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What were the sources of Jewish immigration to Israel between 1939-1951?

What were the sources of Jewish immigration to Israel between 1939-1951?


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Which countries did Israeli Jews emigrate from in 1939-1951 ? This table is incomplete (for example, it only shows the origin of ~3000 in 1948). Is better data available (preferably online) ?


Generally, it used to divide the immigration to Israel into "waves"(free translation from Hebrew). during this year, 1939 to 1951, it used to include three waves:

  1. Aliya Bet(free translation: Immigration 2nd) during WW2 Included ~17,000 immigrants, most of them Europeans.
  2. Aliya Bet after WW2 Included ~85,000 immigrants, most of them Europeans
  3. The mass "Aliya" since Israeli independence(May '48) to 1951 Included ~650,000 immigrants from many countries; as Iraq(20%),Romania(19%), Poland(17%), Yemen(8%), Morocco(7%), Bulgaria(6%), Turkey(%), Libya(5%) and Iran, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Egypt, USSR, Yugoslavia(all of them 3% or less). Reference for these data can be found here(In Hebrew)

In 1917 Chaim Weizmann, scientist, statesperson, and Zionist, persuaded the British government to issue a statement favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The statement, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, was, in part, payment to the Jews for their support of the British against the Turks during World War I. After the war, the League of Nations ratified the declaration and in 1922 appointed Britain to rule Palestine.

This course of events caused Jews to be optimistic about the eventual establishment of a homeland. Their optimism inspired the immigration to Palestine of Jews from many countries, particularly from Germany when Nazi persecution of Jews began. The arrival of many Jewish immigrants in the 1930s awakened Arab fears that Palestine would become a national homeland for the Jews. By 1936, guerrilla fighting had broken out between the Jews and the Arabs. Unable to maintain peace, Britain issued a white paper in 1939 that restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine. The Jews, feeling betrayed, bitterly opposed the policy and looked to the United States for support.

While President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared to be sympathetic to the Jewish cause, his assurances to the Arabs that the United States would not intervene without consulting both parties caused public uncertainty about his position. When Harry S. Truman took office, he made clear that his sympathies were with the Jews and accepted the Balfour Declaration, explaining that it was in keeping with former President Woodrow Wilson's principle of "self-determination." Truman initiated several studies of the Palestine situation that supported his belief that, as a result of the Holocaust, Jews were oppressed and also in need of a homeland. Throughout the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the Departments of War and State, recognizing the possibility of a Soviet-Arab connection and the potential Arab restriction on oil supplies to this country, advised against U.S. intervention on behalf of the Jews.

Britain and the United States, in a joint effort to examine the dilemma, established the "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry." In April 1946, the committee submitted ten recommendations covering topics such as "The European Problem," "Refugee Immigration Into Palestine," "Principles of Government," "United Nations Trusteeship," "Equality of Standards," "Land Policy," "Economic Development," "Education," and "The Need for Peace in Palestine."

British, Arab, and Jewish reactions to the recommendations were not favorable. Jewish attacks in Palestine antagonized the British, and by February 1947, Arab-Jewish communications had collapsed. Britain, anxious to rid itself of the problem, set the United Nations in motion, formally requesting on April 2, 1947, that the U.N. General Assembly set up the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). This committee recommended that the British mandate over Palestine be ended and that the territory be partitioned into two states. Jewish reaction was mixed — some wanted control of all of Palestine others realized that partition spelled hope for their dream of a homeland.

The Arabs were not at all agreeable to the UNSCOP plan. In October, the Arab League Council directed the governments of its member states to move troops to the Palestine border. Meanwhile, President Truman instructed the State Department to support the U.N. plan, and, reluctantly it did so. On November 29, 1947, the partition plan was passed by the U.N. General Assembly.

President Truman recognized the provisional Jewish government as the de facto authority of the Jewish State on May 14, 1948. The U.S. delegates to the U.N. and top-ranking State Department officials were angered that Truman released his recognition statement to the press without notifying them first. On May 15, 1948, the first day of Israeli Independence and exactly one year after UNSCOP was established, Arab armies invaded Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war began.

This text was adapted from the article:

"Key Press Release on the Recognition of the State of Israel." Social Education 42, 6 (October 1978): 469.

/> Materials created by the National Archives and Records Administration are in the public domain.


20th-century Jewish Immigration

All U.S. history textbooks cover the great wave of immigration that brought approximately 25 million people to America from 1880—1924. These immigrants came from many places and for many reasons, and most narratives provide adequate coverage of the push and pull factors behind decisions to emigrate, the difficult journey, and the struggle to adapt to a new country. Textbooks provide a fairly standard account of chain migration, the creation of ethnic urban neighborhoods, the Americanization movement, and the ultimately successful nativist campaigns for restrictive immigration legislation. A closer examination of one group during this period allows for a deeper look at the causes and consequences of immigration. Eastern European Jews are often mentioned in textbook accounts as examples of the new religious groups entering the U.S., as frequent participants in the labor activism that characterized industrial development, and as significant contributors to popular American culture, especially through music and movies. Several other significant elements of the Jewish immigrant experience, however, receive little attention. A closer look sheds light on the complicated nature of turn-of-the-century immigration to America.

When the nearly 2.5 million Eastern European Jews (along with significant numbers of central and western European Jews and some Sephardic Jews from the Ottoman Empire) arrived in the U.S., they joined a population of some 250,000 Jews already living in America. Some of these families lived in America for decades and even generations. Although the primarily Yiddish culture, greater propensity toward radical politics, and somewhat more traditional religious orientation of many of the new arrivals would transform the character of American Jewry, interaction between the groups did so as well. In both a genuine, massive effort to help their fellow Jews and an attempt to ward off increased anti-Semitism, the established Jewish community created an unprecedented network of benevolent societies, settlement houses, educational facilities, and charitable organizations to aid the new Jewish immigrants. The resulting network of communal agencies became models of the new field of social work for all Americans during the Progressive Era and beyond. Jewish women played a key role in these endeavors through such organizations as the National Council of Jewish Women and synagogue sisterhoods (see Primary Source National Council of Jewish Women [1926]). There was considerable tension between those who demanded instantaneous Americanization of everything from ritual practice to foodways and those who insisted on a more gradual acculturation, but a shared wellspring of religious and cultural traditions helped keep even the most contentious elements of the American Jewish community intertwined in some ways.

One example is the 1910 Protocol of Peace that ended a nationally significant strike within the heavily Jewish garment industry in New York (see Primary Source The Protocol of Peace [1910]). This agreement was negotiated and signed by Jewish communal leaders and lawyers who represented both Jewish garment manufacturers and factory owners and Jewish workers and labor activists. American Jewish history thus provides a test case for the question of how different the experiences of the “old” and “new” immigrants actually were, with a growing number of historians convinced that the period between 1820 and 1924 should be seen as a continuous century of American Jewish migration with more structural similarities than discontinuities.


History Crash Course #63: Modern Zionism

Herzl launched the political framework for the modern State of Israel.

