In the New York Times, Max Fisher reviews why the Two State Solution hasn’t happened.
On his blog, Tyler Cowen summarizes the economics in Theodor Herzl’s “The Jewish State.”
Herzl favored selling European homes and businesses of departing Jews and buying land in Argentina or Palestine, at a profit, through a land acquisition company incorporated in London. Poor Jews from Romania and Russia would supply cheap labor and be rewarded by their own houses eventually. Herzl favored short working weeks, a democratic monarchy or the aristocratic republic of Renaissance Venice.
The Economist largely accepts the notion that Irgun terrorism and America’s support for Zionism pushed Britain out of Palestine. It concludes:
On the Haganah’s broader influence, Mr Hoffman notes that al-Qaeda’s Afghan library had a copy of Begin’s “The Revolt”, but does not ask why so many Palestinian prisoners take Israeli university courses on how Jews established their state. Much of what they do, including building terror tunnels, bombing transport nodes, lobbing mortars at residential neighbourhoods and burying arms dumps in places of worship, has antecedents in Jewish militancy. Israel knows Palestinian methods and it has an array of anti-terror legislation which, had Britain responded similarly, might have aborted the future state.
According to Segev, in contrast, Hoffmann over estimates the impact of terrorist acts against colonial Britain committed by Menachem Begin’s Irgun. Statehood for Israel would have come anyway.
Zack Beauchamp, Timothy B. Lee and Matthew Yglesias provide a fascinating account of World War I in Vox. Short texts accompanying 40 maps cover the central European powers, Russia, the US, the Balkans, Africa, the Ottoman Empire, Palestine, Arabia, Mexico as well as technology and strategy of the campaigns.
Text 23 on “Britain conquering Palestine:”
After the failure of the Gallipoli campaign in 1916, Allied forces regrouped in Egypt and began making plans to take Ottoman-held land in the Levant. This map shows part of that effort, Britain’s successful 1917 campaign in Palestine. The British invasion of Palestine would have long-lasting consequences. On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter endorsing “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Balfour cautioned that “nothing shall be done that may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” In 1922, the League of Nations officially endorsed British administration of Palestine. British policies after World War I helped lay the groundwork for the eventual UN partition of Palestine between Arab and Jewish states — and everything that followed from that.
Text 24 on “Lawrence of Arabia and Britain’s betrayal of Arab allies:”
One of the most remarkable figures of World War I was TE Lawrence, whose exploits in the Middle East were immortalized in the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia. Before the war, Lawrence was an archeologist, and he got to know the Middle East during expeditions to the region. When war broke out, the British recruited him to help organize an Arab revolt against the Ottoman empire. His pre-war connections made him particularly effective in this role. He fought alongside the Arabs in a series of battles between 1916 and 1918. At the end of the war in November 1918, Lawrence presented this map to his superiors in Britain, showing proposed borders for a postwar Middle East. The British had promised independence to Arab Allies who participated in the rebellion, and Lawrence attended the 1919 Paris Peace Conference to press for these promises to be kept. Instead, the British and French divided Arab territories under the terms of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (discussed below), which they had secretly negotiated in 1916.
Text 39 on “Sykes-Picot and the breakup of the Ottoman empire:”
World War I also transformed the Middle East. In 1916, French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes, drew up a map dividing the Ottoman Empire’s Middle Eastern territory between British and French zones of control. The agreement permitted British and French authorities to divide up their respective territories however they pleased. This led to the creation of a series of Arab countries — Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and so on — whose borders and political institutions only dimly reflected the Arab world’s ethno-sectarian makeup. Many scholars believe the Sykes-Picot borders were a major factor in the chaotic state of the Middle East in the decades since then.