Introduction to Israel's war of independence
A statement is attributed to David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the State of Israel: “In Israel, a man who does not believe in miracles is an unrealistic person.”
There is no doubt that the Jewish people’s modern history is an amazing story that seems to have progressed against all odds and all reasonable and logical scenarios.
What was the prospect of the Jewish people’s recovery after an 1800-year hibernation? What was the chance of getting out of the Auschwitz crematoriums and concentration camps?
What was the chance of facing the Arab-Islamic murder lust and the unwavering desire to destroy the tiny Jewish minority within the Middle East’s Islamic Ocean?
What was the likelihood of winning the wars in countries with so much more favorable workforce and natural resources? What was the chance of 600,000 people taking in a million refugees (Jews) into them?
What was the chance of establishing a free democratic society after a never-ending sequence of extermination attempts, first by the Germans and then by the Arab-Muslim?
What was the chance of establishing a prosperous industry within an economy in constant war and must invest a lot of resources only in maintaining its existence?
There were enough good reasons for the Zionist project to fail. A lot of reasons. But in practice, it did not happen; the opposite did.
What is Zionism
The Zionist movement was founded towards the end of the nineteenth century. It aimed to solve the Jewish problem in Europe by establishing a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
Despite having a religious background, the movement was a secular force that believed that the Jewish people deserve their own nation in their ancestral homeland. Zionism represented Jewish longing for Israel’s land and the dream of returning to live a normal and independent life.
Theodor Herzl founded the Zionist movement in 1896. Herzl was an assimilated Jewish journalist from Austria who, following coverage of the Dreyfus trial in France, realized that even the assimilation of Jews in the society they live in would not solve anti-Semitism.
Herzl became the forerunner of modern Jewish nationalism. Although he was not the first to lead the national Jewish awakening, he was the first to organize it politically. In 1987, the first Jewish Zionist Congress was held in Basel, and from there, the Zionist movement continued to lead the Jewish people towards the establishment of the State of Israel.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist Congress’s leadership has been centered on the Jewish people’s general tasks, but they have no part in the official leadership of the State of Israel.
1948 – The Establishment of Israel
To understand the picture of the Land of Israel’s territorial situation at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, it is important to recognize several key milestones in Israel’s history in modern times.
When Zionism began, the land of Israel was part of the Ottoman Empire. In November 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued by British Foreign Minister Alfred James Balfour. The declaration recognized the Jewish people’s right to a national Jewish home in the territories of Israel.
Towards the end of the First World War, Israel’s land was conquered by the British, and the government passed into their hands. In 1920, the San Remo Conference, an international conference of the victorious countries in World War I, convened and made decisions, some of which dealt with the Middle East and the division of responsibilities between Britain and France.
One of the conference decisions was the definition of the area designated for the future Jewish state. The area included Israel’s territory today, including Judea and Samaria, parts of the Golan Heights, and eastern Jordan river bank (all of Jordan today).
The Conference also decided to include in the British Mandate the Balfour Declaration and impose on Britain, as the Mandatory Power, to implement the Declaration.
The decision on the transfer of the mandate stated: “The mandate holder will be responsible for fulfilling the statement issued by the British government on November 2, 1917, and accepted by the other consent governments, in favor of founding the” National Home “for the Jewish people in Israel.”
These were the first legally valid international decisions in the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. Later, due to Arab violence and Britain’s desire to please the Arabs, Britain arbitrarily trampled these decisions.
The United Kingdom has abandoned its historical and moral role and misappropriate it in its mandate on Israel’s land. Instead of helping build a national Jewish home in Israel, Britain did as much as it could to prevent it. Things peaked during the Holocaust when the British prevented Holocaust survivor Jews from coming to Israel.
Those who managed to arrive at Israel’s shores on what the British called “illegal immigration” was forced to return to the Nazi prey and send them back to their deaths.
Thus, in 1948, the declaration of establishing the State of Israel, the Jews numbered 600,000 and controlled a relatively small area within Israel’s land, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
In November 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of establishing the State of Israel based on a territorial division plan between Jews and Arabs, according to a United Nations commission plan. According to the plan, the Jews received only 15,000 square kilometers, about 55% of Israel’s land, after the British had already cut 75% of it in favor of Jordan (from the San Remo Conference).
