Prior To World War I, which began in 1914, the Ottoman Empire, headed up by Turkey, covered much of the Middle East and parts of Europe, including Spain and Portugal. When Germany joined with Austria, Italy, and a number of other countries in the "German Empire" to start World War I, the Ottoman Empire joined in with that group to fight against England, France, and Russia. As things progressed, fighting went on with neither side gaining the upper hand. It seemed like a never ending battle. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 resulted in huge changes in Russia and Britain was fearful that the Russians might opt to switch sides and fight with Germany.
It was then that Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, penned his note to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, stating that Britain would work towards achieving a homeland for the Jews. In exchange for that commitment, Lord Rothschild would work towards getting highly influential Jews, particularly in Russia, to convince their nation's leaders to continue the fight against Germany. That agreement essentially "held the fort" until the United States, which had just entered the war, could get their troops across the ocean and onto the battlefields.
When the war ended, the League of Nations divided the Ottoman Empire into "protectorates", with France responsible for Syria and Lebanon, and the United Kingdom for Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Palestine. The Palestinian territory was later divided into Palestine and Transjordan, and, subsequent to that, in 1922, Transjordan became autonomous. (Transjordan was the territory east of the Jordan river. It was renamed Jordan in 1949.)
After World War II, the United Nations took up the partitioning of what had been the British Protectorate of Palestine. On November 29, 1947, the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 181 and, based on the size of the resident Jewish and Arab populations in that territory, divided the nation into what we now call Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem was to be part of neither state, but, under the conditions of the resolution, was to be an international city under the management and protection of the U. N. Israel immediately accepted and signed the resolution. The Palestinian's have never signed it.
After Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, other Arab forces joined the Palestinian Arabs in attacking the new state of Israel. On the eve of May 14, 1948, Aunder Egyptian command, Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt all fought against Israel. The fighting continued until July of 1949. Since that time, Israel has been attacked six times and has essentially been under siege from its inception.
As the war rages on the Gaza strip, we hear pundits and politicians call for Israel to show "restraint". However, we don't hear those same pundits or politicians calling for Palestinians and their supporters to do likewise. Literally thousands of rockets have been fired into Israeli territory, those rockets coming to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, from Iran. Dozens of military tunnels have crossed the border from Gaza into Israel. Hamas places their rocket sights in apartment buildings and, when Israel gives prior notice that they are going to bomb those sites, Hamas forces families with their children to remain. Outrageously, even United Nation run schools have been found to contain stores of rockets and other ammunitions.
Of course Israel's opponents want a call for them to be restrained. They would be happy to trade life for life with Israel. Why? Because . . . There are only sixteen million Jews in the world — there are one and a half billion Muslims. Israel has a total of 5.9 million Jews — Arab countries that share a border with Israel have a total population of 148 million, with four other Middle Eastern countries adding over 155 million more.
From a tactical standpoint, victors in war normally have an occupying force . . . essentially to restore and maintain order so that some semblance of normalcy can return. While the physical odds have been stacked against Israel in every war that has been visited upon them, they have either won those wars or have achieved a stalemate. However, it is virtually impossible for Israel to use their scarce resources, to oversee and keep the peace in the territories of their attackers. Added to that imbalance of physical resources is the fact that the Muslims have more population than any other religious or national entity. And, their birth rates are two and three times higher than virtually every group in the world.
One other issue that hovers over this Arab-Israeli war in Gaza, is that there appears to be a "Holy war" being waged between the Sunni (dominated by the Saudi's) and Shia (dominated by the Irani's). One could speculate that behind the attacks by Hamas from Gaza, is the Iran Shia faction . . . perhaps operating on the basis that by defeating Israel they could overtake the more populous Sunni for control in what they see as the coming Caliphate.
So, about that need to show "restraint" . . . what would you do if it was your neighbors who have sworn to destroy you and your family?
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)