Israeli security services issued restraining orders to at least seven right-wing Jewish activists overnight Saturday, bringing the total number of alleged extremists temporarily banned from entering the West Bank or Jerusalem in recent days to 10.

The wave of restraining orders came as authorities attempted to crack down on Jewish extremists in the wake of the July killing of Saad Dawabsha and his 18-month-old son, Ali, in a firebombing attack on their home in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank. The attack, coupled with a fatal stabbing spree by an extremist Jew at Jerusalems gay pride parade a day earlier, sparked an international and domestic outcry over Israels failure to come to grips with violence by Jewish terrorists and extremists.

In a statement, the Shin Bet said the measures were taken against individuals in the agencys uncompromising effort to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that carried out the attacks, and prevent additional activity that endangers public security.

Shin Bet and police early Sunday morning issued restraining orders to two students enrolled at the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the hardline West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The students were banned from the West Bank for six months and ordered to remain under house arrest at night. In addition, one of the students was banned from Jerusalem and was told to refrain from making contact with a number of his friends.

Police also issued issued restraining orders barring two minors from entering Jerusalem for a six-month period. Both teens, one from Maale Adumim and one from central Israel, were ordered to remain under house arrest at night. A third minor from the settlement of Amona, north of Jerusalem, was sentenced to full house arrest for the next six months.

Similar orders were distributed by police to right-wing activists in the Hebron-area settlement of Kiryat Arba, as well the northern West Bank outposts of Givat Habaladim and Geulat Zion.

The Shin Bet statement described the illegal outpost of Givat Habaladim as a hotbed of extremist activity, and said a number of known attackers had fled there in the past.

Right-wing activist and attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, who is representing a number of the detained, said his clients intend to appeal the orders.

The defense minister is behaving like a bull in a china shop. His actions send the message to young people that there is no democratic process and encourages them to break the law since no indictment was given or due process was followed, Ben Gvir said, according to the Hebrew-language news site NRG.

Meir Ettinger, the head of a Jewish extremist group, stands at the Israeli justice court in Nazareth Illit on August 4, 2015, a day after his arrest (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved the use of detention without charges known as administrative detention and other means in an effort to track down the killers of the Dawabshas earlier this month.

Meir Ettinger, the 23-year-old grandson of assassinated extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach organization, was arrested earlier this month in connection with alleged extremist activity. Yaalon approved the order authorizing for Ettinger to be held in administrative detention.

Yaalon said the use of administrative detention for a number of Jewish terror suspects has proved effective in preventing additional violence against Arabs by hardline Jews.

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Alleged Jewish extremists banned from West Bank, Jerusalem …


zrl, officially State of Israel, republic (2005 est. pop. 6,277,000, including Israelis in occupied Arab territories), 7,992 sq mi (20,700 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea. (The area figure used above does not include the Golan Heights or the West Bank, which are occupied by Israel.) It is bordered by Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Egypt on the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba (an arm of the Red Sea) on the south. The capital and largest city of Israel is Jerusalem. This article deals primarily with the events in Israel from 1948 to the present. For the earlier history of the region, see Palestine.

The country is a narrow, irregularly shaped strip of land with four principal regions: the plain along the Mediterranean coast; the mountains, which are east of this coastal plain; the Negev, which comprises the southern half of the country; and the portion of Israel that forms part of the Jordan Valley, in turn a part of the Great Rift Valley. North of the Negev, Israel enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters. This northern half of the country has a limited but adequate supply of water, except in times of drought. The Negev, however, is a semiarid desert region, having less than 10 in. (25 cm) of rainfall a year.

The most important river in Israel is the Jordan. Other smaller rivers are the Yarkon, the Kishon, and the Yarmuk, a tributary of the Jordan. Other bodies of water include the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea (part of which belongs to neighboring Jordan). Owing to interior drainage and a high rate of evaporation, the waters of the Dead Sea have about eight times as much salt as the ocean.

The highest point in Israel is Mt. Meron (3,692 ft/1,125 m) near Zefat. The lowest point is the shore of the Dead Sea, which is 1,345 ft (410 m) below sea level, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. In addition to Jerusalem, other important cities include Tel AvivJaffa (see separate entries on Tel Aviv, Jaffa), Haifa, Beersheba, and Netanya).

Israel proper is made up of about 82% Jews, about 16% Arabs, and 2% Druze and others. While the Jewish population as of 1948 consisted mostly of those from central and E Europe (not including Russia), Jews from African and Asian countries came in increasing numbers after 1948 and now constitute a majority of the Jewish population. Around 500,000 Russian Jews have arrived in recent years, as have most of the small population of Ethiopian Jews (see Falashas). The Arab population is primarily Sunni Muslim; a smaller proportion are Christians. Hebrew is the official language. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and English is widely used. Israel has major universities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, and Rehovot, as well as many smaller institutes of higher education located throughout the country.

The economy of Israel is based on both state and private ownership and operation. Despite adverse conditions, agriculture in Israel has been developed successfully, largely by extensive irrigation to compensate for the shortage of rainfall. Agricultural exports include citrus fruits, cut flowers, non-citrus fruits, and vegetables. Other sizable crops are cotton, wheat, barley, peanuts, sunflowers, grapes, and olives. Poultry and livestock are raised. Agricultural production adds up to roughly 5% of Israel’s gross national product and of its exports.

Most of the land (apart from the land belonging to non-Jews) is held in trust for the people of Israel by the state and the Jewish National Fund. The latter was set up in 1901 to buy land in Palestine for Jews to cultivate, and now implements a wide range of forest and land development activities. The Israel Land Authority leases the land to kibbutzim, which are communal agricultural settlements; to moshavim, which are cooperative agricultural communities; and to other agricultural or rural villages.

The major industries include the cutting and polishing of diamonds and the manufacture of chemical fertilizers, apparel, and military and electronic equipment. High-technology industries are Israel’s fastest-growing businesses, with emphasis on computers, software, telecommunications, biotechnology, and medical electronics. A number of light industries produce processed foods, precision instruments, and plastic goods. The Dead Sea has minerals of commercial value, such as potash, magnesium, bromine, and salt.

Another major industry is tourism, which is one of Israel’s largest sources of revenue. The government decided to privatize El Al, Israel’s international airline, in 1998. Two nuclear reactors exist: one near Tel Aviv, and another near Dimona in the Negev, the site of research on using atomic energy for the production of electricity and the desalination of seawater. Dimona has also been credited with nuclear weapons capacities.

Processed diamonds, high-technology and military products, and agricultural products are the major exports, followed by chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and apparel. The leading imports are military equipment, machinery, rough diamonds, crude oil, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, and cereals. Although Israel imports more than it exports, the balance of trade is far more favorable now than it was in the early years of the state. Israel’s chief trading partners are the United States and nations in the European Union, especially Britain and Germany.

Israel has no constitution; it is governed under the 1948 Declaration of Establishment as well as parliamentary and citizenship laws. The government consists of a legislature (the Knesset), a president, a prime minister, and the cabinet. The Knesset has a single chamber with 120 seats. The president is elected by the Knesset. The prime minister appoints a cabinet that must be approved by the Knesset; both are responsible to the Knesset. The country is divided into six administrative districts ( mezoh ).

Israel has an intricate party system with a large number of small parties. The two largest are left-of center Labor party, formed in 1968 by the merger of Mapai (founded 1930), Achdut Avoda (1944), and Rafi (1965), and the center-right Likud bloc, consisting of Gahal (the Herut Movement and the Israel Liberal party), the former Free Center party, and other factions.

The state of Israel is the culmination of nearly a century of activity in Zionism. Following World War I, Great Britain received (1922) Palestine as a mandate from the League of Nations. The struggle by Jews for a Jewish state in Palestine had begun in the late 19th cent. and had become quite active by the 1930s and 40s. The militant opposition of the Arabs to such a state and the inability of the British to solve the problem eventually led to the establishment (1947) of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, which devised a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a small internationally administered zone including Jerusalem. The General Assembly adopted the recommendations on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it. As the British began to withdraw early in 1948, Arabs and Jews prepared for war.

On May 14, 1948, when the British high commissioner for Palestine departed, the state of Israel was proclaimed at Tel Aviv. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq invaded Israel, as most Palestinian Arabs were driven from Jewish territory. By the time armistice agreements were reached (Jan., 1949), Israel had increased its holdings by about one-half. Jordan annexed the Arab-held area adjoining its territory, and Egypt occupied the coastal Gaza Strip in the southwest.

A government was formed at Tel Aviv, with Chaim Weizmann as president and David Ben-Gurion as prime minister. The capital was moved (Dec., 1949) to Jerusalem to strengthen Israel’s claim to that city. Following the Lausanne Conference of 1949, Israel allowed the return of 150,000 Arab refugees, mostly to reunite families. One major aim of the government was to gather in all Jews who wished to immigrate to Israel. This led to the 1950 Law of the Return, which provided for free and automatic citizenship for all immigrant Jews. Border incidents with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan continued.

Trouble in the Gaza area reached new heights in the mid-1950s despite UN intervention, and in 1956, Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. On Oct. 29, 1956, Israel made a preemptive attack on Egyptian territory and within a few days had conquered the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula, while Britain and France invaded the area of the Suez Canal. Israel eventually yielded to strong pressure from the United States, the USSR, and the United Nations and removed its troops from Sinai in Nov., 1956, and from Gaza by Mar., 1957, as UN forces were sent to the Sinai and Gaza to keep peace between Egypt and Israel. Through this war, Israel succeeded in keeping open its shipping lanes via Elat and the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea.

In 1962, Israel became the scene of the celebrated trial of Adolf Eichmann. In 1963, Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister and was succeeded in that office by Levi Eshkol. Eshkol had to cope with increased guerrilla incursions into Israel from Syria and the shelling of Israeli villages by the Syrian army from the Golan Heights.

In May, 1967, Nasser mobilized the Egyptian army in Sinai. The UN then acceded to his demand to withdraw from the Israeli-Egyptian border, where it had been stationed since 1956. Egypt next blockaded the Israeli port of Elat (on the Gulf of Aqaba) by closing the Strait of Tiran.

On June 5, 1967, Israel struck against Egypt and Syria; Jordan subsequently attacked Israel. In six days, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of E Jerusalem (both under Jordanian rule), thereby giving the conflict the name of the Six-Day War. Israel unified the Arab and Israeli sectors of Jerusalem, and Arab guerrillas stepped up their incursions, operating largely from Jordan. After Eshkol’s death in 1969, Golda Meir became prime minister. There followed an inconclusive period when there was neither peace nor war in the area.

On Oct. 6, 1973, on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Other Arab states sent contingents of soldiers to aid in the attack on Israel. Egypt succeeded in sending troops in force across the Suez Canal to the east bank before being halted by Israeli troops. Toward the end of the fighting, the Israelis managed to send their own troops across the Suez Canal to the west bank, encircling Egypt’s Third Army on the east bank and clearing a path to Cairo. They also drove the Syrians even further back toward Damascus. A cease-fire called for by the UN Security Council on Oct. 22 and 23 went into effect shortly thereafter.

In Dec., 1973, the first Arab-Israeli peace conference opened in Geneva, Switzerland, under UN auspices. An agreement to disengage Israeli and Egyptian forces was reached in Jan., 1974, largely through the shuttle diplomacy mediation of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Israeli troops withdrew several miles into the Sinai, a UN buffer zone was established, and Egyptian forces reoccupied the east bank of the Suez Canal and a small, adjoining strip of land in the Sinai. A similar agreement between Israel and Syria was achieved in May, 1974, again through the efforts of Kissinger. Under its terms, Israeli forces evacuated the Syrian lands captured in the 1973 war (while continuing to hold most of the territory conquered in 1967, such as the Golan Heights) and a UN buffer zone was created.

Golda Meir resigned and was succeeded (1974) by Yitzhak Rabin, who formed a coalition government. In 1977, the Likud party under the leadership of Menachem Begin defeated the Labor party for the first time in Israeli elections. As prime minister, Begin strongly supported the development of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories and opposed Palestinian sovereignty.

Egypt began peace initiatives with Israel in late 1977, when Egyptian President Sadat visited Jerusalem. A year later, with the help of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, terms of peace between Egypt and Israel were negotiated at Camp David, Md. (see Camp David accords). A formal treaty, signed on Mar. 26, 1979, in Washington, D.C., granted full recognition of Israel by Egypt, opened trade relations between the two countries, returned the Sinai to Egyptian control (completed in 1982), and limited Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai.

Israeli troops briefly invaded (1979) Lebanon in an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bases and forces used in raids on N Israel. On June 6, 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in a second attempt. Israeli troops advanced to Beirut and surrounded the western part of the city, which housed PLO headquarters, and a siege ensued. Israeli troops began a gradual move out of Lebanon (completed in 1985) after PLO forces withdrew from Beirut. A 6-mi (10-km) deep security zone within S Lebanon was established to protect N Israeli settlements.

Begin had been returned to office in 1981, but he resigned in 1983 and was replaced by Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir. Undecisive majorities in the 1984 elections led to a sharing of the prime ministership by Shamir and Shimon Peres of the Labor party. Shamir, who regained sole prime ministership after the 1988 elections, strongly upheld the policy of increased Jewish settlement in the occupied territories. Large numbers of emigrants from Ethiopia and, primarily, the Soviet Union increased Israel’s population by nearly 10% in three years (198992), leading to increased unemployment and a lack of housing.

In Dec., 1987, a popular Arab uprising (Intifada) began against Israeli rule in the occupied territories. During the Persian Gulf War in early 1991, Israel suffered Iraqi missile attacks, as Iraq unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the allied coalition and widen the war. Peace talks between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation began in Aug., 1991.

Rabin reentered the political scene in 1992, becoming prime minister after the defeat of the Likud party and the establishment of a Labor-led coalition. He pursued Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, in which significant progress was made. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed an accord providing for joint recognition and for limited Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho. In 1995, Israel and the PLO agreed on a transition to Palestinian self-rule in most of the West Bank, although acts of terrorism continued to darken Israeli-Palestinian relations. In 1994 a treaty with Jordan ended the 46-year-old state of war between the two nations.

In Nov., 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli extremist who opposed the West Bank peace accord with the PLO; Peres, who was foreign minister, became prime minister. In early 1996, Israel was hit by a series of suicide bombs, and Shiite Muslims launched rocket attacks into Israel from Lebanon. Retaliating, Israel blockaded the port of Beirut and launched a series of attacks on targets in S Lebanon.

The 1996 elections, in which the prime minister was elected directly for the first time, resulted in a narrow victory for Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed Labor’s land-for-peace deals. In an attempt to allay fears about Israel’s future policies, Netanyahu pledged to continue the peace process. After setbacks and delays, most of Hebron was handed over to Palestinian control in Jan., 1997, and, under an accord signed in 1998, Israel agreed to withdraw from additional West Bank territory, while the Palestinian Authority pledged to take stronger measures to fight terrorism. Further negotiations over territory, however, were essentially stalled.

In the May, 1999, elections, Labor returned to power under Ehud Barak, a former army chief of staff. He formed a broad-based coalition government, promising to ease tensions between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, as well as to move the peace process forward. In September, Barak and Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, signed an agreement to finalize their borders and determine the status of Jerusalem within a year; Israel also began implementation of a plan to hand over additional West Bank territory, which was completed in Mar., 2000.

Barak’s coalition was weakened in May, 2000, when three right-of-center parties pulled out of the government. In the same month, Israeli forces withdrew from the buffer zone that had long been maintained in S Lebanon. In July, negotiations in the United States between Israel and the Palestinians ended without success, and Israeli-Palestinian relations turned extremely acrimonious when a September visit by Ariel Sharon to the Haram esh-Sherif (the Temple Mount to Jews) in Jerusalem sparked riots that escalated into a new, ongoing cycle of violence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel itself. Barak resigned in Dec., 2000, in an attempt to reestablish a electoral mandate, but he was trounced in the Feb., 2001, election by Ariel Sharon, who formed a national unity government.

