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tv   Jerusalem City of Faith and Fury  CNN  August 8, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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it's the family that had a lot to learn. ♪ jerusalem is the universal city, the chosen city, the holy city. that's its blessing, but it also gives it its danger and its ugliness too, because it means that people believe that they must possess it absolutely. >> the palestinian/israeli conflict that we are experiencing today, you've seen it experienced in jerusalem for thousands of years.
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>> for the jews, jerusalem is where solomon built the holy temple. >> for christians, this is the place where jesus was crucified. >> for muslims, jerusalem is where the prophet muhammed made the night journey. >> people who are said to have conquered the world have swept through this city. >> no other individual changed the landscape in the way that herod the great did. >> saladin was determined to take on the christians and throw them out of jerusalem. >> at a time of ottoman/islamic rule, the british badly wanted to control the holy land. >> the main case of the arabs is against the british government policy in palestine. >> we are the only people in the world homeless and stateless. >> for israelis, the creation of the state of israel is seen as a miracle. and of course for the
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palestinians, it's a great disaster. >> the history of jerusalem, a very complicated story. and if you don't know it in its complexity, it's very hard to understand what's going on there today. >> the past is never dead. and if there is a city in the world to which that applies, it's jerusalem. ♪
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725 years after passed since the end of the third crusade. by 1914, the world has undergone a drastic transformation. fueled by the rise of technology and industrialization. but world war i now threatens the entire globe, and jerusalem lies directly in its path. >> the time of the outbreak of the first world war, jerusalem was still occupied by the ottomans, also called the turks, who had been there for hundreds of years. >> the ottoman empire was controlling most of the what we call today the middle east. it had lost egypt because egypt had become part of the british empire. but they had turkey, some parts of southern bulgaria, eastern greece, and what is today palestine, jordan, the arabian
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peninsula, lebanon, and syria. >> in world war i, the turks ended up siding with germany and austria/hungary. so they became really the third part of the axis at that time. >> allied with the germans, the turks send a strong military leader to protect the middle east. >> jamelle pshaw was sent by the ottomans to become the governor general of jerusalem, thinking that this would be an important battleground and that they needed a military man to be in charge. >> jamal pasha served a major part in the armenian genocide. he's known to be somebody with very little mercy and does not look favorably at any sort of dissent.
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>> he was very brutal as a general. everywhere he goes, he left behind him trails of assassinations and executions. >> jamal pasha executed so many people that his nickname was jamal the slaughterman. that's not a nickname of a peaceful man. >> general pasha's brutal tactics incite the local arab population to rebel against his control. >> so the ottoman empire was seen as corrupt, was seen as disconnected from the needs and wants of the arab population at the time. >> i think one of the great ironies of the ottoman rule was that it actually helped spur the rise of arab nationalism. they were not arabs. they were turks. >> the arabs said, screw them. we should be united ourselves.
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>> the arabs don't have their own country. for 400 years, they have been a province. they have been subjects of a turkish sultan, ruled from far away in istanbul. and they begin to want independence. >> so the rise of arab nationalism started with a dream to create some kind of an arab kingdom to combine and unite all the arabs in one nation. >> but jamal pasha despised arab nationalism. he viewed it as a direct threat to his presence, to the ottoman empire, and crushed it with brutal force. >> so for arab nationalists, he made sure that they are followed by spies, that their correspondence being opened and checked, and he would use any pretext in order to arrest them and throw them in prisons, and in many cases actually, execute
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them. >> jamal pasha often hung them from the jaffa gates of the old city to show his power. >> and that only forced these arab nationalists to speak out all the more, which meant he just began banning their symbols, banning their speech. he was going to make more executions. and every time he tried to suppress their speech, arab nationalism only grew. >> it causes some people to react very strongly against the brutality of these executions. particularly important among those is prince faisal. >> prince faisal was the son of sharif hussein, who was in charge of mecca at the time. they are part of the hashemites,
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which is the same family as prophet muhammad is from. >> faisal is tall, slim, soulful, a bit melancholic. but he has charm, and he has finesse. >> faisal had this ability to really listen to people and to compromise. >> faisal spoke turkish, spoke english and french, was educated and was being prepared by the ottoman empire to be a turkish ruler in his area, but loyalist to the ottoman empire. yet he harbored extreme resentment against the ottomans and wanted them out. >> faisal was interested in liberating the arabs of what is today the arabian peninsula, saudi arabia and parts of jordan and the gulf, liberating it from
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the ottoman hands and trying to create their own sovereign rule. >> on that promise, he launches the arab revolt in the summer of 1916. >> faisal rallies his arab brothers. he drives the turks out of mecca, and he has successfully created a small rebellion. >> but very quickly the revolt kind of reaches paralysis. they can't really advance. the turks have artillery and machine guns. the arab tribesmen don't. so it all kind of looks like it's all about to fall apart. >> and faisal recognizes that they're not going to be able to fully sustain this rebellion, this movement, without some help from some big players.
