History of Israel

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The French Revolution and the associated spread of Enlightenment ideals led to Jewish emancipation across Europe. Many Jews actively embraced the enlightenment and assimilated as ways to attain equal rights. This led to a counter-reaction by European reactionaries who sought to prevent Jews from being granted citizenship and who saw them as an alien, morally inferior non-European community. Opponents of Jewish civil rights called themselves antisemites. Scientific racism became increasingly popular as the century wore on and what had been religious prejudice now became racial prejudice. In Tzarist Russia, the government actively encouraged pogroms in an effort to divert popular resentment at the government and to drive out the Jewish population. Conspiracy theorists claimed Jews were manipulating European history to cause revolutions. The Russian authorities in particular alleged a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy to achieve world domination. A small percentage of the millions of Jews who fled Russia headed for Palestine. Mikveh Israel was founded in 1870 by Alliance Israelite Universelle, followed by Petah Tikva (1878), Rishon LeZion (1882), and other agricultural communities founded by the members of Bilu and Hovevei Zion. European Nationalists generally regarded the Jews as aliens and this led to a "Jewish question". Antisemitism, pogroms and alienation from national movements led many Jews to consider the possibility of re-establishing themselves as an independent nation. Left-wing antisemitism and the desire to preserve their identity encouraged socialist Jews to seek solutions within their own community. In 1897, the First Zionist Congress proclaimed the decision "to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law."[41] The movement made little political progress before the First World War and was regarded with suspicion by the Ottoman rulers of the Holy Land. Zionism attracted religious Jews, secular nationalists and left-wing socialists. Socialists aimed to reclaim the land by working on it and formed collectives. This was accompanied by Revival of the Hebrew language.

During World War I, the British sought Jewish support in the fight against Germany. This and support for Zionism from Prime-Minister Lloyd-George[42] led to foreign minister, Lord Balfour making the Balfour Declaration of 1917, stating that the British Government "view[ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"..."it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine". The British invasion force, led by General Allenby, included a force of Jewish volunteers (mostly Zionists), known as the Jewish Legion.[43]

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