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The Question of Palestine

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This original and deeply provocative book was the first to make Palestine the subject of a serious debate--one that remains as critical as ever. With the rigorous scholarship he brought to his influential Orientalism and an exile's passion (he is Palestinian by birth), Edward W. Said traces the fatal collision between two peoples in the Middle East and its repercussions in the lives of both the occupier and the occupied--as well as in the conscience of the West. He has updated this landmark work to portray the changed status of Palestine and its people in light of such developments as the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the intifada, the Gulf War, and the ongoing MIddle East peace initiative. For anyone interested in this region and its future, The Question of Palestine remains the most useful and authoritative account available.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Edward W. Said

184 books3,041 followers
(Arabic Profile إدوارد سعيد)
Edward Wadie Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian American born in Mandatory Palestine, he was a citizen of the United States by way of his father, a U.S. Army veteran.

Educated in the Western canon, at British and American schools, Said applied his education and bi-cultural perspective to illuminating the gaps of cultural and political understanding between the Western world and the Eastern world, especially about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East; his principal influences were Antonio Gramsci, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Michel Foucault, and Theodor Adorno.

As a cultural critic, Said is known for the book Orientalism (1978), a critique of the cultural representations that are the bases of Orientalism—how the Western world perceives the Orient. Said’s model of textual analysis transformed the academic discourse of researchers in literary theory, literary criticism, and Middle-Eastern studies—how academics examine, describe, and define the cultures being studied. As a foundational text, Orientalism was controversial among the scholars of Oriental Studies, philosophy, and literature.

As a public intellectual, Said was a controversial member of the Palestinian National Council, because he publicly criticized Israel and the Arab countries, especially the political and cultural policies of Muslim régimes who acted against the national interests of their peoples. Said advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state to ensure equal political and human rights for the Palestinians in Israel, including the right of return to the homeland. He defined his oppositional relation with the status quo as the remit of the public intellectual who has “to sift, to judge, to criticize, to choose, so that choice and agency return to the individual” man and woman.

In 1999, with his friend Daniel Barenboim, Said co-founded the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra, based in Seville, which comprises young Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab musicians. Besides being an academic, Said also was an accomplished pianist, and, with Barenboim, co-authored the book Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (2002), a compilation of their conversations about music. Edward Said died of leukemia on 25 September 2003.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 101 reviews
Author 13 books22 followers
August 28, 2007
The only question we should be asking about Palestine, really, is when we're gonna give it back to the Palestinians. It's a damn shame for all of us New Yorkers to share the historical burden of accomodating the location (what is now the Queens Museum) of the signing of the country's partition, which continues to result in the dislocation of its native sons and daughters from a land that is rightfully their own.
Profile Image for Judith Spapens.
122 reviews24 followers
August 29, 2012
Edward W. Said tries to answer the question of Palestine in this book in the context of colonialism and orientalism. What is wonderful is how Said argues in favor of a two-state settlement to promote peace and neighborly understanding and common interest. The book exposes the facade of the Camp David peace accords of 1978 and the disastrous influences of the Arab states and the US on the peace process and the realization of a palestinian state.
The constant reminding of the islamic revolution in Iran of 1979 I personally considered irrelevant and unnecessary for the message. Iran is persian/iranian (non-Arab) and its land was always its own.

To understand the psychology of the state of Palestinians since the Nakba and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the six-day war of 1967 (colonization of Gaza and the West Bank) this book can't be overlooked.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,963 reviews674 followers
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December 12, 2017
Apparently, this was for some time the standard text on the Palestinian situation and Palestinian history. And it is classic Edward Said -- clear, well-written, persuasive. To the point where it seems to have become the template for the talking points of the Palestinian cause, pre-Oslo. If I was to recommend a single book on the topic, this would honestly be the one. No attempts at heartstring-pulling, no mention of traditions or of "ancestral" anything -- just solid, cold-blooded, grounded argument.
Profile Image for Jennifer Abdo.
210 reviews15 followers
February 28, 2011
This is an excellent and must read on the conflict, but it is very academic, I should warn you. It reads like a textbook rather than human interest, so it is hard to get into, but it is worth the trouble.

