ABSTRACT

Palestinian academic Nur Masalha, who lives and teaches in London, published a thick volume seeking to anchor his arguments in an academic framework of a sort. Palestine: 4000 Years of History is an effort to document the argument for historical continuity between the Semitic-Arab peoples who had inhabited Palestine and the contemporary Palestinians. For Masalha, Palestine is a defined entity with its own native population embodied in the Palestinian Arabs. There was also a Jewish presence in Palestine during the biblical period but it was brief and insignificant. For the Jewish people and the Zionist Movement the term “Palestine” referred to the Land of Israel, the historical homeland of the Jewish people of the Land of the Bible. Terminology and nomenclature are important components of every national conflict. At the heart of such conflicts is the struggle for control of a specific territory and the respective claims by the contenders to absolute ownership of that territory. Such conflicts over the very name of a contested territory are not unique to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This article surveys the historical evolution of the contest over narratives between Israelis and Palestinians.

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