54 years have passed and the Palestinian refugees are waiting for an untouchable
dream. 54 years have passed and the Palestinian refugees are listening to
infertile slogans from those leaders who have sold their cause. 54 years have
passed and the Palestinian refugees are waiting in despair to come back to their
The very first inhabitants of Palestine were the
Canaanites who had urbanized the land more than 4000 years ago. The people
whom we now call Palestinians are in fact the descendants of the
Palestine had been occupied
by many civilizations throughout history. One of these peoples were the
Palestine was occupied
by the Persians from the Jews in the 6th century BC. Since that date, religious
Jews had always believed that one day they would return back and that they
would welcome Messiah, who they believed would be a saviour from God.
Some Jews remained in
Palestine, others migrated to Europe, Africa and Asia.
The Romans kicked out
many Jews and treated them badly. The Arabs ruled Palestine after defeating
the Romans and lived there for more than 1400 years.
All western and eastern
historians agree that the Jews were treated with equality with Muslims
during the Arab rule of Palestine in the 7th century AD.
Muslim rulers did not force their religion on the Palestinians, and more
than a century passed before the majority converted to Islam. The remaining
Christians and Jews were considered "People of the Book." They were allowed
autonomous control in their communities and guaranteed security and freedom
of worship. Such tolerance (with few exceptions) was rare in the history
Written by a Jewish
historian, Philip Peretz. Source: "Palestine" Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97
Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
and 19th centuries
Jews have always been
badly treated by Europeans. There are two reasons for that. The first is
that Christians believe that the Jews killed Jesus Christ (unlike Muslims
who believe that Jesus Christ wasn't crucified). The other reason was that
Jews were quite clever and cunning and they owned many shops and companies.
Many Jews were rich, this made Europeans feel jealous. This anti-Jewish attitude
is called anti-Semitism.
The first Zionist movement
was the Haskalah (Hebrew for enlightenment) during the 1700s. This
movement was not religious. It wanted to give more equality to Jews in
Theodor Herzl, a famous European
Jewish writer, who is regarded as one of the greatest influences in the
movement that led to the creation of the state of Israel, first believed
that the gradual assimilation of Jews with Christians in Europe would
solve anti-Semitism. In fact, Herzl used to despise his own Jewish people
and was thinking of converting to Christianity.
However, in 1894, Herzl saw the
unfair and racist trial of a Jewish army of officer, Alfred Dreyfus. After
that, the trial convinced him that the problem could be solved only if the
Jews became a separate national group with sovereignty over their own
Although this solution to the problem of anti-Semitism had
been previously suggested by other Jewish leaders, Herzl was the first to
call for immediate political, internationally recognized action. To help
implement his plan he called for a Zionist congress in 1897, which met in
As a result of the congress, Palestine was chosen as the
site of the future Jewish state because of its associations with Jewish
history. The World Zionist Organization was also established to help lay
the economic foundation for the proposed state.
Soon other movements
appeared. Most movements wanted Jews to have their own country and not
just to live equally with Europeans.
Nearly all Zionists
insisted that their nation must be Palestine. Some just wanted in any country
in the world, but they weren't popular.
A group of rabbis (Jewish
clergymen) were sent to Palestine and they sent a letter to Theodor Herzl
telling him that the "bride is beautiful but she is married" (i.e.
occupied by the Palestinian people).
Because Palestine was in the hands
of the Turks, Herzl negotiated with Sultan Abd-al-Hamid, who was
sympathetic with the Zionist cause. However, such negotiations had failed
and Herzl died in 1904 before his dream could become true
During World War I,
the Turks were ruling Palestine. The British were fighting against Turkey.
In 1915, they promised the Arabs independence in Palestine if they helped
them to fight against the Turks.
Turkish railway line destroyed by Arabs.
to modifications, Great Britain is prepared to support the independence
of the Arabs in all the regions demanded. On the other hand, it is understood
that such European advisers as may be required will be British."
Henry MacMahon to Sherif Huseein of Mecca
In the following year,
the British, French and Russians agreed to divide the Turkish Empire between
them after the war. It was agreed that Russia would control Palestine.
In 1917, the British
Foreign Minister promised the Jews a "...national home..." in Palestine.
This was done to gain support from the Jews in the war. This promise was
written in the Balfour Declaration.
Majesty's Government view will favour the setting up in Palestine of a
national home for the Jewish people. It being clearly understood that nothing
shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the
existing non-Jewish community in Palestine. I should be grateful if you
would bring this Declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation."
After the war finished,
the British won. Palestine wasn't given to Russia because the British and
the French didn't like the new communist Russian government which was recently
formed. The Jews didn't gain power in Palestine either. Even the Arabs
didn't gain independence although they played a vital role to defeat the
WW1 and WW2
During the Sevres Treaty
between the Turks and the victors of WWI, Palestine became a British mandate.
That meant that Britain would just look after Palestine. The League of
Nations was supposed to make sure that the British pleased the Arabs in
Palestine and not rule them. However, Britain was practically ruling Palestine
and the Arabs were angry.
Between WWI and WW2,
Britain allowed huge numbers of Jews to migrate to Palestine.
The Palestinians didn't
like that. They thought that one day the Jews would control Palestine.
Many fights began to occur between the Palestinians and the Jews.
Jewish settlements began
to increase against the will of the people who were living in Palestine.
Many Jews began to migrate from Europe to Palestine feared by racist acts,
especially from the nazis. The Palestinians had to give land away while
the Europeans who had committed racist acts throughout history weren't
After WW2, the world
began to feel sorry for the Jews who were badly treated by Hitler in the
Holocaust (it's believed that 6 million Jews were killed by Hitler).As
Nazi forces conquered many of the countries of Europe during World War
II (1939-1945), millions of Jews were rounded up and killed outright or
imprisoned in concentration camps. By the end of the war, the Nazis had
killed nearly six million Jewish men, women, and children. During the 1930s,
countries like Luxembourg asked Britain and France if they could allow
the Jews to migrate to their countries to get away from Hitler, but Britain
and France refused.
Britain found it difficult
to rule a country with so many fights between the Arabs and Jews. It announced
that it was willing to leave Palestine in 1947.
The newly formed United
Nations tried to solve the problem. It suggested to split Palestine equally
between the Arabs and the Jews. The Arabs disagreed but the Jews were extremely
When Britain left Palestine
on the 15th of May, 1947, the Jews announced the existence of the new state
Although the new state
had more than half of Palestine, the United Nations agreed to recognize
Israel in 1948.
Israeli Prime Ministers:
Ben-Gurion 1948-1953 and 1955-1963
Menachem Begin 1977-1983
Shimon Peres 1984-1986 and 1995-1996