Rothschild was a man who more than anyone else, financially made the re-settlement of Jews in the land of Israel possible.
During his lifetime he spent 70 million francs of his own money on various agricultural settlements (Rosh Pina, Zichron Yacov, Pardes Hannah to name but a few) and business enterprises such as the Carmel Winery for example.
In other words, the land of Israel was always a place in the minds of the Jews where the Jewish national potential could someday be fulfilled.
But, as a practical reality, this did not begin to happen in a significant way until the birth of modern Zionism, not as a religious, but as a political movement.
(See Part 47.) Later, in the 1400s, that community moved inside the walls and they established the Ramban Synagogue which still exists today.
When Nachmanides came to Jerusalem there was already a vibrant Jewish community in Hebron, though the Muslims did not permit them entry into the Cave of the Machpela (where the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried). More Jews started to migrate to Israel following their expulsion from Spain in 1492.
There was no attempt to make Jerusalem, which was quite run-down, an important capital city and only a few Muslim dynasties attempted to improve its infrastructure (save for Umayyads in the 7th century, the Mameluks in the 13th century the rebuilding of the walls of the city in 16th century during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.) Similarly, only limited building went on in the rest of the land, which was barren and not populated by many Arabs.
(Its members were called Hovevei Zion, "lovers of Zion.") A major personality among the Hovevi Zion was Judah Leob Pinsker (1821-1891).
This community was part of what was called Old Yishuv.
(Today, when in the Old City of Jerusalem, you can visit the "Old Yishuv Court Museum" and learn some fascinating facts about it.) Another very significant event in the growth of the Jewish community of Israel took place in the early 19th century.
Mark Twain who visited Israel in 1867 described it like this in Innocents Abroad: We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds ― a silent, mournful expanse... We pressed on toward the goal of our crusade, renowned Jerusalem. Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes." Early Migrations During the time of the Muslims, life for the Jews here was for the most part easier than under the Christians.
A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became... Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. In 1210, following the demise of the Crusaders, several hundred rabbis, known as the Ba'alei Tosefot, re-settled in Israel.