Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Research Paper on Israel and Sudan

Research Paper on Israel and Sudan

Israel and Sudan are both considered Middle-Eastern countries, located in southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa, respectively. Israel would be considered a developed “Western” country, while Sudan is a less developed “non-Western” nation. This paper will address a given topic for one country, then the same topic for the second country and move on to the next topic following that form.

A key to understanding Israel is acquiring the knowledge of how the nation was formed. The British, who had been mandated the land which is now Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, then called Palestine, from the Ottoman Empire after World War I, did not simply declare the area of Israel a Jewish state ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'"). First, the British set up the land east of the Jordan River as an Arab Palestinian nation and named it Trans-Jordan, while everything west of the Jordan River was to be the Jewish Palestinian nation or Palestine ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'"). The British turned matters over to the United Nations, which split Palestine into a Jewish state and a second Arab state ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'"). The Jewish Palestinians, in 1948, established the state of Israel and declared themselves Israelis ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'"). During a war which started immediately subsequent to the creation of Israel, the Israelis took back some of the land the U.N. had meant for a second Arab state, however, "the Arabs of Palestine ended up with nearly 85% of the original territory of Palestine" ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'"). Despite having the majority of the initial land called Palestine, the Arabs continue to attack Israel and will not be satisfied until they take over all of it ("History of Israel & 'Palestine'").


Sudan, the largest country in Africa, was initially a bunch of smaller nation-states until Egypt took control over the northern areas, while the south remained under control of indigenous tribes ("A Short History of Sudan"). A religious leader, Abdallah, was able to unite the tribes of western and central Sudan but this nation-state fell in 1898 to British-Egyptian forces ("A Short History of Sudan"). The two nations jointly ruled Sudan but in 1953, determined to slowly move the country towards self-rule ("A Short History of Sudan"). Full independence was granted to Sudan on January 1, 1956.

Throughout it’s short history, Israel has possessed a parliamentary democracy (Karmon and Peretz 10). A parliamentary democracy is a form of government in which the people elect members of Parliament and then the majority party in the Parliament selects the leader of the nation, known as the Prime Minister. The Parliament in Israel is known as the Knesset and the current Prime Minister is Ariel Sharon (“Middle East: Israel: Government”). There is no written constitution, however there are “a number of basic laws [that] serve together as the fundamental law” (Karmon and Peretz 10). This type of government has been quite stable during the years of its use in Israel. The government of Israel has stated that its goals include, but are not limited to, “achieving peace with all our neighbors, while safeguarding national and personal security … creating conditions for a free, thriving economy and social welfare … promoting values of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, while maintaining a proper balance between the will of the majority and the rights of individual and minorities” (“Guidelines of the Government of Israel”). The government, which set high standards and held to them, making Israel one of the most egalitarian societies, has recently begun to cut welfare benefits, despite unemployment being on the rise, throwing many into poverty (Hirschberg).

Currently, the government of Sudan is an authoritarian military regime (Parker 6). This type of government attempts to control many aspects of its peoples’ lives and will not tolerate political dissent. Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir led a military coup in 1989 and took the position of president, which he has maintained since, although starting in 1996, popular elections have been held (“Africa: Sudan: Government”). Bashir won the election in 1996 and also 2000, however it is thought the 2000 vote was rigged (“Africa: Sudan: Government”). The government of Sudan has not been very stable. Throughout the country’s history, civilian and military regimes have led several coups changing the leadership of the country each time, but always failing to end a civil war between north and south (Parker 6). The constitution has been suspended following some of the coups and most recently was suspended in December 1999 (“Africa: Sudan: Government”). The Sudanese government has also not protected the welfare of its peoples. It allows a civil war to rage on between the mainly Arab north and the Christian and ethnic tribal south (Sherman 1). The numbers vary depending on what source one looks at, however, a low-end estimate according to Steve Sherman is that there are “over a million dead and many millions more displaced”. Another result of the civil war is the resurgence of taking captive black Africans and forcing them into slavery (Jacobs).

Israel possesses a market economy. This type of economy is a free-enterprise economy ruled by the laws of supply and demand. The country’s currency is the new Israeli shekel (Israel). The nation is unable to produce enough grain to supply its needs, however, is otherwise self-sufficient in the production of food (“Middle East: Israel: Economy”). This is an impressive accomplishment considering that according to the CIA World Factbook, only about 17 percent of Israel’s land is arable. Major imports include “uncut diamonds from South Africa, fuel and lubricants, and consumer goods” (Karmon and Peretz 9-10). The top exports are “machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel” (“Middle East: Israel: Economy”). Something that probably every country strives for, “Israel’s imports usually exceed exports in value” (Karmon and Peretz 9). The projected inflation rate for 2003 is 2.8 percent, down from the 2002 estimate of 6.5 percent (“Market Profiles: Israel”). The projected 2003 unemployment rate is 10.7 percent, a .3 percent increase from the 2002 estimate (“Market Profiles: Israel”). The GNI/PPP per capita of Israel in 2002 was, in U.S. dollars, $19,260 (“GNI per capita 2002”).

Like Israel, Northern Sudan also has what would be considered a market economy. However, Southern Sudan is more of a subsistence, bartering economy (“Southern Sudan: Monitoring…”). The Sudanese dinar is the currency (“The World Factbook: Sudan”). A mere 7 percent of Sudan’s total land area is arable, which is perhaps why two of its leading imports are foodstuffs and wheat (“Sudan”). Other imports include “manufactured goods, refinery and transport equipment, medicines and chemicals, and textiles” (“Sudan”). The main exports are oil and petroleum products, but cotton, sesame, livestock, groundnuts, gum arabic, and sugar comprise a good portion of commodities exports (“Sudan”). According to the CIA World Factbook 2002 estimates, Sudan exported more than it had imported. The 2002 estimate of inflation rate was 10 percent and the estimate of the unemployment rate was 18.7 percent (“World—Countries Sudan”). The GNP/PPP per capita of Sudan in 2002, in U.S. dollars, was $310 (“Sudan: Country Profile”).

