Palestinian people


Palestinian people
Palestinians
(الفلسطينيون al-Filasṭīniyyūn)
Palestinian infobox.jpg
Tawfiq CanaanEdward SaidMahmoud DarwishLeila Khaled
Yassir Arafat • Mohammad BakriHanan AshrawiQueen Rania of Jordan
Total population
c. 11,000,000
Regions with significant populations
 Palestinian territories 3,760,000 [1]
West Bank (including East Jerusalem) 2,345,000 [1]
Gaza Strip 1,416,000 [1]
 Jordan 2,700,000 [2][3]
 Israel 1,540,000 [4]
 Syria 630,000 [5]
 Chile 500,000 [6]
 Lebanon 402,582
 Saudi Arabia 280,245
 Egypt 270,245
 United States 255,000 [7]
 Honduras 250,000 [8]
 United Arab Emirates 170,000
 Mexico 120,000
 Qatar 100,000
 Germany 80,000 [9]
 Kuwait 70,000
 El Salvador 70,000 [10]
 Brazil 59,000 [11]
 Iraq 57,000 [12]
 Yemen 55,000 [8]
 Canada 50,975 [13]
 Australia 45,000
 Libya 44,000
 UK 20,000 [9]
 Peru 15,000
 Colombia 12,000 [8]
 Pakistan 8,500
 Sweden 7,000 [14]
 Guatemala 1,400
Languages

Palestinian territories
Palestinian Arabic, English, Neo-Aramaic, and Greek.
Israel
Palestinian Arabic and Modern Hebrew, English, Neo-Aramaic, Modern Hebrew and Greek
Diaspora:
Other varieties of Arabic, Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and others

Religion

Majority: Sunni Islam
Minority: Christian, Druze, Shia Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism

Related ethnic groups

Sea Peoples and Semitic peoples: Jews, Arabs, Assyrians.[15][16] [17] and other Levantine, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern

The Palestinian people, (Arabic: الشعب الفلسطيني‎, ash-sha‘b al-Filasṭīnī) also referred to as Palestinians (Arabic: الفلسطينيون‎, al-Filasṭīniyyūn) or Palestinian Arabs (Arabic: العرب الفلسطينيون‎, al-‘Arab al-Filasṭīniyyūn), are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine.[18] Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel proper. In this combined area, as of 2004, Palestinians constituted 49% of all inhabitants,[19] or the entire 1.6 million population of the Gaza Strip, an approximate 2.3 million majority of the Israeli-occupied West Bank population (versus over 300,000 Israeli settlers, or close to 500,000 if including approximately 200,000 Jewish Israeli citizens in East Jerusalem), and over 20% of the population of Israel proper, mostly as Arab citizens of Israel.

Throughout the aforementioned combined area, many are internally displaced Palestinians, including a majority of approximateley one million of Gaza Strip's population, but less so in the West Bank and Israel proper. The remaining two thirds of Palestinians live abroad, and comprise what is known as the Palestinian diaspora, more than half of whom are stateless refugees, lacking citizenship in any country.[20] Of the diaspora, about 2.6 million live in neighboring Jordan where they are approximately half the population,[21] one and a half million between Syria and Lebanon, a quarter million in Saudi Arabia, while Chile's half a million are the largest concentration outside the Arab world.

Genetic analysis and historical accounts suggest the Muslims of Palestine are largely descendents of Christians and Jews of the southern Levant, and descendents of a core population that lived there in prehistoric times.[22] Since the time of the Muslim conquests in the 7th century, religious conversions have resulted in Palestinians being predominantly Sunni Muslim by religious affiliation, though there is a significant Palestinian Christian minority of various Christian denominations, as well as Druze and a small Samaritan community. Though Palestinian Jews made up part of the population of Palestine prior to the creation of the State of Israel, very few identify as "Palestinian" today. Acculturation, independent from conversion to Islam, resulted in Palestinians being linguistically and culturally Arab.[18] The vernacular of Palestinians, irrespective of religion, is the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. For those who are Arab citizens of Israel, many are bilingual and fluent in Modern Hebrew. Those in the diaspora speak the languages of their host countries, in addition to, or to the exclusion of, Palestinian Arabic.

The history of a distinct Palestinian national identity is a disputed issue amongst scholars.[23] According to legal historian Assaf Likhovski, the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the twentieth century.[23] "Palestinian" was used to refer to the nationalist concept of a Palestinian people by the Arabs of Palestine in a limited way until World War I.[24][25] The first demand for national independence of the Levant was issued by the Syrian-Palestinian Congress on 21 September 1921.[26] After the creation of the State of Israel, the exodus of 1948, and more so after the exodus of 1967, the term came to signify not only a place of origin, but the sense of a shared past and future in the form of a Palestinian state.[24] Founded in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is an umbrella organization for groups that represent the Palestinian people before the international community.[27] The Palestinian National Authority, officially established as a result of the Oslo Accords, is an interim administrative body nominally responsible for governance in Palestinian population centers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Contents

Etymology

Historical Palestine as described by medieval Arab geographers showing the derived Arabic term Jund Filastin (meaning "Division of Palestine") as was used by Umayyad Caliphate 7th century AD

The Greek toponym Palestini (Παλαιστίνη), with which the Arabic Filastin (فلسطين) is cognate, first occurs in the work of the Greek historian Herodotus, active in the middle of the 5th century BCE, where it denotes generally[28] the coastal land from Phoenicia down to Egypt.[29][30] Herodotus also employs the term as an ethnonym, as when he speaks of the 'Syrians of Palestine' or 'Palestinian-Syrians',[31] an ethnically amorphous group he distinguishes from the Phoenicians referring to the Aramaeic Samaritans led by Sanbalat and appointed by the Persian kings and the Arabs in Jerusalem referred to also by Ezra (the Bible).[32] The word bears comparison to a congeries of ethnonyms in Semitic languages, Ancient Egyptian Plst or flst, Assyrian as Palastu, and the Old Hebrew as Plishtim, the latter term used in the Bible to signify the Philistines.[33]

Syria Palestina continued to be used by historians and geographers and others to refer to the area between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan river, as in the writings of Philo, Josephus and Pliny the Elder. After the Romans adopted the term as the official administrative name for the region in the 2nd century CE, "Palestine" as a stand alone term came into widespread use, printed on coins, in inscriptions and even in rabbinic texts.[34] The Arabic word Filastin has been used to refer to the region since the time of the earliest medieval Arab geographers. It appears to have been used as an Arabic adjectival noun in the region since as early as the 7th century CE.[35]

Family in Ramallah, 1900–1910, American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept

During the British Mandate of Palestine, the term "Palestinian" was used to refer to all people residing there, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and those granted citizenship by the Mandatory authorities were granted "Palestinian citizenship".[36] Other examples include the use of the term Palestine Regiment to refer to the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group of the British Army during World War II, and the term "Palestinian Talmud", which is an alternative name of the Jerusalem Talmud, used mainly in academic sources.