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up to the concentrated firepower of the ottoman army. crucial at this moment is the role of the british. >> the british badly wanted to control the holy land, to bring it under christian influence at a time of ottoman/islamic rule was enormously compelling. >> and britain believed itself to be still a very huge empire. it was nicknamed empire where the sun never sets. the british felt they need to have serious control in pretty much everywhere. >> they saw that palestine was an attractive site for a british imperial and colonial purposes. and it's the ports of palestine that created easy access to europe from the middle east. so the british wanted to set up stop in palestine to basically exploit the resources of palestine. >> the british send their top arab expert to meet prince
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faisal. t.e. lawrence. >> t.e. lawrence was one of the most enigmatic, endlessly fascinating people really of the 20th century. >> he's an adventurer, a beautiful writer. he enjoys extraordinary adventures -- political, military, and sexual. >> he loves the middle east, and he writes letters home where he is saying that he doesn't really want to come home. >> t.e. lawrence was a brilliant intelligence officer, somebody who understood how to fight war, how the different forces need to be organized, and what is at stake if you don't get the local support in order to win. but if you understand lawrence of arabia through the prism of the movie "lawrence of arabia," then you're missing out the larger picture. >> "lawrence of arabia" is a great movie.
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it's just not true. it's wonderful fiction that plays into the narrative that the west understands. the white guy who helps the not-white-guys do the right thing because they're not capable of it themselves. >> lawrence of arabia was not a savor of arabia. he was a loyal british intelligence officer that carried out his mission to the "t." >> and in 1917, british intelligence finally recognizes just how valuable an asset lawrence can be. >> and so lawrence was sent out to establish the bases of cooperation and essentially became the liaison officer between the british and faisal. >> i think faisal doesn't trust the british. but i also think he understands that if he has any chance at establishing his own arab state, he's going to need british help. >> they need guns. they need munitions. they need supplies. >> but the promise that the british made to the arab
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rebellion was that if you join us, we'll arm you. we're going to help organize you and train you. we'll both get rid of the ottomans, and then we'll turn over the show to you. >> but the british have cut a conflicting deal with their allies, the french, which will become known as the sykes pico accord. >> the sykes pico essentially divided that part of the middle east into a british part, and that includes most of iraq, jordan, and palestine, and a french part which included lebanon, syria, and parts of turkey as well. >> so it was completely against everything that they agreed on with the arabs at the time. but i can't say that it's surprising because, again, the british and the french were fighting for the british and the french. they were not fighting for the arabs. >> faisal and all these people were misguided. they were lured and they were lied to by britain.
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they sought it's simply liberation. they did not know it was preparatory for an occupation. >> lawrence is one of the very few people who knows this. and as he works with faisal, it starts working away at lawrence, the duplicitous role that he is playing in this. >> so lawrence was having an internal struggle and that got exacerbated. with time, the more he got to know faisal, he found a lot of things in common with faisal who was from the same generation and with whom he shared a lot. >> he finally takes faisal aside, and he tells him, look, do not trust in my government because they're going to betray you. so certainly now faisal sees lawrence as somebody who has actually come over to his side. >> together, faisal and lawrence work to drive the turks out of arabia. >> so lawrence and faisal
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planned a series of attacks on turkish supply lines. the goal was keep them bleeding, and then blow them up. the longer you draw them out, the weaker they become, the more possible it becomes that you push them entirely out. and eventually this proved to be a very successful strategy. >> djemal pasha is getting beat by these arab soldiers, and he finally figures out, these guys can't be doing this on their own. they've got to be getting help, and the only people they could
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be getting help from is the british. and so djemal pasha figures, i've got to go on the offensive, and that's precisely what he does. why hide your skin if dupixent has your moderate-to-severe eczema or atopic dermatitis under control? hide my skin? not me. by hitting eczema where it counts, dupixent helps heal your skin from within, keeping you one step ahead of eczema. and that means long-lasting clearer skin... and fast itch relief for adults. hide my skin? not me. by helping to control eczema with dupixent, you can show more with less eczema.