We cannot study Zionism without studying Theodor Benyamin Ze'ev Herzl (1860-1904).

We already saw in Part 59, as a correspondent during the Alfred Dreyfus affair, he was shocked to hear the civilized French screaming "Death to the Jews!" He determined then and there that the solution to anti-Semitism was the establishment of a Jewish national state. He wrote a book about it, entitled Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State") in which he described his vision for a Jewish homeland.

Although Zionism was not his invention, Herzl became the driving force of the movement. There were several factors that made him the ideal leader:

  • he was from Western Europe (as opposed to Eastern Europe) ― a part of the world considered to be more enlightened
  • he was very well educated (PhD in Law &ndashUniversity of Vienna)
  • he was a well-known journalist who could write and speak well
  • he was well-off and politically well connected (married into a prominent Austrian-Jewish family)
  • he had a charismatic presence and a striking appearance

Even though he was raised as assimilated Jew, woefully ignorant of the religion of his forefathers, the anti-Semitism of Vienna and the Dreyfus affair had a powerful impact on him. He became obsessed with Zionism and relentlessly though out Europe, meeting many heads-of-state, in his attempt to gain support for a Jewish state.

In 1896 he published the book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question) which gained him much notoriety and transformed him into a leading personality in the Zionist movement. In 1897, on August 29th, Herzl convened the First Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland. Present were 197 delegates from 16 countries who formed the initial Zionist policy. This gathering proved a major event in the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

Afterward Herzl wrote in his diary:

Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in one word which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly, it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. Perhaps in five years but certainly in 50 everyone will know it. (See The Siege by Connor Cruise O'Brian.)

On May 14, 1948 ― 50 years and 9 months later, the State of Israel was founded.

Unfortunately, Herzl did not see it happen. He died at age 44 of a heart attack following the stormy controversy involving the proposal that the Jewish people make their home in Uganda. Herzl, who had provisionally supported the idea, settled the controversy convincing his detractors that he had remained faithful to Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. Thus, he safeguarded the unity of the Zionist movement, but his weak heart gave out in the process.

Herzl's is a tragic story. He died having given his life for the cause and he died bankrupt having spent all his money on his cause and leaving his family life and marriage in turmoil.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of his life was that he left no descendants to carry on after him. His wife Julia, who he was estranged from, died at age 35. His three children ― Pauline, Hans and Trude ― all died tragically. Pauline became a drug addict and died in France. Hans, after becoming Catholic, shot himself on the day of Pauline's funeral. Trude Margarethe, who was mentally ill, died at Theresienstadt at the hands of the Nazis. Herzl's only grandchild, Stephen Theodor (Trude's son), changed his name to Norman and committed suicide by jumping from a bridge in Washington D.C. in 1946.

Herzl was buried in Europe, but in 1949, after the state of Israel was declared, his body was disinterred and brought to Israel. He is buried in Jerusalem in a cemetery now known as Mount Herzl, where various heads of state and military heroes are also buried.

Of the key personalities at this time, we must mention three:

  • Chaim Weizmann (1874 to 1952)
  • David Ben-Gurion (1886 to 1973)
  • Asher Hersh Ginsberg (1856 to 1927)

Weizmann was a Russian-born chemist, who early on in his youth became associated with the group Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion"). After Herzl's death in 1904 he became the de facto leader of the Zionist Movement.

Interestingly, Weizmann invented artificial acetone, the chief ingredient in gunpowder, in 1915 in the middle of World War I. His invention enabled the British to mass-produce gunpowder for the war effort.

Because of this, he became friendly with Arthur Balfour, the foreign secretary of England. Balfour, who in 1917 promised British support for a national homeland for Jews in Palestine, said that acetone converted him to Zionism. (We will discuss the Balfour Declaration in the next installment.)

David Ben-Gurion was born David Gruen in Plonsk, Poland. A very significant personality, he was small in stature but a real powerhouse. Although he came from a religious family which was fervently Zionistic, early on he, like most of the movements leadership, abandoned his religious roots.[1]

Ben-Gurion arrived in Israel in 1906 at age 20, working in the orange groves and in the wine cellars of the early settlements. He was active in the Po'alei Zion ("Workers of Zion"), but he took some controversial positions in his party ― such as that immigrants and settlers have the right to manage their own affairs without interference from the Diaspora, that immigrating to Israel was the obligation of every party member, and that Hebrew be the sole language of his party.

In that time, the land of Israel was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire and Ben-Gurion, who studied law in Constantinople for a while, favored loyalty to Turkey and adoption of Ottoman citizenship for Jews. However, when World War I broke out and the Turks began to persecute Zionists, he ran into trouble with the authorities and was exiled. He went to New York where he founded the Ahdut ha-Avodah ("United Labor Party").

(The second part of Ben-Gurion's story ― when he returned to Israel to become the head of the Jewish Agency in 1935 and then the first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948 ― will be covered in the next installment.)

The third key personality was Asher Hersh Ginsberg, whose pen name was Ahad HaAm. He was originally one of the Maskilim who became disillusioned with their plan to acculturate the Jews to Eastern European society. He became the great intellectual leader of the early Zionist movement. His vision for the Jewish state was not as a refuge for the oppressed Jewry of the world, but rather a place where the modern Jew could create a new secular, progressive, "enlightened" state which would become the center of a new modern Jewish culture.

In 1897, he wrote in The Jewish State and The Jewish People:

Ginsberg personified the dominant element in the Zionist movement ― enlightened Jews who started out wanting to solve the problem of anti-Semitism by helping Jews to assimilate. Only later, when they found their efforts were futile ― in the face of terrible persecution which did not let up no matter how much the Jews tried to blend in ― did they turn to working for a Jewish homeland. Since many had been born into observant households and had had consciously left religion behind in the quest to assimilate, most carried their negative attitudes toward Judaism into their new Zionist ideology.

The key factor which shaped their worldview was a nationalism based not only on the notion of creating a physical Jewish homeland, but also of creating a new kind of Jew to build and maintain this homeland. Many of these early Zionist thinkers felt that centuries of ghettoization and persecution had robbed the Jews of their pride and strength. To build a homeland required a proud, self-sufficient Jew: a Jew who could farm, defend himself, and build the land.

The pious, poor, ghettoized Jew ― who presented a pathetic image of a man stooped over and always at the mercy of his persecutors ― had to be done away with. To build a state required something altogether different ― a "Hebrew." The early Zionists called themselves "Hebrews" and not Jews, and deliberately changed their German or Russian or Yiddish names to sound more Hebraic and nationalistic (for example, David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion. Shimon Persky became Shimon Perez). It was a deliberate attempt to create a totally new Jewish identity and rid themselves of any aspect of the religious, Diaspora Jewish identity. They believed that this new Jewish State, populated by fighting, farming Hebrews would revitalize the Jewish people, restore Jewish pride and put an end to anti-Semitism once and for all. While there is no doubt that the Jewish immigrants who created the modern Jewish state accomplished amazing feats against all odds ― Zionism has not proven to be the solution to anti-Semitism and ironically, today, the number one excuse for Jew hate in the world is Zionism and the State of Israel.

