This may be a bit long but here is a brief history lesson.
Between about 1800 and 1500 B.C., it is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews (hapiru) left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan.
The Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 or 721 B.C. The Babylonians conquered Judah around 586 B.C
About 50 years later, the Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylonia.
Alexander the Great then conquered the Persian Empire. After Alexander's death in 323 B.C.
his generals divided the empire. One of these generals, Seleucus, founded a dynasty that gained control of much of Palestine about 200 B.C
In 167 B.C., the Jews revolted under the leadership of the Maccabeans and either drove the Seleucids out of Palestine or at least established a large
degree of autonomy, forming a kingdom with its capital in Jerusalem.
About 61 B.C., Roman troops under Pompei invaded Judea and sacked Jerusalem in support of King Herod.
Roman rulers put down Jewish revolts in about A.D. 70 and A.D. 132. In A.D. 135, the Romans drove the Jews out of Jerusalem, following the failed Bar
Kochba revolt. The Romans named the area Palaestina, at about this time.
Palestine was governed by the Roman Empire until the fourth century A.D. (300's) and then by the Byzantine Empire.
During the seventh century (A.D. 600's), Muslim Arab armies moved north from Arabia to conquer most of the Middle East, including Palestine.
Jerusalem was conquered about 638 by the Caliph Umar (Omar) who gave his protection to its inhabitants. Muslim powers controlled the region until the
early 1900's. The rulers allowed Christians and Jews to keep their religions.
The Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem in 1071, but their rule in Palestine lasted less than 30 years
The Fatimids took advantage of the Seljuk struggles with the Christian crusaders. They made an alliance with the crusaders in 1098 and captured
Jerusalem, Jaffa and other parts of Palestine.
The Crusaders, however, broke the alliance and invaded Palestine about a year later. They captured Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1099, slaughtered many
Jewish and Muslim defenders and forbade Jews to live in Jerusalem. They held the city until 1187.
The crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims captured Acre in 1291.
In the mid-1200's, Mamelukes, originally soldier-slaves of the Arabs based in Egypt, established an empire that in time included the area of
Palestine. Arab-speaking Muslims made up most of the population of the area once called Palestine.
Beginning in the late 1300's, Jews from Spain and other Mediterranean lands settled in Jerusalem and other parts of the land.
The Ottoman Empire defeated the Mamelukes in 1517, and Palestine became part of the Ottoman Empire.
The Turkish Sultan invited Jews fleeing the Spanish Catholic inquisition to settle in the Turkish empire, including several cities in Palestine.
In 1798, Napoleon entered the land. The war with Napoleon and subsequent misadministration by Egyptian and Ottoman rulers, reduced the population of
Palestine. Arabs and Jews fled to safer and more prosperous lands. (Revolts by Palestinian Arabs against Egyptian and Ottoman rule at this time may
have helped to catalyze Palestinian national feeling.)
Both Arab and Jewish population increased. By 1880, about 24,000 Jews were living in Palestine, out of a population of about 400,000. At about that
time, the Ottoman government imposed severe restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchase, and also began actively soliciting inviting Muslims
from other parts of the Ottoman empire to settle in Palestine, including Circassians and Bosnians. The restrictions were evaded in various ways by
Jews seeking to colonize Palestine, chiefly by bribery.
In the nineteenth century new social currents animated Jewish life. The emancipation of European Jews, signaled by the French revolution, brought Jews
out of the Ghetto and into the modern world, exposing them to modern ideas.
Beginning in the late 1800's, oppression of Jews in Eastern Europe stimulated emigration of Jews to Palestine.
The Zionist movement became a formal organization in 1897
The Zionists wished to establish a "Jewish Homeland" in Palestine under Turkish or German rule.
The Zionists established farm communities in Palestine at Petah Tikva, Zichron Jacob, Rishon Letzion and elsewhere. Later they established the new
city of Tel Aviv, north of Jaffa. At the same time, Palestine's Arab population grew rapidly. By 1914, the total population of Palestine stood at
about 700,000. About 615,000 were Arabs, and 85,000 to 100,000 were Jews.
During World War I (1914-1918), the Ottoman Empire joined Germany and Austria-Hungary against the Allies. An Ottoman military government ruled
Palestine. The war was hard on both Jewish and Arab populations however, it was more difficult for the Jews
A large number of Jews were Russian nationals. They had been able to enter Palestine as Russian nationals because of the concessions Turkey had
granted to Russian citizens, and they had used this method to overcome restrictions on immigration. They had also maintained Russian citizenship to
avoid being drafted into the Turkish army. Therefore, a large number of Jews were forced to flee Palestine during the war.
