The history in the area clearly illustrates continued conflict that began in 1948 when the Israeli nation was first created, and has continued to the present day. There have been numerous peace talks and accords, but the fighting still continues. Writer Spiegel continues, "As a coin of the realm, prestige has limited value and even less fungibility, which became apparent in the procedural haggling between Arab and Israeli negotiators that characterized the initial bilateral negotiations during 1991 and 1992" (Spiegel 184). It simply seems that the Arabs and Israelis will always have differences that are insurmountable and extremely personal.
I do not hold out much hope for a lasting peace in the area, because both sides are so far from understanding each other and coming to any kind of satisfactory conclusion. The Israelis believe they are right, and have a right to the land they settled in 1948, while the surrounding Arab nations feel their land was taken from them and the Israelis do not belong there. Author Stephen Ambrose notes, "It is the presence of the Jewish state of Israel on territory that once was Palestine that causes the Middle Eastern problem, whose magnitude cannot be exaggerated" (Ambrose 345). Each side has some valid arguments, and each side is used to using violence and terrorism to keep their lands and their rights. It is a very difficult situation, and it does not seem to be getting any better. While I would like to see a lasting peace in the Middle East, history shows this has not happened, and I do not think it will happen any time soon. There are too many divisions and too much hatred for the two sides to ever get past their differences.
I think that the most significant Arab-Israeli War is the Six-Day War in 1967 for several reasons. One, is that many people believe Israel started the war with a preemptive strike on June 5, 1967, when they struck Egypt and destroyed nearly all of its' air force. They also attacked the Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi air forces. Ambrose notes, "It was a dazzling demonstration of the superiority of the Israeli flyers and gave them control of the air" (Ambrose 353). I think this was significant for a number of reasons. First, Israel showed they were not afraid of their Arab neighbors. They also showed they had a superior army and air force as they gained a large amount of territory in only six days, and they showed they would not back down. This was also the first time they occupied territory that had not been set aside by the British mandate in 1948. This was significant because it showed Israel was a serious aggressor, and that Arab countries bordering Israel might lose some of their territory if they were not careful.
This war also escalated the hatred between Palestine and Israel, and many feel it directly led to the "expansion" of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (Ambrose 355) and a rise in general Arab terrorism in the area. Thus, Israel's aggression led to more terrorist groups who were willing to fight to the death if they had to, in order to maintain their lands and their beliefs. Many experts believe the Six-Day War was the most significant in the area. Another historian writes, "The Six Day War of June 1967 dramatically altered the military, political and geographic, as well as the economic and social, aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it also spurred serious efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace" (Reich 3). The world may have hoped for peace, but the combatants, although they did reach a cease-fire, had more differences now that Israel had taken land that was never theirs to begin with. This war was extremely significant because it created more problems and unrest in the area, which led to more strife, more wars, and more unease between neighbors and countries.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.
Editors. "Arab-Israeli Conflict." Wikipedia.org. 9 Aug. 2005. 12 Aug. 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab-Israeli_conflict
Reich, Bernard, ed. Arab-Israeli Conflict and Conciliation: A Documentary History. New York:…