ZIONISM- Timeline of Events


 ZIONISM- Timeline of Events
        1870-1896 | 1897-1899 | 1900-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-Today

The Forerunners of Zionism


  • Hovevei Zion (lovers of Zion) societies in Russia and Romania promote agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel


  • Mikve Israel, an agricultural school, is established north of Jaffa


  • First Aliya (large-scale immigration), mainly from Russia, including many members of Hovevei Zion


  • Leon Pinsker’s Autoemancipation, calling for the establishment of a Jewish national center, is published
  • Members of the Bilu movement, which called for the revival of the Jewish people through settlement in the Land of Israel, begin to arrive, becoming the first organized group of pioneers


  • Nathan Birnbaum coins the term "Zionism" in a periodical promulgating the ideas of the Hovevei Zion movement


  • The Hebrew Language Committee is founded by Eliezer Ben Yehuda , "father of the Hebrew language" as part of his struggle towards the rebirth of Hebrew as a modern language


  • Ahad Ha’am visits Palestine (as the Land of Israel was then called) and calls for the creation of a Jewish cultural center


  • Theodor Herzl, father of political Zionism, writes The Jewish State, asserting that the problem of antisemitism can be resolved only by a Jewish state

The Years of Challenge and Achievement


  • First Zionist Congress is convened (29 August); adoption of the Basle program, calling for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel; Theodor Herzl, the congress’ initiator, writes in his journal: "In Basle I founded the Jewish State… In … fifty years, everyone will realize it."
  • Zionist Organization is founded; Theodor Herzl is elected president


  • Second Zionist Congress; foundations laid for the formation of the Jewish Colonial Trust, later the Anglo-Palestine Bank
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visits Palestine, meeting with Theodor Herzl, who is also visiting at the time


  • Third Zionist Congress adopts a complete constitution



  • Fourth Zionist Congress; persecution of Romanian Jewry and the problems of Jewish workers in Palestine are discussed


  • Fifth Zionist Congress; the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) is founded by the Zionist Organization for the purpose of purchasing land in the Land of Israel to be the "eternal possession of the Jewish people"


  • Sha’are Tzedek clinic (today a modern hospital) opens in Jerusalem, to provide free medical services for the people of Jerusalem
  • Sixth Zionist Congress; discussion of the British government’s offer of a territory in Uganda for Jewish settlement; the offer causes a major split in the movement, and while approved by a majority of delegates is later abandoned


  • Anglo-Palestine Bank (now Bank Leumi) is established, becoming the principal financial institution of the yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine)
  • The Hebrew Teachers’ Association is formed


  • Second Aliya immigrants, mainly from Russia and Poland, begin to arrive, after repeated pogroms and impoverishment; a number of new agricultural settlements are founded by the immigrants


  • Theodor Herzl, father of political Zionism, dies


  • Seventh Zionist Congress; David Wolffsohn elected president of the Zionist Organization


  • Bezalel Academy of the Arts, headed by Boris Schatz, is opened in Jerusalem, to encourage talented young Jews to study art


  • Eighth Zionist Congress; decision is made to proceed with political Zionism (international efforts to obtain a charter for the Jews in Palestine) and practical Zionism (settlement); it is acknowledged that both are necessary and together form a whole


  • Hatzvi, first Hebrew daily, is published in Jerusalem
  • Office of Zionist Organization is opened in Jaffa


  • Hashomer organization is founded, taking over responsibility for the security of Jewish settlements
  • Ninth Zionist Congress; representatives of Jewish workers in Palestine participate for the first time
  • Tel Aviv, first all-Jewish city in modern times, is founded near Jaffa
  • First kibbutz, Degania, is founded by young Jewish pioneers on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), combining agricultural settlement with a collective way of life



  • Tenth Zionist Congress; Otto Warburg elected president of the Zionist Organization


  • Eleventh Zionist Congress; decision to establish a Hebrew University in Jerusalem is taken


  • World War I


  • NILI, secret Jewish organization spying for the British, is active until its members are captured by the Ottoman authorities


  • 400 years of Ottoman rule are ended by British conquest; British General Allenby enters Jerusalem
  • Balfour Declaration is issued, pledging the British government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine (2 November)


  • The Jewish Legion, a military unit of Jewish volunteers in the British army fighting for the libe-ration of Eretz Israel from Turkish rule, is formed, mainly through the efforts of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky
  • First meeting of Chaim Weizmann (head of the Zionist Commission, sent by Britain to Palestine and later first president of Israel) with the Emir Feisal, head of the Arab nationalist movement


  • Weizmann and the Emir Feisal sign an agreement for close collaboration between their respective national movements; agreement is later repudiated by Arab nationalists