Britain and France planned to divide the Ottoman holdings in the Middle East among themselves after the war. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 called
for part of Palestine to be under British rule, part to be placed under a joint Allied government, and for Syria and Lebanon to be given to the
In 1916, Arabs led by T.E. Lawrence and backed by Sharif Husayn revolted against the Ottomans in the belief that Britain would help establish Arab
independence in the Middle East.
The United States and other countries pressed for Arab self-determination. The Arabs, and many in the British government including Lawrence, believed
that the Arabs had been short-changed by the British promise to give Syria to the French, and likewise by the promise of Palestine as a Jewish
homeland. The Arabs claimed that Palestine was included in the area promised to them, but the British denied this.
In November 1917, before Britain had conquered Jerusalem and the area to be known as Palestine, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration. The
declaration stated Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, without violating the civil and religious rights of the
existing non-Jewish communities
After the war, the League of Nations divided much of the Ottoman Empire into mandated territories. The British and French saw the Mandates as
instruments of imperial ambitions.
US President Wilson insisted that the mandates must foster eventual independence. The British were anxious to keep Palestine away from the French, and
decided to ask for a mandate that would implement the Jewish national home of the Balfour declaration, a project that would be supported by the
Americans. The Arabs opposed the idea of a Jewish national home, considering that the areas now called Palestine were their land. The Arabs felt they
were in danger of dispossession by the Zionists, and did not relish living under Jewish rule.
By this time, Zionists had recognized the inevitability of conflict with the Palestinian and other Arabs. The Zionists and others presented their case
to the Paris Peace conference. Ultimately, the British plan was adopted. The main issues taken into account were division of rights between Britain
and France, rather than the views of the inhabitants.
In 1920, Britain received a provisional mandate over Palestine, which would extend west and east of the River Jordan. The area of the mandate given to
Britain at the San Remo conference was much larger than historic Palestine as envisaged by the Zionists, who had sought an eastern border to the West
of Amman. The mandate, based on the Balfour declaration, was formalized in 1922. The mandate provided for an agency, later called "The Jewish
Agency for Palestine," that would represent Jewish interests in Palestine to the British and to promote Jewish immigration. A Jewish agency was
created only in 1929.
The area granted to the mandate was much larger than the area sought by the Zionists. It is possible, that as Churchill suggested in 1922, the British
never intended that all of this area would become a Jewish national home. On the other hand, some believe that Britain had no special plans for
In 1921 Abdullah, the son of King Husayn of the Hijaz, marched toward Transjordan with 2,000 soldiers. Two days later, Abdullah marched north and by
March 1921, he occupied the entire country.
In 1922, the British declared that the boundary of Palestine would be limited to the area west of the river. The area east of the river, called
Transjordan (now Jordan), was made a separate British mandate and eventually given independence (See map at right) . A part of the Zionist movement
felt betrayed at losing a large area of what they termed "historic Palestine" to Transjordan, and split off to form the "Revisionist" movement,
headed by Benjamin Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky.
In the spring of 1920, spring of 1921 and summer of 1929, Arab nationalists opposed to the Balfour declaration, the mandate and the Jewish National
Home, instigated riots and pogroms against Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa and Haifa. The violence led to the formation of the Haganah Jewish
self-defense organization in 1920. The riots of 1920 and 1921 reflected opposition to the Balfour declaration and fears that the Arabs of Palestine
would be dispossessed, and were probably attempts to show the British that Palestine as a Jewish National home would be ungovernable.
Jewish immigration swelled in the 1930s, driven by persecution in Eastern Europe, even before the rise of Nazism. Large numbers of Jews began to come
from Poland owing to discriminatory laws and harsh economic conditions.
