Creation of Israel as a Jewish State, 1947
Episode #7 of the course “Most Important Historical Events of the 20th Century”
The Jewish people waited roughly 2,000 years for the founding of a new Jewish state. On May 14, 1948, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion declared that Israel was a state, and he became the first premier. The Jewish people celebrated in the streets that night, even as they were being attacked by several surrounding forces.
The Zion movement, which began in 19th-century Russia, was the real catalyst for developing Israel as a Jewish state. The Jewish people in Russia wanted to develop their own state, partially because of the persecution that they endured under the Russian empire. They argued that establishing a state for themselves was the only real way to protect them from wide-ranging anti-Semitism.
The leader of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, determined that Palestine was the most desirable location for a Jewish state; he petitioned the Ottoman government (who controlled Palestine at the time) for a charter in the late 1800s. The Ottoman government refused, but Jewish people flocked to Palestine from other nations regardless.
After World War I and the fall of the Ottoman empire, Britain took control of Palestine. Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which stated that a Jewish homeland would be created in Palestine. The League of Nations authorized the Balfour Declaration in 1922.
However, the Arabs opposed and threatened attack, so British forces did not leave as intended. The British stayed in an effort to keep the peace between the Arabs and the Jewish people. The United Nations partitioned Palestine between the Arabs and Jewish people in 1947, which ultimately led to Britain’s withdrawal and the establishment of Israel as a Jewish State just a few months later.
However, not everyone was as willing to simply leave the area. Arab fighting broke out as soon as the British troops left, and Egypt began an air assault on the new state that same evening. Forces from Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon also arrived the following day. Fighting with the Arabs was not a new idea, and this fighting would continue for years to come.
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