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Chapter Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson

POLS 3060 Chapter Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson: The Roots of Arab Bitterness

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 3060
Janine Clark
Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson

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January 23rd, 2018
The Roots of Arab Bitterness Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. and Lawrence Davidson:
Arab nationalismthe belief that Arab states should unite under a common government, particularly to resist
non-Arab controlis a strong sentiment in the Middle East
Even though Arab nationalists strove to liberate themselves from Ottoman rule, there is detectable even
today in Arab nationalist thought a strain of nostalgia for the lost days of a united and powerful Islamic
empire that subsumed what are now separate, weak, and often bickering Arab nation-states
The Arab experience with the West has, unfortunately, been less ambiguous Arabs repeatedly dealt with
Western powers that promised them independence from the Ottomans but that then established themselves
spheres of influence in the Middle East, formalized soon after World War I as mandates, which were little
more than colonies in disguise
To many Arabs, the establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine in 1958 is a highly charged emblem of
Western intrusion and duplicity, in that it violated previous Western assurances and displaced a great many
Arab Palestinians, leaving them without homes, property, or a country of their own
In our analysis we may find that what is called Arab nationalism is now dissolving into many different
movements, whose common feature is that they pertain to various Arabic-speaking peoples who seek to
control their own political destinies
Arab Nationalism:
Arab nationalism, simply put, is the belief that the Arabs constitute a single political community (or nation)
and should have a common government
The current definition is that an Arab is anyone who speaks Arabic as his or her native language
A more eloquent definition is one adopted by a conference of Arab leaders years ago: “Whoever lies in our
community, speaks our language, is reared in our culture, and takes pride in our glory is one of us”
Historical Background:
Settled peoples cared that a Muslim government rule over them, defend them from nomads and other
invaders, preserve order, and promote peace in accordance with the Shari’a it did not matter whether the
head of that Muslim government was an Arab like the Umayyad caliphs, a Persian like the Buyid amirs, a
Turk, or a Kurd
Almost all rulers succeeded by either heredity or nomination; no one thought of letting the people elect them
The Arabs Under Ottoman Rule:
From the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, most Arabsall of them, really, except in parts of Arabia and
Moroccobelonged to the Ottoman Empire
Historians have concluded that Arab identity played no great part in Middle East politics up to the twentieth
century Muslim Arabs felt that any attempt to weaken the Ottoman Empire was apt to harm Islam
Christian Arab Nationalists:
In the nineteenth century, as many as one-fourth of the Arabs under Ottoman rule belonged to protected
Most of these were Christians, who were less likely than the Muslims to feel a strong loyalty to the empire
From the 1820s on, American and French missionaries founded schools in Syria, as did the British,
Russians, and other Westerners, though to a lesser extent
Inasmuch as Syrian Christians naturally sent their children to mission schools closest to their own religious
affiliation, Maronites and Uniate Catholics tended to go to French Catholic schools and to identity with
How could the Orthodox Christians compete? Distressed by the low education level of their own clergy,
some were converting to Catholicism or Protestantism and sending their children to the relevant mission
The Americans helped solve their problem, but quite by accident they aided the rise of Arab nationalism
US mission schools, especially their crowning institution, the Syrian Protestant College, tried to serve
students of every religion, but most of them hoped also to convert young people to Protestant Christianity
Because Protestantism has traditionally stressed the reading and understanding of its sacred scriptures, the
Bible was soon translated into Arabic for local converts many of the early American missionaries learned
the language well enough to teach it and even to translate English-language textbooks into Arabic
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