These early Zionist leaders knew of course that religion had preserved Jewish identity in the ghettos and shtetls of Europe, but in the modern Jewish state, they felt there would be no need for it. Of course the Bible would be used as a source of Jewish history and culture but there was no room for religion or ritual in the modern Jewish state.

The strong anti-religious attitude of much of the early Zionist leadership put them at complete odds with vast majority of the rabbinic leadership of Europe. Torah and mitzvoth (commandments) were the essence of what Judaism is all about and Jewish nation without these key ingredients would be a like a body without a soul. More than that, the Torah explicitly stated over and over again (Deut. 7:6-11 8:11-19 10:12-13 11:8-25, etc) that the whole ability to live and prosper in the land was dependent on the Jewish people keeping the Torah. How could a Zionist leadership that was largely anti-religious and bent on driving Jews away from Judaism possibly succeed in creating a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel? Rabbi Tzadik Hacohen Rabinowitz, who was known as the Tzadik of Lublin (1823-1900) typified this view:

The anti-religious sentiments within Zionism were not the only problem. As with the Reform Movement in Germany in the 19th century, the Zionist leadership often took an active role in trying to "help" new arrivals to Land of Israel assimilate into their new identity by actively seeking to separate Jews from Judaism and Jewish observance. This was often achieved by deliberately placing new immigrants, often Sefardic Jews, into secular environments such as anti-religious kibbutzim (collective farms). This led to the rapid secularization of a significant proportion of Jewish immigrants from Moslem countries that, having not experienced the European Enlightenment, had remained overwhelmingly observant, ironically, until their arrival in Israel.[3]

This conflict between the secular Zionist leadership and the rabbinic leadership of Europe lies at the heart of the secular-religious debate in modern Israel. This attitude of rejection of Zionism is the ideology of the vast majority of the haredi community in Israel today and is the central reason why the majority of Israel's "ultra-orthodox" community chooses not to participate in many of the institutions of State of Israel such as military service in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or to send their children to the state religious school system.[4]

While the majority of the Rabbis of Europe took a decidedly anti-Zionist stance, not all Orthodox Jews shared this attitude. There were numerous religious Zionists who were some of the fiercest fighters for returning to the land.

As we saw in Part 62, it was Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, one of the first religious Zionists from Poland, who heavily influenced Baron de Rothschild in supporting early settlements.

Another key figure was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), Torah scholar and Kabbalist, who arrived in Palestine in 1904 and was one of the leading Torah authorities in pre-state Palestine. He saw God's hand in the foundations laid by the secular Zionists and endeavored to work with them. He wrote the famous Orot ("Lights") about the holiness of the newborn nationalism. In 1921, he became the first chief rabbi of Palestine.

After the Fifth Zionist Congress in 1901, a group of religious Zionist, in an attempt to synthesize modern Jewish national with traditional Jewish identity founded the Mizrachi Movement in 1902 (an abbreviation for the words merkaz ruchani ― "spiritual center"). The Mizrachi manifesto stated:

Today the Mizrachi movement has evolved into the religious &ndashnationalist movement Israel, whose adherents wear knitted kippot (skullcaps) and comprise the vast majority of the religiously right-wing settler movement.

Reform Jews in America and Germany were very much opposed to Zionism.

German Reform Jews said: "The hope for national restoration [to Israel] contradicts our feelings for the fatherland [Germany]." And American Reform Jews said: "We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine. nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state. " (See Parts 54 and 58 for more on this subject.)

Second and Third Aliyah

Still, whatever the reaction of the Jewish world at large, Jews kept returning to Israel.

In the last installment we covered the first aliyah ― "ascent to the land" ― which brought 30,000 Jews to Israel between 1882 and 1891.

The second aliyah ― following the Kishinev Progrom on Easter 1903 (see Part 57) and following the first aborted Russian Revolution of 1905 ― brought another 40,000 Jews to Israel between 1904 and 1914.

The third aliyah ― following World War I and the Russian Revolution ― brought another 35,000 (between 1919 and 1923).

By this time, the dream of a Jewish homeland was no longer just a dream. It was becoming a reality as the victorious Allied Forces conquered the Ottoman Empire (which had picked the losing side in World War I) and the British took over control of the Middle East.

[1] Ben-Gurion's attitude toward religion and its place in the Jewish state could be categorized as hostile or at best ambivalent and many of his policies regarding dealing with new immigrants and army service were designed to push observant Jews towards dropping their observance. He could also take a harsh and event violently confrontational attitude toward political rivals such as toward Menachem Begin and the Irgun (the military wing of the break-away Revisionist Zionism Movement founded by Zev Jabotinsky in 1923) which culminated with Ben Gurion's order to sink the Altalena, an Irgun arms ship, off the coast of Tel Aviv on June 21, 1948. Sixteen Irgun members were killed in the incident which could have led to civil war.
[2] Paul Mendes-Flohr & Yehuda Reinharz ed., The Jew in the Modern World, (Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.544-545.
[3] The most ironic an interesting aspect of all of this is that in Israel today Zionism has largely disappeared as an ideology. (Less than 10% of secular Israeli characterize themselves as Zionist (The one big exception is the religious-nationalist camp of today which is the backbone of the settler movement). Religion and observance, on the other hand, are rapidly rising among the general population. The most recent survey done in 2007 shows that 30% of Israeli's characterize themselves as religiously observant and another 40 percent say they are traditional (not fully observant). Totally secular Jews are now the minority and truly anti-religious Jews are a very small percentage of the population. (The core of anti-religious sentiment in Israel today rest in a small but very powerful/influential Ashkenazi (Jews of Europen extraction) power elite who still largely control the courts, newspapers, TV, Radio, universities and the army.)
[4] Amongst the ultra-orthodox community in Israel today the attitude to towards the State of Israel varies from pragmatic (there are several ultra-orthodox parties in the Israeli political system) to total rejection of the system (The Satmar Hassidic movement is the best example).
[5] Paul Mendes-Flohr & Yehuda Reinharz ed., The Jew in the Modern World, (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 546.


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Zionism and Israel

Zionism is a political movement that was initiated in the late 19th century with the aim of actualizing the Jewish sense of peoplehood in a physical nation, leading to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Zionism today informs many Jews’ continued support and commitment to Israel.

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The Jewish tradition of peoplehood, in combination with the age-old yearning to return to Zion (the ancient Hebrew name for the holy mountaintop in Jerusalem), have produced the modern ideological movement of Jewish nationalism: Zionism. Its great achievement has been the establishment of a modern Jewish state in Israel. Zion came to symbolize the cherished homeland of Israel, and Zionism became the modern coinage for the new politics of Jewish national revival. Indeed, for many Jews, the modern rebirth of Israel is the fulfillment of centuries of remembrance. This remembrance is expressed in Psalm 137:

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there, we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
‘sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Every year, the ritual Passover seder concludes with the acclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Throughout Jewish history, the overwhelming majority of the global Jewish community has lived in the Diaspora, but Jews from around the world have made pilgrimages to Israel, and there has always been some Jewish presence in the land of Israel. As a religious movement, Zionism emerged from traditional Jewish commitments and religious passions. As a modern political ideology, Zionism can be described as the secularization of the religious value of Jewish peoplehood.