Following the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel, the use and application of the terms "Palestine" and "Palestinian" by and to Palestinian Jews largely dropped from use. For example, the English-language newspaper The Palestine Post, founded by Jews in 1932, changed its name in 1950 to The Jerusalem Post. Jews in Israel and the West Bank today generally identify as Israelis. Arab citizens of Israel identify themselves as Israeli and/or Palestinian and/or Arab.[37]

The Palestinian National Charter, as amended by the PLO's Palestine National Council in July 1968, defined "Palestinians" as "those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father – whether in Palestine or outside it – is also a Palestinian."[38] Note that "Arab nationals" is not religious-specific, and it implicitly includes not only the Arabic-speaking Muslims of Palestine, but also the Arabic-speaking Christians of Palestine and other religious communities of Palestine who were at that time Arabic-speakers, such as the Samaritans and Druze. Thus, the Jews of Palestine were/are also included, although limited only to "the [Arabic-speaking] Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the [pre-state] Zionist invasion." The Charter also states that "Palestine with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit."[38][39]

The history of a distinct Palestinian national identity is a disputed issue amongst scholars with some arguing that it can be traced as far back as the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine while others argue that it didn't emerge until after the Mandate Palestine period.[23] According to legal historian Assaf Likhovski, the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the twentieth century.[23]

History

History of the Levant
Stone Age
Kebaran culture · Natufian culture
Halafian culture · Ghassulian culture  · Jericho
Ancient history
Sumerians · Ebla · Akkadian Empire
Canaan · Phoenicians · Amorites
Aramaeans · Edomites · Hittites
Nabataeans · Palmyra · Philistines
Israel and Judah
Assyrian Empire · Babylonian Empire
Achaemenid Empire · Seleucid Empire
Hasmonean kingdom
Roman Empire · Byzantine Empire
Middle Ages
Rashidun · Umayyads
Abbasids · Fatimids
Crusades · Ayyubids · Mamluks
Modern history
Ottoman Empire
British Mandate of Palestine
Cyprus
Syria · Lebanon · Jordan · Iraq
Israel · Palestinian territories

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Palestinian history and nationalism

Saladin's Falcon: Coat of Arms and Emblem of the Palestinian Authority

The timing and causes behind the emergence of a distinctively Palestinian national consciousness among the Arabs of Palestine are matters of scholarly disagreement.

In his 1997 book, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, historian Rashid Khalidi notes that the archaeological strata that denote the history of Palestine – encompassing the Biblical, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Fatimid, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods – form part of the identity of the modern-day Palestinian people, as they have come to understand it over the last century.[40] Noting that Palestinian identity has never been an exclusive one, with "Arabism, religion, and local loyalties" playing an important role, Khalidi cautions against the efforts of some Palestinian nationalists to "anachronistically" read back into history a nationalist consciousness that is in fact "relatively modern".[41][42]

Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal consider the 1834 revolt of the Arabs in Palestine as constituting the first formative event of the Palestinian people. Under the Ottoman rule (1516–1917), Palestine's Arab population mostly saw themselves as Ottoman subjects. In the 1830s however, Palestine was occupied by the Egyptian vassal of the Ottomans – Muhammad Ali – and his son Ibrahim Pasha. The revolt was precipitated by popular resistance against heavy demands for conscripts, as peasants were well aware that conscription was little more than a death sentence. Starting in May 1834 the rebels took many cities, among them Jerusalem, Hebron and Nablus and Ibrahim Pasha's army was deployed, defeating the last rebels on 4 August in Hebron.[43] Benny Morris argues that the Arabs in Palestine nevertheless remained part of a larger Pan-Islamist or Pan-Arab national movement.[44] Conversely, according to Walid Khalidi, Palestinians in Ottoman times were "[a]cutely aware of the distinctiveness of Palestinian history ..." and "[a]lthough proud of their Arab heritage and ancestry, the Palestinians considered themselves to be descended not only from Arab conquerors of the seventh century but also from indigenous peoples who had lived in the country since time immemorial, including the ancient Hebrews and the Canaanites before them."[45]

Rashid Khalidi argues that the modern national identity of Palestinians has its roots in nationalist discourses that emerged among the peoples of the Ottoman empire in the late 19th century, and which sharpened following the demarcation of modern nation-state boundaries in the Middle East after World War I.[41] Khalidi also states that although the challenge posed by Zionism played a role in shaping this identity, that "it is a serious mistake to suggest that Palestinian identity emerged mainly as a response to Zionism."[41] Conversely, historian James L. Gelvin argues that Palestinian nationalism was a direct reaction to Zionism. In his book The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War he states that "Palestinian nationalism emerged during the interwar period in response to Zionist immigration and settlement."[46] Gelvin argues that this fact does not make the Palestinian identity any less legitimate:

"The fact that Palestinian nationalism developed later than Zionism and indeed in response to it does not in any way diminish the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism or make it less valid than Zionism. All nationalisms arise in opposition to some "other." Why else would there be the need to specify who you are? And all nationalisms are defined by what they oppose."[46]

Bernard Lewis argues it was not as a Palestinian nation that the Arabs of Ottoman Palestine objected to Zionists, since the very concept of such a nation was unknown to the Arabs of the area at the time and did not come into being until very much later. Even the concept of Arab nationalism in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, "had not reached significant proportions before the outbreak of World War I."[25] Tamir Sorek, a sociologist, submits that, "Although a distinct Palestinian identity can be traced back at least to the middle of the nineteenth century (Kimmerling and Migdal 1993; Khalidi 1997b), or even to the seventeenth century (Gerber 1998), it was not until after World War I that a broad range of optional political affiliations became relevant for the Arabs of Palestine."[47]

Whatever the differing viewpoints over the timing, causal mechanisms, and orientation of Palestinian nationalism, by the early 20th century strong opposition to Zionism and evidence of a burgeoning nationalistic Palestinian identity is found in the content of Arabic-language newspapers in Palestinian Territories, such as Al-Karmil (est. 1908) and Filasteen (est. 1911).[48] Filasteen, published in Jaffa by Issa and Yusef al-Issa, addressed its readers as "Palestinians",[49] first focusing its critique of Zionism around the failure of the Ottoman administration to control Jewish immigration and the large influx of foreigners, later exploring the impact of Zionist land-purchases on Palestinian peasants (Arabic: فلاحين‎, fellahin), expressing growing concern over land dispossession and its implications for the society at large.[48]

