State of Israel proclaimed

On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. In an afternoon ceremony at the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Ben-Gurion pronounced the words “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel,” prompting applause and tears from the crowd gathered at the museum. Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first premier.

In the distance, the rumble of guns could be heard from fighting that broke out between Jews and Arabs immediately following the British army withdrawal earlier that day. Egypt launched an air assault against Israel that evening. Despite a blackout in Tel Aviv–and the expected Arab invasion–Jews joyously celebrated the birth of their new nation, especially after word was received that the United States had recognized the Jewish state. At midnight, the State of Israel officially came into being upon termination of the British mandate in Palestine.

Modern Israel has its origins in the Zionism movement, established in the late 19th century by Jews in the Russian Empire who called for the establishment of a territorial Jewish state after enduring persecution. In 1896, Jewish-Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published an influential political pamphlet called The Jewish State, which argued that the establishment of a Jewish state was the only way of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. Herzl became the leader of Zionism, convening the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897. Ottoman-controlled Palestine, the original home of the Jews, was chosen as the most desirable location for a Jewish state, and Herzl unsuccessfully petitioned the Ottoman government for a charter.

After the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, growing numbers of Eastern European and Russian Jews began to immigrate to Palestine, joining the few thousand Jews who had arrived earlier. The Jewish settlers insisted on the use of Hebrew as their spoken language. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Britain took over Palestine. In 1917, Britain issued the “Balfour Declaration,” which declared its intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Although protested by the Arab states, the Balfour Declaration was included in the British mandate over Palestine, which was authorized by the League of Nations in 1922. Because of Arab opposition to the establishment of any Jewish state in Palestine, British rule continued throughout the 1920s and ’30s.

Beginning in 1929, Arabs and Jews openly fought in Palestine, and Britain attempted to limit Jewish immigration as a means of appeasing the Arabs. As a result of the Holocaust in Europe, many Jews illegally entered Palestine during World War II. Radical Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had betrayed the Zionist cause. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the Zionist cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November 1947 voted to partition Palestine.

The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, although they made up less than half of Palestine’s population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but by May 14, 1948, the Jews had secured full control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territory, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of this conquered territory. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.

During the third Arab-Israeli conflict–the Six-Day War of 1967–Israel again greatly increased its borders, capturing from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed an historic peace agreement in which Israel returned the Sinai in exchange for Egyptian recognition and peace. Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a major peace accord in 1993, which envisioned the gradual implementation of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process moved slowly, however, and in 2000 major fighting between Israelis and Palestinians resumed in Israel and the occupied territories.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/state-of-israel-proclaimed

Mary Queen of Scots defeated

 

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history
/mary-queen-of-scots-defeated

At the Battle of Langside, the forces of Mary Queen of Scots are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, the regent of her son, King James VI of Scotland. During the battle, which was fought out in the southern suburbs of Glasgow, a cavalry charge routed Mary’s 6,000 Catholic troops, and they fled the field. Three days later, Mary escaped to Cumberland, England, where she sought protection from Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her great-uncle was Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England. Mary’s mother sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 and died in 1560. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch. In 1565, she married her English cousin Lord Darnley, another Tudor, which reinforced her claim to the English throne and angered Queen Elizabeth.

In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility, and Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James. In 1568, she escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth I initially welcomed Mary but was soon forced to put her cousin under house arrest after Mary became the focus of various English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow her.

In 1586, a major Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth was uncovered, and Mary was brought to trial, convicted for complicity, and sentenced to death. On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in England. Her son, King James VI of Scotland, calmly accepted his mother’s execution, and upon Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he became James I, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mary-queen-of-scots-defeated

George VI crowned at Westminster

At London’s Westminster Abbey, George VI and his consort, Lady Elizabeth, are crowned king and queen of the United Kingdom as part of a coronation ceremony that dates back more than a millennium.

 

George, who studied at Dartmouth Naval College and served in World War I, ascended to the throne after his elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated on December 11, 1936. Edward, who was the first English monarch to voluntarily relinquish the English throne, agreed to give up his title in the face of widespread criticism of his desire to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee.

In 1939, King George became the first British monarch to visit America and Canada. During World War II, he worked to keep up British morale by visiting bombed areas and touring war zones. George and Elizabeth also remained in bomb-damaged Buckingham Palace during the war, shunning the relative safety of the countryside, and George made a series of important morale-boosting radio broadcasts, for which he overcame a speech impediment.

After the war, the royal family visited South Africa, but a planned tour of Australia and New Zealand had to be postponed indefinitely when the king fell ill in 1949. Despite his illness, he continued to perform state duties until his death in 1952. He was succeeded by his first-born daughter, who was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.

