A glance at Palestine

Story by Rana Zakarna, for the Muleskinner—

Palestine is a historic region located in the Middle East, on the East Coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It has a strategic location, and it is also well known as the Holy Land. These two reasons are mainly behind the fact that Palestine faced a lot of attempts to be stolen from its original people, and these attempts have been going on since it was controlled by the Canaanites.

Palestine is a Holy Land to the Muslims because Jerusalem (the capital city of Palestine) is the traditional site of prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven; to the Jews because it is promised to them by God according to the Bible; and to the Christians because it was the place where Jesus lived.

Nowadays, a lot of people don’t know about the existence of Palestine, but if they do, they will rename it with Israel, which is currently occupying Palestine.

Before the Israeli occupation, Palestine was controlled by the British mandate. After that, the Zionist established its illegal presence in the Holy Land and started an ongoing struggle between Palestinians and Israelis, creating a lot of confusion.

The catastrophe, or “Al Nakba” in Arabic, happened in 1948. Huge amounts of Jewish people entered Palestine and forced Palestinians to leave their homes by using powerful weapons.

The Jewish state of Israel is established on the Palestinian land, leading to divide Palestine into 3 parts; West Bank under the Jordanian control, Gaza Strip under the Egyptian control and the newly created Israeli part, which contains the Palestinian cities on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli occupation created many bad consequences for the lives of Palestinians; children were deprived of having a good education, people lost their houses because the Israeli soldiers damaged them, a lot of restrictions were placed on Palestinians’ movement between the Palestinians cities, and a huge group of Palestinians were forced to leave their homeland and became refugees.

According to the “Palestinian Media Center,” the original Palestinian refugees and their descendants are estimated to number more than 6.5 million all over the world. These refugees were forced to leave their own homes in order to let the Israeli people settle in and build the state of Israel.

Even without a political government, Palestinians maintained their distinctive national and historic consciousness until they were able to establish a united Palestinian government which controls the West Bank and Gaza Strip only.

After establishing an official Palestinian government, some changes have been made to the lives of Palestinians, for instance, improving the education system, developing the existing schools and universities, and building more schools and hospitals as well. But there is still a big effect of the Israeli occupation that prevents creating new improvements to the Palestinian life.

It feels so strange to me that I am now in the United States, and when I look at any map here, I would only find Israel but not Palestine. Then I realized that a lot of countries, including the United States, do not consider Palestine as a country.

The world should recognize the fact that Palestine is a real country, even if it is occupied. Palestinians are humans and they have the full right to live freely as any other person on Earth, as well as the right to resist in order to get their freedom.

Posted by on January 24, 2013. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Responses to A glance at Palestine

  1. James Reply

    January 26, 2013 at 11:30 am

    The historical inaccuracy of this piece that someone chose fit to post to the front page of the Muleskinner is astonishing.

    Throughout history, this area of the Middle East has been under various rule. From Canaanites, to the Egyptians, then the Mosites which became the Israelites. Then came the Phillistines, pre-Muslim Arabs, Ethiopians, Turks, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, etc. Regardless of rule, until the seventh century, the land was primarily inhabited by Jewish or Christian peoples.

    In the mid-seventh century, Arab Muslims invaded and took the land by force. The Jewish and Christian population scattered throughout the world rather than be massacred or enslaved. Rule again continued to shift from one to the other as the Egyptians, Turks, Arabs, and Romans fought for control of this fertile land.

    By the late 1800’s, under primarily Ottoman rule, the land had fallen to waste. The Jews had already begun mass immigration into the area in the 1880’s in an effort to rid the land of swamps and malaria and prepare for the rebirth of Israel. This Jewish effort to revitalize the land attracted an equally large immigration of Arabs from neighboring areas who were drawn by employment opportunities and healthier living conditions. There was never any attempt to “rid” the area of what few indigenous Arabs there were or those Arab masses that immigrated into this area along with the Jews.

    In 1916, following the defeat of Germany and the Turks in World War I, control of the southern portion of their Ottoman Empire was “mandated” to France and Britain under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Arab region into zones of influence. Lebanon and Syria were assigned to France… and “Palestine” (today’s Jordan, Israel and “West Bank”) was mandated to Great Britain.

