BOOKLET SERIES

ISRAEL
POCKET FACTS

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

If you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be Jerusalem.

—Teddy Kollek, former mayor of Jerusalem

Israel’s Size

Israel’s territory is 8,019 square miles. Israel is smaller than New Jersey, which is 8,729 square miles. Israel can fit into the state of California 19 times.

Israel Represents Justice, Resilience, and Hope.

It is a nation of indigenous people who overcame 1,900 years of oppression to achieve freedom in their ancestral home. Despite their flaws and challenges, Israelis find countless ways to make the world a better place. 

Fragment of the sixth-century (Byzantine Period) mosaic depicting King David playing the lyre,
found in the ancient synagogue of Gaza. Credit: Israel Museum

Continuous Jewish Presence in the Land of Israel

Jews are indigenous to Israel and have maintained a continuous presence for over 3,000 years according to archeological, biblical, and historical record.

Theodor Herz
Jews on Mount of Olives, 1893

Zionism: Liberation and Self-Determination

Zion is an age-old name for Jerusalem and the land of Israel. Zionism is the 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. Jews always returned when they could and have been the majority in Jerusalem since the mid-1800s.[1]

“Jews prefer being prisoners in Jerusalem to enjoying the freedom they could acquire elsewhere. …The love of the Jews for the Holy Land which they lost…is unbelievable.”

–Jesuit Father Michael Naud on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land,1674

 

“Who can challenge the rights of the Jews in Palestine? Good Lord, historically it is really your country.”

–Yusef Diya al-Khalidi, Mayor of Jerusalem, 1899

 

“The Greeks and the Romans… are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out…the Jews saw them all, survived them all… all things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces passed, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

—Mark Twain, 1898

Restoring the Jewish Homeland

In the mid-1800s, a new energy seized the Jews living in Israel, then called “Palestine.”* With help from philanthropists like Sir Moses Montefiore and donations from ordinary Jews around the world, Jews branched out from their cities and began purchasing land and building farms, villages, and schools. By 1854, Jews were the largest religious group in Jerusalem; by 1870, they were once again the majority of the city’s population.

* Palestine was the name given to the region when the Romans conquered the over 1,000-year-old Jewish nation of Judea in the first century.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2009.

Founding of Tel Aviv, 1909.
Present-day Tel Aviv
Present-day Tel Aviv

Palestinian-Arab Refugees from the War by Arab States Against Israel in 1948

The 1948 War led to a tragic refugee crisis. While 160,000 Arabs accepted Israel’s invitation to stay in what became Israel and become Israeli citizens, up to 750,000 fled. This happened for several reasons:

  1. To escape the war.[1]

  2. Wealthy Arab leaders left, and, without leadership, Arab communities fell apart.[2]

  3. A minority left because Arab leaders encouraged them to get out of the way of the Arab armies, promising a quick victory.[3]

  4. Exaggerated accounts of Israeli atrocities caused panic.[4]

  5. A minority were forced from their homes, mostly in strategic areas vital to the survival of the Jewish state.[5]

1-5 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem: 1947-1949

Unique Situation of Palestinian Refugees

Tens of millions of refugees from other war-torn areas in the world during this period resettled in other countries. However, neighboring Arab states, with the exception of Jordan, would not resettle the Palestinian Arabs despite their shared history, language, and religion. Instead, Arab governments confined them in refugee camps and neighborhoods, refused them citizenship, and then used their plight as a political weapon against Israel.

“The Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it an open sore, as an affront against the UN and as a weapon against Israel.”

—Sir Alexander Galloway, former director of UNRWA in Jordan, April 1952

 

“Since 1948 Arab leaders…have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is… criminal.” —

–King Hussein of Jordan, 1960

 

All the Arab countries want to keep this problem looking like an open wound.”

—Ana Liria-Franch, regional representative in Cairo for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2003 

Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

After Israel’s rebirth in 1948, over 850,000 Jews fled the rising persecution or were expelled from Arab and Muslim lands. They became homeless even though some of their communities were over 2,000 years old. A fledgling country of approximately 650,000 inhabitants, Israel nonetheless began absorbing not only survivors of the Holocaust but also Jews fleeing from Arab countries.

Declining Jewish Population in Middle Eastern Countries

1948 2016
Algiers
140,000
50
Egypt
75,000
100
Iran
100,000
9,000
Iraq
150,000
0
Lebanon
20,000
200
Libya
38,000
0
Morocco
265,000
2,300
Syria
30,000
2,300
Tunisia
105,000
1,100
Yemen
55,000
50

TOTAL

978,000

15,100

In the wake of the 1948 war, over 850,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab countries where Jews had lived for two millennia.

Sources: Sergio Dellapergola, World Jewish Population, 2016, No. 17, 2016, Berman Institute North American Jewish Data Bank and “Fact Sheet: Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries,” Jewish Virtual Library, September 2012, at www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/talking/jew refugees.html

The Security Barrier

• There was no security barrier along the West Bank prior to the violence of the second intifada, when suicide bombers could simply walk into Israel and murder civilians in the streets.

• Construction of the barrier began in 2002. It is 97 percent barrier and 3 percent wall. The hardships it causes for Palestinian civilians are the unfortunate result of the terrorism Israel faced and continues to face.

• There are many countries that have security barriers, including Northern Ireland, India, Thailand, Kuwait, Cyprus, and South Korea.

