Thesis: Establishment of the State of Israel

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Establishment of the State of Israel

One of the driving forces in the global political climate was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The creation of Israel has resulted in a series of wars between the Jewish state and its neighbors. The fallout has continued to this day, in the form of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, the creation of Israel was a necessity, born of the Holocaust, which almost completely wiped out Jewish presence in Europe. The purpose of this essay is to outline the reasons for the creation of the State of Israel and provide some insight into the background of the region. The essay will then explore the reasons why this event has been so important in the history of the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

The modern history of Israel begins with the First World War, which brought about the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Sevre in 1920 first laid out the framework for the division of the Ottoman Empire. Following the Turkish War of Independence, this treaty was superceded by the Treaty of Lausanne. The division resulted in several former territories of the Ottomans falling under the jurisdiction of various European powers. Mesopotamia, the Palestine and Transjordan came under British administration, known as a Mandate. Nearby Lebanon and Syria came under French Mandate.

The Palestine and Transjordan portion of the British Mandate was created by the League of Nations for the purpose of "establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people." This followed the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British government stated its support for a Jewish state in the predominantly Muslim Palestine region.

After the Mandates were established, the British then partitioned the Palestine part of their mandate, marking the River Jordan as a boundary line. East of the river was set aside for Arabs, and Jews were to live west of the river. In further moves, Britain gave up the Golan Heights to the French Mandate and restricted settlement in the Negev Desert to the Bedouins. Despite the Balfour Declaration, even the western portion where Jews could settle was largely closed to Jewish settlement.

This limits on Jewish immigration were enacted in part due to Arab riots on the issue, as the British above all wanted to maintain order in the region. With the onset of World War Two, immigration all but stopped. The War itself, however, was the most significant catalyst in the formation of the State of Israel.

As the National Socialist Party rose to power in the 1930s in Germany, Adolf Hitler began harsh persecutions of a wide variety of groups - Slavs, Roma, Jews, homosexuals, and political opponents. Jews were rounded up into ghettos, and stripped of their rights. Despite concern from Jewish leaders elsewhere, few governments were willing to say anything, much less do anything. The United States even went so far as to bar two Jewish sprinters from its 1936 Olympic team, in line with Germany who also barred its Jewish athletes from competing.

The result of this inaction was that after the onset of World War Two, the Nazis were able to enact their "Final Solution," the plan to rid Europe of its Jews. Hitler's initial plan was to remove all German Jews to Madagascar, but this was never acted upon. Eventually, the plan morphed into total extermination, as the Nazis planned to rule all of Europe anyway.

Death camps were set up, and Hitler's victims were exterminated en masse. The world had only an inkling of what was unfolding, until they were able to defeat the Germans. As Allied forces closed in on Germany and Poland, they uncovered the death camps and began to piece together the atrocity.

Estimates on the number of Jews killed in Hitler's death camps is between five and six million people. This represented 2/3 of all Jews in Europe, and 1/3 of the Jews in the world. The amount of anti-Semitism in the world was high. The United States, for example, had emerged as the most dominant nation in the Jewish world, in terms of both population and influence, but was still a nation with rampant anti-Semitism. The result was that the British and the rest of the world's powers, began to understand the need for a Jewish state, a safe haven from persecution. Indeed, Jews had been migrating there from Europe and the U.S.S.R. since the end of the war, as just such a safe haven.

In 1947, the United Nations proposed that the Palestine Mandate be split into two separate states, one Jewish and the other Arab. The Arab League opposed this, but in 1948 Israel declared its independence unilaterally, just as the British Mandate was set to expire. This was recognized within days by both the United States and the U.S.S.R.

The Israel-Arab War of 1948 began when the Mandate expired. Arabs had long opposed the creation of a Jewish state, believing that such an act would result in the expulsion of non-Jewish people fro the area. Complicating the situation is that the land had not since Roman times been explicitly organized, nor been an independent nation. Many groups had lived in the area for centuries, and the territory had been ruled by a succession of outsider interests, both Muslim and Christain. No one group dominated the region, and the creation of the State of Israel changed that.

The war began with the invastion of the new Israeli state by a myriad of Arab forces from neighboring countries. These states believed that since the Palestinian Arabs had rejected the UN's partioin plan, that the creation of the state of Israel was illegal and thus they had the duty to protect the rights and safety of the Arabs in the region. The war stretched for much of 1948 but armistice agreements between Israel and her neighbors were reached in the early part of 1949. Through these agreements the boundaries of Israel were redrawn, expanded to incorporate 78% of the Palestine Mandate, or roughly 50% more land than had been proposed under the UN Partion Plan. The armistice agreements were essentially the final acts of the creation of the State of Israel, as they represented de facto recognition of the state by its neighbors and established firm boundaries for the new state for the first time.

At the time of the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration, strong fears had begun to grow among the Arabs in the Palestine region. They had feared that their region would be subject to creation of a Zionist Jewish state, and that a substantial component of their population would lose their land and their homes. When Israel declared its independence, it appeared that this was a strong possibility, but not an inevitability. Howver, the 1948 war took place mainly on Israeli soil, and one of the outcomes was that over 700,000 Palestinians were relocated out of the territory, either to avoid fighting or to avoid living n the Jewish state. The 1922 census of the Palestine Mandate showed that the population of Arabs in the territory was seven times that of Jews. By the time of the creation of the state of Israel, the Jewish population had expanded sixfold, outnumbering the Palestinians in that half of the Mandate.

The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians continues to this day. Further wars gave Israel additional territories, some of which it has ceded back to the Palestinians. The conflict, however, has expanded beyond those two participants. Other Islamic groups oppose Israel, but also have begun to engage in conflict with the key backers of Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. This conflict encompasses a wide range of guerilla warfare, open warfare and terrorist acts. The violent battles between Islamic and Western factions can be directly traced to the circumstances surrounding the creation of the State of Israel. These hostilities between the Western world and the Muslim one eventually resulted in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the subsuquent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Worse, the conflict threatens to spread to other parts of the Islamic world, in particular fundamentalist Iran. With many of the coutnries involved either possessing nuclear weapons or attempting to gain possession of them, this conflct that stems from an obsolete treaty signed at the end of the First World War threatens to become the cause of another world war.

Howver, the creation of the State is also a landmark not just for the conflicts that have flowed from it, but for the creation of a homeland, a safe haven, for the Jewish people. The Jewish people have maintained a constant presence in the region for thousands of years, but spread around the world. Yet during this spread they faced significant persection in many countries. The need for a Jewish state was officially recognized with the Balfour Declaration, thirty years before the establishment of the State of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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