Yet Zionism and Israel arose from other historical factors as well. In the 19th century, following their civil emancipation, European Jews began to participate in the life of the greater society. Many enthusiastically adopted modern ideologies such as socialism and nationalism, and in so doing, began to critique traditional Jewish culture as the cause of Jewish societal disadvantage. Zionism thus arose first as a form of cultural assimilation: wishing to erase Jewish distinctiveness, it became a movement for the normalization of the Jews, namely as the desire to become like all other nations. At the same time, the modern world proved to be less than welcoming to them, and antisemitism made Jewish life difficult. In response to this challenging paradox, some Jews deemed emancipation through cultural assimilation a failure, and conceived plans to emancipate themselves through political self-determination and the establishment of a Jewish state.

The birth of “Political Zionism” is often dated to the 1896 publication of playwright and journalist Theodore Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”). An assimilated Austrian Jew, Herzl was shocked into recognizing the issues facing Jews in Europe by the antisemitic Dreyfus Affair, which saw French army captain Henry Dreyfus, a nominal Jew, tried and imprisoned in 1894 for selling French military secrets to the Germans, even though it became clear he was convicted on “evidence” of a forged document. Herzl’s timely manifesto motivated the convening of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. Subsequently, several waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine succeeded in creating a societal infrastructure of settlements there. The youthful immigrants included many pioneers of the Labor Zionist wing of the movement, who hoped to establish a new Jewish utopia based on communitarian and socialist ideals. These founders of the state were the predecessors of contemporary Israel’s Labor Party and other left-wing groups. Opposed to them were the more nationalistic and militarist Revisionists, predecessors of the modern right-wing Likud party.

Britain’s Balfour Declaration of 1917 gave Jews the world over hope for a state of their own. The British promise of statehood set off a renewed burst of political activity and Jewish immigration to Palestine, arousing the resentment and opposition of the native Arab population. Fearing greater hostility, the British government began to restrict Jewish immigration. The cause of Zionism then became the fight to subvert the British through illegal immigration and other underground activity. As matters worsened in Europe through the 1930s, the cause took on an ever greater sense of urgency.

In the years following the end of World War II, a series of dramatic political and military events led to the establishment of Israel: the United Nations partition plan of November 1947, the outbreak of the first Arab-Israeli war and Israel’s against-all-odds victory, the Declaration of Independence of the new state on May 14, 1948, and the United Nations’ vote of recognition in 1949. Yet these were only the highlight acts of a much greater Jewish moment.

The establishment of Israel was more than a political event it was a cultural watershed. One of the great achievements of the Zionist movement was the regeneration of the Hebrew language. For centuries, Hebrew had been preserved only as the classical language of the scriptures and the liturgy (siddur). Its revival as a modern, spoken language was nothing short of miraculous. When the exiles gathered in their newly established state, Jews from many nations found a common culture and a common language in place to welcome them. The establishment of Israel had at long last created a haven for Jews in danger. Holocaust survivors, Jews from Arab countries, Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and many other refugees found both safety and unity in the new homeland. Moreover, the creation of a modern Jewish state re-established the reciprocal relationship between the Diaspora and Israel that had existed in ancient times.

Now, as then, Jews around the world continue to live in their adopted countries while looking to Israel as their spiritual center. As the modernization of the Jewish value of peoplehood, Zionism provides complexity and multivalency to traditional Judaism while Israel provides a context for the flourishing of traditional Judaism. Contemporary Jews’ relationships with Israel are complex, particularly on the subjects of Israel’s foreign policy and recognition of Palestinian concerns in the region. Despite these concerns, Jews around the globe maintain a vibrant love of Jewish peoplehood and of religious life in Israel.


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France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States. Yet this historic community—dating back to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and expulsion of the Jewish population 2,000 years ago—is in the midst of an existential crisis.

France's interior minister has warned that anti-Jewish sentiment is "spreading like poison." President Emmanuel Macron declared that anti-Semitism was at its highest levels since World War II. Amidst a string of attacks, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe admitted that anti-Semitism is “deeply rooted in French society.”

Eighty-nine percent of Jewish students in France report experiencing anti-Semitic abuse, according to a poll published in March. In 2017, Jews were the target of nearly 40 percent of the violent incidents classified as racially or religiously motivated, despite making up less than 1 percent of the French population. In 2018, anti-Semitic acts rose by nearly 75 percent.

The current wave of immigration began in earnest after the 2012 Toulouse massacre, in which a French-born Islamic extremist opened fire at a Jewish day school, killing a young rabbi who was shielding his three- and six-year-old sons, then shooting to death both boys and an 8-year-old girl. Three years later, a gunman pledging allegiance to ISIS killed four customers at a kosher supermarket in Paris. “In the days after that, we received thousands of calls from people saying they wanted to leave,” says Ouriel Gottlieb, the Jewish Agency’s director in Paris. “Of the four people murdered at Hyper Casher, three of the families moved to Israel.”

Nearly every year since has seen another deadly anti-Semitic attack, from the beating and defenestration of 65-year-old Sarah Halimi in 2017 to the gruesome killing of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in 2018. Less frightening, but just as damaging to this fragile community, are the constant smaller-scale incidents, such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and memorials, or attacks on boys wearing yarmulkes. Such attacks have led many here to hide outward appearances of their faith. Others choose to leave.

Those who’ve stayed say it’s only a matter of time before the next grisly headline. “Things will only get worse,” says Samuel Sandler, the father of the rabbi who was killed in Toulouse. Sitting in a Paris cafe, Sandler recalls how his parents fled Nazi Germany seeking a better future for their children in France. His grandmother, cousin, aunts, and uncles were killed in Auschwitz. “I used to think, ‘The war is finished,’” he says, “‘We are in France now. We are safe.’”


State of Israel proclaimed

On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first premier.

In the distance, the rumble of guns could be heard from fighting that broke out between Jews and Arabs immediately following the British army withdrawal earlier that day. Egypt launched an air assault against Israel that evening. Despite a blackout in Tel Aviv𠅊nd the expected Arab invasion—Jews joyously celebrated the birth of their new nation, especially after word was received that the United States had recognized the Jewish state. At midnight, the State of Israel officially came into being upon termination of the British mandate in Palestine.

Modern Israel has its origins in the Zionism movement, established in the late 19th century by Jews in the Russian Empire who called for the establishment of a territorial Jewish state after enduring persecution. In 1896, Jewish-Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published an influential political pamphlet called The Jewish State, which argued that the establishment of a Jewish state was the only way of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. Herzl became the leader of Zionism, convening the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897. Ottoman-controlled Palestine, the original home of the Jews, was chosen as the most desirable location for a Jewish state, and Herzl unsuccessfully petitioned the Ottoman government for a charter.