Bob Marley dies

 

In what would prove to be the next to the last concert of his tragically short life, Bob Marley shared the bill at Madison Square Garden with the hugely popular American funk band The Commodores. With no costumes, no choreography and no set design to speak of, “The reggae star had the majority of his listeners on their feet and in the palm of his hand,” according to New York Times critic Robert Palmer. “After this show of strength, and Mr. Marley’s intense singing and electric stage presence, the Commodores were a letdown.” Only days after his triumphant shows in New York City, Bob Marley collapsed while jogging in Central Park and later received a grim diagnosis: a cancerous growth on an old soccer injury on his big toe had metastasized and spread to Marley’s brain, liver and lungs. Less than eight months later, on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley, the soul and international face of reggae music, died in a Miami, Florida, hospital. He was only 36 years old.Nesta Robert Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in rural St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, the son of a middle-aged white Jamaican Marine officer and an 18-year-old black Jamaican girl. At the age of nine, Marley moved to Trench Town, a tough West Kingston ghetto where he would meet and befriend Neville “Bunny” Livingston (later Bunny Wailer) and Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh) and drop out of school at age 14 to make music. Jamaica at the time was entering a period of incredible musical creativity. As transistor radios became available on an island then served only by a staid, BBC-style national radio station, the music of America suddenly became accessible via stateside radio stations. From a mix of  New Orleans-style rhythm and blues and indigenous, African-influenced musical traditions arose first ska, then rock steady—precursor styles to reggae, which did not take shape as a recognizable style of its own until the late 1960s.

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer performed together as The Wailers throughout this period, coming into their own as a group just as reggae became the dominant sound in Jamaica. Thanks to the international reach of Island Records, the Wailers came to the world’s attention in the early 1970s via their albums Catch a Fire(1972) and Burnin’ (1973). Eric Clapton spread the group’s name even wider by recording a pop-friendly version of “I Shot The Sheriff” from the latter album. With the departure of Tosh and Wailer in 1974, Marley took center stage in the group, and by the late 70s he had turned out a string of albums— Exodus (1977), featuring “Jamming,” “Waiting In Vain” and “One Love/People Get Ready;” Kaya (1978), featuring “Is This Love” and “Sun Is Shining”; and Uprising (1980), featuring “Could You Be Loved” and “Redemption Song.”

While none of the aforementioned songs was anything approaching a hit in the United States during Bob Marley’s lifetime, they constitute a legacy that has only increased his fame in the years since his death on this day in 1981.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/bob-marley-dies

 

Churchill becomes prime minister

Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, is called to replace Neville Chamberlain as British prime minister following the latter’s resignation after losing a confidence vote in the House of Commons.In 1938, Prime Minister Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact with Nazi leader  Adolf Hitler, giving Czechoslovakia over to German conquest but bringing, as Chamberlain promised, “peace in our time.” In September 1939, that peace was shattered by Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Chamberlain declared war against Germany but during the next eight months showed himself to be ill-equipped for the daunting task of saving Europe from Nazi conquest. After British forces failed to prevent the German occupation of Norway in April 1940, Chamberlain lost the support of many members of his Conservative Party. On May 10, Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The same day, Chamberlain formally lost the confidence of the House of Commons.

Churchill, who was known for his military leadership ability, was appointed British prime minister in his place. He formed an all-party coalition and quickly won the popular support of Britons. On May 13, in his first speech before the House of Commons, Prime Minister Churchill declared that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat” and offered an outline of his bold plans for British resistance. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” They never did.

West Germany joins NATO

Ten years after the Nazis were defeated in World War II, West Germany formally joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense group aimed at containing Soviet expansion in Europe. This action marked the final step of West Germany’s integration into the Western European defense system.

Germany had been a divided nation since 1945. The Americans, British, and French held zones of occupation in Western Germany and West Berlin; the Soviets controlled Eastern Germany and East Berlin. Although publicly both the Americans and the Soviets proclaimed their desire for a reunited and independent Germany, it quickly became apparent that each of these Cold War opponents would only accept a reunified Germany that served their own nation’s specific interests. In 1949, the Americans, British, and French combined their zones of occupation in West Germany to establish a new nation, the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviets responded by setting up the German Democratic Republic in East Germany. On May 5, 1955, the American, French, and British forces formally ended their military occupation of West Germany, which became an independent country. Four days later, West Germany was made a member of NATO. For U.S. policymakers, this was an essential step in the defense of Western Europe. Despite the reluctance of some European nations, such as France, to see a rearmed Germany—even as an ally—the United States believed that remilitarizing West Germany was absolutely vital in terms of setting up a defensive perimeter to contain any possible Soviet attempts at expansion. The Soviet response was immediate. On May 14, 1955, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance between Russia and its Eastern European satellites—including East Germany.

The entrance of West Germany into NATO was the final step in integrating that nation into the defense system of Western Europe. It was also the final nail in the coffin as far as any possibility of a reunited Germany in the near future. For the next 35 years, East and West Germany came to symbolize the animosities of the Cold War. In 1990, Germany was finally reunified; the new German state remained a member of NATO.

From http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/west-germany-joins-nato

Soviets to boycott L.A. Olympics

Citing fears for the safety of its athletes in what it considered a hostile and anti-communist environment, the Soviet government announces a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Los Angeles, California.

Although the Soviets had cited security concerns, the boycott was more likely the result of strained Cold War relations due to America’s generous aid to Muslim rebels fighting in Afghanistan–and payback for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. A number of other Soviet Bloc countries and Cuba followed suit in boycotting the Los Angeles Games, which carried on without the presence of many of the communist world’s best athletes. China, however, participated in the Los Angeles Summer Games in its first Olympic appearance since 1952.