Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Lashing Back - Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War

By Benny Morris 
Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: February 17, 2009 
Print Friendly
67 comments FONT +  FONT -

GUNS UP: Members of Haganah celebrate breaking the Arab forces' blockade of Jerusalem, a success in April 1948 that helped to swiftly shift the momentum of the civil war toward Jewish forces. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
GUNS UP: Members of Haganah celebrate breaking the Arab forces' blockade of Jerusalem, a success in April 1948 that helped to swiftly shift the momentum of the civil war toward Jewish forces. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Israel has fought and won three major wars in its 61-year existence. The best-known today are the Six-day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The first war it fought as a nation was in 1948, today referred to by Israelis as the "War of Independence" and by Palestinian Arabs as "al-Nakba," the catastrophe. But perhaps the most important clashes in Israel's relatively brief history took place in the months preceding its declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948, when the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces—aided in a minor way by the dissident groups, the IZL and the LHI—battled Arab militias in the towns and villages of Palestine and along the roads linking them. At the time, Great Britain, while nominally charged with maintaining order as it disengaged from the Palestinian territory it had ruled since 1917, focused mainly on withdrawing with minimal casualties and with its political prestige in the Middle East intact, and only occasionally intervened in the fighting.

Palestine's Jews responded to the Arabs' first attempt to wipe them out with a fierce, all-out war

At stake in this civil war was Israel's existence, and in the early months the Arabs appeared to be winning. By the end of March 1948, most of the Haganah's armored car fleet lay in ruins, and Jewish West Jerusalem, with 100,000 residents, was under siege. Had the run of successful Arab convoy ambushes continued, and had Jerusalem gone under, it seems certain that the armies of the Arab states that invaded the country seven weeks later would have aborted the tiny state before its birth.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to MHQ magazine

Instead, in April 1948, with its back to the wall, the Yishuv (in Hebrew, the Settlement)—as the 630,000-strong Jewish community in Palestine called itself—struck back. In a series of campaigns lasting six weeks, they battled mercilessly with the Palestinian Arab militias and overran dozens of Arab villages and towns. Slowly but surely, the balance of the war began to tip in their favor.

By 1947, waves of immigration had brought about half a million Jews to Palestine's shores. Most came from Eastern Europe, fleeing bouts of anti-Semitic legislation and violence—pogroms—in the czarist empire and the resurgence of anti-Semitism in central Europe, cresting with the Holocaust during World War II. Underlying their desire to return to the Land of Israel was an age-old messianic longing for the ancestral territory and the resurrection of Jewish sovereignty.

Palestinian Arab resistance to the Zionist immigration was slow to get off the mark—like Arab nationalism in general—but grew increasingly violent and increasingly religious during the 1930s, precisely when the Zionist movement was most desperately seeking a safe haven for Europe's persecuted Jews. Even before this escalation, Jews had little trust in Palestinian Arabs. The Axis powers, Italy and Germany, had politically and economically supported the Palestine Arab revolt in 1936–1939, against both British rule and the burgeoning Zionist enterprise. And the Palestinian national movement's leader, the anti-Jewish Muslim cleric Haj Amin al-Husseini, sat out the war years (1941–1945) in Germany, received a salary from the Third Reich's foreign ministry, and broadcast calls to the Arab world to join in the anti-British jihad.

The Zionists feared nothing less than a second Holocaust should the Arabs win political control of Palestine, obliterating the Jews and their dreams of a homeland. And, from 1939 on, the Zionists also had to contend with a British government that had turned from pro-Zionism to appeasing the Arabs. That year London issued a new Palestine White Paper, severely curbing Jewish immigration and providing for an independent Palestine governed by its Arab majority within 10 years. In response, the clandestine Jewish militias, the mainstream Haganah and the right-wing IZL (irgun zvai leumi, or National Military Organization, which the British called the "Irgun") and its offshoot, the LHI (lohamei herut yisrael, or Freedom Fighters of Israel; the British called it the "Stern Gang" after its leader Avraham Stern), launched a campaign to oust the British from Palestine.

The campaign had been suspended for much of the world war as Jews and Britons fought the common Nazi enemy, but it was renewed in 1944 with a surge of Irgun and Stern Gang attacks that claimed dozens of British lives. Meanwhile, the Haganah dispatched ships laden with thousands of illegal European immigrants to Palestine.

The world war had vastly weakened Great Britain. By 1947, the country no longer had the resolve to deal with the dilemma in Palestine: the Zionists demanding statehood, at least in part of the country, and the Palestinian Arabs demanding all of the country as their indivisible patrimony. The additional embarrassment of having to fight illegal immigrants, most of them Holocaust survivors, and the trauma of continuous Jewish terrorist attacks finally persuaded Whitehall to throw in the towel. In February 1947 Foreign Secretary Ernst Bevin announced that Britain would terminate its rule and hand over the Palestine problem to the United Nations.

The UN duly appointed a commission of inquiry, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), whose majority in September recommended to the General Assembly that Palestine be partitioned into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab. Jerusalem and Bethlehem, both having sites holy to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, were earmarked for international rule. The General Assembly proceeded to reduce the size of the recommended Jewish state to 55 percent of Palestine (the Arabs were to get close to 45 percent) and voted for partition: 33 in favor (including all of Western Europe, the United States, the Soviet bloc, and most of Latin America), 13 against (mostly Arab and Muslim or partly Muslim countries), and 10 abstentions (including Britain and China).

The Zionist leadership and mainstream parties, though not the right-wing Revisionist movement, accepted the division, despite Zionism's original quest for sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel; David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive (the Yishuv's "government"), and Chaim Weizmann, Zionism's most prominent statesman, bowed to the diktat of history and circumstance.

The Arab world, spearheaded by Palestine's Arab leadership, responded with a resounding "no"—as they had in 1937, when the British Peel Commission had recommended that only 17 percent of Palestine be awarded for Jewish statehood, and most of the remainder for Arab sovereignty.

The United Nations General Assembly passed the partition resolution (No. 181) on November 29, 1947, and Palestinian Arabs, in disorganized and dispersed fashion, launched hostilities to stymie the carrying out of the resolution.

On November 30, Arab gunmen, in the first shots of the war, ambushed two Jewish buses near Petah Tikva, killing seven passengers, and snipers firing from the Arab town of Jaffa hit pedestrians in neighboring Tel Aviv. The Husseini-led Arab Higher Committee (AHC), the Palestinian Arabs' "government," called a general strike. The civil war had begun.

The two sides were ill-matched. The Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, was much smaller: 630,000 to the Arabs' 1.3 million. However, the Yishuv was tightly knit, highly mobilized, largely urban, educated, European, and motivated by the trauma of the just-ended Holocaust. Their leaders were public-service oriented and committed; they included the best and the brightest.

From the 1920s into the 1940s the Yishuv had fashioned a state within a state, with its own governing institutions, including a cabinet (the Jewish Agency Executive), departments (such as the Jewish Agency political, settlement, and finance departments), and a militia, the Haganah, with some 35,000 members.

When hostilities commenced, the Haganah had about 10,000 rifles, 3,500 submachine guns, 775 light machine guns, 157 medium machine guns, 16 antitank launchers, 670 two-inch mortars, and 84 three-inch mortars. Several thousand additional light weapons were in the hands of Jewish supernumerary policemen serving the British, most of whom were Haganah members. The Haganah had several spotter aircraft, though no combat aircraft, tanks, or artillery. In the course of the civil war, Haganah armorers produced makeshift armored cars—trucks protected by steel sheeting—and thousands of Sten submachine guns, as well as light mortars, grenades, mines, and ammunition.

The Haganah had a standing, efficient strike force of some 2,000 to 3,000 members, the Palmach, which served as its backbone and shield as it mobilized and, from November 1947 to May 1948, was transformed from a militia into an army, with battalion and brigade formations. By May the Palmach could field 10 functioning, if underequipped and undermanned, brigades. Most of the Yishuv's roughly 250 rural settlements—which were the front line for much of the civil war and the conventional interstate war that followed—had trenchworks, perimeter fences and lighting, bomb shelters, and a central armory, which usually included a few machine guns and light mortars. The Haganah was familiar with the terrain and had nowhere to flee—except into the Mediterranean.

The Palestine Arabs enjoyed the support of the vast hinterland of Arab states, who, though in niggardly fashion, sent arms, money and, between December 1947 and February 1948, a 4,000-strong force of relatively well-equipped volunteers, most of them Syrians and Iraqis, known as the Arab Liberation Army (ALA). The ALA had medium and heavy mortars, armored cars, and, by April, half a dozen field pieces.

In addition, hundreds of lightly armed Muslim Brotherhood volunteers arrived in southern Palestine from North Africa.

But the Jews had organized for war; the Arabs had not. Although each of Palestine's approximately 800 Arab villages and towns had a local militia, each with dozens or even hundreds of personal weapons, the Palestinians had failed to put together a national militia organization—and when it came to civil war, each village, town and, at best, region fought alone against the Haganah, the Irgun and LHI. Some of the militias were obedient to the Husseini family–dominated Arab Higher Committee (AHC) that nominally governed the Arab community; others obeyed local authorities (the urban national committees or village mukhtars). The Arab militiamen probably, like the Jews, felt that they were fighting for hearth and home—but, unlike the Jews, they always had the option of flight to hinterland Arab villages and states. And their militias had almost no mortars or armored cars. The Palestinians, like the Arab states, had no independent arms production capabilities.

Palestine Arabs were largely illiterate, poor, mainly agricultural, and disunited, with a cluster of venal families, led by the Husseinis, at the helm. The leaders had little or no public-service orientation. The better-educated, wealthier Christian 8 percent of the Arab population feared the Muslim majority, townspeople looked down on fellahin (typically, farm laborers) and Bedouins (members of nomadic tribes), while fellahin feared and contemned Bedouins. The notable families had been bitterly divided since the 1920s by a power struggle between the Husseini-led leadership and the "Opposition," led by another notable Jerusalem family, the Nashashibis.

In the late 1930s, against the backdrop of the Palestine Arab revolt, the rivalry had erupted in systematic Husseini terrorism against their Arab opponents, leaving a trail of blood feuds and treachery that was to disunite the Palestinians when they confronted the Zionists a decade later. The Palestine Arabs also failed to put together an autonomous governmental structure. The Husseini-dominated AHC nominally "governed" the Arab community—but many Arabs opposed it. At the start of the civil war, local notables from the various factions set up "national committees" in each town, which tried to run the communities during the crisis. But in effect, most of the the middle and upper classes declined to join the fight—and most of them (including many national committee members) fled the country during the following months, beginning as early as November 1947. Very few sons of the urban upper and middle classes participated in the war.

