Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine

Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine

Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine

Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine


The Tragedy of Palestine involves a clash of ideals, desires, and acts which individually and in other circumstances might well be praised as conducive of the "good life" desired by all its actors. The tragedy is essentially the fact that the several and differing ideals, desires, and acts have, in our time at least, proved to be incompatible. As a result Palestine has become the stage on which has been played one of the most heart-rending dramas of our time.

In our generation Palestine has had two devoted populations sustained in large part by that vast mystical resource which is Palestine's major gift to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. In comparison with this resource, its rocky, stingy hills and narrow valleys offer little. The outsider is apt to find this mystical resource elusive: one can feel it in certain situations but it is difficult to define. It is, moreover, compounded by the experiences, the hopes and the fears, of Arabs and Jews outside of Palestine itself. The story of Palestine cannot be told apart from European enlightenment--and persecution. Nor may we ignore the social ethics of the two populations, even when these are different from or even contrary to our own. The attempt to understand Palestine in purely "rational" terms is not unlike trying to gain a perspective of a needle from head on. Behind the tiny point of fact looms a shaft of emotion.

It is the purpose of this study to present that perspective. This is what we have called the "backdrop" to the day-to-day events upon which attention is usually focused.

We have divided our problem into four parts.

First we give the historical background of Palestine. Modern political events do not happen in vacuo, and this is perhaps nowhere so striking as in Palestine.

Part II discusses the Jewish interests in Palestine: the reaction of Jews to European persecution, the powerful emotional force of Zionism, the problems and prospects of Israel.

In Part III we turn to the Arab involvement in Palestine:

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