The challenges of writing Palestinian history

Rashid Khalidi in the Boston Globe:

Idcard_1As I write, with rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah unable to agree on the fundamental basis for a new coalition government, and with the devastating effects of the Israeli and international boycott provoked by Hamas’s victory in last January’s elections, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appears to be tottering. Whether it survives or not, the prospect of the independent state that the Palestinians have never had, and that many expected to emerge from this Authority, seems as distant as ever.

The United Nations resolution of 1947 that led to the establishment of Israel called for such a state. In the years before that, Palestinians similarly failed to win independence from the British, who held a League of Nations mandate over Palestine, in part because of internal rivalries, but also because of the constellation of forces arrayed against them.

Why did the Palestinians fail to establish an independent state before 1948, and what was the impact of that failure in the years that followed, down to the present? These questions are important, first, because Palestinian history must be properly understood if we are to comprehend the present, and because this history has significance in its own right.

More here.