A contested land

Abu Nasser in his family’s olive grove in Palestine, 1946
Abu Nasser in his family’s olive grove in Palestine, 1946.
Source: Museum Victoria Palestinian Community Photographic Collection

The area known as Palestine is an ancient land which has been for thousands of years a crossroads and a home to many peoples.

The Muslim conquests of the 7th century brought the Islamic faith and entrenched Arabic culture and language in the region. Muslim Arabs became the majority population, but Christian Arabs and Jews also lived there.

The modern boundaries were drawn by the British, who occupied this part of the Ottoman Empire in 1917. The British permitted large-scale Jewish migration to the area. Many of the immigrants were Zionists whose aim was the establishment of a Jewish state.

In 1947, the United Nations proposed dividing Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The member states approved partition but the people of Palestine
were not allowed to vote on the question. The country’s Arabs and Jews went to war, and in May 1948 the state of Israel was declared. More than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were forced from their homes. In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the rest of Palestine.

For many Palestinians, dispossession resulted in migration, first to neighbouring countries and then beyond.

Image Gallery

Abbas family members on a school excursion Palestine c. 1870, from an album of architectural photographs Palestine c. 1870, from an album of architectural photographs Palestine c. 1870, from an album of architectural photographs Palestine c. 1870, from an album of architectural photographs The home of the Sarraj family in Yafa (Jaffa)