Culture Israel

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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Israel

Israel : Discover the country's culture

Read

Novels, essays and short stories:
'A Tale of Love and Darkness': by Amos Oz
'Riots in Jerusalem': by Esaias Baitel.

Guides

Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Lonely Planet).

Israel : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

About 1200 BC: Hebrew exodus led by Moses.
1020-1004 BC: Saul was the first Jewish King.
1004-965 BC: David's reign. Jerusalem became the capital.
965-928 BC: Solomon's reign. After his death, the country was divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south
722 BC: Assyrians conquered Israel.
587 BC: Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem and destroyed the first Temple, deportation to Babylon and the end of the kingdom of Judah.
539 BC: after Cyrus took over Babylon, the Hebrews returned to Jerusalem and reconstructed the Temple.
334 BC: Alexander, King of Mecedonia, conquered Jerusalem and marked the start of the Hellenic era.
175-135 BC: revolt of Maccabee Jews against the Seleucide Antiochos IV.
63 BC: Pompey conquered Jerusalem. Start of the Roman protectorate in Judaea.
37-4 BC: reign of Herod the Great who built the second Temple.
66-70: first Jewish revolt against the Roman occupation.
70: Titus' legions took over Jerusalem and burnt down the Temple.
132-135: second Jewish revolt. Judaea became Palestine and Jerusalem, forbidden to Jews, became a Roman colony.
326: Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, came to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage.
636: Muslim armies entered Palestine.
638: Jerusalem was conquered by Omar Ist.
750-1258: Palestine was under the sovereignty of Abbasside Sultans, who were based in Bagdad.
1099: Crusaders led by Godefroy of Bouillon captured Jerusalem.
1099-1087: Christian kingdom of Jerusalem.
1187: the Battle of Hittim, near Tiberias; Saladin, an emir of Kurdish origin and grand commander of the Muslim forces defeated the Franks hands down.
1291: Mamelukes, the dynasty that reigned in Palestine until 1517 captured Saint-John-of Acre, the last stronghlod of the Franks.
1400: Tamerlane was at the doorstep of Palestine.
1517: the Ottomans conquered Palestine. They reigned for four centuries.
1897: Theodor Herzl organised the first Zionist congress in Basel and advocated the creation of a Jewish State.
1916: Sykes-Picot secret agreements: France and Britain shared the Near East in spheres of influence.
1917: the Balfour Declaration (November) provided the creation of a 'national Jewish home' in Palestine. General Allenby, who headed the British troops, entered Jerusalem in triumph (December). It was the end of the Ottoman Empire, Germany's ally, and the beginning of the British mandate in Palestine which was maintained until 1948.
1920: first riots between the Jews and the Arabs.
1939: the British publish the 'White paper' limiting the Jewish immigration into Palestine.
1947: The UNO voted a resolution which provided the division of Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab.
1948: David Ben Gourion proclaimed the independence and creation of the State of Israel on 15 May in Tel-Aviv. First Arab-Israeli war.
1956: after the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, Israel attacked Colonel Nasser's Egypt.
1967: Six Day War against the Arab armies (Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi). Israeli troops occupied the Syrian Golan, the Egyptian Sinai and the right bank of the Suez Canal, as well as Judaea and Samaria captured from the King of Jordan. The Old City of Jerusalem was in the hands of Israel.
1973: the Yom Kippur War. On 6 October, the day of Yom Kippur, Egyptian forces invaded the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and the Syrian army attacked Golan. Victory of Israel and cease-fire on 23 October.
1977: the Herut Party (Zionist Nationalist) led by Menahem Begin allied with the Likud (centre right party). M. Begin became Prime Minister.
1979: M. Begin and the Egyptian President, A. Sadate, signed the Camp David Agreements: Cairo recognised the Hebrew State and Israel returns Sinai to Egypt.
1982: M. Begin launched Operation 'Peace for Galilée': Israel invaded Southern Lebanon where its Headquarters for the resistance of Palestine were established. It was during this occupation that the massacre of Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila took place, perpetrated by Lebanese Christian militias.
1983: resignation of M. Begin.
1985: Israel withdraws from Lebanon, but maintains a 'safety zone' in the south from which it withdraws in May 2000.
1987: start of the Intifada, the 'war of stones', in the occupied territories.
1988: Yasser Arafat, President of PLO, recognised the State of Israel.
October 1991: first International Conference on the Near East in Madrid, under the aegis of the United States.
June 1992: elections brought the Labourers back to power. Their leader, Yitzhak Rabin, was appointed Prime Minister.
September 1993: historic handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, which consolidated the signing of the first agreement recognising the administrative autonomy of the Palestinian territories of Gaza and Jericho. The creation of Palestinian Autonomy came into force with the signing of the Cairo Agreements in May 1994.
October 1994: peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.
September 1995: second Israeli-Palestinian agreement extending Palestinian autonomy to the major cities of the West Bank.
November 1995: Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a Jewish extremist.
May 1996: defeat of the Labourers. Benyamin Netanyahou, leader of the Likud, becomes Prime Minister.
May 1999: the leader of the Labour Party, Ehud Barak, takes over from Benyamin Netanyahou as Prime Minister.
September 2000: second Palestinian revolt (Intifada).
February 2001: the Head of the Israeli Right-wing, Ariel Sharon becomes Prime Minister.
11 November 2004: death of Yasser Arafat (President of the Palestinian Authority). Mahmoud Abbas is elected to replace him.
August 2005: date scheduled for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the 21 colonies of the Gaza Strip.
15 August 2005: withrawal of Jewish colonies from the Gaza Strip.

