chapter  15
20 Pages

The Contest for Palestine

WithArthur Goldschmidt, Aomar Boum

This chapter explains the contest for Palestine up to the creation of Israel as the Jewish state. Political Zionism is the belief that the Jews should form and maintain a state for themselves there. In the late nineteenth century, the total number of Jewish settlers in Palestine was less than 20,000; the local inhabitants, numbering about 570,000, spoke Arabic. With intense fervor and dedication, these Jewish settlers of the second aliya built up the fledgling institutions of their community in Palestine: schools, newspapers, theaters, sports clubs, trade unions, worker-owned factories, and political parties. If Theodor Herzl's life and teachings constituted the first event that saved political Zionism, the second was the large-scale emigration of Jews from Russia following its abortive 1905 revolution. What the Balfour Declaration seemed to ensure was that the British government, upon gaining control of Palestine, would be committed to build the Jewish national home there.