April 14, 1871 — German Unification Leads to Emancipation

Emperor Wilhelm I proclaimed the German Constitution on April 16, 1871.

Germany is established as an empire under Prussia’s Wilhelm I, making possible the expansion of the civil and political rights granted to Jews in twenty two German states in 1869. Those rights cover all German Jews on April 22 when the German Constitution, adopted April 16, is extended to Bavaria. Jews are still barred from some positions, so conversion to Christianity continues. Emancipation also inspires more virulent antisemitism.

April 15, 1936 — Arab Rebellion Breaks Out

Arab rioters confront British police during the 1936 uprising.

An Arab uprising begins when ten cars are attacked and three Jews are killed in what appears to be a robbery near Tulkarm. The Irgun underground kills two Arabs connected to the attack the next day. Events escalate into Arab violence against Jews and the British across Palestine, and Arab workers strike for six months. The uprising leads the British to float the idea of Jewish-Arab partition in 1937 and to back off support for a Jewish homeland.

April 16, 2007 — Jewish Writers Conference Is Held

Writers Eva Hoffman (left), Ruth Fainstein and Jonathan Rosen meet during the Kisufim conference April 18, 2007. JTA photo.

Organized by author Aharon Applefeld and politician Natan Sharansky, the first Kisufim conference for Jewish writers around the world opens in Jerusalem. “Kisufim” comes from the Hebrew acronym for Jewish Conference of Jewish Writers and Poets. The largest-ever gathering of Jewish writers in part celebrates the fortieth anniversary of S.Y. Agnon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sessions are held in ten languages.

April 17, 1948 — Rabin Leads Relief Convoy Into Jerusalem

A supply convoy reaches Jerusalem on April 17, 1948.

Commanded by Yitzhak Rabin, the Harel Brigade delivers a convoy of supplies to Jerusalem despite fire from Arab guerrillas. The supplies bring relief to Jewish residents who have been blockaded since February. The convoy arrives four days after an Arab ambush of a medical convoy bound for Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus killed eighty Jews. Arab forces regain control of the roads to Jerusalem on April 20, again cutting off the city.

D April 18, 1955 — Albert Einstein Dies

Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion tried to persuade Albert Einstein to serve as Israel’s second president.

Physicist Albert Einstein, who had declined an offer in 1952 to serve as Israel’s second president, dies at 76. Einstein opposed militant forms of nationalism, but after witnessing attacks on Jews, he was drawn to Zionism after World War I. He wrote in 1921 that “Jewish nationalism must be developed both in Palestine and everywhere else.” He joined a U.S. fundraising tour for Hebrew University that year and first visited the Land of Israel in 1923.

April 19, 1977 — Carter Team Meets on Middle East

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (left) and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski discuss Middle East policy in 1977.

President Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy team agrees on five major points for the Middle East: A Geneva peace conference should be held by the end of the year; borders and the Palestinians are the toughest issues; the Soviets should try to moderate Arab views; no new arms sales should be agreed to; and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s resignation shouldn’t delay talks. The meeting doesn’t consider the possibility of Likud winning Israel’s May election.

April 20, 1799 — Napoleon Backs Jewish Claim to Palestine

Napoleon lays siege to Acre in 1799.

A month into an expensive siege of the Turkish-held city of Acre (Akko), Napoleon issues a proclamation offering to hand over Palestine to the Jewish nation if France is successful in capturing it from the Turks. The proclamation aims to win the support of Palestine’s Jews, but evidence indicates that they feared the French and helped the Turks fortify Acre. Napoleon withdraws his plague-ridden army in June and returns to Egypt.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education.