The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars

The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars

The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars

The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars

Synopsis

This highly-regarded history gives a balanced and judicious introduction to this immensely complex and controversial subject, weaving different strands of the story into a single coherent narrative, thus making it essential reading for all students studying conflict in the Middle East. Of all the troubles affecting the modern world few are as topical, deep rooted and intractable as the Arab-Israeli conflict. For this region, an understanding of the past is vital to an understanding of the present. Ritchie Ovendale's classic study of the roots of the conflict is now updated for a fourth time and considers events until 2003.

Excerpt

At the end of 1894 a Jewish officer of the French general staff, Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted behind closed doors of espionage for Germany, and sentenced to deportation for life to Devil’s Island. The officer was publicly degraded at the École Militaire: his sword was broken; he was stripped of his uniform; and taken away in chains. The mob present shouted, ‘Death. Death to the Jews.’ Dreyfus was a parvenu, an example of social climbing by a Jewish family seeking assimilation and acceptance by high society through launching their sons on military careers. Known for boasting about his family fortune – which he spent on women – Dreyfus was not even liked by the young Austro-Hungarian journalist, Theodor Herzl, who reported the trial. But Herzl became convinced that Dreyfus was innocent, and was shaken by the apparent hostility to the Jews that the case unleashed in France. Six months later Herzl suggested to Barons Maurice de Hirsch and Albert Rothschild ‘a Jewish exodus’: for nearly 2,000 years Jews had been dispersed all over the world without a state of their own; if only the Jews had a political centre they could begin to solve the problem of anti-Semitism.

The Dreyfus affair became the symbol of Jewish inequality in European society. The confession of one officer, and the suicide of another, led to Dreyfus’s being pardoned in 1899, but he was never acquitted. The discovery of Dreyfus’s innocence did not lead to social acceptance of the Jews. Marcel Proust, the French novelist who found similarities between the exclusion forced by his Jewishness and his homosexuality, when recalling things past observed: ‘The politicians had not been wrong in thinking that the discovery of the judicial error would deal a fatal blow to anti-semitism. But provisionally, at least, a social anti-semitism was on the contrary enhanced and exacerbated by it.’ From Emile Zola’s famous defence of . . .

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