The first Palestinian nationalist organisations emerged at the end of the World War I.[50] Two political factions emerged. Al-Muntada al-Adabi, dominated by the Nashashibi family, militated for the promotion of the Arabic language and culture, for the defense of Islamic values and for an independent Syria and Palestine. In Damascus, al-Nadi al-Arabi, dominated by the Husayni family, defended the same values.[51]

The historical record continued to reveal an interplay between "Arab" and "Palestinian" identities and nationalism. The idea of a unique Palestinian state separated out from its Arab neighbors was at first rejected by Palestinian representatives. The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations (in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab representative for the Paris Peace Conference, adopted the following resolution: "We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds."[52]

After the Nabi Musa riots, the San Remo conference and the failure of Faisal to establish the Kingdom of Greater Syria, a distinctive form of Palestinian Arab nationalism took root between April and July 1920.[53][54] With the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the French conquest of Syria, the formerly pan-Syrianist mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Qasim Pasha al-Husayni, said "Now, after the recent events in Damascus, we have to effect a complete change in our plans here. Southern Syria no longer exists. We must defend Palestine".[55]

Conflict between Palestinian nationalists and various types of pan-Arabists continued during the British Mandate, but the latter became increasingly marginalized. Two prominent leaders of the Palestinian nationalists were Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,appointed by the British, and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.[56]

Struggle for self-determination

Palestinians have never exercised full sovereignty over the land in which they have lived. Palestine was administered by the Ottoman Empire until World War I, and then overseen by the British Mandatory authorities. Israel was established in parts of Palestine in 1948, and in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip by Egypt, with both countries continuing to administer these areas until Israel occupied them in the Six-Day War. Historian Avi Shlaim states that the Palestinians' lack of sovereignty over the land has been used by Israelis to deny Palestinians their rights [to self-determination].[57]

Today, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination has been affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Court of Justice[58] and several Israeli authorities.[59] A total of 122 countries recognize Palestine as a state.[60] However, Palestinian sovereignty over the areas claimed as part of the Palestinian state remains limited, and the boundaries of the state remain a point of contestation between Palestinians and Israelis.

British Mandate (1917–1948)

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Sunni Islamic preacher and founder of the Black Hand

Article 22 of The Covenant of the League of Nations conferred an international legal status upon the territories and people which had ceased to be under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire as part of a 'sacred trust of civilization'. Article 7 of the League of Nations Mandate required the establishment of a new, separate, Palestinian nationality for the inhabitants. This meant that Palestinians did not become British citizens, and that Palestine was not annexed into the British dominions.[61] After the British general, Louis Bols, read out the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in February 1920, some 1,500 Palestinians demonstrated in the streets of Jerusalem.[56] A month later, during the 1920 Palestine riots, the protests against British rule and Jewish immigration became violent and Bols banned all demonstrations. In May 1921 however, further anti-Jewish riots broke out in Jaffa and dozens of Arabs and Jews were killed in the confrontations.[56]

The articles of the Mandate mentioned the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, but not their political status. At the San Remo conference it was decided to accept the text of those articles, while inserting in the minutes of the conference an undertaking by the Mandatory Power that this would not involve the surrender of any of the rights hitherto enjoyed by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine. In 1922, the British authorities over Mandate Palestine proposed a draft constitution that would have granted the Palestinian Arabs representation in a Legislative Council on condition that they accept the terms of the mandate. The Palestine Arab delegation rejected the proposal as "wholly unsatisfactory," noting that "the People of Palestine" could not accept the inclusion of the Balfour Declaration in the constitution's preamble as the basis for discussions. They further took issue with the designation of Palestine as a British "colony of the lowest order."[62] The Arabs tried to get the British to offer an Arab legal establishment again roughly ten years later, but to no avail.[63]

After the killing of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam by the British in 1935, his followers initiated the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, which began with a general strike in Jaffa and attacks on Jewish and British installations in Nablus.[56] The Arab High Committee called for a nationwide general strike, non-payment of taxes, and the closure of municipal governments, and demanded an end to Jewish immigration and a ban of the sale of land to Jews. By the end of 1936, the movement had become a national revolt, and resistance grew during 1937 and 1938. In response, the British declared martial law, dissolved the Arab High Committee and arrested officials from the Supreme Muslim Council who were behind the revolt. By 1939, 5,000 Arabs had been killed in British attempts to quash the revolt; more than 15,000 were wounded.[56]

The "lost years" (1948–1967)

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the accompanying Palestinian exodus, known to Palestinians as Al Nakba (the "catastrophe"), there was a hiatus in Palestinian political activity which Khalidi partially attributes to "the fact that Palestinian society had been devastated between November 1947 and mid-May 1948 as a result of a series of overwhelming military defeats of the disorganized Palestinians by the armed forces of the Zionist movement."[64] Those parts of British Mandate Palestine which did not become part of the newly declared Israeli state were occupied by Egypt and Jordan. During what Khalidi terms the "lost years" that followed, Palestinians lacked a center of gravity, divided as they were between these countries and others such as Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere.[65]

Israeli historian Efraim Karsh takes the view that the Palestinian identity did not develop until after the 1967 war because the Palestinian exodus had fractured society so greatly that it was impossible to piece together a national identity. Between 1948 and 1967, the Jordanians and other Arab countries hosting Arab refugees from Palestine/Israel silenced any expression of Palestinian identity and occupied their lands more brutally than the Israelis did after 1967. The formal annexation of the West Bank by Jordan in 1950, and the subsequent granting of its Palestinian Arab residents Jordanian citizenship, further stunted the growth of a Palestinian national identity by integrating them into Jordanian society.[66]

In the 1950s, a new generation of Palestinian nationalist groups and movements began to organize clandestinely, stepping out onto the public stage in the 1960s.[67] The traditional Palestinian elite who had dominated negotiations with the British and the Zionists in the Mandate, and who were largely held responsible for the loss of Palestine, were replaced by these new movements whose recruits generally came from poor to middle class backgrounds and were often students or recent graduates of universities in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus.[67] The potency of the pan-Arabist ideology put forward by Gamel Abdel Nasser—popular among Palestinians for whom Arabism was already an important component of their identity[68]—tended to obscure the identities of the separate Arab states it subsumed.[69]

