Sunday, April 05, 2009

History Lesson:

Lashing Back - Israel’s 1947-1948 Civil War

By Benny Morris |

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.

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. [-]

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.

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