From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Middle East is a historical and political region of Afro-Eurasia with no clear boundaries. The term "Middle East" was popularized around 1900 in Britain, and has been criticized for its loose definition. The Middle East traditionally includes countries or regions in Southwest Asia and parts of North Africa. The corresponding adjective to Middle East is Middle-Eastern and the derived noun is Middle-Easterner.
The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, and throughout its history the Middle East has been a major center of world affairs. The Middle East is also the geographic origin of three of the world’s great religions - Christianity, Islam, Judaism. The Middle East generally has an arid and hot climate, with several major rivers providing for irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas. Many countries located around the Persian Gulf have large quantities of crude oil. In modern times, the Middle East remains a strategically, economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive region.
Post-World War II
The most chaotic part of Asia in the post-World War II world was the Middle East. Following World War II, Britain had granted independence to Mesopotamia, which became Iraq, Kuwait, and Transjordan, which became Jordan. France also granted independence to Syria and Lebanon. British Palestine, however, presented a unique challenge. Following World War I, when Britain gained the colony, Jews, mostly from Europe, began immigrating to Palestine, since it was the land of their ancestors. This immigration increased as anti-Semitism became more prevalent in the 1930s. However, as the numbers of Palestinian Jews increased, conflicts with Arab Palestinians occurred. The UN proposed Palestine be divided into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arabs objected, however. Feeling it could do nothing to resolve the conflict, Britain withdrew and Jewish Palestinians declared the state of Israel. The Israelis immediately found themselves at war with their Arab neighbors. Israel survived the war and won two subsequent wars with neighboring Arab nations. Unfortunately, as a result of these wars, Israel found itself occupying the lands of the Arab Palestinians, called simply Palestinians today. This would lead to ongoing problems in the region.
Organizations, programs, and media
- Middle East Institute
- Middle East Studies Association of North America
- Middle East Youth Initiative
- Maayan Middle East poetry magazine
- Strategic Foresight Group