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The Hummus War History

The Birth of Modern Israel

The State of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. Israeli independence has been marked by massive immigration of Jews, by conflict with the Palestinians, and by war with neighbouring Arab states. From 1970 the United States has been the principal ally of Israel. In 1979, an uneasy peace was established with Egypt and in 1994, with Jordan. About 42% of the world's Jews live in Israel today.


Ilan Pappe - Zionism took its opportunity in 1948

The Jewish people have survived almost two millennia of Jewish dispersal and persecution, and Israel, in one form or another, has been a dream. In 1492 Jews expelled from Spain settled in Palestine. In the 16th century, Jewish communities were established in the Four Holy Cities; Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed. In 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem. In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in Palestine. 20 Jewish settlements were established in Palestine between 1870 and 1897 - fleeing anti-semitic violence in Eastern Europe.

From the late 19th century the Zionist movement worked towards the goal of creating a homeland for the Jewish people.The Lovers of Zion were dedicated to the creation of a Jewish National Home and cultural centre in Palestine. After the Holocaust, the movement focussed on creation of a "Jewish state".

The British Mandate

Ilan Pappe - colonialism created today's political map/mess

During World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter that stated:

"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

The Jewish Legion, a group primarily of Zionist volunteers, assisted in the British conquest of Palestine in 1917. Arab opposition to British rule and Jewish immigration led to the 1920 Palestine riots and the formation of a Jewish militia known as the Haganah ("The Defense" in Hebrew). In 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate over Palestine under terms similar to the Balfour Declaration. The population at this time was predominantly Arab and Muslim, with Jews accounting for about 11% of the population.

In the 1920s Jews began to immigrate to Palestine before the rise of Nazism. A decade later, a quarter of a million Jewish refugees had fled to Palestine causing the Arab revolt of 1936-1939. The British restricted Jewish immigration in 1939 but the world was turning away Jewish refugees of the Holocaust. A clandestine movement known as Aliyah Bet smuggled Jews to Palestine and by the end of World War II, 33% of the population of Palestine was Jewish.

Yehuda Litani: the history of hummus in Israel and Palestine

Ancient History - who was where first?

Canaanites Canaanites in the Ancient Egyptian "Book of Gates", dated to the 13th Century BC.

Modern Israel and Palestine has had many names and been part of many empires. Once known as Canaan the region has always been a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. On the mediteranean curve of the Fertile Crescent, the region partcipated in the birth of agriculture and civilization. During the Bronze Age, independent Canaanite city-states were established, influenced by the surrounding civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete, and Syria as well as Greece and Rome.

The Merneptah stele

The first record of the name Israel is carved into the Merneptah stele, a granite block erected for Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah around 1209 BCE; "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not." Historians believe this "Israel" was an ethnic group in the central highlands of the Judaean Mountains, the Hebron Hills. Villages had populations of up to 300 or 400 farmers who were self-sufficient, traded, and writing was practiced.

There is little doubt that the Israelite's ancient regional cohabitants, the Philistines, are today's Palestinians. The Hebrew Bible tells of constant warfare between the Jews and other tribes, including the Philistines, whose capital was Gaza. The Arabic for Palestine is 'Filastin' and various forms of the word Palestine, including the Egyptian 'Peleset' refering to their neighbours, a Sea People. The Hebrew name Peleshet (פלשת Pəlésheth) means to divide, go through, to roll in, cover or invade, with a possible sense in this name as "migrant" or "invader" is usually transliterated as Palestine in English and equated to Philistia, which is used in the Bible more than 250 times. The Greek word Palaistinē (Παλαιστίνη, "Palaistine") is undoubtedly a translation of the Semitic name for Philistia.

The United Kingdom of Israel was established in 1020 BCE and split within a century to form the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. After a century of war, the Kingdom of Israel was eventually destroyed by Assyria around 750 BCE. (The Assyrians called the region Palashtu or Pilistu.) Most of the northern Israelite kingdom was exiled, creating the 'Lost Tribes of Israel'. The Assyrian King, Sennacherib, failed to conquer Judah.

