Based on Zionism- The First 120 Years, 1882-2002, by Mordecai Naor, The Zionist Library, Jerusalem.
See The Jewish Agency.
1800 –There are some 3,750,000 Jews in the world – 2,750,000 in Europe, 300,000 in Asia, some 250,000 in North Africa and tens of thousands in America.
The number of Jews in Eretz Israel stands at some 7,000, approximately a third of them in Jerusalem.
1818 – An American Jew by the name of Mordechai Emanuel Noach suggests establishing a Jewish state by the name of Ararat in the northeastern United States as a stage in returning the Jewish people to their historic homeland – Eretz Israel.
1836 – Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer from Germany suggests to Moses Montefiore (the British philanthropist and supporter of settlement in Eretz Israel) and to the Rothschild family of bankers, that Palestine be bought from the present ruler of Eretz Israel, Mehemet Ali (who conquered Palestine from the Turks in 1831 and ruled it from Egypt for the next nine years).
1839 – Moses Montefiore arrives in Eretz Israel on the second of seven visits. He musters the members of the Jewish community and explores with them the possibility of Jewish settlement.
1840 – February – The beginning of the Damascus affair. A Christian monk and his servant go missing from Damascus and the Jews are accused of abducting them for religious ritual (use of their blood for the preparation of matza for Pesach). One of the Jews “admits” to this act after being tortured. A number of Jewish dignitaries are arrested and tortured, two of whom die.
Moses Montefiore from England and Adolphe Cremieux from France, two Jewish notables with outstanding wealth and influence, successfully intervene on behalf of the Jews of Damascus. This is considered the beginning of international Jewish activity in the new era.
In the Jewish paper Der Orient, published in Leipzig in German, an article appears without a by-line calling the Jews of Europe to leave their countries and return to Eretz Israel. Lord Shaftsbury, an English nobleman who introduced far-reaching social programs in his day, suggests to the British foreign secretary Henry Palmerston that Jews be allowed to settle in Eretz Israel in the framework of the development of Eastern countries.
1843 – Rabbi Yehuda hai Alkalai, a rabbi from Serbia, publishes his book Minhat Yehuda (The Offering of Yehuda). In it he invites Jews to take advantage of the awakening in the Jewish world in light of the Damascus affair for Return to Zion and settlement of Eretz Israel.
1845 – Colonel George Gawler, formerly the governor of South Australia, writes a book in which he suggests that Jews be allowed to establish Jewish agricultural settlements in Eretz Israel as compensation for their suffering in Europe and under Turkish rule. Seven years later (in 1852), he establishes an association for the colonization of Palestine.
1852 – Rabbi Yehuda hai Alkalai establishes in London the Society for the Settlement of Eretz Israel, which is disbanded after a short time. He tours Europe and advocates settlement in Eretz Israel.
1857 – September 15 – The British Consul in Jerusalem, James Finn, sends a memorandum to the foreign secretary in London, in which he suggests settling Jews in Eretz Israel as farmers to nurture the land.
1858 – The Mortara affair in Italy- a Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, is abducted from his parents’ home in Bolonia by messengers of the Catholic Church, following his secret baptism by a Christian servant during an illness. The Jewish world is outraged. Jewish leaders and scholars approach Pope Pious IX and ask him to return the boy to his parents. There is no response. The incident emphasizes the need for international Jewish organization and constitutes one of the reason for expediting establishment of the Alliance Israelite Universelle – a Jewish charitable, educational and defense organization.
May 2, 1860
Birth of Benyamin Zeev Herzl, founder of political Zionism and the visionary of the State of Israel.
1860 – Alliance Israelite Universelle is established in Paris and awakens hope among supporters of settlement in Eretz Israel. Disappointment sets in, however, when the organization focuses more on Jewish education outside of Eretz Israel.
In Frankfurt, Germany, the social activist Dr. Chaim Luria establishes the Settlement Society for Eretz Israel, which in the years to come works in coordination with the likes of Rabbi Avi Hirsch Kalischer, Rabbi Yehuda hai Alkalai, Moses Hess, Rabbi Elijah Guttmacher and David Gordon. The company boasts no real achievements.
Mishkenot Sha’ananim is founded in Jerusalem at the initiative of Moses Montefiore; the first neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City. This signifies the beginning of the New City.
1861 – Rabbi Joseph Natonek from Hungary publishes, anonymously, a booklet (in Hungarian) called Messiah – An Essay on Jewish Emancipation of Equal Advantage for Jews and Christians. In it he calls for Jews everywhere “to fulfill our national independence in the land of our forefathers.”
1862 – Moses Hess, a German-Jewish socialist, publishes his book, Rome and Jerusalem, in which he advocates the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel. In the same year, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer writes a booklet called Derishat Zion (Seeking Zion) in which he too calls for Jews to return to the Land of Israel. It is surprising that rater than tell Jews to wait for the Messiah, the ultra-Orthodox Kalischer tells them to act for their own redemption.
1863 – David Gordon, a journalist (later editor) at the Hebrew weekly HaMagid from East Prussia, publishes a series of articles based on the idea of a Return to Zion (issues 14-18).
1866 – Rabbi Natonek visits the Jewish communities in Germany and meets with the heads of Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris in order to promote the idea of a Return to Zion. The following year he travels to Istanbul and meets with Turkish leaders with the same aim.
1868 – Charles Netter, one of the heads of Alliance, arrives in Eretz Israel in order to observe the situation in the tiny Jewish community and examine the possibility of settling additional Jews on the land.
August 3 – Netter appears before a large crowd in Jerusalem’s Old City, and is moved and uplifted by the cry- “Give us land!”
The first edition of HaShachar (The Dawn) appears in Vienna, a Hebrew publication edited by Peretz Smolenskin which maintains that the Jews are entitled to be considered a nation worthy of national independence.
1869 – January 11 – Netter appears before the management of Alliance Israelite Universelle, reads out his report on his visit to Eretz Israel and suggests establishing, in the first stage, an agricultural school. He expresses his willingness to head such a project and spends the rest of the year taking steps to implement the plan.
1870 – April 5 – Charles Netter’s relentless efforts result in the Turkish government giving him a license to open a Jewish agricultural school near Jaffa.
June 15, 1870
Karl (Charles) Netter settles in a cave south of Jaffa and lays the cornerstone of the Mikveh Israel school, the first Jewish settlement in Israel of the modern era.
June 15 – Netter settles in a cave south of Jaffa and lays the cornerstone of the new school, which constitutes the beginning of new Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel. A well is dug, after which the first students are welcomed. Netter heads the school till September 1873.
For the first time since 1800 there is a Jewish majority in the city (11,000 souls). Although an historic event, it isn’t greatly emphasized at the time.
1871 – May 13 – Shabbat – the “Bechukotai” portion. The Jerusalem tailor R. Gershon, who makes clothes for the agricultural school students, suggests to Netter that he draw from the weekly Torah portion, Jeremiah 17-13- “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame,” and call the school Mikve Israel (Hebrew for “Hope of Israel.”) Netter adopts the idea.