There is a section devoted to debunking the lies in From Time Immemorial, which is enlightening to say the least, even if you haven't read the book because those lies are repeated over and over by the 'Israel can do no wrong' crowd.

This is a great explanation of the often neglected Palestinian point of view. The Israeli position is always well supported, understood and explained in our media and government; you will be a step ahead of the majority by reading this book since you will know both sides.

In a world where criticism of Israel = anti-Semitism, you have to do yourself a favor and read this book!
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Profile Image for K.
174 reviews
December 5, 2008
WOW WOW WOW. This covers so much about the Palestinian perspective in a balanced way. It changed the way I think about antisemitism (because Palestinians are Semites too). A fair and inspiring book. Give peace a chance!
Profile Image for Gianni.
251 reviews29 followers
May 24, 2021
Nonostante siano passati molti anni dalla pubblicazione del 1978, e anche dal successivo aggiornamento del 1992, il libro di Edward Said rimane un contributo importante per addentrarsi nella questione palestinese al di fuori degli schemi consueti. Said, intellettuale palestinese e docente universitario negli Stati Uniti, scrisse questo saggio destinato al pubblico americano con passione, pacatezza e utilizzando un linguaggio semplice e immediato. L’integrazione della pubblicazione con testi successivi, che datano sino al 2001, rivelano un crescendo di lucidità, fierezza, apertura, che si trasformano nel tempo in smarrimento e delusione, dalla speranza alla caduta, ma non lasciano mai intendere il senso della sconfitta.
La puntuale e approfondita documentazione non viene utilizzata da Said per costruire un mero reportage, ma per far emergere le radici e gli intrecci della questione che continuano ad essere elusi e mascherati, ”grandissima e misconosciuta è la disparità, o asimmetria, tra la condizione dei palestinesi come popolo leso nei suoi diritti, spossessato ed offeso, e quella di Israele come “stato per il popolo ebraico” e diretto responsabile delle loro sofferenze. Ci troviamo qui davanti ad un’altra complessa ironia della storia: in che modo le vittime di secoli di persecuzioni antisemite e dell’Olocausto si siano trasformate nella loro nuova nazione nei persecutori di un altro popolo che è diventato perciò, a sua volta, vittima delle vittime.”
Non viene messo in discussione il sionismo in quanto spinta all’autodeterminazione del popolo ebraico realizzata in uno stato autonomo, ma la sua matrice coloniale e razzista (quest’ultima riconosciuta anche dalla risoluzione 3379 del 1975) che ”considera i palestinesi come esseri non umani ('scarafaggi', 'cavallette', 'parassiti a due gambe', eccetera)“ e che si propone la sostituzione di un popolo con un altro, sia spingendo verso un allontanamento volontario o all’annichilimento ”se fossero stati ignorati, isolati, scavalcati” o ”infliggendo loro colpi sanguinosi e perseguitandoli con il terrorismo […] Nulla è stato risparmiato alla popolazione locale: torture, campi di concentramento, deportazioni, distruzione di villaggi, case fatte saltare in aria per rappresaglia, confiscate “trasferimenti” di migliaia di persone e persino l’uso di sostanze defilanti (come quelle irrorate da una aereo Piper Club, il 28 aprile del 1972, sul villaggio di Akraba nella West Bank, che distrussero numerosi campi di grano; un episodio riportato da Le Nouvel Observateur del 3 luglio 1972)”.
Diventati non ebrei nei territori occupati, dispersi nei campi profughi collocati anche negli stati dell’area mediorientale, costretti a migrare in Occidente, i palestinesi sono diventati, ironia della sorte, un popolo della diaspora, con rapporti difficili di convivenza anche con gli amici-nemici dei paesi arabi. Said ripercorre le varie fasi della evoluzione storica della situazione palestinese definendo gli attori in campo, compresi le potenze regionali e gli USA in primis, gli interessi contrapposti, le censure e i tradimenti dell’ultima fase dell’operato di Yasser Arafat. È sicuramente un testo da considerare per ragionare sulla questione.
65 reviews6 followers
December 30, 2020
Masterpiece; should have read this five years ago; should be required reading for everyone; also tragic to read so many years later, with so much still resonating, with much of Said’s hope for revolutionary struggle and peace now blunted
Profile Image for Mél ☽.
83 reviews26 followers
May 22, 2021
With the 69th commemoration of the 1948 Nakba and the 50th commemoration of the 1967 Naksa, reading this book and understanding the political Palestinian landscape are a must.

