|Israel: Legacy of British Imperialism
Imperialism has left a profound shape on the modern world- borders, alliances, and of course, conflict. Perhaps no other nation has had the same impact through its imperialist policies as Great Britain, who assumed large tracts of the Middle East from the defeated Ottoman Empire following the First World War. Great Britain shepherded in a large Zionist community to Palestine between the two World Wars, setting up the basis for the current State of Israel. Although seeming to have been the direct cause of the past half-century of warfare between Israel and the neighboring Arab states, the nation of Israel supports the legacy which British Imperialism left upon the Middle East, namely through it’s support of self-determination and support of the fractured Jewish people.
Upon its exit from the Middle East, the Zionist question was answered by the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine, which, in 1947 reached the conclusion that separate states be formed for the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Palestine. Great Britain, as sovereign ruler of Palestine, agreed to this partition, and acknowledged the creation of the sovereign state of Israel in 1948. Arab Palestinians on the other hand refused the partition, and plunged the region into what has been over half a century of warfare in which it was promised that Israel would be driven into the sea. By recognizing Israel, Britain was supporting a very forward-thinking, anti-imperialist policy of self-determination, and if it had been followed by the Palestinians, the current crisis would’ve been avoidable.
Lastly, by supporting the Zionist state of Israel in a partitioned Palestine in the wake of Imperialism, Great Britain was openly supporting the victimized Jewish people following the Holocaust. The decision to recognize an Israeli state within a partitioned Palestine was not simply one to settle territorial disputes- it was a decision of superior morality. Without a state to protect and represent unified interests, the Jewish people would be liable to face further prosecution, just as they have for hundreds of years. The state of Israel was a necessity for the survival of a culture, and Great Britain left behind a legacy of high morality and concern.
Although it has become largely fashionable to condemn the actions of Imperialists in the 21st century, we must keep in mind the achievements as well as the resulting problems to its legacy. By partitioning Palestine and recognizing a sovereign Israeli state, Great Britain leaves a triumph behind in the Middle East, both in terms of modern self-determination and moral decisions.