Area Handbook for Israel

By Harvey H. Smith; Frederica M. Bunge et al. | Go to book overview

SECTION I. SOCIAL

CHAPTER 1 GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE SOCIETY

Situated at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, the state of Israel, in existence only 21 years, is an independent sovereign, parliamentary democracy. The country borders on the Arab countries -- Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. A major step toward creating the new state was taken by the United Nations (UN) on November 29, 1947, when its General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the establishment in Palestine of "independent Arab and Jewish states" and for agreement on a special international status for the city of Jerusalem.

The name Israel was adopted by the country's founders in their Proclamation of Independence ( May 14, 1948). In its opening statement they asserted: "In the Land of Israel the Jewish people came into being. In this Land was shaped their spiritual, religious and national character. Here they lived in sovereign independence." Their ancestors in Biblical times referred to this area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as the Holy Land, the Land of Canaan and later as Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). Israelis and their Arab neighbors have all been influenced by historic attitudes toward land, people, political sovereignty, and religion. Because of the strength and interrelationship of these concepts, the setting of modern Israel may be understood by identifying their origin and tracing them from ancient to modern times.

Many changes have occured since the traditional return of the ancient Hebrews to this area after fleeing from Egypt some 14 centuries before the Christian era. The area, then called the Land of Canaan, was ruled for the first time, as a Hebrew Kingdom, by Saul, who was succeeded by David. He made Jerusalem the capital about 1000 B.C. His successor, Solomon, built the Temple there, around 960 B.C. After Solomon's death, his domain was divided into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel, about 930 B.C. (see ch. 3, Historical Setting).

The country's favorable strategic position on the eastern Mediterranean communication routes connecting the Atlantic and Indian oceans and three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, has resulted in various foreign rulers competing for its control. Consequently over

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Area Handbook for Israel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • Contents xi
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT 13
  • Chapter 3 Historical Setting 29
  • Chapter 4 - POPULATION 55
  • Chapter 5 Ethnic Groups and Languages 67
  • Chapter 6 Social Structures 75
  • Chapter 7 Family 89
  • CHAPTER 8 - LIVING CONDITIONS 98
  • Chapter 9 - EDUCATION 113
  • Chapter 10 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL EXPRESSION 131
  • Chapter 12 - SOCIAL VALUES 153
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 163
  • Chapter 14 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS 187
  • Chapter 15 Foreign Relations 209
  • Chapter 16 - PUBLIC INFORMATION 221
  • Chapter 17 - POLITICAL VALUES AND ATTITUDES 239
  • Chapter 18 - BIOGRAPHIES OF SELECTED KEY PERSONALITIES 255
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 273
  • Chapter 20 Agriculture 285
  • Chapter 21 Industry 299
  • Chapter 22 Labor 311
  • Chapter 23 - DOMESTIC TRADE 333
  • Chapter 24 - FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS 345
  • Chapter 25 Financial and Monetary System 357
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 369
  • Chapter 27 - PUBLIC ORDER AND INTERNAL SECURITY 397
  • Index 447
  • PUBLISHED AREA HANDBOOKS 457
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