Despite Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territory and attacks on Palestinian authorities and forces, Palestinian attacks on Israelis in Israel and the occupied territories did not end, and in 2002 Sharon’s government ordered the reoccupation of West Bank towns in a new attempt to stop those attacks. In Oct., 2002, Labor members of the government accused Sharon of favoring Israeli settlers in the occupied territories over the poor, and withdrew their support. Left with a minority government, Sharon called for parliamentary elections in early 2003, and in January Likud won a substantial victory at the polls. The following month Sharon formed a four-party, mainly right-wing coalition government.

In May, 2003, Sharon’s government accepted the internationally supported road map for peace with some limitations; the plan envisioned the establishment of a Palestinian state in three years. Talks resumed with Palestinian authorities, who also negotiated a three-month cease-fire with Palestinian militants, and Israel made some conciliatory moves in Gaza and the West Bank. Suicide bombings and Israeli revenge attacks resumed, however, in August, and in October Israel attacked Syria for the first time in 20 years, bombing what it termed a terrorist training camp in retaliation for suicide bombings.

Israel’s ongoing construction of a 400-mi (640-km) fence and wall security barrier in the West Bank, potentially enclosing some 15% of that territory, brought widespread international condemnation in late 2003, and a July, 2004, advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (requested by Palestinians and the UN General Assembly) termed its construction illegal under international law because it was being constructed on Palestinian lands. Meanwhile, an Israeli court ruling (June) ordered the wall to be rerouted in certain areas because of the hardship it would cause Palestinians.

In March the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin heightened tensions in the occupied territories, especially the Gaza Strip. Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the latter, while supported by most Israelis, was rejected in a nonbinding vote (May, 2004) by Likud party members. The plan then resulted in defections from his coalition, but Sharon vowed to complete the withdrawal, which was being undertaken for security reasons, by the end of 2005. In Oct., 2004, he secured parliamentary approval for the plan. The plan also called for abandoning a few settlements in the West Bank while expanding others there. Sharon formed a new coalition that included the Labor party, which supported the Gaza withdrawal, in Jan., 2005. He subsequently agreed to a truce with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and in Mar., 2005, Israeli forces began withdrawing from Jericho and other West Bank towns. The planned Gaza withdrawal sparked protests by settlers and their allies beginning in June, but in August the evacuation of the settlements proceeded relatively straightforwardly. Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza the following month.

In Nov., 2005, Shimon Peres lost his Labor party leadership post to Amir Peretz, a trade union leader. Peretz pulled Labor from the government, prompting new elections, and Sharon withdrew from Likud to form the centrist Kadima [Forward] party, in an attempt to force a realignment of Israeli politics and retain the prime ministership. In Jan., 2006, however, Sharon suffered an incapacitating stroke and was hospitalized. Ehud Olmert, the deputy prime minister, became acting prime minister and leader of the new party.

The Kadima party won a plurality in the Mar., 2006, elections, with Labor placing second. In April, Sharon was declared permanently incapacitated; Olmert became prime minister, and in May formed a new coalition government. Escalating rocket attacks from Gaza and the capture by Hamas guerrillas of an Israeli soldier led to an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip in June, 2006, as well as other actions against Hamas and the Palestinians. Israel continue to mount attacks into Gaza in the succeeding months.

In July, Lebanese Hezbollah forces captured two Israeli soldiers, and Israel launched air attacks against targets throughout Lebanon and sent troops as far as 18.5 mi (30 km) into S Lebanon; Hezbollah responded mainly with rocket attacks against N Israel, including Haifa and Tiberias, but also offered resistance on the ground against Israeli forces. A UN-mediated cease-fire took effect in mid-August, and by early October Israel had essentially withdrawn from Lebanon. The invasion’s aim of disarming Hezbollah and winning the release of the captured Israeli soldiers was in the main unattained, and Hezbollah’s sustained resistance to Israeli forces enhanced the group’s prestige in the Arab world. Amnesty International accused both sides of war crimes in the fighting, mainly because of their attacks on civilians.

As a result of the fighting in Gaza and Lebanon and the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, Olmert suspended his planned unilateral withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, and brought (Oct,. 2006) a far-right party into his government to strengthen the coalition in the Knesset. Also in October, Israeli police accused Israeli President Moshe Katsav of sexual assault and other crimes, prompting an investigation and leading to calls for Katsav to resign (which he refused to do). The Israeli group Peace Now asserted in November that, according to government documents, nearly 40% (and perhaps more) of the land on which Israel’s West Bank settlements were built was privately owned Palestinian land, in violation of Israeli law. More current information given by the government to the group in Mar., 2007, indicated that private land made up more than 30% of the settlements but did not indicate how much was Palestinian-owned (the vast bulk of the private land in the first set of documents was Palestinian).

In Jan., 2007, the head of the Israeli armed forces resigned, taking responsibility for the unsuccessful anti-Hezbollah campaign of 2006; his resignation led the opposition to call for the prime minister and defense minister to resign as well. (An independent report, released in Apr., 2007, was critical of the prime minister’s and defense minister’s handling of the invasion.) Late in Jan., 2007, Katsav secured a suspension of his duties as president after Israel’s attorney general said he was considering charging Katsav with rape and other crimes; a plea deal in June allowed him to plead guilty to lesser charges and avoid prison but forced him to resign. Shimon Peres was elected president earlier the same month.

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Israel – The Washington Post

Written on August 27th, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

C. 17th Century BCE

Documents unearthed in Mesopotamia, dating back to 2000- 1500 BCE, corroborate aspects of their nomadic way of life as described in the Bible. The Book of Genesis relates how Abraham was summoned from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan to bring about the formation of a people with belief in the One God. When a famine spread through Canaan, Jacob (Israel), his twelve sons and their families settled in Egypt, where their descendants were reduced to slavery and pressed into forced labor.

C. 13th Century BCE

Moses was chosen by God to take his people out of Egypt and back to the Land of Israel promised to their forefathers. They wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert, where they were forged into a nation and received the Torah (Pentateuch), which included the Ten Commandments and gave form and content to their monotheistic faith.

During the next two centuries, the Israelites conquered most of the Land of Israel and relinquished their nomadic ways to become farmers and craftsmen; a degree of economic and social consolidation followed. Periods of relative peace alternated with times of war during which the people rallied behind leaders known as ‘judges,’ chosen for their political and military skills as well as for their leadership qualities.

C. 13th – 12th Centuries BCE

The Israelites settle the Land of Israel.

C. 1020

The first king, Saul (c. 1020 BCE), bridged the period between loose tribal organization and the setting up of a full monarchy under his successor, David. King David (c.1004-965 BCE) established Israel as a major power in the region by successful military expeditions, including the final defeat of the Philistines, as well as by constructing a network of friendly alliances with nearby kingdoms. David was succeeded by his son Solomon (c.965-930 BCE) who further strengthened the kingdom. Crowning his achievements was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, which became the center of the Jewish people’s national and religious life.

C. 1000

C. 960

First Temple, the national and spiritual center of the Jewish people, built in Jerusalem by King Solomon.

C. 930

After Solomon’s death (930 BCE), open insurrection led to the breaking away of the ten northern tribes and division of the country into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah, on the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital Samaria, lasted more than 200 years under 19 kings, while the Kingdom of Judah was ruled from Jerusalem for 350 years by an equal number of kings of the lineage of David. The expansion of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires brought first Israel and later Judah under foreign control.

722 – 720

586

The Babylonian conquest brought an end to the First Jewish Commonwealth (First Temple period) but did not sever the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel. The exile to Babylonia, which followed the destruction of the First Temple (586 BCE), marked the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora. There, Judaism began to develop a religious framework and way of life outside the Land, ultimately ensuring the people’s national survival and spiritual identity and imbuing it with sufficient vitality to safeguard its future as a nation.

536-142

538-515

Following a decree by the Persian King Cyrus, conqueror of the Babylonian empire (538 BCE), some 50,000 Jews set out on the First Return to the Land of Israel, led by Zerubabel, a descendant of the House of David. Less than a century later, the Second Return was led by Ezra the Scribe.

The repatriation of the Jews under Ezra’s inspired leadership, construction of the Second Temple on the site of the First Temple, refortification of Jerusalem’s walls and establishment of the Knesset Hagedolah (Great Assembly) as the supreme religious and judicial body of the Jewish people marked the beginning of the Second Jewish Commonwealth (Second Temple period).

332

As part of the ancient world conquered by Alexander the Great of Greece (332 BCE), the Land remained a Jewish theocracy under Syrian-based Seleucid rulers.

166-160

When the Jews were prohibited from practicing Judaism and their Temple was desecrated as part of an effort to impose Greek-oriented culture and customs on the entire population, the Jews rose in revolt (166 BCE). First led by Mattathias of the priestly Hasmonean family and then by his son Judah the Maccabee, the Jews subsequently entered Jerusalem and purified the Temple (164 BCE).

142-129

Following further Hasmonean victories (147 BCE), the Seleucids restored autonomy to Judea, as the Land of Israel was now called, and, with the collapse of the Seleucid kingdom (129 BCE), Jewish independence was again achieved.

129-63

Under the Hasmonean dynasty, which lasted about 80 years, the kingdom regained boundaries not far short of Solomon’s realm, political consolidation under Jewish rule was attained and Jewish life flourished.

63

63 BCE-313 CE

37BCE – 4CE

20-23

66

70

132-135

210

313-636

By the end of the 4th century, following Emperor Constantine’s adoption of Christianity (313) and the founding of the Byzantine Empire, the Land of Israel had become a predominantly Christian country. Churches were built on Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Galilee, and monasteries were established in many parts of the country. The Jews were deprived of their former relative autonomy, as well as of their right to hold public positions, and were forbidden to enter Jerusalem except on one day of the year (Tisha b’Av – ninth of Av)to mourn the destruction of the Temple.

614

The Persian invasion of 614 was welcomed and aided by the Jews, who were inspired by messianic hopes of deliverance. In gratitude for their help, they were granted the administration of Jerusalem, an interlude which lasted about three years. Subsequently, the Byzantine army regained the city (629) and again expelled its Jewish population.

636-1099

The Arab conquest of the Land came four years after the death of Muhammad (632) and lasted more than four centuries, with caliphs ruling first from Damascus, then from Baghdad and Egypt. At the outset of Islamic rule, Jewish settlement in Jerusalem was resumed, and the Jewish community was granted permission to live under “protection,” the customary status of non-Muslims under Islamic rule, which safeguarded their lives, property and freedom of worship in return for payment of special poll and land taxes.

However, the subsequent introduction of restrictions against non-Muslims (717) affected the Jews’ public conduct as well as their religious observances and legal status. The imposition of heavy taxes on agricultural land compelled many to move from rural areas to towns, where their circumstances hardly improved, while increasing social and economic discrimination forced many Jews to leave the country. By the end of the 11th century, the Jewish community in the Land had diminished considerably and had lost some of its organizational and religious cohesiveness.

691

1099-1291

For the next 200 years, the country was dominated by the Crusaders, who, following an appeal by Pope Urban II, came from Europe to recover the Holy Land from the infidels. In July 1099, after a five-week siege, the knights of the First Crusade and their rabble army captured Jerusalem, massacring most of the city’s non-Christian inhabitants. Barricaded in their synagogues, the Jews defended their quarter, only to be burnt to death or sold into slavery. During the next few decades, the Crusaders extended their power over the rest of the country, through treaties and agreements, but mostly by bloody military victories. The Latin Kingdom of the Crusaders was that of a conquering minority confined mainly to fortified cities and castles.

When the Crusaders opened up transportation routes from Europe, pilgrimages to the Holy Land became popular and, at the same time, increasing numbers of Jews sought to return to their homeland. Documents of the period indicate that 300 rabbis from France and England arrived in a group, with some settling in Acro (Akko), others in Jerusalem.

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A Timeline of the History of Israel – Contender Ministries


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Israel has a technologically advanced market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among the leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows. Between 2004 and 2011, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. In 2010, Israel formally acceded to the OECD. Israel’s economy also has weathered the Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East have insulated the economy from spillover effects. The economy has recovered better than most advanced, comparably sized economies, but slowing demand domestically and internationally, and a strong shekel, have reduced forecasts for the next decade to the 3% level. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel’s coast since 2009 have brightened Israel’s energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world’s largest offshore natural gas finds this past decade. The massive Leviathan field is not due to come online until 2018, but production from Tamar provided a one percentage point boost to Israel’s GDP in 2013 and is expected to contribute 0.5% growth in 2014. In mid-2011, public protests arose around income inequality and rising housing and commodity prices. Israel’s income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of “tycoons” have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. The government formed committees to address some of the grievances but has maintained that it will not engage in deficit spending to satisfy populist demands. In May 2013 the Israeli government, in a politically difficult process, passed an austerity budget to reign in the deficit and restore confidence in the government’s fiscal position. Over the long term, Israel faces structural issues, including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments – the ultra-orthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel’s progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only 9% of the workforce, with the rest employed in manufacturing and services – sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition. More

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Israel – Forbes


Ashkenazi Jews ( Y’hudey Ashkenaz in Ashkenazi Hebrew) Total population 10[1]11.2[2] million Regions with significant populations United States 56 million[3] Israel 2.8 million[1][4] Russia 194,000500,000 Argentina 300,000 United Kingdom ~ 260,000 Canada ~ 240,000 France 200,000 Germany 200,000 Ukraine 150,000 Australia 120,000 South Africa 80,000 Belarus 80,000 Hungary 75,000 Chile 70,000 Belgium 30,000 Brazil 30,000 Netherlands 30,000 Moldova 30,000 Poland 25,000 Mexico 18,500 Sweden 18,000 Latvia 10,000 Romania 10,000 Austria 9,000 New Zealand 5,000 Azerbaijan 4,300 Lithuania 4,000 Czech Republic 3,000 Slovakia 3,000 Estonia 1,000 Languages Historical: Yiddish Modern: Local languages, primarily: English, Hebrew, Russian Religion Judaism, some secular, irreligious Related ethnic groups Sephardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, other Jewish ethnic divisions, Samaritans,[5]Assyrians,[5][6]Kurds,[7]Arabs, other Levantines,[5][6][8][9]Italians, Iberians and Greeks[10][11][12][13][14]

Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or simply Ashkenazim (Hebrew: , Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation: [aknazim], singular: [aknazi], Modern Hebrew: [akenazim, akenazi]; also Y’hudey Ashkenaz, lit. “The Jews of Germany”),[15] are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced in the Holy Roman Empire around the end of the 1st millennium.[16] The traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews consisted of various dialects of Yiddish.

They established communities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, which had been their primary region of concentration and residence until recent times, evolving their own distinctive characteristics and diasporic identities.[17] Once emancipated, weaving Jewish creativity into the texture of European life (Hannah Arendt),[18] the Ashkenazi made a “quite disproportionate and remarkable contribution to humanity” (Eric Hobsbawm[19]), and to European culture in all fields of endeavour: philosophy, scholarship, literature, art, music and science.[20][21] The genocidal impact of the Holocaust, the mass murder of approximately 6 million Jews during World War II devastated the Ashkenazi and their Yiddish culture, affecting almost every Jewish family.[22][23]

It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed only three percent of the world’s Jewish population, while at their peak in 1931 they accounted for 92 percent of the world’s Jews. Immediately prior to the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world stood at approximately 16.7 million.[24] Statistical figures vary for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, oscillating between 10 million[1] and 11.2 million.[2]Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi make up less than 74% of Jews worldwide.[25] Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.[26]

Genetic studies on Ashkenazim have been conducted to determine how much of their ancestry comes from the Levant, and how much derives from European populations. These studiesresearching both their paternal and maternal lineagespoint to a significant prevalence of ancient Levantine origins. But they have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of their European ancestry.[27] These diverging conclusions focus particularly on the extent of the European genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages.

