weapons and subsidiary funds. The best clash of these technologies was in the beginning of the Six Day War when U.S. military defense weapons operated by Israelis shot down Soviet Mig fighter planes flown by Syrian fighters. (www.uncommonknowlegde.com) The U.S.’s involvement in the conflict on the Jews side infuriated the Arabs and thus began the sentiment of the United States being in unfair broker in terms of relations with both parties. Decisions similar to these would continue to help the U.S. dig itself into more of a hole in the minds of the Arab people.After a cease fire was called to halt the war, the United Nations stepped back in totry to bring some type of closure to the region to avoid more bloody conflicts. On November 22, 1967 the U.N. passed the famous Resolution 242. This document called for the removal of Israeli troops from all areas they did not occupy before the Six Day War. Also it established


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