After living for nearly two millennia in the
tribulation of other peoples, the Jews would once again
be given their own homeland. It was the goal of the
Zionist movement that emerged in the late 19th century
among Jews in Europe. However, the plans to proclaim a
Jewish state in what was then Palestine came on a
collision course with Arab nationalist dreams after the
First World War.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Israel, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
There were early agricultural crops around the Jordan
River. Remains of fortifications from the 8000s before
the birth of Christ have been found in Jericho.
Jerusalem is mentioned in Egyptian writings from the
15th century BC. In the Old Testament, the area west of
the Jordan River is called the land of the Canaan. There
were several related Semitic people. The Bible is based
on the story that one of them, the Hebrews who
came to be called Israelites and later Jews, was
promised the land by God.
In the 13th century BC, the Philistines,
believed to have spoken an Indo-European language,
settled along the coast to the south. The name Palestine
(Pelishtim in Hebrew, Philastin in Arabic) is derived
Unlike the neighboring people, the Jews were
monotheists, believing in a single god. The religious
law, the Torah, which the Prophet Moses
according to the Bible received directly from God, would
help the Jews to preserve their particularity through
Since the ancient Jewish tribes united under King
Saul, his successor David Jerusalem took about 1000 AD
BC. David's son Solomon erected the first Jewish temple.
The kingdom was divided in 930 before Christian times
in two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south.
Since the northern kingdom of the 7th century BC was
conquered by Assyrians, the area was called Samaria.
Just over a hundred years later, the southern kingdom
was conquered by Babylonians. The temple was destroyed,
and the leading layers of the Jews were forcibly moved
to Babylonia in the years 586-55 BC ("the Babylonian
captivity"). Others fled to eg Egypt.
After the Persians crushed Babylonia, the Jews were
allowed to return home. However, large groups, the
so-called diaspora (the Jews in the "embrace"),
lived from this time outside the Jewish core land that
was now part of the Persian Empire. The temple in
Jerusalem was rebuilt to 515 BC.
Alexander the Great conquered the area 331 before
Christian times. The Seleukids, who were
successors to one of Alexander's generals, plundered the
temple in 166 BC. The Jews responded with a revolt, led
by Judas Mackabeus and his brothers. They maintained
their independence until Rome took over the year 64 BC.
During the centuries around the birth of Christ, the
Dead Sea Scrolls were written, which in 1947–1956 were
found in caves in Qumran near the Dead Sea. The scrolls
include text fragments of Bible texts in Hebrew. They
are of great interest to research as they are almost a
thousand years older than other manuscripts of the
The Romans invade Jerusalem
Since the death of the Jewish sound king Herod of
Rome, his kingdom in 6 years after the birth of Christ
became a Roman province, Iudaea. It was subordinate to
the province of Syria but ruled by local administrators,
procurators. One of these was Pontius Pilate, the
governor who, according to the New Testament, made the
decision to crucify Jesus, because Jesus was perceived
as a savior. When the Jews tried to free themselves, the
Romans who punished the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD
destroyed only the Western Wall, the "Wailing Wall",
A Jewish sect recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the
Messiah - a leader who, promised by God, would have a
special mission for the people. The group gradually
separated from Judaism and began to be called Christians
after Jesus was executed.
After a new Jewish uprising in 132–135, almost all
Jews were evicted from the area, which the Romans from
now on called Syria Palaestina or Palestine alone. The
Romans made sure that non-Jewish colonists moved in.
From the 330s, Palestine was ruled from Christian
East Rome (Byzantium). Emperor Constantine had the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher erected, where Jesus' tomb
and Calvary, according to tradition, lay. From Europe,
Christian pilgrimages went to "the Holy Land."
A new world religion, Islam, and a new Arab empire
saw the light of day when Prophet Muhammad appeared on
the Arabian Peninsula. After Muhammad's death in 632,
his followers conquered Palestine, among other things.
Jerusalem came under Arab Islamic rule 638. In 691, the
Rock Mosque was built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,
where Solomon's Temple was located. South of the Rock
Mosque, al-Aqsa Mosque was erected. Since that time,
Jerusalem is considered Islam's third holiest place
after Mecca and Medina.