After the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, growing numbers of Eastern European and Russian Jews began to immigrate to Palestine, joining the few thousand Jews who had arrived earlier. The Jewish settlers insisted on the use of Hebrew as their spoken language. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Britain took over Palestine. In 1917, Britain issued the �lfour Declaration,” which declared its intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Although protested by the Arab states, the Balfour Declaration was included in the British mandate over Palestine, which was authorized by the League of Nations in 1922. Because of Arab opposition to the establishment of any Jewish state in Palestine, British rule continued throughout the 1920s and �s.

Beginning in 1929, Arabs and Jews openly fought in Palestine, and Britain attempted to limit Jewish immigration as a means of appeasing the Arabs. As a result of the Holocaust in Europe, many Jews illegally entered Palestine during World War II. Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had betrayed the Zionist cause. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the Zionist cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November 1947 voted to partition Palestine.

The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, although they made up less than half of Palestine’s population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but by May 14, 1948, the Jews had secured full control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territory, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of this conquered territory. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.

During the third Arab-Israeli conflict—the Six-Day War of 1967—Israel again greatly increased its borders, capturing from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace agreement in which Israel returned the Sinai in exchange for Egyptian recognition and peace. Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a major peace accord in 1993, which envisioned the gradual implementation of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process moved slowly, however, and throughout the 21st major fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has resumed in Israel and the occupied territories.


What were the sources of Jewish immigration to Israel between 1939-1951? - History

Events Leading to the Balfour Declaration

In the period before the first World War, it was apparent to many Englishmen in decision-making positions both in the the British Foreign Office and in the field in Egypt that the Ottoman Empire was moribund. Nominally in control of much of the Middle East, it was still living in medieval times with a medieval mode of government. Should it become embroiled in the conflict that was clearly coming, Turkey might not be able to maintain control of the territories remaining (greater Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula).

Concern for the future integrity of England's "Life-Line to India," made the division of the remaining Ottoman territories of vital interest. Plans for future disposition of strategic territory needed to be made before the end of the coming war.

Since the middle of the 19th century, prominent non-Jewish English politicians - Palmerston and Shaftesbury, for example - and writers such as George Eliot and Benjamin Disraeli promoted the idea of a return of Jews to Eretz Israel. This idealism was furthered by seeing what the the Hovovei Zion and later the Herzlian Zionists had accomplished. Jewish immigrants were regenerating millennia-old neglected land despite Turkish corruption and resistence. They had on their own revived a dead land that had little to sustain even the tiny population that lived there. Cabinet officers such as Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour were openly supportive of ideas and measures supporting a political and economic role for Jews in greater Syria as allies in the Empire.

The unabashed British intent was to take over as much of Ottoman territory in the strategic vicinity of Suez as possible. This, together with the growing desire of these Englishmen to see the Jews return to their ancestoral home - to a region they called Palestine - culminated on November 2, 1917 in the Balfour Declaration, issued in the form of a letter from Balfour (as head of the Foreign Office) to Lord Rothschild.

The term National Home was first used by Max Nordau at the First Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897. He believed the term 'homeland' would be an inoffensive substitute for 'state.' He said, "I did my best to persuade the claimants of the Jewish State in Palestine that we might find a circumlocution that would express all we meant, but would say it in a way so as to avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land."

The extent was not precisely defined. But the Arabs had already gained considerable sovereignty and vast areas when the Ottoman holdings were reallocated. Given that the Jewish claims to Biblical Israel were commonly accepted, clearly the Jews were intended to receive a significant segment of what, under the Ottomans, had been the southern province of Syria. It included the land both east and west of the Jordan River. The area of the Turkish "Palestine province" was approximately 42,000 sq miles, of which nearly 8,000 lay to the west of the Jordan. Eretz Israel east of the Jordan, except for a few towns such as Amman, was largely uninhabited.

How the Return of the Jews to Palestine was Viewed

The London Times, authentic expression of British government policy in 1919, called for the inclusion of eastern Palestine as essential to the Jewish State. Specifically on September 19th of that year, the Times declared, "The Jordan will not do as Palestine's eastern boundary. Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling State but one that is capable of a vigorous and independent national life."

The Guardian was no less enthusiastic. Its editor at the time was strongly pro-Zionism. Shamefully, the now anti-Israel paper published its regrets for backing the Balfour Declaration this past week calling the support a mistake.

On December 2, 1917, Lord Robert Cecil said at a public meeting in London "the keynote of our meeting this afternoon is liberation. Our wish is that the Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and Judea for the Jews."

Hussein ibn-Ali, Sherif of Mecca, wrote in Mecca's Al Qibla, in 1918, "The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things until recent times was that the Palestinian [Arab] used to leave his country, wandering over the high seas in every direction. His native soil could not retain a hold on him. At the same time, we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons - abna'ihi-l-asliyin - for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles - jaliya - to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land."

In reading the British Mandate carefully, one will note that there is no reference to political rights for the Arabs in Palestine. What today we would call civil rights and human rights, yes. But political rights in the projected State were reserved for the Jews.

Perhaps the most significant statement on what was intended by the leading nations of the time emanates from the mouth of no less an authority than Winston Churchill. On March 30, 1921, while on a visit to Palestine after the Cairo Conference, he told an Arab delegation "[I]t is manifestly right that the scattered Jews should have a national center and a national home to be reunited and where else but in Palestine with which for 3000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated."

Despite continuous pressure from the Arabs, Churchill was steadfast in supporting Jewish claims over those of the Arabs wherever possible. As an example, to Churchill, Pinchas Rutenberg's plans for hydro-power proved that Jews more so than Arabs were the answer to Palestine's economic development problems because, "left to themselves, the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps toward the irrigation and electrification of Palestine. They would have been quite content to dwell - a handful of philosophic people - in the wasted sun-scorched plains, letting the waters of the Jordan continue to flow unbridled and unharnessed into the Dead Sea."

So-called practical concerns changed these intentions. After the end of World War I, Britain didn't have the funds to police the desolate East bank of the Jordan against the marauding Bedouins. A solution would have been to use local or native troops. But the British persistently refused to arm and use Jewish troops in Palestine.

They ended up by presenting the League of Nations with a fait accompli: in 1922 they split off three quarters of Mandated Palestine, the region east of the Jordan, and gave it to the Hashemite Family to administer. This soon became the kingdom of Transjordan. It permitted no Jewish immigration and it was ruled by the British surrogate, Abdullah.

The Arab Case Against Israel's Legitimacy

One wonders then, how it is that Arab propaganda has brought us to the nullification of all previous statutes and agreements on Jewish rights to the Land of Israel.

The legal case pursued by the Arabs and their supporters against Israel's legitimacy is built on two major arguments. They are:

[a] that "natural rights" rooted in the Arab majority status in the land in recent centuries supersede any Jewish historical rights, thus precluding the lawful establishment of a Jewish state or "national home" on Arab land by any nation or international body and

[b] the Mandate violated the League of Nations Covenant because the Jewish national home policy was inconsistent with Article 22 of the Covenant, especially the principle of self-determination as enunciated in the article.