Israel’s Security Threats

• Iranian leaders call for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” are developing ballistic missiles, and are strongly suspected of continuing to have nuclear ambitions.

• Iran- and Qatar-supported proxies Hamas and Hezbollah are building larger military arsenals that threaten Israel from the north and south.

• The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been unable or unwilling to eradicate terrorist groups or stop terrorist plots and arms smuggling

The Hamas Charter Is Violent and Racist:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

When Israel left Gaza, Hamas was elected the new governing party. The founding document of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. (You can read the translation of the charter online.) As long as this remains the guiding document for Hamas or the Palestinian leadership, the dream of peace remains impossible.

Teaching Peace

Unfortunately Palestinian leaders are still teaching racism and violence to children in mosques and schools and on TV, and jihad against Israel is still promoted.* For there to be peace in the Middle East, peace must be taught.

 

*See Palestinian Media Watch at: www.pmw.org.il and also www.memri.org

Creating the First Palestinian Arab State in History

Historically, there has never been a Palestinian Arab state or sovereignty over the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel. The first autonomous Palestinian government, the Palestinian Authority (PA), was created in the 1993 Oslo Accords. Today the PA governs 95 to 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank. Israel has repeatedly offered to give up parts of the ancient Jewish homeland, where Jews have had a continuous presence for millennia, for the sake of peace and facilitating Palestinian self-determination. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders have rejected every offer and refused to recognize that the Jewish people have the same rights.

West Bank Palestinian Communities:

About 95 to 98 percent of the Palestinian population lives on 40 percent of the land. Over 50 percent is virtually unpopulated.

Most Palestinians in the West Bank live in built-up cities and towns like Ramallah, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, is surrounded by undeveloped land.
Ramallah is the Palestinian political and economic center in the West Bank.

Israelis in the West Bank

• After Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in 1967, Jordan refused Israel’s offer to exchange much of the land for peace.

• Israelis built West Bank settlements to make the rest of their territory harder to attack, go back to where their families and ancestors had lived before being expelled, and other reasons. The area, also known as Judea and Samaria, is the cradle of Jewish civilization.

• Built-up areas of Israeli settlements cover roughly 2 percent of West Bank land.[1]

• Eighty percent of Israeli settlers live in communities located close to the line between Israel and the West Bank. The rest live further away.

• Settlements remain a controversial issue inside and outside of Israel.

[1] Mahmoud Abbas, June 2009, at www.memri.org/bin/ latestnews.cgi?ID=SD244009; B’Tselem reports 1.7% at www.btselem.org/english/press_releases/20020513.asp

Human Rights in Israel

• Israel safeguards religious liberty for all faiths.

• The LGBTQ community has won protections against discrimination.

• Education is encouraged equally for both men and women.

• Fifty-three percent of women are in the workforce, similar to the percentage in the U.S.

• Israel is a democratic country that guarantees free speech and assembly as well as fair and open trials.

• Countless Israelis dedicate their lives to promoting social and economic justice in their country.

Arab Citizens of Israel

• In 1948, the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained within Israel’s borders became citizens of Israel.

• Three Israeli Arabs were elected to the first Knesset, and there were 15 Israeli Arab members of Knesset in 2020.

• Today, 1.9 million Arabs are Israeli citizens.

• Arab Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran oversaw Israel’s national elections in 2015.

• Israel has enacted affirmative action policies to help minorities achieve full social and economic equality.

Israel’s Humanitarian Programs

• Israel set up the first advanced field hospital in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, provided assistance to Hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, and saved the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees.

• Israel’s Ethiopian airlifts helped 90,000 African Jews escape persecution.

• Israel’s Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) is the largest program in the world for children from poor nations who need heart surgery.

• Israel was one of the few countries that took in Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s.

• Israel conducts nearly 300 courses annually for emerging nations and has trained almost 200,000 participants in 130 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe, in desert agriculture, water management, desertification prevention, emergency and disaster medicine, refugee absorption, and employment programs.

Israel’s Innovations– Did You Know?

• Israel has the second-highest per capita rate of university degrees, following Canada.

• Israel has the highest ratio of trained scientists and technicians, with 135 per 10,000 citizens, compared to 81 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany.

• Next to Silicon Valley, Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world.

• Israel has the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies in the world, behind the U.S. and China.

Israeli Inventions:

• AOL Instant Messenger and chat room technologies

• The first PC anti-virus software

• Voice mail technology

• Electro-optic chips and nanotechnology

• Clean drinking water from air technology (Watergen)

• Drip irrigation

• The Pentium 4 microprocessor for desktop computers

• The Centrino processor for laptop computers

• Community-driven navigation software (Waze)

Number of Countries by Religious Majority

67 Roman Catholic

49 Islamic

49 Protestant

14 Eastern Orthodox

3 Hindu

1 Jewish

World
Religions

Christianity: 2.4 billion people

Islam: 1.8 billion people

Hinduism: 1.2 billion people

Buddhism: 535 million people

Judaism: 14.7 million people

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Booklets

Israel: Innovation

BOOKLET SERIES Israel INNOVATION Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on email View as PDF Israel’s Story Over

Read More »

Fight Antisemitism

BOOKLET SERIES 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT ANTISEMITISM Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on email

Read More »
Booklets

The Jewish People

BOOKLET SERIES THE JEWISH PEOPLE A Beautiful Tapestry Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on email View as

Read More »