The name Ashkenazi derives from the biblical figure of Ashkenaz, the first son of Gomer, son of Khaphet, son of Noah, and a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10). The name of Gomer has often been linked to the ethnonym Cimmerians. Biblical Ashkenaz is usually derived from Assyrian Akza (cuneiform Akuzai/Ikuzai), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates,[28] whose name is usually associated with the name of the Scythians.[29][30] The intrusive n in the Biblical name is likely due to a scribal error confusing a waw with a nun .[29][30][31]

In Jeremiah 51:27, Ashkenaz figures as one of three kingdoms in the far north, the others being Minni and Ararat, perhaps corresponding to Urartu, called on by God to resist Babylon.[31][32]

In the Yoma tractate of the Babylonian Talmud the name Gomer is rendered as Germania, which elsewhere in rabbinical literature was identified with Germanikia in northwestern Syria, but later became associated with Germania. Ashkenaz is linked to Scandza/Scanzia, viewed as the cradle of Germanic tribes, as early as a 6th-century gloss to the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius.[33] In the 10th-century History of Armenia of Yovhannes Drasxanakertc’i (1.15) Ashkenaz was associated with Armenia,[28] as it was occasionally in Jewish usage, where its denotation extended at times to Adiabene, Khazaria, Crimea and areas to the east.[34] His contemporary Saadia Gaon identified Ashkenaz with the Saquliba or Slavic territories,[35] and such usage covered also the lands of tribes neighboring the Slavs, and Eastern and Central Europe.[34] In modern times, Samuel Krauss identified the Biblical “Ashkenaz” with Khazaria.[35]

Sometime in the early medieval period, the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term.[31] In conformity with the custom of designating areas of Jewish settlement with biblical names, Spain was denominated Sefarad (Obadiah 20), France was called Tsarefat (1 Kings 17:9), and Bohemia was called the Land of Canaan.[36] By the high medieval period, Talmudic commentators like Rashi began to use Ashkenaz/Eretz Ashkenaz to designate Germany, earlier known as Loter,[31][33] where, especially in the Rhineland communities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the most important Jewish communities arose.[37] Rashi uses leshon Ashkenaz (Ashkenazi language) to describe German speech, and Byzantium and Syrian Jewish letters referred to the Crusaders as Ashkenazim.[33] Given the close links between the Jewish communities of France and Germany following the Carolingian unification, the term Ashkenazi came to refer to both the Jews of medieval Germany and France.[38]

The origins of the Ashkenazim are obscure,[39] and many theories have arisen speculating about their ultimate provenance.[40] The most well supported theory is the one that details a Jewish migration through what is now Italy and other parts of southern Europe.[41] The historical record attests to Jewish communities in southern Europe since pre-Christian times.[42] Many Jews were denied full Roman citizenship until 212 CE, when Emperor Caracalla granted all free peoples this privilege. Jews were required to pay a poll tax until the reign of Emperor Julian in 363. In the late Roman Empire, Jews were free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into various local occupations. But, after Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople in 380, Jews were increasingly marginalized.

The history of Jews in Greece goes back to at least the Archaic Era of Greece, when the classical culture of Greece was undergoing a process of formalization after the Greek Dark Age. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of the Jews, whom he called “Palestinian Syrians”, and listed them among the levied naval forces in service of the invading Persians. While Jewish monotheism was not deeply affected by Greek Polytheism, the Greek way of living was attractive for many wealthier Jews.[43] The Synagogue in the Agora of Athens is dated to the period between 267 and 396 CE. The Stobi Synagogue in Macedonia, was built on the ruins of a more ancient synagogue in the 4th century, while later in the 5th century, the synagogue was transformed into Christian basilica.[44]

Sporadic[45]epigraphic evidence in grave site excavations, particularly in Brigetio (Szny), Aquincum (buda), Intercisa (Dunajvros), Triccinae (Srvr), Savaria (Szombathely), Sopianae (Pcs), and Osijek in Croatia, attest to the presence of Jews after the 2nd and 3rd centuries where Roman garrisons were established,[46] There was a sufficient number of Jews in Pannonia to form communities and build a synagogue. Jewish troops were among the Syrian soldiers transferred there, and replenished from the Middle East, after 175 C.E. Jews and especially Syrians came from Antioch, Tarsus and Cappadocia. Others came from Italy and the Hellenized parts of the Roman empire. The excavations suggest they first lived in isolated enclaves attached to Roman legion camps, and intermarried among other similar oriental families within the military orders of the region.[45]Raphael Patai states that later Roman writers remarked that they differed little in either customs, manner of writing, or names from the people among whom they dwelt; and it was especially difficult to differentiate Jews from the Syrians.[47][48] After Pannonia was ceded to the Huns in 433, the garrison populations were withdrawn to Italy, and only a few, enigmatic traces remain of a possible Jewish presence in the area some centuries later.[46]

No evidence has yet been found of a Jewish presence in antiquity in Germany beyond its Roman border, nor in Eastern Europe. In Gaul and Germany itself, with the possible exception of Trier and Cologne, the archeological evidence suggests at most a fleeting presence of very few Jews, primarily itinerant traders or artisans.[46] A substantial Jewish population emerged in northern Gaul by the Middle Ages,[46] but Jewish communities existed in 465 CE in Brittany, in 524 CE in Valence, and in 533 CE in Orleans.[49] Throughout this period and into the early Middle Ages, some Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to Christianity.[50][bettersourceneeded] King Dagobert I of the Franks expelled the Jews from his Merovingian kingdom in 629. Jews in former Roman territories faced new challenges as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.

Charlemagne’s expansion of the Frankish empire around 800, including northern Italy and Rome, brought on a brief period of stability and unity in Francia. This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle again north of the Alps. Charlemagne granted the Jews freedoms similar to those once enjoyed under the Roman Empire. In addition, Jews from southern Italy, fleeing religious persecution, began to move into central Europe.[citation needed] Returning to Frankish lands, many Jewish merchants took up occupations in finance and commerce, including money lending, or usury. (Church legislation banned Christians from lending money in exchange for interest.) From Charlemagne’s time to the present, Jewish life in northern Europe is well documented. By the 11th century, when Rashi of Troyes wrote his commentaries, Jews in what came to be known as “Ashkenaz” were known for their halakhic learning, and Talmudic studies. They were criticized by Sephardim and other Jewish scholars in Islamic lands for their lack of expertise in Jewish jurisprudence (dinim) and general ignorance of Hebrew linguistics and literature.[51]Yiddish emerged as a result of language contact with various High German vernaculars in the medieval period.[52] It was written with Hebrew letters, and heavily influenced by Hebrew and Aramaic.

Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the Alps and Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th century. By the 11th century Jewish settlers, moving from southern European and Middle Eastern centers, appear to have begun to settle in the north, especially along the Rhine, often in response to new economic opportunities and at the invitation of local Christian rulers. Thus Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, invited Jacob ben Yekutiel and his fellow Jews to settle in his lands; and soon after the Norman Conquest of England, William the Conqueror likewise extended a welcome to continental Jews to take up residence there. Bishop Rdiger Huzmann called on the Jews of Mainz to relocate to Speyer. In all of these decisions, the idea that Jews had the know-how and capacity to jump-start the economy, improve revenues, and enlarge trade seems to have played a prominent role.[53] Typically Jews relocated close to the markets and churches in town centres, where, though they came under the authority of both royal and ecclesiastical powers, they were accorded administrative autonomy.[53]

In the 11th century, both Rabbinic Judaism and the culture of the Babylonian Talmud that underlies it became established in southern Italy and then spread north to Ashkenaz.[54]

With the onset of the Crusades in 1095, and the expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (15th century), Jewish migration pushed eastward into Poland (10th century), Lithuania (10th century), and Russia (12th century). Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to several presumed factors: Christian European prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, preventing certain financial activities (such as “usurious” loans)[55] between Christians, high rates of literacy, near universal male education, and ability of merchants to rely upon and trust family members living in different regions and countries.

By the 15th century, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora.[56] This area, which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and Prussia (Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.

The answer to why there was so little assimilation of Jews in central and eastern Europe for so long would seem to lie in part in the probability that the alien surroundings in central and eastern Europe were not conducive, though contempt did not prevent some assimilation. Furthermore, Jews lived almost exclusively in shtetls, maintained a strong system of education for males, heeded rabbinic leadership, and scorned the life-style of their neighbors; and all of these tendencies increased with every outbreak of antisemitism.[57]

In the first half of the 11th century, Hai Gaon refers to questions that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly means Germany. Rashi in the latter half of the 11th century refers to both the language of Ashkenaz[58] and the country of Ashkenaz.[59] During the 12th century, the word appears quite frequently. In the Mahzor Vitry, the kingdom of Ashkenaz is referred to chiefly in regard to the ritual of the synagogue there, but occasionally also with regard to certain other observances.[60]

In the literature of the 13th century, references to the land and the language of Ashkenaz often occur. Examples include Solomon ben Aderet’s Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of Asher ben Jehiel (pp.4, 6); his Halakot (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p.10); the work of his son Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orach Chayim (chapter 59); the Responsa of Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270).

In the Midrash compilation, Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Berechiah mentions Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands. It may correspond to a Greek word that may have existed in the Greek dialect of the Palestinian Jews, or the text is corrupted from “Germanica.” This view of Berechiah is based on the Talmud (Yoma 10a; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 71b), where Gomer, the father of Ashkenaz, is translated by Germamia, which evidently stands for Germany, and which was suggested by the similarity of the sound.

In later times, the word Ashkenaz is used to designate southern and western Germany, the ritual of which sections differs somewhat from that of eastern Germany and Poland. Thus the prayer-book of Isaiah Horowitz, and many others, give the piyyutim according to the Minhag of Ashkenaz and Poland.

According to 16th-century mystic Rabbi Elijah of Chelm, Ashkenazi Jews lived in Jerusalem during the 11th century. The story is told that a German-speaking Palestinian Jew saved the life of a young German man surnamed Dolberger. So when the knights of the First Crusade came to siege Jerusalem, one of Dolberger’s family members who was among them rescued Jews in Palestine and carried them back to Worms to repay the favor.[61] Further evidence of German communities in the holy city comes in the form of halakhic questions sent from Germany to Jerusalem during the second half of the 11th century.[62]

In an essay on Sephardi Jewry, Daniel Elazar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs[63] summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi Jews in the last thousand years, noting that at the end of the 11th century, 97% of world Jewry was Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazi; by the end of XVI century, the: ‘Treaty on the redemption of captives’, by Gracian of the God’s Mother, Mercy Priest, who was imprisoned by Turks, cites a Tunisian Hebrew, made captive when arriving to Gaeta, who aided others with money, named: ‘Simon Escanasi’, in the mid-17th century, “Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two”, but by the end of the 18th century, “Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim three to two, the result of improved living conditions in Christian Europe versus the Ottoman Muslim world.”[63] By 1931, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for nearly 92% of world Jewry.[63] These factors are sheer demography showing the migration patterns of Jews from Southern and Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe.

In 1740 a family from Lithuania became the first Ashkenazi Jews to settle in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.[64]

The generations of after emigration from the west enjoyed a comparatively stable socio-political environment in places like Poland, Russia, and Belarus. A thriving publishing industry and the printing of hundreds of biblical commentaries precipitated the development of the Hasidic movement as well as major Jewish academic centers.[65] After two centuries of comparative tolerance in the new nations, massive westward emigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries in response to pogroms in the east and the economic opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi Jews have made up the majority of the American Jewish community since 1750.[56]

Ashkenazi cultural growth led to the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, with its goal of integrating modern European values into Jewish life.[66]Zionism was also developed in modern Europe.[67]

Of the estimated 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of World War II, the majority of whom were Ashkenazi, about 6 million more than two-thirds were systematically murdered in the Holocaust. These included 3 million of 3.3 million Polish Jews (91%); 900,000 of 1.5 million in Ukraine (60%); and 5090% of the Jews of other Slavic nations, Germany, Hungary, and the Baltic states, and over 25% of the Jews in France. Sephardi communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries, including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia.[68] As the large majority of the victims were Ashkenazi Jews, their percentage dropped from nearly 92% of world Jewry in 1931 to nearly 80% of world Jewry today.[63] The Holocaust also effectively put an end to the dynamic development of the Yiddish language in the previous decades, as the vast majority of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, around 5 million, were Yiddish speakers.[69] Many of the surviving Ashkenazi Jews emigrated to countries such as Israel, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the United States after the war.

Following the Holocaust, some sources place Ashkenazim today as making up approximately 8385 percent of Jews worldwide,[70][71][72][73] while Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi make up a notably lower figure, less than 74%.[25] Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.[26] Ashkenazi Jews constitute around 3536% of Israel’s total population, or 47.5% of Israel’s Jewish population.[74][75]

In Israel, the term Ashkenazi is now used in a manner unrelated to its original meaning, often applied to all Jews who settled in Europe and sometimes including those whose ethnic background is actually Sephardic. Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi, Yemenite, Kurdish and others who have no connection with the Iberian Peninsula, have similarly come to be lumped together as Sephardic. Jews of mixed background are increasingly common, partly because of intermarriage between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi, and partly because many do not see such historic markers as relevant to their life experiences as Jews.[76]

Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakhic matters. In this respect, a religiously Ashkenazi Jew is an Israeli who is more likely to support certain religious interests in Israel, including certain political parties. These political parties result from the fact that a portion of the Israeli electorate votes for Jewish religious parties; although the electoral map changes from one election to another, there are generally several small parties associated with the interests of religious Ashkenazi Jews. The role of religious parties, including small religious parties that play important roles as coalition members, results in turn from Israel’s composition as a complex society in which competing social, economic, and religious interests stand for election to the Knesset, a unicameral legislature with 120 seats.[77]

People of Ashkenazi descent constitute around 47.5% of Israeli Jews (and therefore 3536% of Israelis).[4] They have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics[78] of Israel since its founding. During the first decades of Israel as a state, strong cultural conflict occurred between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews (mainly east European Ashkenazim). The roots of this conflict, which still exists to a much smaller extent in present-day Israeli society, are chiefly attributed to the concept of the “melting pot”.[79] That is to say, all Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel were strongly encouraged to “melt down” their own particular exilic identities within the general social “pot” in order to become Israeli.[80]

The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis in the Yishuv and Israel include:

Religious Jews have Minhagim, customs, in addition to Halakha, or religious law, and different interpretations of law. Different groups of religious Jews in different geographic areas historically adopted different customs and interpretations. On certain issues, Orthodox Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors, and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing. For this reason, observant Jews at times find it important for religious reasons to ascertain who their household’s religious ancestors are in order to know what customs their household should follow. These times include, for example, when two Jews of different ethnic background marry, when a non-Jew converts to Judaism and determines what customs to follow for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant Jew returns to traditional Judaism and must determine what was done in his or her family’s past. In this sense, “Ashkenazic” refers both to a family ancestry and to a body of customs binding on Jews of that ancestry. Reform Judaism, which does not necessarily follow those minhagim, did nonetheless originate among Ashkenazi Jews.[81]

In a religious sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is any Jew whose family tradition and ritual follows Ashkenazi practice. Until the Ashkenazi community first began to develop in the Early Middle Ages, the centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at Baghdad and in Islamic Spain. Ashkenaz (Germany) was so distant geographically that it developed a minhag of its own. Ashkenazi Hebrew came to be pronounced in ways distinct from other forms of Hebrew.[82]

In this respect, the counterpart of Ashkenazi is Sephardic, since most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews follow Sephardic rabbinical authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By tradition, a Sephardic or Mizrahi woman who marries into an Orthodox or Haredi Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi Jews; conversely an Ashkenazi woman who marries a Sephardi or Mizrahi man is expected to take on Sephardic practice and the children inherit a Sephardic identity, though in practice many families compromise. A convert generally follows the practice of the beth din that converted him or her. With the integration of Jews from around the world in Israel, North America, and other places, the religious definition of an Ashkenazi Jew is blurring, especially outside Orthodox Judaism.[83]

New developments in Judaism often transcend differences in religious practice between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. In North American cities, social trends such as the chavurah movement, and the emergence of “post-denominational Judaism”[84][85] often bring together younger Jews of diverse ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, there has been increased interest in Kabbalah, which many Ashkenazi Jews study outside of the Yeshiva framework. Another trend is the new popularity of ecstatic worship in the Jewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach style minyan, both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin.[86]

Culturally, an Ashkenazi Jew can be identified by the concept of Yiddishkeit, which means “Jewishness” in the Yiddish language.[87]Yiddishkeit is specifically the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews.[88] Before the Haskalah and the emancipation of Jews in Europe, this meant the study of Torah and Talmud for men, and a family and communal life governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the Rhineland to Riga to Romania, most Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew, and spoke Yiddish in their secular lives. But with modernization, Yiddishkeit now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and Hasidism, but a broad range of movements, ideologies, practices, and traditions in which Ashkenazi Jews have participated and somehow retained a sense of Jewishness. Although a far smaller number of Jews still speak Yiddish, Yiddishkeit can be identified in manners of speech, in styles of humor, in patterns of association. Broadly speaking, a Jew is one who associates culturally with Jews, supports Jewish institutions, reads Jewish books and periodicals, attends Jewish movies and theater, travels to Israel, visits ancient synagogues in Prague, and so forth. It is a definition that applies to Jewish culture in general, and to Ashkenazi Yiddishkeit in particular.