  • Third Aliya, comprised mostly of young people from Russia with strong Zionist and socialist convictions


  • Defenders of Tel Hai, led by Yosef Trumpeldor, make a heroic stand against Arab attackers, becoming a symbol of Jewish defense
  • Supreme Council of San Remo Peace Conference resolves that the Mandate for Palestine be conferred on Great Britain
  • Jewish community holds elections for Asefat Hanivharim (Elected Assembly), the highest authority for conducting its communal affairs. The Asefat Hanivharim elects the Va’ad Leumi (National Council), which in turn elects an executive to deal with political affairs, education, health, social welfare, etc.
  • Haganah, clandestine Jewish defense organization, is founded
  • Sir Herbert Samuel is appointed first British High Commissioner
  • Chaim Weizmann is elected president of the Zionist Organization
  • Keren Hayesod, the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization, is founded, collecting contributions worldwide
  • Hebrew becomes the official language of the country
  • Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) is founded "uniting all workers in the country who live on the fruits of their own labors"; it serves as a trade union as well as engaging in a wide range of economic and social activities


  • Arab anti-Jewish riots – outbreaks of violence in Jaffa, Rehovot, Petah Tikva, Hadera and other places leave 47 Jews dead and many wounded
  • Chief Rabbinate is instituted by Mandate authorities; Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook is appointed first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine; Rabbi Ya’akov Meir – first Sephardi Chief Rabbi, with the title of Rishon LeZion
  • First moshav, Nahalal, is established, with a cooperative, rather than communal, framework, allowing more independence for the family unit
  • Twelfth Zionist Congress; a representative of the workers for Palestine is elected to the executive for the first time


  • League of Nations confirms British Mandate for Palestine, citing the Balfour Declaration in the preamble of the Mandate
  • The Council of the League of Nations and Great Britain decide that the provisions for a Jewish National Home would not apply to the area east of the Jordan River – three-fourths of the territory included in the Mandate, which eventually becomes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Palestine Electric Company is founded on the initiative of Pinchas Rutenberg
  • Churchill White Paper is published, giving a restrictive interpretation to the Balfour Declaration and limiting immigration
  • The Palestine Order in Council (in effect a constitution) is promulgated by the British Mandatory authorities


  • Thirteenth Zionist Congress; lengthy discussion regarding the Zionist Organization, which begins this year to fulfill the tasks required of a "Jewish Agency"


  • Mercaz Harav yeshiva is founded by Rabbi Kook
  • Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is established in Haifa, with classes conducted in Hebrew


  • Fourth Aliya, comprised of middle-class people, mainly from Poland, who settle in the cities


  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem opens on Mount Scopus; ceremony attended by Chaim Weizmann and Lord James Arthur Balfour
  • Jewish National and University Library, the national library of Israel and the Jewish people, opens on Mount Scopus as part of the Hebrew University
  • Fourteenth Zionist Congress; debate centers on development in wake of Fourth Aliya and the encouragement of private enterprise


  • Fifteenth Zionist Congress; the economic crisis in Palestine is the central subject for debate


  • Sixteenth Zionist Congress; a Jewish Agency is constituted, as stipulated in the Mandate, to represent the Jewish community in Palestine vis-a-vis the British authorities, foreign governments and international organizations (from 1923 these tasks had been partly filled by the Zionist Organization in Palestine)
  • Widespread Arab riots; in Hebron, 70 Jews are massacred; in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, Arab attacks are thwarted by the Haganah



  • Etzel, underground defense and resistance organization, consisting mainly of right-wing and Revisionist elements, is founded
  • Seventeenth Zionist Congress; dissent over the level of cooperation with the British government leads to rift between Revisionists and other parties in the Zionist organization; Nahum Sokolow elected president of the Zionist Organization


  • Habima Theater Company, producing original Hebrew drama, makes its home in Tel Aviv


  • Fifth Aliya, mainly from Germany, including many academics and professionals, who settled in towns and cities, and accompanied by a large influx of capital


  • Four groups of bus drivers join to form a cooperative transport company, Egged
  • Hitler comes to power in Germany
  • Eighteenth Zionist Congress; conflict between labor and revisionists continues


  • Sieff Institute, which will later become the Weizmann Institute of Science, is founded in Rehovot


  • Nineteenth Zionist Congress; Chaim Weizmann is reelected president of the Zionist Organization


  • A three-year period of disorder and violence known as the Arab Revolt (against Jewish immigration and land purchase by Jews), during which hundreds of Jews are murdered
  • Tel Aviv port is built, in answer to closure of Jaffa port during Arab general strike


