Israel: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Israel.

ISRAEL

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Location--At the eastern end of the Mediterranean. It is bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, on the north by Lebanon, on the east by Syria and Jordan, and on the southwest by Egypt.

How Created--The original Jewish State in Palestine was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. "Israel" came to mean the Jewish people: Palestine was the place to which "Israel" sought to return. In the 19th century the view began to evolve that the Jews all over the world were the fragments of a nation which must once again be united.

During the last decade of the 19th century, a Hungarian Jew named Theodore Herzl became obsessed with the concept of creating a homeland for the Jewish people. Herzl, a journalist, called upon and wrote letters to influential men in Europe trying to convince them of the importance of the Jews' returning to Zion (the promised land). In 1897, Herzl called the 1st World Zionist Council at Basel, Switzerland, and Zionist organizations were set up in countries where there was a large Jewish population. By 1905, the Zionist movement was split over where the Jews should seek to establish their homeland. Herzl and his followers wanted to accept the British offer of space in Uganda, East Africa. Russian Jews insisted that the Jewish State be located in Palestine. Herzl lost, and Uganda was rejected. In 1917, Great Britain, through the person of Arthur James Balfour, its Foreign Minister, promised to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Following W.W. I, England assumed control of Palestine, and Jewish immigration to that area increased rapidly. The Zionists, citing Foreign Minister Balfour's promise, which was now called the Balfour Declaration, demanded the immediate formation of a Jewish State in Palestine. But the British policy was to try to reconcile the 2 nationalisms which now were focused on Palestine: the nationalism of the Jews, and the nationalism of the Arabs.

After W.W. II ended, and the Nazi extermination camps had captured newspaper headlines, world opinion began to favor a Jewish takeover in Palestine. Palestinian Jews had long been preparing the implementation of the Jewish State, and in 1949 the State of Israel came into being. War with the Arabs broke out immediately, and has continued intermittently up to the present.

Size--7,992 sq. mi. (20,700 sq. km.), about the size of Massachusetts.

Population--3,500,000: Jewish, 85%; Arab, 15%. 85.3% Jewish, 10.9% Muslim, 2.5% Christian, 1.3% Druzean and other.

Who Rules--Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral (one house) Parliament led by a Prime Minister who represents the majority party. Local communities are governed by locally elected councils.

Who REALLY Rules--Because of Israel's almost constant conflict with surrounding Arab States, the military in Israel has amassed a considerable amount of political power. The Government is also greatly influenced by its financial supporters--in particular the U.S.

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