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t.e. lawrence and prince faisal have launched a series of attacks on ottoman supply lines. but while djemal pasha struggles to contain the elusive arab rebellion, he prepares an offensive against the british forces in the middle east. >> djemal pasha was facing a sustained and coordinated british offensive across the sinai desert, which had pitched themselves just to the south of what today is palestine. that's when you get the first and second battles of gaza. >> twice, about a month apart, the british army do frontal assaults right up against the entrenched turkish armies, exactly what they've been doing on the western front against the germans, and they're fiascos
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both times. >> it cost a lot of british soldiers' lives, in the thousands. it was a very humiliating defeat for them, so they retreated. >> so djemal pasha, sitting in jerusalem, he sort of becomes the hero, and this is one of the really kind of outstanding ottoman victories, these two battles of gaza. >> after the british are beaten back, the arab revolt plans an assault of its own. >> for the arab revolt, the really important city was damascus. >> prince faisal knew the importance of damascus, wanted to be in damascus. it's a very important place historically, religiously and strategically. >> damascus was the first real capital for the islamic empire outside of arabia. and it was so for almost a century under the dynasty that we call the amyiads.
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therefore nationalists always dreamt that ideally damascus would be this kind of dream city that could be the capital for the arab kingdom. >> now the eastern end of the sinai peninsula is this narrow straits that leads to this town of akaba. >> a crucial port city, akaba is the gateway to capturing damascus. >> but the problem with akaba is you'll never get off the beach because the turks have artillery and machine guns all pointed out to see. it's just going to be a replication of what the british have done everywhere else, which is go up against the strongest part of the turkish line and be slaughtered. so lawrence comes up with this idea that the way to do it is to go inland, come over the mountains, and take it from behind. >> in may 1917, the decision to take aqaba is taken by faisal
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and lawrence without any reference back to the british military authorities in cairo. he goes off everybody's radar and sets off with a commando force on a 600-mile march and disappears into the desert. days and days and days of waterless desert with the possibility that the camels will begin to die before they get to the opposite side. and of course if the camels die, then everybody else dies. >> nothing to relieve the eye. men go mad. and at different times on the journey, i think lawrence thought he might be going mad. they hit sandstorms. people die along the way. lawrence, at normal times, weighed about 140 pounds. he was down to 90 pounds by the end of this trip. >> but the focus is on persuading the local tribesmen
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to join the alliance and to bring their forces into this army. >> he would tell them, we're going to fight for faisal because he's the descendant of the prophet. if that got them motivated, he stopped there. if that didn't get them motivated, he would say, there is gold, and you could get a big reward. he gave you what you desired in order to get what he desired, which was an organized army against the turks. >> by the time the arab army descends upon aqaba at the beginning of july 1917, it is 2,000 strong, and they're going to storm down onto aqaba from the landward side. >> all the ottomans' defenses were directed toward the sea and the opposite direction. >> very quickly the turks realized there was no way out
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for them. so they surrendered. >> the battle of aqaba proved the importance of an alliance with the local tribesmen. they knew the lay of the land, and they were fighters. these were tribesmen who survived by protecting what was theirs in the desert. and it would not have been successful had faisal not been part of it. >> aqaba is the turning point because it puts the arabs in a position where they can spread the revolt into the core regions of the middle east. >> at this point, lawrence sees himself as no longer fighting for the british. he's fighting for the arabs. but no one had heard a word from him in over two months. he was listed as missing and maybe even presumed dead. so lawrence realized he had to deliver the news about the fall
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of aqaba. >> first world war communications were often quite primitive. if we haven't got a laid down telegraph line or telephone line, we're still dnding on people physically moving in order to communicate information. >> so lawrence leaves aqaba and heads towards the suez canal to get to egypt, to inform headquarters. >> by the time lawrence stumbles back to cairo, he finds a new leader in command of the british regional army.
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the arab revolt has resulted in the first allied victory in the middle east. and t.e. lawrence returns to cairo to deliver the news to british headquarters. >> so picture the scene. the ottomans have won these victories at gaza over the british. morale is down among the british troops, and the war isn't going very well for them. and all of a sudden, lawrence comes with the news, "i've taken aqaba. i've won this incredible victory.
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this is going to swing the entire war in favor of the british." >> but more importantly, when he gets to cairo, a new british commander in chief has taken over, allenby. >> general allenby was not a typical british general of the time. he didn't come from a family of generals. >> he was an aggressive cavalry officer. he commanded great personal loyalty because of his integrity, his courage. >> he had a tremendous vision and perhaps the static claustrophobic trench warfare did not suit his mind. but as a cavalryman, he could kind of envision how to utilize his cavalry units as well as the british camel corps. >> at the same time allen bee arrives in the middle east, there are major changes in ottoman-controlled jerusalem. >> the occupation of aqaba by the forces of faisal was a panic moment for the germans because
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they realized they cannot depend on the ottoman army alone to keep the british at bay from occupying the middle east. >> germany sends thousands of reinforcements to jerusalem. >> and now what has been up until this point a proxy war between the british and the germans now becomes an actual front of world war i. >> general allenby sent lawrence back into arabia, and at the same time, plans his push and his move via sinai towards gaza and then towards jerusalem. and here is a very important point that reflects the importance of jerusalem to the christian world. the prime minister of england sent a message to general allenby, "make sure that you get jerusalem before christmas."