  • Some 50 new settlements are established in outlying areas, set up in one day and ready to defend by nightfall, known as the "stockade and watchtower settlements"
  • Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra, later the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, is founded on the initiative of Polish-born violinist Bronislaw Huberman


  • Peel Commission recommends partitioning Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, with an area including Jerusalem and a corridor to the sea to remain under British administration
  • Twentieth Zionist Congress; it is resolved to negotiate a more favorable partition of Palestine with the British government


  • Aliya B, "illegal immigration" of Jews from Europe, begins; by 1948 almost 100,000 illegal immigrants will arrive
  • Charles Orde Wingate helps establish Jewish "special night squads" incorporated into British army units to fight attacking Arab bands
  • Etzel member (Shlomo ben Yosef) is hanged by the British for his part in an abortive attack on an Arab bus


  • 1939 White Paper is published, restricting immigration and the sale of land to Jews
  • Hadassah Hospital, founded by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is opened on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem
  • Twenty-first Zionist Congress; strong opposition to the White Paper and support for illegal immigration are expressed
  • World War II breaks out (1 September); a master plan to liquidate the Jewish community in Europe is put into motion by Nazi Germany; some six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, are murdered by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945 (the Shoah – Holocaust)



  • The Lehi underground resistance organization, led by Avraham "Yair" Stern, breaks away from Etzel


  • Palmach, the Haganah‘s strike force, is formed
  • The Patria, carrying illegal immigrants about to be deported to Mauritius, is sabotaged by the Haganah to prevent its sailing; it sinks in Haifa harbor with 250 aboard


  • The Struma, returning to Europe after British insistence that it would not be allowed into port in Palestine, founders in the Black Sea and all 770 persons aboard perish


  • The Jewish Brigade, composed of Jews from Palestine, is incorporated into the British army
  • A group of paratroopers, sent by the Haganah to organize Jewish resistance and rescue Allied prisoners of war, parachutes into Nazi-occupied Europe; two of its members, Hanna Szenes and Perez Goldstein, are captured, tortured and executed


  • World War II ends (8 May)
  • General Sir Alan Cunningham is appointed last High Commissioner
  • Two Lehi members (Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Tzuri) are hanged by the British in Egypt for the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State for the Middle East, in Cairo


  • Jewish defense organizations (Haganah, Etzel and Lehi) join together to carry out actions blowing up road and railway bridges which link Palestine with neighboring states
  • Black Saturday (29 June) – Mandatory government arrests many Jews, including members of the Jewish Agency Executive, exiling many to Cyprus, conducts searches for Palmach members and arms caches, and intensifies policy against illegal immigration
  • South wing of King David Hotel, the seat of the Mandate government and the British army, is blown up by Etzel; 80 killed
  • The Arab economic boycott is first applied by the Arab League against the Jewish community in Palestine (subsequently against the State of Israel)
  • Twenty-second Zionist Congress, the first after the war, meets in Basle


  • 4500 refugees who left Europe on the Exodus are not allowed to disembark in Palestine and are sent back to Europe
  • Seven Etzel and Lehi members are hanged by British for attacks on the British military; two commit suicide in their prison cell
  • Etzel hangs two kidnapped British sergeants in retaliation
  • UN decides on establishment of Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, by a vote of 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions; Arab riots against yishuv begin (29 November)
  • Israel National Opera Company is opened by Edis de Phillipe, performing in Tel Aviv and around the country


  • State of Israel is proclaimed (5 Iyar – 14 May) by David Ben-Gurion, hours before the British Mandate is due to end (15 May)
  • War of Independence begins (15 May) as the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and a contingent from Iraq attack the new state; in 15 months of intermittent fighting, all invaders are repulsed
  • Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is founded, incorporating all the pre-state defense organizations
  • First census finds a population of 872,700 in Israel – 716,700 Jews and 156,000 non-Jews
  • Israeli lira replaces British pound as official currency, with identical value


  • Armistice agreements are signed with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon
  • Jerusalem is divided between Israel and Jordan, with Jordan holding the Old City and east Jerusalem, and Israel retaining the western and southern parts of the city
  • First elections (25 January); David Ben-Gurion heads Labor-led coalition government
  • Chaim Weizmann is elected first president
  • First Knesset meets in Jerusalem (Tu BeShvat)
  • Mass immigration begins, from Arab countries of Middle East and North Africa and displaced persons from Europe
  • Jerusalem is declared capital of Israel by the Knesset
  • Israel becomes 59th member of UN
  • Tzena – rationing of food and other necessities – is instituted
  • First ulpan – special classes for intensive teaching of Hebrew to adults – is opened
  • Operation Magic Carpet – aliya of Jews from Yemen – begins



