What was Israel Called Before 1948?

Which is the oldest nation between Israel and Palestine? Such questions often come up when talking about the conflict that has gripped the area for generations. In answering this question, one has to talk about the names by which the two countries went prior to the present day predicament. Most importantly, the focus normally tends to be on Israel for various reasons. For starters, it is the most developed nation of the two in terms of healthcare, economy, security, and quality of life. Nevertheless, what was its name prior to 1948?


In terms of land size, Israel is one of the smallest countries in Middle East. Some of its neighbors include Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. To its west lies the magnificent Mediterranean Sea. Most of its population comprises Jews. For this reason, it’s no wonder that many people and commentators around the world refer to it as the Jewish Nation or State. However, that has not always been its name. Over the years, its name has changed depending on numerous circumstances.

One can’t talk about the history of Israel without mentioning its biblical foundations. As the Hebrew Bible tells us, its origins are traceable to Abraham, who is referred to as the ‘father of many nations.’ However, the name Israel would not emerge until Jacob, who was Abraham’s grandson, entered the scene. He was born Jacob. Much later, he would take the name Israel after God renamed him. For this reason, one would be right in concluding that Jacob is the father of Israel, the nation.

However, history also indicates that the nation never remained intact throughout its existence. For example, it fell into the hands of the Assyrians who not only invaded but destroyed its northern part in 722B.C. Over the years, different empires and armies have attacked and decimated the land. Interestingly, it always rises from the dead like a phoenix. A few examples of the armies and nations that have attacked Israel include Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Islamists, Arabs, and Mamelukes among others.

Apart from that, some of the wars that have taken place following its renaming to Israel are:

  1. Hamas Wars
  2. Second Lebanon War
  3. Second Palestinian Intifada
  4. First Palestinian Intifada
  5. Lebanon War
  6. Yom Kippur War
  7. Six-Day War
  8. Suez Crisis

Israel/Palestine under the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire ruled Israel for years between 1517 and 1917. Consequently, it didn’t exist as a nation. That situation would continue until World War 1. While the war was at its peak, James Balfour, who was the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom at the time, submitted a letter that requested setting aside a part of Palestine for the Jewish nation. At the time, there was no suggestion that the country reverts to its original name of Israel. Instead, the general feeling of The Balfour Declaration was that it remains Palestine.

In a way, one could surmise that The Ottoman Empire at the height of its powers killed Israel. Conversely, at its death it led to the creation of the state of Israel, which would be known as Palestine for several years. However, the creation of the Jewish state caused plenty of friction with the Arab countries around it. To them, the Jewish homeland would lead to the total annihilation of Arab Palestinians. Fortunately, Israelites would remain safe under the rule of the British until the creation of their separate state in 1947.

Without a doubt, Israel has been called many nations throughout its history. In this article, the focus was on the name it was known by before 1948 following The Balfour Declaration. As shown above, its name was Palestine. Since the renaming in 1948, Israel has suffered plenty of wars with its neighbors, especially the Arab states. It has a rich history in terms of name, establishment as a state, subjugation under foreign powers, and eventual independence. As history books show from the biblical days, it has gone through a full cycle of names.


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Palestine Cultural Beliefs

Palestinians have a unique culture, just like every other community around the world. In talking about their culture, one has to look at their traditions as well as the social customs that govern daily interactions. It’s worth noting that the country acquired its name from the Romans who invaded the land in the 2nd Century C.E. For this reason, one expects the culture to feature a bit of stuff from the Romans. Nevertheless, this article focuses on some of Palestine’s most prominent cultural beliefs, which define how they live, socialize, learn, worship, and work.

Social Stratification

In talking about the Palestine cultural beliefs, reference has to be made to the people’s social stratification too. What you will notice about this place is the division into classes and castes. A perfect example of this appears around West Bank. Here, you will see the Jewish settlements divided from everything else. The Palestinians and Jews don’t live in the same settlements or places. For this reason, you are likely to find the places where the Jews inhabited and frequent filled with all the best stuff, which include:

  • Roads
  • Shopping facilities
  • Jobs
  • Services

Because of this anomaly, the Palestinians resent the Jews. Nevertheless, elite Palestinians are also renowned for the privilege they enjoy. For example, you will see them donning all the fine attire. It’s worth remembering that many Palestinians lived outside their country for years. They then returned to the land following the Oslo Accords of 1993. These people came back with a great deal of wealth, which they continue to flaunt to their fellow countrymen and women who are not as financial secure.

Gender Roles

Additionally, the Palestinian cultural beliefs have divided gender roles clearly. Therefore, you will encounter many men – and women – who believe that a woman’s place is right in the home. Because of this, women often have to focus on house chores or work in the local cottage industries. On top of that, women who wear Western-style dresses are unlikely to earn much admiration within the society. What is clear here is that the status of men vis-à-vis women follows the pattern of all Arabic culture, which expects women to wear:

  • Long jacket-like dresses
  • Traditional Muslim jilbabs
  • Scarves for covering the hair


In Palestine, marriage is traditionally between men and women. Typically, you would expect to find most married men with more than three wives. However, the situation is different in Palestine where they mostly restrict themselves to 1-2 wives. Additionally, men always approach the families of the women they wish to marry, before getting engaged, knowing one another, and preparing for their weddings. Other than that, most households host extended families too and married children have no problem staying with their parents either.


Palestinians have one of the highest birth rates in the world. They love their children and proudly take great care of them. Infant boys go through circumcision, which is often a period of great celebration. Cultural centers abound at all learning levels, which are predominantly organized under Egyptian and Jordanian systems of education in Gaza and West Bank respectively. Regardless of a person’s socialization, all men are required to greet each other with a handshake. For their part, the culture expects women to kiss one another on the cheeks.


Religion is an important part of the cultural beliefs of the Palestinians. Islam and Muslim are the most predominant religious group in the country. In fact, they make up 75% of the population. For this reason, it is little wonder that Islamic practices are the most prevalent everywhere you go around the country. Locals go to the mosque from where they receive their weekly sermons from Imams, who are their spiritual leaders. Religion also plays a crucial role in a person’s death. Each death is followed by a 3-day mourning period and an anniversary after 40 days. .


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