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The United Nations and the End of Colonialism 1946 -1965

colonialism

Even before the Korean War, the United Nations had proved that it could take effective action to control serious conflicts. It first took such action in the conflict over Palestine. During World War I, the British had ousted the Turks from Palestine. When the war was over, the League of Nations placed that land under the authority of Britain. The British then issued the famous Balfour Declaration, which promised the Jewish people that Palestine would someday become their homeland, but the Arabs of Palestine and the surrounding countries strongly objected to this and year after year passed without the British making good their promise. During and after World War II, Britain refused to allow Jewish refugees from Europe to enter Palestine. In 1946 Jewish terrorists began to stage raids against the British army and a year later Britain turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations. The General Assembly set up a special committee to investigate the situation and make recommendations and several months later the committee delivered its report. It recommended that Palestine be divided into two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish. Although the Arabs, who formed a majority of the people in Palestine, said they would never allow the existence of a Jewish state, the General Assembly approved the committee’s report. Britain was expected to carry out and enforce the recommendations. Instead, the British suddenly left Palestine in the spring of 1948 and war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews. The Palestinian Arabs were supported by troops from the surrounding countries of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, but the Jewish army, which included many hardened veterans of World War II, won battle after battle. With every victory, the Jews added to the territory originally granted them by the United Nations special committee. Most …

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Rivalries in the Middle East 1856 – 1912

ottoman

THE MIDDLE EAST where Europe, Asia and Africa meet had long been known as one of the great crossroads of the world. Most of its people were Moslems, but among them were many Christians and Jews. They spoke languages as different as Arabic and Latin, Slavic and Turkish. They had little in common except that they were all subjects of the Ottoman sultan in Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire — so called after its early founder, Othman — was the last of several empires to rule over a large part of Islam. Unlike the earlier empires, it was dominated not by Arabs, but by Turks. Centuries before, the Turks had fought their way west from Central Asia and founded a new homeland in the West Asian peninsula of Turkey. From there, they had pushed outward, conquering lands and peoples. In 1699, however, they had lost Hungary to the Austrians. After that, while the nations of western Europe grew stronger, the Ottoman Empire became weaker. Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ottoman sultans had to combat enemies both within and without their empire. Their foreign enemies were the European powers, which snatched up their outlying lands. Their enemies at home were the subject peoples, especially in the Balkan Peninsula of southeast Europe, who demanded their freedom. Unrest was chronic and the Ottoman Empire, which was usually called simply Turkey, came to be known as “the sick man of Europe.” By the 1850’s, Turkey had lost lands north of the Black Sea to Russia and Algeria‚ in North Africa, to France. Of its former Balkan holdings, Greece was independent and both Serbia and Rumania had some freedom. A native Arab dynasty ruled much of Arabia. In Egypt, a former Turkish governor had set himself up as hereditary khedive, or viceroy, …

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Christian Knights and Mongol Horsemen A. D. 099-1404

genghis khan

THROUGHOUT THE eleventh century, the divided Arab Empire became weaker in all its parts. Meanwhile, the Christian lands to the north became stronger. Adventures from northern France snatched Sicily and Southern Italy from the Arabs. The pope called on the rulers of Europe for a united Christian attack on the Moslems. By the end of the century, European knights in chain-mail armour were streaming into Syria by land and sea, determined to recapture the holy places of their religion. This campaign was the first of many. The Crusades dragged on for two centuries, with long periods of peace coming between bouts of fighting. Christian kings and noblemen carved small states out of Moslem territory, only to lose them. In 1099, Frankish troops seized Jerusalem, the Christians’ holy city, and made it the capital of a kingdom. In 1187 Saladin reconquered the country for Islam. After the Moslems forced the last Crusaders to leave Syria in 1291, only the island of Cyprus remained under the Christian flag. So, in the end, although the Crusades did not change the balance of power between Christianity and Islam, they left behind bitter memories which were to poison Moslem-Christian relations for centuries. Not all of the results were bad, however. The Crusaders, who came to the Near East convinced of their own superiority, found that their despised enemies knew more than they did about a great many things. They took the knowledge they had gained home to Europe. The brave deeds of the warriors on both sides gave rise to thousands of poems, songs and tales which enriched the literatures of Europe and Islam. The Christian heroes included two kings — Richard the Lion Hearted of England and Louis IX of France, who was made a saint. Among the Moslem heroes, the most famous were …

