60 years of faith and conflict
May 2008 is the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Photo: David Ben-Gurion addresses a parade, 1950s. From the Torrance Collection, and copyright © University of Dundee. [link to larger image]
The Archives Hub describes collections in academic repositories across the UK. A few of these describe the history and geography of Israel and Palestine and the wider region, the Jewish national experience in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the contentious paths towards the establishment of the State of Israel as well as the stormy and precarious existence of the country and the struggle between the Jewish and Arab peoples over sovereignty since 1948. This month we highlight related archival descriptions. There are also links to selected websites and a brief bibliography.
On May 14, 1948 - the day of the expiry of the internationally approved British Mandate over Palestine - the Jewish People's Council (Va'ad Leumi) gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, on Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, and approved a proclamation which declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was read by David Ben-Gurion, a date that for the Jewish is the Sabbath eve, 5th Iyar, 5708. It was heard by thousands in the first direct broadcast by Kol Israel which would become the country's national radio station.
Some months earlier, in November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 181 had approved the creation of a Jewish state and called for the partition of what remained of British Mandate Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Earlier, in 1922, the League of Nations (the predecessor of the UN) had recognised the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and also the grounds for reconstituting their national home in the region. Also in 1922, the Arab state of Transjordan (now called Jordan) had been created out of some seventy-five percent of British Mandate Palestine.
The Arabs rejected the United Nation's 1947 partition plan on the grounds that it allotted 55% of the land of Palestine to the Jewish minority and also because the Jewish migration to Palestine facilitated by the British was unlawful. During the war that followed the 1948 declaration 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from the territories. What followed was a long and bloody conflict concerning the rights of the Jewish and Palestinian states to the land partitioned in 1947, a conflict that remains very much to the forefront of Middle East politics to this day.
- Carl Stettauer (1859-1913): visited Russia in 1905 to organise relief work after the pogroms against Jewish people
- Torrance Collection: photographs of the Middle East, particularly Israel, Palestine and the Scottish Mission Hospital at Tiberias; late 19th century - late 20th century; David Watt Torrance (1862-1923) and Herbert Watt Torrance (1892-1977) were medical missionaries.
- Thomas Paterson (born 1864): Free Church minister; collection of lantern slides photographed by Rev Paterson while on an expedition to the Holy Land in 1900. The slides include scenes in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Galilee.
- L. J. Stein (1887-1973): family correspondence, diaries and so on concerning Palestine prior to the First World War.
- Sir Kenneth Wills (born 1896): includes recollections of Palestine between 1914-1919; and 2nd/15th Battalion, London Regiment's plans for attack on Jerusalem Defences in December 1917.
- I. M. Greenberg (1896-1966): correspondence and papers relating to the Jewish Chronicle , 1935-46; papers dealing with refugees, resettlement, on Palestine, Israel Aliya, United Zionist Revisionists and general Zionist matters, 1939-49; material relating to Shelach, Arab refugees, 1948-9, to Irgun and to Herut. General correspondence and notes, together with correspondence and material dealing with Jewish defence, anti-Semitism and associated subjects. Newspaper cuttings, papers and letters relating to Palestine, 1946-49.
- John G. Gray (fl 1925): glass slides of a tour of what is now modern Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Syria in 1925.
- Lazar Zaidman (1903-1963): Jewish affairs during the period 1930s to the 1950s, including the origins of the state of Israel.
- Richard Crossman (1907-1974): politician; copies of papers relating to Palestine and the Palestine report of the Anglo-American Committee, 1946-1948, and which includes correspondence between Crossman and Dr Chaim Weizmann, the first President of the State of Israel.
- Sir Donald Logan (born 1917): an account of discussions in Sèvres, France, in October 1956, between French, British and Israeli ministers, concerning the Suez Crisis.
- R. Ainsztein (fl. 1943): includes material on the destruction of Polish Jewry, the Warsaw Uprising; press cuttings including material on Israel and the Yom Kippur War, 1959-78.
- Uri Davis (born 1943): including papers relating to Volunteers for Palestine, the McBride Commission, and the court case surrounding the planned play Perdition, 1987.
- Maps of the Egypt/Palestine region: in addition to maps of Egypt the collection includes maps of Haifa, Tiberias, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Gaza.
- Sudan Archive (late 19th century onwards) includes substantial numbers of papers relating to Palestine, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Transjordan, and Syria.
- Arrabeh, Palestine: documents on the village of Arrabeh near Jenin, Palestine, covering the period 1850-1950; includes notes and comments on British and Jewish archival material relating mainly to the Mandate period.
- Middle East Centre for Arab Studies (MECAS): established in Jerusalem in 1944 to teach British army officers the Arabic language.
- Institute of Jewish Affairs an extensive collection of material relating to Jewish history and to the politics of Israel, Palestine and the Middle East
- Jewish Society for Human Service: began as a small group called together by publisher Sir Victor Gollancz (1893-1967) in 1948; mainly involved in relief work in Israel, including among the Palestinian and Arab population.
- Jewish Chronicle newspaper includes 1940s papers and correspondence about Palestine, the Negev and the partition of Palestine, and there is a memorandum on the recognition of Israel and on the implications of British policy towards Israel.
- Meetings and demonstrations relating to the Jewish settlement in Palestine and freedom for the peoples of the Middle East; material on meetings and demonstrations against the deportation of refugees reaching Palestine in 1947, and those organised by the Anglo-Jewish Association in which `the first military governor of the West Bank of Jordan put Israel's case for freedom and justice for all peoples in the Middle East', July 1967
- Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Ha-universita Ha-'ivrit Bi-yerushalayim): celebrating the opening in 1925 and its anniversaries.
Note: The Archives Hub is not responsible for the content of external websites.
- Survey of Jewish Archives in the UK and Eire (University of Southampton)
- National Photo Collection: celebrating Israel's 50th anniversary (Israel Government Press Office website)
- Text in English of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)
- Facsimile in Hebrew of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website)
- Jewish Virtual Library (American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise website)
- History of the Middle East Conflict: a chronology of key events from 1948 to 2001 (BBC website)
- Israel: 60 years of hope and despair (Observer newspaper website)
- Arab States: United Nations Development Programme (United Nations website)
- Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, University of Manchester
Links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.
- Joel Beinin and Rebecca L. Stein (eds). The struggle for sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 (2006) Records on Copac
- Robert O. Freedman (ed.) Israel's First Fifty Years (2000) Records on Copac
- Joseph Heller The Birth of Israel, 1945-1949: Ben-Gurion and His Critics (2000) Records on Copac
- Joseph Andoni Massad The persistence of the Palestinian question: essays on Zionism and the Palestinians (2006) Records on Copac
- Ritchie Ovendale The origins of the Arab-Israeli wars (4th edition, 2004) Records on Copac
- Colin Shindler A History of Modern Israel (2008) Records on Copac
- David Smith Prisoners of God: the modern-day conflict of Arab and Jew (1987) Records on Copac
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