On this day

On this day: the first Nobel Prizes are awarded

By Jennifer Lipman, December 10, 2010

As the famous story goes, Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite – was disturbed to read his own obituary. It was less the news of his premature death than the headline: “the merchant of death is dead”.

He was desperate to change this and be remembered for something else and, accordingly, the Nobel Prize was born.

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On this day: Allenby captures Jerusalem

By Jennifer Lipman, December 9, 2010

Before the First World War, Jerusalem, as indeed the region, had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire for some four centuries. 1917 saw the fall of the Ottoman regime and, just weeks after the Balfour Declaration in Britain, saw Jerusalem be captured by the British army’s Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshall Sir Edmund Allenby.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George had already called on his army to secure Jerusalem by Christmas. Allenby improved on that wish.

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On this day: Matthew Gould appointed British ambassador to Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, December 8, 2010

“As someone from a Jewish background...it's even more of a fantastic opportunity,” he said, as he began his new job.

Although Herbert Samuel, who served as was the first high commissioner to the British Mandate of Palestine, was also Jewish, Matthew Gould is the first Jew to represent Britain in Israel since the state was founded.

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On this day: Noam Chomsky is born

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

Known for his vociferously anti-capitalist and anti-western views, as well as for his poster adorning the walls of many a university room, philosopher and academic Noam Chomsky has made no secret of his views on Israel.

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On this day: Hugo Chavez is elected

By Jennifer Lipman, December 6, 2010

Six years after he lead a failed coup against the government of President Carlos Andres Perez, Venezuela chose the anti-globalist revolutionary and former paratrooper Hugo Chavez as its president.

Seen domestically as a champion of the poor, he swept into power on a populist platform vowing to overhaul the South American country’s corrupt politics. The wealthy, the church and much of the media have come under criticism in his 12 years in power.

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On this day: Oswald Mosley dies

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

After the death of Britain’s wartime fascist leader at the age of 84, the JC wrote that the demise far right leader stirred “bitter memories of the 1930s and the immediate post-war period, when the Jewish community was subjected to a vicious campaign of vilification, often accompanied by physical violence.”

Educated at Winchester, trained at Sandhurst, the young politician was elected in 1918 to represent Harrow, north-west London, for the Conservatives. At just 22, he was the youngest MP in the house.

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On this day: Dedication of the Touro Synagogue, in Newport

By Jennifer Lipman, December 2, 2010

Today the USA is home to the largest Jewish population in the Diaspora, but the first Jewish settlements in North America did not emerge until the 1650s in New Amsterdam, the colonial capital later renamed New York. The first synagogue in the US was not in New York, however, but in the tiny state of Rhode Island.

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On this day: David Ben-Gurion dies

By Jennifer Lipman, December 1, 2010

Israel’s first prime minister was born in Russian Poland in 1886, and given the name David Green by his father Avigdor. A leader of the Hibbath Zion movement, Avigdor instilled in his son a love of Zion from an early age and the house was always buzzing with talk of Zionism and Hebrew ideas.

By his late teens he had joined the Socialist-Zionist Poale Zion and become a dedicated opponent to both Tsarist antisemitism and the exploitation of workers. His activism got him into trouble, and he was arrested and jailed for agitating.

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On this day: Barbados gains independence

By Jennifer Lipman, November 30, 2010

Settled by the British in 1625, Barbados remained a colony for more than three centuries.

A prized holiday destination for both Jewish and non-Jewish tourists, the Caribbean island also has a Jewish past.

Sephardic Jews first came to Barbados in the 1650s, refugees from Brazil escaping the Inquisition. Most began working in Bridgetown as merchants, trading sugercane and coffee. The challenges for the community were different to those for European Jews; one Succot, the succah and the synagogue were destroyed by a hurricane.

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On this day: UN votes for Jewish state

By Katie Taylor, November 29, 2010

It is a day that is not remembered, celebrated or even marked down on any calendar, but today is the 63rd anniversary of one of the most momentous events in Jewish history. It is the day that the state of Israel was created.

The United Nations submitted its partition plan in August 1947 and three months later, on November 29, it was affirmed - although the British were still in command of Palestine until May 1948.

The plan was devised by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, (UNSCOP), which was created after World War ll amid emerging evidence of the Holocaust.

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