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-Everyone realizes That there is a problem between Arabs and Jews. There is no solution. Why should Arabs make peace? We took their land.
This statement from 1919 comes from David Ben-Gurion, the man who 29 years later would become Israel’s first prime minister. The quote in the book “Folket som inte fick finnas: Palestiniernas historia” (Ingmar Carlsson) is a good example that state-building in the Holy Land was a long-term Zionist project.
Anti-Semitism It flourished in many places in Europe in the 19th century, and Jews in particular were persecuted in Eastern Europe, in so-called pogroms. In 1896, Hungarian Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl wrote the “Jewish State Manifesto”, the same year he founded the World Zionist Organization. The goal was to establish a Jewish state, preferably based on the Hebrew Bible.
In the 1880s, when Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, Arabs and a Jewish minority of about 25,000 lived in peaceful coexistence. Some Jews have lived there since time immemorial, others came from Europe to spend their old age there. In the 1890s, a slow exodus of Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe began. Through the First World Zionist Congress in 1897, Herzl achieved his first goal, and immigration to Palestine increased.
Herzl went so far as to go to Constantinople before the turn of the last century, where he offered the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II one hundred million pounds sterling in exchange for Palestine. The Sultan refused with the following comment:
“If my kingdom collapses, you may get the territory for free.”
Zionists Those who came during the first wave of immigration at the end of the 1890s had very different plans from those of the resident Jews. They came to build a new life. They began buying land from Palestinian landowners, who often lived outside Palestine, such as in Beirut. This led to the eviction of many Palestinian tenants who were farming this land, which often led to disputes.
It was at this time The current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians began.
The Zionists faced little resistance in the early years, not least because the Palestinians were divided. There was an intellectual elite in the cities, which was mostly Christian, but there was no unified political and national group. Tribal and family affiliation was important.
Many who came joined together in groups called kibbutzim. As Zionist immigration increased and land seizures increased, Palestinian farmers began to resist. Many of them were put in prison, because the leadership of the Ottoman Empire supported this migration, which they believed would bring positive economic gains.
From 1909 to 1914 tension increased. By 1914, when World War I broke out, the number of Jews had risen to 85,000, and they owned 2% of the land. The war went poorly for the Ottomans, who allied with Germany. On December 11, 1917, British General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem, and the Ottomans’ days in the Holy Land were numbered. But for the Zionist movement, the British government’s statement, published a month earlier, was of much greater importance.
Balfour Declaration It is a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, one of the leaders of the Zionist movement in the country, in which he stated that the British supported a “national home” for the Jews in Palestine. Balfour did not intend to create a Jewish state, but the Zionists used that word quite literally in the following years.
The Balfour Declaration led to increased hostility between Jews and Palestinians. Immigration and settlements increased, and the Palestinian population became radicalized. People armed themselves on both sides. Religious enthusiasm among Palestinians also increased. On April 4, 1920, during the Feast of the Prophet Moses, a riot broke out in Jerusalem in which six Jews were killed. This led to the formation of the Irgun Haganah militia. It later became the core of Israeli defense.
Army plans It wasn’t new. The Zionists worked purposefully to establish a state in the 1920s. As early as 1918, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was established. In December 1920, the Histadrut workers’ union was founded. Only Jews can become members there. The Zionists established schools and a number of organizations. In 1929, the Jewish Agency was created, a type of government that would build the country and increase immigration.
It was the Zionist working class, led by people like David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, that took the lead in the state-building project, but there was also a conservative wing, led by Zeev Jabotinsky, who originally came from present-day Odessa. Ukraine. He formed a reactionary youth movement called Beitar, which later became a party led by Menachem Begin (Prime Minister 1977-1983). In 1923, Jabotinsky published an article entitled “The Iron Wall – We and the Arabs.” It stated that it would not be possible to reach a peaceful solution and that a Jewish zone must therefore be created behind an impenetrable defensive wall.
Ostensibly, there was a division between socialists and revisionists, but all had a common goal of establishing a Jewish state. The question was which political line one would choose. Weizmann said one thing outside and another inside. He told his people that the goal was to make “Palestine as Jewish as England was English.” Ostensibly, he was only talking about the Balfour Declaration. He, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky were concerned with increasing Jewish immigration.
In 1929 it was The Jewish population increased to 156,000. Two years later, 30,000 Palestinian families lost their lands. In 1935, a guerrilla rebellion began against the Jews and against the British, who still held Palestine as a mandate territory. It was led by Izz al-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian refugee. He died in 1935, but his name still lives on in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Jewish Agency was able to reach an agreement with the Nazi government. It brought 53,000 Jews from Germany to Palestine over a period of six years. At the same time, the British imposed restrictions on the number of Jews who could immigrate.
After World War II and the Holocaust, the question of the Jewish state occupied a high place on the international agenda. When the State of Israel was officially established on May 14, 1948, most of it was already in place.
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