In the hilly spine of the country, running from Galilee through Samaria and Judea, the Arabs enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in numbers; there were practically no Jewish settlements. But in the areas earmarked by the United Nations for Jewish sovereignty—in the central and northern Coastal Plain, in the Jezreel and Jordan valleys and in Jerusalem—the populations were thoroughly intermixed. Along each road were Arab and Jewish villages, and many of the towns—Haifa, Safad, Tiberias—had both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. The civil war, chaotic like most, was fought mainly in the predominantly Jewish areas. That included the lowlands—the Coastal Plain and the Jezreel and Jordan valleys—and in and around Jerusalem. In the city and its surrounds were roughly 100,000 Jews and a similar number of Arabs. Because the Arabs lacked a national militia and suffered from a deficit of national consciousness and commitment, especially among the majority rural population, the inhabitants of the core Arab areas—around Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, and Nazareth—did not take part in the fighting.

The Arabs may have started the war, albeit in disorganized, haphazard fashion, but they did so with widespread reluctance and deep foreboding; many, perhaps most, did not believe they could win, and lacked confidence in their political and military leaders. "The fellah is afraid of the Jewish terrorists….The town dweller admits that his strength is insufficient to fight the Jewish force and hopes for salvation from outside….[The] majority…are confused, frightened…All they want is peace, quiet," reported one Haganah Intelligence Service (HIS) agent already in October 1947.

The first stage of the civil war was characterized by a gradual snowballing of the hostilities, which at first engulfed only some seam neighborhoods in the mixed towns and certain rural roads (the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv road, the north-south Jordan Valley road). At no point between November 1947 and May 1948 did the Arab Higher Committee issue a blanket order to the various militias to "assault the Yishuv." And during the war's first four months the AHC blew hot and cold, occasionally instructing militias to attack this or that settlement or neighborhood, at other times vaguely instructing the locals to keep their powder dry until a general assault was ordered (an order that never came). Many Arab national committees, run by the propertied middle and upper classes, were reluctant to order or allow their militiamen (and in each of the large towns—Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem—there were a number of militia groups, each loyal to a different boss) to attack the Jews for fear of Jewish retaliation, which was bound to damage property and businesses and to cost lives.

Attacks in the first four months of the war were limited to Arab bombings and snipings in the urban centers; assaults on Jewish urban neighborhoods and rural settlements; and ambushes against Jewish traffic, which from December 1947 generally moved in organized convoys, guarded by Haganah members, often riding in open vans and makeshift armored vehicles, and British armored cars. There were also, as feared, Jewish retaliatory attacks on Arab urban neighborhoods, villages, and traffic.

In December, Arab militiamen assaulted and partly took Tel Aviv's southern Hatikva Quarter before being driven back by Jewish militiamen. The following month, the ALA's 2nd Yarmuk Battalion, supported by local militiamen, unsuccessfully attacked Kibbutz Yehiam in Western Galilee. In February 1948, the ALA attacked Kibbutz Tirat Zvi, in the Beit Shean Valley, but the Jewish defenses (and the vastly outnumbered Jewish defenders) and the mud proved too formidable. A British relief column arrived on the scene at the end of the battle and briefly engaged the Arabs. The ALA suffered 40 to 60 dead; the kibbutzniks, one dead and one wounded.

As the war wore on, and partly in response to Jewish reprisals, the Arab militiamen also unleashed a wave of urban bombings. The focus was Jerusalem. On February 1, Arab bombers, aided by British deserters, struck the offices of the Palestine Post (today the Jerusalem Post), killing one person and injuring 20. On February 22, the bombers—most of them British deserters in this case—struck more effectively, blowing up three trucks in downtown Jerusalem's Ben-Yehuda Street, levelling four buildings and killing 58 people. A third bomb, in an American consular car driven by an Armenian Arab, blew up in the courtyard of the Jewish Agency building, killing 12.

For the first 10 days of hostilities, the Haganah limited itself to pure defense, hoping that the bout of violence would blow over after Arab tempers cooled, as had happened with previous anti-Zionist violence in 1920, 1921, and 1929.

But on December 9, 1947, the Haganah General Staff decided to change to "active defense," maintaining a general strategy of defense while occasionally retaliating against Arab targets. For the next three months, Haganah raiders responded to attacks on Jewish targets with similar, if less frequent, attacks on Arab traffic and villages. Usually, the orders were to avoid harming women and children, though there is no evidence that such instructions were ever issued to Palestinian Arab assailants. Inevitably, noncombatants died in the Haganah reprisals, which also tended to suck more and more Arabs into the circle of hostilities.

From the start of the hostilities, the Irgun and the Stern Gang had deemed restraint a sign of weakness and ineffectiveness, and they now responded to Arab attacks with terrorism of their own; sometimes their targets were Arab militiamen and headquarters, more often the attacks were indiscriminate. In Jerusalem, Irgun men repeatedly threw grenades and bombs at milling groups of Arabs outside the Old City's Damascus Gate; in Jaffa, in January 1948, LHI men, in a bold attack, levelled with explosives the old Saraya building, which housed a militia headquarters. In Jerusalem, also in January, the Haganah—in an uncharacteristic attack—blew up the Semiramis Hotel in the Katamon district, believing it to be a militia headquarters, though it probably wasn't, and the Spanish vice consul was among the two dozen dead. Nonetheless, the Haganah for weeks refrained from attacking in areas not yet caught up in the fighting in the hope that the conflagration would die down.

As in all civil wars, the hostilities resulted in and were often characterized by local revenge cycles. One such cycle occurred in Haifa. On December 30, 1947, an Irgun team threw a grenade into a crowd of Arab workers at a bus stop outside the Haifa Oil Refinery gate. Eleven were killed. This triggered a rampage by the Arab workers inside the refinery compound against their Jewish coworkers, and 39 were slaughtered with knives, crowbars, and hammers. On the night of December 31, the Haganah avenged the massacre by raiding the nearby village of Balad ash Sheikh, in which many refinery workers lived. Dozens of villagers died, some dragged from their homes and executed.

A Haganah intelligence report from mid-May 1948 evaluated the Haganah, Irgun, and Stern Gang reprisals of December 1947 through March 1948 on the Palestine Arab community: "The main effect of these operations was on the Arab civilian population…[leading to] economic paralysis, unemployment, lack of of fuel and supplies because of the severance of transport. They suffered from the destruction of their houses and psychologically their nerves were badly hit, and they even suffered evacuations and wanderings….[All this] weakened the Arab areas and made the operations of the militiamen more difficult." The hardier Yishuv, under similar hardships, stood fast.

That report proved to be putting a gloss over a touch-and-go situation. It's true that from early December 1947 on, Arabs began evacuating areas near Jewish population concentrations and in seam neighborhoods in the mixed towns. By late March 1948, much of the middle- and upper-class population had left, moving either into the Arab-populated interior of Palestine (Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah) or out of the country, to hotels and second homes in Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus. Most were fearful of being caught up in the fighting.

The Arab Higher Committee was generally opposed to evacuations but was often ambiguous in its instructions to local authorities, except with regard to young males, who were reproached for leaving. Local authorities, such as the national committee in Haifa, often advised or even ordered the population to stay put, but to little avail. In the areas earmarked for Jewish sovereignty in the partition resolution, local Arab leaders or military commanders often ordered or advised rural communities to send away their women and children if they were already engulfed in the hostilities or about to be. In the Coastal Plain, complete evacuation was ordered in a handful of villages, so they would not appear to be accepting Jewish rule. In the period from November 1947 through March 1948, only one Arab village, Qisariya (Caesarea), south of Haifa, was forcibly evacuated by the Haganah.

Down to the end of March 1948, the Haganah—and the Jewish Agency—abided by the Zionist mainstream's policy of acquiescing in the emergence of a Jewish state with a large Arab minority. As Yisrael Galili, Ben-Gurion's deputy as political head of the Haganah, put it in an order on March 24 to all the brigades, the organization was to respect "the rights, needs and freedom…without discrimination" of the Arab communities in the Jewish areas. (Exceptions were to be made only in the event of clear military necessity.)

Evacuations aside, by late March, the situation along the roads had steadily deteriorated, and the Haganah General Staff began to fear a Jewish collapse, at least in Jewish West Jerusalem (which, with 100,000 people, contained a sixth of the country's Jewish population). Early in the civil war, the Arabs noted the Yishuv's main vulnerability: the roads that linked the main urban centers to one another and to clusters of rural settlements. On December 31, 1947, Haganah intelligence reported: "The Arabs intend to paralyze all Jewish traffic on the roads within the next few days." Gradually during the first months of 1948 the Arab militias concentrated their attention on the convoys; by March their firepower and methods of operation had proved highly successful. For the Haganah, the last weeks of March were disastrous, as they lost much of their armored car fleet and dozens of troops.

First came the convoy ambushes, all in the Jerusalem area, at Har-Tuv on March 18, Atarot on March 24, and Saris on March 24, in which a total of 26 died and 18 vehicles were destroyed. Then came two great disasters. On March 27, thousands of local militiamen swooped down on a 50-vehicle convoy heading back to West Jerusalem from the isolated Etzion Bloc—a cluster of four kibbutzim between Hebron and Bethlehem—and halted it, pouring fire on the 186 Haganah. By the following morning, the Jews' situation was desperate. The overflights of Haganah spotter planes, dropping the occasional grenade on the militiamen, did little good. At last a British armored column got through and negotiated a ceasefire. The Haganah men were forced to abandon all their vehicles and hand over their arms. The Haganah lost 15 dead and 73 wounded, and 10 armored cars, 4 buses, and 25 armored trucks.

An even worse fate befell a smaller Haganah convoy in Western Galilee, heading for Kibbutz Yehiam, on March 27. The convoy was lost to Arab Liberation Army and local ambushers, with 47 Haganah men killed; many of the bodies recovered by the British afterwards had been mutilated. A third convoy, on its way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was badly mauled at Hulda on March 31.

