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The War of Independence, 1948 - The Peace FAQ

The War of Independence, 1948

Frequently Asked Questions:

● What was Israel's War of Independence? Independence from whom?


● Weren't both sides responsible for that war?
● How did so many Arabs become refugees?
● How many Arabs fled?
● What right did Israel have to declare itself a state anyway?
● Why did Israel take territories which were designated to become part
of a Palestinian Arab state?
● We hear alot about the Arab refugees of that war - were there any
Jewish refugees? Why don't we hear about them?
● What is the relationship between Naziism and the Arab attitude
toward Israel?

What was Israel's War of Independence? Independence from


whom?

● On May 14, 1948, against all the odds, the modern state of Israel
was reborn. At four o'clock that afternoon the members of the
provisional national council, led by David Ben-Gurion, met in the
Tel Aviv Art Museum. Ben-Gurion rose and read the following
proclamation to the assembled guests:

The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish


people. Here there spiritual, religious and national
identity was formed. Here they achieved independence
and created a culture of national and universal
significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the
world.

Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained,


faithful to it in all countries of their dispersion, never
ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the
restoration of their national freedom. . .

Accordingly we, the members of the National Council,

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The War of Independence, 1948 - The Peace FAQ

representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the


Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn
assemble today, the day of the termination of the
British Mandate of Palestine, by virtue of the natural
and historic right of the Jewish people and the
Resolution of the General Assembly of the United
Nations, hereby proclaim the establishment of the
Jewish state in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL . . .

With trust in Almighty God, we set out hand to this


declaration, at this session of the Provisional State
Council, in the city of Tel Aviv, on this Sabbath eve,
the fifth year of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth day of May,
1948.

● The key to this question is reflected In the behavior Of the British In


1947. When, in that year, the Arabs rejected the partition of
Palestine and refused to set up the projected Arab state, the British
administration, then still governing Palestine under the Mandate,
refused to carry out the recommendations of the United Nations to
implement the partition plan. The British government made it plain
that it would do all in its power to prevent the birth of the Jewish
state. Britain announced that she would not -- and indeed, she did
not -- carry out the orderly transfer of any functions to the Jewish
authorities in the Interim before the end of the Mandate on May 15,
1948. Everything was left In a state of disorder. This was Britain's
first contribution to the burden of the nascent state.

When, immediately after the United Nations Assembly decision, the


Palestine Arabs launched their preliminary onslaught on the Jewish
community, the Britlsh Army gave them considerable cover and aid.
It obstructed Jewish defense on the ground; it blocked the
movement of Jewish reinforcements and supplies to outlying
settlements; it opened the land frontiers for the entry of Arab
soldiers from the neighboring Arab states; it maintained a blockade
in the Mediterranean and sealed the coast and ports through which
alone the outnumbered Jews could expect reinforcements; it handed
over arms dumps to the Arabs. When Jaffa was on the point of falling
to a Jewish counterattack, it sent in forces from Malta to bomb and
shell the Jewish force. Meanwhile, it continued to supply the Arab
states preparing to invade across the borders with all the they asked
for and made no secret of it.

- Samuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and fantasy in Palestine

● In 1948, after the UN voted to give Israel statehood, Jordan and 6


other Arab countries invaded the reborn Jewish homeland, despite
the fact that those Arab states were not directly affected by Israel's

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The War of Independence, 1948 - The Peace FAQ

rebirth. The stated purpose of this invasion was to "push the Jews
into the sea", i.e. genocide. What Hitler didn't finish three years
earlier, the Arabs would finish once and for all. This is not mere
speculation; the Arabs of the former British Mandate of Palestine
were led by a Nazi collaborator, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was up
for charges at Nuremberg before escaping in 1946. Entire books
have been written on how al-Husseini actively supported Hitler's aim
to exterminate the Jews in WWII.

