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Introduction

1. Early Times
(1000 BCE - 1917)

2. Establishment of Israel (1880 - 1947)

   Page 1
   (1880 - 1920)

   Page 2
   (1920 - 1939)

   Page 3
   (1938 - 1947)

3. The New State
(1947 - 1974)

 

 


The History of Israel
- A Chronological Presentation


2. The Establishment of Israel (1938 - 1947)

1938 - Britain's Last Partition Plan
In November 1938 the British Woodhead Commission issued a report recommending a partition plan uniting a Jewish and an Arab state in a common economic union, allowing the Arabs to enjoy the benefits of the progress within the Jewish community. The partition was modified (compared to the Peel-plan) so that the Jewish state would cover only 1/20 of Palestine, or about 1/100 of the original mandate. The Jews rejected the plan, arguing that the proposed Jewish state was too small. The Arabs rejected the plan, ruling out any form of Jewish independence or national self-determination.

David Ben-Gurion. 

1939 - British Abandonment of the Jewish National Home
The British government presented a plan severely restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine, while proposing the establishment of a single Arab majority state, with no specific protection of the Jewish minority. The leader of the Palestinian Jews, David Ben-Gurion, warned the British that a Jewish uprising in Palestine could be in every way as destructive as the recently ended Arab revolt.

1939 - Jewish-British Alliance
As tensions mounted between Britain and the Jews of Palestine, the latter were forced to make a fateful decision: To be with or against Britain in the impending war against Germany. The choice wasn't difficult. Jewish welfare and security depended on the democratic world. British-Zionist quarrels had to be suspended for the greater cause. The Jewish community in Palestine threw itself wholeheartedly into the war on the side of Great Britain.


The British Army's "Jewish Brigade," Italy 1945.

1939-45 - Palestine during World War II
During World War II many Palestinian Jews were mobilized as soldiers on the side of the allies, e.g. under the British East Kent Regiment ("The Buffs"), and later in the "Jewish Brigade," while the rest of the Jewish commumity in Palestine employed all available resources in the production of equipment, foods and other necessities in support of the allied war effort. Some Arabs also entered the British forces. The leaders of the Palestinian Arabs, on the other hand, supported the Nazis. The highest Muslim authority, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was especially active, and travelled several times to Berlin in order to persuade the Nazis to extend their program for the extermination of European Jewry to also include the Jews of Palestine. In addition al-Husseini helped organize Bosnian Muslims into the special "Hanzar" SS-division.

The refugee ship 'Exodus', 1947. 
 

1945-48 - Refugees from Europe
Despite Jewish support for the victory against Nazi Germany, and the enormous pressure from refugees in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, Great Britain, in an attempt to appease the Palestinian Arabs, continued to enforce strict quotas for Jewish immigration. Some Jews were smuggled into Palestine, while many perished at sea or ended up in refugee camps in Cyprus. In respons to Britain's policy on Palestine the Jewish military underground organization, Haganah, launched a campaign of sabotage against the mandate's installations. Some smaller, but more radical, Jewish groups carried out regular terror attacks against the British administration in Palestine.

UN partition plan, 1947.

1947 - The UN Partition Plan
In February 1947 Britain decided to turn over the problem of Palestine to the United Nations, which had just been established following the end of World War II. A commission appointed by the UN recommended a partition of the remainder of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, with Jerusalem as an international zone controlled by the UN. On November 29, 1947 the UN's General Assembly adopted resolution 181, thus approving the partition plan.

The Jews of Palestine, who by 1947 made up one third of the population, or 600.000, were unhappy with the area allotted to them (most of it was desert), and regretted the separation of Jerusalem with its Jewish majority from the proposed Jewish state. Nevertheless, they accepted the compromise. The leaders of the 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs, on the other hand, along with the rest of the Arab World, rejected the plan, and declared its intention to attack and destroy the Jewish state, the moment the last British soldier had left Palestine.

Continue: Chapter 3 - The New State


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