The British High Commissioner in Palestine, Gen. Alan Cunningham, understood the significance of what had occurred. "It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Yishuv and its leaders are deeply worried about the future. The intensification of Arab attacks on communications…has brought home the precarious position of Jewish communities, both great and small, which are dependent on supply lines running through Arab-controlled country," he reported to London on April 3. "In particular it is now realized that the position of Jewish Jerusalem, where a food scarcity already exists, is likely to be desperate after 16th May.…The balance of the fighting seems to have turned much in favour of the Arabs."

Throughout the conflict the British, gradually downgrading their military and civilian presence, tried to maintain law and order, and generally, until mid-March, aided the Haganah—with escorts for the convoys that travelled between the towns and occasional active intervention against attacking Arab militiamen. The Arabs were usually the aggressors and the British were committed to protecting life and property. At the same time, many British soldiers, for years targets of Irgun and Stern Gang terrorism, and occasionally with anti-Jewish biases, sympathized with and occasionally helped the Arabs; dozens of British deserters fought with the Arab militias.

Politically, British policy and its implementation was evenhanded. British officials and troops generally turned over their installations to the majority population in each area (and the evacuated British police stations—in reality, forts—were often to be crucial during both the civil and conventional parts of the war). But during late March to mid-May, British policy was often ambiguous, partly because continued Irgun and LHI attacks on their personnel alienated them, partly because the British commanders, about to depart, saw no point in losing men in interventions against the belligerents, and partly because Whitehall was keen on leaving behind, in the (Arab) Middle East in general, as much sympathy and friendship as possible. Zionist feelings were of much less concern in London, where the anti-Zionist foreign secretary, Ernst Bevin, ruled the roost.

The Zionist leadership was keenly aware of the impending British departure, scheduled for May 15, and the pan-Arab invasion that was to follow, as announced almost daily by the Arab leaders and media. The main Jewish areas, the roads between them, and the border areas of the emergent Jewish state all had to be secured before the Arab armies invaded—which meant that the Palestinian Arab militias had to be crushed first if there was to be any hope of beating the invaders.

Additionally, the United States in mid-March had signalled its imminent abandonment of partition. Warren Austin, the U.S. delegate, proposed to the Security Council on March 19 that the United Nations suspend implementing Resolution 181 and impose an open-ended UN trusteeship on Palestine. It was clear to Ben-Gurion that the international community would follow the American lead—unless the Yishuv could prove that it was viable by defeating the Palestinian Arabs and establishing a state.

No one was more acutely aware of the deteriorating situation for the Zionists than Ben-Gurion, the Yishuv's "defense minister." He was particularly perturbed by the fate of Jewish Jerusalem, whose fall, he knew, would be a mighty blow to the Jewish side.

At a nightlong meeting with the Haganah General Staff on March 31–April 1, he decided to mount an operation in the Jerusalem sector that was to inaugurate a general change of strategy—going from the defensive to the offensive.

Haganah also switched to the offensive in early April simply because it could. It had mobilized and trained a small army organized into battalions and brigades, and arms from Czechoslovakia, purchased by Zionist agents, had at last begun arriving in Palestine. A first shipment arrived by air on the night of March 31; a second, larger shipment, arrived by ship in Tel Aviv on April 2—all together 4,700 rifles, 240 medium machine guns, and 5.2 million rounds of ammunition. At last the Haganah would have a relatively large supply of weapons at hand to divert to a particular front. (Most of its arms until then had been dispersed among the different localities, in defense, and the localities refused to "loan" the headquarters arms, fearing they would be attacked when the arms were elsewhere.)

The offensive decided upon on the night of March 31, dubbed "Operation Nahshon," was designed to force open the Hulda–Jerusalem section of the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road so that several large food, fuel, and munitions convoys could push through to the besieged capital. Shimon Avidan commanded the operation. The German-born, 36-year-old Avidan, operations commander of the Givati Brigade, had been actively organizing illegal immigration from Europe at the end of World War II—and executing Nazi war criminals.

Nahshon involved some 1,500 troops. As it turned out, it was to be the first of a succession of offensive operations—most of them triggered by Arab attack, siege, or pressure—that represented the piecemeal, staggered implementation of Tochnit Dalet (Plan D) and, taken together, quickly resulted in the conquests of Arab towns, urban neighborhoods, and swaths of countryside. From early April, although Haganah leaders did not agree on or institute a blanket policy of expulsion, an atmosphere of "transfer" took hold among them as margins of safety narrowed and as the prospective pan-Arab invasion loomed. Facing a war for survival, the Yishuv took off the gloves.

Plan D had been finalized on March 10 by the 32-year-old Yigael Yadin, chief of operations of the Haganah and, in effect, its chief of general staff through the 1948 war. The plan was a blueprint for Haganah operations, originally scheduled to be unleashed during the fortnight before the final British pullout, and was designed to prepare for the expected pan-Arab invasion. It authorized the Haganah brigades to secure the main routes between the Jewish centers of population, the main Jewish urban concentrations and the border areas, and potential Arab invasion routes. It gave the Haganah brigade OCs carte blanche with regard to Arab villages—to conquer and garrison villages or to destroy them and expel their inhabitants. Each brigade was assigned specific targets.

(Arab and pro-Arab chroniclers, like Walid Khalidi and Ilan Papper, were later to define Plan D as the "master plan" for expelling the Palestine Arabs—but it was not, although in putting the plan into effect, commanders depopulated large chunks of Arab territory.)

Nahshon—in effect, the first stage of Plan D—was unleashed on April 2 and 3 with the conquest of the Arab hilltop village of al-Kastal, which dominated the road to Jerusalem. During the following days, Haganah battalions conquered a handful of Arab villages along the road—which served as the militias' bases—and pushed two and a half supply-laden convoys to Jerusalem. On April 8, a Haganah sentry killed Abdel Qadir al-Husseini, the leader of the Arab militias in the Jerusalem hills area and the Palestinian Arabs' foremost military commander, at Kastal as he approached the village, which he thought had already been retaken by his irregulars. A few hours later, the Arabs retook the village—but then abandoned it and streamed to Jerusalem for Husseini's funeral. Palmach troops then peacefully reoccupied the village. The day before he died, Husseini, a cousin of Haj Amin's, had jotted down a poem, dedicated to his son Faisal (later a senior PLO official):
This land of the brave is the land of our forefathers.
The Jews have no right to this land.
How can I sleep while the enemy rules it?
Something burns in my heart.
My homeland beckons.

Husseini's death was a major blow to the Palestinian cause. So, for different reasons, was a second incident during Nahshon: the conquest of the village of Deir Yassin by Irgun and Stern Gang troops (marginally assisted by Haganah) on April 9. In the course of the fight, four Jewish soldiers were killed and several dozen were wounded. One hundred ten of the villagers, including women and children, died, some massacred after the battle. The survivors were then trucked to Arab East Jerusalem where they told horrific tales of Jewish atrocities, some of them true. These were subsequently broadcast by Arab radio stations—who exaggerated the number of Arab dead—in the hope of persuading other Arab villages to fiercely resist conquest.

Instead, the broadcasts had a boomerang effect and triggered mass Arab flight around the country. The Haganah Intelligence Service defined Deir Yassin as "a major accelerating factor" in the mass exodus that was set off by the Haganah shift to the offensive. Between 250,000 and 300,000 Arabs left their homes from April through June 1948, becoming displaced persons.

Arab militiamen eventually resealed the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road and reinstated the siege of the capital. But Nahshon, which lasted until April 15, was a pivotal event. It heralded the Haganah's shift to the offensive, which proved decisive. For the first time, the organization had deployed a brigade-sized force, had cleared a swath of Arab territory, and, together with the Irgun and Stern Gang, had incited widespread flight from rural Palestine. During the following days the focus of the fighting switched to the country's urban centers.

From April 16 through 18, Haganah troops defeated the Arab militia in the mixed town of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, which resulted in the Arabs' organized departure under British escort. The town's militiamen had interdicted Jewish traffic between the Jezreel and Beit Shean valleys and the upper Jordan Valley settlements to the north. Some of the approximately 5,000 Arab townspeople were trucked out to Nazareth; others fled to Transjordan. The Jews issued no expulsion order but it seems that the local British commanders had advised the Arabs to leave, arguing that they would have no protection after the British departed.

Haifa followed. Haifa was Palestine's most modern city and the country's main port, earmarked, like Tiberias, by the UN partition plan for Jewish sovereignty. For decades its Arabs and Jews had lived in relative harmony. At the end of 1947 it had about 70,000 Jews, and a slightly smaller number of Arabs.

On April 21, the Haganah, based in the Carmel Mountain Jewish neighborhoods that dominated the Arab-populated Lower City, attacked the seam neighborhoods. The British northern region commander, Gen. Hugh Stockwell, did not intervene in the fighting, though he prevented reinforcements from reaching the town from nearby Arab villages. Stockwell was interested in a swift end to the battle since Haifa was the main departure point from Palestine for the remaining British civilian administrators and military. The Arab militias quickly collapsed, their leaders fleeing the city at the start of the battle. By the afternoon of April 22, it was all over.

That afternoon, Gen. Stockwell organized a meeting of the remaining Arab leaders and Jewish representatives in the town hall to hammer out terms of surrender (which the Arabs insisted on calling a "truce").

But the Arabs rejected what Stockwell deemed the Haganah's moderate terms and announced instead that they would all depart the city. Apparently they feared that the Husseinis would consider them traitors should they remain, surrender, and accept Jewish rule. In the following days, the Arab population began leaving, by boat or in British-escorted transports. By early May, only some 5,000 Arabs remained in Haifa.

The fall and evacuation of Arab Haifa undermined the staying power of Arab communities throughout the north. In itself, this accounted for about one-tenth of the war's Arab refugees.

Without doubt, Haifa also affected Jaffa. The Haganah had decided to leave Jaffa alone, believing it—with 70,000 to 80,000 Arabs, the largest Arab city in Palestine—would fall once the British left. The partition resolution had earmarked Jaffa as a sovereign Arab enclave inside the Jewish state area.

But the Irgun also sought to emerge from the war with a bit of glory—and Jaffa had been harassing Tel Aviv, the Irgun's main base of power, since November. The Irgun commanders, directed by the organization's leader Menachem Begin, decided to take Jaffa. On April 25, six Irgun companies attacked the southern part of Manshiya, Jaffa's northernmost neighborhood, threatening to cut it off from the town center, which they proceeded to barrage with mortars for three days.

