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Zionism and Palestinian Arab Nationalism

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 Zionism and Palestinian Arab nationalism which helped shaped their identities

Jews and Palestinian Arabs were both seeking for political expression of their national identity centers on the small territory: “the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, which constituted the British mandatory territory of Palestine between 1922 and 1948” (Kelman 1987, p.350). When the Jewish refugees from different countries controlled by Nazi government had no place to flee to, they demanded Palestine to be an independent state for them (“Ancient History of Israel and Palestine”). They believed that Palestine is the Promised Land mentioned by Yahweh in the Bible.

Palestine is where they shaped their spiritual, cultural and political identity but they were forcibly exiled from their land. So they wanted to restore the land of Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people.  Zionism was the movement established to acquire Palestine as the Jewish homeland and Palestinians Arabs on the other hand refers to the non Jewish population of the Palestine at the time. Zionism is striving to create a Jewish nation in Palestine by colonizing its land through massive Jewish immigration. Jews demanded that Palestine must be established as a Jewish commonwealth (Gurion 1987, p.24). However the Palestinian Arab nationalism was struggling for freedom of the inhabitants of the land of Palestine from colonial and imperialist control (Ramakrishna 2001 n.p.) They believed that they possess legal rights to determine their destiny in Palestine as their homeland.

 Finally when the Zionist movement, which represents the Jews, “gained a foothold in Palestine through Great Britain’s issuance of the Balfour Declaration (Norman 1995, x.i.)” they started to exercise its right to national self ownership in the land of Palestine. However, one great obstacle they encounter to realize this goal was the indigenous Arab population who dominantly live in the area. But Palestinian Arab people were also fighting for “some form of national self determination in the West Bank and Gaza- the parts of Palestine that remain outside the political boundaries of the State of Israel” (Kelman 1987, n.p.). Both Jews and Palestinians in the early 1900’s perceive themselves as nations who can define their identities, prove their rights and interests and engage in costly and self sacrificing battle to gain and pursue Palestine.

The United Nations who’s hoping to solve the conflict between Jews and Arabs adapted the proposal plan called “the partition plan for Palestine which would divide the land into two equal parts.  The Jews accepted the plan but the Palestinians and Arab Countries rejected it (“Middle East Conflict”)” since Arab in Palestine is superior in population. This was the start of literal battle and war between two nations.  Both organized different national movements to claim primary rights on the same land. The Jews though humbly agreed in the equal division of Palestine between them and Arab imposed by United Nations however Palestinian refused to recognize Jewish’ self determination even in a part of that land. The Arabs started to make several violent actions against the Jews in Palestine. The Jews in return established radical self defence organizations to attack Arabs. This paved the way to 1948 first Israeli-Arab war and the conflict after continues. Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured. The self sacrificing and determined willingness of Israel to reach peace and finally freedom was very evident during those times.

As new realities and new relationships with old enemies become established, new beliefs evolved, new culture was adapted and some of the old myths and dreams form both become irrelevant. Zionism and Palestinians Arabs movements of gaining Land ownership became their way of gaining of identity, cultural revival and national liberation. Palestinians have learned that for Israelis, Zionism may represent a positive vision of national renewal and social change; Israelis have learned that for Palestinians, the quest for national self determination may represent a similar vision of a desirable future. This does not mean of course that they accept other’s ideology and principle based from their culture and religion but peaceful mutual penetration of the other’s perspective may possibly compliment to develop a common vision of the future for the land they share. Its fulfilment of the vision though should not destruct the other (Kelman 1987 p.362).

The conflict between Arabs and Jews is as old as the Bible. Arabs came from the line of Ishmael and Jews from Isaac. Both of them are sons of Abraham or Ebrahim. After the Jewish Diaspora, the dispersal of Jews from Israel, Arabs have claimed the land they claim is the birthplace of Mohammed 800 AD. After much military coherence and struggle of the Israelis or so they are called, Palestinians/ Arabs are now claiming lost lands or Palestine for themselves from the Jews. Yuser Arafat was the Palestinian political leader to coerce with Israeli government- Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin. Palestinian- Israeli conflict has been political, land reforms and peace processes are enduring and the conflict is historic as it has an impact on Jewish custom and Arabs as well. Israeli and Palestinians not only religiously get along but the problem is political- land. Now that Israel is an independent state fro foreign colonizers it has divided and claimed once Palestinian land- Gaza strip which is overtaken by Palestinians into Israel’s land. Culture and customs do not converge and often even historically has there been discrimination. Zionism, a Jewish movement that reinforces Israeli’s nationalism, discriminates particularly the Arab children and women. The Israeli’s government has been cruel and harsh.