As Ashkenazi Jews moved away from Europe, mostly in the form of aliyah to Israel, or immigration to North America, and other English-speaking areas; and Europe (particularly France) and Latin America, the geographic isolation that gave rise to Ashkenazim has given way to mixing with other cultures, and with non-Ashkenazi Jews who, similarly, are no longer isolated in distinct geographic locales. Hebrew has replaced Yiddish as the primary Jewish language for many Ashkenazi Jews, although many Hasidic and Hareidi groups continue to use Yiddish in daily life. (There are numerous Ashkenazi Jewish anglophones and Russian-speakers as well, although English and Russian are not originally Jewish languages.)

France’s blended Jewish community is typical of the cultural recombination that is going on among Jews throughout the world. Although France expelled its original Jewish population in the Middle Ages, by the time of the French Revolution, there were two distinct Jewish populations. One consisted of Sephardic Jews, originally refugees from the Inquisition and concentrated in the southwest, while the other community was Ashkenazi, concentrated in formerly German Alsace, and speaking mainly Yiddish. The two communities were so separate and different that the National Assembly emancipated them separately in 1790 and 1791.[89]

But after emancipation, a sense of a unified French Jewry emerged, especially when France was wracked by the Dreyfus affair in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ashkenazi Jews from Europe arrived in large numbers as refugees from antisemitism, the Russian revolution, and the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. By the 1930s, Paris had a vibrant Yiddish culture, and many Jews were involved in diverse political movements. After the Vichy years and the Holocaust, the French Jewish population was augmented once again, first by Ashkenazi refugees from Central Europe, and later by Sephardi immigrants and refugees from North Africa, many of them francophone.

Then, in the 1990s, yet another Ashkenazi Jewish wave began to arrive from countries of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. The result is a pluralistic Jewish community that still has some distinct elements of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic culture. But in France, it is becoming much more difficult to sort out the two, and a distinctly French Jewishness has emerged.[90]

In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews who settled in Central Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have argued that genetic variations have been identified that show high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population, be they for patrilineal markers (Y-chromosome haplotypes) and for matrilineal markers (mitotypes).[91] However, a 2013 study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA, from the University of Huddersfield in England, suggests that at least 80 percent of the Ashkenazi maternal lineages derive from the assimilation of mtDNAs indigenous to Europe, probably as a consequence of conversion.[92]

Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths, while some Jews have also adopted children from other ethnic groups or from other parts of the world and have raised them as Jews. Conversion to Judaism, rare for nearly 2,000 years, has become more common.[93]

A 2006 study found Ashkenazi Jews to be a clear, homogeneous genetic subgroup. Strikingly, regardless of the place of origin, Ashkenazi Jews can be grouped in the same genetic cohort that is, regardless of whether an Ashkenazi Jew’s ancestors came from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Lithuania, or any other place with a historical Jewish population, they belong to the same ethnic group. The research demonstrates the endogamy of the Jewish population in Europe and lends further credence to the idea of Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic group. Moreover, though intermarriage among Jews of Ashkenazi descent has become increasingly common, many Haredi Jews, particularly members of Hasidic or Hareidi sects, continue to marry exclusively fellow Ashkenazi Jews. This trend keeps Ashkenazi genes prevalent and also helps researchers further study the genes of Ashkenazi Jews with relative ease. It is noteworthy that these Haredi Jews often have extremely large families.[94]

The Halakhic practices of (Orthodox) Ashkenazi Jews may differ from those of Sephardi Jews, particularly in matters of custom. Differences are noted in the Shulkhan Arukh itself, in the gloss of Moses Isserles. Well known differences in practice include:

The term Ashkenazi also refers to the nusach Ashkenaz (Hebrew, “liturgical tradition”, or rite) used by Ashkenazi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition’s choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Two other major forms of nusach among Ashkenazic Jews are Nusach Sefard (not to be confused with Sephardi), which is the same as the general Polish (Hasidic) Nusach; and Nusach Chabad, otherwise known as Lubavitch Chasidic, Nusach Arizal or Nusach Ari.

This phrase is often used in contrast with Sephardi Jews, also called Sephardim, who are descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal. There are some differences in how the two groups pronounce certain Hebrew letters and in points of ritual.

Several famous people have Ashkenazi as a surname, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy. However, most people with this surname hail from within Sephardic communities, particularly from the Syrian Jewish community. The Sephardic carriers of the surname would have some Ashkenazi ancestors since the surname was adopted by families who were initially of Ashkenazic origins who move to Sephardi countries and joined those communities. Ashkenazi would be formally adopted as the family surname having started off as a nickname imposed by their adopted communities. Some have shortened the name to Ash.

Relations between Ashkenazim and Sephardim have not always been warm. North African Sepharadim and Berber Jews were often looked upon by Ashkenazim as second-class citizens during the first decade after the creation of Israel. This has led to protest movements such as the Israeli Black Panthers led by Saadia Marciano a Moroccan Jew. Nowadays, relations are getting better.[96] In some instances, Ashkenazi communities have accepted significant numbers of Sephardi newcomers, sometimes resulting in intermarriage.[97][98]

Ashkenazi Jews have a noted history of achievement in Western societies[99] in the fields of exact and social sciences, literature, finance, politics, media, and others. In those societies where they have been free to enter any profession, they have a record of high occupational achievement, entering professions and fields of commerce where higher education is required.[100] Ashkenazi Jews have won a large number of the Nobel awards.[101][102] While they make up about 2% of the U.S. population,[103] 27% of United States Nobel prize winners in the 20th century,[103] a quarter of Fields Medal winners,[104] 25% of ACM Turing Award winners,[103] half the world’s chess champions,[103] including 8% of the top 100 world chess players,[105] and a quarter of Westinghouse Science Talent Search winners[104] have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

Time magazine’s person of the 20th century, Albert Einstein,[106] was an Ashkenazi Jew. According to a study performed by Cambridge University, 21% of Ivy League students, 25% of the Turing Award winners, 23% of the wealthiest Americans, and 38% of the Oscar-winning film directors, and 29% of the Oslo awards have gone to Ashkenazi Jews.[107]

Efforts to identify the origins of Ashkenazi Jews through DNA analysis began in the 1990s. Currently, there are three types of genetic origin testing, autosomal DNA (atDNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and Y-chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA). Autosomal DNA is a mixture from an individual’s entire ancestry, Y-DNA shows a male’s lineage only along his strict-paternal line, mtDNA shows any person’s lineage only along the strict-maternal line. Genome-wide association studies have also been employed to yield findings relevant to genetic origins.

Like most DNA studies of human migration patterns, the earliest studies on Ashkenazi Jews focused on the Y-DNA and mtDNA segments of the human genome. Both segments are unaffected by recombination (except for the ends of the Y chromosome the pseudoautosomal regions known as PAR1 and PAR2), thus allowing tracing of direct maternal and paternal lineages.

These studies revealed that Ashkenazi Jews originated in the Middle East during the Bronze Age (between 2500 BC and 700 BC), spreading later to Europe.[108]

Although the Jewish people in general were present across a wide geographical area as described, genetic research done by Gil Atzmon of the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggests “that Ashkenazim branched off from other Jews around the time of the destruction of the First Temple, 2,500 years ago … flourished during the Roman Empire but then went through a ‘severe bottleneck’ as they dispersed, reducing a population of several million to just 400 families who left Northern Italy around the year 1000 for Central and eventually Eastern Europe.”[109]

Various studies have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of the non-Levantine admixture in Ashkenazim,[27] particularly in respect to the extent of the non-Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages, which is in contrast to the predominant Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi paternal lineages. All studies nevertheless agree that genetic overlap with the Fertile Crescent exists in both lineages, albeit at differing rates. Collectively, Ashkenazi Jews are less genetically diverse than other Jewish ethnic divisions.[110]

The majority of genetic findings to date concerning Ashkenazi Jews conclude that the male line was founded by ancestors from the Middle East.[111][112][113] Others have found a similar genetic line among Greeks, and Macedonians.

A study of haplotypes of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al.[114] found that the Y-chromosome of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with “relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim,” and a total admixture estimate “very similar to Motulsky’s average estimate of 12.5%.” This supported the finding that “Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors.” “Past research found that 5080 percent of DNA from the Ashkenazi Y chromosome, which is used to trace the male lineage, originated in the Near East,” Richards said.

But historical documents tell a slightly different tale. Based on accounts such as those of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, as many as six million Jews were living in the Roman Empire, but outside Israel, mainly in Italy and Southern Europe. In contrast, only about 500,000 lived in Judea, said Ostrer, who was not involved in the new study.[115]

A 2001 study by Nebel et al. showed that both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish populations share the same overall paternal Near Eastern ancestries. In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent. The authors also report on Eu 19 (R1a) chromosomes, which are very frequent in Central and Eastern Europeans (54%60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that the differences among Ashkenazim Jews could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding European populations and/or genetic drift during isolation.[116] A later 2005 study by Nebel et al., found a similar level of 11.5% of male Ashkenazim belonging to R1a1a (M17+), the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup in Central and Eastern Europeans.[117]

Before 2006, geneticists had largely attributed the ethnogenesis of most of the world’s Jewish populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, to Israelite Jewish male migrants from the Middle East and “the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism.” Thus, in 2002, in line with this model of origin, David Goldstein, now of Duke University, reported that unlike male Ashkenazi lineages, the female lineages in Ashkenazi Jewish communities “did not seem to be Middle Eastern”, and that each community had its own genetic pattern and even that “in some cases the mitochondrial DNA was closely related to that of the host community.” In his view this suggested “that Jewish men had arrived from the Middle East, taken wives from the host population and converted them to Judaism, after which there was no further intermarriage with non-Jews.”[91]

In 2006, a study by Behar et al.,[118] based on what was at that time high-resolution analysis of haplogroup K (mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or “founder lineages”, that were “likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool” originating in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Additionally, Behar et al. suggested that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from ~150 women, and that most of those were also likely of Middle Eastern origin.[118] In reference specifically to Haplogroup K, they suggested that although it is common throughout western Eurasia, “the observed global pattern of distribution renders very unlikely the possibility that the four aforementioned founder lineages entered the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool via gene flow from a European host population”.

In 2013, however, a study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA by a team led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Huddersfield in England reached different conclusions, again corroborating the pre-2006 origin hypothesis. Testing was performed on the full 16,600 DNA units composing mitochondrial DNA (the 2006 Behar study had only tested 1,000 units) in all their subjects, and the study found that the four main female Ashkenazi founders had descent lines that were established in Europe 10,000 to 20,000 years in the past[119] while most of the remaining minor founders also have a deep European ancestry. The study states that the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Near East (i.e., they were non-Israelite), nor were they recruited in the Caucasus (i.e., they were non-Khazar), but instead they were assimilated within Europe, primarily of Italian and Old French origins. Richards summarized the findings on the female line as such: “[N]one [of the mtDNA] came from the North Caucasus, located along the border between Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. All of our presently available studies including my own, should thoroughly debunk one of the most questionable, but still tenacious, hypotheses: that most Ashkenazi Jews can trace their roots to the mysterious Khazar Kingdom that flourished during the ninth century in the region between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire.”[115] The 2013 study estimated that 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from women indigenous to Europe, and only 8 percent from the Near East, while the origin of the remainder is undetermined.[12][119] According to the study these findings “point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities.”[12][13][120][121][122][123]

Variation in Ashkenazi mtDNA is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the general population, these founders had been difficult to trace to a source.

A 2014 study by Fernndez et al. has found that Ashkenazi Jews display a frequency of haplogroup K in their maternal DNA that suggests an ancient Near Eastern origin, similar to the results of Behar. He stated that this observation clearly contradicts the results of the study led by Richards that suggested a European source for 3 exclusively Ashkenazi K lineages.[124]

In genetic epidemiology, a genome-wide association study (GWA study, or GWAS) is an examination of all or most of the genes (the genome) of different individuals of a particular species to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual. These techniques were originally designed for epidemiological uses, to identify genetic associations with observable traits.[125]

A 2006 study by Seldin et al. used over five thousand autosomal SNPs to demonstrate European genetic substructure. The results showed “a consistent and reproducible distinction between ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ European population groups”. Most northern, central, and eastern Europeans (Finns, Swedes, English, Irish, Germans, and Ukrainians) showed >90% in the “northern” population group, while most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards) showed >85% in the “southern” group. Both Ashkenazi Jews as well as Sephardic Jews showed >85% membership in the “southern” group. Referring to the Jews clustering with southern Europeans, the authors state the results were “consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups”.[126]

A 2007 study by Bauchet et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews were most closely clustered with Arabic North African populations when compared to Global population, and in the European structure analysis, they share similarities only with Greeks and Southern Italians, reflecting their east Mediterranean origins.[127][128]

A 2010 study on Jewish ancestry by Atzmon-Ostrer et al. stated “Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry”, as both groups the Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews shared common ancestors in the Middle East about 2500 years ago. The study examines genetic markers spread across the entire genome and shows that the Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships and that each of the Jewish groups in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) has its own genetic signature but is more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their fellow non-Jewish countrymen.[129] Atzmon’s team found that the SNP markers in genetic segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews. Results of the analysis also tally with biblical accounts of the fate of the Jews. The study also found that with respect to non-Jewish European groups, the population most closely related to Ashkenazi Jews are modern-day Italians. The study speculated that the genetic-similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians may be due to inter-marriage and conversions in the time of the Roman Empire. It was also found that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins.[130][131]

A 2010 study by Bray et al., using SNP microarray techniques and linkage analysis found that when assuming Druze and Palestinian Arab populations to represent the reference to world Jewry ancestor genome, between 35 to 55 percent of the modern Ashkenazi genome can possibly be of European origin, and that European “admixture is considerably higher than previous estimates by studies that used the Y chromosome” with this reference point. Assuming this reference point the linkage disequilibrium in the Ashkenazi Jewish population was interpreted as “matches signs of interbreeding or ‘admixture’ between Middle Eastern and European populations”.[132] On the Bray et al. tree, Ashkenazi Jews were found to be a genetically more divergent population than Russians, Orcadians, French, Basques, Italians, Sardinians and Tuscans. The study also observed that Ashkenazim are more diverse than their Middle Eastern relatives, which was counterintuitive because Ashkenazim are supposed to be a subset, not a superset, of their assumed geographical source population. Bray et al. therefore postulate that these results reflect not the population antiquity but a history of mixing between genetically distinct populations in Europe. However, it’s possible that the relaxation of marriage prescription in the ancestors of Ashkenazim that drove their heterozygosity up, while the maintenance of the FBD rule in native Middle Easterners have been keeping their heterozygosity values in check. Ashkenazim distinctiveness as found in the Bray et al. study, therefore, may come from their ethnic endogamy (ethnic inbreeding), which allowed them to “mine” their ancestral gene pool in the context of relative reproductive isolation from European neighbors, and not from clan endogamy (clan inbreeding). Consequently, their higher diversity compared to Middle Easterners stems from the latter’s marriage practices, not necessarily from the former’s admixture with Europeans.[133]