By April 27, after hard house-to-house fighting with the local militiamen, the Irgun troops had reached the Mediterranean—and Manshiya was cut off. Its population fled southward.

This time, the British reacted—after being blamed throughout the Arab world for the fall of Arab Haifa and "collusion" with the Jews. Bevin sought to prove that he was the Arabs' friend. He ordered in the Royal Air Force—which strafed a Jewish position—some destroyers, and an armored column, proceeding to push out the Irgun force. But Jaffa's reprieve was short-lived. As chaos reigned during the following fortnight, most local inhabitants fled, and Arab militiamen, including an ALA contingent, and British troops looted the abandoned houses. On May 13, with the British gone, Haganah units quietly occupied the town. Only some 4,000 Arabs remained.

The Jewish offensives also encompassed rural areas. In Operation Hametz, at the end of April, Haganah troops conquered the rural hinterland east of Jaffa. From April 15 through mid-May, other Haganah units, in Operation Yiftah, conquered Eastern Galilee, humbling the Arab Liberation Army and local militiamen. Yigal Allon commanded the operation. The Palestine-born officer in command of the Palmach was the Haganah's best field commander. (During the following months, he was to display his skills when, in charge of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Front, he defeated the Egyptian Army in operations Yoav and Horev.)

The Palmach took Safad—the "capital" of Eastern Galilee—originally with some 10,000 Arabs and 1,500 mostly Orthodox Jews, on May 9 and 10, the Arabs fleeing eastward, to Syria. Beit Shean, the Arab town at the center of the Beit Shean Valley, fell three days later, the inhabitants mostly going to Jordan. A few days after that, Jewish forces expelled those who remained to Nazareth. The rural areas of Eastern Galilee—designated for Jewish sovereignty—also fell to the Haganah. In all, the operation had also helped seal off the likely invasion routes from Syria.

The coastal area of Western Galilee was next. In Operation Ben-Ami, a two-battalion column of Haganah's Carmeli Brigade pushed north from Haifa's suburbs on May 13; additional troops landed by sea at the small Jewish resort town of Nahariya. In 36 hours, the column linked up with the Nahariya forces and the isolated Jewish settlements of Eilon and Hanita, on the Lebanese border. They occupied and systematically levelled Arab villages along the way. Their populations had fled as the Jewish column approached.

In the second stage of Ben-Ami, on May 20–22, Carmeli units pushed east, widening the Jewish-held area in Western Galilee. The operation, which had closed off the planned Lebanese army invasion route into Palestine, had probably helped to persuade the Lebanese to stay out of the war.

During the last days of the civil war, as Arab Palestine was collapsing and the Yishuv braced for the pan-Arab onslaught, both sides tried to marginally improve their positions along what had become continuous front lines. Jewish troops of the Givati Brigade occupied a handful of Arab villages in the south, trying to block the expected Egyptian invasion routes and deny the Egyptians the Palestinian-inhabited forward bases. For their part, the Arabs—spearheaded by several companies of Jordanian troops with gun-mounting armored cars, who were seconded to the British Army in Palestine until May 14—attacked the Etzion Bloc.

The attack was probably ordered by Gen. John Glubb, the British commander of the Jordanian army (known as the Arab Legion), and led by Col. Abdullah Tal, the commander of the Legion's 6th Battalion. The Jewish defenders were badly outgunned—they had no artillery or antitank guns, and only a few PIATs (projector, infantry, antitank—a type of bazooka), whereas the Legion deployed gun-mounting armored cars and heavy mortars.

The main settlement, Kfar Etzion, fell on May 13. As the Jewish troops surrendered, they were massacred by militiamen. Some Jordanian officers apparently tried to save some Jews, although others participated in the killing. All together, about 150 prisoners of war were killed. The next day, their position having been rendered untenable, the three remaining settlements surrendered. However, these combatants were shipped off to Jordanian prisoner of war camps. On May 15 the bulk of the Arab Legion crossed the Jordan into Palestine and linked up with the stay-behind companies, including those in the ruined Etzion Bloc.

But the Etzion Bloc was the exception. By May 15, the Haganah and its allies had essentially won the Palestine civil war of 1947–1948. In doing so, they had managed to carve out and consolidate the core of a state.

Click for larger image. (Courtesy of Baker Vail, Small World Maps.)
Click for larger image. (Courtesy of Baker Vail, Small World Maps.)
It comprised a continuous strip—actually three linked strips—of territory (the Jordan Valley, the Jezreel Valley, and the northern and central Coastal Plain), with two adjacent, if semi-besieged, enclaves to the east (Jewish Jerusalem) and south (the Negev settlements zone)—from which it was to face, and eventually contain and repel, the invading armies of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

The Yishuv suffered 1,700 to 1,800 dead in the course of the civil war (and another 4,000 dead during the conventional war of the Arab invasion). The community incurred severe infrastructure and economic damage. But, apart from the Etzion Bloc, it had lost no settlements, and financial aid began to pour in from world Jewry.

Arab society in Palestine had been shattered. The Palestinian Arabs had failed to establish a state or even to secure for themselves any part of Palestine. Their losses, in casualties, were probably two or three times as large as the Jewish totals—and their economic losses were much larger. The refugees ultimately landed in the Arab states or the areas these states were about to occupy in Palestine—the West Bank near Jordan and the Gaza Strip near Egypt—and were to be a burden on these states. The refugee problem, which was to grow threefold during the following months, was to destabilize the Middle East during the following decades, and Palestine remains a problem on the international agenda.

The defeat of the Palestinian Arabs, without doubt, forced the Arab states' hand and pushed their leaders into fulfilling their promises to invade Palestine—and attack Israel—on May 15. The most moderate of the Arab leaders, King Abdullah of Jordan (who in 1947 had secretly agreed with the Jewish Agency to share Palestine between them) on May 10—the eve of the invasion—explained to Golda Myerson (Meir), the Jewish Agency representative, that he was now one of a five-member coalition and could not act independently. "After Deir Yassin, Tiberias and Haifa," much to his reluctance, he would have to participate in the invasion and the war. And so he did.

But the civil war also affected the Yishuv, now the state of Israel. It emboldened the Yishuv's political leaders to decide, on May 12, to declare the establishment of the state, against advice from the United States—and despite the certain prospect of pan-Arab invasion. (The Americans pressed the Zionists for a postponement, knowing that the declaration would provoke the invasion and possibly pull the United States into the war to defend Israel. But this did not happen. During the following months, Israel managed to defeat the Arab armies all by itself, while the United States continued to refuse to sell Israel any arms or provide any other nondeclarative help.)

The civil war successes steeled the Yishuv as it faced the Arab states' armies, and provided the Haganah with a great deal of military experience and self-confidence—both of which were to prove important in containing and eventually beating the invading Arab armies. MHQ

Map of Israel at the end of the war for independence courtesy of Baker Vail, Small World Maps.

To read about the current situation in this region and its recent history, see "Israel and Gaza – Intervention Time," on GreatHistory.com.


67 Responses to “Lashing Back - Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War”


  1. 1
    m. Jacobs says:

    Excellent unbiased article. What is always neede and rarely seen

  2. 2
    Ramesh Raghuvanshi says:

    What right Israel have to established state on land of Muslim?If U.K.andU.S.A.did not supported to Jew had they established their state on Muslim land?
    U.K.U.S.A.. had very bad intention to hand over this land to Jew, they want this land under their control for oil.Three thousand years back this was Jew`religion`s birth place so they must occupay this land.Is this logic is creating justice?
    If this logic is reasonable than what right white people have to settle on American land which was belonged by Red Indians.Is white will vacate the land of America ?
    You have money and armspower so you can bwehave anyway,justice and morality is always base on money and musal power?

    • 2.1
      Dave says:

      Israel belongs to the jews because it was their land. No we will not leave this land and unfortunately the Amerinds were centries behind us i.e. stone age as to Iron age they did not have the people nor tools to stop the Anglos from invading their lands. This has happened all over the world for thousands of years and will never stop. The stong will always overcome the weak and disoreintated. It has allways been like this.

      dave

  3. 3
    Fossil says:

    Required reading concerning a much misunderstood series of events, the historical record of which has been badly contaminated by partisan special pleading of one kind or another.

  4. 4
    Ralph Hitchens says:

    Good overview of a key military episode in Israel's history. One detail — the Palmach did not mobilize 10 brigades, but rather three. The Haganah as a whole mustered 10 brigades, I believe.

  5. 5
    Erasmus says:

    Unbiased?

    "And, from 1939 on, the Zionists also had to contend with a British government that had turned from pro-Zionism to appeasing the Arabs."

    Pro-zionist vs. appeasing?

    Though, admittedly, this doesn't get said very often…

    "The additional embarrassment of having to fight illegal immigrants, most of them Holocaust survivors, and the trauma of continuous Jewish terrorist attacks finally persuaded Whitehall to throw in the towel"

    • 5.1
      Dave says:

      The Brits instede of helping the Jews just stood around with their thumbs their asses. Of coruse no one who is the Royal Army at that wanted to get killed before leaving that land.

  6. 6
    Ivor says:

    A onesided and biased article.

    I wonder how you can occupy the land of some people, and then call it "War of Independence". Beats me!

    The Palestinians are probably the worst off people today on this planet, yet the techniques which Israel uses to bomb them is so ruthless, that it pains me as a human.

    Sorry, but I must keep my humanity and conscience before buying into such skewed historical accounts.

  7. 7
    John Coffin says:

    Raghuvanshi's incoherent note is typical of the 'rant-o-matic' response any article about Israel brings these days.

    If Jewish territorial claims in the Levant are a 'logic [not] creating justice,' why should the claims of jihadist conquerors be any different?

    If Raghuvanshi is serious we must ask "What right Greeks, Spaniards, Italians, French, Hungarians, Romanians, Swiss, Austrians, Indians, Ukranians, Albanians, Bulgarians, etc. have to established state on land of Muslim?"

    Some, or all, of each of these states are established on land that became 'Muslim' by the same means that Palestine did–military conquest and occupation.

    • 7.1
      Dave says:

      Right on brother

    • 7.2
      rulierose says:

      well said. Israel is the only country in the history of the world that is forced to give back territory it won in a war ostensibly to make peace (it never works). most Israelis don't have a problem with a two-state solution, but the so-called "Palestinian" Arabs sure do. the Pals don't want two states, they want one state: and the state they want is Israel.