1872 – The Society for Working and Redemption of the Land is established in Jerusalem, which aims to establish the first agricultural settlement – Petah Tikva. Preparations are made to acquire land near Jericho, and, soon after, south of Jaffa (later to become Rehovot). The Turks prevent the acquisition and the company disbands.
1874 – The Moses Montefiore Testimonial Fund (Mazkeret Moshe) is founded in London following Montefior’s 90th birthday. Its aim is to aid Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel.
1875 – Moses Montefiore, aged 91, makes his seventh and final visit to Eretz Israel.
The Society for Working and Redemption of the Land is again established in Jerusalem, and calls for the establishment of an agricultural settlement. Among its founders are David Guttman and Eliezer Raab, later co-founders of Petah Tikva.
One of its slogans is- “If there is no country in the world – there is no Israel in the world.”
It is possible that the establishment of the association is influenced by a proposal made by Haim Gedalia, a close acquaintance of Moses Montefiore, which he published in 1875. the proposal suggests acquiring all the Sultan’s lands in Eretz Israel from the Turks and establishing on them extensive Jewish settlement.
1876 – the book Daniel Deronda appears in England by the author George Eliot (the literary name of Mary Ann Owens). The book’s heroes are English Jews with a national conscience, who aspire to establish a Jewish state in Eretz Israel. The book has enormous influence on generations of young Jews.
1878 – Within two months the first two agricultural settlements are established. In the north, Jews from Safed establish gai Oni (Valley of My Strength) to the east of the city. In the south, Petah Tikva is founded by Jerusalemites among whom are Yoel Moshe Salomon, David Guttman, Joshua Stampfer, Zerach Barnett and Eliezer and Yehuda Raab. Gai Oni is abandoned after a short time and Petah Tikva after three years. The first seeds, however, have been sown.
Laurence Iliphant, an English member of Hovevei Zion (The Lovers of Zion), suggests establishing agricultural Jewish settlements in Eretz Israel. He contacts the Turkish authorities and in 1880 publishes his book, Eretz HaGilad (The Land of Gilead), in which he calls for the establishment of a Jewish region in the north of Transjordan. The Turks have reservations.
1879 – Yehiel Michel Pines, a representative of the Mazkeret Moshe fund, arrives in Eretz Israel – an important figure during the impending First Aliyah period.
Eliezer Pearlman (better known as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda), aged 21, publishes an article “A Dignified Question” in the fifth edition of HaShachar (April 1879). He calls for the return of his people to its land, determining of Jewish policy and renewal of the ancient language – Hebrew. The article is considered an important milestone in the annals of Zionism.
Edward Cazalet proposes that England help Jews immigrate to Syria and to Palestine in order to participate in large development projects in these countries.
1881 – March 13 – Tsar Alexander II is murdered in Russia. This signals the beginning of Jewish pogroms, especially in the south of the country. Jewish emigration from Russia increases, especially to America. At the same time, the first associations of Hovevei Zion are established, which aim to settle Jews in settlements in Eretz Israel.
June 5, 1881
Start of first aliya of Jews of Yemen.
September-December – Towards the end of the year Jewish aliyah to Eretz Israel increases and among the new arrivals are Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, his wife Dvora and a group of olim from Yemen.
January 11, 1882
First conference of Hovevei Zion (“Lovers of Zion”) in Romania resolves to purchase land in Israel and promote aliya. The same year witnesses the start of the First Aliya and the establishment of Rosh Pina and Zichron Ya’akov.
Formation in Kharkov, Ukraine of a group of young people dedicated to the revival of the Jewish people through a return to working the land in Israel. The group came to be known as the Bilu.
1882 – The pogroms in Russia continue. Hovevei Zion emissaries arrive in Palestine and go in search of suitable land for establishing settlements. A few thousand jews arrive in the country in 1882 alone in what will later be called the First Aliyah. At the same time, Laurence Oliphant renews his efforts to settle Jews in Palestine.
The booklet Auto-Emancipation appears in Berlin, written by an unidentified author. He is, in fact, none other than Dr. Yehuda Leib Pinsker, a Jewish doctor from Russia. It is a fundamental publication in the annals of Hibbat Zion (The Lovers of Zion movement) and Zionism (see the chapter entitled Glossary of Terms).
February 6 – BILU is established in Kharkov, southern Russia – an association founded by Jewish students who advocate aliyah to Eretz Israel, the establishment of communal settlements and revival of the Hebrew language. Within a few months, similar groups begin to organize throughout Russia.
March 18, 1882
Creation of Va’ad Halutzei Yesod Hama’alah (“Yesod Hama’alah Pioneers Committee”), committed to helping purchase land in Israel to establish Jewish colonies.
March 18 – Zalman David Levontin, an immigrant from Russia, establishes the Yesud haMa’ala Pioneers committee in Jaffa, whose objective is to help acquire land and establish Jewish settlements in Palestine. This constitutes the beginning of the establishment of the moshava (village based on private ownership) Rishon lesion.
April 28, 1882
Turkey forbids Jewish immigration to Israel.
April 28 – The Turks are concerned about increased Jewish aliyah and implement a ban on the immigration of Russian Jews to Palestine. The ban limits some members of Hovevei Zion, but the majority continue to operate.
June 18, 1882
Nes Ziona established.
July 6, 1882
First 14 members of the Bilu arrive in Jaffa; the date is regarded as the start of the First Aliya (1882-1903), when 25,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, largely from Russia and Romania.
July 6 – The first group of BILU members arrive in Israel – 13 young men and one woman. They live in Jaffa and work in Mikve Israel.
July 31, 1882
Establishment of Rishon leZion, first colony of the First Aliya.
July 31 – The first moshava, comprising members of the First Aliyah, is established – Rishon lesion (Petah Tikva and Gai Oni, established some four years before, no longer exist). By the end of the year, two additional moshavot are established- Zamarin (later to become Zichron Ya’akov) and Rosh Pina, where Gai Oni once stood.
October 18 – Joseph Feinberg from Rishon lesion meets with Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Paris and recruits him to help the new settlement. This is the beginning of Baron Rothschild’s involvement with settlement in Eretz Israel. A little later Rabbi Samuel Mohilever meets with the Baron and persuades him to help settle a group of Jewish farmers from Poland in Ekron (later renamed Mazkeret Batia).
1883 – Settlers from Petah Tikva evacuate their village temporarily because of the danger of malaria, and move to Yehud for a number of years before returning home. The moshava of Ekron is established. The Lerer family settles in Wadi Hanin (later Nes Ziona) and the Felman family settles to the north of Jaffa and plants a citrus orchard. All are members of the Hovevei Zion association.
September 28, 1882
Baron de Rothschild agrees to support settlement in Israel. In a meeting with Rabbi Mohliver, he agrees to establish a colony in Israel as part of the efforts to save Russian Jewry.