The genome-wide genetic study carried out in 2010 by Behar et al. examined the genetic relationships among all major Jewish groups, including Ashkenazim, as well as the genetic relationship between these Jewish groups and non-Jewish ethnic populations. The study found that contemporary Jews (excluding Indian and Ethiopian Jews) have a close genetic relationship with people from the Levant. The authors explained that “the most parsimonious explanation for these observations is a common genetic origin, which is consistent with an historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant”.[134]

Speculation that the Ashkenazi arose from Khazar stock surfaced in the later 19th century and has met with mixed fortunes in the scholarly literature. In late 2012 Eran Elhaik, a research associate studying genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, argued for Khazar descent in his paper The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses.[135][136] A 2013 study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA found no significant evidence of Khazar contribution to the Ashkenazi Jewish DNA, as would be predicted by the Khazar hypothesis.[137]

A 2013 trans-genome study carried out by 30 geneticists, from 13 universities and academies, from 9 countries, assembling the largest data set available to date, for assessment of Ashkenazi Jewish genetic origins found no evidence of Khazar origin among Ashkenazi Jews. “Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region”, the authors concluded.[138]

There are many references to Ashkenazi Jews in the literature of medical and population genetics. Indeed, much awareness of “Ashkenazi Jews” as an ethnic group or category stems from the large number of genetic studies of disease, including many that are well reported in the media, that have been conducted among Jews. Jewish populations have been studied more thoroughly than most other human populations, for a variety of reasons:

The result is a form of ascertainment bias. This has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations.[139] Healthcare professionals are often taught to consider those of Ashkenazi descent to be at increased risk for colon cancer.[140]

A study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine examines a particular genetic trait that increases the lifespan of the Ashkenazi population. The study focuses on telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres at the ends of chromosomes during cell division.[141][142]

Genetic counseling and genetic testing are often undertaken by couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some organizations, most notably Dor Yeshorim, organize screening programs to prevent homozygosity for the genes that cause related diseases.[143][144]

Link:
Ashkenazi Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The IsraeliPalestinian conflict (Arabic: – al-Niza’a al’Filastini al ‘Israili; Hebrew: – Ha’Sikhsukh Ha’Yisraeli-Falestini) is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century.[5] The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is sometimes also used in reference to the earlier sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine, between the Jewish yishuv and the Arab population under British rule. The IsraeliPalestinian conflict has formed the core part of the wider ArabIsraeli conflict. It has been referred to as the world’s “most intractable conflict”.[7][8][9]

Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final peace agreement. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements,[10]Palestinian freedom of movement,[11] and resolving Palestinian claims of a right of return for their refugees. The violence of the conflict, in a region rich in sites of historic, cultural and religious interest worldwide, has been the object of numerous international conferences dealing with historic rights, security issues and human rights, and has been a factor hampering tourism in and general access to areas that are hotly contested.[12]

Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel (after Israel’s establishment in 1948). In 2007, the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, preferred the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict.[13] Moreover, a majority of Jews see the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state.[14] The majority of Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have expressed a preference for a two-state solution.[15][16][unreliable source?] Mutual distrust and significant disagreements are deep over basic issues, as is the reciprocal scepticism about the other side’s commitment to upholding obligations in an eventual agreement.[17]

Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society. A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides. There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict.

The two parties engaged in direct negotiation are the Israeli government, currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The official negotiations are mediated by an international contingent known as the Quartet on the Middle East (the Quartet) represented by a special envoy, that consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The Arab League is another important actor, which has proposed an alternative peace plan. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant.

Since 2006, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. After Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006, the Quartet (United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) conditioned future foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected these demands,[18] which resulted in the Quartet’s suspension of its foreign assistance program, and the imposition of economic sanctions by the Israelis. A year later, following Hamas’s seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory officially recognized as the State of Palestine (former Palestinian National Authority the Palestinian interim governing body) was split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties had effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). However, in 2014, a Palestinian Unity Government, composed of both Fatah and Hamas, was formed. The latest round of peace negotiations began in July 2013 and was suspended in 2014.

The IsraeliPalestinian conflict has its roots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the birth of major nationalist movements among the Jews and among the Arabs, both geared towards attaining sovereignty for their people in the Middle East.[19] The collision between those two forces in southern Levant and the emergence of Palestinian nationalism in the 1920s eventually escalated into the IsraeliPalestinian conflict in 1947, and expanded into the wider Arab-Israeli conflict later on.[20]

With the outcome of the First World War, the relations between Zionism and the Arab national movement seemed to be potentially friendly, and the FaisalWeizmann Agreement created a framework for both aspirations to coexist on former Ottoman Empire’s territories. However, with the defeat and dissolution of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in July 1920 following the Franco-Syrian War, a crisis fell upon the Damascus-based Arab national movement. The return of several hard-line Palestinian Arab nationalists, under the emerging leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, from Damascus to Mandatory Palestine marked the beginning of Palestinian Arab nationalist struggle towards establishment of a national home for Arabs of Palestine.[21] Amin al-Husseini, the architect of the Palestinian Arab national movement, immediately marked Jewish national movement and Jewish immigration to Palestine as the sole enemy to his cause,[22] initiating large-scale riots against the Jews as early as 1920 in Jerusalem and in 1921 in Jaffa. Among the results of the violence was the establishment of Jewish paramilitary force of Haganah. In 1929, a series of violent anti-Jewish riots was initiated by the Arab leadership. The riots resulted in massive Jewish casualties in Hebron and Safed, and the evacuation of Jews from Hebron and Gaza.[19]

In the early 1930s, the Arab national struggle in Palestine had drawn many Arab nationalist militants from across the Middle East, most notably Sheikh Izaddin al-Qassam from Syria, who established the Black Hand militant group and had prepared the grounds for the 1936 Arab revolt. Following, the death of al-Qassam at the hands of the British in late 1935, the tensions erupted in 1936 into the Arab general strike and general boycott. The strike soon deteriorated into violence and the bloody revolt against the British and the Jews.[20] In the first wave of organized violence, lasting until early 1937, much of the Arab gangs were defeated by the British and a forced expulsion of much of the Arab leadership was performed. The revolt led to the establishment of the Peel Commission towards partitioning of Palestine, though was subsequently rejected by the Palestinian Arabs. The two main Jewish leaders, Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, accepted the recommendations but some secondary Jewish leaders did not like it.[23][24][25]

The renewed violence, which had sporadically lasted until the beginning of WWII, ended with around 5,000 casualties, mostly from the Arab side. With the eruption of World War II, the situation in Mandatory Palestine calmed down. It allowed a shift towards a more moderate stance among Palestinian Arabs, under the leadership of the Nashashibi clan and even the establishment of the JewishArab Palestine Regiment under British command, fighting Germans in North Africa. The more radical exiled faction of al-Husseini however tended to cooperation with Nazi Germany, and participated in the establishment of pro-Nazi propaganda machine throughout the Arab world. Defeat of Arab nationalists in Iraq and subsequent relocation of al-Husseini to Nazi-occupied Europe tied his hands regarding field operations in Palestine, though he regularly demanded the Italians and the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv. By the end of World War II, a crisis over the fate of the Holocaust survivors from Europe led to renewed tensions between the Yishuv and the Palestinian Arab leadership. Immigration quotas were established by the British, while on the other hand illegal immigration and Zionist insurgency against the British was increasing.[19]

On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 181(II)[26] recommending the adoption and implementation of a plan to partition Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the City of Jerusalem.[27] On the next day, Palestine was already swept by violence, with Arab and Jewish militias executing attacks. For four months, under continuous Arab provocation and attack, the Yishuv was usually on the defensive while occasionally retaliating.[28] The Arab League supported the Arab struggle by forming the volunteer based Arab Liberation Army, supporting the Palestinian Arab Army of the Holy War, under the leadership of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and Hasan Salama. On the Jewish side, the civil war was managed by the major underground militias the Haganah, Irgun and Lehi, strengthened by numerous Jewish veterans of World War II and foreign volunteers. By spring 1948, it was already clear that the Arab forces were nearing a total collapse, while Yishuv forces gained more and more territory, creating a large scale refugee problem of Palestinian Arabs.[19] Popular support for the Palestinian Arabs throughout the Arab world led to sporadic violence against Jewish communities of Middle East and North Africa, creating an opposite refugee wave.

Following the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, the Arab League decided to intervene on behalf of Palestinian Arabs, marching their forces into former British Palestine, beginning the main phase of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[27] The overall fighting, leading to around 15,000 casualties, resulted in cease fire and armistice agreements of 1949, with Israel holding much of the former Mandate territory, Jordan occupying and later annexing the West Bank and Egypt taking over the Gaza Strip, where the All-Palestine Government was declared by the Arab League on 22 September 1948.[20]

Through the 1950s, Jordan and Egypt supported the Palestinian Fedayeen militants’ cross-border attacks into Israel, while Israel carried out reprisal operations in the host countries. The 1956 Suez Crisis resulted in a short-term Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and exile of the All-Palestine Government, which was later restored with Israeli withdrawal. The All-Palestine Government was completely abandoned by Egypt in 1959 and was officially merged into the United Arab Republic, to the detriment of the Palestinian national movement. Gaza Strip then was put under the authority of Egyptian military administrator, making it a de facto military occupation. In 1964, however, a new organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was established by Yasser Arafat.[27] It immediately won the support of most Arab League governments and was granted a seat in the Arab League.

The 1967 Six Day War exerted a significant effect upon Palestinian nationalism, as Israel gained authority of the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Consequently, the PLO was unable to establish any control on the ground and established its headquarters in Jordan, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and supported the Jordanian army during the War of Attrition, most notably the Battle of Karameh. However, the Palestinian base in Jordan collapsed with the Jordanian-Palestinian civil war in 1970. The PLO defeat by the Jordanians caused most of the Palestinian militants to relocate to South Lebanon, where they soon took over large areas, creating the so-called “Fatahland”.

Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon peaked in the early 1970s, as Lebanon was used as a base to launch attacks on northern Israel and airplane hijacking campaigns worldwide, which drew Israeli retaliation. During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian militants continued to launch attacks against Israel while also battling opponents within Lebanon. In 1978, the Coastal Road massacre led to the Israeli full-scale invasion known as Operation Litani. Israeli forces, however, quickly withdrew from Lebanon, and the attacks against Israel resumed. In 1982, following an assassination attempt on one of its diplomats by Palestinians, the Israeli government decided to take sides in the Lebanese Civil War and the 1982 Lebanon War commenced. The initial results for Israel were successful. Most Palestinian militants were defeated within several weeks, Beirut was captured, and the PLO headquarters were evacuated to Tunisia in June by Yasser Arafat’s decision.[20] However, Israeli intervention in the civil war also led to unforeseen results, including small-scale conflict between Israel and Syria. By 1985, Israel withdrew to a 10km occupied strip of South Lebanon, while the low-intensity conflict with Shia militants escalated.[19]Those Iranian-supported Shia groups gradually consolidated into Hizbullah and Amal, operated against Israel, and allied with the remnants of Palestinian organizations to launch attacks on Galilee through the late 1980s. By the 1990s, Palestinian organizations in Lebanon were largely inactive.[citation needed]

The first Palestinian uprising began in 1987 as a response to escalating attacks and the endless occupation. By the early 1990s, international efforts to settle the conflict had begun, in light of the success of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1982. Eventually, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process led to the Oslo Accords of 1993, allowing the PLO to relocate from Tunisia and take ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, establishing the Palestinian National Authority. The peace process also had significant opposition among radical Islamic elements of Palestinian society, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who immediately initiated a campaign of attacks targeting Israelis. Following hundreds of casualties and a wave of radical anti-government propaganda, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic who objected to the policy of the government. This struck a serious blow to the peace process, from which the newly elected government of Israel in 1996 backed off.[19]

Following several years of unsuccessful negotiations, the conflict re-erupted as the Second Intifada on September 2000.[20] The violence, escalating into an open conflict between the Palestinian Authority security forces and the IDF, lasted until 2004/2005 and led to approximately 130 fatalities. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon decided to disengage from Gaza. In 2005, Israel removed every soldier and every Jewish settler from Gaza. Israel and its Supreme Court formally declared an end to occupation, saying it “had no effective control over what occurred” in Gaza.[29] In 2006, Hamas took power by winning a plurality of 44% in a Palestinian parliamentary election. Israel responded it would begin economic sanctions unless Hamas agreed to accept prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements, forswear violence, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.[30] Hamas responded with rocket attacks[31][32][33] and an incursion onto Israeli territory using underground tunnels to kidnap Gilad Shalit. After internal Palestinian political struggle between Fatah and Hamas erupted into the Battle of Gaza (2007), Hamas took full control of the area.[34] in 2007, Israel imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, and cooperation with Egypt allowed a ground blockade of the Egyptian border

The tensions between Israel and Hamas, who won increasing financial and political support of Iran, escalated until late 2008, when Israel launched operation Cast Lead (the Gaza War). By February 2009, a cease-fire was signed with international mediation between the parties, though small and sporadic eruptions of violence continued.[35]

The question of whether Gaza remains occupied following Israel’s withdrawal remains contentious. Israel insists that its full withdrawal from Gaza means it does not occupy Gaza. The UN has taken no position over whether Gaza remains occupied. Palestinian leaders insist that the Israeli decision, following attacks from Hamas, to impose a weapons blockade of Gaza, Israel’s control of Gaza crossing points into Israel, and Israel’s control of air above and sea around Gaza constitutes continued Israeli occupation.[29]

In 2011, a Palestinian Authority attempt to gain UN membership as a fully sovereign state failed. In Hamas-controlled Gaza, sporadic rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air raids still take place.[36][37][38][39] In November 2012, the representation of Palestine in UN was upgraded to a non-member observer State, and mission title was changed from “Palestine (represented by PLO)” to State of Palestine.