  8. 8
    Anthony Rimell says:

    An excellent article that reminds us that the beginnings of the Midle-East conflict we see today are found in the unwilllingness of the Arab nations around what is now Israel to accept that nation's right to exist. This was of course further evidenced by 1967 and 1973. Perhaps when Ramesh and his ilk finally accept that Israel has a right to exist and work together to find genuine solutions that allow for viable sovereign units for Arab AND Israeli we will see peace in that region. Until then, I doubt it.

  9. 9
    jonathan says:

    I enjoyed your last book, Mr. Morris. You should write an article about the ceasefire agreements. I've read the documents in the Yale online archive and they provide a fascinating insight into why the conflict continues.

  10. 10
    Chris Horner says:

    A ridiculously one sided account: one look at the loaded language gives it away as the usual pro Israel pap. Does anyone in the USA see past the nonsense? In the end this skewed account damages Israel too: for peace, we need some truth.

  11. 11
    Rebecca R. says:

    Why must Muslims despise Jews? How come every offer for Jewish people to live on even a small slice of the land was rejected?

    I think Muslim hatred of Jews is rooted in religious insecurity and historical uncertainty. Many tenets of Islam–as with Christianity–are rooted in Judaism. And the Koran is unclear about whether the spot the Al-Aqsa mosque stands on is really the place where Mohammed rose to heaven. Muslim claims on Israel are weak, and they know it.

  12. 12
    BJ says:

    I was in a class with a Palestinian woman whose family was ordered by the Haganah to leave their house in 1948. Her 60 year old father refused and was gunned down in his doorway. Surviving family members later emigrated to Egypt.

  13. 13
    Luc Hansen says:

    A hugely distorted view, unworthy of a serious scholar.

    I suggest a more accurate view is presented by Shlomo Ben Ami, a former FM of Israel and top Israel peace negotiator who confirms that the Jews were never in danger of defeat in their War of Conquest. You can find his alternative account on Norman Finkelstein's home page.

    To Rebecca R, the Muslim-Arab hostility is solely based on the events of 1947-8 and later. Muslims welcomed Jews earlier. Biblical history is but myth. The original Jews were Arabs.

    But nothing, whether myth or fact, justifies what Israel is currently inflicting upon Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous people of Palestine, dispossessed at gunpoint.

    Even if Israel just complied with international law, including complying with UN resolution 242, what I now call The Israeli Problem would be peacefully resolved.

    You can read more of my views by visiting kbrmrebutted.blogspot.com.

    • 13.1
      Dave says:

      Tell you what You give me your house, clothes, autos money and any thing else I can think of OK

  14. 14
    Chen Weisong says:

    Good article and precis of the early stages of the war. It generally accords with other accounts I've read and I can detect no obvious "distortion."

    Seeing Luc Hansen's name on Philip Weiss's site — a magnet for radicals, kooks, fringe anti-Israel conspiracy-theory types and assorted racist cranks — tells me everything I need to know about Luc Hansen, whose comments (predictably) strain to construe "distortion" in what is a fairly innocuous an inoffensive account of the early stages of the 1948 war.

  15. 15
    Jerry S. says:

    Luc Hansen: "To Rebecca R, the Muslim-Arab hostility is solely based on the events of 1947-8 and later. Muslims welcomed Jews earlier."

    Wow. Those Jews who suffered in the Arab pogroms and riots of the 1920s and 30s might beg to differ.

  16. 16
    Frere Loup says:

    The rights of "Conquest" have a long history with Aryan tribes (Brahmin; Persian; Greek; Latin; & Celt). If you "Win" you are right. If you "Lose", you are dogmeat and the victor gets to eat you and your family and your children – and the US will give you $5bn a year to buy the knives and forks and charcoal to cook the "meat" at the barbecue. Of course if the dogmeat fights back, with rocks and stones and suicide bombers, you get to play with your food before you eat it. Bon apetit.

    Such "normal behavior" will ionize the atmosphere of planet earth. The particular "Winner" who starts the conflagration will be irrelevant.

  17. 17
    Laura says:

    #

    Luc Hansen: “To Rebecca R, the Muslim-Arab hostility is solely based on the events of 1947-8 and later. Muslims welcomed Jews earlier.”

    Wow. Those Jews who suffered in the Arab pogroms and riots of the 1920s and 30s might beg to differ.

    By Jerry S. on Apr 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Not to mention the Arabs who hopped on board with Hitler, knowing full well what Hitler's intended end for Jews was.

    There is an incomplete sense in which Hansen is sort of right – many were willing to accept Jews in their midst, but this largely dissolved the instant the Jews wanted to be self-governing and not let their survival be subject to the whims of another ethnic or religious majority.

  18. 18
    A. Lord says:

    I would like to suggest a possible explanation for the never ending conflict: all parties in the Israel-Palestine issue banked in 1947 on a Jewish defeat – except the Jews themselves. The US was neutral and hostile. Britain convinced the Arabs that they don't have to accept the UN resolution and the UN itself did not fulfil it's duty bringing forces to defend the Jews and enforce the partition. Most telling is the u.s.s.r behavior. They supported Israel the same way they supported 10 years earloer the Spanish republic – i.e, they counted on it's defeat. They supported the Jews as long as was needed to throw the Brits. When they saw that Israel survives, they turned fiercely against it – as soon as November 1948. So Israel exists by mistake; all the cinical and cruel calculations of the Powers and the Arabs were dashed and the equilibrium hasn't been found since. The Arabs understood from the powers and the UN that it's okay to continue fighting. Everybody thought along the years that there is something to gain – and thus from disaster to disaster.

  19. 19
    d otis says:

    I see nothing in this informative article to suggest bias. The history of the world is full of population displacement and subsequent misery. You can hardly blame the Jews for doing all they can to ensure their survival or for succeeding. People who feel very strongly about this, on one side or the other, ought to look around their own neighborhoods – victims of injustice are everywhere and provide every opportunity for would be champions to do something useful with their righteous indignation.

  20. 20
    Luc Hansen says:

    Laura: you highlighted a mistake in my post, thank you. I meant to write "Muslim – Jew" hostility, the point being that the religious aspect developed as a result of the territorial conflict. I would also point out that from 1492 it was Europe who persecuted Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.

    And in 1492, incidentally, the Ottoman empire happily accepted 50,000 Jews from Spain, only a few of whom settled in Palestine. The point again is the lack of religious hostility.

    Palestinians should not have been made to pay for European genocide.

    Chen: play the ball, mate. Morris' article is inoffensive only to those who readily accept the romantic myths Israel assidiously promotes and which Ben Ami demolishes. Read the transcript.

    A. Lord: interesting conspiracy theory unsupported by facts. Remember that the western nations voted en masse in favour of 181 while all Muslim and Arab states justifiably opposed it.

    I return to my main point: whatever the sins, real or imagined, of Palestinians in the past, nothing justifies the continuing oppression and killing of present and future generations.

    In it's current belligerent, bullying, militaristic mode, Israel is a blight on humanity. And western complicity in Israel's sins casts a very dark shadow on us all.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Mike Stein says:

    A fascinating historical account that illustrates well the present-day Israel-Palestine conflict.

    The assurance of Israel's security and the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state are not helped by partisan, racist comments like the above from Luc who is clearly a vehement anti-Zionist.
    Clichés about Jewish life in Muslim lands are not helpful in the 21st century. Why have all minorities Jews, Christians, Bahai and others, practically disappeared in the last 100 years from countries where they had existed long before the rise of Islam? I guess it's all the fault of Israel, as usual.

    The fact remains that minority religions are not considered the equals of Muslims, and the protected status of 'dhimmi' didn't prevent Jews from being persecuted and massacred throughout 1300 years or so before 1948. The Jews rebelled against their hostile Arab neighbours ( as much as against the British ) and declared their independent nationhood in an act of self-defence.
    History has shown them to be in the right. Had they lost, they too would have suffered the fate of the Armenians who similarly wanted an independent country from the Muslim majority.

  23. 23
    Moroccan says:

    On Israel's so-called "independence day" in 1948, close to 70% of its citizens were foreign born (ref Israel's own census data). To this very day, majority of all Israeli prime ministers since 1948 are foreign born, many from Russia. To this very day, Israel as a state still does not have a decisive majority of native born citizens.

    This is a colony in the making.

    Now we can surely understand the right of a given minority to self-determination within its native lands but we can not accept a group of Russian-born fanatics who unilaterally decide that the time has come for them to go back to some place they claim God promised to them exclusively some 3000 years ago.

    Commentators in this thread must understand Arabs (with all their creeds and political affiliations) will never accept the unjust Zionist colonial project.

    The fact that the Zionists happen to be Jewish is no more significant than the French/Spanish colonists of Morocco/Algeria were Christians. It really is irrelevant. We view Zionists as Europeans.

    Commentators who infer that our refusal to accept the violent Zionist colonial project stems from anti-semitism are in-denial. Anti-semitism exists but one does not need to be fed anti-semitic propaganda to take a stand against a group of fanatics who hail from Russia and Europe who decided to settle in the Middle East against the will of its natives and b y the use of violence.

    The stolen lands need to be given back to their natives. Yes, justice can be served.

  24. 24
    Abu Nudnik says:

    "What right Israel have to established state on land of Muslim?"

    What makes land Muslim?

    And I wonder if you've bothered to read the article. The question is not "What right…" but "What necessity…"

    The Jews had nowhere to go if they lost but the sea or murderous Europe. Murderous Europe and merciless America and Canada that refused immigrants trying to flee the Holocaust are not the Jewish homeland. Zionism is not colonialism because one has first to have a base from which to emigrate to a colony. Where is the Jewish base? The gas chambers of Auschwitz? Is that where Jews belong?

    Had they not won, they would have been wiped out in a further chapter of the Holocaust by Husseini. By what right has anyone to say that people of other faiths cannot live here or there, cannot be equal citizens, must pay special taxes, etc… read history sir.

    This is an excellent article that explains why, now as then, either the Jews control the roads or the Arabs do. There is no doubt that mass murder would be the result of the latter though not the former. It is clear that only the Jews are prepared to accept a peaceful two-state solution (Resolution 81, remember?).

    What right had the white man to establish states in the Americas? The Jews at least were trying to establish one of two states, one Jewish, one Muslim, in the land of their own origin. It's astounding how hypocritical Western anti-Zionists are.

