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Although the state of Israel has only been around since 1948, its history is one of the most tumultuous of any country in the world. The best way to examine how the state of Israel has evolved into its present form is to divide its history into three parts: birth, expansion and contraction. The idea of a Jewish homeland has been around since biblical times, but the idea of a modern state of Israel was reborn in the late 19th century with the Zionist movement headed by Theodore Herzl.

The impetus for the birth of Israel came from the Holocaust of WWII that took nearly six million Jewish lives. The United Nations, on May 14, 1948, gave the OK to form a Jewish homeland from what at that time was British territory. Literally the moment the announcement was made, five of Israel's new Arab neighbors attacked simultaneously. The Israeli army managed to fend off the attacks, but this began long period of wars that has continued to this day. The almost constant warring between Israel and many of its neighbors has made a strong military a must in that country. Because of this, military service in compulsory for all citizens from 18-45 years of age, with very few exceptions.

Israel was at war with its neighbors constantly for the next 4 decades, and during that time Israel garnered new territory from Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. The annexation of these lands, such as the Golan Heights in the north and land along the West Bank of the Jordan river, led to even more disagreement and war between the Arab countries and Israel.

Over the past twenty or so years, peace has been made between Israel and countries like Egypt and Syria. These days, peace with the Palestinians is the main concern for Israel. Palestinians want their own state on the West Bank and to have possession of East Jerusalem as the capital.

This is a very sensitive issue, and it will take a good deal of negotiations to come to a final peace agreement. While 50 years have passed and the people across the table are different, many of the same problems remain for the state of Israel.