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Palestine's flag, an elaborately-constructed envelope. Inspired by the flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz in 1916.
Palestine is the cement that holds the Arab world together, or it is the explosive that blows it apart.
Yasser ArafatWikipedia[1]

The term Palestine (Hebrew: פלשתינה Palestina; Arabic: فلسطين‎ Filasṭīn/Falasṭīn/Filisṭīn; Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē) has many meanings. Ancient Egyptian records mention Philistinia (meaning "migratory"): this referenced an Aegean people from 1200 BCE whom the Bible portrays as adversaries of the kings Saul and David. In the 5th century BCE, Herodotus wrote of the territory of Syria Philistina. After the Jews revolted against the Romans in 135 CE, the latter called the area Provincia Syria Philistina rather than Judea as the Jews had.

In contemporary terms, "Palestinian" denotes a community of Muslim, Christian, and SamaritanWikipedia[note 1] Arabs who live in the West Bank, in Gaza, in refugee camps in some Middle Eastern nations, and in a global diaspora. These people see the territory that currently makes up the state of Israel and the territories occupied by Israel—the West Bank and Gaza—as their homeland, having been descended from the original Philistine peoples.

An independent State of Palestine was declared in exile at Algiers on 15 November 1988. This state has been recognized by 146 nations,[note 2] including 75.1% of the United Nations membership (and representing 80% of the world population), but it remains unrecognized by Israel and the US.[2] On 30 September 2015, the UN raised the Palestinian flag at its New York headquarters for the first time. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the occasion a "day of pride for the Palestinian people around the world" and a "day of hope".[3] To the surprise of genuinely nobody, this was not taken well by the United States who claimed it was a counterproductive attempt to pursue statehood claims outside of a negotiated settlement.[4][note 3]

The Palestinian Authority is a proto-national political/administrative entity that exercises limited sovereignty over the West Bank, an area under Israeli military control. The Gaza Strip is administered internally by Hamas because it won a pan-Palestinian election in 2006.Wikipedia The majority of legal scholars, the UN, the Red Cross, human-rights organizations, the international community, and the US State Department recognize Gaza as an area occupied by Israel - owing to Israeli control (of the borders, air-space, waters, population registry), imposition of buffer zones, and military raids, among other aspects.[5][6] Israel, however, rejects this international consensus, maintaining that it left Gaza in 2005, dismantling the Israeli settlements/military installations. Israel accordingly regards the enclave as a hostile foreign entity.[7]

As a result of the Israeli blockade on Gaza ports and the Egyptian/Israeli closure of the border with Egypt, around 40% of World Health Organisation essential medicines are unavailable in Gaza.[8] Israel falsely blames mismanagement by the local authority for the vast social problems in Gaza.[9] However, Israel refuses to treat the Gaza Strip as occupied territory and fulfill their obligations to the area under international law. Talk about hypocrisy!


In historical terms, Palestine was a small territory in the Middle East, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Under the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the Jewish people performed a long series of failed rebellions against Rome, which led to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple of Jerusalem. Hadrian also renamed the province (which had been known as "JUDAEA" up to that point) "SYRO-PALESTINA", after the ancient Philistines that used to live there. This is the origin of the modern name. A small number returned to Jerusalem, where they remained for centuries - some to this day. Arabization of the area started with an expansion of the Arab Empire during the 7th century.[10] The area is holy to the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, creating a source of conflict, notably in the Crusades.

The early years of Zionism[edit]

In the wake of centuries of persecution ranging from discrimination to pogroms, in the late 19th century, European Jews[note 4] began to answer the call of Zionism and buy land to settle in Palestine, a practice called Aliyah or "ascent" in Hebrew. Some of the purchased lands had been seized from Palestinians by other Ottoman citizens abusing the 1858 Land Code,[11] and the sales to Jewish settlers were viewed by many Palestinians with suspicion and anger. It has to be emphasized that — like most of the Middle East — the prevailing economic structure was large tracts owned by absentee landlords who did not give a crap about the people working the land as long as they paid up. Some Arab voices actually welcomed the newcomers as they at least lived on the land they owned and cared about what happened to it.[12]

During World War I, the British and Ottoman Empires were opponents. As part of their fight, the British sought the help of Arabs under Ottoman rule, including the Palestinians, making promises of a free and independent country for them at the war's conclusion. However, the British also promised Jews a homeland in Palestine. In the aftermath of World War 1, the imperial possessions of the Central Powers were distributed amongst the victors as League of Nations mandates. Officially the point of the mandates was to prepare the inhabitants for self rule, but in practice the victorious powers treated this as pretty words without actual meaning and saw the mandates as colonial possessions. The League of Nations mandate for Palestine was established in 1922, but with some unusual clauses compared to other mandates. The Mandate charged the British with establishing the conditions for a "Jewish national home" in Palestine, with giving Palestinian citizenship to all Jews who settled in Palestine, with allowing Jews to settle on public land, and with the creation of a "Jewish agency", a Jewish junior government subject to the British administration to advice and to take part in the rule of the Mandate. This Mandate also granted this Jewish Agency the right to develop Palestine's natural resources.

