History of Israel

Explore the fascinating history of Israel

Israel is generally considered to be the birthplace of the Jewish religion and as such it holds a special place in the hearts of many Jews. Many believe that Israel is their homeland and is the Promised Land given to them by God. There are quite a few notable religious obligations and important archeological sites pertaining to this belief. Two notable sites include that of the First and Second Temple of the ancient Nation of Israel.

Early Israelites first encountered problems when the Romans conquered the country and exerted their rule. Following the Romans the Byzantines and the Persians lay a hold of the area and exerted their influence. Ironically enough, the Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud were composed in Palestine during this period. Israel was then taken by conquering Arabs who exercised control over the country until it became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. During all this time the size of the Jewish population fluctuated greatly.

The 1800s saw waves of Jews fleeing persecution immigrate to Israel. This mass movement of the Jewish people is commonly known as Aliyah. These Jewish refugees sought to create a Jewish political entity in Palestine known as Zionism. As a result around 40 000 more Jews made their way to the "Promised Land" as part of a second Aliyah. The British endorsed Zionism by issuing the Balfour Declaration after World War I, which led to still further Aliyahs. The Holocaust caused still more Jews to make their way to Israel. In 1939, the British abandoned the idea of creating a Jewish national homeland and instead pushed for a shared Palestinian and Jewish government. This new "White Paper" policy was implemented and enforced for some time after World War II.

1947 saw big changes in Britain's interference in Palestinian politics. Since efforts to reconcile the Jewish and Arab populations had failed, the "UN Partition Plan" was proposed in order to provide the territory equally between the two states. It was intended that Jerusalem become an international region under UN administration as this would prevent conflicts over its status. However Palestinian Arab leadership immediately rejected the plan and launched a guerilla war.

Though the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 15, 1948, the surrounding Arab states supported Palestine in rejecting the Partition Plan. Six Arab nations began an attack on the State of Israel. As a result, Israel was able to capture some of the territory west of the Jordan and annex it to their state. The war resulted in further separation of the Jews and Palestinians as these either fled or were expelled to their relative regions. Israel's Jewish population continues to grow and has seen a further wave of immigration after the fall of the USSR.


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