George Melloan, an influential columnist and international deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal, offers a most interesting perspective of the Israeli-Arab conflct in “Reviewing the Hundred Years’ War,” published in today’s edition of the paper.
Melloan looks back to what he suggests might be an historical precedent to this conflict: The Arab-Israeli struggle might be equated — at least in duration — to the Hundred Years’ War between England and France in the 14th and 15th centuries. One could say it began in the early 20th century when Zionists began arriving in significant numbers in the Holy Lands, fleeing oppression in Europe. They augmented the Jewish population of what would later be called Palestine.
Melloan traces the development of the modern conflict and the rise of the state of Israel before concluding with these two paragraphs:
There would be plenty of fighting. In 1956, Israel, with British and French support, invaded the Sinai after Nasser seized the Suez Canal, but to little avail. In June 1967 came the Six Day War and the IDF’s lightning victory over the combined forces of neighboring Arab states that gave Israel control of large territories formerly controlled by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Then, in October 1973, there was the Yom Kippur War, which Israel might have lost had Gen. Sharon not conducted a bold tank maneuver to neutralize Egyptian surface-to-air missile batteries near the Suez Canal.
Now that is all history. Ariel Sharon is finally hors de combat and his long record will go into the history books. Israel will continue to fight. The barren land the Zionists settled so long ago has become a strong state of 6.5 million people, mostly Jews. It has gradually modified the socialism that hampered its economic development. The Hundred Years’ War will continue, but casualties are fewer and the U.S. has established a military presence in the region, grounds for hope that the war is winding down.
The article is insightful and hopeful — a rare combination when dealing with this conflict.