October 17, 1882
“Autoemancipation,” Zionist pamphlet by Yehuda Leib Pinsker published in Berlin, calls on Jews to settle in their homeland.
December 12, 1882
Two years after a failed effort by Jews from Safed to establish the village of Gai Oni on the same site, the agricultural land of Rosh Pina, a village founded by immigrants from Romania, is ploughed for the first time.
July 12, 1883
Baron Edmond de Rothschild starts his activities in Israel.
November 7, 1883
Mazkeret Batya established, and named for the mother of Baron Hirsch.
1884 – A second moshava is established in the Galilee – Yesud haMa’ala – and towards the end of the year the BILU establishes its moshava – Gedera. The moshava of Bnei Yehuda, founded by people from Safed, is the first attempt to establish a foothold in the southern Golan.
June 12, 1884
Members of Hovevei Zion from Poland establish Yesod Hama’alah.
September 12, 1884
Moshav Ekron established, the sixth colony of the First Aliya.
November 6-8 – The establishment of the first wave of Jewish moshavot in Eretz Israel comes to an end. Without the help of Baron Rothschild it is doubtful they would have survived the harsh living conditions. The Turks hinder Jewish aliyah and the establishment of moshavot.
February 12, 1886
First daily newspaper in Hebrew published in St. Petersburg.
April 25, 1886
Founding of Neve Zedek, first Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jaffa.
June 28, 1887
Second Congress of Hibat Zion meets in Russia. The resolutions- to establish colonies in Israel and purchase additional land.
1887 – June 28-July 1 – There is a second meeting of the Hibbat Zion movement in Druzgnik, Russia in which religious and secular members weriously disagree on the character of the movement. The members resolve to strengthen the moshavot in Eretz Israel and acquire additional land.
May 26, 1888
B’nai B’rith, founded in 1843, establishes an office in Jerusalem, its first in Israel.
September 13, 1888
Be’er Tuviya is established for the first time.
February 8, 1889
Bnei Moshe, secret arm of Hovevei Zion, created under the leadership of Ahad Ha’am.
1889 – March 15 – An article, “That Isn’t the Way,” appears in the Hebrew paper HaMelitz, which is published in St. Petersburg. It is written by an unknown author calling himself Ahad HaAm. He is in fact none other than Asher Zvi Ginzberg, the Hebrew essayist and thinker and one of the first spiritual Zionists. He attacks the settlement work being done in Eretz Israel, claiming it should have been preceded by the spiritual and cultural regeneration of the Jewish people. At the same time, in Odessa, south Russia, the secret association Bnei Moshe is established, under the leadership of Ahad HaAm, who aspires to realize the ideas presented in his article.
September 16, 1889
Decision to establish the new Committee for the Hebrew Language, which worked to develop and advance the language. In 1953 it became the Academy of the Hebrew Language.
1890 – Aliyah to Palestine once again increases. Delegations and individuals stream into Palestine, buy land and plan the establishment of new settlements. Withintow years the moshavot of Rehovot, Hadera, Mishmar Hayarden and Ein Zeitim are established.
April 1, 1890
Natan Birnbaum coins a new word, “Zionism,” in an article in his newspaper, Shichrur Atzmi (“Self Liberation”).
April 1 – A new term – “Zionism” – is born, created by Nathan Birenbaum in an article in his paper Shichrur Atzmi (Auto-Emancipation) in Germany.
April 26 – the first General Assembly of the Society for the Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and Eretz Israel, the nickname given the Hovevei Zion in the framework of the Russian government license, takes place in Odessa. The more accepted name is the Odessa Committee. Among its resolutions is the opening of an office in Jaffa, headed by the engineer Vladimir (Zev) Tiomkin, for promoting the subject of settlement.
Kibbutz Mishmar Hayarden established.
September 10, 1891
Baron Hirsch establishes JCA – Jewish Colonization Association.
1891 – Jews continue to arrive in Eretz Israel until the middle of the year. In July the Turkish authorities declare a halt to aliyah and cancel all land acquisition deals. This heralds the beginning of a protracted crisis.
October – Theodor Herzl, a 31 year-old assimilated Jewish journalist and playwright, is chosen by the Viennese paper Neue Freie Presse as its Paris correspondent. This is a turning point in his life, which brings him to the pinnacle of Zionist accomplishment in a few short years.
Over 400 individuals, both Jewish and gentile, sign a petition sent by the religious American William E. Blackstone (one dubbed the American Christian “Father of Zionism,”) to the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, in which he calls on the President to help the Jews return to their historic homeland.
September 26, 1892
First railway in Israel inaugurated – from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
1894 – the beginning of the Dreyfus affair in France. Herzl is shocked by the anti-Semitism rampant in all layers of French society and comes to the conclusion that if such a thing can happen in enlightened France, there is only one solution to the Jewish question- mass exodus from Europe and their concentration in their own territory. He decides to act on behalf of the suffering Jews by meeting, as a first step, with wealthy Jews in order to acquire financial backing for his plans.
1895 – June 2 – Herzl meets with Baron Maruice de Hirsch, one of the wealthiest magnates of his generation, and fervently explains his plans. The meeting, which constitutes the beginning of Herzl’s Zionist activity, does not go well and Hirsch stops him in mid-sentence.
June 3-17 – Herzl puts his ideas down in writing day and night for two weeks. This constitutes the first draft of Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State).
In the second half of 1895, Herzl, who had left Paris and returned to Vienna, travels throughout Europe, arranges meetings and gives lectures outlining his plan. Most greet him with indifference and even ridicule. Only the philosopher and writer Max Nordau supports him.
February 14, 1896
Publication in German in Vienna of a pamphlet, “The Jewish State,” in which Herzl discusses the Jewish question and suggests a homeland for the Jewish people as the solution.
February 15, 1896
Mikveh Israel agricultural school established.
May 19, 1896
Establishment of Metulla, northernmost settlement in Israel.
1896 – In Vienna, The Jewish State appears in German as a booklet, with a sub-title reading- A Political Solution to the Jewish Question. In the same year it is translated into Hebrew, English and other languages. Most reactions are negative but Herzl is not concerned.
June – Herzl makes his first trip to Turkey, where he is granted an audience with the Great Vizier (prime minister). He offers to cover turkey’s national debt if the Sultan relinquishes Palestine in favor of the Jews.
July 18 – Herzl travels to Paris to meet with baron Edmond de Rothschild, the well-known benefactor and patron of the new settlement in Palestine, to raise money for the realization of his plan. The meeting fails and Herzl decides to act alone without the help of wealthy Jews.
1897 – March 6 – Herzl assembles representatives from the Hovevei Zion societies in Germany, Austria and Galicia to discuss his plans. He suggests convening a Zionist Congress as soon as possible with the participation of representatives from the entire Jewish world. The plan meets with strong resistance in many circles, among them rabbis, community heads and even Hovevei Zion activists.