1967–present

Palestinian girl with the Palestinian Flag

Since 1967, pan-Arabism has diminished as an aspect of Palestinian identity. The Israeli capture of the Gaza Strip and West Bank prompted fractured Palestinian political and militant groups to give up any remaining hope in pan-Arabism. Instead, they rallied around the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded in 1964, and its nationalistic orientation under the leadership of Yasser Arafat.[70] Mainstream secular Palestinian nationalism was grouped together under the umbrella of the PLO whose constituent organizations include Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, among other groups who at that time believed that political violence was the only way to liberate Palestine.[42] These groups gave voice to a tradition that emerged in 1960s that argues Palestinian nationalism has deep historical roots, with extreme advocates reading a Palestinian nationalist consciousness and identity back into the history of Palestine over the past few centuries, and even millennia, when such a consciousness is in fact relatively modern.[71]

The Battle of Karameh and the events of Black September in Jordan contributed to growing Palestinian support for these groups, particularly among Palestinians in exile. Concurrently, among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a new ideological theme, known as sumud, represented the Palestinian political strategy popularly adopted from 1967 onward. As a concept closely related to the land, agriculture and indigenousness, the ideal image of the Palestinian put forward at this time was that of the peasant (in Arabic, fellah) who stayed put on his land, refusing to leave. A strategy more passive than that adopted by the Palestinian fedayeen, sumud provided an important subtext to the narrative of the fighters, "in symbolizing continuity and connections with the land, with peasantry and a rural way of life."[72]

Yasser Arafat, leader of the PLO, in a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, 1978

In 1974, the PLO was recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people by the Arab nation-states and was granted observer status as a national liberation movement by the United Nations that same year.[27][73] Israel rejected the resolution, calling it "shameful".[74] In a speech to the Knesset, Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon outlined the government's view that: 'No one can expect us to recognize the terrorist organization called the PLO as representing the Palestinians—because it does not. No one can expect us to negotiate with the heads of terror-gangs, who through their ideology and actions, endeavor to liquidate the State of Israel.'[74]

In 1975 the United Nations established a subsidiary organ, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, to recommend a program of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise national independence and their rights to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty, and to return to their homes and property.[75]

UN commemorating Palestinians rights

The First Intifada (1987–1993) was the first popular uprising against the Israeli occupation of 1967. Followed by the PLO's 1988 proclamation of a State of Palestine, these developments served to further reinforce the Palestinian national identity. At the end of the Gulf War, Kuwait expelled some 450,000 Palestinians from its territory,[76] making it the second largest displacement of Palestinians after 1948 Palestine War. Kuwait's expulsion policy, which led to this exodus, was a response to alignment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO with Saddam Hussein, who had earlier invaded Kuwait. The 1991 Palestinian exodus took place during one week in March 1991, following Kuwait's liberation from Iraqi occupation. Prior to the exodus, Palestinians made up about 30% of Kuwait's population of 2.2 million.[77] By 2006 only a few had returned to Kuwait.

The Oslo Accords, the first Israeli-Palestinian interim peace agreement, were signed in 1993. The process was envisioned to last five years, ending in June 1999, when the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area began. The expiration of this term without the recognition by Israel of the Palestinian State and without the effective termination of the occupation was followed by the Second Intifada in 2000.[78][79] The second intifada was more violent than the first.[80] The International Court of Justice observed that since the government of Israel had decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, their existence was no longer an issue. The court noted that the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 28 September 1995 also referred a number of times to the Palestinian people and its "legitimate rights".[81] The right of self-determination gives the Palestinians collectively an inalienable right to freely choose their political status, including the establishment of a sovereign and independent state. Israel, having recognized the Palestinians as a separate people, is obliged to promote and respect this right in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.[82]

Ancestral origins

Like the Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Maghrebis, and most other people today commonly called Arabs, the Palestinians are an Arab people in linguistic and cultural affiliation. Like most other peoples today called Arabs, Palestinians descend from the pre-existing ancient inhabitants of their respective region and those who have come to settle it throughout history;[18] a matter on which genetic studies described below has begun to shed some light.[83]

American historian Bernard Lewis writes:

"Clearly, in Palestine as elsewhere in the Middle East, the modern inhabitants include among their ancestors those who lived in the country in antiquity. Equally obviously, the demographic mix was greatly modified over the centuries by migration, deportation, immigration, and settlement. This was particularly true in Palestine..."[84]

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, explains:

"Throughout history a great diversity of peoples has moved into the region and made Palestine their homeland: Canaanites, Jebusites, Philistines from Crete, Anatolian and Lydian Greeks, Hebrews, Amorites, Edomites, Nabateans, Arameans, Romans, Arabs, and European crusaders, to name a few. Each of them appropriated different regions that overlapped in time and competed for sovereignty and land. Others, such as Ancient Egyptians, Hittites, Persians, Babylonians, and Mongols, were historical 'events' whose successive occupations were as ravaging as the effects of major earthquakes ... Like shooting stars, the various cultures shine for a brief moment before they fade out of official historical and cultural records of Palestine. The people, however, survive. In their customs and manners, fossils of these ancient civilizations survived until modernity—albeit modernity camouflaged under the veneer of Islam and Arabic culture."[85]

Much of the local Palestinian population in Nablus is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam.[86] Even today, certain Nabulsi surnames including Muslimani, Yaish, and Shakshir among others, are associated with a Samaritan origin.[86]

Politicized lineages

A Palestinian girl in Qalqiliya.

Salim Tamari notes the paradoxes produced by the search for "nativist" roots among Zionist figures and the so-called Canaanite (anti-Zionist) followers of Yonatan Ratosh.[87] For example, Ber Borochov, one of the key ideological architects of Socialist Zionism, claimed as early as 1905 that, "The Fellahin in Eretz-Israel are the descendants of remnants of the Hebrew agricultural community,"[88] believing them to be descendants of the ancient Hebrew and Canaanite residents 'together with a small admixture of Arab blood'".[87] He further believed that the Palestinian peasantry would embrace Zionism and that the lack of a crystallized national consciousness among Palestinian Arabs would result in their likely assimilation into the new Hebrew nationalism.[87] Other founding fathers of Zionism believed that the Palestinian people were descended from the biblical ancient Hebrews. David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later becoming Israel's first Prime Minister and second President, respectively, tried to establish in a 1918 paper written in Yiddish that Palestinian peasants and their mode of life were living historical testimonies to Israelite practices in the biblical period.[87][89] Tamari notes that "the ideological implications of this claim became very problematic and were soon withdrawn from circulation."[87]