Increased Zionist emigration and WWII[edit]

Greater waves of Jewish migration started in the 1920s and 30s because of the growing support for Zionism among the Jews of Europe and the growing power of the Nazis. The opposition between the indigenous Palestinians, who were angry over this enormous influx, on the one hand, and the increasing Zionist population (Jews who were generally European in their culture) on the other, grew more violent, with attacks from both sides. Some Zionists sought to overthrow the British Mandate government in Palestine and create an independent Jewish state (this became the dominant position within Zionism). In 1936 the Palestinians revolted against the British rule and it took a combined force of British troops and Jewish volunteers two and a half years to successfully suppress the rebellion. The uprising convinced the British that their rule in Palestine was endangering their interests in the wider Middle East and in the aftermath set out a new policy for the colony. In it the British promised to make Palestine independent under majority rule within 10 years, to set a quote for Jewish immigration in the next 5 years and to leave immigration policy up to the democratic will of the majority from the end of those 5 years to independence. Zionists violated the quota, and to maintain it the British began to intern the migrants rather than allowing them into Palestine, leading to further anger. Violence and terrorism became common among both Palestinian Arabs and Zionists.

During World War II, there was a period of roughly two hundred days during which Axis advances on the Suez appeared likely to succeed, which caused a great deal of concern among the Jewish population of the region. Thankfully, Erwin Rommel and his troops ran out of fuel as the tankers he ordered in Enigma-coded telegrams were all sunk after said telegrams were decoded.

The UN partition plan[edit]

Shortly after the war, the United Nations, which succeeded the League, passed a resolution offering a plan to carve up Mandatory Palestine and give roughly half of it to the Jews. Most former Mandate territory (including more than historic Palestine) was made into the Kingdom of Jordan. The UN resolution pleased many Zionist Jews because it endorsed a Jewish State, but they were displeased with the amount of land indicated and intended to take far more land in due course. The Palestinians and the Arab countries refused to accept the partition plan because they perceived it as manifestly unequal. The Arabs also knew that the Zionists did not ultimately intend to settle for the land "given" to them by the UN (as if the land were the UN's to give). The Arabs, then, refused to recognize a Jewish state, and the UN's plan was not implemented.

The State of Israel is founded, and Nakba occurs[edit]

Zionist terrorism directed at the British caused them to pull out of the region. In 1948, Zionists declared the State of Israel. Five neighboring countries, supported by two other nearby countries, launched an attack; the Zionist forces defeated them. It was generally thought that most Palestinians fled, either leaving on promises of a return after the war or were driven out to neighboring countries. However, recent scholarship has demonstrated that Zionists did, in fact, perpetrate a great deal of violence and ethnic cleansing of Arabs in several hundred of their Palestinian villages and cities.[13] Palestinians call these events the Nakba, Arabic for "catastrophe."[14] While the Israeli government officially claims there were no expulsions[15] and that most Palestinians claim that everybody who left was expelled, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. What exactly is the truth is a hot-button issue for all involved and even many uninvolved people. Today, around 6.5 million descendants of those who left mandatory Palestine in 1948 live in refugee camps all over the Middle East,[16] only rarely integrated into mainstream society and granted equal rights.[17]

Having won in 1948, Israel then appropriated most of the land intended for the Palestinian state in the UN plan, while the rest ended up under the control of Jordan (the West Bank) or Egypt (Gaza). Then, due to the 1967 Six-Day War,Wikipedia Israel conquered all of this (plus Sinai and the Golan Heights).

Israeli-Palestinian conflict[edit]

While the Israeli experiment has mainly been successful as a refuge and nation for Jews, there still remain some issues: issues regarding the mostly Muslim Palestinian Arabs who were expelled in 1948 and are now refugees, as well as issues regarding those who stayed within Israel proper and live as full citizens of Israel, but who endure significant discrimination.[18][19] Land theft in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) is ongoing through illegal Israeli settlements.

Israel has always been racked with internal strife as Palestinian resistance organizations continue to oppose Israeli settlement of the West Bank[note 5] and the apartheid system implemented there, and seek redress for what they call "the Catastrophe" (an-Nakba)—the ethnic cleansing of several hundred Arab cities and villages in what is now the territory of Israel proper.

Unfortunately for the current occupants of this area, the violent conflict there has a 6000-year history- thus predating both countries. More than 34% percent of male skulls and 19% of female skulls found in what are now Israel and the West Bank show evidence of serious injuries. This compares to 1-25% from other parts of the world. The injuries were caused by slingshots or clubs, and most injuries were partially-healed, indicating they were not immediately fatal. On the bright side, this research was performed by a joint Israeli-Palestinian team![20]

Unfortunately, no lasting solution has yet been found to the conflict, as Palestinians generally find the occupation intolerable and identify Israel as the oppressor. As if that weren't bad enough, the state of Israel continues its policy of the illegal occupation and illegal settlement of land seized by force. While some argue that an obstacle to peace has been the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, many prominent Gazans strongly support Hamas' goal of a fully independent Palestine. Therefore they do not believe that the seizure of Gaza is an obstacle to peace. This is a highly subjective matter that cannot be easily decided, but no matter how you look at it, the actions of Israel certainly do not help.

Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the USA, UK, Canada, and the European Union. However, Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and most Muslim countries do not regard it as such. Central to the allegations of Hamas not being a possible peace partner is their original 1988 charter which does not recognize any peace agreements with Israel, quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a well-known anti-Semitic forgery put out by the Tsarist government in Russia), denounces "Nazi Zionist practices against our people," and, on an unintentionally humorous note, cites one hadith foretelling an apocalyptic fight between Jews and Muslims said to be accompanied by talking rocks and trees which will vocalize antisemitic thoughts.[note 6] While Hamas claims, and even some Israeli officials, such as Ephraim Levy, the former head of Mossad, have agreed,[note 7] that their charter is largely no longer operative and is thus irrelevant, the countries viewing Hamas as a terrorist organization state that until it is officially amended it has to be taken into consideration.[21]


As of 2011, there has been a major push within the mainstream Palestinian factions to gain international recognition as a separate entity from Israel, with the notion being that they could then get statehood assigned in a fashion similar to how Israel was founded. This was epitomized by Palestinian entry into the United Nations' UNESCO organization.[22] This has been highly controversial as it has been opposed by the US and EU as being counter-productive to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis because, you know, breaking international law and stealing settling more land is conducive to peace and obviously the right thing to do.[citation NOT needed] As a result of the UNESCO vote, the USA has stopped all contributions and donations to UNESCO.[23] The PLO ambassador to the U.S. caused some fuss in 2011 when he stated about any future Palestinian state: "After the experience of the last 44 years, of Military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interest that the two peoples should be separated."[24]. The biggest headscratcher of them all, is that the current US president, Joe Biden, claims to advocate for a two state solution yet the US has, much like all administrations prior, vetoed the UN resolution to recognise Palestine as an independent state, claiming that agreement must come from both sides; considering that Israel has made plans to settle the West Bank and Gaza strip, it shouldn't come as a surprise as to why such a plan would not work at all. [25]


The UN defines indigeneity the following way:

Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.[26]

Palestinians have a clear cultural and genetic[27][28] continuity with the inhabitants of Palestine prior to Zionist colonization of Palestine and form a non-dominant group in Israel/Palestine. Whether or not Jewish people have genuine connections to the ancient Land of Israel is irrelevant to the definition the UN offers. As for whether or not proof of Jewish genetic descent counts for aliyah Israel has pretty decisively ruled it does not:

A DNA result that “proves” your Jewish origins does not grant the right to make aliyah according to the Law of Return. The Israeli law and the Israeli Ministry of Interior procedures are in consensus on this issue. An aliyah applicant is required to present documented proof of being Jewish or having Jewish ancestors within the last two generations. Those who don’t have documents require strong testimonial evidence with a solid explanation for the lack of documents in order to be eligible for aliyah and Israeli citizenship.[29]

However, conversion to Judaism, regardless of ancestry to Ancient Judaea, is a qualification for aliyah, although there are conditions.[30]

Nebel (2000) proposes that Palestinians, either in majority or in part, derive from local Jews and Christians who converted to Islam and subsequently became Arabized.Wikipedia[31]


  • Ilan Pappe. 2006. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: Oneworld. ISBN 978-1-85168-555-4.
  • Tom Segev. 1999. One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6587-3. .

External links[edit]


  1. Samaritans are Palestinians living mainly in Nablus who practice Samaritanism, which is related to Judaism.
  2. 145 UN member states plus Vatican City. Palestine is also recognized by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, if one chooses to count that.
  3. This is of course to hide the fact that the US genuinely doesn't want a Palestinian state to exist nor be recognised full stop for obvious reasons. Plus, Israel themselves are near-universally opposed to the existence of anything Palestinian, including the very people themselves so anyone "negotiations" are to have predictable outcomes.
  4. Initially, mostly Ashkenazim from Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.
  5. Settlement in this case entails expulsion of the Palestinians whose houses are demolished
  6. The Hamas Charter states in relevant part: "Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim)."
  7. "The Hamas leadership has recognized that its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future. They are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967....They know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their cooperation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: They will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals" This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion by Norman Finkelstein, quoting former head of Mossad, Ephraim Levy.


  1. Middle East: The Palestinians Become a Power (Nov. 11, 1974) Time.
  2. See the Wikipedia article on International recognition of the State of Palestine.
  8. How Britain Facilitates the Shameful Israeli Naval Blockade on Gaza, Ruairi Wood
  9. Palestinian Lives Don’t Matter, Bret Stephens
  10. Nicolle, David (2009). The Great Islamic Conquests AD 632-750. p.50-68
  17. Contains an account of the treatment of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries
  19. Israeli-Arab Knesset member, Ayman Odeh, says his party refrains from involvement in ministries that pursue mandates favoring Jewish citizens at the expense of the state’s Arab citizens — i.e., the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
  20. Mideast violence goes way back: Head wounds common in region throughout last 6,000 years
  22. Mahmoud Abbas raises Palestinian flag at UNESCO
  31. Nebel, A., Filon, D., Weiss, D.A. et al. High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial overlap with haplotypes of Jews. Hum Genet 107, 630–641 (2000).