June 4 – The first edition of the weekly Die Welt (The World) appears, edited and party financed by Herzl. It is the mouthpiece of the new movement he is establishing.
Preparations for the First Zionist Congress are complete. When Jewish leaders and rabbis foil Herzl’s plans to hold the Congress in Munich, Germany, he moves the meeting to Basle, Switzerland. The Congress is set to take place during the last days of August 1897.
August 29-31, 1897
First Zionist Congress, led by Herzl, meets in Basel. World Zionist Organization established; Herzl elected president.
1897 – The First Zionist Congress convenes in Basle, which constitutes the foundation of the World Zionist Organization, and Herzl is elected president. The Congress, in which 197 delegates participate, accepts the Basle Program (see the chapter entitled Glossary of Terms). Herzl, who wants the Congress to appear especially festive, insists that delegates come to the proceedings in formal evening attire. “These people should consider this Congress as the most superior and festive of all,” he says to Max Nordau. The Jewish and general press send many reporters in order to cover this special Jewish assembly.
September 1 – Herzl writes in his diary- “At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”
There are mixed reactions to the Congress by the Jewish media- few support it, some have reservations about it, while the majority are waiting to see how things develop. The Warsaw daily, HaTzfira, edited by Nahum Sokolow, which opposed the Congress, is turning into a loyal supporter. Ahad HaAm’s haShilo’ah, on the other hand, warns the Jews, and especially the Zionists- “The new enthusiasm is artificial…and its end will bring despair…Israel’s salvation will come from ‘prophets’ rather than from ‘diplomats.’” The Neue Freie Presse in Vienna, where Herzl works, does not mention the Congress at all.
November – Herzl first proposes his plan for establishing a “Zionist bank,” to be used as a financial instrument to achieve Zionist goals.
The author Davis Trietsch suggests to Herzl the Jewish colonization of Cyprus, which is in British hands, rather than of Palestine, which is ruled by the Turks.
May 4, 1898
Zionist Organization of America founded in New York; the first Zionist organization in USA.
August 28-31, 1898
Second Zionist Congress meets in Basel.
1898 – August 28-31 – The Second Zionist Congress is held in Basle. Herzl proudly declares that since the first Congress, the Zionist movement has joined 913 societies – in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
The Congress establishes the Jewish Colonial Trust, the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization. Leo Motzkin delivers one of the main lectures, following his tour of Eretz Israel’s new settlements.
October 13 – Herzl leaves Vienna secretly and travels to Turkey and Palestine in order to meet with the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is touring the East. He plans to recruit the Kaiser to influence the Turkish Sultan to seriously consider the proposals of the Zionists.
October 18 – Herzl meets with the Kaiser in Istanbul and lectures him on the need to settle the Jews in Palestine. The Kaiser makes comments that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. In spite of this he tells Herzl- “Tell me in one word- what should I demand from the Sultan?” Herzl replies- “A franchise company [that will accept Eretz Israel] with German backing.”
Late October – early November – The German Kaiser Wilhelm II arrives in Palestine, the high point being his visit to Jerusalem. Herzl is visiting Jaffa, the southern settlements and Jerusalem at the time. He meets the Kaiser twice- on October 28 at the gate of Mikve Israel and on November 2 in Jerusalem. The Kaiser makes no promises.
1899 – Herzl continues his extensive diplomatic activity in Europe and Turkey in order to promote the issue of the charter (franchise) on Palestine. He participates in the first peace committee held in The Hague, Holland in May 1899.
January-February – Baron Rothschild arrives in Jerusalem on his third visit to Eretz Israel (previous visits were in 1887 and in 1893). He intimates that he is considering ending his settlement activity, but the hint is not taken.
August 15-18, 1899
Thrid Zionist Congress meets in Basel.
August 15-18 – The Third Zionist Congress is held in Basle. Herzl declares- “Our efforts are aimed at attaining a charter from the Turkish government under the sovereignty of his majesty the Sultan… only after this charter is in our hands…can we start large-scale, practical settlement.” By the end of the 19th century, the number of Jews in Eretz Israel stands at 50,000, double the number 20 years earlier, and 20 agricultural moshavot are inhabited by 5,000 people. The largest moshava is Zichron Ya’akov, which has a population of 871. The second largest is Petah Tikva (818), then Rishon lesion (626) and Rosh Pina (512). About two-thirds of the Jews in Eretz Israel live in Jerusalem, most of whom are from the Old Yishuv (Orthodox Jews). The New Yishuv is concentrated in the moshavot, in Jaffa, in Haifa and partly in Jerusalem. There are more than 10 million Jews in the world- close to eight million in Europe, one million in America, with the rest in Asia, Africa and Oceania.
November 8 – Herzl writes in his diary- “If I don’t make progress with the Turkish government by the beginning of the Fourth Congress, I will humbly prepare the Cyprus plan.” (Jewish settlement in an island close to Palestine. See 1897.)
1900 – January 1 – Baron Rothschild announces the termination of his activity in Palestine and the transfer of the handling of the moshavot to the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA). This results in astonishment in the country and the beginning of a prolonged economic and social crisis. For more than a year the moshavot heads try, together with Hovevei Zion activists, to convince Rothschild to change his mind, but to no avail. Throughout the year the economic crisis depends and emigration from Eretz Israel increases.
August 13-16, 1900
Fourth Zionist Congress meets in London and discusses the problems facing the Jewish people at that time.
August 13-16 – The Fourth Zionist Congress takes place in London; the first time this body has convened outside Switzerland. The current problems of the Jewish people are discussed, especially the expulsion of the Jews from Romania nd the plight of agricultural laborers in Eretz Israel, following the termination of Baron Rothschild’s involvement in the moshavot and their transfer to ICA.
1901 – May 14 – Hovevei Zion heads and moshavot representatives from Eretz Israel meet in Paris with Baron Rothschild and ask him to transfer the moshavot to the farmers rather than to the ICA. The Baron refuses.
May 17, 1901
Herzl meets the Turkish sultan, Abdul Hamid II, and asks permission for Jewish settlement in Israel in exchange for help in repaying Turkey’s international debts. His request is rejected. Turkey announces that it will allow Jewish settlement in Africa, but not in Israel.
May 17 – Herzl is granted an audience with the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II and asks him for a charter on Palestine. In return he promises that the Jews will cover the Turkish national debt. After prolonged negotiation, the Turks consent to Jewish settlement in the Empire but not in Palestine.
October 7, 1901
Yavne’el established in the Lower Galilee.
October – The ICA begins work on a new settlement region in Eretz Israel – the Lower Galilee moshavot. In October alone two moshavot are established- Yavneel and Kfar Tabor.
October 25, 1901
Kfar Tavor, originally called Mescha, established in the Lower Galilee.
December 29, 1901
Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel decides to establish Keren HaKayemeth leIsrael, the Jewish National Fund, in order to purchase land in Israel for the Jewish people.