Ahad Ha'am believed that, "the Moslems [of Palestine] are the ancient residents of the land ... who became Christians on the rise of Christianity and became Moslems on the arrival of Islam."[87] Israel Belkind, the founder of the Bilu movement also asserted that the Palestinian Arabs were the blood brothers of the Jews.[90] In his book on the Palestinians, "The Arabs in Eretz-Israel", Belkind advanced the idea that the complete dispersion of Jews out of the Land of Israel after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman emperor Titus is a "historic error" that must be corrected. While it dispersed much of the land's Jewish community around the world, those "workers of the land that remained attached to their land," stayed behind and were eventually converted to Christianity and then Islam.[90] He therefore, proposed that this historical wrong be corrected, by embracing the Palestinians as their own and proposed the opening of Hebrew schools for Palestinian Arab Muslims to teach them Arabic, Hebrew and universal culture.[90] Tsvi Misinai, an Israeli researcher, entrepreneur and proponent of a controversial alternative solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, asserts that nearly 90% of all Palestinians living within Israel and the occupied territories (including the Israeli Arabs and Negev Bedouin)[91] are descended from the Jewish Israelite peasantry that remained on the land, after the others, mostly city dwellers, were exiled or left.[92]

Claims emanating from certain circles within Palestinian society and their supporters, proposing that Palestinians have direct ancestral connections to the ancient Canaanites, without an intermediate Israelite link, has been an issue of contention within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In discussing the root of the controversy to the claim of Canaanite lineage, many renowned scholars have hypothesised on the nature of the controversy itself, although not deliberating on the veracity of the claims, as this is a question that shall ultimately be resolved by geneticists, not by scholars in their capacity as historians.

Bernard Lewis explains that "the rewriting of the past is usually undertaken to achieve specific political aims...In bypassing the biblical Israelites and claiming kinship with the Canaanites, the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine, it is possible to assert a historical claim antedating the biblical promise and possession put forward by the Jews."[84][93]

Some Palestinian scholars, like Zakariyya Muhammad, have criticized pro-Palestinian arguments based on Canaanite lineage, or what he calls "Canaanite ideology". He states that it is an "intellectual fad, divorced from the concerns of ordinary people."[87] By assigning its pursuit to the desire to predate Jewish national claims, he describes Canaanism as a "losing ideology", whether or not it is factual, "when used to manage our conflict with the Zionist movement" since Canaanism "concedes a priori the central thesis of Zionism. Namely that we have been engaged in a perennial conflict with Zionism—and hence with the Jewish presence in Palestine—since the Kingdom of Solomon and before ... thus in one stroke Canaanism cancels the assumption that Zionism is a European movement, propelled by modern European contingencies..."[87]

DNA and genetic studies

Palestinian coffee house in Jerusalem, c. 1858
Palestinian children in Nazareth

In genetic genealogy studies, Negev Bedouins have the highest rates of Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA) among all populations tested (62.5%) followed by the Palestinian Arab 38.4%, Ashkenazi Jew 14.6%, and Sephardi Jew 11.9% according to Semino and colleagues.[94] Semitic populations, including Jews, usually possess an excess of J1 Y chromosomes compared to other populations harboring Y-haplogroup J.[95][96][97][98][99][100][101] The haplogroup J1, associated with marker M267, originates south of the Levant and was first disseminated from there into Ethiopia and Europe in Neolithic times. In Jewish populations J1 has a rate of around 15%, with haplogroup J2 (M172) (of eight sub-Haplogroups) being almost twice as common as J1 among Jews (<29%). J1 is most common in the southern Levant, as well as Syria, Iraq, Algeria, and Arabia, and drops sharply at the border of non-semitic areas like Turkey and Iran. A second diffusion of the J1 marker took place in the 7th century CE when Arabians brought it from Arabia to North Africa.[97]

Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA) includes the modal haplotype of the Galilee Arabs[102] and of Moroccan Arabs[103] and the sister Modal Haplotype of the Cohanim, the "Cohan Modale Haplotype", representing the descendents of the priestly caste Aaron.[104][105][106] J2 is known to be related to the ancient Greek movements and is found mainly in Europe and the central Mediterranean (Italy, the Balkans, Greece).

A study found that the Palestinians, like Jordanians, Syrians, Iraqis, and Bedouins have what appears to be substantial gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa, amounting to 10-15% of lineages within the past three millennia.[107]

According to a 2002 study by Nebel and colleagues[108] the highest frequency of Eu10 (i.e. J1) (30%–62.5%) has been observed so far in various Muslim Arab populations in the Middle East.[109][110] The term “Arab,” as well as the presence of Arabs in the Syrian desert and the Fertile Crescent, is first seen in the Assyrian sources from the 9th century BCE (Eph'al 1984).[111]

In recent years, many genetic surveys have suggested that, at least paternally, most of the various Jewish ethnic divisions and the Palestinians – and in some cases other Levantines – are genetically closer to each other than the Palestinians or European Jews to non-Jewish Europeans.[112]

One DNA study by Nebel found genetic evidence in support of historical records that "part, or perhaps the majority" of Muslim Palestinians descend from "local inhabitants, mainly Christians and Jews, who had converted after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century AD".[113] They also found substantial genetic overlap between Muslim Palestinians and Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, though with some significant differences that might be explainable by the geographical isolation of the Jews or by immigration of Arab tribes in the first millennium.[113]

Arabian origins of the local Bedouin Arabs

Bedouin woman 1898–1914, American Colony (Jerusalem) Photo Dept.

The local Bedouins of Palestine – which are a separately-identified and solely Muslim group, distinct from the non-Bedouin Arabic-speakers of Palestine which consists of members of the Muslim, Christian and other faiths – are said to be more securely known to be ancestrally descended from Arabians, and not just culturally and linguistically Arabized peoples. Their distinctively conservative dialects and pronunciation of qaaf as gaaf group them with other Bedouin across the Arab world and confirm their separate history.[citation needed] Arabic onomastic elements began to appear in Edomite inscriptions starting in the 6th century BC, and are nearly universal in the inscriptions of the Nabataeans, who arrived in today’s Jordan in the 4th-3rd centuries BC.[114] It has thus been suggested that the present day Bedouins of the region may have their origins as early as this period.