    What right have the Japanese to have a Japanese state that restricts citizenship to ethnic Japanese only and not to Chinese no matter how many generations they live there (unlike Israel); what right has Syria and other Arab states to deny Palestinian third generation residents citizenship (unlike Israel which grants citizenship by nativity, as do most civilized countries)?

    A first rate article!

  25. 25
    Moroccan says:

    Abu Nudnik,

    Zionism as a movement started way before the Nazis took over Germany. The fanatic colonists from Russia and Poland were already in Palestine fighting the native peasants for their lands before they knew the Holocaust was underway.

    You are using the holocaust as an excuse for conquering other people lands and for subjecting defenseless natives to collective suffering.

    Instead of using the holocaust as a lesson for humanity in order to prevent such sufferings to happen again, you use it as a justification for inflicting suffering on others.

    Zionism as a movement has used the colonial ideals of the time. Why do Zionists always pretend to have a superior morality?

  26. 26
    Zionist says:

    The Zionist ideologues are out in force.

  27. 27
    Jack says:

    Benny Morris took so much heat when he first discovered some documents questioning the Israeli myth of 1948 that he went over to the dark side and now repudiates his own work. He has become one of the leading apologists for Ashkenazi colonialism. Pappe, on the other hand, unrepentant about telling the truth, has been hounded out of Israel. Hasbarists will allow no facts to interfere with the great myth.

  28. 28
    Robert says:

    "To Rebecca R, the Muslim-Arab hostility is solely based on the events of 1947-8 and later. Muslims welcomed Jews earlier."

    To Muslims, Jews have always been dhimmi, legally and formally second class citizens with only the privilege the current rules wishes to grant. A Jew in a Muslim society is worse off than a black man in the Deep South of the 1930s.

    "But nothing, whether myth or fact, justifies what Israel is currently inflicting upon Palestinian Arabs,"

    Except the Palestinian Arabs' insistence on continued terrorism. If the Arabs stop their rocket attacks, Israel stops their IDF's incursions. It's that simple.

  29. 29
    Luc Hansen says:

    Mike: " Clichés about Jewish life in Muslim lands are not helpful in the 21st century." Then how helpful are myths from antiquity in the 21st century? How come Arabs take the rap for European expulsion, ghettoisation and slaughter? The first recorded mass-murderers of Jews were the Crusaders, who slaughtered Jews and Muslims with equal enthusiasm.

    Abu: Zionism is a form of colonialism, settler colonialism based on religious affiliation instead of ethnicity. European Jews did not originate from the ME, sorry. And read Pappe.

    Robert: The world is not perfect. Let's stick to the issue at hand. Even the title of this piece is misleading – it was always and remains the Palestinians "lashing back" at the Jewish invasion.

    And your final point simply demonstrates profound ignorance of the facts. Stopping rocket fire and resistance to occupation in return for stopping IDF "incursions" ie murder ignores the central issue – Israel's determination that forever Palestinians remain a defeated, oppressed people.

    I'm outta here now, folks. See you at http://kbrmrebutted.blogspot.com

  30. 30
    cowboy curtis says:

    The pro-Palestinian ideologues are out in farce.

    (misspelling entirely by design)

  31. 31
    Montasir says:

    "Independence war" …"Israel's Civil War" …historically Jewish land…..sounds to me like a lot of Pro-Israeli, not pro-Jewish necessarily, rhetoric.

    Initially Muslims don't hate Jews, they hate Israels and clearly a great many have found these words interchangeable.

    What would the USA do if some Red Indian tribe tried to establish a state within the U.S. it would probably kill them, extirpate them, or at least disease them with small box to death. The author is clearly insinuate that this conflict was initiated by Muslims….listen if some random people that come from the other side of the world come to take my homeland to establish a state i won't shoot them I'll obliterate them.

    The whole empathetic argument that they're holocaust survivors and need some land to live in peacefully….frankly, I'm not buying it. They were killed in Europe why don't they ask Germany for a slice of their land. The whole we were killed the world should feel sorry and kill others to quell them into giving us some land….I'm also not buying it.

    I agree with some that say this is a fair historical recollection. BUT IT'S ALL ABOUT CONNOTATIONS. The authors feeds you one or two truth you know then fits in some biased comment to twist the argument or distort it so that it seems that the Arabs are not suppose to be their this is Jewish land.

    Now we can argue about this for decades, and trust me, we have…but now it's time to reach some form of an agreement because frankly history….is history. What we Arabs failed to to do is get up and reconcile after we fell and failed. We failed to unite, we failed to improve, we failed to develop, now people start blaming Islam for the lack of education solidarity and strength in the Arab states. Then I feel like we failed to continue our Regligions messages. People are now predisposed into thinking that there is an intimate connection between Islam ,Suicide(which is a taboo in Islam), terrorism, and lack of education.

    Arabs and Muslims are seen as non-educated barbarians.
    The funny thing is the first scientist in the world,ibn- alhasan, is Muslim, actually who ever is reading this comment look up the Islamic Golden Age(at the time Europeans were uneducated and barbaric in their dark age). The Muslims initiated the most important thing in science….something called the scientific method they did studies in engineering, anatomy, optics, medicine, biology, physics, astronomy….while the European have not yet been introduced to paper. Does anyone recall what Saladin did? Does anyone recall how the Muslims were able to defeat the world's biggest empire ever, mongol empire, and be able to convert them into Islam? No. No does because that not what shows up on your everyday TV or Hollywood movie….it saddens me.

    Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for Jews as the greatest minds of today world but don't forget who built the foundations for them add on….all I'm trying to do is subvert this misconception of Muslims being stupid and uneducated.

    • 31.1
      Dave says:

      Which Saladin ? Tell me about how the Muslims defeated the Mongols . I realy want to know.

      • 31.1.1
        Beano says:

        convert them into Islam?

        Most Muslims ancestors were given a choice "submit to Islam or die" Jews and Christians were able to buy "protection" and "dhimmi Status" which if we look at it, it is nothing more than extortion!

        However the the protection they purchase in a Islamic state is not definative as many christians and Jews have been murdered for what? They have different religious beleifs! Beleif however according to muhammed is the same God! (its in the Quran)

        This is the 21st century we are supposed to be a civilized society but I ask you this what would happen if it were arabs that had nuclear weapons? How many Jews would there be left in Isreal? Or would it now be a radio active wasteland?

        Before the time of Muhammed the Jews and Arabs lived in relative harmony however after his war on the Bani Quarish Jews (because they would not convert) they have suffered under the yolk of Islam …. This is a fact ….. it is recorded in history one only has to do their homework!

        The Jews after the terrible holocast at the hands of the Germans wanted to go home is that a crime? They were willing to share! That is also not a crime! The Arabs (Muslims) didn't want to, infact several Arab states (all Muslim) sent armed assistence to achieve this end ….. They expelled nearly a million Jews from their own lands and stole their property!!!!

        So you still think that all this is justified!

        The Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years, they have had no land to call their own! Its time people stood up and said to them well done! good on you because you have finally said enough is enough!

  32. 32
    Mike Stein says:

    Boy, I can't help but wonder why this Arab-Israel conflict attracts such passion from outsiders who ostensibly have no direct connection with it.

    Jews didn't just re-appear in the Holy Land 2000 years after being expelled. Small communities had remained in all the holy cities, Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, Safed. European Jews are just as entitled to return as Oriental Jews, having the same genes as the latter. The reason that the League of Nations decided to set up a Jewish homeland in Palestine after WW1 was because the land had just become vacant after the breakup of the Ottoman hegemony, and no other nation had been created in the area since the expulsions by the Romans. The Arab Palestinians were mostly newcomers who came in either at the end of the 19th century or in the early decades of the 20th when the land started to be settled by the Jewish pioneers. Until the 60's, the local Arabs were not thought of as "Palestinians" anyhow.

    As for calling Israelis colonialists, how ridiculous can people be !
    Just because Europeans have a bad conscience about their history doesn't mean they can displace all that guilt upon the Israelis.

  33. 33
    Howard Hastings says:

    How many hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Christians and Jews were living on that "vacant" land after the breakup of the Ottoman hegemony?

    Not that it matters, if no one thought of them as "Palestinians" anyhow.

    As far as using genetic entitlement to trump existing land titles, I think someone has already done a "gene check" on Palestinian Arabs. How did that turn out?

  34. 34
    happipat says:

    How about this dissembling from the author: Plan D was not a master plan for explulsion, but when put into effect expulsion occurred.

    So expulsion was planned but it wasn't part of the plan!

    Typical Israeli obfuscation.

    Or the inset: "Palestines Jews". Excuse me, do you mean the European Jew recent immigrants who arrived intent on colonising Arab land?

    By the way, Mike, the Arab population of Palestine was 1.2 to 1.4 million, with only a few thousand recent immigrants. Arab homes and villages date back to Roman times.

  35. 35
    Robin says:

    so what are the different perspectives of the war today? from arabs and jews?

  36. 36
    Montasir says:

    The conflict is not a very complicated one. It's simple the jews were given some land that didn't belong to them….they said 55% should belongs to jews, but now like 80% belongs to jews. Still today continues the proliferation of settlements. And Palestine is no longer a country it's more like a couple of cities divided in political views.

  37. 37
    Mchl says:

    Israeli professor of sociology Baruch Kimmerling has written an account of Benny Morris and the history of 1947-48.

    http://hnn.us/articles/3166.html

    It is essential reading. It should also help answer the "different perspectives" question above.

    The level of many of the comments here is appalling, even by the usual standards. Rebecca evidently believes Palestinians to have so little in common with other human beings that driving hundreds of thousands of them – innocent men, women, children, grandparents – from their farms and homes could not conceivably account for any sense of grievance. That, for her, is instead conveniently explained by turning to religion, where she is pleased to believe her chauvinism to be not only respectable but secretly recognized as such by Muslims. While for Rebecca it is inferior or superior religious claims which determine title to land, in Mike Stein's thinking, it is his genes. He is apparently oblivious to certain other heinous ideologies to which he lends legitimacy by such arguments, and the absurd implications it would have for the rest of the world.

