To understand the beginnings of the decades-old Jewish-Muslim conflict in the Middle East, Spudberg decided to first look up the definition of a word for which he only understood the connotations. Arabnet quickly and clearly defines “Zionism” in a historical context on this page, which is part of a larger at-a-glance history of Palestine. The lessons get interesting during World War I.

In the Middle East, there are two histories. This is Israel’s, as offered in time-line fashion by Israel.org. It gets interesting before it even starts — about 2,000 years before — in a brief prelude. If you look for them, some stark ironies jump out of that prelude, which seems to be rationalizing in trying to explain how “a cultural, religious and national identity was formed . . .” about a “physical presence being maintained through the centuries . . .” and about the Jewish people’s “many years of dispersion.”

The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information is a think tank founded in 1988. But beware, think tanks tend to be a bit long-winded. Luckily, they also have a saving grace: They put solu
tions on the table (not that anyone’s sitting down with them). Not only does the IPCRI explain how we got into the current mess, it tells us how we might clean it up.

This handsome site brings together current events better than most online newspapers and magazines. You can guess what most of the content deals with. There are also chat rooms, discussion boards, editorial cartoons and e-mail — everything you’d expect from a well-
appointed portal.

Swinging back to Israel’s side of the story, we’re hit with another cruel irony, the country’s Declaration of Independence, which states: “The state of Israel . . . will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equali
ty of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race . . .” This time, the people who posted the passage — The New Israel Fund — see the irony.

Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) says it’s the largest grassroots move
ment in Israel’s history. What’s interesting is that it was founded by 348 reserve officers of the Israel Defense Forces who through their own experiences came to realize that violence is not the answer to the bloody conflict.