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History: the Creation of Israel

22 Feb 2017History Essays

For thousands of years, the small nation of Israel has been the site of countless wars between people who claim, for many different reasons, the land as their own. The struggle persists up to this day, and blood continues to spill over what the world considers its Holy Land. The reasons for generations of bloodshed over the nation of Israel includes Israel’s Biblical past, the diaspora, the homecoming of Jews to Israel, the Holy Wars triggered by the creation of the Israeli state, and the state of Israel in today’s Arabic world.

When evaluating Israel’s history, it is important to study the account of Israel given in the Bible. This Holy text recounts Israel’s deepest history, her people’s period of slavery in Egypt, her beginnings as separate tribes in the Promised Land, and the uniting of these tribes under a monarchy. (Wood, 3) Fortunately, Biblical accounts of Israel are supported by archaeological data, which makes the information in the Bible historically valid and reliable.

Israel is considered the Chosen Land for the Chosen People. In the Bible, the land that is Israel was promised by God as reward for Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience to His word. Abraham is considered the Father of the. Jewish Nation, and his descendants were the direct beneficiary of God’s covenant with him. However, according to the Bible, the journey to the Promised Land would not be easy; it was wrought with much pain and sacrifice. For generations, the descendants of Abraham were slaves to the Egyptians. Still, they held fast to God’s word, and when they were finally freed from slavery by Moses, the people of Israel began their exodus from Egypt into Canaan, the land that God had chosen for them.

After a generation of wandering, the Jews finally arrived at Canaan. There, they settled as separate tribes, but were eventually unified under one king. Israel’s first king was Saul, but the greatest king was David. After a succession of kings, the children of Israel were banished by God because of their sins. Muslims came to invade the land, claiming it as their own spiritual center. Thus, the Jewish nation lost their Promised Land once again.

After losing their homeland, Jews scattered all over the world. This dispersion was called the Diaspora, and has deeper meanings than mere physical separation or migration to other countries. The Diaspora is meant to remind the Jews that they are meant to be together in Israel as God intended and promised. Thus the desire to return to their spiritual land abided even after thousands of years of Diaspora. This longing to return to Israel was made more acute by the persecution of Jews in almost every place they sought refuge. While there were isolated pockets of stability, the attempt to settle elsewhere was generally a failure, and the Jews took this as a sign that it was time to return home.

A hundred years after the Christian Crusades, Jews began to return to Israel in small numbers. Israel then was under Muslim rule, as it had stood when the Crusades failed to retake the land for the Pope. During this time Israel was called Palestine to make the distinction from Jewish Israel. For hundreds of years, Jews made their way back to the Promised Land, strengthened only by their faith in God that He would soon restore them to their land.

Over the passage of many generations, the number of Jews returning to Israel continued to grow. Finally by the end of the nineteenth century, the population of Jews in Palestine was large enough to exert some pressure over the government then in power. Bernard Lewis writes that “In the last quarter of the nineteenth century…a number of young Jews arrived in Palestine from Eastern Europe, [inspired by] Zionism.” (Lewis, 16) In 1897, the First Zionist Congress was convened. This Congress formally declared the intention to establish a Jewish state within Palestine that would be recognized by the international community.

This move was supported by Britain and the United States, who declared their approval of the creation of an independent Jewish state. The British called the project to bring Jews back to their Holy Land “National Home for the Jews”. (Lewis, 17) However, the declaration did not lead to the strengthening in power or in numbers in Israel, as the influx of Jews slowed down in the early twentieth century. A resurgence of Jewish repatriation occurred in the 1940’s after millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust. The unspeakable horror wrought upon the Jews by Nazi Germany solidified their resolve to build their own country and galvanized support from the international community.

After World War II, the United Nations declared that Palestine be split in two, with one half for Arab or Muslim settlers, and one for the Jews. As expected, the Arab world raised their objections against the division. Violence erupted immediately after this announcement and continued unabated until David Ben-Gurion, in accordance with the UN Partition Plan, declared independence for the Jewish nation and the creation of the State of Israel in May 14, 1948.