    The patience of those willing to engage with such people is admirable, especially given that doing so is ineffective when the principal problem is not an absence of knowledge (though indeed it sorely lacks) but an absence of ethics. Bigotry and racial ideologies of the kind on display above are impervious to facts: in challenging mytho-histories designed to deny or excuse ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population, one could forever cite scholarly debunkers (including Israeli and non-Israeli Jews such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Shlomo Sand, and many others) without making the least impression on them. However, rebuttals will at least be helpful for those readers not already misinformed to the point of implacable prejudice.

  38. 38

    [...] Submitted By: The Colossus of Rhodey – HistoryNet.com – Lashing Back – Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War [...]

  39. 39

    [...] Second place with 1 1/3 points – HistoryNet.com – Lashing Back – Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War [...]

  40. 40
    happipat says:

    Benny Morris' racism is evident in this extract from a 2004 article published in The Guardian:

    "To many in the west, the right of refugees to return to their homes seems natural and just. But this "right of return" needs to be weighed against the right to life and well-being of the five million Jews who currently live in Israel, about half of whom were born in the country, have known no other country and have no other homeland. Wouldn't the destruction or, at the least, the forced displacement of these 5 million – and this would be the necessary upshot of a mass Palestinian refugee return, whatever Arab spokesmen say – constitute a far greater tragedy than what befell the Palestinians in 1948 and, currently, a graver injustice than the perpetuation of the refugeedom of fewer than 4 million Palestinians?"

    Firstly, Morris demonstrates his view that any solution involving recognising basic human rights and norms for Palestinians, self-determination and right of return, in particular, would be an acopolypse for Jews. I am sure this view prevails in Israel. Yet it ignores the 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs who already co-exist with the Jews and who, in polls, indicate that they want this situation to continue. And it ignores countless examples of previously bitter enemies reconciling and working together for a common good.

    Secondly, Morris affirms that Palestinians do indeed have a right of return. A right which, according to Morris, must be denied. And this is where he descends into racism.

    Morris believes the fate of Palestinians is simply not as important as that of Jews, most of whom are recent immigrants or first generation. If this is not racism, I don't know what is.

    Morris lacks the imagination and goodwill necessary to arrive at the inevitable end result of this failed Zionist project – the return of Palestinians and the birth of a new nation.

    And Jews like Morris will emigrate, and good riddance to them.

    Morris can write all he likes about the past; it's the future that counts.

  41. 41
    Peace says:

    This is, as expected, a very biased article towards the Jews. Of course, most "articles" and media reports and TV coverages on this topic are. What else can be expected when the media and large corporations are controlled by the Jews, and when they ahve such a strong influence in the American government?

    Slowly but surely, people are starting to see the real picture. That what the Israelis did was inhumane and unjust, and hopefully, one day, the Palestinians will get a state to call their own.

  42. 42

    [...] Krauthammer's column "Obama’s Ultimate Agenda". Second place honors went to HistoryNet.com for “Lashing Back – Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War", for which I [...]

  43. 43

    [...] the time or current inclination to read a book-length treatment, Israeli historian Benny Morris offers one at HistoryNet.com. Still, give yourself half an [...]

  44. 44
    Gerard Hart says:

    I find this discussion interesting as it coming from a lot of preconceptions. Wrong has being done to the Palestines. A lot of wrong has been done to the Israelis as well. Don't forget that after the ww2 most jews weren't welcome in their homelands – remember pogroms happened in poland and rumenia and many countries had immigration restrictions. During the war of independance most (about 97%) of the jews living in arab countries were kicked out. The land they posessed was twice the size of of current Israel. A lot of wrong has been done, it is time for Israel to accept the Palestines and for the Arabs to accept the Israelis.

  45. 45
    Larry Krauser says:

    Hey Ramesh, I'll tell you the same thing the Texicans told the Mexican government when they demanded their weaons: "Come take it!"
    Long live Texas and long live Israel

  46. 46
    Joe Hamilton says:

    It's just too bad the Jews desire not to totally wiped out, inconvenienced some Moslems. They have 50 plus countries where they are the majority . The Jews don't need to apologize for saying , "OK, even though the Arabs have 30 countries including Jordan which is a Palestinian (sic) country, we will not just let ourselves be murdered ,in order not to inconvenience the Arabs of Jaffa". Anyone who says Zionism is racism is using projection. This when someone accuses someone else of having a negative characteristic in order to relieve their own inner guilt. So all you anti-Zionism are the most racist, bigoted people as you want to deny Jews any sanctuary after 2000 years of continuous persecution. I especially want to call out Luc Hansen who probably feels unconscious guilt for all the murder and pillage his Viking ancestors carried out. So to relieve his terrible feelings of guilt he picks on the Jews. Why don't you make amends for all mayhem your ancestors committed? Furthermore, all those residing in the US and Canada, who criticize Israel are the biggest hypocrits. You are residing on land you had absolutely no claim to and committed genocide against the native North Americans. If you want to see colonialists, bigots, and genocidists, LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

  47. 47
    Joe Hamilton says:

    Cowboy Curtis;
    You sound like the biggest idiot. Why didn't the Jews ask the Germans for land? Are you that stupid.

  48. 48
    Joe Hamilton says:

    To Mchl;
    Look in the mirror to see a real racist;
    You are correct. It is the future that counts

    Israel possesses 400 nukes. Who is going to make the Jews leave?

    Iran??

    Give me a break. Iran won't be able to have one ballistic missile avoid being shot down over it's own country or neighboring Arabs countries.

    Israel has the most effective , comprehensive missile defense system in the world. They are constantly improving it.

    The Jews will remain in their homeland they have lived in for 4,000 years.

    "Morris believes the fate of Palestinians is simply not as important as that of Jews, most of whom are recent immigrants or first generation. If this is not racism, I don’t know what is."

    No denying Jews a sanctuary after thousands of years of persecution is as racist as Adolf Hitler.

    "Morris lacks the imagination and goodwill necessary to arrive at the inevitable end result of this failed Zionist project – the return of Palestinians and the birth of a new nation. "

    400 nukes and increasing as we speak says you are an idiot if you think the return of the fictitious group you call Palestinians is inevitable.

  49. 49
    Arvind Leo Pereira says:

    The pain Palestine is going through is the land which was taken apart from the treaty that was signed initially.

    Peace can prevail if their territory can be returned to them.

  50. 50
    Arabicus Books & Media says:

    Benny Morris’s almost exclusive reliance on Israeli documentation results in a one-sided narrative of the civil war. Many of his conclusions are not supported by the documentary record or eyewitness accounts.

    The Arab-Zionist conflict was predicted after World War I. The 1919 U.S. King-Crane Commission confirmed that founding a Jewish state in Palestine could not be accomplished without violating “the civil and religious rights” of the indigenous Arabs. The British military warned that transforming Arab Palestine into a Jewish state could only be carried out “by force of arms.”

    War provides governments with strategic justification and cover to carry out ethnic cleansing. David Ben Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, viewed war as an opportunity to deal with the “Arab problem.” Under his leadership, Jewish settlers began preparing militarily in the 1930s for a decisive war to seize control of Palestine.

    The U.N. partition resolution of November 29, 1947 sparked the civil war. U.S., British, U.N., Zionist and Arab military analysts concur that Zionist militias were far superior in manpower and armament than the Palestinian Arabs during the civil war. The Haganah, IZL, and LHI went on the offensive in December 1947, according to experienced on-site U.S. and British military officers.

    Zionist forces depopulated twenty-six known Palestinian villages before April 1948, while Britain remained responsible for law and order in Palestine. The Haganah launched Plan D in early April when British troops were too few to counter Zionist offensives. The British hands-off policy during the civil war enabled the Arabs’ expulsions. During the civil war, the Palestinian Arabs were forced out of the major cities including: Acre, Baysan, Haifa, Jaffa, Safad, and Tiberias. Zionist militias seized control of most of the British-built state and military apparatus before May 15, 1948.

    The Zionists used the cover of war to deliberately and systematically expel over 400,000 Palestinian Arabs from 225 villages, towns, and cities before May 15. The majority of the Palestinians (55%) were forcibly displaced during the civil war before the British left Palestine on May 15. Even those cities and villages that concluded nonaggression pacts with the Zionists were attacked and their people expelled, including al-Maliha, al-Shaykh Muwannis, Abu Kishk, Miska, Haifa, Jaffa, Dayr Yasin, and many others. About 6,000 Jews were killed during the 1948 war, and an estimated 20,000 Palestinian Arabs.

    This was not a war against combatants; the Red Cross estimated that 84% of the Palestinians expelled were children under 15, pregnant and nursing mothers, the elderly, and the infirm. As the Arabs were being driven out, Jewish settlers robbed, harassed, humiliated, and killed them. Palestinians survivors reported that in numerous villages, those who remained after a Zionist attack—the handicapped, sick, wounded, and the elderly—were killed. Churches, mosques, and cemeteries were desecrated and destroyed to eliminate the Palestinian presence from the land.

    Even the last British High Commissioner of Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham viewed the Zionists’ actions as deliberate ethnic cleansing: “In the end, it was clear that it was the Jews who were trying to frighten the Arabs and to drive them into the sea…They were being pretty ruthless in their attacks and it was clear it was being done by conscious design.”

    The recent book, Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians by Rosemarie M. Esber (Arabicus, 2008), is a study of the civil war period of the 1948 Palestine war. The book is based on British, U.S. and U.N. military and diplomatic records, Israeli sources, and interviews with Palestinians who witnessed the civil war. Her research supports these findings and challenges Morris’s presumptions.

  51. 51
    Colin Smith says:

    This article is laughable in it's bias and revision of history. I thought to subscribe to this magazine, but am now glad i didn't. The State of Palestine was ethnically cleansed of 800,000 Palestinian Arabs, 531 villages were bulldozed flat and kibbutz built on top of them, there were 58 massacres, there was rape, torture, and atrocities committed by all the Zionist gangs and militias. The Palestinians are being methodically but relentlessly being pushed off their land. This policy continues today.Illegal settlements have broken up the Occupied Territories, The system of control has been compared to apartheid, the politics of the Zionist State called Nazism by prominent Jews.Palestinians are arbitrarily harassed by over 600 internal checkpoints, a meandering wall, and strutting, arrogant IDF troops who believe that God gave them the land. The brutality of the occupation has brutalized Israeli society and traumatized it's youth. Israel has become a pariah in the international community, kept afloat by billions of US dollars.The only state that has disappeared is Palestine, not Israel. Added to this, world opinion has concluded that Israel, with it's nuclear weapons, is the most dangerous state in the world. So much for historical truth!

