A Brief History of Palestine and Israel

            In the early 20th century, indigenous Palestinians began to witness an increasing settlement of Zionist Jewish groups to their lands. These groups stemmed from an organized Zionist movement created in Jewish communities in Europe, who sought to transform Palestinian land into a Jewish homeland (Manna’, 2013, p. 89). Whilst simultaneously involved in a struggle against Zionist newcomers and mandated British rule, Palestinians believed they could eventually claim ownership of the land they inhabited (Manna’, 2013, p. 90). However, the British remained, whilst international support for the Zionist project grew after the horrors of the Holocaust (Manna’, 2013, p. 90). This support materialized in the form of the United Nations partition plan of 1947, which would end British rule but divide Palestine into Palestinian territory and a Jewish state, the latter now known as Israel (Manna’, 2013, p. 90).

            In essence, the Zionist project sought “a land without a people for a people without a land” (Abu Awwad, p. 541). Commonly used in the early Zionist movement, this phrase also encapsulates the problematics of their project: the land that the Zionists claimed was in fact not without people, thus the establishment of Israel meant a violent uprooting of the Palestinian people that inhabited the land it claimed (Abu Awwad, p. 541). The elaborate means toward this “uprooting” have been extensively documented, both in early Palestinian recordings and a large body of contemporary research (Salamanca et al., 2012, p. 1). These documentations include that of Al-Nakba, commemorated yearly by Palestinians. Translating to “the catastrophe”, Al-Nakba tends to refer to the period of destruction and erasure that shortly followed Israel’s establishment in 1948, during which four to six hundred Palestinian villages were demolished and roughly half of Palestine’s indigenous population was forced to flee their land (Bardi, 2016, p. 169). However, whilst Al-Nakba is often framed as a distinct event, a “precondition for the creation of Israel or the outcome of early Zionist ambition”, it continues to manifest itself in the subjugation of the Palestinian people today (Salamanca et al., 2012, p. 2). This subjugation is especially acute in the Palestinian territories which Israel has occupied since 1967, including the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and thus lying beyond the internationally agreed to “Green Line” or border of Israel (Manna’, 2013, p. 87).