Palestine: The Iron Cage
How was Israel able to forge a state while the Palestinians have been unable to? A key element in establishing Israel was British colonial control of Palestine and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. In 1936-39 the Palestinians rose up in revolt against their British masters. Key cadres were killed and exiled. Thus crucially in the decisive 1947-1948 period the community lacked leadership. Compounding their inability to achieve statehood, the Palestinians were divided by factions and less than sagacious political leaders. Overwhelming U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support for Israel further seriously disadvantages the Palestinians. Now they are faced with an unviable statelet consisting of Bantustans. An outcome that is hardly the basis of a lasting peace.
Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies at Columbia University, where he directs the Middle East Institute. The Los Angeles Times calls him “arguably the foremost U.S. historian of the modern Middle East.” He is the author of many books including Resurrecting Empire, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood and Brokers of Deceit.