Israel : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events

Events

Jewish feasts (according to the lunar calendar).
Rosh Hashana (New Year):
Anniversary of the day the world was created and Judgement Day. Human beings do a self-evaluation. Rosh Hashana is followed by ten days of 'Repentance' (Téchouva, returning to God).
Yom Kippur ('The Day of Atonement'):
Atonement comes after repentance: Yom Kippur ends the Techuva with a 24-hour fast devoted to prayers and absolution.
Sukkot (feast of tabernacles):
During this harvest feast, Jews celebrate the days of the Exodus when the children of Israel, fleeing from Egypt, camped in the desert in precarious tents.
Simhat Torah ('rejoicing of the Torah'):
At the end of the week of Sukkot, the day of Simhat Torah marks the end of the annual reading cycle of the Torah.
Hanukkah (Feast of Lights):
Celebration of the 'spiritual light', symbol of the triumph of sanctity over brute force.
Purim (feast of lots):
Huge carnival celebrating the victory of Esther and Mardochee over the Persian King.
Pesah, Jewish Easter:
This seven-day festival is in memory of the exodus from Egypt. Leavened bread is forbidden and is replaced with Matzo, unleavened bread, in memory of the manna God rained down on his people in the desert.
Shavuot (festival of Pentecost):
Seven weeks after Pesah, this festival celebrates the time of the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Commemorations:Yom Ha Shoah (beginning May):
Celebration of the Shoah. Two minutes of silence in memory of the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
Yom Ha Atzmaout (Mid-May):
Celebrating the birth of the State of Israel (on 14 May 1948).
Muslim feasts (they follow the lunar calendar of the Hegira)
April:
Ras es-Sana
Hegiran New Year.
July:
Mawlid al-nabi.
Celebration of the birth of Muhammad.
November:
Lailatul Miraj.
Recall of the ascension of the Prophet to Heaven.
Ramadan.
A month of fasting between sunrise and sunset.
Aït el-Fitr.
Feast of the end of the Ramadan.
Aït el-Kebir.
Every muslim family slaughters a sheep in memory of Abraham's sacrifice.
Christian feasts:
Christmas.
Catholics celebrate Christmas on 25th December, the Orthodox on 7th January and Armenians on 19th January.
March-April:
Holy week, which ends with Easter Sunday, scheduled depending on the Jewish Easter. Thus, for Catholics, the feast takes place three weeks before Pesah. For the Orthodox and Armenians, it takes place two weeks before.
Holy Friday, a procession in the stations of the cross of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
Ascension.
Forty days after Easter, Franciscans pray on the Mountain of Olives in Jerusalem.
Pentecost.
Fifty days after Easter, Catholics celebrate mass in the Dormition Church in Jerusalem.

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