I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Exiled Jews returned to stay

Israel’s Independence Day was founded on the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by the Jewish leadership, headed by future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948. As seen in the historic documentary films, the mood outside of Ben-Gurion’s home just prior to the declaration was joyous.

“The Jews of Palestine…were dancing because they were about to realize what was one of the most remarkable and inspiring achievements in human history: A people which had been exiled from its homeland two thousand years before, which had endured countless pogroms, expulsions, and persecutions, but which had refused to relinquish its identitywhich had, on the contrary, substantially strengthened that identity; a people which only a few years before had been the victim of mankind’s largest single act of mass murder, killing a third of the world’s Jews, that people was returning home as sovereign citizens in their own independent state.” (“Ben-Gurion and the return to Jewish Power” by Michael B. Oren)

Independence was declared eight hours before the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, which was due to end on May 15, 1948. The operative paragraph of the Declaration expresses the declaration to be by “virtue of our natural and historic right and on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.” The new state was quickly recognized by the U.S., the Soviet Union and many other countries. However, the surrounding Arab states declared war on the new state.

The Arab-Israeli War (Israel’s War of Independence) began on May 15, 1948a day after Israel was declared independent. The Arab population of the newly established Jewish state responded by rioting and attacking the Jewish villages. In the days leading to the war and during the first weeks, leaders of the surrounding Arab countries urged Israeli Arabs to leave and temporarily settle elsewhere. It was widely broadcast in the Arab world that the Jews would be driven away so that the Arabs (estimated 700,000) could soon return to their homes and even occupy the vacated Jewish homes.

However, in the coming years, about 800,000 Jewish refugees arrived from Europe and the neighboring Arab countries. Some Palestinian Arabs returned to Israel, but most remained for decades in the tens of refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency set up the camps. As the Jewish State today celebrates the annual Independence Day, the state’s Arab population commemorates Nakba Day (Memory of the Catastrophe). In December 2022, the UN passed a resolution to observe Nakba Day at the General Assembly on the same day, May 15th.

Golden coin minted for Israel’s 75th State Anniversary in 2023