272: Tuesday Quiz: So, what do you know about the Middle East?

he Tuesday Quiz is back!
    Yes, we’ve heard from readers that you’ve missed this gem in the last couple of weeks. All we can say is: Late September was jammed with so much news this year that we ran out of space for the Quiz until today.
    Please drop us an Email with your thoughts anytime. We appreciate hearing from you. We’ve published some unusual quizzes in the last month or so — and we’ve heard that readers who enjoy printing the quizzes and sharing them with small groups had a little challenge dealing with our video quiz and our rather strange social-mapping quiz.
    So, today, here’s a fascinating little 10-question, multiple-choice quiz that’s perfect for Emailing to friends, reprinting in newsletters or copying to share with participants in your small group.
    We’ve just completed Ramadan and we’re in the heart of the Jewish High Holidays — so millions of people are looking toward the Middle East. Today’s quiz challenges us to learn more about this crucial and sacred part of the world.
    If you want to learn more about these issues in a fun and colorful format, click on the cover of Dan Smith’s new edition of “The State of the Middle East Atlas.” (By clicking, you’ll jump to our book review and you can order a copy via our Amazon bookstore.)

    This is a classic multiple-choice quiz. Make your choices — and don’t peek at the “ANSWERS” below until you’re ready.

1.) How big is Israel?
    A. About the size of California
    B. About the size of New Jersey
    C. About the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River

2.) How big is Iraq?
    A. About the size of California
    B. About the size of New Jersey
    C. About the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River

3.) We all know that the founding of Israel in 1948 — after the devastation of the Holocaust and World War II — led to a large Jewish immigration to Israel. In the period from 1948 until the early 1970s, rank these three countries by their levels of immigration to Israel — from most to least?
    A. Morocco
    B. Poland
    C. Iran

4.) Based on UN tracking of Palestinian refugees that started in 1951, rank these destinations of Palestinian refugees from most to least?
    A. Jordan
    B. Gaza
    C. Lebanon
    D. Syria

5.) How much of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow bottleneck between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula that opens into the Arabian Sea?
    A. 10 percent
    B. 25 percent
    C. 40 percent

6.) One powerful player in Middle East politics is Syria. Since it declared independence from Vichy France in 1944, how many times did military coups topple the country’s leadership?
    A. never
    B. only once
    C. ten times

7.) Age is an issue in many parts of the Middle East. In Egypt, for example, a major seat of global civilization, what’s the population below age 18?
    A. 10 percent. It’s an aging nation.
    B. 25 percent. It’s much like some other Western countries.
    C. 50 percent. It’s a remarkably young country.

8.) Where do the Kurds live? Of course, they live almost everywhere now. Germany counts more than 500,000 people with a Kurdish background, for example. But, within the Middle East, rank these three countries based on their populations of Kurds — from most to least:
    A. Iraq
    B. Syria
    C. Turkey

9.) Looking at a map of Israel, is the West Bank on the left side or the right side of the map?
    A. Left side
    B. Right side

10.) American officials have been banking on Saudi Arabia’s stability. According to Smith’s count for this edition of the atlas, how many terrorist incidents in the Middle East were inside Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006?
    A. 0, the Saudi’s don’t allow it inside their country
    B. 3, about 1 per year slips through
    C. Nearly two dozen

    IN THE ONLINE VERSION OF TODAY’S QUIZ, when you’ve got your answers
ready — click on the link below and the answers will appear. If you’re
taking this Quiz via RSS feed or an Email version, the answers are
next, so stop reading here — until you’re ready.


1.) B. U.S. government publications compare it to the size of New Jersey.

    It’s a small country overall — 20,770 square kilometers. That’s the total size of Israel listed in the U.S. government Factbook of nations. (This total doesn’t include Gaza or the West Bank.)

2.) A. Once again, drawing from data in U.S. government publications, Iraq is described as “twice the size of Idaho,” but we think that’s an almost meaningless comparison. Who knows how big Idaho is? Then we have to mentally double its size? Too complicated!
    Checking the data further, a good description is: “about the size of California.” Actually it’s somewhat larger than California, but that gives a good mental picture of the scale. Iraq is 437,072 square kilometers.
    Another way to look at these comparisons: You could fit 21 Israels inside Iraq!

3.) A, B, C.
    There are fascinating maps and charts like this throughout Smith’s book, showing geography but also movements of people, resources, cultural divisions, etc. In this ranking of Jewish migration to Israel from 1948 to the early 1970s, many Americans may not be aware that significant numbers of Jews migrated from predominantly Muslim countries. Also, the Holocaust devastated Jewish populations in countries like Germany and Poland, leaving shockingly few people left alive compared with pre-war populations. Smith’s chart lists Morocco as the origin of 260,000 Israelis in this period, Poland as the origin of 156,000 and Iran as the origin of 60,000.

4.) Once again, the list is correctly ranked already: A, B, C, D.
    Palestinian refugee statistics are very difficult to track even though the issue lies at the heart of global debates over the future of the Middle East. Many families left without officially registering as refugees. The larger Palestinian migration pattern now is global. But this chart, based on UN records of migrating refugees that was started in 1951, is helpful in understanding where the major populations of displaced families wound up within the immediate area.
    The chart in this new atlas, based on this initial picture of movement developed by the UN in 1951, lists 430,000 moving into Jordan, 200,000 moving into Gaza, 120,000 moving into Lebanon and 80,000 moving into Syria.
    Now, when world leaders debate the question of whether Palestinians will have a right to return to earlier homes and communities, these displaced populations have grown much larger. A 2005 estimate also included in the atlas, for example, lists Jordan as the current location of 1.8 million Palestinian displaced people. However, this is interesting: Currently, these four countries still rank in roughly this same order of Palestinian populations, although the 2005 estimate places Syria now as slightly higher than Lebanon.

5.) C. This number fluctuates over time, but Smith’s atlas uses the latest data available.

    The Strait of Hormuz is known as a “Choke Point” in global energy flow. If the Strait of Hormuz closes, the world stalls. That narrow “Choke Point” of the Arabian Peninsula includes the small countries of Qatar, UAE and Oman with Saudi Arabia sitting right behind them.

6.) C. The atlas lists 10 that succeeded and two more that came very close to succeeding.

    General Hafez al-Assad’s coup was one of the 10 successful takeovers. His son, Bashar, became the head of state after his death in 2000.

7.) C. Egypt is remarkably young and this adds to forces of instability.

   Another way to look at the age issue is that the median age in Egypt is 24, compared with 37 in the United States.

8.) C, A, B. By far, the largest Kurdish population is in Turkey, which is why Kurdish independence movements threaten existing global boundaries. Over many years, those boundaries were deliberately drawn to separate ethnic groups and the Kurds famously are one of those divided groups.

   In addition to the three choices above, Iran also has a significant Kurdish population. The atlas lists these populations: 15 million in Turkey, 5.2 million in Iraq, 4.7 million in Iran and 1.7 million in Syria.

9.) B. It’s on the right.

   It’s called “West Bank” because it is the west side of the Jordan River.

10.) C. The questions of Saudi stability and responsibility for global tensions are hotly debated issues.
    As Smith analyzes the 23 incidents in Saudi Arabia that he charts from 2003 to 2006 (which was the best set of data available to him as he completed the book) — he counts 7 terrorist acts against Saudi authorities and 16 against foreign citizens or interests.

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