1895: Alfred Dreyfus, the French officer wrongly accused of spying for Germany, is sentenced to life in prison on Devil’s Island. The case splits France between liberals and nationalists, unraveling a society in the grips of deep-seated anti-Semitism, itself a scapegoat for France’s brew of humiliation and resentment at the hands of German power. The Arab public, not yet infected by the European virus of anti-Semitism, is generally sympathetic to Dreyfus.
1996: Using a booby-trapped cellular phone, Israel assassinates Palestinian engineer Yahya Ayyash in the Gaza Strip. Israel accuses the 32-year-old engineer and Hamas militant (he belonged to Hamas’ Quassam Brigades) to have introduced suicide bombings as a weapon in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the mastermind behind attacks that have claimed 50 lives and wounded 300 since 1992.
2004: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw predicts British troops would stay in Iraq until at least 2007. As it turned out, British forces would not begin pulling out until 2008. Britain announced in December 2008 that its remaining troops would withdraw from March to June 2009, but that 300 to 400 soldiers would stay in Iraq.
2004: Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani says Iran would become the first Islamic nation to reach space by launching an Iranian-made satellite within 18 months. On Aug. 17, 2008, Iranian television broadcasts images of a night rocket-launch and claims a satellite was fired into orbit.