[meta-note: All text is paraphrased, even if it's in quotes. Auerbach is a history professor at Cal State Northridge.]

Has lived in Israel a while ago, and teaches a class about the British mandate of Palestine due to mostly teaching about Europe.

Did the British start it? - Byron

You could make a good case that they did. Ottoman-ruled Palestine had Jews and Muslims living together amicably. Muslims regard Jews & Christians as protected people who you shouldn’t kill or forcibly convert. Things started to get a bit more complicated before the British arrived.

Zionism began in the late 1800s. Jews would move to and buy land in Ottoman-ruled Palestine from wealthy absentee (in places like Istanbul & Cairo) Muslim landowners who didn’t emotionally value the land. The land was mostly not very arable, and only had renters on it.

British made conflicting promises during WWI. Balfour Declaration said GB would look favorably on establishing a Jewish homeland in the region. GB also promised to help create an independent Arab state there if the Arabs rose up against the Ottoman Empire. GB will claim they didn’t promise the Arabs Jewish land & vice versa, but this is not very true.

British arrive in Palestine in 1917 without a plan. They don’t know what to do if Jews want to move to Palestine. Jews will buy land, sometimes displacing Arab tenants. Should GB halt land purchases? Even of unoccupied land?

In 1920, a few thousand Jews have moved to Palestine. There’s already rioting in Jaffa. Blame the British for allowing this? Blame the Palestinians rioting over a few thousand Jews?

Who’s more sympathetic: Bashir or Dalia?

Dalia seems more reasonable, so I end up sympathizing with her. This isn’t a choice. The status quo favors her, which lets her seem more reasonable. - Robin

Michael: I only read the first bit, but Bashir is sympathetic, because he’s more passionate about the house than Dalia, who is just chilling and going to college.

More on formation of Israel

In 1948, UN partitions Palestine. Jews accepted their partition, whereas surrounding Arab states representing a disorganized Palestine refused to accept the partition plan.

Most Palestinians were illiterate peasant farmers who had never had their own state and had always been Ottoman subjects, while immigrant Jews had literacy, skills, somewhat more money, and nationalism (Zionism). (Kurds and Roma are probably nations without a state, and plenty of states haven’t been one nation.) Zionist Jews build a proto-Israel (proto-Parliament, proto-army, organizations to help immigrants and with health services).

Palestinians have no clear representatives. They get represented by Haj Amin Al-Husseini (a guy from a wealthy, powerful Palestinian family). He’d been implicated as being in part of an anti-British uprising, but GB decided to treat him as Palestinian leadership anyway by proclaiming him head of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites. However, Husseini is one of multiple rival clans, his family had sold Zionists land and he didn’t really care about Palestinian nationalism much. When the British get frustrated and exile him in the 1930s, he goes to Germany and tries to get Hitler to invade Palestine because he thinks Hitler is just a cool guy.

Who does Auerbach sympathize with?

He really sympathizes with Bashir’s plight. Dalia and her family didn’t do anything wrong! Her family didn’t evict Bashir’s family, and she shows up at age 3. Eshkenazi family survives the Holocaust, lives in a tent in Israel for a few months, and then the government gives them a house and they go there.

He finds Dalia pretty generous/magnanimous. When Dalia attends Tel Aviv University and 3 young Palestinian men ask to look through her house, she says sure! That’s absolutely remarkable! It’s hard to imagine that happening anywhere today. And then when her parents die, her possession of the house seems tainted (although property law says it’s hers), so she talks to Bashir about what to do with the house and they make it a school.

OTOH, after she learns Bashir was convicted of participating in a terrorist attack on a supermarket, she said what the hell happened?. What happened to Bashir between befriending Dalia and the supermarket attack?

(BTW, Auerbach’s gone to that supermarket. It was 2 blocks from where he lived when he lived in Jerusalem for a year.)

Terrorist motives?

GB built maaaaaybe 2 schools total while controlling Palestine? There weren’t a lot of opportunities. Bashir was still well-educated, though.

Lots of terrorists today are young, male, and educated (!).

Arabs lost wars in 1948 and 1967. Arab leadership promised to wipe Israel off the map, which didn’t happen. Bashir didn’t have much faith in normal war for resolving conflict.

About 20% of Israelis are Arab, and the overwhelming majority are full voting citizens. However, they’re discriminated against. Muslim Arabs don’t serve in the IDF, which serves as a path to good jobs and a right of passage. Arabs are often doctors, because they study medicine overseas when they can’t go into the army. Israeli universities don’t let anyone in at 18, because non-Arab-Muslim Israelis are stuck in the army at that age and Arab Muslims would have an (unfair?) advantage if they did that.

Caring about land

Why doesn’t Bashir (and by extention the Palestinians) just forget about the home? Most Americans eventually lose access to their childhood homes. Can’t they start new lives somewhere else? Lots of people do that.

Nationalism(s) in Israel and Palestine reference the land because Palestinians don’t have -Dalia Auerbach

There are only 5e4 remaining 1948 refugees. However, they have 5e6 decendents. Opening the Israeli borders would instantly make Israel not a Jewish state. Bashir says he wants a secular state, but people are really religious.

Why did the angel have to drop Mohammed off on that rock? Couldn’t it have picked a different rock and prevented this conflict? -Robin

The rock is rock where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, and also where the Temple (holiest Jewish site) was. Isn’t this a bit convenient?


250,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank in land outside the official Israel borders. Settlements probably make it less likely Palestinians will get the land back. 200,000 live in (formerly Jordanian?) East Jerusalem, which was annexed in an unrecognized way by Israel in 1980.

450,000 Jews live outside 1967 borders.

There seems to be a territory agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, though. (Israel would give up some of the unoccupied Negev desert but get to keep some of the settlements.)

Nobody can compromise on the Right of Return issue. If 5,000,000 Palestinians move to Israel, there will not be a Jewish state of Israel.

Why does the United States so openly support Israel?

The US didn’t always do that. Truman supported 1948 Israeli independence. He wanted European Jewish refugees in Israel, not the US. France strongly supported Israel until 1973. US began support in 1973. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.