History of the Jews – summary from 750 BC to Israel-Palestine conflict


A century ago, a conflict arose which
would quickly become one of the most complex and controversial in the world. A conflict between two very different people for the same territory. To understand its origins, let’s retrace the history of the Jewish people on a map. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be explained in a following video. The story begins in 750 BC when the Near East was divided into many small kingdoms and city-states. They were wedged between the Assyrian Empire to the north and Egypt in the south. Among them was the Kingdom of Israel whose people worshipped several gods, including Yahweh. In 722 BC, the capital Samaria fell to the Assyrian empire. Part of the population then fled to the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. But they would be followed by the Assyrian army as they continued their
expansion towards the south. The region then remains under their control for a century until the fall of Nineveh to the Babylonians. Egypt and Babylon would then
compete for territories of the old empire. But the Babylonians quickly take
over and project their power in the region. Jerusalem resists this new rule and rebels. The Babylonian army then returns to besiege and destroy the city. Much of the population is then moved to the capital. In 539 BC, the Achaemenid Persian empire takes over Babylon. The new king authorizes a free passage
for Judeans, prompting many to return to Jerusalem. They would then rebuild the city and organize the foundations of Jewish culture by building the Temple of
Solomon and writing the Torah. In 334 BC, the ambitious young Macedonian king, Alexander the Great, set out with his army to conquer the known world. In just over 10 years, he rakes up a huge territory and builds many cities. But, exhausted by conquest, he died at age 32 in Babylon without an heir of governing age. The empire was then divided by his generals into various Hellenic kingdoms. Judea came under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasty. A Jewish community settles in the new city of Alexandria and the Torah is translated into Greek. Following a war against the Seleucid dynasty, Hellenic and Jewish culture developed friction to the point that one of the altars of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was dedicated to the worship of Zeus. A traditionalist, anti-Hellenic Jewish militia is organized and takes control of Jerusalem in 164 BC. The temple is restored and the kingdom of Judea becomes independent. A century later the region was conquered by the Roman army. The Judeans would organize two major revolts against the new regime, which were violently crushed. The first revolt in 66 provoked the siege of Jerusalem followed by the destruction of its temple. The only wall of the enclosure that survived would become known as the Wailing Wall. During the second revolt, the city was razed and a great part of the population slaughtered. This time, the Jews were forbidden a safe passage to Judea. Many migrated to Galilee and
across the empire. Towards the end of the Roman empire,
Christianity was the dominant religion and Jerusalem a place of pilgrimage. The largely well-to-do Jewish community in the Mediterranean Basin began to be persecuted, especially in the Visigoths and Byzantine empires. In the 7th century, following the birth of Islam, begins an Arab conquest. In some cases Jews support the conquest in the hope of better conditions. They are tolerated by the Arabs and only polytheistic peoples are forcibly converted. In Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is built, making the city holy to the three monotheistic religions. The Arabs arrive at the Iberian Peninsula, which they call Al-Andalus. Here, 5% of the population is Jewish, ushering in a golden age of culture. Meanwhile in Europe, Jews are not only tolerated as people who witnessed times before Christ, but also as the sole traders between Catholics and Muslims. This allows Jews to gradually establish themselves in all of Western Europe. In the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks, a
Central Asian people, began their expansion and reached Jerusalem. They persecute Christians and forbid pilgrimages to the city. In response, Christians in Europe organized crusades — military and religious expeditions to the holy city. Along the way, they massacred Jewish communities who they now consider a deicide people, who killed Jesus Christ. In 1347, Genoese merchant boats from Caffa helped spread the Black Death. In five years, the disease wreaks havoc in Europe, killing almost half its population. A rumor spreads accusing Jews of poisoning wells, resulting in their persecution mainly along the Rhine and Rhone region and their eventual expulsion. In Spain, the Reconquista ends. The Catholic kings serve an ultimatum to the Jews to either convert or leave. The majority, who choose to leave, settle
along the Mediterranean coast, mainly in the Ottoman Empire, where they are welcomed. The Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth becomes a haven for Jews from Western Europe due to favourable migration policies. In the 17th century, the region hosts more than 300,000 or about half of the Jews in the world. But everything changed in 1648 with the revolt of the Cossacks Ukrainian peasants against the nobility and the Jews. They accused the Jews of having a
privileged relationship with those in power. More than 100,000 Jewish people
are killed or flee the region. This episode would weaken the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, besieged on all sides by neighboring powers. In 150 years, the region falls and its territory is carved up. The Jewish community is divided and 900,000 of them find themselves in the Russian empire, where they are not welcome. They quickly become the targets of attacks called “pogroms” — a Russian term meaning “devastation”. Given the lack of response from authorities, these attacks become more frequent and deadly. The Jews then emigrated to the United
States and Western Europe, which in the meantime, has improved their living conditions. It is in this context that the first Zionist Congress is held in Basel in 1897, contemplating the founding of a new homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. But the Ottoman Empire is fiercely opposed to the project. A few years later, the First World War breaks out. The Ottoman Empire fought alongside
Germany. When the Allies were in trouble and desperately sought further support, the then-British minister of Foreign Affairs Arthur Balfour wrote an open letter, promising a Jewish homeland in Palestine in return for Jewish support. In parallel, they support the Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire by promising them independence in the liberated territories. At the end of the war, the map of the Middle East was redrawn and divided up between the European powers. Palestine comes under the British mandate, marking the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

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