    Due to growing conflict, and the declaration of Muslims to kill any Jews or Christians that remained, in 1923, the British divided the “Palestine” portion of the Ottoman Empire into two administrative districts. Jews would be permitted only west of the Jordan river. In effect, the British had “chopped off” 75% of the originally proposed Jewish Palestinian homeland to form an Arab Palestinian nation called Trans-Jordan (meaning “across the Jordan River”). This territory east of the Jordan River was given to Emir Abdullah (from Hejaz, now Saudi Arabia) who was not even an Arab-“Palestinian.” This portion of Palestine was renamed Trans-Jordan. Trans-Jordan would again be renamed “Jordan” in 1946. In other words, the eastern 3/4 of Palestine would be renamed TWICE, in effect, erasing all connection to the name “Palestine.” However, the bottom line is that the Palestinian Arabs had THEIR “Arab Palestinian” homeland. The remaining 25% of Palestine (now WEST of the Jordan River) was to be the Jewish Palestinian homeland.

    Encouraged and incited by growing Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East, the Arabs of that small remaining Palestinian territory west of the Jordan River launched never-ending murderous attacks upon the Jewish Palestinians in an effort to drive them out. Most terrifying were the Hebron massacres of 1929 and later during the 1936-39 “Arab Revolt.” The British at first tried to maintain order but soon (due to the large oil deposits being discovered throughout the Arab Middle East) turned a blind eye. It became painfully clear to the Palestinian Jews that they must fight the Arabs AND drive out the British.

    The 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 partition plan was to divide the remaining 25% of Palestine into a Jewish Palestinian State and a SECOND Arab Palestinian State (Trans-Jordan being the first) based upon population concentrations. The Jewish Palestinians accepted… the Arab Palestinians rejected. The Arabs still wanted ALL of Palestine… both east AND west of the Jordan River.

    On May 14, 1948 the “Palestinian Jews” finally declared their own State of Israel and became “Israelis.” On the next day, seven neighboring Arab armies… Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen… invaded Israel. Most of the Arabs living within the boundaries of the newly declared “ISRAEL” were encouraged to leave by the invading Arab armies to facilitate the slaughter of the Jews and were promised to be given all Jewish property after the victorious Arab armies won the war. The truth is that 70% of the Arab Palestinians who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier! They did not flee because they feared Jewish thugs, but because of a rational and reasonable calculus: the Jews will be exterminated; we will get out of the way while that messy and dangerous business goes forward, and we will return afterwards to reclaim our homes, and to inherit those nice Jewish properties as well. They guessed wrong; and the Arab Palestinians are still tortured by the residual shame of their flight.

    When the 19 month war ended, Israel survived despite a 1% loss of its entire population. Those Arabs who did not flee became today’s Israeli-Arab citizens. Those who fled became the seeds of the first wave of “Palestinian Arab refugees.”

    The Arab propagandists and apologists almost never mention that in 1948, Arab armies launched a war against a one-day-old Israel. Instead they focus on the main consequence of that war: the creation of Arab refugees, stating that Israel’s “war of genocide” expelled 800,000 of them. This not only disagrees with UN estimates of a bit over 400,000 refugees but also ignores the fact that most of the Arabs/Palestinians were encouraged to leave by the Arab World itself.

    The end result of the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence was the creation of a Jewish State slightly larger than that which was proposed by the 1947 United Nations Resolution 181. In the final analysis, the Arabs of Palestine ended up with nearly 85% of the original territory of Palestine… called Jordan but in reality their ARAB Palestinian state.

    From 1948 to 1967, Egypt ruled Gaza, Syria ruled the Golan Heights, while Jordan ruled the West Bank. They could have set up independent Arab-Palestinian states in any or all of those territories, but they didn’t even consider it. Instead, in 1967 they used the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West bank to launch a war that was unambiguously aimed at destroying Israel, which is how Israel came into possession of those territories in the first place.

    After ONLY six days of air, sea and hand-to-hand ground warfare, Israel defeated all three Arab armies along three separate fronts, capturing the entire Sinai Desert from Egypt, the 37mile x 12mile Syrian Golan Heights and the so-called “West Bank” (including East Jerusalem and its Old City) from Jordan.