In rebuttal to the Arab position, it is an incontrovertible fact that the international community has, in a series of UN Security resolutions over decades, consistently reaffirmed Israel's rights as a sovereign state and the general obligation to respect those rights in peace without threats. If, as the Arabs claim, the Allies legislated unwisely, it does not mean that they had no legal right to legislate as they did. The conjecture in the case of self-determination was responded to by UNSCOP in 1947, highlighting that this concept as an instrument of international law is not necessarily a right. It noted that at the time of the creation of Middle Eastern Mandates, it was not applied because of the intention to make possible the creation of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.

The issues of majority status, sovereignty and longevity are myths that are easily countered. Between the time of the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans in the year 70 to 132 AD and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, Israel ("Palestine") was occupied by fourteen conquerors over thirteen centuries, until in 1948 the Jews once again declared their independence. This list shows the historical periods of the various rulers of "Palestine":

Rulers Of Palestine Through History (Note: BCE is equivalent to BC. AD is replaced by CE -Common Era - in order not to use terms that denote Christian belief.)

1. Israel Rules (Biblical period)1350 BCE-586 BCE

2. Babylonian Conquest 587 BCE-538 BCE

3. Israel Autonomy (under Persian and Greco-Assyrian sovereignty) 538 BCE-168 BCE

4. Revolt of the Maccabees 168 BCE-143 BCE

5. Rule of the Hashmoneans and their successors 143 BCE- 70 CE

6. Jewish Autonomy (under Roman and Byzantine sovereignty) 70 CE-637 CE

7. Rule of Moslem Caliphs
Mecca: 637 CE-661 CE
Umayyides: 661 CE-750 CE
Abbaaside: 750 CE-870 CE
Fatimides: 969 CE-1071 CE

8. Seljukes Rule1072 CE-1096 CE

9. CrusadersAyyubids (in parts only:)
1175 CE-1291 CE
1099 CE-1291 CE

10. Mamelukes Rule1291 CE-1516 CE

11. Ottomans (Turks)1516 CE-1918 CE

12. British Mandate1918 CE-1948 CE

13. Israel rule under democracyf rom 1948 CE

During the entire period of recorded history "Palestine" was never ruled by the so-called "Palestinians," the name adopted in the early 1960s by the Moslem residents of the Holy Land, when the PLO was created by the Arab League. The rule of the various Moslem Caliphates, which was a foreign rule, extended for a period of 432 years. Jewish rule of "Palestine" extended over a period of over 2000 years.

The inhabitants of the land consisted of the conquering soldiers and their slaves. During the Moslem conquest of the area these diverse ethnic inhabitants - the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica identified 51 different groups lumped together as 'arab' - were compelled to accept Islam and the Arabic tongue, or be put to the sword. The Jews, on the other hand, are in fact the sole survivors of the ancient inhabitants of "Palestine," who have maintained an uninterrupted link with the land since the dawn of recorded history.

It is one of the failures of our media today that, while an almost complete acceptance is granted to an absurd, fabricated lie, no attention at all is paid to the compelling story of the Jewish families and communities who have resided in the Holy Land without interruption since Biblical times. These people have, through thousands of years, kept their national claim to their God-given ownership of their homeland.

History did not begin with the Arab conquest in the seventh century. The people whose nation was destroyed by the Romans were the Jews. There were no Arab Palestinians then - not until seven hundred years later would an Arab rule prevail, and then briefly. And not by people known as "Palestinians." The short Arab rule would be reigning over Christians and Jews, who had been there under various other foreign conquerors - Roman, Byzantine, Persian, to name just three - in the centuries between the Roman and Arab conquests.

The peoples who conquered under the banner of the invading Arabians from the desert were often hired mercenaries who remained on the land as soldiers - not Arabians, but others who were enticed by the promise of the booty of conquest.

From the time the Arabians, along with their non-Arabian recruits, entered Palestine and Syria, they found and themselves added to what was "ethnologically a chaos of all the possible human combinations to which, when Palestine became a land of pilgrimage, a new admixture was added." (Richard Hartman, Palestina unter den Araben, 632-1516, Leipzig, 1915. Cited by El Haas, History, p 147.)


Among those who were called "indigenous Palestinian Arabs" are Syrians, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Persians, Kurds, Samaritans and more.
Among the peoples who have been counted as "indigenous Palestinian Arabs" are Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Latins, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Sudanese, Samaritans, Algerians and Tartars.

In the late eighteenth century, 3,000 Albanians recruited by Russians were settled in Acre. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th Edition, Vol XX, p 604.) finds "most interesting of all the non-Arab communities in the country. the Samaritan sect in Nablus (Shechem) a gradually disappearing body" once "settled by the Assyrians to occupy the land left waste by the captivity of the Kingdom of Israel."

The disparate peoples recently assumed and purported to be "settled Arab indigenes, for a thousand years" were in fact a "heterogeneous" community (Handbook, prepared under the direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office, #60, entitled Syria and Palestine, London, 1920, p 56.) With no "Palestinian" identity, and according to an official British historical analysis in 1920, no Arab identity either: "The people west of the Jordan are not Arabs, but only Arabic-speaking. The bulk of the population are fellahin. In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin elsewhere they are of the most mixed race."

Birthplaces of Inhabitants (Jews, Moslems, Christians, Others) of Jerusalem District, circa 1931

Palestine, Syria, Transiordan, Cyprus, Egypt, Hejaz-Nejd, Iraq, Yemen, Other Arabian Territories, Persia, Turkey, Central Asiatic Territories, Indian Continent, Far Eastern Asia, Algeria, Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, Other African Territories, Albania, France, Greece , Spain, United Kingdom, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Central & South America, Australia, Palestine, Syria, Transiordan, Cyprus, Malta, Other Mediterranean Islands, Abyssinia, Egypt, Hejaz-Neid, Iraq, Other Arabian Territories, Persia, Turkey, Central Asiatic, Territories, Indian Continent, Far Eastern Asia, Algeria, Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, Other African Territories, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Holland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, Canada, U.S.A., Central & South America, Australia, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Persia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Rumania, Switzeriand, United Kingdom and U.S.S.R. (Source: Census of Palestine 1931, volume 1, Palestine Part 1, Report by E. Mills, B.A., O.B.E., Assistant Chief Secretary Superintendent of Census (Alexandria, 1933), p. 147.)

Languages In Habitual Use In Palestine, circa 1931.

Moslems, Chnstians, Others, Afghan, Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Circassian, English, French, German, Greek, Gypsy, Hebrew, Hindustani, Indian dialects, Javanese, Kurdish, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Sudanese, Takrurian, Turkish, Abyssinian, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Brazilian [sic], Bulgarian, Catalan, Chaldean, Chinese, Circassian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindustani, Indian dialects, Irish, Italian, Kurdish, Latin, Magyar, Malayalam, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Serbian, Slavic, Spanish, Sudanese, Swedish, Swiss, Syrian, Turkish, Welsh, Arabic, Czech, English, French, German, Hebrew, Persian, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish. (Source: Census of Palestine 1931, volume 1, Palestine Part 1, Report by E. Mills, B.A., O.B.E., Assistant Chief Secretary Superintendent of Census (Alexandria, 1933), p. 147.)

