In a Nutshell

The story of Israel is the story of a 4000 year old native people that came from Judah. The people of Israel were physically and forcefully displaced by an imperial nation known as the Romans. During their displacement, they maintained a constant presence in their homeland and after thousands of years of extermination and persecution, they created the most successful indigenous liberation movement that ever existed. It was the first time in history that a native people decolonized their home and revived their civilization and native language.

Origins of the Words 

"Jew" and "Judaism"

The word "Jew" (in Hebrew, "Yehudi") is derived from the name Judah, which was the name of one of Jacob's twelve sons. Judah was the ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, which was named after him. Likewise, the word Judaism literally means "Judah-ism," that is, the religion of the Yehudim, the Jews. The people of the kingdom of Judah were known as Jews, and that name continues to be used today. Jews are from Judah. 

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The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name "Judah"

Israel’s story is about an indigenous people overcoming 1,900 years of oppression to regain their freedom in their ancestral home. It is a story of justice, resilience, and hope. 

Jewish history does not begin in 1948. Any narrative that begins the Jewish timeline at this point seeks to erase history and disconnect the Jewish people from their homeland. 

In More Detail - Israel 101

The Jewish Connection to Israel 

Jews are indigenous to Israel, the birthplace of their identity, language, religion, and culture. Zion is an age-old name for Jerusalem and the land of Israel. That is why Zionism is the name of the national liberation movement of the Jewish people who sought to restore their freedom and independence in their ancestral homeland. 

Theodor Herzl founded the modern Zionist movement in 1897, but the dream of restoration and return had always been at the core of Judaism and Jewish identity. Rome tried to obliterate the millennia-old Jewish state in the first century, but unlike other nations conquered in ancient times, the Jews survived and never lost their profound attachment to their land of origin. Jews lived in the land of Israel continuously for 3,000 years. Those forced into exile expressed their yearning to return in their daily liturgy and prayers. For 2,000 years many came back in periodic waves of immigration. By the late 1860s, Jews once again were the majority in Jerusalem.

Zionists hoped to overcome the 1,900 years of oppression and injustice Jews had endured across Europe and the Middle East. The Zionists believed that if the scattered Jews reunited in their historic homeland, joining the Jews who were already there, they could restore their freedom, be free from prejudice, and further develop their unique culture. Jews would return legally, purchase the land, and restore it through their own labor.  Zionists envisioned living in friendship with non-Jewish residents and believed the entire region would benefit from their restoration of the land.  

Jews are one of the few ancient peoples who have survived into modern times. Judaism is among the world’s oldest living religions.

Israel 101 tells the story of Israel's history, politics, geography, Zionism, people, and culture. The updated version contains information on the war against Hamas and the “soft” war against Israel known as “BDS.” 

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More Resources - Israel History and Timeline

An indigenous people developed a thriving civilization and culture in their homeland. Over time they were conquered by a series of aggressive foreign empires, and while some of the people stayed in their cities and communities, most of them scattered across Europe and the Middle East. Although they flourished at times, for 1,900 years they lived as an oppressed minority, suffering persecution, expulsions, and ultimately genocide. They barely survived but never lost hope. They overcame. They started a liberation movement, went back home to join those who were already there, and built one of the most inspiring nations the world has ever seen. That nation is Israel, and this is the story of the Jewish people in their homeland. 

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Glossary of Key Terms and Events in 

Israel's History

It is important to learn about key terms and events as they relate to Israel in order to understand Jewish history.

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What You Need to Know About 

Israel's Legal Rights - Historical Recount

Israel has legal rights to its land and this is supported by International Law.

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Looking at Israel through a critical lens and responding to common accusations with factual, direct, and concise answers.

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