December 26-30 – The Fifth Zionist Congress takes place in Basle and resolves to establish the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael). During the Congress, a body opposing Herzl emerges – the Democratic Faction – which includes 37 young delegates, among whom are Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Leo Motzkin and Martin Buber.
1902 – January – Herzl is disappointed by his inability to persuade the Turks to grant a charter on Eretz Israel. For the first time Jewish settlement in the southwest of Palestine is considered – in the area of El-Arish. (Although actually Egyptian territory, it is under British control in practical terms.) Prof. Franz Oppenheimer, the well-known Jewish-German economist and sociologist, publishes a series of articles in the Zionist Die Welt, under the headline “Jewish Settlement,” in which he lays out his plan to establish cooperative settlements in Eretz Israel; a plan that comes to fruition ten years later in Merhavya.
January 28, 1902
Opening of Sha’are Zedek, the first hospital in the new city of Jerusalem.
Anglo-Palestine Bank established in London as the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization’s activities.
February 26 – The Anglo-Palestine Company Ltd. (later changed to Anglo-Palestine Bank Ltd.) was founded as a subsidiary of the Jewish Colonial Trust, the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization. After the establishment of the State of Israel, it becomes Bank Leumi le-Israel.
March 5, 1902
Establishment in Vilnius of the Mizrachi movement for religious Zionist Jews.
March 5 – The Mizrachi (religious-Zionist) movement is founded in Vilna, the first partisan organization in the framework of the Zionist movement. It is instigated by Rabbi Yitzhak Ya’akov Reines.
March 25, 1902
Zionist survey committee, sent by Herzl to examine the suitability of the Sinai peninsula for Jewish settlement (El-Arish Plan), completes its work.
July – Herzl suggests to the Turks the covering of part of the kingdom’s debt in return for a franchise on part of Eretz Israel – “Haifa and the surrounding area” and, mostly, the Jezreel valley.
July 4 – A historic meeting between Herzl and Lord Nathaniel Meyer Rothschild, head of the British branch of the Rothschild family, takes place. At first the atmosphere is chilly but the ice gradually melts. Herzl emphasizes the urgent need for settling Eastern European Jews in the vicinity of Eretz Israel.
July 7, 1902
Start of official contacts between the Zionist movement and the British government. Herzl appears before the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in London.
July 7 – Herzl appears before a Royal Committee appointed to investigate the immigration of aliens (meaning Jews) to England, where he speaks on the problems of Jews in the world. In his opinion, Eastern European Jews must emigrate; if not, he says, they may die.
October 5, 1902
Altneuland, Herzl’s utopian novel that describers the future Jewish state, published in German in Vienna, and shortly thereafter appears in Hebrew translation as “Tel Aviv.”
October 22-23 – Herzl meets twice with the British secretary of state for the colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, suggesting the establishment of autonomous Jewish settlement in Cyprus and in El-Arish in the Sinai. Chamberlain has reservations regarding Cyprus but cautiously agrees to El-Arish. In the months to come this possibility is seriously and practically investigated.
October 30 – Herzl’s book, Altneuland (Old-New Land), is published; a utopian novel which delineates the creation, by the Jews, or a model society in the Holy land. It is translated into Hebrew by Nahum Sokolow, under the title Tel Aviv, a name adopted in 1910 by the founders of the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood, north of Jaffa.
In 1902, the first Jewish National Fund stamp appears bearing the name “Zion” and a picture of a Magen David (Star of David).
March 6, 1903
Establishment of the village of Rehovot.
1903 – March – Herzl sends a delegation of experts to the Sinai Peninsula to examine the possibility of Jewish settlement in the area of El-Arish. The findings are positive but the plan is cancelled after it is rejected by the British representative in Cairo.
April 19, 1903
Pogrom against the Jews of Kishinev, main city of Bessarabia (now Moldova). Creates renewed impetus to emigrate to the west or make aliya to Israel.
April 19 – A pogrom in the town of Kishinev in southern Russia leaves more than 50 Jews dead, hundreds wounded and extensive damage. Shock and fury rock the Jewish world. In light of the pogrom, emigration from Russia too the United States increases, and, to a lesser extent, to Eretz Israel (the Second Aliyah). After the pogrom Herzl intensifies his efforts to find suitable territory for settling the masses of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Hayim Nahman Bialik writes his famous poem Be’lr haHarega (In the City of Slaughter).
April 23, 1903
In a meeting between Herzl and the British Minister for the Colonies, Chamberlain, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda is raised.
April 23 – Herzl meets in London with Chamberlain, the British secretary of state for the colonies, who has returned from a prolonged visit to Eastern Africa. The minister raises the possibility of Jewish settlement in Uganda.
Herzl reiterates his support for settlement in “Palestine or its vicinity.”
May – Herzl changes his mind, and is inclined to accept the British offer to settle in Eastern Africa. The British suggest an area of 100,000 square kilometers and in a memorandum from the foreign ministry write- “The foreign secretary is giving serious consideration to offers regarding establishment of some kind of colony or Jewish settlement under conditions that will enable their people to perform their national traditions.”
The philanthropist Itzhak Leib Goldberg from Vilna transfers a plot of land owned by him in the settlement of Hadera to the Jewish National Fund (JNF). This is the first territory (200 dunams) to be transferred to the authority of the Jewish National Fund.
July 26 – The first branch of the Anglo-Palestine Bank opens in Jaffa. Its manager is Zalman David Levontin, who co-founded Rishon lesion 21 years before. In the years to come the bank opens branches in Jerusalem, Hebron and in Beirut.
August 14, 1903
British government offers the World Zionist Organization the Uganda Plan, the creation of a Jewish home in East Africa under British rule.
August 6-16 – Herzl visits Russia and meets with the interior minister Viacheslav Plehve, despite the fact that some of the Zionist leaders believe he is one of those responsible for the Kishinev pogrom. He reaches an agreement with Plehve about Zionist activities in Russia and Turkish government aid for Zionism. He is welcomed enthusiastically by Jews in different cities.
August 23-25, 1903
Sixth Zionist Congress, the “Uganda Congress.”
August 23-28 – The Sixth Zionist Congress, the “Uganda Congress,” is held in Basle. Herzl raises the idea of establishing an autonomous Jewish region in Uganda, the British colony in Eastern Africa. There is stormy opposition to the proposal, especially among the Russian Zionists. Nordau tries to soften the offer by saying that the solution provides a “temporary refuge” for the Jewish emigrants of Eastern Europe, until they are able to settle in Eretz Israel. Finally Herzl’s suggestion to send a delegation to investigate the region is agreed upon.
The Uganda scheme creates an unprecedented crisis in the World Zionist Organization. Herzl struggles to implement the plan, with the support of most of the senior leaders. There are, however, unparalleled objections and many fear a division in the movement between “Uganda Zionists” who support and trust Herzl, and between “Zion Zionists,” (Tziyonei Zion) who reject Uganda and are steadfastly loyal to Eretz Israel. They are not impressed by Herzl’s dramatic declaration at the end of the Congress that he will always remain devoted only to Zion, and that “If I forget three O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning!”