The Biblical and Historical Claims of the Jews

Not since Ben Gurion faced the Peel Commission in 1937 with a bible in his hand has a Jewish leader annunciated Israeli claims in this way. It is truly remarkable that the Arabs have fabricated a history based on falsehood so successfully that it pervades encyclopedias, textbooks, journals and the media. This must be contrasted with the superior Jewish claim, which is poorly propagated.

At the turn of the past century, Churchill and other world leaders who drew their inspiration from the bible and history understood all this. It was on March 31, 1921 when on a visit to Palestine, that Churchill proclaimed to an Arab delegation, "[I]t is manifestly right that the scattered Jews should have a national center and a national home to be reunited and where else but in Palestine with which for 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?" This did not mean that he did not recognize Arab claims. However, Churchill was not prepared to permit their claims to annul the even stronger Jewish claims.

Fellow British leaders, Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour, shared Churchill's sentiments. Indeed, Lloyd George writing in his memoirs on the Peace Conference expressed the view that no race had done better out of the fidelity with which the Allies redeemed their promises to the oppressed races than the Arabs. In this assertion, he noted that the Arab gains were due to tremendous sacrifices by the Allied Nations, particularly Britain and her Empire. At that time, these gains meant independence for Iraq, Arabia, Syria and Trans-Jordan despite the fact that most of the Arab nations, including "Palestinian Arabs," fought on the side of Turkey.

Nothing has changed. There is today no attempt to evaluate Jewish claims against Arab claims. Rather, the fixation on Israel trading 'land for peace' and a "two-state solution" remains. It is the obsession of the US State Department, the European Union and, of course, it enjoys the support of the Arabs. That it continuously fails to produce any semblance of peace apparently is lost on all the parties concerned. In fact, the exact opposite has ensued. Terrorism has grown exponentially with each renewed attempt at a resolution. Whether named the Rogers Plan, Camp David, the Madrid Conference, the Wye Accords, Oslo Peace Initiative, Sharm El Sheik Conference, or The Road Map, what has been presented, as said by Shmuel Katz, is the "same Yente in different clothing."

Arab claims are the claims of greedy appetite versus the claims of starvation.

Arab opposition to Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East has been consistent, significantly dating from the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate and the proclamation of the State of Israel. Britain's original land for peace plan was for the Arabs to receive Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Arabia while the Jews were to be awarded Palestine. Then, in an effort to placate the intense ideological opposition and resistance exhibited by the Arabs - and with the Jews exhibiting no strong assertiveness - the British severed 80% of Palestine, leaving only 20% for the establishment of a Jewish national home.

Attorney Douglas J. Feith, at one time Reagen Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and a Middle East specialist on the White House National Security Council staff, has analyzed the basis of Arab opposition to Jewish claims concerning Palestine. Jewish claims, validated by International law, of which the Mandate is an integral part, specifically refer to "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and "close settlement by Jews on the land."

Writing in 1993, Feith, disputed the long held notion that the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the amount of territory controlled by the Jewish state. Rather, he says, as asserted by various Arab spokesmen since World War 1, it is the issue of legitimacy. He notes further that Western statesmen have failed to do justice to the intensity and ideological steadfastness of the anti-Zionist cause when they thought they could buy the Arabs off with territorial concessions by the Jews.

A most revealing and enlightening article on the subject was penned by Professor William Nicholls of the University of British Columbia it appeared in the December 1997 issue of Midstream.

Nicholls posits the question, "Who has the most right to the land?" He then unhesitatingly answers that undoubtedly, those whose identity is bound up with the land own this entitlement because their historical ties to it are the strongest - i.e., history is identity. Who we are is what we have been, and is as much applicable to a nation as it is to an individual. On this basis, one can and indeed should pursue the answer to who has the most right to the biblical Land of Israel.

The ongoing Middle East conflict has largely been approached from the standpoint of peace and security by Israel. Not so for the Arabs, who correctly voice their claims in the recognition that it is largely about identity and therefore about history. It is ironic that the "Palestinian" Arabs, who lack a distinct identity, have fabricated a history, one that is so successful that it is widely accepted even though it is false, while the Jews make little mention of their Biblical and historical binding to Eretz Israel.

Prior to Britain's decision to shrink the Jewish national home, Balfour, speaking of the entire Mandate territory on both sides of the Jordan, expressed the hope that the Arabs "will not grudge that small notch - in what are now Arab territories being given to the Jewish people who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it." Significantly, though approximately 80% of that "small notch" was soon made off limits to the Jews, the Arab powers continued to "grudge" a Jewish state in Palestine.

Any argument that the Jews have no legal right to settle in Samaria and Judea tends, inevitably, even if unintentionally, to undermine the Jewish people's right to sovereignty in pre-1967 Israel, for all such rights flow from the same source - the Palestine Mandate recognizing the Jewish people's historical connection with Palestine.

Yaacov Herzog, a former Israeli ambassador, was able to explain the Jewish position to the world at large. He succeeded in this complicated and sensitive task, distinguishing himself as one of his people's most articulate spokesmen. Yaacov Herzog took center stage at McGill University when he debated the renowned historian, Professor Arthur Toynbee, on January 31, 1961, making the case for the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. He responded to Toynbee's outrageous assertion that the Jews have no right to Israel, making extensive use of history and identity, dating from biblical times through the modern era.

On other occasions, Herzog was not slow to draw attention to the foresight of the great Jewish commentator Rashi's commentary on the first verse of Genesis. Rashi, the Biblical interpreter par excellence answers the charge "Ye are robbers, because Ye have conquered the Land of Canaan" this way: "In the beginning G-D created the Heavens and the Earth" And the same G-D who created the heavens and the earth gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people."

Because of their biblical beliefs, Balfour, Churchill and the other framers of the Declaration understood this. It is too bad that present day Jewish leaders lack this comprehension.

In sum: The original Mandate secured rights to a homeland and to close settlement in Palestine. It did not distinguish between Eastern and Western Palestine. The modified Mandate foisted on the League of Nations by the British made the distinction, but there is no documentary support for separating Judea and Samaria from the rest of Western Palestine.

No event and no armistice or other international agreement has terminated the Mandate-recognized rights of the Jewish people, including settlement rights, in those portions of the Mandate territory that have not yet come under sovereignty of any state.

Consequently, it is imperative that, at this time, the case for Israel be argued on the basis of identity and historical claims rather than the pragmatism of security. Only in this way can Arab falsehood be defeated.

Alex Rose, an engineering consultant, served for many years on the executive board of Americans For a Safe Israel and was among the founders of the New York chapter of CAMERA. He and his wife Renee have recently made aliyah and are living in a Jerusalem suburb. A version of this article was posted in 2003 on Think-Israel.