Said writes with such passion that makes the question of Palestine be as compelling and as intimate as ever.

The seriousness of the current challenges and the local, regional and international complications facing the Palestinian issue unfortunately make of the book more than just a sociopolitical history text.
It is a constant reminder of a people's tragedy and an unwavering call for identity [and] justice.
Profile Image for Sarah.
50 reviews26 followers
December 20, 2021
I took took longer than necessary with this book but it’s allowed because I’m a busy uni student.

Firstly I have to say that while one does not need a background of the political history, wars, peace meetings involving Palestine, knowledge of them would be helpful because Said will mention them quite often in a few places. I had no knowledge of many issues so Said opened a lot of doors for further reading. He also gives you an overall view of the situation but also addresses those aspects that have a direct effect on the question of Palestine.

Next, while furiously reading and saving IG threads on Palestine can be informative it is 100% better to pick up a book and read about it. This book was amazing in putting all the pieces to together and analysing decisions made especially by the West and their direct effect on Palestine. Edward Said also puts forward several questions towards America regarding its unquestionable support to Israel.

This book does not offer answers to why things happened. It simply narrates the timeline of the occupation and backs up each point with evidence. (I felt like this was Said’s superpower because the logic with which he draws from his evidence is incredible). More importantly it highlights the Palestinian perspective and their representation by the world and Israel. Finally it offers a one-state solution for the people of Palestine-Arabs-Jews.

Edward Said’s purpose in this book was to emphasise the self-determination of Palestinians that Western media has continued to ignore and Israel has tried to eliminate. This is the most important aspect of this book because it is through the power of speech that one’s existence is heard and felt.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Israel’s oppression, racism, genocide and apartheid laws on the people of Palestine is worse that any other colonised nation has faced. We already understand the question of Palestine. Now it’s our responsibility to continue to amplify the Palestinian voice, to support it and refuse ignorance.
Profile Image for Maha.
223 reviews63 followers
February 26, 2015
الكتاب جيد رغم كونه مجموعة مقالات، ولكنها قيمة جداً.
Profile Image for Lucas.
382 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2016
There is a definite tension between the two editors of this collection. Mr. Said favors assertion over demonstration. Nothing is more grating than a seemingly reasonable assertion that is never backed up. In one article, Said refers to a marvelous collection of Arabic documents in Lebanon that no one had used in their research on the subject. He then proceeds to tell his readers nothing about them, not even a sample. Am I to travel hither and thither just for a taste?
Profile Image for William.
Author 3 books31 followers
October 4, 2014
An excellent look at the Palestinian question by a scholar well-equipped to discuss the Palestinians on their own terms. The book is rather dated now, but remains critical to understanding how the Palestinians view themselves and how to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
243 reviews1 follower
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November 24, 2021
As my first book on my journey toward educating myself about the Israel Palestine dilemma, this book seems like it was a good place to start. It reads like a textbook from political history class, and I would have welcomed the chance to hear a lecture and ask questions as needed. There are so many layers and so much history and I’ve managed to just scratch the surface.
Profile Image for Nazmul Hasan.
54 reviews13 followers
August 12, 2014
A poignant plea for peace. This book represents Edward Said's vision and scholarship.

Reading it in 2014, there are obvious gaps in understanding and the level of knowledge regarding the conflict Said expects from the reader is quite high. This is the reason I've given it a 4 star.