In 1936 widespread rioting, later known as the Arab Revolt or Great Uprising, broke out. The revolt was kindled when British forces killed Izz al din
El Qassam in a gun battle. Izz al Din El Qassam was a Syrian preacher who had emigrated to Palestine and was agitating against the British and the
The Peel commission of 1937 recommended partitioning Palestine into a small Jewish state and a large Arab one. The commission's recommendations also
included voluntary transfer of Arabs and Jews to separate the populations. The Jewish leadership considered the plan but the Palestinian and Arab
leadership, including King Saud of Saudi Arabia , rejected partition and demanded that the British curtail Jewish immigration. Saud said that if the
British failed to follow Arab wishes in Palestine, the Arabs would turn against them and side with their enemies. He said that Arabs did not
understand the "strange attitude of your British Government, and the still more strange hypnotic influence which the Jews, a race accursed by God
according to His Holy Book, and destined to final destruction and eternal damnation hereafter, appear to wield over them and the English people
In response to the riots, the British began limiting immigration and the 1939 White Paper decreed that 15,000 Jews would be allowed to enter Palestine
each year for five years. Thereafter, immigration would be subject to Arab approval. At the same time, the British took drastic and often cruel steps
to curtail the riots. Husseini fled to Iraq, where he was involved in an Axis-supported coup against the British and then to Nazi Germany, where he
subsequently broadcast for the Axis powers, was active in curtailing Jewish immigration from neutral countries and organized SS death squads in
During World War II (1939-1945), many Palestinian Arabs and Jews joined the Allied forces. though some Palestinian and Arab leaders were sympathetic
to the Nazi cause. There were growing suspicions that the Nazis were systematically exterminating the Jews of Europe. These suspicions were later
confirmed, and the extermination of European Jews came to be known as the Holocaust. The continued threat of extermination also created great pressure
for immigration to Palestine, but the gates of Palestine were closed by the British White Paper. In 1941 the British freed Jewish Haganah underground
leaders in a general amnesty, and they joined the British in fighting the Germans.
The Jews of Palestine responded to the White Paper and the Holocaust by organizing illegal immigration to Palestine from occupied Europe, through the
"Institution for Illegal Immigration" (Hamossad L'aliya Beth). Illegal immigration (Aliya Bet) was organized by the Jewish Agency between 1939
and 1942, and again in 1945 and 1948.
Despite the desperate need to find a haven for refugees, the doors of Palestine remained shut to Jewish immigration. The Zionist leadership met in the
Biltmore Hotel in New York City in 1942 and declared that it supported the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth. This was not simply a
return to the Balfour declaration repudiated by the British White Paper, but rather a restatement of Zionist aims that went beyond the Balfour
declaration, and a determination that the British were in principle, an enemy to be fought, rather than an ally.
On November 6, members of the Jewish Lehi underground Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Zuri assassinated Lord Moyne in Cairo. Moyne, a known
anti-Zionist, was Minister of State for the Middle East and in charge of carrying out the terms of the 1939 White Paper - preventing Jewish
immigration to Palestine by force. He was also a personal friend of Winston Churchill. The assassination did not change British policy, but it turned
Winston Churchill against the Zionists. Hakim and Bet Zuri were caught and were hanged by the British in 1945.
In the summer of 1945, the Labor party came to power in Great Britain. They had promised that they would reverse the British White Paper and would
support a Jewish state in Palestine. However, they presently reneged on their promise, and continued and redoubled efforts to stop Jewish immigration.
The US and other countries brought pressure to bear on the British to allow immigration. An Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry recommended allowing
100,000 Jews to immigrate immediately to Palestine. The Arabs brought pressure on the British to block such immigration. The British found Palestine
to be ungovernable and returned the mandate to the United Nations, successor to the League of Nations.
The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The
commission called for Jerusalem to be put under international administration The UN General Assembly adopted this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN
Resolution (GA 181), owing to support of both the US and the Soviet Union, and in particular, the personal support of US President Harry S. Truman.
Many factors contributed to Truman's decision to support partition, including domestic politics and intense Zionist lobbying, no doubt.
The Jews accepted the UN decision, but the Arabs rejected it. It soon became evident that the scheme could not work. Mutual antagonism would make it
impossible for either community to tolerate the other. The UN was unwilling and unable to force implementation of the internationalization of
Jerusalem. The Arab League, at the instigation of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, declared a war to rid Palestine of the Jews. In fact however, the Arab
countries each had separate agendas. Abdullah, king of Jordan, had an informal and secret agreement with Israel, negotiated with Golda Meir, to annex
the portions of Palestine allocated to the Palestinian state in the West Bank, and prevent formation of a Palestinian state. Syria wanted to annex the
northern part of Palestine, including Jewish and Arab areas.
The War of Independence or 1948 War is divided into the pre-independence period, and the post-independence period. Clashes between Israeli underground
groups and Arab irregulars began almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution. During this time, Arab countries did not invade, though the
Jordan legion did assist the in the attack against Gush Etzion, a small block of settlements in the territory allocated to the Palestinian state,
south of Jerusalem.
And the rest is as they say....History
So pick a side if you must. Both have legitimate claims and they have been fighting each other for over 3000 years, still can't find common ground
and no single power or world entity has been able to resolve it. So, So Sad.