The people of Israel, also known as the Jewish people, trace their root back to Abraham- the man who brought the idea of monotheism to the world. Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob lived in Canaan which later became known as the land of Israel. These three people became known as the patriarchs of the Jewish people. They are buried, together with their wives, in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Israel is an alternative name of Jacob. Jacob was the father of twelve tribes that later developed in to the Jewish nation. The name Jew is derived from the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Israel, Israeli and Jewish refer to people of the same origin.
The descendants of Abraham became a nation in approximately 1300 BCE after they were exiled to Egypt, led out under Moses and received the Bible and the Ten Commandments. After receiving the Torah and becoming a people the Jewish people walked for forty years in the desert before reaching the Land of Israel, which is cited in the Bible as being the land promised by G-d to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jews have had a continuous presence in Israel for the past 3,300 years.
The rule of Israelites in Israel starts with the conquests of Joshua, followed by the period of the Judges and then the Kings, with the most noteworthy kings being David who made Jerusalem the capital of Israel and Solomon his son who built the first Temple in Jerusalem.
In 587 BCE, Jerusalem was captured, the Temple destroyed and the Jews exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Following this tragedy, a chain of foreign empires ruled in Israel; the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantine, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamluks, the Ottoman Empire and the British. After being exiled by the Romans the Jewish people migrated to Europe and Northern Africa and established rich cultural and economic lives, contributing greatly to the communities that they lived in. yet throughout the centuries, Jews all over the world prayed to return to Israel, three-times daily.
In the first half of the twentieth century there were huge waves of immigration to Israel of Jews in Arab countries. During the British rule the Jewish people living in Israel were subjected to violence and massacres by Arab civilians. In the build up to the Second World War, a relatively small number of Jews returned to Israel. After the war, a large number of survivors made Israel their home. In 1948 the Jewish community in Israel reestablished sovereignty over the ancient homeland. On May 14th 1948, the day on which the last British forces left Israel, the modern state of Israel was announced.
The day after the declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, five Arab countries invaded Israel, marking the beginning of the War of Independence. In total, Arab states have waged four full scale wars against Israel;
• 1948 War of Independence
• 1956 Sinai War
• 1967 Six Day War
• 1973 Yom Kippur War
Each time Israel miraculously won against the huge Arab armies. Following each war Israel also withdrew from most of the areas it captured- an unprecedented move in world history and a reflection of Israel's willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its existence each time anew.
The beautiful, little country of Israel retains its independence until this day but is the center of constant conflict with their neighbors. In the few decades that the modern country has been around, it has been faced with countless terrorist attacks and continuous turmoil. The achievements of Israel in the face of all this adversity are stunning. With advanced technology, far ahead of its years and an amazing combination of natural, physical and technological capabilities, Israel is a global success and no doubt will continue to be for many, many years to come.