    Following the Camp David Peace Accords of 1978, Israel relinquished control of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Israel still maintains control of Syria’s Golan Heights which, prior to the 1967 war, had been used by Syria solely for terrorist incursions into and artillery bombardment upon Israel’s northeastern settlements. And of course, Israel still maintains control of the West Bank with its ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND and Gaza with its EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND “Palestinian” Arabs. Had Israel done to these Arabs what the Arabs would have done to the Jews had THEY won, she would have expelled these hostile Arabs and made it officially part of a Greater Israel. But by remaining an “occupier,” Israel set herself up for a campaign of vicious propaganda…

    … Such as the piece of revisionist history that stimulated this reply. I would encourage the editorial manager of the Muleskinner to publish this response or a similarly more accurate representation. At the very least, if the Muleskinner wishes to publish an editorial opinion piece with factual inaccuracies and an obvious emotional agenda on the front page, it should label it as such.

    • RanaZak Reply

      January 29, 2013 at 12:14 am


      As I mentioned in the previous comment, I talked about the different nations who controlled Palestine. I didn’t have to go deeply in this regard, simply because this is not a historical article.
      Palestine was always wanted by various nations. This is something we all know.
      Jews lived peacefully in Palestine thousands of years ago along with Muslims and Christians. Another nation came after that and occupied Palestine.
      I’ll not go deeply into this issue, it’s the old history of Palestine and you can read about it on Google.
      What I want you to know is that in the period when Jews lived in Palestine, Muslims were treating them very kindly and they all lived peacefully. Nowadays, Palestinian Muslims’ relations with Palestinian Christians are very okay simply because both of them respect the rights of each other. However, the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is mainly because Palestinians were living in their land, until Jews came and forced Palestinians to leave their homeland, using strong weapons and making Palestinians refugees.

      • James Reply

        January 31, 2013 at 2:02 pm

        However, you’re ignoring the pertinent facts that I detailed in my post.

        You say, “I’ll not go deeply into this issue,” because a detailed examination of your representation doesn’t prove your point. Maybe YOU can use Google to take an unemotional and logical look at the political history of the region and recognize that my facts are sound.

        Ultimately, your complaint and disdain with the region is not one between “Palestinians” and “Israelis,” but between Muslims and Jews. According to your argument, you have no problem with Jews and Muslims living together in the same geographical area. Your complaint lies solely with non-Muslim governmental control.

        If you examine history, the term “Palestinian” has been bastardized (and you perpetuate this problem) to include only those Arab Muslims who formerly occupied, or want to occupy, the current State of Israel.

        For “thousands of years,” there was no “Palestine.” It was not until 1916, as noted above, that a new Palestinian State was created. Within that state, the Muslims swore to kill any Jews or Christians that remained. It was that reason that the state was divided in 1923, to create a “Jewish Palestinian State” and a “Muslim Palestinian State.”

        “Palestine” exists. It is currently known as “Israel” and “Jordan.” You just don’t like that Jews have any say in its governance.

        Fair and square (in love and war), the Israelis won their independence. Arab Muslims who lost that 15% of their “Palestinian State” have no claim to the territory now known as Israel.

  2. UCMnews Reply

    January 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Rana’s column did not include any background information about the author, which I think is helpful in fully appreciating her position about this topic. Rana is an international student from Palestine who is studying for one year at the University of Central Missouri. Also, her column should have been labeled as “commentary” on the front page of the Muleskinner as it was not intended to appear as “news.”

    –Matt Bird-Meyer, Adviser

    • James Reply

      February 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      And, we hope that she enjoys and learns from her time here. Perhaps the exposure will be mutually beneficial for both she and us. I assume that she is a young woman, and recognize that this may be her first journalistic endeavor. I also hope that she does not take offense with how I have addressed her article.

      The beauty of our freedom of speech is that she is free to write an article based on her feelings about the region and what she has been taught. While, at the same time, we are also free to point out where her argument falters. The free expression of ideas, and the ability to logically interpret and apply those ideas, is the greatest responsibility of a free society. Misinformation, or adherence to doctrine in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, is not only irresponsible, but dangerous.

      Rana, welcome to Missouri… and we look forward to the continued debate.

  3. RanaZak Reply

    February 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm


    Thank you, I’m enjoying and having the best experience I could ever have. Regarding my arguments, I definitely used an emotional way of expressing my ideas, and that is simply because I’m talking about my hometown. Every person will take an emotional way in talking about his/her country as a way of showing his deep love and faith. However, my case differs a bit in that I talked emotionally and honestly without creating facts, and that’s because I live there, and I know the reality in that part of the world.

    Thank you for providing me with your feedback.

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