Right after the creation of the Israeli state, neighboring Arab countries surrounded Israel and attacked from all sides. Lewis tells that “the struggle for Palestine was now an Israel-Arab war”. (Lewis, 32) This sentiment has flavored all subsequent struggles with and by Israel within the Arab world, and although not many issues unite many Arab nations, a mutual distaste for Israel pervades. With sheer resolve to defend their homeland, the fledgling nation of Israel with an inexperienced army was able to repel the invading forces. In fact, the Israeli army went so far as advancing their forces, and occupying territories outside their mandated boundaries; this included most of the land allocated for the Arabs under the Partition Plan, and half of Jerusalem, which was supposed to be a UN-controlled city. A ceasefire was successfully negotiated with current occupation defining the new boundaries of Israel. As a result of the Arab invasion, Israel now straddles a land much bigger than what was given to them in the UN Partition Plan.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from both fronts resulted from this war of Israeli independence. The Jewish refugees who had been expelled from Arab lands continued to flock to Israel, while Arab refugees displaced by the Israeli territorial expansion continued to settle along the border in UN-sanctioned refugee camps. To the present day, Jews and Arabs trapped in the dangerous conflict zones pray for safe passage when travel is necessary.

Arabs and Jews stare at each other across the border in an uneasy truce. Lasting peace seems to be an elusive dream as extremists from both sides threaten war at any time. The struggle for control over the land of Israel has created a deep and far-reaching conflict that affects the entire world. Arab terrorists have in the past attacked the United States and Britain for their staunch support of Israel and other measures of retaliation have been both bloody and painful.

The question of the legitimacy of the state of Israel as well as the relations between Israel and the remainder of the Arab world affect not only Arab politics, however, but those of the world. A conflict that has lasted for more generations than an Israeli can remember threatens to boil long into the future. From Biblical times to the twenty-first century, Israel remains favored as Holy Land by different faiths, and stands as an enigmatic statue to the perseverance of faith.

References

  • Lewis, Bernard. The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. New York: Scribner, 1996. 16-17.
  • Wood, James. A Survey of Israel's History. Zondervan. 1986. 3.

For thousands of years, the small nation of Israel has been the site of countless wars between people who claim, for many different reasons, the land as their own. The struggle persists up to this day, and blood continues to spill over what the world considers its Holy Land. The reasons for generations of bloodshed over the nation of Israel includes Israel’s Biblical past, the diaspora, the homecoming of Jews to Israel, the Holy Wars triggered by the creation of the Israeli state, and the state of Israel in today’s Arabic world.

When evaluating Israel’s history, it is important to study the account of Israel given in the Bible. This Holy text recounts Israel’s deepest history, her people’s period of slavery in Egypt, her beginnings as separate tribes in the Promised Land, and the uniting of these tribes under a monarchy. (Wood, 3) Fortunately, Biblical accounts of Israel are supported by archaeological data, which makes the information in the Bible historically valid and reliable.

Israel is considered the Chosen Land for the Chosen People. In the Bible, the land that is Israel was promised by God as reward for Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience to His word. Abraham is considered the Father of the Jewish Nation, and his descendants were the direct beneficiary of God’s covenant with him. However, according to the Bible, the journey to the Promised Land would not be easy; it was wrought with much pain and sacrifice. For generations, the descendants of Abraham were slaves to the Egyptians. Still, they held fast to God’s word, and when they were finally freed from slavery by Moses, the people of Israel began their exodus from Egypt into Canaan, the land that God had chosen for them.

After a generation of wandering, the Jews finally arrived at Canaan. There, they settled as separate tribes, but were eventually unified under one king. Israel’s first king was Saul, but the greatest king was David. After a succession of kings, the children of Israel were banished by God because of their sins. Muslims came to invade the land, claiming it as their own spiritual center. Thus, the Jewish nation lost their Promised Land once again.

After losing their homeland, Jews scattered all over the world. This dispersion was called the Diaspora, and has deeper meanings than mere physical separation or migration to other countries. The Diaspora is meant to remind the Jews that they are meant to be together in Israel as God intended and promised. Thus the desire to return to their spiritual land abided even after thousands of years of Diaspora. This longing to return to Israel was made more acute by the persecution of Jews in almost every place they sought refuge. While there were isolated pockets of stability, the attempt to settle elsewhere was generally a failure, and the Jews took this as a sign that it was time to return home.

