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marmoset's avatar

Middle East politics overview?

Asked by marmoset (1100points) August 5th, 2012 from iPhone

A good basic unbiased overview of the history and politics of the Middle East, especially Israel/Palestine? Ideally a website or a long detailed article on the web, but if you have a favorite book I’d also be happy to hear about that.

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8 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Nothing springs immediately to mind besides a Wiki Walk through the ‘pedia. Follow all the hyperlynxes!
Complicating matters is that there are populations there with long histories, dating back to the Bronze Age or so. You may have to start your overview in the ancient past to get the context right. Also complicating matters is that nearly everybody has a vested interest of some sort in the region, which makes it difficult to get a full account, either through field specialization or outright propaganda.
The Israel-Palestine conflict may be summed up briefly: Israel and the Palestinians have conflicting claims to a patch of coastline the size of Rhode Island that has enormous religious, historic, or cultural significance to both sides. Both have allies, and occasionally they have a war.
unbias off: Israel is unreasonably good at not being crushed.

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LKidKyle1985's avatar

to add to nulls comment, a lot of the current dynamics stems back to post world war I and world war II arrangements. That would be a good place to start for info on it. Sure, there is a lot of history going way back but if you are looking for an explanation for modern political situation, that’s the best place to start.

whitenoise's avatar

I don’t know your nationality, but the Dutch writer Joris Luyendijk has written quite some interesting books and essays on the region.

For the rest… walk the web and realize that unbiased information on this heated region is extremely hard to find.

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AngryWhiteMale's avatar

“Basic” and “unbiased” are not words one associates with books on politics and history (and certainly not a region as polarizing and controversial as the Middle East!), unless you look at school textbooks, and even there the authors present a certain perspective, as bland and inoffensive as they can make it.

If you’re trying to understand the ENTIRE history of the Middle East, you have your work cut out for you, because the roots of the present conflicts have their origins in both antiquity and the medieval eras. Even if you’re just trying to understand the last hundred years or so, you’ll need to wade through a few books.

I suggest perhaps first checking out these recommendations from Juan Cole, a respected historian and blogger who often writes about the Middle East and its related issues and politics. He has a short list of general works posted here.

If you want something fast and dirty, then this book, Arabs and Israel For Beginners by Ron and Susan David (somewhat pro-Palestinian) is a good introduction, but to really understand what’s going on, check the bibliography at the end of the book to find more in-depth, scholarly, and serious works on the region. Many of these books will give you a glimpse at the complexity of the issues, and the various interpretations by historians, political scientists, statesmen, and partisans.

While I think it’s important to discuss what’s happening in the region and why things have happened as they have, it’s a topic akin to abortion: there is no middle ground, everyone has an opinion, and just about everyone is inflexible in their perspective. I think the best you can do is to just educate yourself as much as you can.

marmoset's avatar

Thank you all for the excellent responses so far!

spaceinvader's avatar

Israel is a proud and great country; and a persecuted one through out history

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