  • Government ministries are moved to Jerusalem
  • First ma’abara – temporary camp for new immigrants – is established


  • Elections for Second Knesset
  • Twenty-third Zionist Congress, the first to meet in Jerusalem; adoption of the Jerusalem program, resolving to work towards the consolidation of the State of Israel, the ingathering of the exiles in Eretz Israel and the unity of the Jewish people


  • Yitzhak Ben-Zvi is elected second president
  • The first Zimriya, a triennial choral festival bringing choirs from around the world to Israel, opens


  • Yad Vashem is established to perpetuate the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust


  • Egypt stops Israeli freighter, Bat Galim, from passing through the Suez Canal, contravening the cease-fire agreement
  • Israeli intelligence fiasco in Egypt causes a scandal (Esek Bish) which continues for nearly a decade and forces Israel’s Minister of Defense, Pinchas Lavon, to resign
  • Moshe Sharett becomes prime minister, after resignation of Ben-Gurion


  • Elections for Third Knesset; David Ben-Gurion again becomes prime minister


  • Sinai Campaign is launched by Israel, Great Britain and France after terrorist incursions, an Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran and the signing of a tripartite military alliance by Egypt, Jordan and Syria; in the course of the fighting, Israel captures the Gaza Strip and the entire Sinai peninsula
  • Twenty-fourth Zionist Congress; Nahum Goldman assumes presidency of the Zionist Organization after the post has been vacant for ten years


  • Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, is assured free passage of its shipping through the Suez Canal
  • Hula swamp is drained, providing arable land and preventing malaria
  • Dimona nuclear reactor is constructed with French assistance


  • MASHAV Center for International Cooperation is established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to share know-how gained from Israel’s development experience with developing countries


  • Heichal Shlomo – seat of the Chief Rabbinate – inaugurated
  • Tzena (rationing) is ended
  • Elections for the Fourth Knesset



  • Twenty-fifth Zionist Congress; a constitution is adopted introducing far-reaching reforms and decentralization; the Zionist Organization’s name is changed to the World Zionist Organization


  • Adolf Eichmann, organizer of the Nazi extermination program during World War II, stands trial in Jerusalem; he is found guilty and sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and the Jewish people, and is hanged in 1962
  • Elections for the Fifth Knesset


  • Zalman Shazar is elected third president
  • Levi Eshkol becomes prime minister, succeeding David Ben-Gurion


  • National Water Carrier, which brings water from the north and center of the country to the semi-arid south, becomes operative
  • Pope Paul VI visits Israel


  • Israel Museum in Jerusalem is founded as the country’s national museum
  • Eli Cohen – Israeli intelligence agent in Damascus – is hanged by Syria
  • Ashdod international commercial port is opened
  • Diplomatic relations are established with Germany, despite vehement opposition and public debate
  • Twenty-sixth Zionist Congress; debate centers on assistance to the State of Israel and the survival of the Jewish nation in the Diaspora
  • Elections for the Sixth Knesset


  • Permanent Knesset building inaugurated in Jerusalem
  • Hebrew writer S.Y. Agnon is co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature


  • Six-Day War (6-11 June)
  • Jerusalem is liberated
  • The Golan Heights are taken by Israel after fierce fighting against attacking Syrian forces
  • Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Sinai peninsula come under Israeli control
  • Jerusalem officially reunited, and its municipal boundaries expanded
  • Open Bridges policy across the Jordan River bridges, for goods and people, is instituted by Israel
  • UN resolution 242 adopted, providing an agreed framework for settling the Arab-Israel dispute (22 November)
  • Military government is established in administered areas


  • First television broadcasts
  • Twenty-seventh Zionist Congress, the first to meet in reunited Jerusalem, adopts additions to the Jerusalem program relating to Jewish unity, centrality of Israel, aliya and Jewish education abroad


  • Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dies in office; Golda Meir becomes prime minister
  • Five French-built torpedo boats, purchased and paid for by Israel, are successfully brought from Cherbourg port to Haifa, despite French arms embargo
  • Elections for Seventh Knesset; Golda Meir remains prime minister


  • War of Attrition, sporadic military actions by Egypt along the Suez Canal, escalate into full-scale localized fighting until a renewed cease-fire is achieved



  • Black Panthers – a radical protest movement of Israelis of mid-eastern and north African background is active for some time; some of its members later enter mainstream politics


  • Twenty-eighth Zionist Congress; social problems in Israel, the struggle of Soviet Jewry for aliya, and the promotion of aliya from Western countries are discussed


