This is the first footage taken in Palestine in 1896

 
 
 
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When French movie innovators Auguste and Louis Lumiere invented Cinématographe, the first moving picture camera in 1894, they sent a camera man to Palestine to record the first video of the inhabitants two years later.

Unfortunately, the films were lost until Lobster Films, a Paris film restoration company, discovered them again in 2007.  Ninety-three film reels were found in a Paris antique shop, and all were in excellent condition.   The films which show the inhabitants of Palestine going about their daily lives can now be viewed at Lobster’s web site www.lobsterfilms.com.

In 1897 Palestine was included in the Ottoman Empire and boasted half a million inhabitants with half that number living in Jerusalem.

The Zionist Movement, founded by Theodor Herzl in 1890 was becoming more and more popular.  The ultimate goal of Zionism, the most drastic of the national movements, is that all Jews should return to Palestine and establish a government under home rule.

Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France Photo Credit
Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France Photo Credit

Zionism proponents, Rabbi Yehudah Shlomo Alkalay (1798-1878) and Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kalischer (1795-1874) were among the first to speak out that Jews should be in Palestine in order to welcome the Messiah’s coming. The Eastern European Jewish community responded with a major immigration into Palestine estimated to about 35,000 Jews returning to the Holy Land.   By 1891, a letter was received by the Ottoman government in Istanbul requesting the cease of Jewish immigration and land sales to Jews in Jerusalem.

Some disagreed with this philosophy, and Zionism split into factions.  Some did not believe it was necessary to reside in Israel, but to bring Jews together in an area where there was enough land for them to live free lives without fear of oppression.

Others, such as Theodor Herzl, author of The Jewish State written in 1896 and Altneuland, written in 1902 believed that Jews are people of a nation rather than a religion and any outstanding issues should be solved politically. He also supported a 1903 British proposal that would set up a Jewish colony in Uganda which never occurred.

The Lumiere brothers Photo Credit
The Lumiere brothers

The Ottomans supported Germany in the First World War and were eventually driven out of their strongholds by the British army.  Palestine was now under the control of the British government.   Great Britain and France decided to carve up the Middle East and create new states calling them Israel, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.  Palestine was included in the new state of Israel, and for the first time in eight hundred years, it was under the control of Christians.

In November of 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolve for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine and in May of 1948 Palestine published its Declaration of Independence declaring the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel and “The State of Israel will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion; will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

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United States President Harry Truman quickly recognized Israel as a free state on May 14, 1948, and was honored by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel and Abba Eban with the presentation of a Menorah at the White House in May of 1951.

The State of Israel is still a fragile entity as wars are constantly being fought in the Middle East over the Holy Land.  Palestinians have been demanding a separate state free of Israeli laws for over fifty years and have yet to reach a peace agreement with Israelis.