New Article: Foster, The 1915 Locust Attack in Syria and Palestine

Foster, Zachary J. “The 1915 Locust Attack in Syria and Palestine and its Role in the Famine During the First World War.” Middle Eastern Studies 51.3 (2015): 370-94.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00263206.2014.976624

 

Abstract

The famine that befell Syria during the First World War was among the most tragic events in the region’s modern history. The article argues that the 1915 locust attack, which is often neglected altogether or given terse treatment as one among a laundry list of causes of the famine, was a critical factor which drove many across the region, especially in Lebanon and Palestine, to starvation beginning in late 1915. Given that the scale of the attack was far worse than anything Syria had witnessed in many decades, if not centuries; and that a huge percentage of the region’s major foodstuffs and sources of livelihood, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, fodder and a small but not insignificant amount of cereals, were devoured by the locusts, it is suggested that many of the 100,00–200,000 people that died from starvation or starvation-related diseases in the year immediately following the attack – that is, from November 1915 to November 1916 – can be attributed to the locust invasion.

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