Essay, Research Paper
Israel is a small country in southwestern Asia that was founded in 1948 as a sanctuary for Jews from all parts of the world. Israel lies along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by Syria and Lebanon to the north, Egypt to the southwest, and Jordan to the east. Jerusalem is the capitol and the largest city in Israel. It is considered by many faiths to be the holiest city in the world. Israel and the Jews have been oppressed often and have numerously beaten the odds to get to the point that they are at today.
Israel makes up most of what was considered by the Old-Testament to be the holy land. According to the bible, Abraham, who some consider to be the first Jew, was promised by God a place where his descendants could live. Many scholars believe that Israel is that holy land and that sometime between 1800 and 1500 BC Abraham established the first Jewish population there.
Eventually Israel fell to a procession of conquerors. In 63 BC the Jews were attacked and beaten by the Romans. The Jews followed with revolts that were unsuccessful, and consequently most of the Jews were forced by the Romans to leave. The Romans gave Israel the name Palestine. Palestine was ruled by Rome and then the Byzantine Empire until the 7th century when the Arabs took over. From then until the mid-1900 s, when Israel became a state, it was inhabited mostly by Arabs.
Israel became a state in 1948, but the movement to create a Jewish homeland, called Zionism, started in the 1890 s. One of the trailblazers on this subject was Chaim Weizmann, a Russian-born chemist and Zionist leader, who in 1949 became the first president of modern Israel. Weizmann was a key factor in getting the Balfour Declaration signed by the British. The Balfour Declaration was a letter issued in 1917, during World War I, by foreign secretary and British statesman Arthur James Balfour. The letter expressed Britain s approval of Zionism and also that the British government would make the best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. As an indirect result of the Balfour Declaration, Israel was established as an independent state in 1948.
In 1920, the League of Nations, which later gave rise the United Nations, declared Palestine a mandated territory of Great Britain, and gave the British the responsibility of keeping order between the Jews and the Arabs, whose relationship had become increasingly hostile. Also, the mandate said that Britain was to help in making a national homeland for Palestinian Jews. Many Zionists viewed the mandate as helpful to their cause, but Britain, fearful of the hostile Arab population, proposed limits on the number of Jewish immigrants allowed to enter Palestine. These limits were not enforced, but they helped to alleviate the pressure being put on the British by Arab inhabitants of Palestine. The mandate period lasted until 1948 and during that period the Jewish population in Palestine increased tenfold.
During the mandate uprisings were common and led to two major revolts, one by the Arabs, the other led by the Zionists. As Jewish immigration to Palestine increased, so did the Arab opposition to Zionism and British rule. Several uprisings occurred and they culminated in a general Arab revolt which lasted from 1936 to 1939 and was finally quieted by British troops on the night before World War II. About 6 million Jews were killed by German Nazis during World War II. Zionists soon realized that the need for a Jewish homeland was growing and their efforts intensified towards getting one. By the end of WWII most of the Jewish population in Palestine was revolting against British rule.
In 1947, after seven years of war and exhausted by the revolts, the British decided to withdraw from Palestine and handed the problems in Palestine over to the United Nations, who on November 29, 1947, agreed to divide Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Under the plan, Jerusalem was to be put under international control due to its religious and ceremonial values to both Jews and Arabs. The Jews accepted the idea, however it was not so for the Arabs. They protested against the partition and the protests erupted in to violence which later led to a civil war between the Jews and the Arabs, a theme which has plagued the state of Israel throughout its existence. The British did not get involved, as they wished to leave Palestine by August 1, 1948, the date in the partition plan for the termination of the mandate.
As it became clear that the British were going to leave by May 15, the leaders of the Jews in Palestine decided to form a Jewish state, an idea that was a part of the partition plan. In Tel Aviv, on May 14, 1948, the Provisional State Council, which had formerly been the National Council, proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) .open to the immigration of Jews from all the countries of their dispersion.
Within 24 hours the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the newly formed country and presented it with the first of many military challenges that it would face. Israel ended up victorious in the war that lasted some 15 months and claimed the lives of over 6,000 Israelis, about 1% of the country s Jewish population. The war became known as Israel s War of Independence.
During the early part of 1949 negotiations were conducted with the UN s help between Israel and its invading countries, except for Iraq which has refused to negotiate with Israel to date. According to the agreements Israel controlled the coastal plain, Galilee and the entire Negev, an area in the south of Israel. Jerusalem was divided, with Israel controlling the western sector, while Jordan controlled the eastern part, which included the Old City.
With the war over, Israel focused its efforts in building the state which it had fought for, for over fifty years. The first job was to form a coherent and cohesive government system. A national election was held on January 25, 1949, and soon after the first Knesset (Parliament) went into session.
Two of the people that had led Israel to its existence were elected President and Prime Minister. Chaim Weizmann was elected as the country s first President and David Ben-Gurion, who had been head of the Jewish Agency was elected as the first Prime Minister. In the first months of independence some 50,000 newcomers entered Israel. By the end of 1951 687,000 people had arrived, mainly Jewish, thus doubling the Jewish population.
In about sixty years the State of Israel went from being one man s dream to a reality. In was in 1896 when Theodore Herzl published a book titled The Jewish State, which analyzed the causes of anti-Semitism and proposed its cure-the formation of a Jewish State. He proposed it to be a state where Jews from all over the world could unite if persecuted elsewhere. Now Israel is the place that Herzl hoped it could be. Yes, it is still plagued by its Arab neighbors, and has had wars, but like always Israel prevails as I hope it will in the next millennium and beyond. Over four thousand years ago God promised a man who had a vision that his descendants would have a land of their own. Finally, after almost 4,000 years Abraham s children-the Jewish people do have a land of their own. The land of milk and honey , Israel, is my land as well as every other Jew s land.. This year Israel is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of becoming a state. This accomplishment was made possible by two extraordinary men, (Theodore Herzl and Abraham) one ancient and one modern who were connected by their ideals and a common dream for the destiny of the Jewish people.