Palestine is the land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean that lies between the Jordan river and the sea, between Egypt and Syria. In the middle is the city of Jerusalem. It is a land divided between Arabs and Jews, a land of endless killing and blood.
The Romans kicked the Jews out of Palestine nearly 2000 years ago. In the 1800s the Jews began returning in large numbers. In 1947, after Hitler had killed six million Jews, they were given Palestine as a country of their own. They named it Israel.
But Israel did not fall from the sky: it was created by pushing Arabs off their land, land they had lived on for over a thousand years. Those Arabs are now called Palestinians. They want their land back.
The Jews say that God had promised them the land. It says so in the Bible.
Because the Arabs are mostly Muslim and the Jews are Western, the dispute is not an ordinary one, but has become important the world over. It is always in the newspapers. So much so that many assume that this has been going on for thousands of years and not just 60.
Most Palestinians went to live in other Arab countries. Many went to live in Jordan, the neighbouring country to the east. Those with education live quite well, but many live in wretched settlements called refugee camps. The tents are long gone, but the people are still there.
In 1967 Israel took over a part of Jordan called the West Bank, and parts of Egypt called the Sinai and the Gaza Strip. Israel gave back the Sinai in 1980 to make peace with Egypt. The West Bank and Gaza are still under the thumb of its military.
Israel sent Jews to settle the West Bank and Gaza. Some hoped that one day they would become part of Israel proper. But in 2005 Israel pulled out of Gaza. Both the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers have left, but the army still attacks Gaza from time to time.
In the early 1990s Israel half-promised that the West Bank and Gaza might some day become an independent country. There was some solid movement in that direction and in 2000 peace was almost made between Israel and the Palestinians, but then it all fell apart. There has been an on-and-off low-level war going on ever since, not just between Arabs and Jews, but even among the Arabs themselves.
While Arafat was alive to lead the Palestinians, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), especially the Fatah part of it, was the only political party that mattered, as corrupt as it was. Arafat died in 2004 and the years since has seen the rise of Hamas. Now both parties fight for power, both at elections and in the street.
In January 2006 Hamas won elections in Gaza. In June 2007 they took over Gaza by force. Hamas is backed by Iran, Fatah by the West.
Israel is now building a wall between itself and the Palestinians. Along the way the wall is taking in choice bits of the West Bank. It has yet to reach Jerusalem. The Jews seem to have given up on making peace.