A hundred years after the Christian Crusades, Jews began to return to Israel in small numbers. Israel then was under Muslim rule, as it had stood when the Crusades failed to retake the land for the Pope. During this time Israel was called Palestine to make the distinction from Jewish Israel. For hundreds of years, Jews made their way back to the Promised Land, strengthened only by their faith in God that He would soon restore them to their land.

Over the passage of many generations, the number of Jews returning to Israel continued to grow. Finally by the end of the nineteenth century, the population of Jews in Palestine was large enough to exert some pressure over the government then in power. Bernard Lewis writes that “In the last quarter of the nineteenth century…a number of young Jews arrived in Palestine from Eastern Europe, [inspired by] Zionism.” (Lewis, 16) In 1897, the First Zionist Congress was convened. This Congress formally declared the intention to establish a Jewish state within Palestine that would be recognized by the international community.

This move was supported by Britain and the United States, who declared their approval of the creation of an independent Jewish state. The British called the project to bring Jews back to their Holy Land “National Home for the Jews”. (Lewis, 17) However, the declaration did not lead to the strengthening in power or in numbers in Israel, as the influx of Jews slowed down in the early twentieth century. A resurgence of Jewish repatriation occurred in the 1940’s after millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust. The unspeakable horror wrought upon the Jews by Nazi Germany solidified their resolve to build their own country and galvanized support from the international community.

After World War II, the United Nations declared that Palestine be split in two, with one half for Arab or Muslim settlers, and one for the Jews. As expected, the Arab world raised their objections against the division. Violence erupted immediately after this announcement and continued unabated until David Ben-Gurion, in accordance with the UN Partition Plan, declared independence for the Jewish nation and the creation of the State of Israel in May 14, 1948.

Right after the creation of the Israeli state, neighboring Arab countries surrounded Israel and attacked from all sides. Lewis tells that “the struggle for Palestine was now an Israel-Arab war”. (Lewis, 32) This sentiment has flavored all subsequent struggles with and by Israel within the Arab world, and although not many issues unite many Arab nations, a mutual distaste for Israel pervades. With sheer resolve to defend their homeland, the fledgling nation of Israel with an inexperienced army was able to repel the invading forces. In fact, the Israeli army went so far as advancing their forces, and occupying territories outside their mandated boundaries; this included most of the land allocated for the Arabs under the Partition Plan, and half of Jerusalem, which was supposed to be a UN-controlled city. A ceasefire was successfully negotiated with current occupation defining the new boundaries of Israel. As a result of the Arab invasion, Israel now straddles a land much bigger than what was given to them in the UN Partition Plan.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from both fronts resulted from this war of Israeli independence. The Jewish refugees who had been expelled from Arab lands continued to flock to Israel, while Arab refugees displaced by the Israeli territorial expansion continued to settle along the border in UN-sanctioned refugee camps. To the present day, Jews and Arabs trapped in the dangerous conflict zones pray for safe passage when travel is necessary.

Arabs and Jews stare at each other across the border in an uneasy truce. Lasting peace seems to be an elusive dream as extremists from both sides threaten war at any time. The struggle for control over the land of Israel has created a deep and far-reaching conflict that affects the entire world. Arab terrorists have in the past attacked the United States and Britain for their staunch support of Israel and other measures of retaliation have been both bloody and painful.

The question of the legitimacy of the state of Israel as well as the relations between Israel and the remainder of the Arab world affect not only Arab politics, however, but those of the world. A conflict that has lasted for more generations than an Israeli can remember threatens to boil long into the future. From Biblical times to the twenty-first century, Israel remains favored as Holy Land by different faiths, and stands as an enigmatic statue to the perseverance of faith.

References

  • Lewis, Bernard. The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. New York: Scribner, 1996. 16-17.
  • Wood, James. A Survey of Israel's History. Zondervan. 1986. 3.

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