The Palestine Mandate 5/15/2012 2:54:00 PM
It’s quite easy, given what we hear in the news media day to day about
Israel and Palestine, easy to get drawn into a particular illusion that is that
conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was somehow inevitable.
And if these is one point that we want to get across it’s the point
that this conflict was not inevitable.
o The conflict was, as you’ll find, the product of a particular
historical circumstances in the late 19 and the earlier 20
centuries. Some of which that we’ve already discussed.
And we’re here to really analyze those circumstances.
What we’ve find so striking, personally, about the roots of the
conflict is the degree to which national hostilities between Zionists
and Palestinians emerge not so much from a fundamental dispute
over how two communities could coexist in one territory.
o That’s always of sort of Journalistic short hand with which the
conflict is described, you know two peoples, one land.
o This is a conflict to raise from the choices made by a
particular historical actors, on both sides, on how to advance
And in many cases their individual ambitions.
That is to say that an exclusive nationalism is invoked, on
both sides, not so much because we have to nations that
inherently irreconcilable. But rather because particular actors
find that it is in their interests to invoke this nationalism.
At particular times under particular circumstances.
o And these is one particularly influential book that drives this
point home in quite vivid terms called “"Land, Labor, and the
origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” And through his focus on the lived experience of Jewish
Settlers in Palestine, Gershon Shafir manages to
demonstrate how the particular circumstances of this
period 1882-1914 and the particular ambitions of
historical actors led to the disruption of what had been
a non-violent relationship.
At the root of this argument is a fundamental shift in
the concerns of Jewish settlers in Palestine’s between
the initial wave of Jewish immigration to the area, a
waive that is common associated with the late 19 th
century. and the next such waive that’s commonly
identified with the years between 1904 and 1914.
By the way, one waive is known as “Alia”.
We’re dealing in this case with two wave of
immigrations and the differences in the ambitions
of the members of those two waves.
To begin with that initial wav, as we said, the Alia associated with the late
The principle concern with the settlers who form that wave was the
acquisition of land and the development of cash crops on those
o To this end, what we find in this is that the Jewish settlers of
that initial wave developed relationships with the Arab
seasonal workers who already familiar with that land.
And that was a decision that made eminent sense to
them because as new comers to the area , they didn’t
really know, in a sense, the ends and outs of the land. They didn’t know how best to farm the land and the
Arab seasonal workers did, because
They had been there.
They lived there.
In many cases, their family had lived on that land
for many many generations.
They were familiar with the agricultural needs of the
o However, we see a major difference come with the next Alia,
with the next Jewish immigration.
The Jewish settlers of this second Alia were concerned,
not with the acquisition of land, but with the
opportunity to work that land themselves.
And importantly, and this is the key point, to earn
a wage for their work on the land that was
comparable to the wage they would’ve earned in
Bulk of them are coming from Russia.
They’re familiar with a
o particular style of live.
o European style of living.
And not surprisingly when they get to Palestine,
they want to enjoy that same standard of living.
They’re committed to working the land. Why would they be committed to working the land? Why is that
important for them ?
its their homeland.
o So they want to contribute to that homeland.
o There is a desire for independence.
o For marks, one creates oneself, ones identity through labor,
work, through ways in which one shapes the natural world.
By altering the natural world, as mark saw it.
By creating a place for man, in the natural world, mans
This was also a thought of early Zionists. The Zionists of the second
wave that by working the land, they would be defining themselves
and defining their new nation in a very significant way.
The problem though that they faced was, in order to work that land and in
order to earn a wage that was comparable to that which they had earned in
Europe, they would be coming up against a labor system …
already in existence.
That was defined by relatively low levels of wages given to Arab
o Certainly not wage that would permit a European standard of
And, indeed as we said before, the Jewish settlers of the wave (the 19 th
century of immigration) have taking advantage of
that labor system.
Arab seasonal workers and the law wages that there were paid.
They have profited from that system. Now they were faced with entirely
different sort of workforce. The difference in expectations, between the Arabs seasonal workers
and arriving Jewish settlers of the second wave, was enormous.
Again, just to summaries, the arriving Jewish settlers demanded not only the
opportunity to work the land that had been purchased by the first wave, but
they demanded wages that were far higher than the wages that were being
earned by the Arab seasonal workers who are already working the land.
So how do you deal with this conflict?
That’s the question that the settlers of the second wave had to deal with.
How are we going to …
1) get the opportunity to work the land.
2) earn wages that will allow us to have the standard of
living that we were accustomed to ?
The strategy that they adopted was called “the conquest of labor”.
Under this strategy Jewish workers of the second wave aimed to
convince the Jewish land owners, who would come in the first wave,
to supplant Arabs labor with Jewish labor.
To separates the labor markets entirely and effectively to subsidies
the latter, the Jewish labor, such that they could attain a European
standard of living.
o In order to do this, the Jewish workers mount a press
campaign against the Jewish land owners of the first wave.
They accused them of being bad Zionists.
Failing to support Jews in their struggle to earn, what
they called, a fair wage of their labor in Palestine. o According to Shafir, the end result of this conflict is a sort of
compromise emerges between the two groups, namely
between the Jewish landowners of the first wave, and the
Jewish workers of the second wave under which Jewish
workers came to dominate particular lines of work.
Usually those which required more extensive technical
skills, and which, As a result, were a better paid.
The unfortunate result of this conquest for labor
strategy was a hardening of the national divide between
Jews and Arabs.
What so interesting about