Palestine and the Palestinians

What we know about the Palestinians today we tend to know through the modern conflict between Israel and the Arabs or because of the struggle for control within Palestine between Hamas and Fatah. But what exactly is Palestine and who are the Palestinians? Is there a discreet and definable nation called Palestine? The Palestinian people today claim a heritage in the area for thousands of years, a claim disputed by many Jewish people. This course looks at Palestine from its early history through to modern Palestine to gain some idea of what the future holds.


  • Ancient and medieval times: The Palestinians today claim to trace their ancestors back to people of biblical times. The ancient Ishmaelites, Canaanites and Samaritans were people who lived alongside their Jewish neighbours, sometimes in conflict and sometimes at peace. With the expulsion of the Jews from Palestine in the first century AD by the Romans the non-Jewish residents were left with the land but no power over it. This lesson looks at these people and their origins and how they dealt with rule under the Romans, then the Byzantine Christians and then the Arabian Muslims and even Christian Crusaders. The question is: were they the forerunners of today’s Palestinian Arabs?
  • Ottomans and Jewish immigration: The nineteenth century saw the erosion of Ottoman power and the beginnings of Palestinian nationalism. Was this growth of Palestinian nationalism a result of Jewish immigration in the late nineteenth century, as many Jewish scholars claim, or was it a genuine growth from within the Palestinian Arab community? Lesson 2 looks at the growth of Palestinian nationalism in the face of the growing threat from Zionism, oppression from the Ottoman Turks and colonial expansion by European powers. At the same time a distinct and definable culture had grown in Palestine. What was it like and how much could it claim to be “Palestinian” and not just “Arab”?
  • The Catastrophe – 1947-1948 and its aftermath: The Israelis call it their “War of Independence”; the Palestinians call it “The Catastrophe”. What happened to the Palestinians in this war and why did it result in the exile of many of these people to live a life as dispossessed refugees in neighbouring Arab countries? How did the Palestinians react to their predicament and what was their relationship with the Israelis and their new Arab “hosts” as their own Diaspora developed? How did Palestinian lifestyle and culture deal with the new circumstances of occupation and exile?
  • From the PLO to Hamas: The PLO and the Palestinian struggle dominated the Middle East from the end of the Six Day war in 1967 to the First Iraq War in 1990 to 1991. Who were the PLO and what were their motivations? We look at the formation of the organisation in the 1960s and the role played by Yasser Arafat and the Fatah faction. We see how they used terrorism to pursue their aims but how this gradually changed to negotiation by some Palestinians to cut out a place for themselves in the region. But how much had terrorism become a part of their culture and what was the reaction of the Palestinians to the attempts to pursue peaceful means? We explore how modern Palestinian leaders from Fatah and Hamas deal with the problem of Israeli dominance and speculate on Palestine’s future.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the origins of the Palestinian people and their history from ancient to modern times
  2. Understand the problems they face today as a result of this history
  3. Project into the future to see where the events and forces of today are leading them.
$145 Limited / $131

<p>What we know about the Palestinians today we tend to know through the modern conflict between Israel and the Arabs or because of the struggle for control within Palestine between Hamas and Fatah.

11 Mar

Interested in this course but can't attend? Please the waiting list.