Top 10 Facts about How the Nation of Israel was Created in 1948
Celebration rang out on May 14, 1948 in Tel Aviv as David Ben-Gurion, Jewish Agency Chairman at the time, established a Jewish state for the first time in 2,000 years. People from all over the world assembled around him to hear him say: “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel.”
Those in attendance were visibly moved to tears as they celebrated. Today, walking the streets of Israel still prompts that same emotion and visible movement that it did all those years ago. For many, it has become a place where they can feel more connected to themselves, their religion, and their heritage. In fact, many people voyage there on a yearly basis as part of school programs, church groups, family reunions, and just to take a vacation.
Of course, there was also violence in the distance as those who opposed the Jewish State’s creation. Still today, there is violence and people who do not believe that it should have been created.
Whichever side of the fence you stand on, there are plenty of interesting and complicated facts about the creation of Israel in 1984 – facts that will leave you intrigued, confused, empowered, and maybe even surprised. Let’s take a look at some of them:
10Much Thought Went Into Making Israel a State – In Fact, It Almost Didn’t Happen Because There was Fear of Violence.
One of the biggest reasons that Israel was declared an independent nation on that day in 1948 was because of American pressure. According to an interview with Al Jazeera, Ali Roth, a refugee at the time of the announcement, that there were some second thoughts about the movement.
“Ben Gurion told me that declaring the state was the most difficult decision of his life,” Rath says. “Heavy American pressure to postpone that, a split cabinet, the army warning that they might not be able to withstand five invading Arab armies – yet still he went ahead.”
As for the violence that they were afraid of, it turned out that they were right. Arab countries refused to accept that Israel was with them and fought back against the state and its people. It is a fight that still lives on today and has been fought many, many times.
Quite a few political leaders question what would have happened if they would have waited just a few months longer – could they have solved the problems for good? We may never know the answer to that, but many blame America for pushing Israel to declaring themselves when it is obvious that it just wasn’t the time yet.
Every few years there is hope that someone will make a breakthrough and something will be solved, but it seems like it is just “two steps forward and one step back,” with the progress. It doesn’t help that foreign interference still circles around the question and doesn’t give a firm answer when asked.
9Israel Quickly Became a Haven For Those Who Had No Where Else to Go – or For Those Who Were Afraid to Go Anywhere Else.
Israel’s population grew extremely quickly after it was created in 1948. Some have called it the “ingathering of exiles” because of the people it accepted with open arms. At the time, every person of Jewish faith was said to have a home in Israel, and that all they have to do is acquire citizenship and they will be taken care of. This naturally made it the destination of choice for many people who were still reeling with the effects of the Holocaust. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some 50,000 people moved to Israel in the first four months of its existence. Most of those were refugees still trying to recover from the emotional, personal, familial, and financial destruction of the Holocaust and the years after it.
The numbers kept swelling and growing – by 1951, there were over 687,00 citizens in Israel. Almost half of those were refugees from Arab lands. The government and the people had to work together to create financial systems, education systems, communities, churches, and common areas that could fit all of these people. At the time, the school system was one of the best in the world, with compulsory attendance for those between the ages of 5-14, but they also had many adults whose education had be stunted over the years.
By the time Israel turned 10 in 1958, there were over two million living, working, and loving there.
8During the First Few Years Israel was a Nation, There was a Prosperous Artistic Culture.
Through all of the fighting and the emotional torment that the Jewish people faced during this time, the tinges of happiness and moments of sunshine created a virtual combine of artistic talent and productivity. The art that we have from that period blends together all of the nations that came together in Israel, including Western elements, North African touches, Middle Eastern overtones, and of course broad swipes from traditional Jewish art. These elements came together to create something that is truly unique and something that no other parts of the world have been able to replicate.
According to the website Jewish Virtual Library, the official canon of Israel started in 1948 with the creation of Israel when the two main museums of the country, The Tel Aviv Museum and the “Bezalel National Museum” went against The Association of Painters and Sculptors. There were fighting to see who and what would influence art in the area. Still, the organizations grew stronger and they became instantly recognized as the forefront critics of Israeli art.