August 24 – In Zichron Ya’akov, the first Kenesiya (Assembly) of Jewish settlement representatives in Eretz Israel, numbering 67 delegates, opens. A decision is reached to condemn Herzl’s Uganda scheme. At the end of deliberations, the Jewish teachers in Palestine establish the Teachers’ Union in Zichron Ya’akov.
September 11 – In Homel, Russia, Jews are once again the victims of pogroms. A “Jewish resistance” takes a stand against the violence, for the first time – an important milestone in the annals of Russian Jewry. Some of the defenders are forced to leave the city and make aliyah to Eretz Israel. They are considered the first immigrants of the Second Aliyah (late November 1903).
The Jewish National Fund acquires its first large tract of land in Eretz Israel, encompassing thousands of dunams in Deleqa-Umm Juni in the Jordan Valley.
November 11, 1903
Large land purchase by Keren HaKayemeth at Delaika and Umm Juni. Kibbutz Deganya Aleph is established on these lands.
November – The Uganda scheme becomes highly controversial within the Zionist movement. A gathering of Russian Zionist leaders takes place in Kharkov from November 11-14, and the scheme is vehemently rejected. Menahem Mendel Ussishkin, who regards it as a “betrayal of historic Zionism,” becomes the leader of the opposition to Herzl. Convention participants consider establishing a new Zionist organization, without Herzl, who reiterates his continued support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel.
1904 – January 23 – Herzl meets in Rome with the King of Italy, Victor Emanuel III. The king promises him “to speak with every Turk possible on the Zionist issue.”
January 25 – Herzl meets with Pope Pious X. he tries to convey to him the essentialness of the Zionist idea, but without success. The Pope does not approve of Herzl’s idea that Jerusalem be handed over to the Jews, and that the holy places receive ex-territorial status.
February – The first exploratory delegation leaves for southern Palestine and Transjordan, financed by the World Zionist Organization. It is led by the German scientist Prof. Blankenhorn and includes Aaron Aaronsohn, the young agronomist from Zichron Ya’akov.
March – Herzl opens a new round of talks with the Turkish government with regard to the charter on Palestine and is willing at this stage to make do with the area of Acco (Acre).
April 11-15 – The Actions Committee (Va’ad haPo’el HaZioni) holds an unusually stormy session in which there is a direct clash between Herzl and Ussishkin regarding the Uganda scheme. In a conciliatory move, Herzl devotes party of the discussion to the development of settlement in Eretz Israel. Herzl and his rivals agree to a truce.
May 13 – Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook makes aliyah. Her serves as rabbi of the Jewish community of Jaffa and of the newly established moshavot, and is an important link in bridging the gap between the New and Old Yishuv.
May-June – Herzl, who suffers from a heart condition, takes some time out to rest and recuperate, on the advice of his doctors. He is extremely ill. Members of the Zionist movement are asked not to write him due to his deteriorating condition.
Tammuz 2, 5664 (July 3, 1904)
Death of Benyamin Zeev Herzl
July 3 – Theodor Herzl, creator and head of the World Zionist Organization for its fist seven years, dies at the age of 44. The Jewish world mourns.
August – Aliyah to Eretz Israel increases and there is a notable influx of young people. The Anglo-Palestine Bank acquires the land of Ben Shemen during the last months of Herzl’s life and with his knowledge. It opens a branch in Jerusalem – the second in Palestine.
1905 – January – Pogroms in Russia result in increased Jewish emigration. Most travel to America but a trickle make their way to Palestine.
March – In Eastern Europe a pamphlet is published entitled, “A call to young Jews whose hearts are with their people and with Zion.” Written by Joseph Vitkin from Eretz Israel, this passionate appeal came to be regarded as one of the factors that inspired the Second Aliyah.
May – The exploratory delegation sent to Uganda by the Sixth Zionist Congress in order to examine its suitability for Jewish settlement, publishes a negative report in London.
July 27-August 2 – The Seventh Zionist Congress convenes in Basle, the first Congress since Herzl’s death, and the Basle Program is reaffirmed. The idea of settling in Uganda is rejected and the Territorialists (who are in favor of settlement outside of Eretz Isreal) leave the World Zionist Organization. The Congress applauds the proposal of Otto Warburg, who calls for the planting of Jewish National Fund olive trees in Herzl’s name – the beginning of the Herzl forest.
David Wolffsohn, a Zionist leader from Germany, is chosen as chairman of the World Zionist Organization. After the Congress, the Territorialists hold the first meeting of the Jewish Territorial Organization (ITO), headed by the English Jew Israel Zangwill. From then on they operate separately and make repeated attempts to find territory for those Jews wishing to leave their homes in Europe but who are not ready to make aliyah to Eretz Israel. The organization operates unsuccessfully until 1925.
The main office of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) moves from Vienna, where Herzl resided, to Cologne in Germany.
October 22 – The world’s first Hebrew high school opens in Jaffa. Later it is called the Herzliya Gymnasium, in honor of Herzl.
October 31 – Pogroms break out against Jews in hundreds of population centers all over Russia, leaving 2,000 Jews dead in their wake. In many places, Jewish “self defense forces” emerge. The pogroms give renewed impetus to aliyah to Eretz Israel.
The Jewish National Fund increases its involvement in Eretz Israel- throughout the year it acquires land in order to establish agricultural training farms and a school for Kishinev orphans. JNF also participates in the acquisition of land for establishing experimental agricultural stations in Atlit, founds the Lands Office and funds its activity in cooperation with the Anglo-Palestine Bank; acquires the lands of Kfar Hittim and aids cultural and educational institutions in Jaffa and Jerusalem.
In Russia the Jewish socialist labor confederation is established, that goes by its popular name, Po’ale Zion (Workers of Zion). In the years to come it acts as the workers section of the Zionist movement. A branch is established in Eretz Israel too and some of the workers, who disagree with its socialist line, establish their own party, HaPoel HaTzair (The Young Worker).
1906 – January – In a Zionist Initiative, an international committee meets in Brussels to discuss the plight of Russian Jewry, which is suffering from persecution and pogroms.
March 1 – The Bezalet art school is opened in Jerusalem.
July – Menahem Mendel Ussishkin, the renowned Russian-Zionist leader, takes up his post as chairman of the Hovevei Zion’s Odessa Committee.
July 5 – The Ahuzat Bayit company is established in Jaffa with the aim of building garden suburbs outside Jaffa. This signals the beginnings of the city of Tel Aviv.
September 7 – A new immigrant arrives in Jaffa. His name is David Green, later David Ben-Gurion.
October 4-10 – The Helsingfors conference of Russian Zionists is held in Helsinki (then within the boundaries of Tsarist Russia). It necessitates, from the point of view of Zionistic aspirations, “present-day work,” that is, ongoing Zionistic activity in the communities of the Jewish Diaspora. This is an important milestone in Zionist history and a bone of contention for years to come.