In 1993, Israeli officials led by Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leaders from the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat strove to find a peaceful solution through what became known as the Oslo peace process. A crucial milestone in this process was Arafat’s letter of recognition of Israel’s right to exist. In 1993, the Oslo Accords were finalized as a framework for future IsraeliPalestinian relations. The crux of the Oslo agreement was that Israel would gradually cede control of the Palestinian territories over to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. The Oslo process was delicate and progressed in fits and starts, the process took a turning point at the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and finally unraveled when Arafat and Ehud Barak failed to reach agreement at Camp David in July 2000. Robert Malley, special assistant to US President Bill Clinton for ArabIsraeli Affairs, has confirmed that while Barak made no formal written offer to Arafat, the US did present concepts for peace which were considered by the Israeli side yet left unanswered by Arafat “the Palestinians’ principal failing is that from the beginning of the Camp David summit onward they were unable either to say yes to the American ideas or to present a cogent and specific counterproposal of their own”.[40] Consequently, there are different accounts of the proposals considered.[41][42][43]

In July 2000, US President Bill Clinton convened a peace summit between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak reportedly put forward the following as ‘bases for negotiation’, via the U.S. to the Palestinian President; a non militarized Palestinian state split into 3-4 parts containing 87-92%[note 1] of the West Bank including only parts of East Jerusalem, and the entire Gaza Strip,[44][45] The offer also included that 69 Jewish settlements (which comprise 85% of the West Bank’s Jewish settlers) would be ceded to Israel, no right of return to Israel, no sovereignty over the Temple Mount or any core East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, and continued Israel control over the Jordan Valley.[46][47]

Arafat rejected this offer.[44][48][49][50][51][52] According to the Palestinian negotiators the offer did not remove many of the elements of the Israeli occupation regarding land, security, settlements, and Jerusalem.[53] President Clinton reportedly requested that Arafat make a counter-offer, but he proposed none. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami who kept a diary of the negotiations said in an interview in 2001, when asked whether the Palestinians made a counterproposal: “No. And that is the heart of the matter. Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal.”[54] In a separate interview in 2006 Ben Ami stated that were he a Palestinian he would have rejected the Camp David offer.[55]

No tenable solution was crafted which would satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian demands, even under intense US pressure. Clinton has long blamed Arafat for the collapse of the summit.[56] In the months following the summit, Clinton appointed former US Senator George J. Mitchell to lead a fact-finding committee that later published the Mitchell Report aimed at restoring the peace process.[citation needed]

Following the failed summit Palestinian and Israeli negotiators continued to meet in small groups through August and September 2000 to try to bridge the gaps between their respective positions. The United States prepared its own plan to resolve the outstanding issues. Clinton’s presentation of the US proposals was delayed by the advent of the Second Intifada at the end of September.[53]

Clinton’s plan, eventually presented on 23 December 2000, proposed the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the Gaza strip and 9496 percent of the West Bank plus the equivalent of 13 percent of the West Bank in land swaps from pre-1967 Israel. On Jerusalem the plan stated that, “the general principle is that Arab areas are Palestinian and that Jewish areas are Israeli.” The holy sites were to be split on the basis that Palestinians would have sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Noble sanctuary, while the Israelis would have sovereignty over the Western Wall. On refugees the plan suggested a number of proposals including financial compensation, the right of return to the Palestinian state, and Israeli acknowledgement of suffering caused to the Palestinians in 1948. Security proposals referred to a “non-militarized” Palestinian state, and an international force for border security. Both sides accepted Clinton’s plan[53][57][58] and it became the basis for the negotiations at the Taba Peace summit the following January.[53]

The Israeli negotiation team presented a new map at the Taba Summit in Taba, Egypt in January 2001. The proposition removed the “temporarily Israeli controlled” areas, and the Palestinian side accepted this as a basis for further negotiation. With Israeli elections looming the talks ended without an agreement but the two sides issued a joint statement attesting to the progress they had made: “The sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement and it is thus our shared belief that the remaining gaps could be bridged with the resumption of negotiations following the Israeli elections.” The following month the Likud party candidate Ariel Sharon defeated Ehud Barak in the Israeli elections and was elected as Israeli prime minister on 7 February 2001. Sharons new government chose not to resume the high-level talks.[53]

One peace proposal, presented by the Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States on 17 September 2002, was the Road Map for Peace. This plan did not attempt to resolve difficult questions such as the fate of Jerusalem or Israeli settlements, but left that to be negotiated in later phases of the process. The proposal never made it beyond the first phase, which called for a halt to Israeli settlement construction and a halt to Israeli and Palestinian violence, none of which was achieved.[citation needed]

The Arab Peace Initiative (Arabic: Mubdirat as-Salm al-Arabyyah) was first proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Beirut Summit. The peace initiative is a proposed solution to the ArabIsraeli conflict as a whole, and the IsraeliPalestinian conflict in particular.[citation needed]

The initiative was initially published on 28 March 2002, at the Beirut Summit, and agreed upon again in 2007 in the Riyadh Summit.

Unlike the Road Map for Peace, it spelled out “final-solution” borders based explicitly on the UN borders established before the 1967 Six-Day War. It offered full normalization of relations with Israel, in exchange for the withdrawal of its forces from all the occupied territories, including the Golan Heights, to recognize “an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as a “just solution” for the Palestinian refugees.[59]

A number of Israeli officials have responded to the initiative with both support and criticism. The Israeli government has expressed reservations on ‘red line,’ issues such as the Palestinian refugee problem, homeland security concerns, and the nature of Jerusalem.[60] However, the Arab League continues to raise it as a possible solution, and meetings between the Arab League and Israel have been held.[61]

The peace process has been predicated on a “two-state solution” thus far, but questions have been raised towards both sides’ resolve to end the dispute.[62] An article by S. Daniel Abraham, an American entrepreneur and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace in Washington, US, published on the website of the Atlantic magazine in March 2013, cited the following statistics: “Right now, the total number of Jews and Arabs living … in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is just under 12 million people. At the moment, a shade under 50 percent of the population is Jewish.”[63]

Israel has had its settlement growth and policies in the Palestinian territories harshly criticized by the European Union citing it as increasingly undermining the viability of the two-state solution and running in contrary to the Israeli-stated commitment to resume negotiations.[64][65] In December 2011, all the regional groupings on the UN Security Council named continued settlement construction and settler violence as disruptive to the resumption of talks, a call viewed by Russia as a “historic step”.[66][67][68] In April 2012, international outrage followed Israeli steps to further entrench the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which included the publishing of tenders for further settler homes and the plan to legalize settler outposts. Britain said that the move was a breach of Israeli commitments under the road map to freeze all settlement expansion in the land captured since 1967. The British Foreign Minister stated that the “Systematic, illegal Israeli settlement activity poses the most significant and live threat to the viability of the two state solution”.[69] In May 2012 the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union issued a statement which condemned continued Israeli settler violence and incitement.[70] In a similar move, the Quartet “expressed its concern over ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank,” calling on Israel “to take effective measures, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.”[71] The Palestinian Ma’an News agency reported the PA Cabinet’s statement on the issue stated that the West, including East Jerusalem, were seeing “an escalation in incitement and settler violence against our people with a clear protection from the occupation military. The last of which was the thousands of settler march in East Jerusalem which included slogans inciting to kill, hate and supports violence”.[72]

In a report published in February 2014 covering incidents over the three year period of 2011-2013, Amnesty International asserted that Israeli forces employed reckless violence in the West Bank, and in some instances appeared to engage in wilful killings which would be tantamount to war crimes. Besides the numerous fatalities, Amnesty said at least 261 Palestinians, including 67 children, had been gravely injured by Israeli use of live ammunition. In this same period, 45 Palestinians, including 6 children had been killed. Amnesty’s review of 25 civilians deaths concluded that in no case was there evidence of the Palestinians posing an imminent threat. At the same time, over 8,000 Palestinians suffered serious injuries from other means, including rubber-coated metal bullets. Only one IDF soldier was convicted, killing a Palestinian attempting to enter Israel illegally. The soldier was demoted and given a 1 year sentence with a five month suspension. The IDF answered the charges stating that its army held itself “to the highest of professional standards,” adding that when there was suspicion of wrongdoing, it investigated and took action “where appropriate”.[73][74]

Following the Oslo Accords, which was to set up regulative bodies to rein in frictions, Palestinian incitement against Israel, Jews, and Zionism continued, parallel with Israel’s pursuance of settlement in the Palestinian territories,[75] though under Abu Mazen it has reportedly dwindled significantly.[76] Charges of incitement have been reciprocal,[77][78] both sides interpreting media statements in the Palestinian and Israeli press as constituting incitement.[76] In Israeli usage, the term also covers failures to mention Israel’s culture and history in Palestinian textbooks.[79] In 2011, Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu stated that the incitement promulgated by the Palestinian Authority was destroying Israels confidence, and he condemned what he regarded as the glorification of the murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar on PA television. The perpetrator of the murders had been described as a “hero” and a “legend” by members of his family, during a weekly program.[80][81] This occurred shortly after the official Palestinian Authority Mufti in Jerusalem publicly read out an Islamic hadith that says killing Jews will speed up the redemption,[82] which was criticised by the UK’s Minister for the Middle East and North Africa as potentially stirring up “hatred and prejudice”.[81][83]

Following the Itamar massacre and a bombing in Jerusalem, 27 US senators sent a letter requesting the US Secretary of State to identify the administration’s steps to end Palestinian incitement to violence against Jews and Israel that was occurring within the “Palestinian media, mosques and schools, and even by individuals or institutions affiliated with the Palestinian Authority.”[84] Media watchdog, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), reported in June 2012 that the Palestinian media continually demonizes Israel and Jews and derogates Jewish history. They stated that the Palestinian children are being taught hatred and violence against Jews and Israelis and that only 7 percent of Palestinian teenagers accept Israel’s right to exist. They stated that a political peace structure is contingent upon a proceeding educational peace process, which is lacking.[85] Children in a Gaza kindergarten were dressed up in uniforms of the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organisation. They received a toy rifles and chanted anti-Israeli slogans. A teacher stated that this was so the children will “grow up to love the resistance and serve the cause of Palestine and Holy Jihad, as well as to make them leaders and fighters to defend the holy soil of Palestine.”[86] The head of the National Security Studies Center, Dan Shiftan, said that this showed a “deep message of the total rejection of Israel, legitimization of terror, and deep-seated victimization.”[87]

The United Nations body UNESCO stopped funding a children’s magazine sponsored by the Palestinian Authority that commended Hitler’s killing of Jews. It deplored this publication as contrary to its principles of building tolerance and respect for human rights and human dignity.[88][89]

The PLO’s campaign for full member status for the state of Palestine at the UN and have recognition on the 1967 borders received widespread support[90][91] though it was criticised by some countries for purportedly avoiding bilateral negotiation.[92][93] Netanyahu expressed criticism of the Palestinians as he felt that they were allegedly trying to bypass direct talks,[94] whereas Abbas argued that the continued construction of Israeli-Jewish settlements was “undermining the realistic potential” for the two-state solution.[95] Although denied full member status by the UN Security Council, in late 2012 the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of sovereign Palestine by granting non-member state status.[96]

Polling data has produced mixed results regarding the level of support among Palestinians for the two-state solution. A poll was carried out in 2011 by the Hebrew University; it indicated that support for a two-state solution was growing among both Israelis and Palestinians. The poll found that 58% of Israelis and 50% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution based on the Clinton Parameters, compared with 47% of Israelis and 39% of Palestinians in 2003, the first year the poll was carried out. The poll also found that an increasing percentage of both populations supported an end to violence63% of Palestinians and 70% of Israelis expressing their support for an end to violence, an increase of 2% for Israelis and 5% for Palestinians from the previous year.[97]

A poll commissioned by The Israel Project conducted in July 2011 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and fielded by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion in the West Bank and Gaza indicated a range of opinions on the peace process that varied according to the wording of the questions.[98] When asked if they “accept a two-state solution” 44% of respondents said yes and 52% said no. When asked if they accepted the following concept: “President Obama said there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people” 34% accepted and 61% rejected. However, when asked if they favoured or opposed a two-state solution in which “the border between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps of land to take account of realities on the ground so both sides can achieve a secure and just peace”, 57% said yes and only 40% said no. When half the respondents were given a choice between two sentences (a. Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people; b. Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state) 84% chose b. and 8% selected a. The other half were asked to choose between a. I can accept permanently a two-state solution with one a homeland for the Palestinian people living side-by-side with Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people, or b. The real goal should to start with a two state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state. 30% of those asked selected the first option while 66% chose the second. When asked to choose between a. The best goal is for a two-state solution that keeps two states living side by side, and b. The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state, 25% chose a. whilst 52% opted for b.

According to the same poll, 65% of respondents preferred talks and 20% preferred violence. More than 70% of those polled said they believed a hadith, or saying, ascribed to Mohammed that is included as a clause of the Hamas Charter and states, The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews”. The poll further reported that “72% of Palestinians endorsed the denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.” At the same time, only 29% supported the killing of a settler family in Itamar and 22% supported rocket attacks on Israeli cities and civilians. 64% support seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state outside of the framework of negotiations with Israel and 85% believe that a settlement freeze should be a pre-requisite for continuing negotiations. 81% rejected the suggestion that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was serious about wanting peace and a two-state solution whilst only 12% accepted the notion. The methodology and neutrality of this poll has been called into question by Paul Pillar, writing in the National Interest.[99]

The following outlined positions are the official positions of the two parties; however, it is important to note that neither side holds a single position. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides include both moderate and extremist bodies as well as dovish and hawkish bodies.

One of the primary obstacles to resolving the IsraeliPalestinian conflict is a deepset and growing distrust between its participants. Unilateral strategies and the rhetoric of hard-line political factions, coupled with violence and incitements by civilians against one another, have fostered mutual embitterment and hostility and a loss of faith in the peace process. Support among Palestinians for Hamas is considerable, and as its members consistently call for the destruction of Israel and violence remains a threat, security becomes a prime concern for many Israelis. The expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has led the majority of Palestinians to believe that Israel is not committed to reaching an agreement, but rather to a pursuit of establishing permanent control over this territory in order to provide that security.[100]

The control of Jerusalem is a particularly delicate issue, with each side asserting claims over this city. The three largest Abrahamic religionsJudaism, Christianity, and Islamhold Jerusalem as an important setting for their religious and historical narratives. Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world for Judaism, being the former location of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount and the capital of the ancient Israelite kingdom. For Muslims, Jerusalem is the site of Mohammad’s Night Journey to heaven, and the al-Aqsa mosque. For Christians, Jerusalem is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Israeli government, including the Knesset and Supreme Court, is centered in the “new city” of West Jerusalem and has been since Israel’s founding in 1948. After Israel captured the Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, it assumed complete administrative control of East Jerusalem. In 1980, Israel issued a new law stating, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”.[101]

No country in the world except for Israel has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The majority of UN member states and most international organisations do not recognise Israel’s ownership of East Jerusalem which occurred after the 1967 Six-Day War, nor its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation.[102] The International Court of Justice in its 2004 Advisory opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” described East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.”[103]

As of 2005, there were more than 719,000 people living in Jerusalem; 465,000 were Jews (mostly living in West Jerusalem) and 232,000 were Muslims (mostly living in East Jerusalem).[104]

At the Camp David and Taba Summits in 200001, the United States proposed a plan in which the Arab parts of Jerusalem would be given to the proposed Palestinian state while the Jewish parts of Jerusalem were given to Israel. All archaeological work under the Temple Mount would be jointly controlled by the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Both sides accepted the proposal in principle, but the summits ultimately failed.[105]

Israel expresses concern over the security of its residents if neighborhoods of Jerusalem are placed under Palestinian control. Jerusalem has been a prime target for attacks by militant groups against civilian targets since 1967. Many Jewish neighborhoods have been fired upon from Arab areas. The proximity of the Arab areas, if these regions were to fall in the boundaries of a Palestinian state, would be so close as to threaten the safety of Jewish residents.[106]

Israel has concerns regarding the welfare of Jewish holy places under possible Palestinian control. When Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, no Jews were allowed to visit the Western Wall or other Jewish holy places, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated.[105] Since 1975, Israel has banned Muslims from worshiping at Joseph’s Tomb, a shrine considered sacred by both Jews and Muslims. Settlers established a yeshiva, installed a Torah scroll and covered the mihrab. During the Second Intifada the site was looted and burned.[107][108] Israeli security agencies routinely monitor and arrest Jewish extremists that plan attacks, though many serious incidents have still occurred.[109] Israel has allowed almost complete autonomy to the Muslim trust (Waqf) over the Temple Mount.[105]

Palestinians have voiced concerns regarding the welfare of Christian and Muslim holy places under Israeli control.[110] Additionally, some Palestinian advocates have made statements alleging that the Western Wall Tunnel was re-opened with the intent of causing the mosque’s collapse.[111] The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied this claim in a 1996 speech to the United Nations[112] and characterized the statement as “escalation of rhetoric.”[113]

Palestinian refugees are people who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict[114] and the 1967 Six-Day War.[115] The number of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel following its creation was estimated at 711,000 in 1949.[116] Descendants of these original Palestinian Refugees are also eligible for registration and services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and as of 2010 number 4.7 million people.[117] Between 350,000 and 400,000 Palestinians were displaced during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.[115] A third of the refugees live in recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The remainder live in and around the cities and towns of these host countries.[114]

Most of these people were born outside of Israel, but are descendants of original Palestinian refugees.[114] Palestinian negotiators, most notably Yasser Arafat,[118] have so far publicly insisted that refugees have a right to return to the places where they lived before 1948 and 1967, including those within the 1949 Armistice lines, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 as evidence. However, according to reports of private peace negotiations with Israel they have countenanced the return of only 10,000 refugees and their families to Israel as part of a peace settlement. Mahmoud Abbas, the current Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization was reported to have said in private discussion that it is “illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million. That would mean the end of Israel.” [119] In a further interview Abbas stated that he no longer had an automatic right to return to Safed in the northern Galilee where he was born in 1935. He later clarified that the remark was his personal opinion and not official policy.[120]

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 declared that it proposed the compromise of a “just resolution” of the refugee problem.[121]

Palestinian and international authors have justified the right of return of the Palestinian refugees on several grounds:[122][123][124]

Shlaim (2000) states that from April 1948 the military forces of what was to become Israel had embarked on a new offensive strategy which involved destroying Arab villages and the forced removal of civilians.

