Dec. 16, 1922 — Hebrew Advocate Ben-Yehuda Dies 

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 Dec. 16, 1922 : Eliezer Ben-Yehuda is seen by many as the father of modern Hebrew, although the language was in use before he worked to build out the vocabulary.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, credited with advancing modern Hebrew, dies of tuberculosis at sixty-four in Jerusalem. His article “A Burning Question” in 1879 called for a spiritual center in the Land of Israel as the territorial anchor of Jewish nationalism. He and his wife made aliyah in 1881 and spoke only Hebrew to their children at home. He founded the Va’ad ha-Lashon, the forerunner of the Academy of Hebrew Language, and was working on a Hebrew dictionary when he died.


Dec. 17, 1975 — Kissinger Discusses Israel With Iraqi Envoy 

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DEC17:  Henry Kissinger, meeting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in September 1975, later that year spoke of an Israel much smaller than the country that emerged from the 1967 war.  Israeli Government Press Office

 U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Saddun Hammadi in Paris and tells him that although the United States will not negotiate over Israel’s existence, it is willing to see Israel “reduce its size to historical proportions.” The vision of Israel as small and nonthreatening like Lebanon may have been U.S. policy, Kissinger’s view or simply an effort to tell Hammadi what he wanted to hear.



Dec. 18, 1911 — Health Care Fund Is Created

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DEC18:  A Kupat Holim Clalit pharmacy operates at Kfar Saba in 1938.

 At the urging of Berl Katznelson, a special convention of Jewish agricultural workers in Ottoman Palestine approves a proposal to create Kupat Holim Clalit (General Sick Fund) to handle the health care needs of immigrants to the Land of Israel. The Histadrut labor federation takes over the fund in 1920. Its modern successor, Clalit Health Services, covers the health care for sixty percent of Israelis.


Dec. 19, 1903 — Nordau Survives Assassination Attempt

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DEC19: Max Nordau’s support for the Uganda Plan didn’t make a difference: The Seventh Zionist Congress rejected it in 1905.

Max Nordau, who founded the World Zionist Organization with Theodor Herzl, escapes unharmed when two shots are fired at him at close range during a Chanukah party in Paris. The would-be assassin, Russian student Chaim Zelig Luban, twenty-seven, is angry at Nordau’s support for the Uganda Plan, which would establish a temporary Jewish homeland in East Africa. Luban is found to be mentally ill and is not prosecuted.


Dec. 20, 1936 — Toscanini Arrives in Palestine

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 DEC20:  Arturo Toscanini (left) is congratulated by violinist Bronislaw Huberman after the opening performance of the Palestine Philharmonic on Dec. 26, 1936.   Courtesy of Felicja Music Center Library/Huberman Archive.

New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra conductor Arturo Toscanini, considered one of the virtuoso conductors of the twentieth century, arrives at the airport in Lod to conduct the opening performance of the Palestine Philharmonic six days later before a sold-out crowd of three thousand people. Toscanini, a prominent critic of fascism and the Nazis, provides instant credibility for the orchestra and helps attract musicians.



Dec. 21, 1973 — Peace Conference Is Held in Geneva


DEC21: Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban addresses the opening session of the Geneva peace conference Dec. 21, 1973. By Ya’acov Sa’ar, Israeli Government Press Office.

A Middle East peace conference opens in Geneva under the auspices of the United States and the Soviet Union, although U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger keeps the Soviets in the dark about progress made by Israel and Egypt toward their 1974 Disengagement Agreement. Syria skips the conference because Israel refuses to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the Palestinians’ representative. The conference ends Dec. 29.


Dec. 22, 1948 — Britain Fears a Communist Israel 

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DEC22: British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin in late 1948 expressed the fear that Israel would become a Communist state.

  A cable to the State Department from U.S. envoy Julius Holmes recounts the concerns about Israel expressed two days earlier by British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. Because of immigrants from Communist-controlled countries and the socialist leanings of the provisional government’s leaders, Bevin worries that Israel will become a Communist state within five years and pose a threat to the Suez Canal.



Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education.

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