By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Israel’s Parliament voted to dissolve, prompting the fifth election in four years. The move could clear the way for Benjamin Netanyahu to regain power, though not without struggle. Israel had a troubled road to nationhood.
Citizens of Israel will soon find themselves voting in the nation’s fifth election in just four years after the Israeli Parliament voted to dissolve. Despite currently standing trial for corruption, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could reap the benefits of this move, regaining power. However, Israel’s political stalemate is likely to endure, leading to yet another election in 2023.
The formation of Israel as a nation came about in 1948. Religious claims to Jerusalem are delicate and complicated subjects, but in his video series The Middle East in the 20th Century, Professor Eamonn Gearon, Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, explains the establishment of the State of Israel.
Professor Gearon noted that Jews have lived in Europe for more than 2,000 years, and they’ve almost always faced anti-Semitism to some degree. However, the ruler of any area—from mayor to king—often wanted to show that he was the one keeping law and order, so he would protect them. Other times, anti-Jewish persecution asserted the ruler’s authority.
“In the late 19th-century Russian Empire, which included Poland, outbreaks of state-sanctioned violence against Jews became increasingly commonplace,” he said. “One result of these pogroms was an exodus of Jews from the Russian Empire to other parts of the world, including Western Europe, Britain, and the United States, all of which offered—or seemed to—safe haven.”
In 1894, a falsely accused Jewish French artillery officer, said to have sold military secrets to Germany, was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life in prison. As evidence exonerating him emerged, it was buried or falsified to keep him in prison.
“Out of this came Zionism, which stated the aim of establishing a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the Jews’ biblical homeland.”
Eyes on Palestine
In 1917, during World War I, British Parliament made the first public declaration of support for Zionism. The movement gained momentum, beginning a mass migration of Jewish people to the Holy Land. This migration happened in waves, after certain anti-Semitic events.
“In 1929, the Jewish Agency for Palestine was founded, in Jerusalem, as an offshoot of the Zionist Organization,” Professor Gearon said. “It pushed for Jewish settlement in Palestine, and, after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hitler’s virulently anti-Jewish policies lent urgency to the migratory tide. Some 250,000 Jews migrated to Palestine in the 1930s.”
The Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, led by Palestinian Arabs, demanded Arab independence and an end to the immigration. It began as a strike and ended in protests and violence. The British government limited future migration of Jews to Palestine, as well as the amount of land they could buy, while also stating that Britain would soon withdraw from the area and leave the matter to Jews and Arabs to settle.
“The timing of Britain’s new policy statement, coming just months before the start of the Second World War—which would usher in the Holocaust and Jewish persecution on an unimaginable scale—was, to put it diplomatically, unfortunate,” Professor Gearon said.
During and after World War II, Palestinian Arabs found themselves outgunned and underprepared as compared to their Jewish counterparts, many of whom had fought with the Allies in World War II. An insurgency of Jewish paramilitary and terrorist groups attacked police; government; and, eventually, military targets, while anti-Jewish sentiment broke out in Britain in August 1947 when footage emerged of British officers murdered by Zionist terrorists.
“The international response—under the auspices of the newly established United Nations—called for a partition of Palestine, and an end to the British mandate no later than August 1, 1948,” Professor Gearon said. “Britain, in a hurry to leave, announced that it would be gone by mid-May.”
Arab leaders and governments rejected the plan outright. The UN General Assembly approved the plan anyway and adopted it November 29, 1947. Civil war broke out the next day. Eventually this would lead to the first Arab-Israeli War, but on May 14, 1948, Britain’s Union Flag was lowered for the last time and the flag of Israel was raised in its place.