December of 1947 could be best described as pivotal for the future of the entire Middle East. Although at the time it's imagined few would realize the long-term effects, most notably that small patch of earth just a bit north of Egypt and just a bit south of Lebanon. The Partition of Palestine was proposed to take shape into three areas; one controlled by Arabs with a Jewish minority, one controlled by Jews with an Arab minority and one International, controlled by neutral nations under the auspices of the UN.
Sounds simple, right? No. Consider the perfect storm brewing in the entire region. Independence granted former protectorates of the British and French, who controlled the region as a result of World War 1 (yes, World War 1). The Colony/protectorates that were also part of German takeovers in World War 2, and the burgeoning Arab Nationalism Movement, slowly gaining speed in the region. You just know something had to give sooner or later.
Here, by way of a weekly radio program called Stories Behind The Headlines is a piece that acts as a sort of education primer to the region and the Post-War climate that prevailed during these pivotal months after World War 2.
Historian Cesar Searchinger offered an analysis and background on the situation which proved to be unintentionally prophetic.
Cesar Searchinger: “It is idle now to argue about the justice of the Palestine decision, or even about the viability of the proposed Jewish state. The commanding problem today is implementation. And the stark fact is that not only the Arabs of Palestine but all of Palestine’s neighbors, the seven states of the Arab League are bitterly opposed. And so are all the Muslim countries from Turkey to Egypt and from Syria to Pakistan. We have seen only lately in India what Muslim fanaticism is capable of in the way of mob violence. We have had only an inkling thus far of the strength of Arab Nationalism in the Middle East. It has made great gains since the end of the War. It has caused the British and French to move out of Syria and Lebanon. It has exacted a deadline for the British evacuation of Egypt. It has secured practically independence for Iraq and Trans-Jordan. And Saudi Arabia holds a trump card in its rich oil resources, which have become strategically very important to the United States.
Like India, the Arab countries have absorbed the Western concept of the National State. Less than a generation ago they were vassals of the Turks. Today, National Independence and consolidation of Arab power in the Middle East are twin ambitions. And Arab unity, weak until recently, has now been given a focal point; resistance to a Zionist Palestine.”
And literally within months if not weeks of the Partition taking effect, the powder keg blew. And it has continued blowing these past 60+ years.
So in case you were wondering how these things get started - they all have a history and they all start out differently.
Sort of makes you wonder what's looming in our future for Afghanistan.
Here is Story Behind The Headlines for December 6, 1947 as presented by NBC Radio.