The First Aliyah (1882 - 1903)
The beginning of the modern Jewish return to Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel -, which laid the foundations for the establishment of the State of Israel, were due to a combination of three causes:
- the age-old devotion of the Jews to their historic homeland,
- the wave of pogroms in Russia and
- the efforts of an active minority convinced that the Return to the homeland was the only lasting and fundamental solution to the Jewish problem (see Zionism).
The First Aliyah consisted of individuals and small groups, mainly under the inspiration of Hibbat Zion and the Bilu movement, who established the early rural settlements - moshavot (see Moshava). Some 25,000 - mostly from East Europe - came during this period. There were two main influxes: in 1882 - 1884 and 1890 - 91.
By 1903, the end of the First Aliyah period, 28 new moshavot had been founded, and 90,000 acres of land had been purchased. There was also beginning of urban settlements, especially in Jaffa, where 3,000 newcomers had made their home. Hebrew was beginning to be a spoken language once again (see Eliezer Ben Yehuda ), and the first Hebrew elementary schools had been established -- though French culture, propagated by the Alliance Israelite Universelle and the Rothschild (see Edmond de Rothschild) administration was widespread.
On the whole, however, the pioneering drive had been exhausted and a period of stagnation set in. A turning point occurred in 1904 when the Second Aliyah began.
The Second Aliyah (1904 - 1914)
The depression caused by the stagnation of the first settlements, the controversies in the Zionist Organization over the Uganda Scheme and the death of Herzl in 1904 were followed by a new upsurge of pioneering fervor which produced the Second Aliyah. The first impetus of the new wave came from the Kishinev Pogroms of 1903 and others two years later. The Second Aliyah consisted of young men and women, mainly from Russia, many of them imbued with socialist ideas. These young men and women were guided not only by a more conscious and consistant national ideology, but were also fired by the ideal of laying the foundation for a workers' commonwealth in the Eretz Yisrael.
The young pioneers of the Second Aliyah generally worked as hired laborers in the moshavot (see moshava) or the cities. They established the first Jewish labor parties - Po'alei Zion, based on the philosophy of Ber Borochov, and Ha'Poel HaZair, which was influenced by the philosophy of A.D. Gordon. It was also their initiative that led to the establishment of the first kevuzah (see kibbutz). In 1909 they laid the foundation for the first all Jewish City - Tel Aviv. The young pioneers of the Second Aliyah were also active in the beginning of Jewish self defense and established the HaShomer watchmen's association. They introduced Hebrew into all spheres of life and laid the foundation for a new Hebrew press and literature.
The influx, which totaled about 40,000, was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I.
The Third Aliyah (1919 - 1923)
The Third Aliyah, from 1919, was partially a continuation of the second, which had been interrupted by the war. A renewed impetus -- the outcome of the Bolshevik [Russian] Revolution, the post-war pogroms in the Ukraine and the influence of the European national struggles -- coincided with a renewed hope, inspired by the Balfour Declaration and the British conquest of Palestine. The westward road to the United States was still open, and most of those who chose the Land of Israel did so out of Zionist convictions.
In all, the Third Aliyah brought in 35,000 immigrants: 53% from Russia, 36% from Poland and the rest from Lithuania, Rumania, and other East European countries, apart from 800 from Western and Central Europe. Many of the 35.000 newcomers of the Third Aliyah were graduates of the HeHalutz movement in Russia and Poland and HaShomer HaZair in Galicia.
These young pioneers were a creative force, which transformed the character of the Yishuv and -- together with their predecessors of the Second Aliyah -- played a prominent part in its leadership. They founded the Histadrut, the comprehensive countrywide labor organization, played a leading role in the creation of the Haganah defense organization; provided workers for the construction of housing and roads and the beginnings of industry; strengthened the foundation of Jewish agriculture. The Third Aliyah expanded also the map of Jewish settlement by extablishing many kibbutzim (see kibbutz) and moshavim (see moshav).
The Fourth Aliyah (1924 - 1928)
In the middle of 1924, a new wave of immigration set in, different in social composition from its predecessor. There had been a drop in the inflow of pioneers, mainly because of the restrictions on departure from Soviet Russia. On the other hand, there was a rise in the immigration of middle-class people -- shopkeepers and artisans -- mostly from Poland.
