In 1948 the world witnessed an extraordinary event: the birth of
Israel. After two millennia as a stateless people scattered across the
globe and frequently persecuted by the societies in which they
lived--most tragically during the Holocaust of World War II--Jews
finally had a homeland. And the New Jersey--sized country was in
Palestine, the ancestral land of the Jewish people. In the years since
1948, Israel has become the Middle East's most powerful, and most
democratic, country.But the foundation and defense of the Jewish state ultimately
came at the expense of a state for the Palestinians, another people
with ancient ties to Palestine. For decades Israeli and Palestinian
blood has stained the land, a string of peace initiatives collapsing
amid the seemingly endless cycle of attack and retaliation. Resolving
the conflict in a manner that preserves Israel's security remains an
elusive goal not just for Israel, but also for the many countries with
interests in the strategic Middle East, including the United States.
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