Written by: Michael Kravshik.
Who are the Palestinians? A simple question with an extremely complicated, nuanced, and controversial answer.
This post is the introduction to a series of posts that will try to answer this question in the simplest way possible. Due to the controversial nature of the topic and the plethora of horribly biased sources, any source that pushed one of the two following concepts was not consulted for any information:
a) The Palestinians are 100% the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine
b) The Palestinians are 0% the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.
Any half-decent student of history knows that both statements are simply untrue. History is always messier than that. There has been just too much conquering, raping and pillaging over the millennia for things to remain static. Being the crossroads of the world for most of history, the Middle East in particular has felt the weight of change more than most. I have previously argued that I am opposed to any sort of ‘national’ land rights for exactly this reason. This series will steer clear of any discussion of who rightfully owns the land, and will focus instead on the history and origin of the people themselves and their nationalist movement.
Keep in mind that Palestinians can be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise. Religion has transformed drastically over the ages in the region. The assumption of some religious association with Palestinians in general would be incorrect, as this series will illustrate.
Being a KRAXFACTS series it will be fact-based. Unfortunately, given the fog of history, important information is sometimes missing. Summarizing millennia of history also inevitably results in much information being omitted. That being said, if anyone has sourced facts they would like to contribute and feel should be included, please comment.
The series will end where the oft-repeated story normally begins, in early 1948, when Israel declared its independence. My intention is to provide the less-told but equally important story of what happened before. Below, a table of contents provides the titles of the six parts and links to each of them (once they are posted). Additionally, a timeline of peoples or empires in control of Palestine pre-1948, and a reference list of sources used are provided.
A quick but important note about this series: The word ‘Palestine’ will be used in its historic context to avoid controversy. For much of history, borders in the modern sense didn’t exist. This means I will be referring to Palestine as a general region, with no defined borders. The historic region has included, at various times, land that is mainly now in modern Israel, West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, but also includes parts of modern Lebanon and Syria. It is important to consider that the historic region of Palestine was inclusive of land both west and east of the Jordan River.
Additionally, addressing the history of Palestine and the Palestinians will inevitably result in much discussion of Jews and Zionists. This will be done within the context of answering the question, something with which they are intimately intertwined.
Table of Contents
Amireh, Amal. “Between Complicity and Subversion: Body Politics in Palestinian National Narrative.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 102.4 (2003): 747-772. Web.
Hammack, Philip L. “Narrating hyphenated selves: Intergroup contact and configurations of identity among young Palestinian citizens of Israel.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 34 (2010): 368-385. Web.
Holland, Tom. In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World. London, England: Little Brown, 2012. Print.
Kimmerling, Baruch and Migdal, Joel S. The Palestinian People: A History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003. Print.
Miller, J. Maxwell and Hayes, John H. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. Print.
Muir, Diana. “A Land without a People, for a People without a Land.” Middle East Quarterly 15.2 (2008): 55-62. Web.
Muslih, Muhammad Y. The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. Print.
Parkes, James. A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1949. Print.
Porath, Y. The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement 1918-1929. London, England: Frank Cass and Company Limited, 1974. Print.
Porath, Y. The Palestinian Arab National Movement 1929-1939: From Riots to Rebellion. London, England: Frank Cass and Company Limited, 1977. Print.
As well as:
Britannica Encyclopaedia (Multiple sections)
This is a series on the Palestinians. What can you add?
Special thanks to Dorothy Charach for her editing advice