A few Bedouin are found as far north as Galilee; however, these seem to be much later arrivals, rather than descendants of the Arabs that Sargon II settled in Samaria in 720 BC. The term “Arab,” as well as the presence of Arabs in the Syrian desert and the Fertile Crescent, is first seen in the Assyrian sources from the 9th century BCE (Eph'al 1984).[111]

Following the Muslim conquest of Syria by Arabians, the formerly-introduced dominant languages of the area, Aramaic and Greek, were then replaced by the Arabic language introduced by the new conquering administrative minority.[115] Among the cultural survivals from pre-Islamic times are the significant Palestinian Christian community, and smaller Jewish and Samaritan ones, as well as an Aramaic and possibly Hebrew sub-stratum in the local Palestinian Arabic dialect.[116]

Demographics

Country or region Population
West Bank and Gaza Strip 3,761,000[117]
Jordan 2,700,000[3]
Israel 1,318,000[118]
Chile 500,000 (largest community outside the Arab world)[119][120][121]
Syria 434,896[122]
Lebanon 405,425[122]
Saudi Arabia 327,000[118]
The Americas 225,000[123]
Egypt 44,200[123]
Kuwait (approx) 40,000[118]
Other Gulf states 159,000[118]
Other Arab states 153,000[118]
Other countries 308,000[118]
TOTAL 10,574,521

In the absence of a comprehensive census including all Palestinian diaspora populations, and those that have remained within what was British Mandate Palestine, exact population figures are difficult to determine. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) announced on 20 October 2004 that the number of Palestinians worldwide at the end of 2003 was 9.6 million, an increase of 800,000 since 2001.[124]

In 2005, a critical review of the PCBS figures and methodology was conducted by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group.[125] In their report,[126] they claimed that several errors in the PCBS methodology and assumptions artificially inflated the numbers by a total of 1.3 million. The PCBS numbers were cross-checked against a variety of other sources (e.g., asserted birth rates based on fertility rate assumptions for a given year were checked against Palestinian Ministry of Health figures as well as Ministry of Education school enrollment figures six years later; immigration numbers were checked against numbers collected at border crossings, etc.). The errors claimed in their analysis included: birth rate errors (308,000), immigration & emigration errors (310,000), failure to account for migration to Israel (105,000), double-counting Jerusalem Arabs (210,000), counting former residents now living abroad (325,000) and other discrepancies (82,000). The results of their research was also presented before the United States House of Representatives on 8 March 2006.[127]

The study was criticised by Sergio DellaPergola, a demographer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[128] DellaPergola accused the authors of misunderstanding basic principles of demography on account of their lack of expertise in the subject, but he also acknowledged that he did not take into account the emigration of Palestinians and thinks it has to be examined, as well as the birth and mortality statistics of the Palestinian Authority.[129] He also accused them of selective use of data and multiple systematic errors in their analysis. For example, DellaPergola claimed that the authors assumed the Palestinian Electoral registry to be complete even though registration is voluntary and good evidence exists of incomplete registration, and similarly that they used an unrealistically low Total Fertility Ratio (a statistical abstraction of births per woman) incorrectly derived from data and then used to reanalyse that data in a "typical circular mistake".

DellaPergola himself estimated the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza at the end of 2005 as 3.33 million, or 3.57 million if East Jerusalem is included. These figures are only slightly lower than the official Palestinian figures.[128]

In Jordan there is no official census data that outlines how many of the inhabitants of Jordan are Palestinians, but estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics cite a population range of 50% to 55%.[130][131] In 2009, at the request of the PLO, "Jordan revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to keep them from remaining permanently in the country."[132]

Many Palestinians have settled in the United States, particularly in the Chicago area.[133][134]

In total, an estimated 600,000 Palestinians are thought to reside in the Americas. Palestinian emigration to South America began for economic reasons that pre-dated the Arab-Israeli conflict, but continued to grow thereafter.[135] Many emigrants were from the Bethlehem area. Those emigrating to Latin America were mainly Christian. Half of those of Palestinian origin in Latin America live in Chile.[6] El Salvador[136] and Honduras[137] also have substantial Palestinian populations. These two countries have had presidents of Palestinian ancestry (in El Salvador Antonio Saca, currently serving; in Honduras Carlos Roberto Flores). Belize, which has a smaller Palestinian population, has a Palestinian ministerSaid Musa.[138] Schafik Jorge Handal, Salvadoran politician and former guerrilla leader, was the son of Palestinian immigrants.[139]

Refugees

Palestinian refugees in 1948

There are 4,255,120 Palestinians registered as refugees with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This number includes the descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war, but excludes those who have since then emigrated to areas outside of UNRWA's remit.[122] Based on these figures, almost half of all Palestinians are registered refugees. The 993,818 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and 705,207 Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, who hail from towns and villages that are now located within the borders of Israel, are included in these UNRWA figures.[140]

UNRWA figures do not include some 274,000 people, or 1 in 5.5 of all Arab residents of Israel, who are internally displaced Palestinian refugees.[141][142]

Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank are organized according to a refugee family's village or place of origin. Among the first things that children born in the camps learn is the name of their village of origin. David McDowall writes that, "[...] a yearning for Palestine permeates the whole refugee community and is most ardently espoused by the younger refugees, for whom home exists only in the imagination."[143]

Religion

Background

Inside home of Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem, ca 1850. By W. H. Bartlett
Palestinians attending prayers at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

Palestinians are predominantly Muslims, the vast majority of whom are followers of the Sunni branch of Islam.[144] Palestinian Christians represent a significant minority, followed by much smaller religious communities, including Druze and Samaritans. Palestinian Jews – considered Palestinian by the Palestinian National Charter adopted by the PLO which defined them as those "Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion" – today identify as Israelis[citation needed] (with the exception of a very few individuals). Palestinian Jews almost universally abandoned any such identity after the establishment of Israel and their incorporation into the Israeli Jewish population, largely composed of Jewish immigrants from around the world.

Until the end of the 19th century, most Palestinian Muslim villagers in the countryside did not have local mosques. Cross-cultural syncretism between Christian and Islamic symbols and figures in religious practice was common.[85] Popular feast days, like Thursday of the Dead, were celebrated by both Muslims and Christians and shared prophets and saints include Jonah, who is worshipped in Halhul as both a Biblical and Islamic prophet, and St. George, who is known in Arabic as el Khader. Villagers would pay tribute to local patron saints at a maqam[disambiguation needed ] – a domed single room often placed in the shadow of an ancient carob or oak tree.[85] Saints, taboo by the standards of orthodox Islam, mediated between man and Allah, and shrines to saints and holy men dotted the Palestinian landscape.[85] Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, states that this built evidence constitutes "an architectural testimony to Christian/Moslem Palestinian religious sensibility and its roots in ancient Semitic religions."[85]

Religion as constitutive of individual identity was accorded a minor role within Palestinian tribal social structure until the latter half of the 19th century.[85] Jean Moretain, a priest writing in 1848, wrote that a Christian in Palestine was "distinguished only by the fact that he belonged to a particular clan. If a certain tribe was Christian, then an individual would be Christian, but without knowledge of what distinguished his faith from that of a Muslim."[85]

The concessions granted to France and other Western powers by the Ottoman Sultanate in the aftermath of the Crimean War had a significant impact on contemporary Palestinian religious cultural identity.[85] Religion was transformed into an element "constituting the individual/collective identity in conformity with orthodox precepts", and formed a major building block in the political development of Palestinian nationalism.[85]

The British census of 1922 registered 752,048 inhabitants in Palestine, consisting of 660,641 Palestinian Arabs (Christian and Muslim Arabs), 83,790 Palestinian Jews, and 7,617 persons belonging to other groups. The corresponding percentage breakdown is 87% Christian and Muslim Arab and 11% Jewish. Bedouin were not counted in the census, but a 1930 British study estimated their number at 70,860.[145]

Today

Currently, no comprehensive data on religious affiliation among the worldwide Palestinian population is available. Bernard Sabella of Bethlehem University estimates that 6% of the Palestinian population worldwide is Christian and that 56% of them live outside of their country.[146] According to the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 97% Muslim and 3% Christian.

