Independence Day, Israel.
“He will raise a flag among the nations for Israel to rally around. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 11:12 (NLT)
“Who has ever seen or heard of anything as strange as this? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, the baby will be born; the nation will come forth.” Isaiah 66:8 (NLT)
“‘But the time is coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.” Jeremiah 16:14-15 (NLT)
War and rumors of war were daily news. Reports were starting to flood in about the extermination of the Jews under Adolph Hitler, but we were yet to know the full extent of the atrocities. Most outside of Germany were not familiar with the Mein Kampf which was authored by Adolph Hitler nor did we know the just how deep the hatred of all that was Jew that existed in Germany. It was not until late in the war, when extermination camps were discovered, that the full extent of the atrocities committed by the Nazi Army came to light. It would be years after the war when the world would know just how many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Germans and it would shake the world to its core.
Going back to the early 1900’s up until the end of World War Two, no one would have believed that the small area between Syria and Egypt would soon be the free nation of Israel. If someone would have stood up and proclaimed that on May 14, 1948, Israel would proclaim its independence, they would have been laughed out of town. But this is what was to occur thanks to the massive effort starting in 1881 called the First Aliyah. Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl created the first real movement to create the state of Israel and was influential in starting what would become the pilgrimage of scattered Israelis back to the area of their ancestors. Most of these immigrants during these times came from Russia and were escaping pogroms that were occurring in many areas of the world. The number of settlers during these years are up for argument, although some put the number to be around 30,000 or so.
It was not until the Second Aliyah that a foundation started to form for the Israeli people in that area. The second Aliyah began around 1904 and it saw around 40,000 Jews make the move back to their ancestry land. While about half of these new immigrants turned around and left by 1914, the ones who had stayed began to form the basis of what would become the state of Israel. During both of the Aliyah movements, a vast majority of the new settlers were Orthodox Jews, but in the second Aliyah, social pioneers made up a large portion of the immigrants. These social pioneers established the Kibbutz movement that in turned created social environments dedicated to establishing communities of self sufficient Israelis. It was also during these years that the Israeli Legion was formed and would end up aiding the British in defeating Palestine.
Due to strong Arab protests over the invasion of Palestine, in 1920 Arab Riots began and to counter these issues, the Haganah was formed. The creation of the Haganah would end up being the most important act in the young countries existence because the creation of Haganah resulted in troops trained to defend the young state and this would be key in a few years.
The Third and Fourth Aliyahs occurred during the years 1919-1929 and brought around 100,000 Jews to what would become the state of Israel. While the Third and Fourth were not the key movements, they were important due to the large amount of educated and skilled Jews that moved to the area bringing with them key skills that allowed for the building of key aspects of society that would allow Israel to be self sufficient. But the largest influx of Israeli settlers would come due to the rise of Nazi Germany and the persecution that occurred. With the Fifth Aliyah, nearly a quarter of a million Jews immigrated to the area. It was due to this large immigration that the Arab states of that area became violent and worried. The Arab Revolt started in 1936 and while during most of the first year it remained non violent, the revolt had the British worried. When the revolt became violent in 1937, the British forces along with the Palestinian Police took action finally ending the revolt in 1939. The British powers deemed the immigration by the Jews as being dangerous to the stability of the region so they signed the White Paper act into law in 1939. This act basically made it illegal for new Jewish immigrants to enter the region no matter the reason. The problem with the act was that millions of Jews were escaping Nazi territory only to be turned away by neighboring countries leaving them without a place to go. It was because of this environment that the Aliyah Bet was formed in order to smuggle displaced Jews and those who were able to escape the Nazi’s attempts to exterminate the Jewish population into the region. The secret Aliyah Bet were able to get most of these Jews into the region and actually increased the entire Jewish population by almost 33%. Many of these incoming Jews were trained in military arts and had been soldiers themselves. Many of these new immigrants joined with already formed defense groups and were even able to instruct these groups in the newest technologies of war. This would be vital to the saving of the young Jewish nation in 1948.
By the end of the Fifth Aliyah, the Jewish settlement had grown weary of the British rule and the belief that the British were unwilling to grant the Jews their own separate nation. In 1945, all the defense groups of Israel joined forces to fight the British and to force them out of the area. This conflict came to a head in 1947 when the British backed out of the Mandate of Palestine and stated they did so because they could not find a solution to both sides of the Arab Jew conflict. While the British were backing off from forcing a solution for the conflict, the Newly formed United Nations was being lobbied by both the Jews and the United States to create a new resolution granting the Jews their own state. The effort was successful and on November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 granting the Jews their own nation separate from the Palestinian state. The Jews accepted this proposal almost immediately and just as quickly the Arab League rejected it. On December 1, 1947, the Arab Higher Committee announced a strike and within hours, the Jews were being attacked. Civil war had broke out and the end result was 250,000 Palestinians were ejected from the newly formed Jewish state.
On May 14, 1948, the newly formed Jewish state announced to the world its independence and named its new country, Medinat Yisrael, or the State of Israel. Just one day later the Arab countries of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attacked Israel in what would be known as the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. This war would last for years and would eventually lead to a cease fire agreement, albeit a temporary one, and a division of the country known as the Green line. While this was not the final battle that would be waged, it was the first test of the young countries abilities to defend its borders against its enemies. While this war was raging, nearly one year to the day later, the state of Israel was accepted to to the United Nations as a member by majority vote on May 11, 1949. It was at this moment that the nation of Israel was reaffirmed and solidified.
Many more conflicts and wars would occur over nearly the next 30 years including a key war called the Six Day conflict. It was during this war that Israel took control over key points in West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, and Jerusalem’s boundaries were enlarged, incorporating East Jerusalem and the Western Wall. In 1977, the Knesset elections occurred which marked the changing point in the history of the Jewish nation and would bring about the end of conflicts between the state of Israel and its Arab neighbors. For the first time in the history of Israel, the head of state of an Arab nation recognized the right of Israel to be a state. Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset announcing his recognition of Israel and its right to be sovereign. This act was key to ending the hostilities between Israel and the Arab League.
Since the announcement, Israel has not faced an attack from its Arab neighbors although it was not an end to hostilities or the tacit support of hostilities by some Arab nations. The ongoing hostilities have originated from Palestinian terrorist and other similar terrorist groups, not the Arab nations directly.
While many nations and groups had a hand in creating the state of Israel, it was the direct support and involvement of the United States that was the biggest factor in not only the creation of the state of Israel, but its recognition as a sovereign state by the world and the United Nations. This original effort from the United States has lead to years of a close friendship between the two nations and has been a tremendous benefit to both countries. The creation of the state of Israel and the bond between our countries is quite intriguing and worth the effort to learn about the history of the Israeli nation and our mutual friendship. I hope these videos get your curiosity peaked and you look further into the history of Israel.