The newspaper Israël was established in 1920 by Dr. Albert Mosseri, a member of the venerable Jewish elite of Egypt, and one of the foremost leaders of the Zionist movement in his country. The French edition of the newspaper was published as part of a multi-lingual journalistic project, alongside Arabic and Hebrew editions of the same paper (with various editing differences). The decision to publish a Jewish newspaper in three languages sprang from the world-view of its founders, and particularly from the reality of Jewish life in Egypt, which developed as the confluence of three different cultures. The Hebrew edition represented the revitalized Jewish culture, the French – the dominant Western culture, and the Arabic – the ruling culture of the Middle East.
Mosseri supported both Zionism and Egyptian Nationalism, and his paper represented a stage in which many believed that Jewish nationalism could exist alongside other nationalistic movements in the region in peace and harmony. Mosseri's Zionism did not lead to an aspiration for mass Jewish emigration from Egypt, but rather gave voice to a special religious, cultural, and communal identity which drew inspiration from the national Jewish enterprise in Eretz Israel. Dr. Hagar Hillel, who has extensively researched Mosseri's newspaper, has designated this type of nationalism "Jewish National Reformism".
After Mosseri's death in 1933, his widow Mathilda – born in Hebron to the prominent Mani family of Baghdadi origin – continued his projects; she was the only woman in Egypt who headed a newspaper intended for a primarily male readership. While the Hebrew edition of the newspaper was published for only four years, and the Arabic edition for fourteen years, the French edition of Israël was the most stable of all the Jewish newspapers in Egypt during the period between the two world wars. At its peak, the newspaper's circulation reached 2,000 copies, and it was managed according to the models of Western and modern Arabic journalism that were most common in Egypt at the time. Editorials, articles, and a variety of sections appeared in Israël, which was the first modern Jewish community newspaper in Egypt and served as an example to other publications that were established after it. Moreover, it trained a succession of young journalists who later gained great prominence in the journalistic arena and other fields of public affairs.
The newspaper ceased operations in 1939, when Mathilda Mosseri decided to return to, and settle in, Eretz Israel. Before leaving, Mosseri sought to unite the paper with La Tribune Juive, a fledgling Jewish-Zionist newspaper that many saw as the natural successor to Israël.