According to the United Nations Partition Program, Jews received only 14% of the area promised to them at the San Remo conference in the first place.
3 points are critical to understanding:
1. This is a tiny area inside an Arab Islamic ocean in the middle east. The vast majority of Arabs who settled in Israel’s limited territory were immigrants from many countries from across the Middle East and Africa for livelihood, exactly according to the model seen in Islamic immigration to Europe in recent years. While the Arabs controlled more than 8 million square kilometers, Jews received a small New Jersey territory area.
2. The territory the Jews received under the Partition Plan was militarily defensible. The area was divided into three different sections that were easily military-cut off. Moreover, the narrow strip of coastal plain given to the Jews was narrow 15-km-wide and completely geographically dominated by Judea and Samaria’s mountainous territory.
3. Judea and Samaria, the cradle of birth of the Jewish people, a parcel of land that is more identified than any other territory with the Jewish people, was given to the Arabs
Despite all this, the Jews said yes to the partition plan, and the Arabs answered negatively. Even 15,000 square kilometers in an Islamic Arabian ocean were too many.
The Arabs were not in favor of this plan or any other plan. As far as Muslim Arabs were concerned, no Jewish settlement was acceptable to even on one acre. Jewish independence was in complete contrast to the Islamic view that Jews (like Christians or members of any religion other than Muslims) can live under Islamic patronage as Dhimmi.
Thus Jews have lived for many generations in Islamic countries. The Dhimmi class is a racist and discriminatory class designed to humiliate the “infidels.” This class included rules that set humble and inferior life for the Dhimmis.
It is important to note that since then, the Arabs have not withdrawn from their position. Even when they signed peace agreements, they never regarded them as peace agreements designed to regulate normalization between Jews and Arabs, but as a stage on the way to fulfilling the strategic goal and the elimination of the Jewish entity.
Over time, practical changes have occurred in relations between the Arab states and the State of Israel, mainly due to the Iranian threat to the Sunni Arab states.
Historical perspective of the Arab- Israeli conflict
The Arab-Israeli conflict is the general title given to wars between Israel and the Arab states. The title represents the most fundamental mistake in the concept of conflict.
The mistake consists of two issues. The first issue is the use of a conflicting term, which means a serious disagreement. The second issue is the terminology “Israel Arab,” which means a political conflict between two modern political entities.
The truth is completely different. What is commonly called an “Arab Israeli conflict” is an ancient historical confrontation between Islam and all that is not Islam. Islam dichotomizes the world: a Muslim area and an area that will be Muslim through war.
Islam does not view other religions as having equal rights and does not recognize its right to independent political expression in Islamic territory. Jews have more than 1400 years of history with Islam, and these have not been good years.
The Jews have lived in one long, and lasting humiliation when their lives depend on the good (or bad) will come of their Muslim neighbors. They were allowed to live near Muslims according to a series of discriminating rules, which made them protégés of the ruler.
Life under Islam governance and rules included pogroms and daily bullying, the kidnapping of women and children, forced Islam, special tax payments, and more. Jews, as did Christians and any other religion, could never live as equals with Muslims.
Equality between Muslims and non-Muslims, i.e., heretics in terms of Islam, cannot exist. This is the root of the conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the 1990s, Professor Samuel Huntington published his book “Clash of Civilizations” and proved that Muslims are involved in many of the world’s violent conflicts.
He coined the phrase: “The borders of Islam are drawn in blood” before the bloody “Arab Spring” and before the rise of ISIS and Al Qaeda. The “conflict” is part of the ancient struggle between Islamic civilization and Judo-Christian civilization. The State of Israel is just one more individual case of the wider struggle.
From a geographical perspective, there aren’t many reasons for conflict between Israel and the Arab countries. The State of Israel dominates the percentage (0.008%) of the Middle East’s total area. This is one tiny Jewish state compared to 56 Islamic countries, of which more than twenty Arab-Islamic countries.
There were countless offers, plans, and opportunities to resolve this conflict, but it never happened, no matter what the proposal was. The Arab side did not move from its principled position not to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (e.g., no legitimacy for Jews to have their own country) and not to have normal relations with it, such as those that exist, for example, between the United States and Canada or between France and Italy.
