Tutor profile: James M.
Subject: World Geography
How did the State of Israel come to have its current borders?
The State of Israel was created from land administered by the UK in 1948. The original borders, proposed in UN Resolution 181, gave roughly equal amounts of land to a Jewish Israeli state, and an Arab, Muslim, Palestinian state. The Israelis accepted these borders and established the State of Israel. The Palestinian political leaders, however, rejected these borders and declared a joint war on Israel with all of the other Arab nations, known as the First Arab-Israeli War. The Arab League lost this war, and Israel gained all of the land of the original mandate, minus the modern-day territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Instead of these territories becoming Palestine, however, these territories came to become parts of Transjordan and Egypt, respectively. In 1956, Israel, the UK and France invaded the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, causing the Second Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Suez Crisis). This invasion was in part a response to Egyptian aggression towards Israeli merchant-crafts in the Mediterranean and Gulf of Aqaba, but also due to European interests in controlling the Suez Canal. This conflict resulted in no change to the borders of the two countries, but established UN Peacekeepers in the region to monitor the border. In 1967, the Arab League once again declared war on Israel, in the Third Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Six-Days War) This conflict saw a quick Israeli victory, and Israel took control of the West Bank from Transjordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. In 1973, the Arab States attempted to recapture the territories ceded to Israel in the 1967 War, but ultimately failed (this is known as the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, the Yom Kippur War, or the October War.) About 5% of the Golan Heights was returned to Syria in In 1979, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, in exchange for Egypt's recognition of Israel as a state, and for peace between the two nations. Jordan (formerly Transjordan) has since recognized Israel as a nation, and has revoked all claims on the West Bank (as per the 1994 Peace-Treaty.) In 1981, Israel officially annexed the Golan Heights, which had remained disputed between Israel and Syria. This annexation has been rejected by the UN, and has not been recognized by states outside of Israel. Regardless, Israel continues to control roughly 2/3rds of the Golan Heights, with the other 1/3rd being controlled by Syria. Israel has offered Syria a similar exchange as the one made between Israel and Egypt, which would grant Syria control of the Golan Heights in exchange for the recognition of the Israeli State and for peace between the two nations. The Syrians have, however, denied these requests on multiple occasions. The Gaza Strip and West Bank remain, de-jure, a part of Israel; however, the two territories have been granted a degree of autonomy, and are currently administered by the Palestinian Authority within the State of Israel, as per the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994. In 1981, these territories declared independence from Israel to establish the State of Palestine, but this state has not been fully recognized by the UN, and has limited recognition elsewhere. The UN, and most member states (including the US,) do not recognize Israeli claims on the Golan Heights, despite the area being mostly controlled by Israel.
Subject: World History
Why did Hannibal Barca not choose to attack the city of Rome after the Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War?
While some historians have posed that an attack on Rome after Cannae would have won Carthage the war (such as the ancient historian Livy, and contemporary historians B.D. Hoyos and Bernard Montgomery), such an attack would have likely failed. J.F. Lazenby points out that Cannae was a considerable distance away from Rome, which would have required a nearly month-long march to reach the city. This would have given Rome much time to raise troops to defend the city. Livy tells us that two legions were still present in the city, with others nearby in Ostia and Teanum Sidicinum. Beyond the availability of troops, Hannibal's battlefield prowess was not as apparent during sieges. Lazenby points out that during his campaign, only the siege on Tarentum proceeded relatively quickly, the others taking over eight months to siege the minor city of Saguntum. Such a siege on Rome would have posed as a gamble, and as historian Tony Bath points out, it would have been out of Hannibal's nature to risk something with such a low chance of success. Regardless of whether or not such an attack would have succeeded, Hannibal never intended to take Rome directly during his campaigns. Hannibal's main objective in his invasion of Italy was to break the Italian League, a series of city-states that had sworn an alliance to Rome. Hannibal believed that if he could break this alliance, he could defeat Rome with little resistance. However, upon arriving in Italy, Hannibal found that most of the city-states were much more loyal to Rome than he had anticipated. His plot to break this alliance failed. Rome, meanwhile, mounted a counter-invasion of Carthage and North Africa, which ultimately led to the defeat of the Carthaginians. To summarize, a direct attack on Rome would not have been as successful as some historians may assert, and Hannibal was not willing to take this chance. Further; it was never Hannibal's plan to defeat Rome by brute force, but rather to erode their political alliances and force them into frailty.
Subject: East Asian History
How did unequal treaties between Western Nations and Japan contribute to the tensions in East Asia that lead to the Pacific Theater of World War II?
Unequal treaties, such as the Convention of Kanagawa (1854) and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (US-Japan, 1858), fueled a Japanese desire to be seen as equals to Western Powers. This desire to be seen as equals led to drastic cultural shifts in Japan, who adopted many Western ideas and customs. While doing this, Japan also attempted to maintain a unique Japanese Identity. Japan sent diplomats to European countries to learn about Western political and military structure. Japan adopted a parliamentary form of government in the Meiji Constitution of 1889, reflecting models of government popular in Europe; Japan also began to model its military after that of Germany. Japan began to fight wars with neighboring countries; first, the First Sino-Japanese War (1894), which resulted in a Japanese victory, with China paying war reparations of 200 million taels of silver and ceding much land to Japan (including Taiwan, which promptly became a Japanese colony). Japan also fought the Ruso-Japanese War (1904) with Russia, which Japan also won, but not to as much success. Japan staged a coup in Korea to establish a rump-state, and annexed the peninsula into the Empire of Japan in 1910. Despite their efforts to be seen as equals to the West by Westernizing and modernizing their military and government, and establishing colonies as the West had done, Japan continued to feel ignored and inferior to Western nations. This was enforced by the omission of Japan's proposed race-equality clause to the Treaty of Versailles (1919), and the Washington Naval Conference (1921) which resulted in many treaties that limited Japan to fewer ships than most Western Nations. Japan became increasingly aggressive in East Asia, seeking to establish a "Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere". Japan stages incidents in Manchuria as an excuse for invasion, establishing the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. This aggression was condemned by the League of Nations in 1931 in the Lytton Report, which prompted Japan to leave the League. Japan continued to aggress their neighbors in the region, prompting Western Nations to worry about their holdings in China and the Philippines. An embargo established in 1941, known as the ABCD embargo, limited the sale of oil and others raw materials to Japan from other nations, namely America, Britain, China, and the Dutch (hence the name, 'ABCD'.) This crippled the Japanese war machine, and the Japanese saw an attack on the American Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as a way to revolt against this. This escalated the conflict in the region to a global scale.
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