The most common arguments for opposition are:

Throughout the conflict, Palestinian violence has been a concern for Israelis. Israel,[149] along with the United States[150] and the European Union, refer to the violence against Israeli civilians and military forces by Palestinian militants as terrorism. The motivations behind Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians are multiplex, and not all violent Palestinian groups agree with each other on specifics. Nonetheless, a common motive is the desire to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian Arab state.[151] The most prominent Islamist groups, such as Hamas, view the IsraeliPalestinian conflict as a religious jihad.[152]

Suicide bombing is used as a tactic among Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and certain suicide attacks have received support among Palestinians as high as 84%.[153][154] In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces.[155] From 19932003, 303 Palestinian suicide bombers attacked Israel.

The Israeli government initiated the construction of a security barrier following scores of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in July 2003. Israel’s coalition government approved the security barrier in the northern part of the green-line between Israel and the West Bank. According to the IDF, since the erection of the fence, terrorist acts have declined by approximately 90%.[156]

Since 2001, the threat of Qassam rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories into Israel is also of great concern for Israeli defense officials.[157] In 2006the year following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Stripthe Israeli government recorded 1,726 such launches, more than four times the total rockets fired in 2005.[149] As of January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched,[158][159] causing widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life.[160] Over 500 rockets and mortars hit Israel in JanuarySeptember 2010 and over 1,947 rockets hit Israel in JanuaryNovember 2012.

According to a study conducted by University of Haifa, one in five Israelis have lost a relative or friend in a Palestinian terrorist attack.[161]

There is significant debate within Israel about how to deal with the country’s security concerns. Options have included military action (including targeted killings and house demolitions of terrorist operatives), diplomacy, unilateral gestures toward peace, and increased security measures such as checkpoints, roadblocks and security barriers. The legality and the wisdom of all of the above tactics have been called into question by various commentators.[16][unreliable source?]

Since mid-June 2007, Israel’s primary means of dealing with security concerns in the West Bank has been to cooperate with and permit United States-sponsored training, equipping, and funding of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, which with Israeli help have largely succeeded in quelling West Bank supporters of Hamas.[162]

Some Palestinians have committed violent acts over the globe on the pretext of a struggle against Israel. Many foreigners, including Americans[163] and Europeans,[164] have been killed and injured by Palestinian militants. At least 53 Americans have been killed and 83 injured by Palestinian violence since the signing of the Oslo Accords.[165][unreliable source?]

During the late 1960s, the PLO became increasingly infamous for its use of international terror. In 1969 alone, the PLO was responsible for hijacking 82 planes. El Al Airlines became a regular hijacking target.[166][167] The hijacking of Air France Flight 139 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine culminated during a hostage-rescue mission, where Israeli special forces successfully rescued the majority of the hostages.

However, one of the most well-known and notorious terrorist acts was the capture and eventual murder of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games.[168]

Israeli forces have launched attacks against Palestinians around the globe as part of the conflict. Israel has assassinated dozens of Palestinians and their supporters outside of Palestine, mainly in Europe and the Middle East. Israel has also bombed Palestinian targets in many[quantify] nations such as Syria and Lebanon, including the bombing of the PLO Headquarters in Tunisia, killing several hundred.

Fighting among rival Palestinian and Arab movements has played a crucial role in shaping Israel’s security policy towards Palestinian militants, as well as in the Palestinian leadership’s own policies.[citation needed] As early as the 1930s revolts in Palestine, Arab forces fought each other while also skirmishing with Zionist and British forces, and internal conflicts continue to the present day. During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian baathists broke from the Palestine Liberation Organization and allied with the Shia Amal Movement, fighting a bloody civil war that killed thousands of Palestinians.[169][170]

In the First Intifada, more than a thousand Palestinians were killed in a campaign initiated by the Palestine Liberation Organization to crack down on suspected Israeli security service informers and collaborators. The Palestinian Authority was strongly criticized for its treatment of alleged collaborators, rights groups complaining that those labeled collaborators were denied fair trials. According to a report released by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, less than 45 percent of those killed were actually guilty of informing for Israel.[171]

The policies towards suspected collaborators contravene agreements signed by the Palestinian leadership. Article XVI(2) of the Oslo II Agreement states:[172]

“Palestinians who have maintained contact with the Israeli authorities will not be subjected to acts of harassment, violence, retribution, or prosecution.”

The provision was designed to prevent Palestinian leaders from imposing retribution on fellow Palestinians who had worked on behalf of Israel during the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials have killed and tortured thousands of Fatah members and other Palestinians who oppose their rule. During the Battle of Gaza, more than 150 Palestinians died over a four-day period.[173] The violence among Palestinians was described as a civil war by some commentators. By 2007, more than 600 Palestinian people had died during the struggle between Hamas and Fatah.[174]

In the past, Israel has demanded control over border crossings between the Palestinian territories and Jordan and Egypt, and the right to set the import and export controls, asserting that Israel and the Palestinian territories are a single economic space.

In the interim agreements reached as part of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority has received control over cities (Area A) while the surrounding countryside has been placed under Israeli security and Palestinian civil administration (Area B) or complete Israeli control (Area C). Israel has built additional highways to allow Israelis to traverse the area without entering Palestinian cities. The initial areas under Palestinian Authority control are diverse and non-contiguous. The areas have changed over time because of subsequent negotiations, including Oslo II, Wye River and Sharm el-Sheik. According to Palestinians, the separated areas make it impossible to create a viable nation and fails to address Palestinian security needs; Israel has expressed no agreement to withdrawal from some Areas B, resulting in no reduction in the division of the Palestinian areas, and the institution of a safe pass system, without Israeli checkpoints, between these parts. Because of increased Palestinian violence[citation needed] to occupation this plan is in abeyance.

In the Middle East, water resources are of great political concern. Since Israel receives much of its water from two large underground aquifers which continue under the Green Line, the use of this water has been contentious in the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. Israel withdraws most water from these areas, but it also supplies the West Bank with approximately 40million cubic metres annually, contributing to 77% of Palestinians’ water supply in the West Bank, which is to be shared for a population of about 2.6 million.[175]

While Israel’s consumption of this water has decreased since it began its occupation of the West Bank, it still consumes the majority of it: in the 1950s, Israel consumed 95% of the water output of the Western Aquifer, and 82% of that produced by the Northeastern Aquifer. Although this water was drawn entirely on Israel’s own side of the pre-1967 border, the sources of the water are nevertheless from the shared groundwater basins located under both West Bank and Israel.[176]

In the Oslo II Accord, both sides agreed to maintain “existing quantities of utilization from the resources.” In so doing, the Palestinian Authority established the legality of Israeli water production in the West Bank, subject to a Joint Water Committee (JWC). Moreover, Israel obligated itself in this agreement to provide water to supplement Palestinian production, and further agreed to allow additional Palestinian drilling in the Eastern Aquifer, also subject to the Joint Water Committee.[177] Many Palestinians counter that the Oslo II agreement was intended to be a temporary resolution and that it was not intended to remain in effect more than a decade later.

In 1999, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it continued to honor its obligations under the Interim Agreement.[178] The water that Israel receives comes mainly from the Jordan River system, the Sea of Galilee and two underground sources. According to a 2003 BBC article the Palestinians lack access to the Jordan River system.[179]

According to a report of 2008 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, water resources were confiscated for the benefit of the Israeli settlements in the Ghor. Palestinian irrigation pumps on the Jordan River were destroyed or confiscated after the 1967 war and Palestinians were not allowed to use water from the Jordan River system. Furthermore, the authorities did not allow any new irrigation wells to be drilled by Palestinian farmers, while it provided fresh water and allowed drilling wells for irrigation purposes at the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[180]

A report was released by the UN in August 2012 and Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, explained at the launch of the publication: Gaza will have half a million more people by 2020 while its economy will grow only slowly. In consequence, the people of Gaza will have an even harder time getting enough drinking water and electricity, or sending their children to school. Gaylard present alongside Jean Gough, of the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), and Robert Turner, of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The report projects that Gazas population will increase from 1.6 million people to 2.1 million people in 2020, leading to a density of more than 5,800 people per square kilometre.[181]

Numerous foreign nations and international organizations have established bilateral agreements with the Palestinian and Israeli water authorities. It is estimated that a future investment of about US$1.1bn for the West Bank and $0.8bn[clarification needed] is needed for the planning period from 2003 to 2015.[182]

In order to support and improve the water sector in the Palestinian territories, a number of bilateral and multilateral agencies have been supporting many different water and sanitation programs.

There are three large seawater desalination plants in Israel and two more scheduled to open before 2014. When the fourth plant becomes operational, 65% of Israel’s water will come from desalination plants, according to Minister of Finance Dr. Yuval Steinitz.[183]

In late 2012, a donation of $21.6 million was announced by the Government of the Netherlandsthe Dutch government stated that the funds would be provided to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), for the specific benefit of Palestinian children. An article, published by the UN News website, stated that: “Of the $21.6 million, $5.7 will be allocated to UNRWAs 2012 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory, which will support programmes in the West Bank and Gaza aiming to mitigate the effects on refugees of the deteriorating situation they face.”[181]

Occupied Palestinian Territory is the term used by the United Nations to refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,[184] and the Gaza Stripterritories which were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, having formerly been controlled by Egypt and Jordan.[185] The Israeli government uses the term Disputed Territories, to argue that some territories cannot be called occupied as no nation had clear rights to them and there was no operative diplomatic arrangement when Israel acquired them in June 1967.[186][187] The area is still referred to as Judea and Samaria by some Israeli groups, based on the historical regional names from ancient times. This is also the name used on the 1947 UN Partition Plan.[188]

In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem.[189] Israel has never annexed the West Bank, apart from East Jerusalem, or Gaza Strip, and the United Nations has demanded the “[t]ermination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” and that Israeli forces withdraw “from territories occupied in the recent conflict” the meaning and intent of the latter phrase is disputed. See Interpretations.

It has been the position of Israel that the most Arab-populated parts of West Bank (without major Jewish settlements), as well as the entire Gaza Strip, must eventually be part of an independent Palestinian State; however, the precise borders of this state are in question. At Camp David, for example, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat an opportunity to establish a non-militarized Palestinian State. The proposed state would consist of 77% of the West Bank split into two or three areas, followed by: an of increase of 86-91% of the West Bank after six to twenty-one years; autonomy, but not sovereignty for some of the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem surrounded by Israeli territory; the entire Gaza Strip; and the dismantling of most settlements.[47] Arafat rejected the proposal without providing a counter-offer.

A subsequent settlement proposed by President Clinton offered Palestinian sovereignty over 94 to 96 percent of the West Bank but was similarly rejected with 52 objections.[46][190][191][192][193] The Arab League has agreed to the principle of minor and mutually agreed land-swaps as part of a negotiated two state settlement based on June 1967 borders.[194] Official U.S. policy also reflects the ideal of using the 1967 borders as a basis for an eventual peace agreement.[195][196]

Some Palestinians claim they are entitled to all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Israel says it is justified in not ceding all this land, because of security concerns, and also because the lack of any valid diplomatic agreement at the time means that ownership and boundaries of this land is open for discussion.[118] Palestinians claim any reduction of this claim is a severe deprivation of their rights. In negotiations, they claim that any moves to reduce the boundaries of this land is a hostile move against their key interests. Israel considers this land to be in dispute, and feels the purpose of negotiations is to define what the final borders will be. Other Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, have in the past insisted that Palestinians must control not only the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, but also all of Israel proper. For this reason, Hamas has viewed the peace process “as religiously forbidden and politically inconceivable”.[152]

According to DEMA, “In the years following the Six-Day War, and especially in the 1990s during the peace process, Israel re-established communities destroyed in 1929 and 1948 as well as established numerous new settlements in the West Bank.”[197] These settlements are, as of 2009, home to about 301,000 people.[198] DEMA added, “Most of the settlements are in the western parts of the West Bank, while others are deep into Palestinian territory, overlooking Palestinian cities. These settlements have been the site of much inter-communal conflict.”[197] The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip, have been described by the UK[199] and the WEU[200] as an obstacle to the peace process. The United Nations and the European Union have also called the settlements “illegal under international law.”[201][202]

However, Israel disputes this;[203] several scholars and commentators disagree with the assessment that settlements are illegal, citing in 2005 recent historical trends to back up their argument.[204][205] Those who justify the legality of the settlements use arguments based upon Articles 2 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 242.[206] On a practical level, some objections voiced by Palestinians are that settlements divert resources needed by Palestinian towns, such as arable land, water, and other resources; and, that settlements reduce Palestinians’ ability to travel freely via local roads, owing to security considerations.

In 2005, Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, a proposal put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was enacted. All residents of Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip were evacuated, and all residential buildings were demolished.[207]

Various mediators and various proposed agreements have shown some degree of openness to Israel retaining some fraction of the settlements which currently exist in the West Bank; this openness is based on a variety of considerations, such as, the desire to find real compromise between Israeli and Palestinian territorial claims.[208][209]

Israel’s position that it needs to retain some West Bank land and settlements as a buffer in case of future aggression,[210] and Israel’s position that some settlements are legitimate, as they took shape when there was no operative diplomatic arrangement, and thus they did not violate any agreement.[186][187]

Former US President George W. Bush has stated that he does not expect Israel to return entirely to the 1949 armistice lines because of “new realities on the ground.”[211] One of the main compromise plans put forth by the Clinton Administration would have allowed Israel to keep some settlements in the West Bank, especially those which were in large blocs near the pre-1967 borders of Israel. In return, Palestinians would have received some concessions of land in other parts of the country.[208] The current US administration views a complete freeze of construction in settlements on the West Bank as a critical step toward peace. In May and June 2009, President Barack Obama said, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,”[212] and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated that the President “wants to see a stop to settlements not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.[213] However, Obama has since declared that the United States will no longer press Israel to stop West Bank settlement construction as a precondition for continued peace-process negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.[214]

The Israeli government states it is justified under international law to impose a blockade on an enemy for security reasons. The power to impose a naval blockade is established under customary international law and Laws of armed conflict, and a United Nations commission has ruled that Israel’s blockade is “both legal and appropriate.”[215][216] The Israeli Government’s continued land, sea and air blockage is tantamount to collective punishment of the population, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.[217] The Military Advocate General of Israel has provided numerous reasonings for the policy:

“The State of Israel has been engaged in an ongoing armed conflict with terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza strip. This armed conflict has intensified after Hamas violently took over Gaza, in June 2007, and turned the territory under its de-facto control into a launching pad of mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli towns and villages in southern Israel.”[218]

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History of the Jews in Azerbaijan dates back to Late Antiquity.