1914�: Expulsion, Shoah and the foundation of Israel

The First World War had a huge, worldwide impact on the history of Jewish migrations. The war hit the great Jewish settlement centre in Eastern Europe directly and hard. In 1915 and 1916, Russian military authorities drove tens of thousands of Jews and German-speaking Protestants as potential collaborators into the interior of the country, German occupation troops conscripted thousands of Jews and Poles as forced labourers, and in the Habsburg monarchy, a refugee wave to Vienna and Budapest began after massive destruction in Galicia. Although the war ended in the West in 1918, a series of armed conflicts began after the collapse of the multiethnic empires in Eastern Europe that would last into the early 1920s. According to a conservative estimate, at least 60,000 Jews became victims of pogroms in the western territories of modern Ukraine in 1918/1919 alone. Millions of Eastern Europeans lost their homes, among them several hundred thousand Jews. Large groups succeeded in fleeing to the West, but there most stood before closed doors. 27

Fear of the spread of Bolshevism as well as explicit racist and anti-Semitic prejudices were behind the American restrictions on immigration of 1921 that were primarily aimed at East and South Europeans as well as Asians. Other traditional immigration countries such as Canada and Argentina also put up obstacles Britain didn't even bother to lift the mobility restrictions introduced during the war. After 1917/1918, it was only possible to cross international borders with valid passports. Many countries required visas and transit visas that often could only be acquired with great difficulties. This proved particularly fateful for many citizens of the former Russian and Ottoman empires as well as the perished Habsburg monarchy. The governments of the successor states often refused to issue passports to members of undesirable minorities. Without papers, stateless individuals had lost their right to freedom of movement. Tens of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe as well as Armenians and opponents of the Bolsheviks were in a state that is best described as permanent transit. Jewish refugees became stranded in refugee camps and inner city slums all over Europe. After 1939, many of these people fell into the clutches of the Nazi persecution machinery because they did not have valid identity documents. 28

Few countries were open to migrants from Eastern Europe after 1918. Apart from the Weimar Republic, which pursued a relatively liberal policy toward refugees, there was essentially France. France had not been able to demobilise its army and urgently required workers for its industries and for reconstruction in the North. Palestine gained considerable significance in the 1920s. However, the difficult conditions of life in the British mandate territory explain why in the second half of the 1920s the number of returnees was almost as high as the number of arrivals. In the Soviet Union , a strong Jewish country-to-town migration began. Many Jews were resettled in the East during the course of the Stalinist forced collectivisation of the 1920s. Jewish aid organisations were desperately looking for a new home for thousands of Jewish refugees long before the persecutions by the Nazis. Destinations like Shanghai , Brazil and Mexico already gained in importance in the 1920s. No one described the hopelessness of Jewish refugees and migrants in the interwar period more vividly than the Galician Jewish journalist and writer Joseph Roth (1894�), especially in his essay Juden auf Wanderschaft (The Wandering Jews, 1927). But even in this crisis, Jews and other refugees were not only passive victims of state policies. Jews and other Eastern Europeans were significant contributors to the cultural boom in Berlin during the Twenties. For a few years, Berlin was an important crossroads of the Yiddish- and Hebrew-speaking Diaspora between Eastern Europe and North America. 29

The Great Depression deprived numerous people of the financial means necessary for migration. Many countries, especially the United States, tightened their immigration restrictions further. This put great obstacles in the way of German-Jewish emigrants and refugees after 1933. In 1939, the size of the Jewish world population had grown to seventeen million – around fourteen million Jews were Ashkenazim. With more than eight million Jews, Eastern Europe was still the most important centre by far, followed by the United States (about 4.8 million). Germany (about 200,000) had clearly dropped in this ranking. About 250,000 Jews managed to emigrate after the Nazi's seizure of power, often after losing their property, after months and years of waiting, and by complicated routes. The Conference of Évian in June 1938, which was called by the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882�) to discuss possibilities of facilitating the emigration of German and Austrian Jews, marked a low point. Despite the brutal anti-Semitic excesses in Vienna only a few months earlier, none of the 32 participating nations was willing to receive more than a few Jewish refugees. The threatening situation for Jews in Eastern Europe was not even a topic of the negotiations. Many Eastern European states, especially Poland, pursued anti-Semitic policies in the mid-1930s and treated their Jewish citizens as de facto stateless. 30

The situation worsened with the outbreak of war. Only a few boltholes remained, such as Shanghai which had long become unreachable for most. In October 1941, Reichsführer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler (1900�), prohibited Jewish emigration from territories controlled by German troops. At this time, mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) – with the help of the army and allied troops such as those of Romania – had already murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews in the West of the Soviet Union. Shortly afterwards, the decision to implement the "Final Solution" was made. The deportation of millions of Jews from all Europe into extermination camps according to a refined schedule constitutes the most extreme form of forced migration. The Shoah completely extinguished the most important centre of the Jewish Diaspora in Eastern Europe in only four years. Sephardim, especially in Greece, Yugoslavia and Tunisia , were also among the victims of the Shoah. More than two million Jews in the Soviet Union were not reached by the German terror, some only because they had been deported into the Gulag after the Soviet invasion of East Poland in 1939. A minority of the Jewish population in Southeastern Europe, such as the Jews of Bulgaria, were spared deportation. 31

After the Liberation, Jewish refugees and survivors were caught in a permanent transit similar to that after the First World War, but under the explicit protection of the US army. Only few countries were prepared to accept Jewish "displaced persons" – the term was coined by Kulischer in 1943. In the United States, opponents of immigration, such as the powerful anti-Semitic senator Patrick McCarran (1876�), scuttled attempts to let Jewish survivors enter the country in larger numbers than determined by the immigration quotas. In Palestine, the British attempted to prevent immigration. The foundation of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 changed this situation. However, most countries of the Middle East declared Jews an undesirable minority, partially already during the Israeli War of Independence. As a result, the centuries-old settlement centres in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean disappeared from the map within a few months. Jewish communities in Damascus , Bagdad and Yemen , which were now subject to rapid and sometimes violent dissolution, could even be traced back to the pre-Christian era. 32

After the Shoah, the United States were the largest, (though after the foundation of the State of Israel, not the most important) centre of the Jewish Diaspora. The population of Israel only exceeded that of the Greater New York Area by the middle of the 1960s. The territorial nation state solved the problem of millions of stateless Jewish refugees and Jewish minorities who were treated as de facto stateless, who after 1914 had largely been deprived of the right of mobility, and had predominantly fallen victim to the Shoah. It remains an irony of history that the experience of Palestinian refugees, despite all differences, exhibits parallels in regard to their statelessness after 1948 to that of Jewish refuges in the three decades before 1948. In the 1970s, a migration of Jews from the Soviet Union began. Initially, small numbers of politically motivated emigrations occurred, but economic motives have been centre stage after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Up to 2010, about one-and-a-half million Jews have migrated to Israel, the United States and Germany. 33


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