  • Yom Kippur War – on the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Egypt and Syria launch a coordinated surprise attack, repulsed by Israel after unprecedented fierce fighting and heavy losses
  • Ephraim Katzir elected fourth president
  • David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister, regarded as the father of the State of Israel, dies
  • Anti-government protests lead to resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir
  • Elections for Eighth Knesset


  • Yitzhak Rabin becomes prime minister
  • Separation-of-forces agreement is signed with Egypt
  • Gush Emunim, a movement dedicated to Jewish sovereignty over historical Israel (advocating settling Judea and Samaria) becomes active


  • Israel signs treaty with EC, instituting a free trade area for industrial products and leading to a significant increase in trade
  • UN passes resolution equating Zionism with racism
  • Disengagement agreement is signed with Syria


  • Elections for Ninth Knesset – Likud party wins elections, ending 29 years of Labor party rule; Menachem Begin becomes prime minister
  • Egyptian President Sadat visits Jerusalem, breaking the cycle of Arab rejection of Israel


  • Camp David Accords, constituting a basis for peace between Israel and Egypt, as well as a basis for solving the Palestinian issue, are signed by Israel and Egypt
  • Operation Litani – in response to attacks on civilians in northern Israel, Israel takes action against terrorist strongholds in southern Lebanon
  • Yitzhak Navon is elected fifth president
  • Twenty-ninth Zionist Congress; religious pluralism in Israel is a major subject of debate


  • Peace Treaty with Egypt is signed, marking the end of 31 years of hostility and five costly wars
  • Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat are awarded Nobel Peace Prize



  • Basic Law: "Jerusalem, Capital of Israel" is passed by Knesset


  • Memorandum of Understanding is signed with USA, forming the basis for civilian and military cooperation
  • Iraqi nuclear reactor is destroyed by Israel Air Force, weeks before it is due to go critical and pose a grave threat to Israel and the rest of the world
  • The Golan Heights Law is passed by the Knesset
  • Elections for the Tenth Knesset; Likud party forms new government


  • Israel completes withdrawal from Sinai in accordance with the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
  • Operation Peace for Galilee is launched against PLO terrorist strongholds in Lebanon used for attacks against northern Israel; the IDF withdraws from Lebanon in 1985, retaining a presence in a security zone in southern Lebanon
  • Thirtieth Zionist Congress


  • Chaim Herzog is elected sixth president
  • Yitzhak Shamir becomes prime minister, after resignation of Menachem Begin


  • Operation Moses brings some 7000 Jews from the ancient Jewish community of Ethiopia to Israel
  • Elections for Eleventh Knesset; Shimon Peres becomes prime minister of national unity government


  • Free trade agreement is signed with US
  • An emergency economic stabilization program put into effect by the government, together with the labor unions and the employers’ organizations, succeeds in lowering annual inflation from 445% to 20%


  • Yitzhak Shamir becomes prime minister, as part of the national unity government rotation agreement


  • Thirty-first Zionist Congress; religious pluralism in Israel is a major focus of concern
  • Palestinian uprising (intifada) begins in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip


  • Memorandum of Understanding is signed with the USA, expanding cooperation between them
  • Elections for Twelfth Knesset
  • Yitzhak Shamir remains prime minister of national unity government


  • Mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union begins



  • Labor party ministers resign from the government over lack of progress in the peace process


  • Israel is attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during Gulf War
  • Middle East Peace Conference convenes in Madrid, bringing together representatives of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians
  • UN Security Council rescinds the resolution equating Zionism with racism
  • Operation Solomon – most of the Jews remaining in Ethiopia, some 15,000, are brought to Israel in a massive 25-hour airlift


  • Elections for Thirteenth Knesset; Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor party becomes prime minister
  • Thirty-second World Zionist Congress, the tenth congress to be held in Jerusalem since the establishment of the State; its debates are more pragmatic than ideological


  • Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements is signed by Israel and the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people
  • Ezer Weizman is elected seventh president


  • Gaza-Jericho Agreement between Israel and the PLO is signed in Cairo
  • Israel-Jordan peace treaty is signed, establishing full diplomatic relations
  • Morocco and Tunisia interest offices are opened
  • Rabin, Peres and Arafat are awarded Nobel Peace Prize


  • Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is signed by Israel and the PLO, providing for broadened self-government by the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
  • Treaty of Association is signed with EU, broadening trade relations between Israel and the EU
  • Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally; Shimon Peres becomes prime minister


  • IDF redeploys in the West Bank, including withdrawal from six West Bank cities, implementing the interim agreement
  • Trade representation offices are established in Oman and Qatar
  • Elections for Fourteenth Knesset and first direct elections for prime minister; Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party is elected prime minister


  • Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron signed between Israel and the PLO