Israel Short History, part 5: Modern Times
Only in the 20th century the Holy Land will change religious hands again. During the First World War the British respond to a Turkish attempt to conquer the Suez Canal, and conquer the Holy land. They rule mostly over Muslim population, but also over an old\ new rising ethnic factor – the Jews..
Remember the Jews?? 90 generations after they were expelled from Jerusalem, in the 19th century they start coming back, motivated to recreate Jewish life here in the Holy land. The Muslims oppose to this and set occasional pogroms against the Jews and riots against the British.
By 1947 the British are fed up trying control the two rivaling forces and decide to bail out. “let the world decide what will be the fate of this land. We’re moving out”. The UN sends a special delegation which scouts the land, and concludes the Jews and Arabs can’t get along, and they recommend what? – to split the Holy Land. Make part of it Jewish and part of it Muslim. This recommendation is approved in the historical vote of the UN in November 29th, 1947. What is the Jewish reaction to this decision? They rejoice!. They dance in the streets!. After nearly 2000 years they are entitled to rule independently!. They will no longer be a minority in the mercy of others!. The recent calamity of the Holocaust demonstrated just how important it is.
What is the reaction of the Arab world to this decision? “no split, no compromise, no approval for a Jewish state”. The very next Jewish buses were shot by Arabs. The Jews were forced into a long and bitter war which lasted one year, three months and ten days, and lost 1% of their population ( in today’s terms in the USA that would mean loosing over 3 million people!!). And at some stage all the neighboring Arab countries joined the local Palestinians and simultaneously attacked us from all frontiers (!). If you had to bet, who do think won?
The Jews call this war “the war of Independence“, because against all odds, they managed hold against the attack of the Arab world, and create the independent state, the state of Israel. How do the Palestinians call this war? “the Nakba” – “the disaster”, because they bitterly lost, and as it turns out, instead of helping them, some Arab countries grabbed the opportunity, and annexed Palestinian territory to be under their control. The Egyptians took over the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanians took over the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), including eastern Jerusalem and its old city.
The 1948 war may have ended, but the Isreali-Arab conflict is still much alive. Most of the Arab world still doesn’t recognize the existence of the state of Israel, and every 6-7 years the conflict escalates to a war: 1956 – “operation Kadesh“; 1967 – “The Six Day war“; 1973 – “Yom Kippur war“; 1982 – “First Lebanon war“; 1987 – outbreak of the “first Intifiada“; 1991 – “The Gulf War“; 2000 – outbreak of the “Second Intifada“; 2006 – “Second Lebanon war“. You see the pattern?..
Optimism is a key factor for living in Israel, and so is ingenuity. “The promised land” is actually very poor in resources, and as it turns out the most valuable resource of the state is – Jewish brains. Israel has seven universities; it has the biggest development investment in the world compared to its size; it is the biggest water recycling country in the world, and the biggest cutting diamonds industry in the world; it is the fourth largest manufacturer of military equipment in the world; and it has the second largest high-tech industry in the world. Israel has many R&D centers, of the biggest high-tech companies in the world, and is so known for its various startups, that is often called “The Start up Nation“. Drip irrigation; Disk on Key; “Waze“; “Checkpoint“, and “Mobileye” are just some of the products inveneted and developed in Israel.
Long Live Israel!
Read Our Take on the Rest of the History of the Holy Land –
- Israel Historical Introduction, Part 1: Canaanite and Israelite Periods
- Israel Historical Introduction, Part 2: The Second Temple Period
- Israel Historical Introduction, Part 3: Roman and Byzantine Periods
- Israel Historical Introduction, part 4: The Crusades and the Islamic Periods
- Israel Historical Introduction, part 5: Modern Times