This week in Israeli History

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shake hands at the White House signing ceremony for the peace treaty March 26, 1979. Photo by Ya’acov Sa’ar, Israeli Government Press Office

Center for Israel Education

March 25, 1950 —Saudi: We’ll Never Recognize Israel

Visiting Saudi Arabia, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State George McGhee asks Deputy Foreign Minister Sheik Yusuf Yassin whether Arab states could normalize relations with Israel. Yassin says Arab nations will never agree to any working relationship with Israel. “Arabs have no aggressive designs against Israel but intend to treat that state as if a wall surrounded it,” Yassin says. “We shall never admit a Jew in Saudi Arabia.”


March 26, 1979 — Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty Is Signed

Sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem and six months after the signing of the Camp David Accords, Sadat joins Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the White House to sign the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. The core of the treaty is Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula over three years in exchange for Egyptian recognition and normal relations.

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March 27, 1839 — Jews Are Forcibly Converted in Iran

A Shiite mob attacks the Jewish district of the Iranian city of Mashhad after alleged misconduct by a Jewish woman. The rioters kill 30 to 40 Jews, burn the synagogue, loot homes and abduct children. The entire community of nearly 2,400 is forced to convert to Islam in an event known as the Allahdad, although most of the converts continue to practice Judaism in secret. Attacks in 1891 and 1902 lead to further Jewish emigration from Mashhad.


March 28, 1932 — 1st Maccabiah Games Open

The first Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics, open with athletes from 18 countries (some sources say 14 or 21) in Tel Aviv. Mayor Meir Dizengoff rides through the streets on a white horse, and 120 carrier pigeons are released to carry the news of the opening. The Maccabi World Organization, which has 40,000 athletes in 24 nations by 1930, grows out of an international federation of Zionist sports clubs established in 1903.


March 29, 2002 — Defensive Shield Is Launched

Israel calls up 30,000 military reservists and announces Operation Defensive Shield in response to a brutal month of terrorist attacks a year and a half into the Second Intifada. One of the worst attacks came two days earlier when a Hamas bomb killed 30 people at a Passover seder in Netanya. During the 19-day campaign, Israel controls most West Bank cities, kills or captures many terrorist leaders, and isolates Arafat at his Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah.


March 30, 1976 — 6 Israeli Arabs Killed in Land Protests

Protests over the planned government seizure of about 1,500 acres of Arab land in the Galilee turn into riots that result in the deaths of six Israeli Arabs, as well as injuries to Arab civilians and to soldiers and police. The activities on what becomes known as Land Day represent the first widespread protests by Israeli Arabs and are commemorated annually with mostly peaceful demonstrations against Israeli land-use policies.


March 31, 1979 — ‘Hallelujah’ Wins Eurovision

With Gali Atari and Milk & Honey singing “Hallelujah,” Israel wins the Eurovision Song Contest for the second consecutive year. The contest is in Jerusalem because Israel won in 1978 with “A-Ba-ni-bi” by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta. “Hallelujah” becomes a huge hit on the European pop music charts. Israel declines to host Eurovision in 1980 because the Israel Broadcasting Authority is focusing on the conversion to color television. See the performance below:


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