This MA course examines and juxtaposes the intimately intertwined histories of two modern national ideologies that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  

Zionism, a political ideology that defined Jews as a national group, viewed settlement in the Land of Israel/Palestine not only as a key to Jewish spiritual and political “rebirth,” but also as a solution to the twin scourges of assimilation and antisemitism.   Its early leaders, largely European in origin, were more attuned to the conditions of the Jewish Diaspora than to the realities in Ottoman Palestine, which they often characterized as “a land without a people for a people without a land.”  

Palestinian nationalism emerged within the broader context of Arab nationalism, but it developed and flourished in the first decades of the twentieth century, primarily as a reaction to Zionist-inspired Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel/Palestine.  

This course explores the development of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, paying special attention to the encounters, both peaceful and belligerent, between these two competing ideologies.  After examining the Zionist “revolution” and the rise of Arab and Palestinian nationalisms, the course shifts to the role of the Great Powers and the international community in shaping the contours and setting the expectations of two national movements, beginning with the First World War and culminating in U.N. Resolution 181 (1947), which partitioned the contested land.  The course ends in 1948, the year that marks the birth of the State of Israel and the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem.