By Lewis McCool
teaches basics about the Mideast conflict
April 17, 2002
I have my biases about the situation in the Middle East, but I
dont have confidence that I know enough of its history to defend my opinions.
One could spend a lifetime examining the issues and not be able
to reach a definitive conclusion or solution. And many have. I dont expect to
absorb a lifetime of learning in a few hours of reading The Complete Idiots
Guide to Middle East Conflict by Mitchell Bard or casual browsing on the
Internet. Still, there are vast resources online.
With persistence and the application of a bit of logic, I
believe a researcher can get a balanced view of the news and history
from the Internet.
The best starting point Ive found is on the University of
Michigans Web site at www.lib.umich.edu/ govdocs/arabis.html. Its an
outline and list of links for a couple of advanced political science classes.
One of the best overviews Ive found is on CNN.com at
www.cnn.com/specials/2001/mideast. The sites pop-up boxes include a timeline
starting at 1000 B.C., maps showing boundary changes since 1920, a map of
countries where Palestinian refugees live and brief biographies of key players.
For current events as seen through the eyes of those in the
region, visit the Jerusalem Post, www.jpost.com; Jordan Times,
www.jordantimes.com; Cairo Times, www.cairotimes.com; Syria Times,
www.teshreen.com/syriatimes; and Arab News (Saudi Arabia),
The U.S.-based Electronic Intifada, www.electronicintifada.net,
produced by pro-Palestinian activists, notes that intifada is an Arabic word
meaning "a shaking off." Perhaps the most interesting information on
the site is the response to several media "myths" regarding Israels
The Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Research and Information
Project offers what appears to be a moderate Arab take on the conflict at
www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/toc-pal-isr-primer.html. The organization
maintains that the current conflict, which began at the opening of the 20th
century, is not a religious war but "essentially a struggle over
For yet another take, read "The Origin of the
Palestine-Israel Conflict," published by Jews for Justice in the Middle
East, online at www.cactus48.com/truth.html. Its surprisingly critical of the
1948 war that led to the birth of the state of Israel.
Although its Web sites content isnt as current as some,
the D.C.-based Middle East Institute, www.mideasti.org, founded in 1946,
provides valuable, non-partisan material on the broader issues with global
Newsweeks article "Middle East: A Blueprint for
Peace," which appears in the April 22 issue, can be found online at
www.msnbc.com/news/737949.asp. It refers to and expands on the Clinton plan
outlined in late 2000.
In January 2001, with 13 days left in office, President Clinton
told an Israel Policy Forum gathering in New York, "There is no place for
violence and no military solution to this conflict. The only path to a just and
durable resolution is through negotiation ... (but) goodwill at the negotiating
table cannot survive forever ill intent on the ground."
Researching this column, I learned several things about the
Middle East and I learned how little I know, but my opinion hasnt changed: An
individual, a people or a nation that teaches or espouses hatred and the death
of innocents earns no legitimacy and deserves no respect. Peacemakers, on the
other hand, deserve ... peace.
Lewis McCool is the Heralds technology editor. E-mail him at