Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



The land of Palestine has been the object of conflicting claims by numerous peoples and religions for millennia. This small, arid place generally consisting of territory east and west of the Jordan River has been ruled and coveted by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Each now possesses historical, cultural, and religious attachments to the land. The Jewish claim to Palestine rests on their conquest of the "promised land" in 1451 B. C. E. and their 1500-year occupancy which ended with the Diaspora in 71 A. D. Christian occupation during the crusades and the importance of the land that Jesus walked also gives Christians some claim to the area, particularly the holy sites. The Arabs assert, however, more recent property rights based on their control of the area from the seventh to the twentieth century. Since Israel's rebirth as a state in 1948, Arabs and Jews have fought four major wars and numerous minor engagements over rights to Palestine. During the late 19th century, nationalism unified peoples in Western countries, and Jews dreamed of reuniting their people. "A land without a people for a people without a land," was the slogan adopted by the early Zionist leaders to promote massive Jewish immigration to Palestine in the early 1900s. But the ancient Jewish homeland was not vacant When modern Jews returned. For centuries, the land had been inhabited by Arabs. Ironically, the reconstitution of a Judaic state displaced much of the Arab population. Now after four major Arab-Israeli wars the Arabs of Palestine are "a people without a land." About four million Palestinian Arabs live throughout the world today, most of them outside the state of Israel which was created when the United Nations partitioned Palestine in 1947. When the Jews declared statehood a year later, a civil war broke out during which the Jewish nationalists defeated the Palestinian Arabs and the armies of seven surrounding Arab states. The Arabs refused to accept the existence of Israel and desired to ''throttle it at birth”. Approximately a million Palestinian Arabs live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regions, occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. The rest of the 4 million have taken refuge among neighboring Arab states. The United Nations Relief Works Agency reported about 1.6 million Palestinian Arabs registered as refugees in 1977. Many were displaced for the second time in 1967. The victims of repeated Arab defeats, living in bitterness and often in poverty, and lacking a territory to call their own, these people have captured the attention of the world.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Palestinian Arabs
Territory, National
South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University