Profile Image for Negar Gh.
79 reviews66 followers
January 13, 2019
I almost gave it a 4 star but the last section had me zoned out a bit. I URGE everyone to go read the first couple of chapters and you will be hooked, you'll be amazed, angered, in awe, in despair and loads of other emotions I cannot describe.
Profile Image for Roberto Treviño Iturbide.
70 reviews9 followers
May 24, 2021
A pesar de haber sido publicado originalmente en 1979, este libro sigue siendo completamente relevante hoy en día, y, sobre todo, en estas últimas semanas. Aunque, como menciono, el libro fue publicado hace 4 décadas, juega un papel de envergadura para entender lo que Said reconoce como «la cuestión Palestina»; y, además, la introducción y el epílogo fueron escritos e incluidos décadas más tarde, lo cual ayuda a actualizar la información.

Said critica la posición de doble moral de occidente sobre el conflicto y el grande rechazo a los palestinos como un pueblo y personas. La posición de Said en favor de Palestina es completamente comprensible, aunque siento que de momentos pierde la neutralidad e ignora hechos de máxima importancia y que ayudan a contextualizar la situación.

Recomiendo profundamente la lectura, aunque no la considero como única para formar una conclusión y postura final sobre el tema. Esto último sería caer en un grave error.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
53 reviews
June 4, 2021
Incredibly valuable text that should rightfully be recognized as having raised the prominence of the so-called "Palestinian question" in America and around the world at a time in which Palestinians were thought simply not to exist. While in the introduction and conclusion Said gives a little 1992 update to his argument considering all that has changed (Reagan, The invasion of Lebanon, The first Intifada, the Gulf War, etc.), yet the main text remains very much an account from 1979- the Iranian Revolution is very fresh in everyone's mind, and the PLO still has the glimmer of revolutionary potential. Overall, a very even-keeled and uncontroversial (if one is already anti-Zionist) analysis of the situation in Palestine for a western audience.
Profile Image for Safwat Safi.
112 reviews61 followers
January 21, 2019
الكتاب موجه لقراء الغرب، ولم يُترجم للعربية، وهو يضع تعريفا من وجهة نظر الكاتب للقضية الفلسطينية وضرورة تصحيح نظرة الغرب لها.

ولا أخفي شعوري بالاحباط بعد قراءة هذا الكتاب، فادوارد سعيد يتحدث قبل 40 سنة ويؤكد على ضرورة التمسك بوحدة الهوية والمصير بين فلسطينيي 48 والضفة وغزة والشتات، ويحذر من سلطة حكم ذاتي (التي ستكون مرحلة لاحقة لاتفاقية كامب ديفيد) ستؤدي إلى تفتيت الفلسطينيين والعيش بلا أي أمل وطني

قبل 40 سة كان ادوارد سعيد متفائلا بدور منظمة التحرير وبقدرتها على إيجاد حل سياسي، وكان يراهن على دور دول عربية في ذلك.

للأسف الوضع اﻵن أسوأ بكثير مما كان يتخيله سعيد
6 reviews
August 26, 2019
Interesting read to get a perspective about the progress of events from 19th century till the 70s of the 20th century. The end of the book depends heavily in its narrative on the political atmosphere of late 70s, which misses a lot of important later events, a non-complete list would include the assassination of Sadat, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, fall of the USSR, Oslo agreement, 9/11, second intifada, and later wars on Lebanon and Gaza.
Would be interesting to find a refreshed analysis that takes into consideration an that changed from 1979 to now.
Profile Image for Leen Bokken.
18 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2020
Een echte aanrader voor al wie meer inzicht wil verwerven in de soep die het conflict in het Midden Oosten vandaag nog steeds is. Ik kijk uit naar het volgende boek van Edward Said dat ik van plan ben te lezen.
Profile Image for Abbey S..
48 reviews
May 1, 2022
3.5/5
So incredibly dense. Overall it wasn't for me, but the last third (Camp David onward) was by far the strongest portion of the book.
Profile Image for selin.
67 reviews4 followers
January 15, 2023
dit is 100% mijn best read of 2023 !!!!!!! iedereen zou dit een keer moeten gelezen hebben echt super goed geschreven super informatief