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>> the news that were coming from the front in france weren't any good. serious casualties are coming every day. so they needed what you could call a very sentimental story that they could sell to the british people in england back home. >> he wanted jerusalem as a christmas present for the british people, the holy city itself. >> and so significant british forces were sent there. there was a naval covering force and then motor transport, air elements, supplies, british and australian troops. >> djemal pasha sees the british army coming, but he's fairly confident that he can win a ground offensive against the british. he's got so many german troops with him that this shouldn't be that difficult. but he has no idea how the
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british are going to attack. >> what allenby does, rather than just smash up against the wall like happened twice before in gaza, he's going to go inland. >> he executed this brilliant -- that is still studied in military academies where he outflanked the ottomans and within weeks marched on jerusalem. >> djemal pasha, of course, was in overall command of the battle front. >> so the germans say to djemal pasha, look, you're out. and djemal pasha says, no, this is my army, this is my land. but germany being germany says, not only are you out, you will never see jerusalem again. and true to their word, djemal pasha never sees jerusalem again. >> he was eventually removed to the russian front and eventually
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became a political refugee. >> and djemal pasha was ultimately killed by an armenian because he had a hand in the armenian genocide. >> with command of the holy city now directly in their hands, the germans turn their attention to destroying the british. >> the germans are going to make sure that for every inch of ground the british advance, they are going to bleed. and as the british advance towards jerusalem, the desert theater becomes a brutal, brutal place for battle. the combat is fierce. it's ugly. this is desert combat at its very worst. >> but for all his success, general allenby will soon learn he's lost one of his best assets.
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general allenby and the british are marching on
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jerusalem. but t.e. lawrence is missing in action. >> lawrence is in the syrian interior, trying to marshal tribes to push against the turkish forces in that area. and he was in the city of darah, in what today is very southern syria. >> he was well known to the ottoman turks. there was a price on his head. >> he was discovered. he was arrested, brought to the ottoman officer who was defending darah. and it was said he was put in prison and raped, and that was really transformative in his life, something people say he never recovered from. >> i think it became this intense source of humiliation and degradation to him. >> after torturing lawrence, the turks leave him for dead.
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meanwhile, general allenby continues towards jerusalem. but when his entire force encounters a brutal winter storm, they're stopped in their tracks. >> people recognized that the winter conditions in the judean hills and southern syria can be very, very tricky so that sudden, like, hail storms, flash floods, snow even can hold up modern motor transport, a modern army very easily. >> so the germans are in jerusalem. the british are just outside, ready to take the city, and there's this massive storm. and you can't see what's going on, and they have to wait this storm out before the british begin their assault on jer jerusalem. >> while general allenby is forced to wait, lawrence clings to life in darah. >> lawrence escaped from his
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captors in darah, and he goes back to this kind of desert hideout that he has been operating out of it. then he gradually makes his way back to arabia. >> lawrence is still reeling from his captivity, but he rushes to rejoin the british front. lawrence meets general allenby just outside jerusalem, where the british wait for their opportunity to strike. >> when the storm finally lifts, the british are expecting the bloodiest battle of their lives. they enter jerusalem, and it's complete silence. >> at that point in december of 1917, the germans kind of saw the handwriting on the wall. they had lost all of southern palestine very, very quickly. the british just kind of poured through. >> and the germans recognize that any kind of destruction in jerusalem would create such
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negative publicity for them that they just moved north. >> the germans didn't devastate the city before leaving. they left the city intact. so the british didn't so much conquer jerusalem as the germans abandoned it. >> so when the germans and the ottomans flee jerusalem, all that's left is the mayor of jerusalem, and he doesn't have an army. all he's got are the keys to the city. and so what option does he have? all he can do is surrender the city. >> the flag that was presented was actually a bedsheet to show that there was a surrender. >> i think what's fascinating about the british conquest of jerusalem in december 1917 is how orchestrated and choreographed the actual events were. >> britain's romantic culture of
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the 19th century had made a great deal about the crusading tradition. and you'll see it in certain of the propaganda posters, that a ghostly figure of crusader looms in the sky behind british soldiers in the judean hills. >> so the fall of jerusalem is playing really well in western capitals because, you know, this is -- finally after 700 years, the crusades have won. >> and the british media tried also to present it as such. so as allenby was advancing to jerusalem and he took the city, there were constant daily reports in british media comparing him to richard the lionheart. >> but the legacy of the crusades in the muslim near east is one of western people coming in, invading, conquering, killing people. and allenby knows to them, the word "crusade" has an incredibly
