Excerpted from "Israel 101", produced by Stand With Us. Click here to download the entire booklet for free.
The Rise and Fall of Empires
In the first century, the Roman Empire defeated the over-1,000-year-old nation of Judea, destroyed its Holy Temple in Jerusalem and exiled hundreds of thousands of Jews. To erase all memory of Judea, Rome renamed it "Palestine" after the Jews' biblical enemy, the Philistines, an Aegean people who had once settled along the coast.1 Afterwards, Westerners referred to the Jewish-Christian Holy Land as Palestine. Arab peoples did not widely adopt the name "Palestine" until the 20th century. Though the name had always been associated with Jews, in the 1960s it became associated with the Arab Palestinian nationalist movement.
For the two millenia after the Roman conquest, no other state or unique national group developed in Palestine, and no ruler chose Jerusalem as its capital. Instead, different empires and peoples came, colonized, ruled and disappeared. Jews remained throughout these changes. Their numbers grew as exiled Jews returned in periodic waves of immigration; their numbers fell when the area's rulers persecuted them.
Between 1517 and 1917, Palestine was an unimportant backwater of the sprawling Ottoman Empire, which, at its height in 1683, covered vast parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. It was separated into small subdistricts within the large province of Syria (and later Beirut). The Palestine region initially prospered under the Ottomans, but during the Empire's decline, it was reduced to a sparsely populated, impoverished, barren area.2
When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I (1914-1918), its lands were ceded to the victorious Allies. Just as the Allies carved new nations out of Europe's defeated empires, so too they carved nations out of the former Ottoman Empire and created most of the Middle Eastern states we know today, including Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. They also redrew Palestine's boundaries and officially recognized is as the Jewish national home
The Middle East: A neighborhood of young countries
The League of Nations recognized the Jews' deep ties to their historic homeland, admired the thriving community they had been revitalizing since the 1880s and established the Palestine Mandate for a Jewish homeland.
This is modern Israel's story in maps.
Reprinted with permission from Stand With Us. Click here to download the entire booklet for free. - English USA
1 Michael Grand, The Jews in the Roman World, 1973, p. 255; Elliott A. Green, "What Did Rome Call the land of Israel . . .," in Midstream, October 1995.
2 League of Nations, "An Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine, during the period 1st July, 1920-30th June, 1921," July 1921. 3 Balfour Declaration, November 17, 1917.
4 Treaty of Sevres, Section VII, Article 94, August 10, 1920.
5 Council of the League of Nations, The Palestine Mandate, Article 6, July 24, 1922.