en fuck israel
Profile Image for Nazari.
70 reviews4 followers
July 27, 2021
He leeido en estos tristísimos días este libro hermoso, no menos que Orientalismo, la obra que ha hecho famoso a este profesor estadounidense de origen palestino. La cuestión Palestina es un libro culto, rico en datos, fruto de una investigación de primera mano, apasionado. Pero sobre todo es un libro útil: es una de las poquísimas 'interpretaciones palestinas' de la historia de Palestina, a disposición de la cultura occidental. Nos ayuda a comprender profundamente las razones históricas de lo que hoy está ocurriendo en Palestina: el fracaso definitivo de los acuerdos de Oslo y de la 'mediación' estadounidense, la explosión de la nueva Intifada, que ya tiene como objetivo la independencia de todo el pueblo palestino, la devastación de lo que queda de Gaza, de Cisjordania y de Jerusalén-Este tras más de 50 años de ocupación militar, el desmantelamiento de la Autoridad nacional palestina, la matanza sin fin de judíos y palestinos inocentes.

Entender lo que está ocurriendo en Palestina no es fácil, también porque los grandes medios de comunicación, en particular la televisión, no nos ayudan. Ignoran o destierran deliberadamente las complejas raíces del conflicto en acto, acudiendo exclusivamente a las crónicas de los enviados especiales o a la dudosa competencia de 'expertos' políticos o militares que a menudo dan la impresión de no haber pisado nunca Palestina. Además, la referencia emotiva al tema del antisemitismo y del holocausto y una hostilidad latente respecto al mundo islámico, impiden a muchos europeos una valoración racional de las responsabilidades políticas de los actores involucrados: Estados Unidos, Israel, los Países Árabes, las Organizaciones palestinas.

La valiosa contribución de Said es su intento de reconstruir la 'cuestión palestina' desde un punto de vista palestino - no genéricamente árabe o islámico- y hacerlo remontándose al principio de toda la historia: el nacimiento del movimiento sionista, la afirmación de su ideología en el contexto de la cultura colonialista europea de las últimas décadas del siglo XIX, el inicio del fenómeno migratorio hacia Palestina. Y paralelamente Said traza la historia del pueblo palestino y muestra un cuidadoso perfil demográfico y sociológico.

Estos son los elementos de los que hay que partir, sostiene Said, si se quiere 'entender' la cuestión palestina. 'Entender', si se acoge esta sugerencia metodológica, significa rastrear la línea de continuidad histórica e ideológica que conecta entre sí una larga serie de eventos: las primeras oleadas de la emigración sionista a Palestina, la constitución del Estado de Israel, su progresiva expansión territorial, la dispersión violenta del pueblo palestino, la negación (no sólo israelí, sino también árabe) de su identidad colectiva, la ocupación militar de todas sus tierras, la primera y la segunda Intifada, el terrorismo suicida de Hamas y de los otros grupos del nacionalismo palestino extremo.

Hay un tema crucial en el cual insiste Said, acumulando una amplia documentación e interpretándola con un extremo cuidado filológico. En las décadas a caballo entre el siglo XIX y XX, periodo en el que las potencia europeas, in primis Inglaterra, decidían la suerte de Palestina y animaban al movimiento sionista a ocuparla, Palestina no era un desierto. Era, por el contrario, un país donde vivía una comunidad política y civil formada por más de seiscientas mil personas, que daba nombre al territorio y que lo ocupaba legítimamente desde hacía siglos.

