In 1948 the world witnessed an extraordinary event: the birth of Israel. After two millennia as a stateless people scattered across the globe and frequently persecuted by the societies in which they lived-most tragically during the Holocaust of World War II-Jews finally had a homeland. And the New Jersey-sized country was in Palestine, the ancestral land of the Jewish people. In the years since 1948, Israel has become the Middle East's most powerful, and most democratic, country. But the foundation and defense of the Jewish state ultimately came at the expense of a state for the Palestinians, another people with ancient ties to Palestine. For decades Israeli and Palestinian blood has stained the land, a string of peace initiatives collapsing amid the seemingly endless cycle of attack and retaliation. Resolving the conflict in a manner that preserves Israel's security remains an elusive goal not just for Israel, but also for the many countries with interests in the strategic Middle East, including the United States. Discusses the geography, history, economy, government, religion, people, foreign relations, and communities of Israel.