The Druze became Israeli citizens and Druze males serve in the Israel Defense Forces, though some individuals identify as "Palestinian Druze".[147] According to Salih al-Shaykh, most Druze do not consider themselves to be Palestinian: "their Arab identity emanates in the main from the common language and their socio-cultural background, but is detached from any national political conception. It is not directed at Arab countries or Arab nationality or the Palestinian people, and does not express sharing any fate with them. From this point of view, their identity is Israel, and this identity is stronger than their Arab identity".[148]

There are also about 350 Samaritans who carry Palestinian identity cards and live in the West Bank while a roughly equal number live in Holon and carry Israeli citizenship.[149] Those who live in the West Bank also are represented in the legislature for the Palestinian National Authority.[149] They are commonly referred to among Palestinians as the "Jews of Palestine," and maintain their own unique cultural identity.[149]

Jews who identify as Palestinian Jews are few, but include Israeli Jews who are part of the Neturei Karta group,[150] and Uri Davis, an Israeli citizen and self-described Palestinian Jew (who converted to Islam in 2008 in order to marry Miyassar Abu Ali) who serves as an observer member in the Palestine National Council.[151] Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Baha'i Faith, was on his way to imprisonment in `Akká after several banishments and it was his eventual 24-year confinement in the prison city of `Akka, Palestine (present day Israel), where he died. He had a growing amount of followers but because of a lack of census in Palestinian territories, it is hard to get exact figures of the amount of Palestinian Baha'is.[152][153]

Language

Arabic calligraphy in Jerusalem

Palestinian Arabic is a spoken Arabic dialect that is specific to Palestinians and is a subgroup of the broader Levantine Arabic dialect. Prior to the 7th century Arabization of the Levant, the primary language was Aramaic, but ancient Arab tribal groups in the Levant (such as the Qedarites and the Nabataeans) spoke Arabic and wrote in the Aramaic alphabet. Palestinian Arabic, like Syrian Arabic and Iraqi Arabic, exhibits substantial influences from Aramaic.[154]

Palestinian Arabic has three primary sub-variations with the pronunciation of the qāf serving as a shibboleth to distinguish between the three main Palestinian sub-dialects:[citation needed] In most cities, it is a glottal stop; in smaller villages and the countryside, it is a pharyngealized k (a characteristic unique to Palestinian Arabic); and in the far south, it is a g, as among Bedouin speakers. In a number of villages in the Galilee (e.g. Maghār), and particularly, though not exclusively among the Druze, the qāf is actually pronounced qāf as in Classical Arabic.

Barbara McKean Parmenter has noted that the Arabs of Palestine have been credited with the preservation of the indigenous Semitic place names for many sites mentioned in the Bible that were documented by the American archaeologist Edward Robinson in the early 20th century.[155]

Culture

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, has critiqued Muslim historiography for assigning the beginning of Palestinian cultural identity to the advent of Islam in the 7th century. In describing the effect of such a historiography, he writes:

Pagan origins are disavowed. As such the peoples who populated Palestine throughout history have discursively rescinded their own history and religion as they adopted the religion, language, and culture of Islam.[85]

That the peasant culture of the large fellahin class embodied strong elements of both pre-Arabic and pre-Israelitic traditions was a conclusion arrived at by the many Western scholars and explorers who mapped and surveyed Palestine in great detail throughout the latter half of the 19th century,[156] and this assumption was to influence later debates on Palestinian identity by local ethnographers. The contributions of the 'nativist' ethnographies produced by Tawfiq Canaan and other Palestinian writers and published in The Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (1920–1948) were driven by the concern that the "native culture of Palestine", and in particular peasant society, was being undermined by the forces of modernity.[87] Salim Tamari writes that:

"Implicit in their scholarship (and made explicit by Canaan himself) was another theme, namely that the peasants of Palestine represent—through their folk norms ... the living heritage of all the accumulated ancient cultures that had appeared in Palestine (principally the Canaanite, Philistine, Hebraic, Nabatean, Syrio-Aramaic and Arab)."[87]

Palestinian culture is closely related to those of the nearby Levantine countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, and the Arab World. Cultural contributions to the fields of art, literature, music, costume and cuisine express the distinctiveness of the Palestinian experience, and flourish despite the geographical separation between Palestinian territories, Israel and the diaspora.[157][158][159]

Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture is an initiative undertaken by UNESCO under the Cultural Capitals Program to promote Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region. The opening event was launched in March 2009.

Art

Mosaic plate at Khirbat Al-Mafjar near Jericho c. 735 CE

Similar to the structure of Palestinian society, the Palestinian field of arts extends over four main geographic centers:[160] 1) the West Bank and Gaza Strip 2) Israel 3) the Palestinian diaspora in the Arab world, and 4) the Palestinian diaspora in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

Cuisine

A Palestinian youth serving Falafel in Ramallah
Kanafeh in a pan

Palestine's history of rule by many different empires is reflected in Palestinian cuisine, which has benefited from various cultural contributions and exchanges. Generally-speaking, modern Syrian-Palestinian dishes have been influenced by the rule of three major Islamic groups: the Arabs, the Persian-influenced Arabs and the Turks.[161] The Arabs who conquered Syria and Palestine had simple culinary traditions primarily based on the use of rice, lamb and yogurt, as well as dates.[162] The already simple cuisine did not advance for centuries due to Islam's strict rules of parsimony and restraint, until the rise of the Abbasids, who established Baghdad as their capital. Baghdad was historically located on Persian soil and henceforth, Persian culture was integrated into Arab culture during the 9th-11th centuries and spread throughout central areas of the empire.[161]

There are several foods native to Palestine that are well known in the Arab world, such as, kinafe Nabulsi, Nabulsi cheese (cheese of Nablus), Ackawi cheese (cheese of Acre) and musakhan. Kinafe originated in Nablus, as well as the sweetened Nabulsi cheese used to fill it. Baqlawa, a pastry introduced at the time of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, is also an integral part of Palestinian cuisine.[163]

Mezze describes an assortment of dishes laid out on the table for a meal that takes place over several hours, a characteristic common to Mediterranean cultures. Some common mezze dishes are hummus, tabouleh, baba ghanoush, labaneh, and zate 'u zaatar, which is the pita bread dipping of olive oil and ground thyme and sesame seeds.

