“AND THEN THERE WAS ISRAEL”— The Origins of the Creation of Israel’s Statehood

“AND THEN THERE WAS ISRAEL”

The Origins of the Creation of Israel’s Statehood

Amos Lassen

Director Romed Wyder takes us back in time to look at the origins of the creation of the State Of Israel. We lookat historical facts under the specific angle of the responsibility of the Western World. Via the analyses of internationally renowned scholars and cinematographic archives, we see that in adopting the Zionist project, Great Britain and other Western countries have been guided mainly by their own agenda. Therefore the West bears a heavy responsibility in terms of the fate of Jews in Europe at the time as well as in terms of the fate of the Palestinians today.

When it comes to Israel and Palestine, the current crisis is rooted choices made in response to 19th century geopolitics, colonial imperatives and the Holocaust. What makes this so complicated two sides entrenched and thousands of years of history and there seems to be no solution.

It’s so complicated. Thousands of years of history. Old hatreds. Both sides entrenched. No solution seems possible. There are common sentiments on both sides and the conflict goes way back in time. We are at a stalemate that is filled with rocket attacks, massacres, and uprisings. 

But the birth of the modern state of Israel was far from inevitable.  The 19th century was the era of the rise of the nation-state and this was a period filled with the invention of history. If every nation were to have its own state, what of the Jews? Early discussions of a Jewish state were not limited to placing it in Palestine. Argentina, Uganda and the United States were also considered as possible locales.

Not all Jews were Zionists, and not all early Zionists were Jews. Among Christian Zionists there was a split between those who welcomed a Jewish state as a precursor to the end of times and those who saw it as a way to decrease the Jewish population elsewhere. Even the partition of Palestine was not inevitable; many instead supported a single, federal state. In central and eastern Europe, working-class, Yiddish-speaking Jews were far less likely to support Zionism than those who were better off.

“And There was Israel” covers the history of Zionism from the writings of Theodore Herzl to the expulsion of Palestinians from hundreds of villages following the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. Political sociologist Riccardo Bocco maintains the seeds of later conflict were in part brought about by the contradictory commitments made by the British during the period of the Mandate: promising to recognize an independent Arab state in exchange for an alliance against the Ottomans while also committing to supporting a Jewish home in the Middle East, while at the same time secretly negotiating with France over carving up the region into spheres of influence. After the liberation of survivors in Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II, calls for a Jewish homeland became ae moral urgency. But as we see here, even then, the outcome was far from certain. A proposal for a federal state including both Jews and Palestinians was never put to a vote at the United Nations, while behind-the-scenes machinations to ensure support for partition took place.

Our references to this fascinating history are seven academics from the fields of history, sociology, law, and political science and Middle Eastern studiess. Their narratives of the decades leading up to the formation of Israel include British, French, and American newsreels, along with rarely seen footage from within the early United Nations, as the question of partitioning Palestine into separate states comes to the floor.

This is an accessible, clearly argued essay on how Israel came to be and the far-reaching ramifications of colonial projects.

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