Palestinian Nationalism

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1) According to James Gelvin, “All nationalisms arise in opposition to some internal or external nemesis. All are defined by what they oppose.” Do you agree? Discuss in reference to state formation and colonialism in Palestine/Israel.

Gelvin’s argument that all nationalisms arise in opposition to some internal or external nemesis is historically accurate and continues to be true. The mandate for Palestine was formally confirmed on Britain by the League of Nations in July 1922, which officially marked the beginning of Palestinian nationalism. Both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism defined themselves in relation to what they opposed and eventually identified the motives of their movements with the same geographic location. Jewish immigrants
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Palestinian nationalism solidified as a result of British policies of divide and rule. Even though some historians date back the beginning of a Palestinian identity to the formation of the Palestinian sanjaq in 1874 (Khalidi, pp. 149-151), due to the religious attachment to Palestine as a holy land, it was far from a unified nationalist movement at that stage. The British reaction to the 1936 Great Revolt, which consisted of a brutal counterinsurgency campaign led by over 25,000 troops and dynamiting of homes, left a permanent scar on Palestinians and created an anti-colonialist sentiment which shaped the goals of the movement until 1947 when the British gave up on the Palestinian issue and handed the file to the United Nations – during the campaign, 10% of the Palestinian adult population were perished or wounded and in Jaffa alone, the British blew up 240 buildings (Bsheer, 2 Nov). The intentions of the British were clear as they exploited the situation that Palestine was a country without a political community, especially when the government appointed the well-known Zionist Herbert Samuel as the first High Commissioner. This move exemplified that the British wanted to see though the vision of the Balfour Declaration. Samuel insisted that Palestine should formally accept the mandate before any talk on a Palestinian nation, which …show more content…
Palestinians were mostly divided into two ideological camps, splitting into those who identified with Arab nationalism and others who saw themselves as part of the Syrian identity. However, as Gelvin argues, British colonialist policies exacerbated internal fissures in the Arab community and made it difficult for Arab nationalism or Syrian nationalism to serve as a viable option for Palestinians. The mandate system physically (and arbitrarily, with strokes of ink) divided Palestine from Syria which served as the nail in the coffin of Syrian nationalism in Palestine. The drawing of new borders fed into this trend of Palestinian nationalism as Palestine was now an entity on the map which represented a step towards imagining it (Bsheer, 2 Nov). In addition, since Syria was put under the supervision of the French and the British controlled Palestine, citizens from both Arab countries followed different models, which created a further ideological wedge. Therefore, British interference in Palestine, whether it was how they divided Palestine or the gruesome brutality they used to rule, resulted in the emergence of Palestinian nationalism, which was worsened by the incoming aliyot. The League of Nations recognized Zionism as the only national entity in Palestine, which created further tension and acted as a nemesis to Palestinians who fought

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