4-millennia history culminates in Israels 50-year anniversary

For four millennia, the Jewish homeland has survived either as dream or reality. A nomadic tribe began migrating into the land of Canaan in the early second millennium BCE. Their history of wandering, Exodus and eventual conquest of Canaan, which they renamed Israel, forms the core story of the Bible. Scholars disagree on the Bible's historical accuracy, but doubtless this people's common story gave them a sense of shared destiny and purpose.

Jerusalem first fell in 587 BCE, and the people of Judah were sent into 50 years of Babylonian exile. After Babylonia's defeat, they returned to rebuild their Temple, reclaiming Jerusalem as Jewish, though the land remained under Persian, Greek, then Roman rule.

In 770 C.E., the Romans destroyed the Temple and renamed the country Palestine.

The land first saw Christian rule, then, for almost 12 centuries, Muslim domination. Meanwhile, Jews spread throughout the world.

Jews retained a presence in Palestine, and in the 19th century began to form settlements there. By 1880, their number had reached 25,000. In 1881, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda arrived in Jerusalem and worked to make Hebrew the language of the Jews there.

In 1897, Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist, founded Zionism as a nationalist movement.

In 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour recognized the Jewish people's right to a national home in Palestine that did not impinge on the rights of non-Jewish residents. The following year, the British took Palestine from its Ottoman rulers and governed by international mandate.

As Britain sought to quell Arab discontent, it imposed strict immigration quotas against Jews in Palestine. Jewish settlements also faced Arab attacks. Jews fought back with clandestine immigration, settlement and underground resistance to British rule. By 1948, there were 650,000 Jews in Palestine.

After the Holocaust, international pressure for a Jewish state increased. By 1947, Britain turned over responsibility for Palestine to the United Nations, which partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish entities. Jews accepted the plan; Arabs reject it.

May 14, 1948: Britain ends its mandate, withdraws its troops. In Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaims the state of Israel. The following day, the War of Independence breaks out between Israel and its five Arab neighbors.

Jan. 7, 1949: The war ends. Jordan takes control of the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Egypt controls the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Palestinian Arabs disperse to refugee camps and other nations.

July 5, 1950: The Law of Return proclaims that every Jew has the right to immigrate to Israel.

1951-1956: More than 3,000 armed clashes and 6,000 acts of sabotage claim 400 Israeli lives. When Egypt bars Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal, Israel, France and Britain attack, capturing the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Israel retreats from both, but shipping remains open.

May 1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization is founded.

June 5, 1967: The Six-Day War begins. After Egypt bars Israeli access to its Red Sea port, Israel launches a strike against Egypt and Syria. Jordan joins the fighting. Israel is victorious, conquering the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, Sinai, the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

1967-1974: Palestinian terrorists attract worldwide attention, murdering, among others, 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, 18 children in Kiryat Shmona and 16 children in Ma'alot.

Oct. 6, 1973: The Yom Kippur War. After suffering heavy casualties, Israeli forces retain control of 1967 territories.

November 1977: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visits Israel.

March 26, 1978: Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Jimmy Carter sign the Camp David Accords, establishing peace between Egypt and Israel.

1982-1986: Israel invades Lebanon to oust the PLO. More than 600 Israeli soldiers die in the conflict. Israel retains de facto control of southern Lebanon.

1987: Palestinian youths begin the intifada.

Aug. 1991: Following the Persian Gulf War, the Middle East Peace Conference opens in Madrid. By 1993, Palestinians and Israelis are conducting secret peace talks in Oslo.

Sept. 13, 1993: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sign Declaration of Principles outlining a plan for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza.

July 1, 1994: Arafat returns to Gaza as head of the Palestinian Authority.

1994-1996: Terrorist attacks claim dozens of Jewish victims.

Nov. 4, 1995: Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by an Israeli Jewish law school student in Tel Aviv, less than a mile from the hall where David Ben-Gurion declared the nation's independence.

April 30, 1998: The 50th anniversary of the state of Israel according to the Hebrew date Iyar 4, 5708.