Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

By Ann M. Lesch; Dan Tschirgi | Go to book overview

2

Contradictory Nationalist Movements

Arabs and Jews began to experience a growing sense of national identity more than a hundred years ago, which led them to seek cultural self-realization and political independence. Because Jewish nationalism focused on Palestine, which was already inhabited by Arabs, the two peoples clashed intensely and severely. This chapter covers the period until 1948, by which time most Arab states gained independence and Jewish nationalists achieved their goal of establishing a Jewish nation-state, but the Palestinians were defeated and dispersed. First, it is important to understand what is meant by nationalism and a nation-state.

Scholars frequently use the term “nation-state” to indicate that one “nation” should rule one “state.” The idea of a state is straightforward: It basically means the governing system in an independent, sovereign territory. However, there is often disagreement and confusion about the concept of a “nation.” In the United States, all persons born in the United States are American citizens by right of birth, and immigrants may become citizens through a process of naturalization. National identity derives from shared ideas embodied in the Constitution rather than loyalty to an ethnic, racial, or religious group. Allegiance is accorded to the Constitution of the territory known as the United States of America. This form of civic or territorial nationalism ideally embraces all who qualify to be citizens, irrespective of religion, race, or ethnicity.

However, the concept of a nation that prevails in most of the world conceives of a nation as an ethnic group that has a distinct language, religion, physical characteristics, and/or history. According to that approach, the members of a clearly demarcated ethnic group are likely to want to—and

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Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Chronology of Events xvii
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict Explained 1
  • 1 - Historical Overview 3
  • Notes 39
  • 2 - Contradictory Nationalist Movements 41
  • 3 - The Israelis 57
  • 4 - The Palestinians 71
  • 5 - The United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict 91
  • 6 - Conclusion 107
  • Glossary of Selected Terms 157
  • Annotated Bibliography 165
  • Index 179
  • About the Authors 193
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