Historically, regional and national boundaries were based largely on natural landforms such as mountain ranges and rivers. For example, the boundary between France and Spain is due to the Pyrenees Mountains. However, in recent history, regional boundaries have been arbitrarily formed based on economic and political reasons, a good example of which is the creation of Israel, which was created in 1948 as a homeland for the Jewish people after the calamities of World War 2. Since then the borders have changed multiple times, thus reshaping the boundaries and geography of the region. Below is a brief analysis of an article entitled Israel’s Border and Security Problems, which demonstrates the region’s ongoing geographic dynamism and the effect this has had on the local people.
The Middle East is a region that is a victim of having its borders redrawn arbitrarily by politicians, which has caused numerous conflicts. Perhaps the most contentious of these conflicts is the creation and expansion of Israel. This article discusses the problems that Israel faces along its oddly shaped and contentious borders. The reason for the country’s odd shape is that borders were drawn based on the needs of politicians at the time and due to a series of wars, such as the Six-Day War and the Arab-Israeli War, which concluded with Israel claiming more land from the Palestinians, which, of course, was inevitably going to cause conflict, as the redrawing of geographic boundaries often does. Therefore, because of the way the country was created and the way it expanded, many of the surrounding countries and peoples do not recognize Israel’s authority over the land and are actively, either openly or secretly, trying to push Israel from the region, thus trying again to reshape the regional geography. The author of the article states, “From the Israel Parliament buildings in Jerusalem the armed sentries of the Jordanian Arab Legion can be seen a few hundred yards away” (Dayan 1955). This shows that the even in 1955 when this article was written, only seven years after the creation of Israel, the tension over geographic borders was extremely high.
Furthermore, this tension has had an enormous effect on the local people, both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The author claims, “The entire country is a frontier, and the whole rhythm of national life is affected by any hostile activity from the territory of neighboring states” (Dayan 1955). Here, the author is explaining that this reshaping of national borders is the cause of ongoing tension and affects the everyday life of everyone in the region. The news is constantly riddled with conflicts between the Israel and its neighbors, ranging from small skirmishes to the firing of ballistic missiles over the border, which has taken numerous lives and terrified many more. These types of conflicts led to the creation of several impermeable boundaries, such as the Israeli West Bank barrier, a massive and heavily fortified wall surrounding much of Israel. Barriers such as this have drastically reshaped the geography of the area as the natural flow of people, goods, animals, etc. has been not only hindered but almost completely stopped.
Written by Major-General Moshe Dayan in the early days of Israel’s existence, this article is a perfect example of how politics are the major driving force behind modern regional geography, as well as the two-way process of people changing their environment and the environment changing the people. That is, borders are no longer decided on natural landforms, but, rather, they are now created based on politics and economics, such as the creation of Israel.