Last updated on: 5/14/2008 2:33:00 PM PST

What Was the Origin of the Arab-Jewish Conflict in Palestine?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD, Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University, and Joel S. Migdal, PhD, Professor of International Studies, University of Washington, in their 2003 book The Palestinian People, wrote the following:

"In the 1880s, the Jews could not have been percieved as very different from the Templars, a marginal group of evangelical Germans who settled in Palestine at about the same time...Most of the country's rural Arab population was simply unaware of either group's existence...Nevertheless, Jewish land buying, mostly of state-owned or notable-owned tracts [of land], did affect the local peasants and resulted in numerous land disputes...

Even if the scope of Jewish land purchases was limited, they did shape future Jewish-Arab relations. The Jews were establishing an economy based largely on the exclusion of Arabs from land they farmed and from the Jewish labor market. Slowly, the most fertile lands in the northern valleys and in the coastal plain passed to Jewish hands, with jobs and higher wages going to the Jewish newcommers. The logical conclusion of this process was the separate development of the Arab and Jewish economies and, eventually, the creation of two separate nationalist movements."

2003 - Joel S. Migdal, PhD 
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD 

Rashid Khalidi, PhD, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, in his 1997 book Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, wrote:

"Palestinian peasant resistance starting more than a century ago was the first harbinger of a conflict which throughout has focused on control of land, and has been animated on the Palestinian side by a dynamic often propelled from below rather than from above. It was peasants driven off their farmland by Zionist land purchases, mainly from absentee landlords, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who first understood the nature of the process of colonization affecting Palestine. Their struggle for their rights in turn alerted the urban intellectuals who thereafter played a prominent role in the opposition to Zionism, even as they helped to shape Palestinian identity."

1997 - Rashid I. Khalidi, DPhil 

Don Peretz, PhD, Professor Emeritus Political Science at the State University of New York at Binghamton, in his 1996 book The Arab-Israel Dispute, wrote:

"Tensions began after the first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880s. Quarrels broke out between the new settlers and neighboring villages over grazing, crop and other land issues. Disputes also arose when Jewish settlers purchased land from absentee Arab owners, leading to dispossession of the peasants who cultivated it. As the number of Jewish settlements increased and as Arabs became aware of the Zionist intention to establish a Jewish homeland, opposition to the movement spread among the fellahin [peasants], urban notables, intellectuals and the merchant class. The lack of familiarity of the European settlers with traditional Arab customs often stirred conflict. At times, there were armed altercations between Jewish farmers and Arab herdsmen when the former interfered with cattle or flocks that strayed onto Jewish cultivated areas. One of the first clashes occurred at Peta Tikva, the oldest Jewish colony, established in 1878. When the settlers denied grazing rights to the neighboring Arab village, its inhabitants attacked the colony. The fear of peasant dispossession became a central issue in Arab nationalism."

1996 - Don Peretz, PhD 

Bernard Lewis, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at Princeton University, in his 1995 book The Middle East, wrote the following:

"The Arab-Israeli wars had their origins in events long before the establishment of the state of Israel, when the Arab leadership in Palestine was striving to halt and reverse the build-up of the Jewish national home in that country. This struggle began when Palestine, not yet known by that name among its inhabitants, was still part of the Ottoman Empire. The struggle became more acute after the establishment of the British mandate, the terms of which embodies a formal recognition of the principle of a national home for the Jews in Palestine."

1995 - Bernard Lewis, PhD 

The 1937 summary report of the Palestine Royal Commission (aka the Peel Commission) conducted at the request of the British Government, contained the following:

"Under the stress of the [First] World War the British Government made promises to Arabs and Jews in order to obtain their support. On the strength of those promises both parties formed certain expectations... An irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. There is no common ground between them. Their national aspirations are incompatible. The Arabs desire to revive the traditions of the Arab golden age. The Jews desire to show what they can achieve when restored to the land in which the Jewish nation was born. Neither of the two national ideals permits of combination in the service of a single State.

The conflict has grown steadily more bitter since 1920 and the process will continue. Conditions inside Palestine especially the systems of education, are strengthening the national sentiment of the two peoples. The bigger and more prosperous they grow the greater will be their political ambitions, and the conflict is aggravated by the uncertainty of the future. Who in the end will govern Palestine?"

1937 - Peel Commission Report

Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, in the 1995 edition of his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, wrote the following:

"The conflict between Jews and Palestinian Arabs began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when Jews from around the world began flocking back to their ancient biblical homeland in Palestine, driven by a modern Jewish nationalist ideology known as Zionism. The Zionists called for the ingathering of the Jews from around the world in Palestine and the creation there of a modern Jewish nation-state that would put the Jews on a par with all the other nations of the world. Most of the early Zionists either ignored the presence of the Arabs already living in Palestine or assumed they could either be bought off or would eventually submit to Jewish domination."

1995 - Thomas L. Friedman, MPhil