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The Holy Book of Allah A. D. 632-732

koran

Mohammed sometimes dictated his thoughts to his secretary, Zayd, but when he spoke in public no one wrote down what he said. Instead, his listeners learned his speeches by heart and mistakes crept in, as they usually do. Only a short time after Mohammed’s death people were repeating his sayings in quite different ways. If Mohammed had been anyone else, this would not really have mattered. It would have been enough to remember what he had said without bothering too much about how he had said it. But the Moslems believed that God himself had addressed them through Mohammed. Every word the prophet had spoken was therefore divine and even every pause between words. The more the different reports of his teachings multiplied, the more confused his followers became. THE KORAN Mohammed’s old companions soon realized that if this confusion Were allowed to go on, Islam could easily split up into quarreling groups. Eventually, either Abu Bakr or a later head of the movement, Othman, ordered Zayd to prepare a text of Mohammed’s teachings that would be correct and complete. Gathering written and remembered fragments of his master’s words “from the ribs of palm-leaves and tablets of white stone and from the hearts of men,” Zayd brought them all together in a book. This book afterwards came to be called the Koran, meaning “the reading aloud” in Arabic. To Moslems, its contents are the very word of Allah. Four-fifths the size of the New Testament, the Koran is made up of 114 suras, or chapters. These suras are not arranged in the order in which Mohammed first spoke them, but by length, beginning with the longest. Most of them, short and fiery, came to Mohammed during his early years of struggle in Mecca. They deal with such things as the …

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Paul of Tarsus A. D. 35 – 64

paul

THERE was one man who had more to do with the future of the Christian church than even the apostles themselves, and his name was Paul, or Saul in Hebrew. He was the greatest of all Christian missionaries. Much more is known about Paul than about other leaders of the early church, for he wrote or dictated long letters of instruction and encouragement to various missions he had established. These letters were called epistles. A number of them were preserved and published. In addition, most of the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament, deals with Paul and his teachings. Taken together, his epistles and the chapters of the Acts devoted to him make up almost one half of the New Testament. One of the most amazing things about Paul was that he first came to the attention of the brethren in Jerusalem as a dangerous enemy of the church. He was first mentioned in the Acts as one of those present during the stoning of Stephen: “And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.” He was one of the angry mob crying for the blood of Stephen, and he guarded the cloaks of the executioners while they were casting their stones. Paul was the kind of man who had to live by his faith. He was a Pharisee, well-educated in the Law, proud of his rich Jewish heritage and deeply loved the God of Israel. Anyone who mocked or offended God was guilty of blasphemy and deserved to be punished. There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that Stephen was guilty. Paul hated him for it and eagerly joined with those whom he believed to be carrying out the Lord’s punishment. According to tradition, Paul was short, …

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The Resurrection and the Faithful Few A. D. 29 – 35

resurrection

JESUS lived and died a Jew. Like the ancient Hebrew teachers, he urged people to love God and to love their neighbours. He left no writings of his own. His public ministry was short, possibly not as long as two years. It seems probable, therefore, that his influence on world history might not have been nearly as great had his story ended on the cross. The gospel story does not end with his crucifixion. He died on Friday. To speed the death of those crucified on Fridays, so that they could be buried before the Sabbath, the legs of the victims were usually broken. The soldiers broke the legs of the thieves hanging on either side of Jesus. But since Jesus seemed to be dead already they did not break his legs. To make certain he was dead one of the soldiers thrust his spear into the side of Jesus. One Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to take away the body of Jesus. This he did with the help of friends and placed the body, in a new sepulcher in a nearby garden. The grave was really a cave hollowed out of rock in the side of a hill. Over the entrance they rolled a huge stone. The following day being the Sabbath, nothing more could be done. Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and other followers of Jesus brought sweet spices to anoint his body. But they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Puzzled and frightened, the others left the place, but Mary did not leave. While she was weeping by the side of the tomb Jesus suddenly appeared before her. That same evening in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared before a number of disciples gathered together in a locked room. The disciples were terrified, for they …

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