The mix culture of Palestinians and Jewish today has sustained and yet somewhat a revival of the past that once Jews and Arabs co-existed. At present, Arabs and Jews are migrating abroad and are making a name for themselves. Jews are very good with business, whether with companies, industries, film especially after the conflict between Israeli somehow escalated. Arabs on the other hand are doing likewise. Many Arab artists are now growing in the industry of film and music. Their culture is quite similar due to their political and cultural proximities to each other. Palestine is now a multicultural country because of mix parentage, educational system, historical background and political system. Both Arabs and Jews are now striving for a living anywhere as also to create identity and individuality after the enduring years of political battle of land self determination. The long years of battle naturally escalated maybe because it tiredly consumes the people. Some of them just chose to flee and create a living outside Palestinian frontier as to find real peace.

The war and conflicts that took place with two different identities reflects their costly and self sacrificing determination to express their identity politically and spiritually in Palestine. Zionism brought about by Jews in Palestine affected the educational system of the Palestinian Arabs people. The establishment of an all-Jewish, Hebrew language educational system was implemented as an essential component of building the Jewish national home. However the Jewish and Palestinian children were separated that widened the cultural and linguistic gap between two peoples.

The After Effects of 1948 Arab and Israeli War

It was already discuss the cause and motivation of 1948 Arab and Israeli War. The 148-1949 War reflected the strong opposition of Arabs to the formation of the Jewish state of Israel in what they considered Arab historically owned territory. This war reflects the strong determination of the Palestinian Arabs to take land ownership against Jews even by force. The after effects of political war between the nations are sill very evident today. Arabs failed to defeat Israel in 1948. They have equally failed to make peace since they are politically divided. The defeat of Palestine ended Israel to gain more territory than it had been allotted under the 1947 U. N. Partition Plan. As a result, many Palestinians became refugees in surrounding Arab countries and later on around the world. “The most spectacular event in the contemporary history of Palestine, more spectacular in a sense that the creation of the Jewish state paved the wholesome evacuation of its Arab population (Quoted by Keith Kyle, Suez, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991, 22)”. The status of Palestinians Arabs as refugees motivated higher hostilities between Arab and Israeli’s relations. Many Jewish refugees too from Arab lands migrated to Palestine while Arab refugees were prevented from settling in neighbouring countries.

On May 14, 1948 the British Mandate ended and Israel proclaimed its independence as a sovereign state within the boarders determined by the United Nations Partition Resolution encourage the formulation of “Law of Return” as one of the first Laws of the State of Israel which entitled every Jew to immigrate to Israel as a right. Right after the implementation of the law, the arrival of large groups of Jewish immigrants from different parts of the world especially from the Iraqi government was massive. The Jewish government established vast camps but were being replaced by permanent housing and cooperative settlements. The unprecedented prosperity of the Jews paved the way for the establishment of agricultural and industrial infrastructure (“Arab- Israel conflict 1948-2001, A Chronological Outline”).The military prowess of the Jews also strengthens after the 1948 war.

Often throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, different nations especially from the West share ideas in regards to how they perceive the conflict between the Arabs and the Israeli. Some says countries that put their side on Arab have personal interest to intervene into Arab’s oil and resources.

The root of the conflict is as ancient as the Bible itself and the resolution is far from the horizon. The cause is mainly political in nature that sprouts from cultural and religious differences. The clash is historical and the struggles have been present from many generations before with the struggle for an independent Israeli government ever since the Jewish Diaspora and their resolve to reclaim their “promised land.” Now, the possible solution is when the cultures of the new generations merge as the present generation creates an environment for such a milieu.

Failure to resolve the territorial struggle between Arabs and Israelis, the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and the division of Jerusalem – all fruits of the 1948 war – set the framework for the struggle which continued throughout the remainder of the twentieth century and on into the twenty-first (“..Chronological outline”).

Work Cited Page:

“Ancient history of Israel and Palestine” 2008. The Arab- Israeli Conflict

Finkelstein, Norman 1995 (xi) Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.VERSO

Ramakrishnan A. K. (2001).Mahatma Gandhi Rejected Zionism. News and Views.

The Wisdom Fund.


Thornton Ted 2008. First Arab- Israeli War 1948.History of the Middle East Database.


“Arab- Israel conflict 1948-2001, A Chronological Outline” 2003.Mint Digital with

 the association of Meretz Pty Ltd.New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies


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