Musakhan; The Palestinian National dish

Entrées that are eaten throughout the Palestinian Territories, include waraq al-'inib – boiled grape leaves wrapped around cooked rice and ground lamb. Mahashi is an assortment of stuffed vegetables such as, zucchinis, potatoes, cabbage and in Gaza, chard.

Film

Palestinian cinema is relatively young compared to Arab cinema overall and many Palestinian movies are made with European and Israeli support.[164] Palestinian films are not exclusively produced in Arabic; some are made in English, French or Hebrew.[165] More than 800 films have been produced about Palestinians, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and other related topics, examples include Divine Intervention and Paradise Now.

Handicrafts

A wide variety of handicrafts, many of which have been produced by Palestinians for hundreds of years, continue to be produced today. Palestinian handicrafts include embroidery and weaving, pottery-making, soap-making, glass-making, and olive-wood and Mother of Pearl carvings, among others.[166][167]

Intellectuals

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Palestinian intellectuals were integral parts of wider Arab intellectual circles, as represented by individuals such as May Ziade and Khalil Beidas. Educational levels among Palestinians have traditionally been high. In the 1960s the West Bank had a higher percentage of its adolescent population enrolled in high school education than did Lebanon.[168] Claude Cheysson, France’s Minister for Foreign Affairs under the first Mitterrand Presidency, held in the mid eighties that, ‘even thirty years ago, (Palestinians) probably already had the largest educated elite of all the Arab peoples.’[169]

Diaspora figures like Edward Said and Ghada Karmi, Arab citizens of Israel like Emile Habibi, and Jordanians like Ibrahim Nasrallah[170] have made contributions to a wide number of fields, exemplifying the diversity of experience and thought among Palestinians.[171]

Literature

The long history of the Arabic language and its rich written and oral tradition form part of the Palestinian literary tradition as it has developed over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Poetry

Poetry, using classical pre-Islamic forms, remains an extremely popular art form, often attracting Palestinian audiences in the thousands. Until 20 years ago, local folk bards reciting traditional verses were a feature of every Palestinian town.[172] After the 1948 Palestinian exodus, poetry was transformed into a vehicle for political activism. From among those Palestinians who became Arab citizens of Israel after the passage of the Citizenship Law in 1952, a school of resistance poetry was born that included poets like Mahmoud Darwish, Samih al-Qasim, and Tawfiq Zayyad.[172] The work of these poets was largely unknown to the wider Arab world for years because of the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab governments. The situation changed after Ghassan Kanafani, another Palestinian writer in exile in Lebanon, published an anthology of their work in 1966.[172] Palestinian poets often write about the common theme of a strong affection and sense of loss and longing for a lost homeland.[172]

Folklore

Palestinian folklore is the body of expressive culture, including tales, music, dance, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, customs, and comprising the traditions (including oral traditions) of Palestinian culture. The folklorist revival among Palestinian intellectuals such as Nimr Sirhan, Musa Allush, Salim Mubayyid, and the Palestinian Folklore Society of the 1970s, emphasized pre-Islamic (and pre-Hebraic) cultural roots, re-constructing Palestinian identity with a focus on Canaanite and Jebusite cultures.[87] Such efforts seem to have borne fruit as evidenced in the organization of celebrations like the Qabatiya Canaanite festival and the annual Music Festival of Yabus by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.[87]

Costumes

Girls in Bethlehem costume pre-1885

Foreign travelers to Palestine in late 19th and early 20th centuries often commented on the rich variety of costumes among the Palestinian people, and particularly among the fellaheen or village women. Until the 1940s, a woman's economic status, whether married or single, and the town or area they were from could be deciphered by most Palestinian women by the type of cloth, colors, cut, and embroidery motifs, or lack thereof, used for the robe-like dress or "thoub" in Arabic.[173] Though such local and regional variations largely disappeared after the 1948 Palestinian exodus] Palestinian embroidery and costume continue to be produced in new forms and worn alongside Islamic and Western fashions.

Dance

The Dabke dance is marked by synchronized jumping, stamping, and movement, similar to tap dancing. One version is performed by men, another by women.

Palestinian Dabke folk dance as performed by men

Folk tales

Traditional storytelling among Palestinians is prefaced with an invitation to the listeners to give blessings to God and the Prophet Mohammed or the Virgin Mary as the case may be, and includes the traditional opening: "There was, or there was not, in the oldness of time ..."[172][174] Formulaic elements of the stories share much in common with the wider Arab world, though the rhyming scheme is distinct. There are a cast of supernatural characters: djinns who can cross the Seven Seas in an instant, giants, and ghouls with eyes of ember and teeth of brass. Stories invariably have a happy ending, and the storyteller will usually finish off with a rhyme like: "The bird has taken flight, God bless you tonight," or "Tutu, tutu, finished is my haduttu (story)."[172]

Music

Kamanjeh performer in Jerusalem, 1859.[175]

Palestinian music is well-known and respected throughout the Arab world.[176] A new wave of performers emerged with distinctively Palestinian themes following the 1948 Palestinian exodus, relating to the dreams of statehood and the burgeoning nationalist sentiments. In addition to zajal and ataaba, traditional Palestinian songs include: Bein Al-dawai, Al-Rozana, Zarif – Al-Toul, and Al-Maijana, Dal'ona, Sahja/Saamir, Zaghareet. For over three decades, the Palestinian National Music and Dance Troupe (El Funoun) in Palestine[177] has promoted and developed Palestinian traditional songs and dance. Examples include Mish'al (1986), Marj Ibn 'Amer(1989) and Zaghareed (1997) a collection of Palestinian traditional wedding songs reinterpreted and re-arranged by Mohsen Subhi. (See section on "External links"). The Ataaba is a form of folk singing that spread outwards from Palestine. It consists of 4 verses, following a specific form and meter. The main aspect of the ataaba is that the first three verses must end with the same word meaning three different things, and the fourth verse comes as a conclusion to the whole thing. It is usually followed by a dalouna.

See also

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  28. ^ With the exception of Bks. 1, 105; 3.91.1, and 4.39, 2.
  29. ^ Herodotus describes its scope in the Fifth Satrapy of the Perthians as follows: "From the town of Posidium, [...] on the border between Cilicia and Syria, as far as Egypt – omitting Arabian territory, which was free of tax, came 350 talents. This province contains the whole of Phoenicia and that part of Syria which is called Palestine, and Cyprus. This is the fifth Satrapy." (from Herodotus Book 3, 8th logos).[1]
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  31. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, Bks. 2, 104: 3.5.
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