Avi Schwartz

The Enduring Connection: A Historical Perspective on Jewish Statehood

Jewish Longing for Statehood: Deep Historical Roots The Jewish connection to the land now known as Israel and the Palestinian territories has been profoundly rooted in their religion, culture, and history for over two millennia which included two sovereign Jewish States, in two different epochs, the First Temple Period and the Second Temple Period.  This bond is underscored by biblical texts where the land was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—patriarchs of the Jewish people. Despite extensive periods of exile and foreign rule, including the devastating destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish people have maintained a consistent and enduring connection to this land.

Continuous Jewish Presence Amid Challenges Jewish communities have withstood various adversities but have managed to maintain a continuous presence in their ancestral land through the Byzantine, Islamic, and Ottoman periods. This resilience is marked by significant challenges, especially under Ottoman rule from 1517 to 1917, where Jews faced a mix of tolerance and harsh treatment. Notably, violent incidents like the Hebron Massacre of 1517 and the Safed Plunder of 1834 highlighted periods of ethnic cleansing and severe persecution.

Early Tensions and Incidents Hebron Massacre of 1517 – Soon after the Ottoman Empire took control of Palestine, Jews in Hebron faced a massacre. Historical accounts suggest that the Jewish community was nearly wiped out, with survivors fleeing to cities like Jerusalem, only to return years later and rebuild their community.

Safed Plunder of 1834 – During the Egyptian rule under Muhammad Ali, when Palestine was temporarily out of Ottoman control, the city of Safed, a center of Jewish mysticism and learning, experienced a severe attack. Local Arab peasants, rebelling against Egyptian conscription and taxes, targeted the Jewish community, resulting in significant loss of life and destruction of property.

The Late Ottoman Period Anti-Jewish Riots of 1886 – In the late 19th century, as tensions over Jewish immigration began to rise, several incidents occurred, including in Petach Tikva where the Jewish agricultural settlement was attacked and pillaged by neighboring Arab villages.

Jerusalem Pogrom of 1895 – Reports from this period describe a mob attack on the Jewish population of Jerusalem, incited by the delivery of an anti-Semitic sermon in the city. The violence resulted in looting and the destruction of homes and businesses.

British Mandate Period and Increased Violence Jaffa Riots of 1921 – Sparked by growing tensions over Jewish immigration and economic competition, major riots broke out in Jaffa and spread to other parts of the country. The violence resulted in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, with hundreds injured on both sides.

Twentieth Century: Rising Nationalism and Conflict The rise of Arab nationalism and the decline of Ottoman control led to increased tensions and violence in the early 20th century. Events such as the 1929 Hebron Massacre, where 67 Jews were killed, and the violence of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt, exemplify the severe challenges faced by Jewish communities due to growing nationalistic and anti-immigration sentiments among Arab populations.

The Zionist Movement and the Establishment of Israel In response to persistent anti-Semitism and violence in Europe, and the wave of 19th century nationalism the Zionist movement, formalized in the late 19th century, sought to establish a safe and sovereign homeland for Jews. This movement led to increased immigration   and the eventual establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, marking a joyous yet tumultuous new chapter in Jewish history.

Fedayeen Raids and the Suez Crisis of the 1950s The establishment of Israel was followed by immediate military conflicts, including the activities of the Fedayeen—groups of Arab guerrillas who launched numerous attacks into Israeli territory during the 1950s. These raids, often supported by Egypt and Jordan, targeted both military and civilian locations and played a significant role in the lead-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. This period was marked by significant geopolitical shifts and highlighted the ongoing conflict dynamics in the region.

Legacy of the Fedayeen and Ongoing Conflicts The actions of the Fedayeen and the subsequent military responses by Israel shaped the security and political strategies of the region. These events contributed to the cycles of violence and retaliation that have characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continue to influence the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.

Fedayeen Attacks

  • 1953 – Beit Hanoun Raid: Fedayeen infiltrate from the Gaza Strip and kill a mother and her two children in the Israeli settlement of Beit Hanoun.
  • 1954 – Scorpion Pass Massacre (Ma’ale Akrabim): Armed Fedayeen ambush a bus traveling from Eilat to Tel Aviv, killing 11 of the 14 passengers aboard.
  • 1955 – Kibbutz Yehiam Convoy Ambush: A convoy to Kibbutz Yehiam is attacked, resulting in the death of 11 Israelis.
  • 1956 – Nahal Oz Attack: Just before the Suez Crisis, Fedayeen from Gaza infiltrate the Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz, killing two civilians.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

  • 1964 – Founding of the PLO: Established in Cairo by an Arab League decision, aiming to centralize the efforts of various Palestinian groups.
  • Late 1960s Onwards: Under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, the PLO becomes more prominent, advocating armed struggle against Israel.
  • 1970s-1980s: The PLO engages in international terrorism, including high-profile hijackings and attacks, most notably the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

The Intifadas

  • 1987-1993 First Intifada: A grassroots uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, characterized by widespread protests, civil disobedience, and clashes.
  • Notable Incident: In December 1987, an Israeli army truck collides with a Palestinian vehicle, killing four Palestinians and sparking widespread riots.
  • 2000-2005 Second Intifada (Al-Aqsa Intifada): Marked by much more intense violence than the first, including numerous suicide bombings and Israeli military operations.

When asked what is Zionism, here is the answer in a nutshell:

  • Jewish Presence in the Land of Israel – 4,000 Years
  • Jewish Longing to Reestablish a Third Sovereign State – 2,000 Years
  • Longing realized: 1948 and Still Flourishing 
About the Author
Rabbi Avi Schwartz is an individual who has made contributions in various fields. He is the son of Motke Eish HaGarzen, also known as Motke the Axeman, a legendary figure in the Palmach. Motke Eish HaGarzen led a group of 21 Palmach Warriors who successfully conquered Har Tzion (Mount Zion), rescuing 1,700 Jewish men, women, and children from the Jordanian onslaught in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Rabbi Schwartz himself is a Black Hat Rabbi and activist, dedicated to upholding Jewish traditions and values. Alongside his religious pursuits, he has also found success as a filmmaker and writer, with his works featured on platforms such as Red Coral Universe Apple TV, Tubi of Fox Corporation, and Netflix. Notably, Rabbi Schwartz's movie "The Quest" has received high praise from none other than Pat Boone, a Music and Hollywood Icon. Boone, known for his illustrious career as a singer, actor, and television personality, has publicly commended Rabbi Schwartz's film, acknowledging its quality and significance. This endorsement from Pat Boone further solidifies the impact and recognition of Rabbi Schwartz's work within the entertainment industry. Beyond his artistic endeavors, Rabbi Schwartz has been at the forefront of the battle against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He has developed two groundbreaking apps, "Fight BDS" and "BDS Myth Busters," aimed at countering BDS propaganda and raising awareness about the realities of the movement. The notable Hollywood icon and anti-BDS activist, Roseanne Barr, sponsors the app "BDS Myth Busters." Additionally, Rabbi Schwartz holds the position of Vice President of Digital Marketing and serves as the Director of Energycite, a revolutionary technology in energy conservation. His involvement in this field highlights his commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Furthermore, Rabbi Schwartz has established the Torah Teen Palmach Center, a transformative initiative that trains teenagers to become future leaders in the spirit of the Palmach. Through this center, he imparts invaluable leadership skills and instills the values of courage, determination, and resilience in the next generation.
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