UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Palestinian nationalism from 1917 to 1989 : four stages of development King, Gabriella Louise


This thesis examines the development of Palestinian nationalism in the twentieth century by dividing it into four periods. In each of these four periods anti-colonial nationalism and Arab nationalism are applied to the Palestinian case. Special attention is paid to the Palestinian vision of Zionism, the role of the Arab states in Palestinian politics, the vision of a future Palestinian state and how it was to be achieved. In the early twentieth century, Palestinian national feelings were stirred as opposition was organized against Zionist immigration and British rule. Both the Zionists and the British were considered to be motivated by colonial aims in the stirring phase. The second period in the development of Palestinian nationalism, which was clearly a pan-Arab period, took shape soon after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 at which time the success of pan-Arabism was believed to be the best way to achieve an independent Palestinian state. The third phase in the evolution of Palestinian nationalism, which is dealt with in chapter two, is marked by the defeat of the Arab states in the June war of 1967, at which time pan-Arabism lost much of its appeal. This defeat marked the rise of a new Palestine Liberation Organization and although there were a variety of groups and ideologies within the organization, it is possible to make some generalizations about Palestinian nationalism in this period. The PLO attempted to reduce the role of the Arab states in Palestinian affairs, they expressed Marxist ideas and a militant line, and the organization continued to see Israel as a colonial settlement that was to be eliminated. Finally, this thesis characterises the fourth period in the evolution of Palestinian nationalism as a gradual process of change that occurred throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It involved an eventual acceptance of Israel and a partition of Palestine, thus rejecting the anti-colonial ideas that had been at the centre of the movement since the stirring phase. This thesis concludes by suggesting that these changes are likely to make it difficult for the PLO to maintain its fragile unity.

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