Eretz Yisrael

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The Hebrew phrase meaning Land of Israel.

The name Eretz Yisrael is biblical in origin, where it refers, variously, to parts of the region that were under Jewish sovereignty at different times. Since the dispersion of the Jews in 70 c.e., it has been used to designate Zion and "the Promised Land." Its actual borders are defined variously in the Talmud. It was also the Hebrew name for Palestine under the British Mandate. Indeed, when the first Palestine stamps were being issued, strong albeit unsuccessful pressures were exerted on the British authorities to have the designation be Eretz Yisrael rather than Palestine, the latter being a Roman designation.

After 1948, David Ben-Gurion insisted on the term State of Israel (Medinat Yisrael), because of his statist emphasis. By contrast, Menachem Begin frequently spoke of "Eretz Yisrael," reflecting his allegiance to the historic Israel, the "Greater Israel." Likewise, haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, whose attachments are much more religious than politicaleven if they accept the political legitimacy of the stateare apt to refer to Eretz Yisrael rather than Medinat Yisrael.

After the 1967 war, the Greater Land of Israel movement (Eretz Yisrael ha-Shelema) developed. Sparked by an enhanced attachment to the biblical Promised Land, its adherentspredominantly religious but comprising secular nationalists as wellopposed ceding sovereignty over the newly conquered territories and embarked on a settlement campaign.

See also Begin, Menachem; Ben-Gurion, David.


Liebman, Charles S., and Don-Yehiya, Eliezer. Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Storrs, Ronald, The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs. New York: Putnam, 1937.

chaim i. waxman