The WZO opens an information and immigration office in Jaffa, headed by a new Russian immigrant by the name of Menahem Sheinkin. The office provides financial information for those interested in making aliyah. Aliyah to Palestine increases and among the thousands of new arrivals are members of the First Aliyah who left the country and returned with the Second Aliyah. Some 150,000 Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe arrive in the United States in 1906.
1907 – January 1 – The first edition of the Hebrew weekly HaOlam (The World) – the official organ of the WZO – appears in Cologne, Germany. Its first editor is Nahum Sokolow. In the years to come, the paper also appears in Russia and England, and from 1935 until its closing in 1950, in Jerusalem.
January 10 – David Wolffsohn, chairman of the WZO, arrives in Palestine for a visit. He tours the agricultural settlements and town and is welcomed enthusiastically.
February – Wolffsohn visits Istanbul, where he meets with the Grand Vizier (prime minister) Farid Pasha, and with Izzet Bey, one of the Sultan’s secretaries. He fails to advance the Zionist idea in the Turkish capital.
April 8 – The JNF’s regulations are approved by the British government, and Max Isidor Bodenheimer, a lawyer, is chosen as JNF’s first chairman.
May 7 – The JNF board of directors holds its first meeting in Cologne, where it decides to hasten the planting of the Herzl Forest in Hulda.
May 30 – Dr. Arthur Ruppin, a young German-Jewish sociologist, arrives in Jaffa. He has come on behalf of the Zionist Executive and the JNF in order to observe the situation in the Yushuv.
June 23 – The Ahuzat Bayit committee turns to the JNF, through Dr. Ruppin, and asks for a large loan in order to fund the building of the first 60 houses in a new neighborhood outside of Jaffa.
July 16 – After much indecision (due to a preference for agricultural settlement) the JNF board of directors approves a loan of 250,000 francs, for 18 years, to aid the establishment of Ahuzat Bayit.
August 14-21 – The Eighth Zionist Congress is held in The Hague, Holland. Among its resolutions- the opening of a permanent office of the WZO in Jaffa – the Palestine Office, headed by Dr. Ruppin. The Anglo-Jewish philanthropist Jacob Moser informs the Congress that he is making a large donation to establish the Hebrew Gymnasium in Jaffa (on condition that it is named after Herzl – Herzliya), as well as a donation to Bezalel, the Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. David Wolffsohn is elected president of the WZO.
Concurrently with the Congress, the founding convention of the World Union of Po’ale Zion (the roof organization of the Po’ale Zion parties in different countries), is held in The Hague).
September – Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the young scientist and Zionist leader, pays his first visit to Palestine.
September 29 – A secret organization by the name of Bar-Giora is founded in Jaffa (at the home of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who came to Palestine with the second Aliyah) whose objective is to transfer the protection of the moshavot to Jewish hands. Its slogan- “In blood and fire Judea fell and in blood and fire Judea will rise.” The organization is the precursor of the HaShomer (“The Guard”) self-defense organization 18 months later.
October – Wolffsohn pays an additional visit to Istanbul. He discusses with the Turkish government the possibility of receiving a charter on Palestine.
1908 – April 1 – Dr. Arthur Ruppin opens the Palestine Office in Jaffa. For ten years this is the principle Zionist address in Eretz Israel. The office fulfils a very important role in land acquisition and in the expansion of the agricultural and urban settlement. Within its framework, the Palestine Land Development Company is established.
May – The planting of Herzl Forest in Ben Shemen begins. It is undertaken by the JNF.
June 7 – The Palestine Office establishes its first national farm at Kinneret, intended to train pioneers for agricultural labor. This is followed by the founding of additional farms in Hulda and Ben Shemen.
June 21 – The first moshav po’alim (workers’ settlement) in Palestine is established in Ein Ganim, near Petah Tikva.
July 24 – The Young Turks uprising takes place in Turkey. There is renewed hope in the Yishuv and the Zionist movement that this will result in a reprieve with regard to building the Zionist enterprise.
1909 – March – The WZO recognizes the first political party – the Po’ale Zion Federation.
April 11 – The 60 families that organized in order to establish the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood in north Jaffa, hold a draw for the plots of land. This day is considered the day on which the neighborhood was founded, and which burgeoned, in the years to come, into the city of Tel Aviv.
April 12 – HaShomer (“The Guard”) is founded in Kfar Tabor (Mescha).
July 28 – A cornerstone-laying ceremony is held in the neighborhood of Ahuzat Bayit for the Herzliya Gymnasium.
July-August – Wolffsohn pays his third visit to Istanbul. The WZO decides to publish newspapers in the Turkish capital that will support its position and influence the government, in the spirit of the aims of Zionist. Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky is appointed to head these newspapers. The French-language paper La Jeune Turke (The Young Turk) is the most well known.
October – The WZO recognizes a second federation – HaMizrachi.
November – The first families move from Jaffa to their new homes in the Ahuzat Bayit neighborhood.
December 26-30 – The Ninth Zionist Congress is held in Hamburg, Germany. It supports continued Jewish settlement in Palestine and adopts the Oppenheimer method for the establishment of cooperative settlements. Following this decision, a “cooperative” is established at Merhavya.
1910 – Yehoshua Hankin acquires 10,000 dunams in the center of the Jezreel Valley – the first large acquisition in this desolate region – from the Lebanese landowner Sursuk. The Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), where he works, refuses to approve the acquisition, so Hankin offers the land to Dr. Ruppin. Ruppin accepts, and on May 20 Hankin begins to work at the Palestine Land Development Company, becoming its mainstay and acquiring hundreds of thousands of dunams of land for the company in the years to come. In the following year, the first Jewish settlement, Merhavya, is established on this land in the Jezreel Valley.
May 21 – In a general assembly of the residents of Ahuzat Bayit, a decision is made to change the name of the neighborhood to Tel Aviv, in light of Herzl’s book, Old-new Land, whose Hebrew name was given by the translator Nahum Sokolow.
October 28 – The founding nucleus of Umm Juni is established, that less than a year later takes the name Degania – “the mother of the kibbutzim.”
1911 – January 24 – Merhavya is established in the heart of the desolate Jezreel Valley. The first members of the cooperative settlement arrive in April. Members of HaShomer protect the settlers and the settlement during clashes with the Bedouin and the neighboring Arabs.
August 6 – In a letter from Umm Juni to Dr. Arthur Ruppin, head of the Palestine Office, Joseph Bussel informs Ruppin that “we have named our new settlement Degania, in honor of the five species of grain that we grow.”
August 9-15 – The Tenth Zionist Congress is held in Basle, Switzerland. Discussions focus on the settlement enterprise in Palestine and Jewish-Arab relations. David Wolffsohn, president of the WZO, expresses his wish to retire. In his opening speech he proudly declares- “Fourteen years ago, Zionism was a sensation. Today it is a reality.” The Mizrachi delegates object to incorporating “cultural work” into the Zionist movement’s areas of activity. A new leadership is elected with Prof. Otto Warburg appointed as chairman. Immediately after the Congress the seat of the Zionist Executive is moved from Cologne to Berlin.