Within the first 15 years, the patterns that Israeli artists created became the standard for which art is created even to this day.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, some of the most important artistic movements in the first few years of creation include: “The First Decade Exhibition,” a look at art in the first 10 years of Israel’s existence, the Herzl Mausoleum Project, a government enterprise that brought Jewish architects into the light, the establishment of Omanut la’Am or “Art for the People,” the creation of Artists Colonies throughout Israel, the opening of museums in many communities, the start of endowments to artists, the inauguration of the “Helena Rubinstein” Pavilion of Contemporary Art,” the announcement of the Israel Museum as the official national museum of Israel, and the financing of decorative works on the campus of Hebrew University.
Now, Jewish art that originated in Israel hangs in all of the most important museums around the world.
7The Creation of the Land is Based on Rules in Jewish Law that Predated the Creation of Israel.
Jews have lived on the land that is now Israel for as long as history can tell. According to Jew FAQ, it dates back to the original conquest by Joshua 3200 years ago. While they haven’t always been in control of the land in a political sense, they have always had a presence on this land. Almost every Jewish person can trace his or her lineage to someone who has lived in Israel at some time, even if they were in the minority.
Still, Israel is one of the most important pillars of Judaism, as Jewish Law can only be performed there. In fact, there are certain ceremonies and events that can only take place in Israel as they would love some of their importance and meaning anywhere else. It is up to rabbis to keep this law firm and refuse to perform those ceremonies unless they are in Israel. As such, it is considered a great honor for a rabbi to be asked to Israel to perform some of the essential ceremonies.
Even more, the land in Israel is said to be so sacred and so holy that even walking the streets can ensure that you will have a place in the World to Come. Many people who are elderly and believe that they are in their last days will seek out Israel for a sense of calm and peace with life that they cannot get anywhere else due to this holy nature.
Since Israel is so tied to Jewish Law and Jewish life, it is considered “unnatural” to live outside of Israel, so much so that they have created a word for it: “galut.”
6The Creation of Israel Dates Well Before the Creation in 1948 – Going Back into the 1800s.
Now that you know that the existence of a holy land where Israel is goes back deep into history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the formation of Israel started well before 1948. In fact, some people started to gather and call for this nation in the 1800s.
According to Free Republican, before 1948 and the creation of Israel, the land was known as Palestine, where many Arabs lives for over 1,200 years. Starting around the 1880s, more Jews began to pick up residences here. They were able to pay good sums of money for the land. However, even more became tenants of wealthy Arabs who owned land in Palestine but then didn’t check up on their tenants. Unfortunately, it upset the peasant Arabs who lived there because they feared being outnumbered and because the Arabs believed that they were the ones to rights to this land.
This back and forth continued for many years until 1914. Both groups are still fighting, but they try to create separate areas for each other – little did they know that they were planting the seeds for a conflict that would last even longer than any of them imagined. An even bigger problem was that there was a lot of in-fighting amongst the Jews and the Arabs, making both sides tense and uneasy.
When World War I broke out, it only made things worse and more confusing for everyone involved – and even those not involved.
5Two Major Parts of the Formation Were Named Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.
People were moved into Israel in a few different floods, the most popular of which are known as “Operation Moses” and “Operation Solomon.” Of course, both men are important to Judaism and using their names represents something much deeper than just large scale immigration.
The story starts long before either operation, however. It starts in the late 70s when Ethiopian Jews had to flee Ethiopia to Sudan where, according to Reform Judaism, they were moved from refugee camps and into Israel, where they could live freely.
Operation Moses started in 1984 when thousands of Ethiopian Jews made that flee to the Sudan, losing some 4,000 men, women, and children along the way. The pathway to Israel was extremely rough and disease was rampant. They often ran out of water and lacked enough food to keep everyone healthy and strong. Part of this was because Sudan and Israel had to be underhanded in the transportation of refugees, as it wasn’t favored by parts of the world. However, word did get out eventually about what was happening and they had to cut off Operation Moses. Some people were saved in an evacuation by the United States, but many still remained.
Operation Solomon, 14,000 leftover Ethiopians were evacuate in 1991. These Jews had children and families, making that initial number swell. It took 34 plane with the seats removed to remove all of the refugees over 36 hours. They were packed into planes in the most uncomfortable fashion, but many were just happy to leave the Sudan, so they willingly packed into the planes, even though it is unlikely many of them had actually ever been in an airplane.
4Zionists were Imperative in the Creation of Israel in 1948.
