History of Israel
Jews have lived in the Holy Land for nearly 4000 years. Jews are the only people on Earth who have retained their identity from so long ago, and undoubtedly the most tenacious people in history.
Jews and Arabs are descended from half-brothers. Their patriarch, Abraham, was gifted the land called Canaan, which we call Israel, or the Holy Land—by God Himself.
Abraham's son, Ishmael (father of the Arabs), was born to his servant girl, Hagar. Abraham sent them away when his wife Sarai got jealous of them.
Sarai later bore a son to Abraham named Isaac (father of the Jews or Israelis). Abraham's grandson from Isaac, Jacob, was given a new name by an angel sent from God. His God given name was Israel.
Jacob moved to Egypt, because of famine in Canaan, where his Son Joseph had become the right-hand-man of Pharaoh. The Jews, known as Hebrews then, were treated well for a long time because of Joseph, but eventually they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Moses led them out of bondage in Egypt roughly 3500 years ago, to reestablish the nation of Israel in the Holy Land.
Kingdom of Israel
King David and his son, King Solomon, created the great Kingdom of Israel approximately 3000 years ago.
Israel was a nation from 1220 B.C. (Before Christ) to 70 A.D., when it was destroyed by the Romans. It is estimated that 550,000 Jews were killed during this destruction, out of a population of six million.
The Romans renamed Israel "Palestine" after the ancient people who had lived there called Philistines, who were not Arabs but Greeks.
The Jews were scattered—eventually all over the world—though they maintained a physical presence in the Holy Land and it was always considered to be their spiritual, ancestral home. The scattering mostly involved the Jews being made slaves around the Roman Empire and is known as the Diaspora.
Arab Muslims Conquer Israel
The Arabs came out of Arabia, after slaughtering the Jews who had lived there for hundreds of years (for rejecting Muhammad's message), and conquered the Holy Land in 635 A.D. This ended 300 years of rule by Christian Byzantium and spelled serious trouble for the 3,000,000 Jews living there, many of whom fled.
The Arabs ruled about 450 years; then the Christian Crusaders took the Holy Land back and held parts of it nearly 200 years as the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
After the Crusaders were expelled, the Holy Land was ruled by Egyptians for 250 years before the Ottoman Turks took it from them, and kept it for 400 years. This brings us up to 1917 and the end of the First World War—a war in which the Ottomans were on the losing side.
World War One
Before the war the Ottoman Sultan had welcomed Jews to settle in Palestine since nobody else seemed to care about this backwater, and he thought they might invest capital there and transform it from a desert wasteland into a prosperous area, since the Jews were world-famous as a successful people.
During World War One, European governments and intellectuals started seriously considering the idea of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, probably under the protection of the British. The largest Jewish populations were in Russia, Poland and Germany. During the war Jews living in the Holy Land fled persecution or were expelled by the Turks, except for those who became Ottoman citizens.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the first formal statement by the British government that the Jews should have their own nation in Palestine. There were parades of exhilarated Jews in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Arabs protested. That same year the very first Jewish military regiment was formed to fight for the British against the Turks.
The end of WWI left the British with the spoils of the defeated Ottomans from Egypt to Iraq, including the Holy Land. Emir Faisal, future King of Iraq, who had fought with Lawrence of Arabia (an Englishman) against the Ottomans, favored a Jewish Homeland—but under Arab rule.
It should be understood that the British were better friends with Arabs than Jews. The problem was, they had promised more land to more people—seeking allies in the war effort—than land they had to give. Their solution was the creation of Transjordan in 1921 for Emir Abdullah of the Hashemites; and a Jewish Homeland under British rule with Hebrew as the primary language (Arabic and English also to be official languages).
The British and Zionists (Jews committed to a Jewish Homeland) cooperated to build public works such as utilities; waterworks; sewer and drainage systems; harbors; government buildings—and to form a police force. Law and order, as well as public relief, were established.
In the 1920s Israel was under-populated and impoverished, with no industry, trade or natural resources. 103,000 Jews lived there by this time. In Jerusalem, Hebrew University was founded in 1925. There was peace, order, justice, and administrative integrity far superior to its Arab neighbors. Jews from around the world poured money into the new Jewish Homeland.