Probably the most significant asset of Israel is its relationship with the United States. The 2001 estimated amount of U.S. aid is $720 million. The U.S. also supplies state-of-the art weapons to Israel. Israel’s most demanding challenge is to increase the level of security for its people. The Arab-Israeli conflict was sparked by the creation of Israel and has continued since. Peoples in the nation of Israel, whether they are Jewish or Arab, live in constant fear that perhaps today is the day they will die because fanatical Arab Palestinian suicide bombers target Israeli citizens (Harris). Even after a cease-fire agreement, there was a suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus, killing 22 people (Karmon and Peretz 28). Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestinian National Authority, stated on September 2, 2003 that the “road map”, a relatively new proposed peace plan for the Middle East, was now dead (Karmon and Peretz 28). This puts Israeli leaders into a difficult position. They must now try to defend their citizens from random Palestinian acts of violence without any end in sight. To help accomplish this, Israel has begun construction on a defense wall, which in many areas will be a high chain-link fence with surveillance cameras and border patrols (“Israel’s Security Fence”). It will be an actual concrete wall only in select hot spots, where Palestinian snipers shoot at cars along one of Israel’s main roads (“Israel’s Security Fence”). The defense wall will work in the short term, but Israeli leaders will have to work towards peace with the Palestinian Arabs or face whatever imaginative new threats the Arabs come up with next.

Sudan faces many challenges. One large issue that may soon be resolved is the civil war between the government of Sudan in the North and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army of the South. One of the effects of the civil war has been famine in the Southern areas of Sudan, however the Sudanese government has recently allowed food aid to be delivered to the peoples there (Parker 10). Bashir has stated within the past few months “that he hoped to reach a final peace settlement with southern rebels before the end of the year” (“Sudanese President Aims…”). Another issue is Sudan’s precarious relationship with the U.S., who “officially considers it a terrorist state” (“World—Countries: Sudan”). The U.S. bombed a factory in Khartoum which allegedly was involved with terrorist activities and probably would not hesitate to bomb any other active terrorist locations (Parker 7). Poverty is a concern with the GNP/PPP per capita at a mere $310 (“Sudan: Country Profile”). The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is also a problem, with 2.6 percent of the population from age 15 through 49 living with the disease (“Sudan: Country Profile”). Sudan’s leaders are taking steps in the right direction by trying to end the civil war. Once the country is more stable, it will be possible for the leaders to attack other problems.

This research paper has already addressed the similarities and differences of Israel and Sudan politically and economically. Now, it is time to turn to other facets of each of these nations. Israel has a temperate climate, and is hot and dry in the southern desert areas (“The World Factbook: Israel”). Sudan has desert areas as well, although they are located in the north, with a tropical climate in the south (“The World Factbook: Sudan”). Plains, mountains and desert characterize both countries (CIA World Factbook). Compared to the United States, while Israel is only about the size of New Jersey, Sudan is a little over a quarter the size of the entire country (CIA World Factbook). Israel is the less populous of the two, with a mere 6.1 million people to Sudan’s 38.1 million (CIA World Factbook). In Israel, about 80 percent of the population is Jewish and the majority of the remaining 20 percent is Arab-Muslim (“The World Factbook: Israel”). Meanwhile, Sudan is ethnically 52 percent black and 39 percent Arab and religiously 70 percent Sunni Muslim and 25 percent indigenous beliefs (“The World Factbook: Sudan”). Israel has a much more developed infrastructure than Sudan, as evidenced by more paved roadways and superior communications (CIA World Factbook). Israel is also a much more literate nation, with the literacy rate just over 95 percent to Sudan’s 61 percent (CIA World Factbook).

In summary, Israel is a democratic, capitalist, highly developed nation. Its main concerns are the Palestinian National Authority and the repercussions from the Arab world for any potential act of violence against Arabs. Israel is a key nation in the world at this time. It is the lone democracy in the Middle East, the only “Western” nation. Israel cannot take the side of the Western world in any conflict of the area, lest it face the wrath of surrounding Arab nations. To help settle the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, the Israeli government must at least pull its people out of what are considered the “occupied territories” and hand that land over to the Palestinians. Israel may also have to give up some of the land that is now part of their country so that the Palestinian Arabs can have a nation of their own. A one-country solution probably will not work due to the possibility of the Palestinians Arabs taking over a majority in Israel so that the Jews lose their Jewish state.

Sudan is ruled by an authoritarian regime, possesses market and subsistence/bartering economies, and is a much less developed nation. Its major concerns are ending the civil war, U.S. relations, famine, poverty and HIV/AIDS. Sudan is making great strides to improving itself. Civil wars cause much strife and destruction and with an end to it in sight, the nation will be on the road to recovery. Leaders will be able to turn their focus to other issues. After ending the civil war, the next most important thing for Sudan to do is cut all ties to terrorism and get itself off the list of terrorist-sponsoring nations. If it were to do this, the U.S. would probably be much more willing to aid the country, and with the help of America, Sudan will have a slightly easier time pulling itself out of the other problems.

Neither of these countries have an easy road ahead of them. Many difficult, challenging issues face both Israel and Sudan. Both stand to lose some of their nations’ land, a hard thing for any country to accept. Peaceful acceptance will be needed to further the well-being of both Israel and Sudan.

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