Under Arab rule, Christians and Jews lived as
protectionists under Islamic supremacy. Even in the 9th
century, Arabic-speaking Christians were the largest
ethnic group in Palestine. Through Islamic mission and
immigration, the Muslims gained the majority in the 11th
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Palestine was a scene
of war for crusaders, Turkish cellars and
Mongols. Through the crusades, which originated in
Europe, the Roman Catholic Church sought to restore
Christian control. The first crusade was preceded by an
Arab ruler in 1009 destroying the holiest site of
Christianity, the burial church in Jerusalem. The news
that the church was destroyed triggered mass hysteria
and bloody Jewish persecution in Europe, where Jews were
identified as accomplices. In 1099, Jerusalem was
conquered by Crusaders, mainly French, who bloodied
Muslims and Jews. The city became the center of the
Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem.
In 1187, the Crusaders were defeated by Saladin, a
Kurdish ruler who became the hunger of Egypt and Syria.
Saladin gave Christians access to the Holy Sepulcher. In
1291, Egyptian Mamluks, slave soldiers, expelled the
last Crusaders from Palestine.
The Ottoman Empire becomes a force of power
In 1517, Palestine was conquered by the Ottoman
Turks. Living conditions improved, but the four
centuries of Ottoman rule that followed became a period
of stagnation. "The Holy Land" was part of geographical
Greater Syria. The Turks entrusted much of the
administration to the local Arab elite, often landowners
living in the cities.
At the end of the 19th century, Zionism
emerged as a movement among Jews in Europe. The
nationalist revival that spread throughout Europe at
this time inspired the founder of Zionism Theodor Herzl
to the idea that the Jews should once again have their
own land. Zionism was also a reaction to growing
anti-Semitism and bloody Jewish persecution, pogroms,
especially in Russia. The first World Zionist Congress
was held in Basel in 1897. The goal was to establish a
Jewish "national home" in Palestine.
Before Palestine, fewer than 25,000 Jews lived in
Palestine before 1880. The first Jewish wave of
immigration came in the late 1800s. During the second
(1904-1914) a Jewish social life was built alongside the
Arab. Kibbutz, the collective agriculture, became a
symbol of Zionism and the idealistic socialism of the
During World War I, 1914-1918, Ottoman Turkey joined
Germany and Austria-Hungary. By promising independence
for the Arabs in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire,
British and French sought Arab support against the
Turks. But the British's promises to the Arabs were
British support for national homes
In 1916, the British and French signed an agreement,
the Sykes-Picot agreement, to divide the
region. Greater Syria and Iraq were divided into French
and British spheres of influence, while Palestine would
be placed under international administration. In 1917,
the British conquered Palestine from the Turks. In the
Balfour Declaration the same year, Britain
pledged to assist the Zionist movement in establishing a
Jewish national home in Palestine. The United Kingdom
thus pursued conflicting policies.
The Balfour declaration aroused strong reactions
among the Arabs of Palestine. Palestinian nationalism
began to emerge, first among the land-owning elite. The
dominant view was initially that Palestine would be part
of a major Syrian state formation.
In 1922, Palestine became a British mandate
under the United Nations' forerunner, the League of
Nations. The mandate included what is currently Israel,
the West Bank and Gaza, and a larger area east of the
Jordan River. This area was separated from the mandate
in 1921 and proclaimed to the emirate of Transjordan
Jewish immigration continued and accelerated in
connection with Hitler-Germany's persecution of Jews in
the 1930s. In Palestine, tensions between Jews and Arabs
The Arab discontent resulted in an Islamic-inspired
rebellion in 1936–1939. The British fought the revolt
with hard methods. Immigration declined for a time and
Jewish land purchases were limited, but unrest
intensified with violence from both sides. Terror was
also directed at the British mandate regime.
Gradually two economies were built up, one Jewish and
one Arab. The Jewish community building had active
support in the British administration. When the Second
World War ended in 1945, the Jewish community in
Palestine was already a form of state formation with
control over the economy, health care, education and its
own military organization, Haganah.