History of the Jews
In the 7th century the Jews in Israel had found themselves surrounded by Muslims intent on forced conversions to Islam. Jews clung to the Talmud (instructions), which was fairly new at the time.
In the year 1000 there were still 300,000 Jews living in the Holy Land.
The 15th century saw mass expulsions of Jews from the major cities of Spain, Italy and Germany. Most fled to Central or Eastern Europe. They were dehumanized in art; reviled as Christ Killers; and the first Jewish Ghettos appeared. Jews got by as peddlers (Wandering Jews), pawnbrokers, and small lenders. Many were baptized Christians to get along in society. Napoleon broke down the walls of the ghettos in the early 1800s.
In 1839 Rabbi Alkali of Belgrade, who had lived in the Holy Land, wrote a book, Pleasant Paths, which may have been the start of the Zionist Movement.
Russian writer Perez Smolenskin picked up the baton from there. In Russia, pogroms (riots against Jews) were prevalent from 1882 to 1917. Jews loved Russia and also fell in love with Communism. They felt betrayed by Russians and many moved to America. But the feeling began to spread, as a result of nationalist movements all over Europe, that Jews needed their own nation in Palestine to escape persecution—with their own land and language. Leon Pinsker of Odessa pushed for Zionism in the 1880s. "Lovers of Zion" clubs were formed around Eastern Europe to push for a Jewish government in the Holy Land. They revived Hebrew as a language and taught self-defense.
At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the Ottomans allied themselves with Western Europeans against the Russians, and offered protection for Jews if they were to create a Jewish state in Palestine. Inspired by this, Jews invested in farming and roads in Israel. The largest investor was the English Jew, Sir Moses Montefiore.
Half the population of Jerusalem was Jewish by 1881. The First Aliyah (return of Jews to Israel) began in 1882 and included about 30,000 Jews. The great European banking family, the Rothschilds, secretly bankrolled this while publicly opposing it.
Many European intellectuals such as Marx, Freud, Disraeli and Einstein were Jewish. In the early 20th century German culture was nearly synonymous with Jewish culture. Jews identified strongly with Germany and most of them in Palestine at the turn of the century spoke German.
Judaism created Jews, not the other way around. They had given the world monotheism.
In 1880, half the population of 300,000 in greater Palestine (including the future Jordan) were Arabs; mostly migrants, nomads and bandits, from various tribes. They had made no contribution to modern civilization.
50 nationalities with as many languages inhabited the land, including 38,000 Christians—but none were called Palestinians. Arabs had never named this land and had not governed it the previous 800 years. There were no people on Earth known as Palestinians until the 1940s.
Israeli Arab Conflict
After the Jews had turned barren desert into irrigated farmland, created a clean water supply, sanitation, and largely eliminated malaria; Arabs began moving there to work as laborers on Jewish farms.
Most of the land in Israel was purchased by Jews from absentee Arab landowners. This land was in no way the "ancestral homeland of Palestinians for thousands of years." That is a modern myth.
In Israel (of its present borders), the population in 1893 was 60,000 Jews; 45,000 Arabs; and 45,000 others. In all of Palestine lived 260,000 Arabs, mostly backward, lethargic tenant farmers and laborers. The Jews in Israel were largely educated, motivated and industrious.
Theodore Herzl, a writer, is considered the father of modern Zionism. Baron Maurice de Hirsch had tried and failed to establish a Jewish Homeland in Argentina. Herzl, after the Dreyfus Affair, sought the collaboration of European powers to help with the creation of a new, industrialized Israel. He first sought a charter from Germany.
The British tried unsuccessfully to talk him into a Jewish Nation in Uganda. Herzl set up Zionist, religious schools in the Yishuv (Jewish areas of Palestine). Ahad Ha'Am promoted cultural Zionism. A series of Zionist Conferences were held around the Fin de Siècle to discuss how to create a sovereign Jewish Homeland. The 7th Zionist Conference of 1905 rejected the idea of any Homeland for Jews except the historical Israel.
Political Zionism only differed from other manifestations of European nationalism in the fact that its sacred soil lay outside Europe. Zionist ideology can be traced to the 1851 book A Guide to the Perplexed (Krochmal). It is a reaction to centuries of persecution of the Jews—anti-Semitism.
