Asked in Israel
Why and when was the nation of Israel created?
September 24, 2015 5:23PM
When: Israeli leaders declared independence on May 14, 1948.
Why: See below.
Zionist Jews had been trying to establish a Jewish State in Israel since the 1890s. The only reason that it took so long was that the Jews tried to get support from the International Community to make this dream a reality. As a result, it is worth splitting this question into "Why did Jews want Israel?" and "Why did the rest of the world finally come around on legitimizing Israel?"
Why did the Jews want Israel?
There are two operative parts to that question. There is the
implicit question as to whether a Jewish State is something that
should exist. There is the explicit question as to whether the
geographical location chosen for this Jewish State is proper for
1) Why a Jewish State: Herzl explained quite well that the European concept of a nation-state was dependent on the idea that all of the people in any particular nation were of the same ethnic stock and heritage. Jews were branded by this system to be "the Other" and were regarded at best as possible equals and at worse as traitors, spies, thieves, and fifth columns. When the Dreyfus Affair turned out marches in Paris that said "Death to the Jews" on account of a kangaroo court against a particular guiltless Jew, it became clear that the Jew could not be integrated into Europe. After the Holocaust, the strongest proof that the Jew and the European Nation-State were irreconcilable, this view of denigrating "the Other" persists. In Europe, it is now directed at the Muslims since the Jews are not large enough of a threat to the European System. Unlike Muslims, though, which can return to their countries of origin if the discrimination becomes intolerable, the Jews did not have such a place. This is why the Jewish State is necessary. Since it came into existence it has accepted Jewish political refugees from over 50 nations and flown missions at its own expense to rescue Jews from at least 10 nations.
2) Why Israel: Ahad Ha'am explains that the Jewish Soul is intrinsically connected to his history and in the same way that a German-American can never be as properly German as a German in Germany, the People of Israel can never be as properly Jewish if they are not in the Land of Israel. The relics in that land speak to a Jewish sensibility and character. There are also religious reasons as expounded by Rav Avraham Kook which posit that the development of a Jewish State in Israel hastens the arrival of the Messiah. There are additional political reasons why Israel and not Europe. As explained above, the European Culture is strongly anti-Other and making a Jewish State there would have fostered much more contempt and alienation (ironically).
Why did the rest of the world come around on legitimizing a
1) Be Gone & Good Riddance: (written by someone else) Many nations looked on with favor and relief, assuming that all Jews would eventually migrate there, and the nations would finally be rid of them. But even that fond hope was not enough for most Muslim nations, who bitterly opposed the creation of Israel, and after 64 years, still do.
2) Holocaust Pity:The Holocaust bore out two major truths as concerned the Jewish people. The first was that without a government loyal to their interests, they could easily be targeted against and brutally murdered. The second major truth was that such an event was no longer a hypothetical since 6 million Jews were intentionally mass-murdered by what had previously been seen as one of the most progressive modern countries: Germany.
3) Middle East Control: Although it seems odd to say it today, both the United States and the Soviet Union believed that Israel could be converted to "their side" in the Cold War. Given that any Jewish State in the Arab World would be isolated, it would be natural for such a state to create a strategic relationship with one of the major powers. Additionally, a Jewish State might be able to influence neighboring Arab states and make them more pliant as concerns oil shipments. Both the USA and USSR supported the Creation of the State of Israel for these strategic reasons.
4) Solidarity with the Oppressed: Many nations in Latin America supported Israel because they sympathized with the oppressed Jewish people and saw the Independence of Israel as akin to their wars against Spain/Portugal and the internal fights for more indigenous equality.
5) Because It's the Right Thing to Do: There was certainly support for a Jewish State because some just saw it as the proper thing to return Palestine to the Jews. Churchill, who was no longer Prime Minister, held many pro-Zionist views out of respect for the Jews and their contribution to that region of the world.
6) Diplomatic Pressure: Both the United States and Soviet Union pressured their allies and third world countries to support the United Nations Resolution. This does not make the vote any less valid, but is worth noting.
September 24, 2015 8:30AM
Israel became an independent nation on May 14, 1948.
In the following English translation of the Israeli Declaration of Independence,
the founders of that nation explain their motives and intentions:
Declaration of Independence
Friday 14th May 1948 - Erev Shabbat 5th Iyar 5708
Eretz Israel [Hebrew: The Land of Israel] was the birthplace of the Jewish people.
Here, their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here, they achieved
independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they
wrote and gave the Bible to the world.
Exiled from their land, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of
their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and for the restoration
in it of their national freedom.
Impelled by this historic association, Jews strove in every successive generation to
re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned
in masses. Pioneers, ma'pilim [Hebrew: immigrants coming to Eretz-Israel in defiance
of restrictive legislation] and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew
language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own
economy and culture. Loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, they brought the
blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the country.
In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State,
Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the
Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.
This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and
re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave explicit
international recognition to the historic connection between the Jewish people and
Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.
The Nazi holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, was another clear
demonstration of the urgency of the re-establishment n Eretz-Israel of the Jewish
State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer
upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of
The survivors of the European catastrophe, as well as Jews continued to migrate to
Eretz-Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to
assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland.
In the Second World War the Jewish community of this country made a full contribution
in the struggle of the freedom- and peace- loving nations against the forces of Nazi
evil and by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained the right to be reckoned
among the peoples who founded the United Nations.
On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a
Resolution calling for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Eretz-
Israel, and called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as may be
necessary on their part to put the plan into effect.
This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish
their independent State is irrevocable. This right is the natural right of the Jewish
people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign
ACCORDINGLY, WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE'S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE
HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE
OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND
ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE
KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.
WE HEREBY DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the
Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948),
and until the setting up of the duly elected bodies of the State in accordance with
a Constitution, to be drawn up by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than
the first day of October, 1948, the People's Council shall act as a Provisional Council
of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall constitute the
Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel".
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to the immigration of Jews and for the Ingathering
of the Exiles from all countries of their dispersion; will promote the development of the
country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty,
justice and peace as invisaged by the prophets of Israel; will uphold the full social
and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will
guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard
the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will
dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives
of the United Nations in the implementation of the Resolution of the General Assembly
of November 29, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union over
the whole of Eretz-Israel.
WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of
its State and to admit Israel into the family of nations.
WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months -
to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play
their part in the upbuilding of the State, on the basis of full and equal citizenship and
due representation in all its bodies and institutions - provisional or permanent.
WE EXTEND our hand of peace and unity to all the neighbouring states and their
peoples, and invite them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with
the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared
to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews
of Eretz-Israel in the task of immigration and development and to stand by them in
the great struggle for the fulfillment of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE ROCK OF ISRAEL, WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS
PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE, ON
THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE
5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH MAY,1948).
David Ben-Gurion, and 37 more signatures.