Jews and Judaism is most recognized in Biblical history and the stories of the Bible. Similar to Christians and other religions, the Muslim religion is based on monotheism as they believe in one superior God. Judaism is related to ethnic identity as well as religious beliefs; however this was not the case during the 1800’s and 1900’s. During this time the Jewish people were most observed as a religion. They are originally a nomadic people who roamed the Middle East. According to Biblical history, the Jews were awarded the Promised Land, which is today known as Israel which is part of Palestine. This was promised to them by God due to their faith. Ironically, both Jews and Muslims have similar religious concepts as observed in the New Testament. This is observed as, “Arabs as well as Jews claim descendant from Abraham, [but] the term land of Israel restricts its position to the descendants of Jacob”, (249).
Throughout the time between WWI and WWII, the Jewish people had no homeland to call their own. Although the term Jewish is defined as “people from Judea (Jerusalem)”, they continued to habitat parts of the Middle East including Palestine, postJordan, and the Ottoman Empire. However, after WWI and before the beginnings of the Turkish Republic, some liberal and rebel Jews began to push Zionism. This “is the belief that the Jews constitute a nation, their ancestral homeland, the land of Israel” (250). Zionism was extremely popular in parts of Russia, Poland, and Germany before it spread to other parts of the world including Western European Jews, American Jews, and Middle Eastern Jews. Although Jews had no nation to claim, they were treated fairly among Arabs and Christians as second class citizens. Consequently, they were able to live throughout the Middle East without harassment.
With the rise of Zionism, many Jews throughout Eastern Europe migrated to Palestine to claim their ancestral land. The Jewish Community in the area, they pushed for Zionism by purchasing land throughout Palestine for farming. The Arabs on the other hand treated Zionism as a threat. This is because Jews were attempting to encroach on land that belonged to the Arabs. Thus, Arabs were afraid the Jews maybe successful of taking claim to Palestine. Furthermore, Jews also flocked to Palestine to escape prejudice from Eastern European countries such as Russia, Germany, and Poland as anti-Semitism grew. Many Eastern European leaders used Jews as scapegoats. “Czarist regime implemented a series of so-called May Laws that restricted areas in which Jews might live and set artificial law quotas on admitting Jews into Universities and the professionals” (251). With anti-Semitism on the rise, this encouraged a second migration of Jews into Palestine in 1905. Consequently, Jews began to push Zionism by stimulating cultural and ethnic identity under the name of Judaism. They brought back the Hebrew language, claiming it as the language of the Jewish people, made Tel Aviv the first all Jewish city in the modern Middle East, and form Jewish schools, journals, and theaters for Jewish people only, excluding Arabian Muslims from these religious epicenters. The end result widened the chasm of conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews.
Despite this conflict, Britain supported Zionism and attempted to act as mediator between the two groups. However, this was to no avail. The Jews, Muslims, and Arabs continued to fight amongst each other, creating civil religious wars over the rights of holy lands that were significant to Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. As Arabic Nationalism fought against Zionist, this further stimulated the Jewish plight as they were able to conquer land throughout Palestine, creating the modern day Israel.
Goldschmidt, A & Davidson, L. (2013). A concise History of the Middle East. (10th ed.).
Westview Press. Bolder CO.