  52. 52
    sampieses says:

    Little is said of, as how the Jewish settlers, on ground purchased from the Palestinians, succeeded in what the Palestinian Arabs had failed to (and could never) accomplish, i.e., make the land productive, the merciless attacks by the Arabs upon defenseless settlers. Until the Irgun were properly established – and that was one hell of a long time after 1868 – and a tit for tat rule was established – then, and only then, did the Arabs really start to become concerned. The Jewish people wanted only what they had purchased, and they needed to consolidate their aquisitions, which they did, eventually,i.a.. So many refuse to take an in-depth look at the past before commiting their ignorance to word. Such are the Colin Smiths of this world

  53. 53
    Dov Coder says:

    When Israel is accused of conducting a Nazi policy – without any factual basis for such a serious statement, and contrary to reality in which the state of Israel operates according to democratic laws and under the watchful eye of the Supreme Court (which is world renowned) – this is a case of anti-semitism. When there is one-sided criticism of the security fence and roadblocks to check Palestinian traffic, without presenting anti-Israel terrorism and Israels need for defensive measures, this is a discriminatory attitude.

    When human rights organizations devote a great part of their time to criticizing the state of Israel but do not refer equally to blatant human rights violations elsewhere, such as the premeditated murder by Palestinian terrorist organizations for decades of thousands of innocent Israeli citizens including infants, children and old people, and even more since the intifada, to the mass murders and expulsions in other places for example, in Sudan, or to ignoring the denial of citizen rights to women and homosexuals as is common in many Arab and Muslim countries – this is a one-sided discriminatory attitude whose motives we should question. In quite a few cases the motives are anti-semitic.

  54. 54
    Zvika says:

    It is funny to see people blaim Morris for a pro-israel bias approach where in Israel he is considered a revisionist pro-Arab historian.
    Neither claims are true of course . This article shows Moriss' balanced and thorough approach to the issue.

    As an Israeli, I find it difficult to read about bad things done by my people (like Dier Yassin). However, as a human being and as a History student I can't ignore them either. Morris does well by describing the attrocities done by both sides and by providing the full variety of reasons that created the refugee problem that still troubles the middle east today..

    Some answers to claims raised in comments:

    Moroccan : "most Israeli prime ministers were immigrants". Well, the same can be said about President Obama's father (and acording to some Americans – Obama himslef…). So ????

    "Israel is made of Russian born fanatics" – good one, Haven't had this kind of good lough for years

    "What right Israel have to established state on land of Muslim?"
    Well, what right have the muslims of Afganistan (Al-Kaida) to attack the US at 9/11? – the country that armed them, trained them and helped them win back their liberty from the Soviets?

    Ramesh: "U.K.U.S.A.. had very bad intention to hand over this land to Jew, they want this land under their control for oil"
    Go back to geography 101 Ramesh, Israel is the only place in the middle east that doesn't have any oil whatsoever.,, this is why most of the world supports the Arabs against us (besides post colonial guilt)

  55. 55
    arab muslem says:

    The Zionist enemy will remain the Zionist enemy, because the existence of this entity in the heart of the treacherous
    The Arab-Muslim world is a big mistake, because this entity is not involved with the Arab world
    Islamic basic characteristics of the Arab-Muslim world (religion, language, customs and traditions)
    Thus the existence of this entity in the Arab world will remain constant tension in the Middle East.
    The only solution to end the problem of the Middle East and the world's problem is to unite the Arab and Islamic countries
    Ministry of Defence and one common to all Arab and Islamic countries and the expulsion of Jews from Palestine, all of
    Palestine, because Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain forever, God willing,

  56. 56
    YJ Draiman says:

    End the Unjust Arab Occupation of Jewish Land

    NO PALESTINIAN STATE – No land concessions R7.

    Imagine that the various people who settled in the United States for the past 300 years decided one day that they one to parcel the United States into an independent State just for them, would the American public go for it. The Answer is absolutely NO.

    The situation in Israel today is no different. The Arabs there are not Palestinians, there is no such Arab nation as Palestine or Palestinian people.

    Europeans countries today are consisting of numerous people from other countries. Would the Europeans people cede part of their country to set up another State in their midst. The answer is absolutely NO.

    Archeological excavations and historical data is the best proof Israel belongs to the Jewish Nation and non-other.

    All the Arabs in Israel and surrounding areas are from the various Arab nations, such as Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab nations.

    Transfer all Arabs from Israel to Jewish Land and Homes confiscated by Arab Countries.

    Prominent PLO Arab says there are no 'Palestinians' and no "Palestine"

    PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein admitted in a March 31, 1977 interview with a Dutch newspaper Trouw.

    "The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism. "

    The Qur'an 17:104 – states the land belongs to the Jewish people

    If the historic documents, comments written by eyewitnesses and declarations by the most authoritative Arab scholars are still not enough, let us quote the most important source for Muslim Arabs:

    "And thereafter we [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'.".

    017.104
    YUSUFALI: And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, "Dwell securely in the land (of promise)": but when the second of the warnings came to pass, We gathered you together in a mingled crowd.
    PICKTHAL: And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.
    SHAKIR: And We said to the Israelites after him: Dwell in the land: and when the promise of the next life shall come to pass, we will bring you both together in judgment.

    - Qur'an 17:104 -

    Any sincere Muslim must recognize the Land they call "Palestine" as the Jewish Homeland, according to the book considered by Muslims to be the most sacred word and Allah's ultimate revelation.

    Any building of housing in The Greater Israel is the right and duty of the Israeli government. There is no such a thing as occupied territory. It is the land of Israel for over 4,000 years.

    Sequence of historical events, agreements and a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel totaling approximately 45,000 square miles, as mandated by the League of Nations in July of 1922. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel. (You might as well break apart Syria which was mandated at the same time).

    YJ Draiman.

    PS

    20 Years of Research Reveals Jerusalem Belongs to Jews

    (IsraelNN.com) Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded: "Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law.".

    Gauthier has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier had to present his thesis to a world-famous Jewish historian and two leading international lawyers – the Jewish one of whom has represented the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions.

    Gauthier's main point, as summarized by Israpundit editor Ted Belman, is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.

    End the Unjust Arab Occupation of Jewish Land

    Bible, Zechariah 1:14 Thus says the L-RD of hosts, "I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion." Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Jewish Bible, NOT once in the Koran. Psalm 135:12 "He gave their land as a heritage to Israel His people." Thousands of years ago, G-D foretold in Bible the present-day murderous hate for Israel. Psalm 83 They have said, "Come and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more. For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant". The Bible makes it clear that the war is against G-D.

    http://einshalom.com/archives/57

  57. 57
    YJ Draiman for council says:

    End the Unjust Arab Occupation of Jewish Land

    NO PALESTINIAN STATE – No land concessions R7.

    Imagine that the various people who settled in the United States for the past 300 years decided one day that they one to parcel the United States into an independent State just for them, would the American public go for it. The Answer is absolutely NO.

    The situation in Israel today is no different. The Arabs there are not Palestinians, there is no such Arab nation as Palestine or Palestinian people.

    Europeans countries today are consisting of numerous people from other countries. Would the Europeans people cede part of their country to set up another State in their midst. The answer is absolutely NO.

    Archeological excavations and historical data is the best proof Israel belongs to the Jewish Nation and non-other.

    All the Arabs in Israel and surrounding areas are from the various Arab nations, such as Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab nations.

    Transfer all Arabs from Israel to Jewish Land and Homes confiscated by Arab Countries.

    Prominent PLO Arab says there are no 'Palestinians' and no "Palestine"

    PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein admitted in a March 31, 1977 interview with a Dutch newspaper Trouw.

    "The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism. "

    The Qur'an 17:104 – states the land belongs to the Jewish people

    If the historic documents, comments written by eyewitnesses and declarations by the most authoritative Arab scholars are still not enough, let us quote the most important source for Muslim Arabs:
    "And thereafter we [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'.".
    017.104
    YUSUFALI: And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, "Dwell securely in the land (of promise)": but when the second of the warnings came to pass, We gathered you together in a mingled crowd.
    PICKTHAL: And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.
    SHAKIR: And We said to the Israelites after him: Dwell in the land: and when the promise of the next life shall come to pass, we will bring you both together in judgment.
    - Qur'an 17:104 -
    Any sincere Muslim must recognize the Land they call "Palestine" as the Jewish Homeland, according to the book considered by Muslims to be the most sacred word and Allah's ultimate revelation.

    Any building of housing in The Greater Israel is the right and duty of the Israeli government. There is no such a thing as occupied territory. It is the land of Israel for over 4,000 years.

    Sequence of historical events, agreements and a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel totaling approximately 45,000 square miles, as mandated by the League of Nations in July of 1922. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel. (You might as well break apart Syria which was mandated at the same time).

    YJ Draiman.

    PS
    20 Years of Research Reveals Jerusalem Belongs to Jews

    (IsraelNN.com) Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded: "Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law.".

    Gauthier has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier had to present his thesis to a world-famous Jewish historian and two leading international lawyers – the Jewish one of whom has represented the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions.
    Gauthier's main point, as summarized by Israpundit editor Ted Belman, is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.

    We must unleash the wrath of G-D against the enemies of Israel and those collaborating with the enemy.
    End the Unjust Arab Occupation of Jewish Land

    Bible, Zechariah 1:14 Thus says the L-RD of hosts, "I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion." Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Jewish Bible, NOT once in the Koran. Psalm 135:12 "He gave their land as a heritage to Israel His people." Thousands of years ago, G-D foretold in Bible the present-day murderous hate for Israel. Psalm 83 They have said, "Come and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more. For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant". The Bible makes it clear that the war is against G-D.
    http://einshalom.com/archives/57

  58. 58
    No Fear says:

    A solid, no-nosense, well-rounded account of the fighting that preceeded the Arab invasion. Morris has clearly done his research on this issue. Well done.

  59. 59
    Krishna Kumar Panjaje says:

    A very good article by the renowned Israeli Historian Benny Morris. Irrespective of what anyone says, the fact remains that the Jews were fighting for their very survival while the Arabs mainly left the fighting to their surrogates. To all those who want to moralize, there is no place for morals in international relations over the past 5000 years. It is either kill or be killed. The wolf eats the lamb. However, in this case it turned out that the lamb was a powerful bighorn ram.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy