Way back when I was returning to college after a year’s hiatus, I took an ancient history course. The teacher’s name and most of the historical details I learned have been forgotten or misplaced in that murky swamp I call a memory. But our professor said one thing that stuck with me through the years. "The Middle East," he said, "is real estate. Everybody makes the same argument, that my ancestors were there. And it’s true, their ancestors were there. But the problem is that everybody’s ancestors were there at one time or another. The history of this part of the world is the history of real estate trading hands, that’s all there is to it."
This short flash animation illustrates the concept better than I could. Enjoy!