December – Shmuel varshavsky (Yavnieli), a young activist in the Labor movement, is sent to Yemen as an emissary of the Palestine Office and of Rabbi Kook, in order to spur the Jews to make aliyah. In the coming years, more than 2,000 Jews from Yemen settle in Eretz Israel.
Throughout the year, the first labor federations are founded- in the Galilee and northern Palestine in April, and in Judah (as the area south-east of Jaffa was called at that time) in June. Later a third federation is founded in Samaria (the area of Hadera-Zichron Ya’akov).
December 13 – The federation operating in Judah decides to establish an institute that will care for the sick and the wounded. Its name- Kupat Holim (Sick Fund). This constitutes the basis for Kupat Holim Clalit (The General Sick Fund).
1912 – Hadassah is founded in new York, an organization of Zionist women. The name Hadassah (Queen Esther’s original name) is chosen to mark the festival of Purim.
April 11 – In a desolate region on a slope of the Carmel Mountain, a cornerstone-laying ceremony takes place for Technicum, the first academic-technological institute in Palestine. It is later renamed the Technion.
In the first half of 1912, more than 1,000 immigrants from Yemen make aliyah. Jewish aliyah to Palestine increases. Among the newcomers is Joseph Trumpeldor, who later works in Migdal and Degania.
A Zionist youth movement by the name of Blau-Weiss (Blue and White) is founded in Germany (and later in Czechoslovakia).
1913 – August 13 – The first class of the Herzl Gymnasium graduates. Among the graduates are some of the key personalities of the Yishuv and the country in the decades to come- Moshe Shertok (Sharett), Eliyahu Golomb and Dov Hoss.
September 2-9 – The Eleventh Zionist Congress is held in Vienna, Austria. On the agenda- achievements in settlement activity in Palestine and the idea of establishing a Hebrew university in Jerusalem. The lecturer on this subject- Dr. ChaimWeeizmann. Prof. Warburg is elected once again as chairman of the movement, and Yehiel Chlenov is elected as his deputy.
October – The Gideon organization is established in Zichron Ya’akov, which unifies young moshavot members. Its members constitute the basis for NILI, a secret pro-British spy organization that operates under Turkish rule in Palestine during World War I.
December – The “language war” breaks out in Palestine, when it becomes apparent that the German Hilfsverein (Ezra) group, which initiated the establishment of the first academic institute in Palestine, the Technion in Haifa, is about to make German the language of instruction in most subjects. A rebellion breaks out among students and teachers in Ezra institutes, and the WZO heads the opposition to the use of foreign languages in Jewish schools in Eretz Israel; taking upon itself the establishment of a chain of Hebrew educational institutes.
In Galicia the Zionist youth movement HaShomer haTza’ir (The Young Guard) is established. It is named after the HaShomer (The Guard) organization in Eretz Israel.
Throughout the year, new facts are created on the ground with regard to agricultural settlement- in the Jezreel valley a second moshav is established, Tel Adashim, whose members are from HaShomer, and in the Jordan valley a second cooperative group is established following Degania’s founding – Kinneret.
1914 – February – Baron Rothschild pays his fourth visit to Palestine, after a 15-year break. This time it is a peace-making mission with the Yishuv and the Zionist movement. Rothschild is impressed with what he sees, praises the work of the WZO and expresses his willingness to help.
June – Following increased tension between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, a Jewish-Arab conference is planned for the beginning of July in a small town near Beirut to resolve differences. Nahum Sokolow is to head the Jewish delegation. For different reasons, among which is international tension following the Austrian duke Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo on June 28 (that leads to World War I), the conference does not take place.
The Second Aliyah ends. Some 35,000 Jews made aliyah during the previous decade, among them a few thousand pioneers. The Second Aliyah is considered one of the most important periods in shaping the Yishuv on its way to statehood.
1914 – July 28 – World War I breaks out and the Jewish world is torn between the two sides- the Triple Alliance (Russia, England and France), the Triple Entente (Germany and Austria-Hungary, later joined by Turkey). The United States is neutral. Jews fight each other.
August – Because of the war, the Turks suspend their shipping connections with Europe and declare a moratorium – rejecting payments and commitments. This results in a crisis and profound distress in the Jewish Yishuv.
September 8 – The Turkish government cancels capitulation measures, according to which foreign nationals are subject only to their consuls and not to the governments of the country in which they live. Thousands of Jews in Palestine with foreign citizenship worry about their fate.
October 6 – The American warship North Carolina brings $50,000 from the Jews of the United States to the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel. This is the beginning of Jewish-American aid to the Yishuv.
October 30 – Turkey enters the war on the side of the Triple Alliance. Palestine, as part of Turkey, is now a participant in the war. The Turks order all foreign national in Palestine to take out Turkish citizenship or leave. Thus begins a mass exodus of Jews from Palestine.
November 9 – In a discussion with the British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey, the Anglo-Jewish politician Herbert Samuel raises, for the first time, the possibility that Turkey will collapse following the war. The super powers, he says, will find it difficult to turn Palestine into one of their own territories, so perhaps it is worthwhile “fulfilling the ancient ambitions of the Jewish people and re-establishing a Jewish state.” Grey responds sympathetically.
December 3-6 – A meeting of the Actions Committee (Va’ad HaPoel HaZioni) in Copenhagen, after the WZO decides to open a Zionist liaison office in neutral Denmark, while leaving its principle institutions in Germany. Sokolow and Chlenov, two Zionist leaders, are dispatched to the United States and arrive, eventually, in England. Zionist activity in most of the European countries – on both fronts – is paralyzed.
December 10 – The first meeting between Weizmann and Samuel takes place in London; the first step on the long road to the Balfour Declaration. Weizmann, a medium-ranking Zionist leader, begins to pave his way to the leadership.
The Jewish Yishuv in Palestine is being persecuted. The Turks arrest suspects, confiscate equipment and supplies, and place prohibitions on the use of Zionist symbols and stamps. Increasing numbers of Jews leave Palestine. American warships help evacuate those wishing to leave to Egypt, which is in British hands.
December 28 – Baron Edmond de Rothschild meets in Paris with Dr. Chaim Weizmann. He tells him, surprisingly, that now that Turkey has entered the war, the cautious activity in Eretz Israel must stop and that Jews must work openly and demand the establishment of a Jewish state.
1915 – January-March – The Turks arrest a number of young leaders and community activists in Palestine. Among them are Manya Shohat, Yehoshua Hankin, David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Some of them are deported to Turkey for the entire duration of the war, and others – like Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi – to Egypt, from where they travel to the United States.
March – Ze’ev Jabotinsky (who arrived from Russia) and Joseph Trumpeldor (who left Palestine because of Turkish persecution) join forces in Alexandri