Historically Jews in Azerbaijan have been represented by various subgroups, mainly Mountain Jews, Ashkenazi Jews and Georgian Jews. Azerbaijan at one point was or still is home to smaller communities of Krymchaks, Kurdish Jews and Bukharian Jews, as well Gers (converts) and non-Jewish Judaistic groups like Subbotniks. In 2002, the total number of Jewish residents in Azerbaijan was 8,900 people with about 5,500 of them being Mountain Jews.[2] A few more thousand descend from mixed families.[3] In 2010, the total Jewish population in Azerbaijan was 6,400.[4] Jews mainly reside in the cities of Baku, Sumqayit, Quba, Ouz, Goychay and the town of Qrmz Qsb, the only town in the world where Mountain Jews constitute the majority. Historically, Jews used to live in and around the city of Shamakhi (mainly in the village of Mc), but the community has been non-existent since the early 1920s.[3]

Azerbaijani Jewry traces its roots back to the existence of Caucasian Albania, an ancient and early medieval kingdom situated in what is now Azerbaijan, and populated with predecessors of modern Lezgins, Tsakhurs, Azeris, Udis, et cetera. Archaeological excavations carried out in 1990 resulted in the discovery of the remains of the 7th-century Jewish settlement near Baku and of a synagogue 25 kilometres to the southeast of Quba.[3] The first religious meeting-house in Baku was built in 1832 and was reorganized into a synagogue in 1896; more synagogues were built in Baku and its suburbs in the late 19th century. The first choir synagogue in Baku opened in 1910.[5]

From the late 19th century Baku became one of the centres of the Zionist movement in the Russian Empire.[5] The first Hovevei Zion was established here in 1891, followed by the first Zionist organization in 1899. The movement remained strong in the short-lived Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (19181920) marked with the establishment of the Jewish Popular University in 1919, periodicals printed in Yiddish, Hebrew, Judo-Tat and Russian, and a number of schools, social clubs, benevolent societies and cultural organizations.[3]

During the construction of a stadium in the town of Guba mass grave was discovered. Two main wells and two canals with human bones were uncovered. The finds indicate that 24 skulls were of children, 28 were of women of various ages. Besides ethnic Azerbaijanis, there were also Jews and Lezgis killed and buried during March Days in 1918.[6] The names of 81 massacred Jewish civilians were found and confirmed.[7]

After Sovietization all Zionism-related activities including those of cultural nature that were carried out in Hebrew were banned. In the early 1920s a few hundred Mountain Jewish families from Azerbaijan and Dagestan left for Israel and settled in Tel-Aviv. The next aliyah did not take place until the 1970s, after the ban on Jewish immigration to Israel was lifted (see: Refusenik (Soviet Union)). Between 1972 and 1978 around 3,000 people left Azerbaijan for Israel. 1970 was the demographic peak for Azerbaijani Jews after World War II; according to the census, 41,288 Jews resided in Azerbaijan that year.[3]

Many Jewish migrs from Azerbaijan settled in Tel-Aviv and Haifa. There are relatively large communities of Mountain Jewish expatriates from Azerbaijan in New York and Toronto.

A new Jewish synagogue, which became the biggest synagogue of Europe was opened in Baku on March 9, 2003. There is also a Jewish school, which has been operating in Azerbaijan since 2003. Currently, there are three synagogues in Baku, two in Quba and one in Oghuz.[8]

Different theories have been brought forward regarding the origin of Mountain Jews and the exact date of their settlement in the Caucasus. The commonly accepted theory views Mountain Jews as early medieval immigrants from Persia and possibly the Byzantine Empire forced out by Islamic conquests. They settled in Caucasian Albania, on the left bank of the Kura River and interacted with the Kypchak Kaganate of Khazaria, which lied to the north. It was through these early Jewish communities that the Khazars converted to Judaism making it their state religion.[3]

In the following centuries, Mountain Jews are believed to have moved further north making way to mass migration of Oguz Turks into the region. Their increase in number was supported by a constant flow of Jews from Iran. In the late Middle Ages Jews from Gilan founded a settlement in Oguz. Throughout the medieval epoch Mountain Jews were establishing cultural and economic ties with other Jewish communities of the Mediterranean. Agriculture and fabric trade was their main occupation until Sovietization. Some families practiced polygamy.[3] In 1730, Huseyn Ali, the ruler of the Quba Khanate (then newly separated from the Safavid Empire), issued a decree according to which Jews could own property in the khanate.[9]

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Written on August 13th, 2015 & filed under Jewish History Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Spanish Jews once constituted one of the largest and most prosperous Jewish communities in the world. This period ended definitively with the Alhambra decree of 1492, as a result of which they were forced to convert to Catholicism, go into exile, or be killed. The Castilian Muslims suffered the same fate in 1500, and a generation later those of Aragn and Valencia.

An estimated 13,000 to 40,000 Jews live in Spain today.[1][2] The remnants of the Spanish (and Portuguese) Jews, the Sephardic Jews, though the worldwide figure is extremely hard to attain[3] specifically for Jews coming from countries where there was a monetary and social disincentive for having a Jewish background (see Marranos for one example), and for various other reasons, on the other end because there are those who just choose the Sephardic set of customs or Hebrew pronunciation. The number of Jews of Sephardic lineage in Israel was put just over 60% of the overall Israeli Jewish and non-Jewish populations in 1990[4] and Sepharadi Jews tend to have a much higher birth-rate than the more secular oriented Ashkenazi classification of Jews.[citation needed] The Jews of Spain spoke Ladino, a Romance language derived mainly from Old Castilian, Judeo-Catalan and Hebrew[citation needed]. The relationship of Ladino to Castilian Spanish is comparable to that of Yiddish to German[citation needed]. Nowadays, Jews in Spain speak Spanish, while Ladino is still used in Israel[citation needed].

Some associate the country of Tarshish, as mentioned in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, I Kings, Jonah and Romans, with a locale in southern Spain.[citation needed] In generally describing Tyre’s empire from west to east, Tarshish is listed first (Ezekiel 27.1214), and in Jonah 1.3 it is the place to which Jonah sought to flee from the Lord; evidently it represents the westernmost place to which one could sail.[citation needed]

The link between Jews and Tarshish is clear. One might speculate that commerce conducted by Jewish emissaries, merchants, craftsmen, or other tradesmen among the Semitic Tyrean Phoenicians might have brought them to Tarshish. Although the notion of Tarshish as Spain is merely based on suggestive material, it leaves open the possibility of a very early, although perhaps limited, Jewish presence in the Iberian Peninsula.[citation needed]

More substantial evidence of Jews in Spain comes from the Roman era.[citation needed] Although the spread of the Jews into Europe is most commonly associated with the Diaspora, which ensued from the Roman conquest of Judea, emigration from Eretz Yisrael into the greater Roman Mediterranean area antedated the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans under Titus. In his Facta et dicta memorabilia, Valerius Maximus makes reference to Jews and Chaldaeans being expelled from Rome in 139 BCE for their “corrupting” influences.[5] According to Josephus, King Agrippa attempted to discourage the Jews of Jerusalem from rebelling against Roman authority by reference to Jews throughout the Roman Empire and elsewhere; Agrippa warned that “the danger concerns not those Jews that dwell here only, but those of them which dwell in other cities also; for there is no people upon the habitable earth which do not have some portion of you among them, whom your enemies might slay, in case you go to war…”[6]

The Provenal Rabbi and scholar, Rabbi Abraham ben David, wrote in anno 1161: A tradition exists with the [Jewish] community of Granada that they are from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, rather than from the villages, the towns in the outlying districts [of Palestine].[7] When exactly these Jewish immigrants first settled in Spain is not clear, as there are references to two Jewish influxes into Spain, one following the destruction of Israels First Temple and the other after the destruction of the Second.

The earliest mention of Spain[citation needed] is, allegedly, found in Obadiah 1:20: And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel who are among the Canaanites as far as arfat (Heb. ), and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the south. While the medieval lexicographer, David ben Abraham Al-Alfs, identifies arfat with the city of arfend (Judeo-Arabic: ),[8] the word Sepharad (Heb. ) in the same verse has been translated by the 1st century rabbinic scholar, Yonathan Ben Uzziel, as Aspamia.[9] Based on a later teaching in the compendium of Jewish oral laws compiled by Rabbi Judah Hanasi in 189 CE, known as the Mishnah, Aspamia is associated with a very far place, generally thought of as Hispania, or Spain.[10] In circa 960 CE, isdai ibn apr, minister of trade in the court of the Caliph in Crdoba, wrote to Joseph, the king of Khazaria, saying: The name of our land in which we dwell is called in the sacred tongue, Sepharad, but in the language of the Arabs, the indwellers of the lands, Alandalus [Andalusia], the name of the capital of the kingdom, Crdoba.[11]

According to Rabbi David Kimchi (11601235), in his commentary on Obadiah 1:20, arfat and Sepharad, both, refer to the Jewish captivity (Heb. galut) expelled during the war with Titus and who went as far as the countries Alemania (Germany), Escalona,[12] France and Spain. The names arfat and Sepharad are explicitly mentioned by him as being France and Spain, respectively. Some scholars think that, in the case of the place-name, arfat (lit. arfend) which, as noted, was applied to the Jewish Diaspora in France, the association with France was made only exegetically because of its similarity in spelling with the name (France), by a reversal of its letters.

Spanish Jew, Moses de Len (ca. 1250 1305), mentions a tradition concerning the first Jewish exiles, saying that the vast majority of the first exiles driven away from the land of Israel during the Babylonian captivity refused to return, for they had seen that the Second Temple would be destroyed like the first.[13] In yet another teaching, passed down later by Moses ben Machir in the 16th century, an explicit reference is made to the fact that Jews have lived in Spain since the destruction of the First Temple:[14]

Similarly, Gedaliah ibn Jechia the Spaniard has written:[15]

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Written on August 11th, 2015 & filed under Jewish History Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Military of Israel

Israel Defense Forces logo

Flag of the Israel Defense Forces

United States (1968present)[5] Czechoslovakia (1948)[6] Germany (1998present)[7]

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; Hebrew: Tzva Hahagana LeYisra’el(helpinfo), lit. “The Army of Defense for Israel”, commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal (), are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force, and navy. The IDF is headed by its Chief of General Staff, the Ramatkal, subordinate to the Defense Minister of Israel; Lieutenant general (Rav Aluf) Gadi Eizenkot has served as Chief of Staff since 2015.

An order from Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion on 26 May 1948 officially set up the Israel Defense Forces as a conscript army formed out of the paramilitary group Haganah, incorporating the militant groups Irgun and Lehi. The IDF served as Israel’s armed forces in all the country’s major military operationsincluding the 1948 War of Independence, 19511956 Retribution operations, 1956 Sinai War, 19641967 War over Water, 1967 Six-Day War, 19671970 War of Attrition, 1968 Battle of Karameh, 1973 Operation Spring of Youth, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1976 Operation Entebbe, 1978 Operation Litani, 1982 Lebanon War, 19822000 South Lebanon conflict, 19871993 First Intifada, 20002005 Second Intifada, 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, 2006 Lebanon War, 20082009 Operation Cast Lead, 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, and 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The number of wars and border conflicts in which the IDF has been involved in its short history makes it one of the most battle-trained armed forces in the world.[9][10] While originally the IDF operated on three frontsagainst Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan and Iraq in the east, and Egypt in the southafter the 1979 EgyptianIsraeli Peace Treaty, it has concentrated its activities in southern Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, including the First and the Second Intifada.

The Israel Defense Forces differs from most armed forces in the world in many ways. Differences include the mandatory conscription of women and its structure, which emphasizes close relations between the army, navy, and air force. Since its founding, the IDF has been specifically designed to match Israel’s unique security situation. The IDF is one of Israeli society’s most prominent institutions, influencing the country’s economy, culture and political scene. In 1965, the Israel Defense Forces was awarded the Israel Prize for its contribution to education.[11] The IDF uses several technologies developed in Israel, many of them made specifically to match the IDF’s needs, such as the Merkava main battle tank, Achzarit armoured personnel carrier, high tech weapons systems, the Iron Dome missile defense system, Trophy active protection system for vehicles, and the Galil and Tavor assault rifles. The Uzi submachine gun was invented in Israel and used by the IDF until December 2003, ending a service that began in 1954. Following 1967, the IDF has close military relations with the United States,[12] including development cooperation, such as on the F-15I jet, THEL laser defense system, and the Arrow missile defense system.

The IDF traces its roots to Jewish paramilitary organizations in the New Yishuv, starting with the Second Aliyah (1904 to 1914).[13] The first such organization was Bar-Giora, founded in September 1907. It was converted to Hashomer in April 1909, which operated until the British Mandate of Palestine came into being in 1920. Hashomer was an elitist organization with narrow scope, and was mainly created to protect against criminal gangs seeking to steal property. During World War I, the forerunners of the Haganah/IDF were the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Legion, both of which were part of the British Army. After the Arab riots against Jews in April 1920, the Yishuv’s leadership saw the need to create a nationwide underground defense organization, and the Haganah was founded in June of the same year. The Haganah became a full-scale defense force after the 19361939 Arab revolt in Palestine with an organized structure, consisting of three main unitsthe Field Corps, Guard Corps, and the Palmach. During World War II the successor to the Jewish Legion of World War I was the Jewish Brigade.

The IDF was founded following the establishment of the State of Israel, after Defense Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion issued an order on 26 May 1948. The order called for the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, and the abolishment of all other Jewish armed forces. Although Ben-Gurion had no legal authority to issue such an order, the order was made legal by the cabinet on 31 May.[14]

The two other Jewish underground organizations, Irgun and Lehi, agreed to join the IDF if they would be able to form independent units and agreed not to make independent arms purchases. This was the background for the dispute which led to the Altalena Affair, following a confrontation regarding the weapons purchased by the Irgun. This resulted in a battle between Irgun members and the newly created IDF. It ended when the ship carrying the arms was shelled. Following the affair, all independent Irgun and Lehi units were either disbanded or merged into the IDF. The Palmach, a strong lobby within the Haganah, also joined the IDF with provisions, and Ben Gurion responded by disbanding its staff in 1949, after which many senior Palmach officers retired, notably its first commander, Yitzhak Sadeh.

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Updated July 31, 2015 7:17 p.m. ET

JERUSALEMSuspected Jewish extremists fire-bombed two Palestinian homes in a West Bank village early Friday, killing a toddler and prompting the Israeli army to deploy fresh forces to the territory to prevent unrest.

Assailants torched two houses about 4 a.m., according to Israeli emergency response personnel and witnesses. One home was apparently empty and the family was sleeping in the other. An 18-month-old boy was killed immediately, Israeli doctors told Israeli radio and television stations, while his father, mother and 5-year-old brother survived the blaze with critical burns.

Neighbors said the parents emerged from their home in flames as two masked men fled the site in Duma, is a small village near Nablus, the only West Bank city ruled by Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza.

A neighbor and relative of the victims said he tried unsuccessfully to enter the burning building to save the boy. A huge fire stopped me and I saw there was a cupboard that had fallen on the baby, he said in an interview.

Late on Friday, Israeli troops shot a teen who was part of a group demonstrating against the fire-bombing. Palestinian media said the teen died. The Israel Defense Forces said troops shot the suspect after he approached a security fence and ignored repeated warning shots. The IDF confirmed the teens death.

The firebombing followed another extremist attack on Thursday, when an ultra-Orthodox Jew who was convicted a decade ago of stabbing people at a gay pride parade here repeated the crime on Thursday, this time wounding six people at the same event.

On Friday, the suspect, Yishai Schlissel, appeared in court, where his arrest was extended for 12 days as the investigation against him continued, the Associated Press reported.

Referring to Fridays assault, Palestinian leaders blamed Israel for a failure to crack down on violent attacks from Israels West Bank settlers.

We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the brutal assassination of the toddler, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, emerging from an emergency meeting. Mr. Abbas said the Palestinian leadership intended to take the case to the International Criminal Court.

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