Zionists were the first immigrants to come into Palestine, which was then under Ottoman rule. They joined an already existing Jewish community, but it was too small to have any real power. With the Zionists, however, they blossomed and grew quickly. They were able to set up the systems that were used for years by the groups of people who ultimately did the work to establish Israel. Unfortunately, World War I ravaged many of these people, and the Jewish population was reduced by nearly 60,000.
The primary purpose of Zionism was to establish Israel as the Jewish homeland, so it makes sense that they pushed for it for so long. They were key in the creation of Israel, even though many foreign histories try to downplay their involvement.
This is when Great Britain came into the picture, taking over control of then Palestine. According to the Economic History Association, this was when they set up the Mandate for Palestine, which was effective until May 1948. This movement allowed for the “social, political, and economic structure” of Israel to develop. Of course, there are still lines that trace themselves back to the Zionists, and they are often revered within the community. Many of them have taken on leadership positions to keep the history of Israel, even before it was created, alive and well.
Most members of the Zionist movement today are still fighting for Israel. Instead of fighting for the creation of the state, they are now fighting to keep it secure and part of the international world. Some believe that this is even harder than the initial fight to get Israel created.
3The Partition of Palestine was Deeply Contested Even Then
Even in 1948, there were people who knew that Israel would be deeply contested. The British, in particular, wanted things to be solved as quickly as possible but were against the creation of Israel. They believed there was a different way to break up the land, but were overruled.
However, they were also one of the key forces in trying to make everyone happy with what happened, becoming the mediators for that part of the world. The UN then stepped in and decided on a way to break everything up. Still, Britain was one of the few non-Arab nations that voted against the United Nation’s partition plan, according to Aish.
They also refused to celebrate the creation of Israel and there are still some tense connections to them today. Over time, some of those tense relationships have faded into history, but the British government has a notoriously long-lasting memory, and they are still a bit cold to Israel on a grand scheme.
2Around the Same Time, Another Religion Established Israel as its Holy Land.
While many people only know of Judaism calling Israel home, there are many religions that have established communities here, including smaller sects of Judaism, Christians, Arabs, and even a few Wiccan groups. However, only one other group calls Israel the central land of their faith, the Bahai faith.
This religion actually started in Iran during the mid-19th century, according to Britannica. They have created a community for themselves here that resembles what the Jews have done, just on a much smaller scale. Still, they live in relative peace with the rest of the country and they are allowed to be who they are without much pushback. They too have developed an education system, an archive of their history, a shrine to pray at, and an administrative headquarters. All of the ruling is done quietly and there have been very few problems.
Since there are only a few hundred people who live here, they are quite peaceful and they keep to themselves. Almost all of the followers work within the community, which is on Mount Carmel in Haifa. If they do need outside help for something extremely terrible or troublesome, help is freely given to them.
1Many of the Same Rules Still Stand Today.
For many people, Israel’s rules are some of the strongest and most straightforward in the world because they derive much of their governing style from their religious texts. This means that some of the most commonly held advancements in other societies haven’t happened here just yet. However, there is an ingrained fear that people will leave because they aren’t accepted for who they are, who they love, or what they choose to become in life. The government and leaders are trying to walk a thin line between preserving what their religion states and staying open to change.
The next few years will prove pivotal because the question remains: will Israel change the laws that were the fabric of their country, or will they continue to stand firm but risk losing a large percentage of their population? The New York Times has an intricate look at the struggle.
The history of Israel and how it came to be reads better than any novel on the market today. It is filled with twists and turns, heroes and villains, and a lot of misreporting and things that shouldn’t have gone wrong did go wrong. For now, Israel remains a place where many Jewish people vacation and visit to practice their faith without fear of persecution. For many, it is the one place in the world where they can feel completely at peace.
One cannot forget all of the suffering and hardships that went into its formation, however. There are many names that worked as hard they could and devoted their lies to seeing Israel created, but they never would live to see that day in 1948. There are others who travelled from miles around just to get a bit of the peace that Israel provided, but they perished on their journeys. It is impossible to think of Israel without thinking about those people and how with each step you take, you are walking with them.
The future of Israel is always in question. There are forces at work all the time that want to destroy it or make it only a part of history. For now, it is safe and there are people working to protect it, like the Zionists and foreign governments who defend it. It will take the work of the people, even those beyond the Jewish faith, to keep it safe.