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toxic legacy. >> he makes clear that he reveres the city, he respects the city, and he refuses to enter the city except on foot. >> so this is the iconic photograph of allenby walking into the old city from the jaffa gate, surrounded by his entourage, and then proceeding to saint david citadel where he read out the proclamation of conquest. >> general allenby announces that from now on, all three languages in the city, arabic, hebrew, and english, will be respected, and all three religions will be respected, and everything will be done to support the idea of freedom of religion. that sounds wonderful, right? >> for the palestinians, they were all lined up to see him because the british presented themselves to the palestinians as the saviors from the ottoman oppression. and there was the white man, so
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♪ ♪ general allenby and the british forces have captured jerusalem. but t.e. lawrence decides he must leave the holy city to help prince faisal and the arab revolt claim damascus. >> he's obsessed to get to damascus before the british do. he arrive there is with faisal. they go there and set up a provisional government. >> meanwhile, in italy, the european powers, without arab representation, met to implement the terms of the agreement. >> the legacy of the agreement is very horrible, because essentially it established the way the modern middle east is divided. but when it was first made public, a lot of arabs didn't believe that the british were honest with them and they are going to support the creation of an arab kingdom.
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everybody was in denial, and only much later realized the british were playing everybody against everybody. >> it was the great powers carving up the middle east and allocating slices of territory that became the modern nation day states of palestine, lebanon, jordan, syria, and iraq. those lines were drawn artificially. >> did they ask the arabs in syria, palestine, iraq, and lebanon what they wanted? absolutely not. >> and imagine if you're faisal, you've been fighting all along hoping to regain this homeland, and now it's ripped away from you. >> he ended up with another territory, which was basically created by the british called iraq. >> this is a country, a region faisal has never been to. and he actually is the king of iraq for the next several
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decades. >> for t.e. lawrence, the ending of the great war takes a very personal toll. >> lawrence was a psychologically broken man. i think he's suffering from ptsd and a sense of guilt with which he emerged from the war. >> this is a guy who was fighting for a arab nation, but he was also a british soldier. and this empire consumes everything that it touches. >> he was used as an instrument to betray the people that he came to appreciate and love. >> it was this incredible irony of lawrence's life, among a life
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of many ironies. but he's also been discovered by a journalist, and he's become kind of a matinee idol. they have him going over sand dunes and palm trees and dancing girls. >> the british and the french give no credit to anybody but themselves. hence, the invention of lawrence, kind of like the tarzan stories. the savages couldn't organize themselves. >> they were too divided and ignorant, they were too cowardly. they needed this little white guy to organize them and do it. >> and this experience of fame, i think, frightened and disillusioned him. so he retired, lived in a little cottage without electricity or water. >> he had several episodes of severe depression, contemplated suicide. and finally in the spring of 1935, he's killed in a motorcycle accident.
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>> the story of world war i is very important to the middle east, because the middle east changed forever. it became a war-torn region divided into states and nations that some of them made sense, some of them don't make sense to this day. >> it stems from this arrangement that they set in action. it was concocted by the western world. >> colonial powers threw their weight behind unelected monarchs who were not chosen by the people at all. and the promise of democracy and independence has not been seen or realized in most parts of the region to this day. >> and one wonders what weould
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the arab world be today if it were not for what imperialism did, to snuff out the national ambitions of people, to impose regimes on them. to spoil their wealth and exploit them. imperialism committed a sin that is still taking a toll today. >> the british played everybody to their advantage. they told the jews you want a home in palpalestine, here's yo land. at the end, the british were working for the british. >> so to a large extent, the main outcome of the first world war for jerusalem is that the israel-palestinian dispute that we know so much about today is really instituted, unwittingly to a degree, by british multiple
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promises and british political gambling. >> the palestinian arabs expect to finally be granted their own nation. but the jewish population expects the same thing. the seeds for jerusalem's next great conflict have been planted. ♪ ♪ hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the united states and all around the world. you are watching "cnn newsroom." across the u.s., the delta variant is fueling a large surge of patients admitted to hospitals, with some running out of space or staff to keep up. despite the rising case numbers, canada is reopening its boarder to american traveler it is they are fully vaccinated. and greece is struggling with a rash of wildfires spurre

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