The Jews were able to secure weapons from one country only:
Czechoslovakia. And through one of the greatest miracles of modern
times, and a testimony to the will to survive, tiny Israel was not only
able to survive intact - she was also able to capture territory from
which the Arab aggressors attacked; this is the penalty for waging
war (and losing), and it always has been. Unfortunately, both Jordan
and Egypt were able to expand their territories; Jordan captured
what is now refered to as the "West Bank" (their original Jewish
names are Judea and Samaria) including the Jewish eastern half of
Jerusalem (now known as "Arab East Jerusalem"), and Egypt
captured what is now known as the Gaza Strip - both countries
murdered and expelled EVERY Jew who was living there at the time.
During the 19 years that Jordan and Egypt occupied those territories
(now know collectively as the "Occupied Territories"), neither country
thought to create independent states for the remaining Arabs (now
known collectively as the "Palestinians") residing in those territories.
Instead, those regions were plundered and allowed to rot; Jewish
graves were desecrated and the gravestones were used to pave
roads and build latrines, the Jewish homes were given to Arabs and
mezzuzahs in the doorposts were either ripped out or just painted
over (evidence of such can be found even today in "Arab East
Jerusalem").

Another Antisemitic reprocussion of Israel's rebirth was that most of


the Arab Muslim countries of the Middle East expelled EVERY single
Jew living there and confiscated all their assets. Most of these Jewish
refugees went to Israel, and in just a few years doubled Israel's
population. Incidentally, the number of Jewish refugees and their
posessions greatly outnumbers any claims by Arab refugees of the
1948 war. The next great miracle was the speed in which the
primarily Ashkenazi Jews of Israel absorbed an equal number of their
Arabic-speaking bretheren into society. By comparison, displaced
Arabs were forced into refugee camps by their Arab bretheren and
most remained there throughout the 19 years of Arab occupation.
And contrary to popular belief, there was not a policy of expulsion of
Arabs from Israel; if so it was not very successful, as 14% (and
climbing) of Israels citizens are Arabs.

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The War of Independence, 1948 - The Peace FAQ

Weren't both sides responsible for that war?

● "We appeal ... to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to


preserve peace and participate in the building-up of the state on the
basis of full and equal citizenship and representation in all its ...
institutions.

"We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in
an offer of peace and goodwill, and appeal to them to establish
bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish
people settled in its own land."

- David Ben-Gurion in Israel's Proclamation of Independence, May


14, 1948

● How did protracted warfare first arise between Israel and the Arabs?.
Not even militant Arab leaders or anti-Zionist historians could
conceivably accept the view that the 1948-49 conflict was a war of
Jewish origin. On February 16, 1948, the UN Palestine Commission
reported to the Security Council: "Powerful Arab interests, both
inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General
Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the
settlement envisaged therein." The Arabs themselves were
unambiguous in accepting responsibility for starting the war. Jamal
Husseini informed the Security Council on April 16, 1948: "The
representatives of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday they were not
the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not
deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight." As
for the British commander of Jordan's Arab Legion, John Bagot
Glubb, he remarked candidly: "Early in January, the first
detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into
Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through
Amman....They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of
the Arabs of Palestine." Israel came into being on May 14, 1948. The
five Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq
immediately invaded the new microstate. Their combined intention
was expressed publicly by Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the
Arab League: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous
massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and
the Crusades."

- Louis Rene Beres


Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science
Purdue University

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● Damascus radio called on all Arabs to "undertake the liberation battle


that will tear the hearts from the bodies of the hatefull jews and
trample them in the dust" - quoted in TIME, June 2, p. 20

● "the surviving Jews would be helped to return to their native


countries, but my estimation is that none will survive"

- Ahmed Shuqeiri (later to be PLO chief) quoted in Churchill and


Churchill, p. 52

● "We were racists, admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source
of its thought... Whoever lived during this period in Damascus would
appreciate the inclination of the Arab people to Nazism, for Nazism
was the power which could serve as its champion, and who is
defeated will by nature love the victor".

- Sami al Jundi, leader of Syrian Baath party, "Al Baath" Beirut,


1961. From B. Lewis, "Semites and Anti-Semites" pp.147-148.

● "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacare


which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacares and the
crusades"

Arab Leugue Secretary General Azam Pasha, May 15, 1948 (quoted
in "New Dimensions" Jan. '91).

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