Jews have lived in Tiberias since Roman times. Since the 3rd century, it was the seat of rabbinic scholarship, in which position it remained until the 10th century. Afterwards, it continued to be a seat of scholarship, but this time, only second in importance to Jerusalem. From the 8th to the 10th centuries, it was also the center of the literary movement of the Masorah system of Hebrew philology. In 1204, it became the burial place of Maimonides. Eventually, however, as a result of the many Arab wars in the region, Tiberias was almost abandoned, but was renewed in the latter 16th century by the Ottoman Jewish banker and diplomat Don Joseph Nasi. Still, the incessant local civil wars of the surrounding Bedouin wreaked havoc on the community, but since 1740, when Rabbi Haim Abulafia, with the help of Bedouin Sheikh Daher el Omer revived the community, the situation stabilized and this became one of the few places where Jews actually lived in peace and prosperity along with the local Arabs.
But it turned out to be only a temporary situation. In the 1936–39 Arab riots, there were repeated Arab assaults on Jews and over 30 persons were killed.
Arab arson attack of a local synagogue, 1938
survivor of the Arab massacre, 1938
photo by the American Colony in Jerusalem?
At the beginning of the War of Independence, an undeclared truce existed between local Jews and Arabs. However, it was broken in April 1948 with an attack by Arabs who anticipated the Syrian invasion of the area and some Jews fled for their lives, thus, decreasing the Jewish population to 4000. Following the Haganah's counterattack, all Arab inhabitants left in the same night, making Tiberias the first town of mixed population in the country to become all Jewish in the wake of the war.(Source, Encyclopedia Judaica)