This was the result of two developments:
- the economic crisis in Poland and the economic restrictions imposed on the Polish Jews (hence the name "Grabski Aliyah" after the Polish finance minister);
- the severe limitations on immigration to the United States, introduced in 1924.
Most of the newcomers, having no desire to change their way of life, settled in the towns, primarily in Tel - Aviv. They invested some of their small capital in workshops and factories, small hotels, restaurants and shops, but most of their investments were made in construction. There was also significant rural development in the Coastal Plain. New villages, based on citrus orchards, were founded.
In all, the Forth Aliyah brought 67,000 immigrants, half of them from Poland. In 1926, however, the influx was halted by a severe economic crisis. Of the 13,000 who arrived in 1926, more than half left the country. In 1927, over 5,000 people left the country and only 2,300 arrived. In 1928, the number of arrivals and departures were about even -- some 2,000. The first signs of economic recovery came in 1929, when Aliyah picked up again.
The Fifth Aliyah (1929 - 1939)
The Fifth Aliyah brought in over 250,000 Jews and transformed the character of the yishuv. The Fifth Aliyah had begun with a small trickle in 1929, but in 1933 - when Hitler rose to power in Germany - the trickle became a flood. In the period between 1933-36, more than 164,000 Jews entered the country legally, while thousands of refugees came as "illegal" immigrants (see illegal immigration - ha'apalah).
The German and Austrians Jews - over a quarter of the total - made an important contribution to the progress of the yishuv. They constituted the first large-scale influx from Western and Central Europe. The majority of then (80%) settled in the cities and towns and their skills and experience raised business standards and improved urban amenities. Over half the newcomers made their homes in Tel - Aviv. In Haifa, the construction of the country first modern port was completed in 1933, while in Jerusalem, the Jewish neighborhoods were largely expanded.
A relatively high proportion of the newcomers from Germany and Austria practiced medicine or one of the academic profssions; they provided a majority of the musicians who formed the new Philharmonic Orchestra. 20% of the immigrants contributed to the establishment of new moshavot (see moshava), moshavim (see moshav) and kibbutzim (see kibbutz, see also Homa Umigdal - stockade and watchtower). In 1933 a new type of immigration, called Youth Aliyah, was started.
On the eve of World War II, the Jewish population in Palestine was 475,000 -- some 40% of the population.
"Illegal" Immigration - Ha'apalah (Aliyah Bet) 1934-1948
Ha'palah means the clandestine immigration of Jews to Eretz Yisrael. This kind of immigration began under Ottoman (Turkish) rule. From 1882 onward the Turks did not permit Jews from Eastern Europe to settle in Eretz Israel, with rare exceptions. Under British rule (1918-1948), the immigration quotas fixed by the British Administration [1916-18] and the British Mandatory Administration of Palestine, failed to respond to the pressure of pioneers seeking to settle in the country and Jews fleeing from distress and persecution.
The rise of Hitler increased the pressure for aliyah. In 1934, the first organized efforts at clandestine immigration by sea were attempted. The HeHalutz movement chartered the Greek ship "Vellos" and, with the aid of Haganah members, landed some 350 "illegal" immigrants - ma'apilim. In the years 1937-1939, Revisionist and Betar groups sent out several ships, which transported several thousands of immigrants.
Late in 1938, the "Organization for illegal immigration" - the Mossad - was set up by the Haganah, under the leadership of Shaul Avigur . During the Second World War, legal immigration dwindled to a trickle. The British Navy kept constant watch on the refugee boats trying to reach the gates of Palestine. Some of the boats were fired on as they approached the coast; some were turned back; 3 sank; 21 boats in all completed the voyage, carrying some 15,000 refugees.
During the war years the Mossad organized clandestine immigration by overland routes, mainly from the Middle East. After the War, large- scale operations at sea were resumed by the Mossad, the immigrants being mainly refugee-survivors of European Jewry who had escaped by way of the berihah rescue operation and reached the shores of Italy, France, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Greece. In the years from 1945 to 1948, 65 "illegal" immigrant boats embarked for Palestine. Most of the boats were intercepted by the British, the passengers transferred to detention camp at Atlit. From August 1946, the British began deporting the immigrants to detention camps in Cyprus. The struggle for the right of free immigration reached its peak in summer 1947 with the voyage of Exodus.
Between 1934 and 1948 some 115,000 ma'apilim were brought into the country in defiance of British restrictions, while another 51,000 were interned by the British authorities in Cyprus and admitted only after independence.