This is a vicious psychological syndrome, where the stereotyping of Jews precedes accusations of conspiracy and treachery. It makes the Jewish community the scapegoat for all sorts of ills. It tends to move through cycles.
Anti-Semitism was particularly vicious in Europe as nationalism spread because it in itself makes people less tolerant of the "other" in their midst. It came to a head with the sinister invention of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1903.
This book was a hoax—though widely read as truth still today among Muslims—that purports to tell of a conspiracy of Jews and Masons to rule the world through the control of banking and the media.
A Jewish Homeland
The Second Aliyah began in 1904 and 45,000 Russian Jews, including the famous philosopher A.D. Gordon, moved to Palestine to escape persecution by the Tsar.
These were mostly younger people who emphasized physical labor and agriculture; inspired by Tolstoy's idealization of the peasant, and obsession with the soil. Many of them scorned Marxism, believing the key to a successful society was that each man should earn his own bread. They also started viticulture in Palestine, using cheap Arab labor.
The secret society of Jewish Watchmen was formed to protect pioneers from Arab bandits and trained all farmers in the bearing of arms for self defense. Hebrew was promoted as the chief language and by 1916, it was for 40% of the people.
By this time the Zionists had joined forces with the British to establish the Jewish Homeland. The British imagined free countries not only for Jews; but also for Arabs, Armenians and Greeks.
Of the three types of Jewish agricultural communities, the capitalists were most successful, over the Moshav (collective farming but living with separate homes), and the Kibbutz (collective farming living communally). All were focused on Citrus. Leftist views dominated politics.
After WWI, the Third Aliyah saw 40,000 more Russians move to Israel. In the 1920s, the Fourth Aliyah saw 76,000 Poles move to Israel; these were not farmers but middle class merchants.
By 1931, 554,000 Jews lived in the future Israel. Grave problems soon arose regarding relations with Arabs, who now numbered 555,000 in all of Palestine. The Jews looked down on them as "wild desert beasts" and "dumb jackasses." The British tried to support both sides—and pleased neither.
Arab Violence against Jews
Chaim Weizmann was the leader of the Jews for decades and in 1936 he proposed a two-state solution—a Jewish state and an Arab state, separate communities but best of friends.
Meanwhile the Fifth Aliyah was 250,000 Germans escaping the Nazis in the 1930s, and they caused the rise of Jewish cities. Citrus was booming and Capitalism was growing in strength. Finally, Arabs decided to also invest in the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, the Arabs perpetuated violence against the Jews, spurred on by the Grand Mufti (Muslim religious leader) of Jerusalem.
Grand Mufti Becomes Hitler's Pal
The British had made a huge blunder in 1921 when they authorized a Supreme Muslim Council to direct religious affairs in Palestine. The Brits appointed Mohammed al-Husseini, head of the largest landowning clan in Palestine, as Grand Mufti (senior judge). It was one of the worst appointments in history. He proved to be a dedicated Jew killer for the remainder of his life.
The Mufti hated Jews worse than Hitler. Even more damaging than his terror campaigns against Jews though, was his destruction of moderate Arabs, who were not uncommon in the 1920s. The Mufti hired a murderous terrorist named Emile Ghori, who set to work killing moderate Arab leaders in Palestine, who wanted to work with the Jews for both sides to live in peace.
The Mufti had more Arabs killed than Jews, and by 1939, no Arabs dared speak publicly of a peaceful settlement. All voices heard were for the extermination of Jews.
Why can't we live in peace?
The British tried to placate the Arabs by the creation of sovereign Arab states in Jordan; Egypt in 1922; Iraq in 1930. And the French granted independence to Syria and Lebanon in 1936.
In the future State of Israel there was a great revival of Jewish music, art, drama and religious expression in the 1930s. Jews were finally free to be Jews. Hitler also aided the Jewish cause at first, by allowing them to leave Germany with their wealth, greatly strengthening Israel.
But the Nazis then recruited Arabs as allies for the up-coming World War Two; and fomented hatred of Jews, as well as anti-British sentiment. Hitler was adored by Arabs for his persecution of Jews.
For three years violence was perpetuated upon the Jews by Arabs, to drive them off land, for which Jews had paid Arabs high prices. By this time, 960,000 Arabs (10% of them Christians) lived in Greater Palestine along with 460,000 Jews—but most of the capital investment had come from Jews. Tel Aviv was the most populous Jewish city on Earth with 150,000 residents.
Arabs Repeatedly Reject Peace
The Peel Commission (1937) set out to resolve the problems in Palestine. The solution: to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. This would grant the Jews only 17% of their original promised Homeland—yet they accepted it.
Arabs complained that this solution would grant Jews the best farmland—conveniently not mentioning that these fabulous agricultural areas had been swamps or desert for centuries before Jewish labor and capital had miraculously transformed them.
To placate Arabs, the British limited Jewish immigration into the Holy Land to 12,000 persons per year—exactly at the time the Holocaust was being planned in Germany.
David Ben Gurion offered massive money to the Arabs to develop their land as the Jews had done on theirs, in exchange for Arab acceptance of a Jewish state. In Geneva (1937) the Arabs flatly rejected the plan after demonstrations throughout the Muslim world against it. Terror campaigns against Jews soon followed.
Conflict Between Jews and Muslims
The Jews smuggled in weapons and built a secret armory. Britain had vacillated for years over the Holy Land, depending upon which political party was in power in England at the moment. In 1939 the British, under pressure from their friends, the Arabs, betrayed the Jews by issuing a "White Paper" that stated that all of Palestine should be one country with Jews and Arabs ruling together in proportion to their population—obviously putting the Arabs over the Jews, since they outnumbered them in Greater Palestine.
In response, a 21,000 person Jewish Defense Force trained underground. In 1940 the Brits terminated the right to buy property for Jews in all but 5% of Palestine—to please their Arab friends. Winston Churchill was pro-Israel but his Foreign Office, led by the famous anti-Semite, Anthony Eden, was decidedly pro-Arab.
Meanwhile, 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated by the best friend of the Arabs, the Nazis, while the British blockaded Israel to keep German refugees out.
Any Jews the Brits caught attempting to reach Israel were put in concentration camps in Cyprus—outraging Americans, who now enter the story. President Truman demanded that 100,000 Jews—out of 250,000 held in camps in West Germany after World War II ended—be allowed to immigrate to Israel. The British refused.
Saudi Arabia lobbied for a Jewish state to be carved out of a defeated Germany.
United Nations Partition
So, in 1945-1946, the Jews turned on the British, fighting against their wartime allies and committing acts of terror. Finally, the Brits threw their hands up, left the Holy Land, and told the USA: You take over since you care about the Jews so much. Before the Brits left, they turned over much of their weaponry and supplies to the Arabs, out of anger toward the Jews.
America was the chief supporter of a Jewish state. Five million Jews called America home. President Truman was pro-Zionist but his state department was pro-Arab. Truman's critics opposed creating a political state based on racial or religious criteria. There was no question that the creation of a State of Israel would be a loss to Arabs. The Soviet Union also backed the Zionists. The USA called on the United Nations to solve the problem.
A United Nations Committee declared that Israel should be an independent democracy, as long as access and security was provided for all peoples regarding the holy places of Jerusalem.
They said, after all, the Arabs had aligned themselves with the mass murderer, Adolph Hitler; there were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust to consider; and therefore partition of Palestine was approved—with Jerusalem as an international city (and payments by Jews of $10M per year to Arabs as "subsidy").
The view was that the Arabs living in the area could live in Jordan, which is much larger. The Arabs rejected the plan, saying that Western Peoples were acting out of guilt over allowing the Holocaust to happen—and immediately attacked Jewish settlers.
State of Israel 1948
David Ben Gurion took over leadership of the Jews and quickly organized a government, and administrative framework. Arabs did not. They simply advocated propaganda and violence. As the violence escalated, non-violent Arabs began to flee the Holy Land, mostly to Jordan.
The lesson learned by the Jewish people from the Holocaust was that they must have their own nation, no matter what. It was the realization that the world stood by and let this happen—while blocking Jews from having anyplace to go when they could have still left Germany—that made the Jewish community realize they must have a place of their own to live. WWI had made it possible; WWII had made it necessary.
In 1948, Israeli Independence was declared on 5500 square miles of land. America and the Soviet Union recognized the new nation immediately. The next day seven Muslim countries attacked Israel, vowing to kill every Jew.