Los palestinos hablaban árabe y eran en gran parte, musulmanes sunitas, con la presencia de minorías cristianas, rusas y chiítas, que también utilizaban el idioma árabe. Gracias a su elevado grado de instrucción, la burguesía palestina constituía una élite de Oriente Medio: intelectuales, empresarios y banqueros palestinos ocupaban puestos clave en el mundo político árabe, en la burocracia y en las industrias petroleras del Golfo Pérsico. Esta era la situación social y demográfica de Palestina en las primeras décadas del siglo XX y así habría seguido siendo hasta unas semanas antes de la proclamación del Estado de Israel en la primavera de 1948: en ese momento, en Palestina, estaba presente una población autóctona de casi millón y medio de personas (mientras que los judíos, pese al imponente flujo migratorio de la posguerra, superaban en poco el medio millón).

Toda la historia de la invasión sionista de Palestina y de la autoproclamación del Estado de Israel gira, por tanto, entorno a una operación ideológica que después se convertirá en una estrategia política sistemática: la negación de la existencia del pueblo palestino. En las declaraciones de los principales líderes sionistas - desde Theodor Herzl hasta Moses Hess, Menachem Begin, Chaim Weizman- la población nativa, cuando no es totalmente ignorada, es descalificada como bárbara, indolente, venal, disipada. A este cliché colonial muy difuso va estrechamente asociada la idea de que la tarea de los judíos había sido la de ocupar un territorio atrasado y semidesierto para reconstruirlo desde sus fundamentos y 'modernizarlo'. Y según una interpretación radical de la 'misión civilizadora' de Europa y de su 'colonialismo reconstructivo', la nueva organización política y económica israelí habría tenido que excluir todo tipo de cooperación a no ser que fuese de carácter subordinado y servil, de la población autóctona (mientras que el Estado israelí habría seguido abierto a todos los judíos del mundo y sólo para los judíos).

No es casual que la primera gran batalla que los palestinos se han visto constreñidos a afrontar para salir adelante después de la constitución del Estado de Israel ha sido la de oponerse a su auténtica aniquilación histórica. Su objetivo primario ha sido afirmar - no sólo frente a Israel, sino también frente a países árabes como Egipto, Jordania, Siria- su identidad colectiva y su derecho a la autodeterminación. Sólo mucho más tarde, no antes de 1974, Naciones Unidas admitirá formalmente la existencia de un sujeto internacional llamado Palestina y reconocerá a Yasser Arafat como su legítimo representante.

La negación de la existencia de un pueblo en la tierra en la que se pretendía instalar el Estado judío es el estigma colonial y, en definitiva, racista, que caracteriza desde sus orígenes al movimiento sionista: un movimiento, por otra parte, estrechamente vinculado a las potencias coloniales europeas y apoyado, de distintas maneras, por ellas. Después de haber proyectado, durante largo tiempo, constituir en Argentina, en Sudáfrica o en Chipre la sede el Estado judío, la elección del movimiento sionista recae sobre Palestina no sólo y no tanto por razones religiosas, sino porque se sostiene, junto con Israel Zangwill, que Palestina es "una tierra sin pueblo para un pueblo sin tierra".

Después, concluida la primera guerra árabe-israelí, el área ocupada por los israelí se expande ulteriormente, pasando del 56% de los territorios de la Palestina mandataria, otorgados por la recomendación de la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas, al 78%, incluyendo además, toda Galilea y gran parte de Jerusalén. Finalmente, tras la guerra de los 6 días, en 1967, como es sabido, Israel se adueña también del 22% restante, se anexiona ilegalmente Jerusalén-Este, e impone un duro régimen de ocupación militar a los más de dos millones de habitantes de la franja de Gaza y Cisjordania. Todo acompañado por la expropiación sistemática de las tierras, por la demolición de miles de casas palestinas, por la aniquilación de aldeas enteras, por la intrusión de imponentes estructuras urbanas en el área de Jerusalén árabe, así como en la de Nazaret.