Assyrian warriors Assyrian warriors

The Assyrian Empire was overthrown by the New Babylonian Empire in 612 BCE and in 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah. The Hebrew Bible says he destroyed Solomon's Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylon. In 538 BCE, Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and freed the subjugated nations, including the people of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible 50,000 Judeans, led by Zerubabel returned to Judah and rebuilt the temple. A second group of 5,000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Judah in 456 BCE although non-Jews wrote to Cyrus to try to prevent their return.

In 5th century BCE Herodotus wrote of a 'district of Syria, called Palaistinê' in The Histories, the first historical work clearly defining the region, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley.

Alexander the Great Alexander the Great

In 333 BCE Alexander the Great defeated Persia and conquered the region. The first translation of the Hebrew Bible was begun in Alexandria. When Alexander died, his generals fought over the empire and Judah became part of the Seleucid Empire. In the 2nd century BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruler of the Seleucid Empire) tried to eradicate Judaism in favour of Hellenistic religion provoking the 174-135 BCE Maccabean Revolt led by Judas Maccabeus - a victory still celebrated in the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Modern interpretations see this period as a civil war between Hellenized and orthodox forms of Judaism.

The Hasmonean dynasty of priest-kings ruled Judea with the Pharisees, Saducees and Essenes. The Pharisees established a national male (religious) education and literacy program, based around meeting houses which led to Rabbinical Judaism. In 125 BCE the Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus subjugated Edom and forcibly converted the population to Judaism - the only known case of forced conversion to Judaism.

Pompey Pompey

In 64 BCE the Roman general Pompey conquered Judea. From 37 BCE to 6 CE, the Herodian dynasty, Jewish-Roman client kings, descended from Edom, ruled Judea. Herod the Great made the temple one of the largest religious structures in the world but Rabbinical Judaism began to dominate the Temple priesthood.

In 66 CE the Jews of Judea revolted naming their kingdom "Israel". Jerusalem and the Temple lay in ruins. Christians, a sub-sect of Judaism, left Judea. The rabbinical/Pharisee movement led by Yochanan ben Zakai made peace with Rome and survived. From 115 to 117, Jews in Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, Kurdistan and Lod rose in revolt against Rome. This conflict was accompanied by large-scale massacres of both Romans and Jews. Cyprus was severely depopulated and Jews banned from living there.

In 131, the Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" and constructed a Temple of Jupiter on the site of the former Jewish temple. Jews were banned from living in Jerusalem itself (a ban that persisted until the Arab conquest) and the Roman province, until then known as Iudaea Province, was renamed Palaestina, no other revolt led to a province being renamed. The names "Palestine" (in English) and "Filistin" (in Arabic) are derived from this.

Hadrian Hadrian

From 132 to 136, the Jewish leader Simon Bar Kokhba led another major revolt against the Romans, again renaming the country "Israel". Christians refused to participate in the revolt and from this point the Jews regarded Christianity as a separate religion. The revolt was crushed by Hadrian and the Romans permitted a hereditary Rabbinical Patriarch (from the House of Hillel) to represent the Jews.

In the 3rd Century most of the population of Galilee and much of the coastal region were Jewish but persecution and a Roman economic crisis led to further Jewish migration to the more tolerant Persian Sassanid Empire, where a prosperous Jewish community existed around Babylon.

The crumbling Roman Empire split and the region became part of the East Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire. Early in the 4th century, Constantinople became the capital of the East Roman Empire and Christianity became the official religion. The name Jerusalem was restored and it became a Christian city. Jews were allowed to visit, and the surviving Western Wall of the temple became sacred. Under the Byzantines, Christianity was dominated by the (Greek) Orthodox Church. In the 5th century, The Western Roman Empire collapsed leading to Christian migration into Palestine and development of a Christian majority. Jews numbered 10-15% of the population. Judaism was the only non-Christian religion tolerated, but there were bans on Jews building new places of worship, holding public office or owning slaves.

In 611, Sassanid Persia invaded the Byzantine Empire and, after a long siege, Chosroes II captured Jerusalem (614) with Jewish help. Jews were left to govern Jerusalem until in 617, when the Persians took over. The Byzantine Emperor, Heraclius, promised to restore Jewish rights and received Jewish help in defeating the Persians, but he reneged on the agreement and banned Judaism from the Byzantine Empire. Jews fleeing Byzantium settled in the Baltic area, where the Khazar nobility and some of the population subsequently converted to Judaism.

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