The Puzzle of Palestine

The Puzzle of Palestine

The Puzzle of Palestine

The Puzzle of Palestine

Excerpt

Breasting the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, lies a little territory about the size of New Hampshire. Physically it is not a very imposing place. The rainfall is rather scanty; the sun, blazing. Until recently much of it was barren sand, or swamp, or incredibly rocky hills, now and then whitened by a light touch of snow. Perhaps its only claim to geographical notice is possession of the lowest land on earth -- the shores of the saltsaturated Dead Sea, 1300 feet below sea level.

Not a very imposing place; not much to fight for.

Yet it has a long record of warfare, running back to the very dawn of history. Semitic tribesmen, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, Crusaders and Tartars -- these are some of the historic groups which have battled valiantly and poured out their blood on its soil. In 1917 the British added theirs. And today, while war does not exist in Palestine, Arabs, Jews and Britons are engaged in a grim struggle there, each for purposes of his own.

Why? Why is it that in Palestine, the Holy Land-holy for the Jews, the Christians and the Moslems-there should be night attacks, murders from ambush, guerrilla warfare? Surely here if anywhere you might expect to find godliness, understanding and peace. And yet the very opposite is the case. Why?

It is the purpose of this book not only to find the answer to that question but also to discuss the various suggestions that have been made to restore peace and tranquillity to the Holy Land. In the course of it we shall discover that Palestine is important to three great religious groups: the Jews, the Christians and the Moslems. We shall learn that it is also of vital concern to Great Britain: as an eastern outpost guarding the Suez . . .

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