Sin embargo, de entre todas, es la historia de los asentamientos coloniales en los territorios ocupados de la franja de Gaza y Cisjordania lo que proporciona la prueba más convincente de las buenas razones de la interpretación 'colonialista' propuesta por Edward Said. ¿Cómo explicar de otro modo el hecho de que, después de haber conquistado el 78% del territorio de Palestina, después de haberse anexionado Jerusalén-Este y haber asentado allí no menos de 180.000 ciudadanos judíos, el Estado de Israel se haya empeñado en una progresiva colonización también de ese pequeño 22%, ya bajo ocupación militar, que quedaba a los palestinos? Como es sabido, a partir de 1968, por iniciativa de los gobiernos tanto laboristas como de derechas, Israel ha confiscado casi el 52% del territorio de Cisjordania y ha asentado en él más de 200 colonias, mientras que en la pobladísima y paupérrima franja de Gaza ha confiscado el 32% del territorio, instalando en él casi 30 colonias. En total no menos de 200.000 colonos que siguen hoy en lo territorios ocupados, en residencias blindadas militarmente, conectadas entre sí y con el territorio del Estado israelí a través de una red de carreteras (las famosas by-pass routes) prohibidas a los palestinos y que fragmentan y desgarran aún más lo que queda de su patria.

Se puede, por tanto, concluir con Said, que el 'pecado original' del Estado de Israel es su carácter estructuralmente sionista: su rechazo no sólo a convivir pacíficamente con el pueblo palestino sino incluso a gestionar su propia hegemonía con formas no represivas, coloniales y sustancialmente racistas. Lo que ha conseguido la ideología sionista - indudablemente favorecida por la persecución antisemita y la tragedia del Holocausto- ha sido la progresiva conquista de Palestina desde dentro. Ello ha dado y sigue dando al mundo - no sólo al occidental- la impresión de que el elemento indígena está constituido por los judíos y que los extranjeros son los palestinos. En esta anomalía radica el núcleo de la tragedia que se ha abatido sobre el pueblo palestino, la razón principal de sus muchas derrotas: el sionismo ha sido mucho más que una forma normal de conquista y de dominación colonial desde fuera. El sionismo ha gozado de un consenso y un apoyo general por parte de los gobiernos y la opinión pública europea como no ha tenido ninguna otra empresa colonial.

Pero aquí está también el grave error cometido por la clase política israelí y la potente elite judía estadounidense, que siempre ha compartido sus elecciones político-militares. En Palestina existía un pueblo palestino antes de la constitución del Estado de Israel, sigue existiendo a pesar del Estado de Israel y tiene la firme intención de sobrevivir al Estado de Israel, a pesar de las derrotas, las humillaciones, la sangrienta destrucción de sus bienes y sus valores.
13 reviews
June 4, 2022
Absolutely required reading, at times a bit difficult to get through - but still wholly necessary to read!
Profile Image for nasam.
71 reviews43 followers
July 16, 2021
in "The Question of Palestine", Edward Saïd attempts to present the Palestinian struggle under zionism as both a historical and political reality. the native existence of Palestinian arabs has been systematically denied by zionism and if they were to ever be brought to the table, the zionist, their oppresser, would be the one to channel their reality to the west, making him able to diffuse his views while completely neglecting the existence of the Palestinian.
Just as the expert Orientalist believed that only he could speak (paternally as it were) for the natives and primitive societies that he had studied—his presence denoting their absence—so too the Zionists spoke to the world on behalf of the Palestinians.
the Palestinian simply was non-existent or if he existed, he existed as a negative, anti-semitic, terrorist and islamist arab.
the book is a valuable academic study of the Palestinian-zionist conflict in the light of orientalism and colonialism. it genuinely gave me a clearer understanding of the geopolitical and historical context of the existence of Israel.
Saïd asserts that unlike zionists who chose to simply ignore the Palestinian population on hopes for a day they completely leave the land, Palestinians are aware of the other. they don't deny their existence as the existence of the israeli-jews became part of the reality which made the Palestinians the first ever in the region to take into account the multiethnic population and suggest the founding of a secular-democartic state for Muslims, Christians and Jews.
also, the book highlights the reality of not only Palestinians who stayed in Palestine after 1948 but the Palestinians in exile and their existential struggle.
Punished for his presence in Palestine at the time of the land’s colonial settlement by Zionism, he has been punished afterwards for his absence from Palestine
this painful truth that formed the Palestinian experience has been always pushed under the rug.
below are few of my favorites paragraphs from the book:

The most discouraging aspect of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians everywhere is an almost total official triumph of ideology over reason and even common sense. To deny the existence of Palestinians makes sense epistemologically if one believes that Palestine is still an empty desert waiting to be cured of its neglect. To believe such nonsense when the contrary is plainly evident is to deny reason a role in one’s policy; furthermore, the idea that Israel is entitled to hold on to territory for biblical and security reasons (even after that same territory proved especially vulnerable in war) defies even the credulity of Israel’s warmest allies.


When minority consciousness allies itself to a habit of ambitious political generalization, and when those two together are forced into the unique sovereignty of political statehood, trouble—in the form of divisive separatism—usually ensues. In most of the states of the Middle East today, Israel included, there is a smoldering and unabated conflict between the tendency to political self-isolation on the one hand and, on the other, the tendency to political self-generalization


the process toward full Palestinian self-determination is an extraordinarily difficult one since self-determination is only possible when there is some clearly seen “self” to determine. Exile and dispersion make the problem immediately apparent. For much of this century the Palestinians made their world-historical appearances largely in the form of refusals and rejections. They have been associated with opposition to Zionism, with being the “heart” of the Middle East problem, with being terrorists, with being intransigent—the list is a long and unflattering one.
Profile Image for Eva.
42 reviews
January 3, 2023
Remarkable and thorough - I understand why people refer to this book as the original text that brought Palestine’s fight for not just liberation, but nationalism and statehood, to the forefront. Palestinians are not refugees, but a people, state, and nation in exile. I appreciate how Said also provided a thorough analysis of the US’s complicity in Palestinian subjugation and Israeli apartheid. He thoroughly explores the economic incentives driving US support of Israel’s occupation and makes a clear argument against US imperialism. The US and Britain are largely responsible for the creation of Israel and their continued support of the apartheid can’t be ignored. Zionism is an ideology protected and propagated on an international level, and many international players at this point have staked their nation’s power and economic development with the success of Zionism and Israeli statehood. Said elaborates on this point through his examination of efforts to assimilate Palestinians into the “Arab monolith,” an element of Zionist and US imperialist propaganda used to erase Palestinian national identity and statehood. If a people do not exist, they cannot seek liberation. I hope everyone reads this book. Anti-Zionism is an essential ideology and movement to achieve Palestinian liberation, as well as set the precedent for present and future anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-apartheid international struggles. Thank you Edward Said 💗
November 30, 2017
There's nothing quite like angry erudition is there? Still too apologetic in my view but excellent book that brings you bang up to date (to 1992!). Excellent if you want to understand the history and impact of the formation of Israel (or Israeli occupation more like).
Profile Image for Kowther Qashou.
88 reviews7 followers
February 16, 2016
This is a really critical read on Palestine, and it does a great job at engaging the reader in critical thinking, especially given that Said takes a more theoretical approach in his analysis, rather than a practical one. That said, it made me realise a whole lot of things. There were a few things I disagreed with Said on, but needless to say, this is a wholly important text on Palestine. It also critically engages with Zionism, particularly the beginning of the movement, which not many texts on Palestine/Israel do,

I only wish that Said was alive today so that 20 odd years on he could've written a third--possibly a fourth--edition detailing the current situation in Palestine, as well as the events that had followed since the publication of this book such as the end of the first intifada, the Oslo Accords, and the second intifada. As well as the Jenin massacres, the three assaults on Gaza that occurred in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014, and of course the settlement expanding that is still occurring today. Not to mention that since then even though it seems as if not a lot had changed, a lot has simultaneously changed.

Nonetheless, this is an excellent read for anyone who wants to understand the Palestinian perspective even further.
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