10 Things You Should Know About the Middle East

With ISIS, the Israel/Palestinian Conflict, and more headlining the news so often, here are a few things you should know about the region.

1. ISIS stands for “Islamic State of Iraq al-Sham,” with “al-sham” referring to Greater Syria, which consists of Syria, Lebanon, and parts of Jordan and Turkey.

2. Many Arab nations do not consider Israel to be a state, and it cannot be found on most maps in the Middle East. Instead, the land is referred to as Palestine.

3. The black, white, green, and red flag that served as flag of the Arab Revolt and that has come to represent many Arab countries today was ironically designed by Sir Mark Sykes, the same man who was involved in organizing Britain’s control over those lands after the fall of the Ottoman Empire post WWI. Sykes may have also contributed to the Balfour Declaration, which supported “a IMG_0128national home for the Jewish people” in what is now Israel.

4. Gaza needs 3.8 billion USD in “urgent aid” after its 50-day war with Israel this summer according to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

5. Differences in terms:

– Arab = ethnic background whose people share Arabic language and culture

– Arabic = the language

– Islam = the religion

– Islamic = pertaining to the religion of Islam, such as law or architecture

– Muslim = adherent of Islam

– Jew = adherent of Judaism

– Zionism = a nationalistic movement for Jews to return to their homeland (Israel)

6. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share  or acknowledge many of the Old Testament prophets in their doctrines including Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus.

7. An average of 250 Iraqis per day are seeking refuge in Jordan, and that’s just the recorded number from one border town.

8. “Islam” means submission, and “Muslim” means submitted one in Arabic.

9. The Middle East as it is known today wasn’t effectually created until the last century, when European and Soviet powers withdrew after WWII. Cyprus was the last state to gain independence in 1960.

10. It is a real place with real people that are living every day in real fear and real turmoil and real uncertainty.


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