A (Very) Brief History

 

Roots of Zionism

Jews have been persecuted throughout history, but the worst perpetrators of violence and terror were, by far, Christian Europeans. This culminated in the Holocaust, the impact of which can still be felt today.

Long before the Holocaust, however, there was a surge of nationalism throughout Europe and Jewish leaders began to look for a homeland. While Palestine was the preferred option, other nations, including Argentina, Uganda, and Egypt. In other words, the driving force for the creation of the state of Israel was not religious, but political.

Occupation by Foreign Powers

The Ottoman Empire ruled the region of Palestine for four hundred years before collapsing in 1917. The British took over rule in Palestine after World War I, but after World War II, the British needed to rebuild on the home front and announced their intent to withdraw from Palestine. By that time, Zionists had gained popular and political support in Great Britain for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In addition, Jewish immigration into the region had increased in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and these new settlers began to organize their resources. As the British prepared to withdraw, the United Nations announced a plan for the region: Partition.

Partition and Al-Nakba

The UN's Partition plan divided Palestine into an Israeli state and an Arab state, with a small internationally governed area that included Jerusalem. In mid-May, 1948, Israel declared independence and was immediately invaded by surrounding Arab nations. Israel defeated this attack, securing additional land beyond the 1948 partition borders, with Jordan and Egypt taking over the West Bank and the Gaza strip

The day after Israel celebrates their independence, Palestine marks Al-Nakba (the Catastrophe): 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes or fled from the military forces of the newly established Israeli state. Seventy years later, more than four million people (the original refugees and their descendants) are still refugees, with more than one million living in camps. The region has been marked by conflict since the Partition, including a war in 1967, which expelled Jordan and Egypt from the land and installed Israel as the occupying power.

 

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