Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine

By William R. Polk; David M. Stamler et al. | Go to book overview

1. OUT OF THE PAST

Throughout its long and tortured history, the land of Palestine has been a station on the natural highway between Asia and Africa. Its domestic political history has been influenced more by its neighbors than by the many and rich facets of the legacy it has bequeathed to the rest of the world. Were we to trace this in detail in the millennia before the establishment of the Roman Empire, we should find that it was a buffer state, almost a play- thing, between Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and the Persian Empire. Only rarely did its own inhabitants--themselves layer upon layer of invaders--enjoy periods of autonomy.

Around 1200 B.C., possibly at about the same time the Israelites were arriving from Egypt, the Philistines settled along the coast and gradually extended their rather tenuous control over most of the land. From the Book of Joshua and from the Tel el-Amarna tablets discovered at Ugarit in 1929, we can infer that the Canaanites--the then "existing communities"--were divided into numerous, often hostile petty kingdoms which lived largely on the exploitation of a semi-slave class. Thus, social dissatisfaction and internal weakness allowed Joshua to subdue the country by stages. It was not, however, until the reign of David (ca. 1000 B.C.) that the Israelites conquered Jerusalem and most of what we would today call "Palestine."1

With both the empires of Egypt and Assyria in temporary decline, David's son Solomon was able to consolidate and expand the miniature empire built by his father. Making alliances by marriage and entering into trade relations with the Phoenician cities to the north and Arabian towns to the south, Solomon raised Israel to the apex of its political and cultural history; however, his lack of regard for tribal autonomy, his heavy taxation, and the tensions resulting from the division of the kingdom after his death led to a rapid decline of his legacy.

In the eighth century B.C., Assyria recovered its initiative and

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1
We shall use this name henceforth, although at many periods such a political territorial unit did not exist.

-3-

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Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Maps viii
  • Tables ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Important Dates in the History of Palestine xiii
  • Part 1 - THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 1
  • 1 - Out of the Past 3
  • 2 - The Coming of Islam 8
  • 3 - The Crusades 22
  • 4 - The Ottoman Empire 29
  • 5 - The Great Powers in the Middle East 34
  • 6 - The Sick Man of Europe 47
  • 7 - The First World War and Its Spore 55
  • 8 - Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann 64
  • 9 - Establishment of the Mandate 70
  • 11 - The Wisdom of Solomon 94
  • 12 - From War to War 106
  • 13 - Inquiries, Reports, and Plans 110
  • 14 - The Mandate's Last Bitter Days 126
  • Part II - JEWISH INTERESTS IN PALESTINE 131
  • 1 - The Age-Old Longing 133
  • 2 - The European Background 139
  • 3 - The Birth of Political Zionism 148
  • 4 - The Land of Promises 159
  • 5 - Internal Conflicts 170
  • 6 - The Seeds of Conflict 175
  • 7 - The War and the Biltmore Program 179
  • 8 - Anglo-American Reactions 185
  • 9 - Postwar and Economic 187
  • 10 - A United Nations Solution: the State is Born 194
  • 11 - East and West 197
  • 12 - Politics in Israel 205
  • 13 - Religion and the State 219
  • Part III - THE ARABS AND PALESTINE 223
  • 1 - "The Existing Non-Jewish Communities" 225
  • 2 - The Arab Gentry 241
  • 3 - The Arab Element in Arabism 246
  • 4 - Modern Arab Nationalism 254
  • 5 - The Reaction to Zionism 265
  • 6 - Pan-Arabism 273
  • 7 - War, Refugees, and Humiliation 286
  • Part IV - THE ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK OF THE PALESTINE PROBLEM 305
  • 1 - Introduction 307
  • 2 - The Mandate Period 309
  • 3 - The Land and Its People 312
  • 4 - Immigration and Land 324
  • 5 - Land and Capital 329
  • 6 - Economics of the Refugee Problem 336
  • 7 - The Economy of Israel 342
  • 8 - Economic Relations Between Israel and the Arabs 352
  • Part V - CONCLUSION 365
  • Conclusion 367
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 375
  • Index 387
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