However, the root cause of the current day’s conflict with the “Palestinian” Arabs started with Zionism’s rise and since the new Jewish settlement in Israel’s land at the end of the 19th century.
Palestine’s name was given to Israel by the Roman government about 1,850 years ago, during the war against the Jews and a desire to erase the Land of Israel’s Jewish identity.
Since then, the name remains Palestine, but it never indicated any nationality because there was never a Palestinian nationality.
The terminology was essentially administrative, and therefore all the Jews living in the Land of Israel held Palestinian certificates (from the Ottoman Empire or British empire that replaced them). The “Palestinian” Arabs consisted of three groups:
- local Arabs who lived in Israel.
- Bedouin tribes
- Arabs immigrants to Israel (started as soon as the Jews began to flourish in the wilderness and create many employment opportunities).
Arab immigration continued for decades and included migrants from dozens of countries across the Middle East and North Africa. A fantastic analysis of the history of the confrontation and the emigration of Arabs to Israel written by journalist Joan Peters: From time immemorial.
Arab terror against Jews began immediately with expanding the Jewish community in Israel during the nineteenth century. As explained earlier, terrorism was waged against Jews generations before anyone could claim anything about “occupation.” From Islam’s perspective, terrorism was a legitimate and useful weapon against Jews. However, the conflict intensified greatly with the intensification of the Jewish presence in Israel.
Israel’s War of Independence (1947-1949)
The War of Independence started immediately after the UN resolution, but a full-scale war waged the day after its independence declaration. Regular Arab armies invaded Israel to destroy it and terminate the Jewish community.
The Jewish army consisted of the three underground, established in the 1920s and 1930s. The undergrounds that were established in the first place to protect the Jewish community from Arab terrorism also waged war against the British at various stages of their reign in Israel.
The three underground (mainly the Hagana, which was the largest underground of the three) made up the IDF – Israel Defense Forces. The IDF was fighting regular armies from the following countries: Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Yemen.
In addition to the regular armies, there have been irregular forces of the Holy War, Palestinian Arabs, and the Arab Liberation army. Volunteers from Pakistan, Sudan, and the Muslim Brotherhood joined the Arab armies as well.
The IDF had close to 30,000 soldiers at the beginning of the war and a similar number of soldiers to the Arab forces. Later in the war, the IDF already had close to 120,000 soldiers and 64,000 soldiers to the Arabs.
Even though the Israeli troops were twice as many as that of the Arabs and had better training, the victory is sometimes interpreted as a miracle.
The price paid for the Jews’ victory was the killing of about 1% of their population. More than 6,000 Israelis died – most of them were Holocaust survivors and refugees. 15,000 people were wounded, making this Israeli’s bloodiest and costliest war.
The main results of the Independence War:
1. The Arabs failed to destroy the State of Israel and eliminate the Jewish settlement in Israel.
2. The State of Israel became an accomplished fact, and hence it began to develop.
3. Nearly a million Arabs fled the Land of Israel territories, following their leader’s call to evacuate the fighting areas to return as victors.
Since their return to Israel is a demographic elimination of Israel, their return has been completely avoided until today.
4. The territories of the Jewish state have grown from 15,000 square kilometers to 20,770 square kilometers.
Seemingly not a significant change, but in reality, it is a dramatic change. According to the partition plan, the same narrow and impossible transitions between the three geographical areas intended for Jews were eliminated, and a logical sequence was created between the regions.
5. Judea and Samaria remained occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan, an artificial state established by the British, as a reward for Abdullah, the son of Hussein Bin Ali, who helped the British in their war Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Abba Eban, one of the most famous Israeli diplomats of all time, called the new borders “the borders of Auschwitz” (the German extermination camp in Poland) because of the constant threat posed by the Judea and Samaria Mountains to the center of the State of Israel on the coastal plain.
Most Jewish leaders assumed that Judea and Samaria constituted for the Arabs an uncontrollable temptation to try to invade Israel again and cut it in two, in the narrow region of the coastal plain, where only 15 kilometers separated the border and the sea.
6. East Jerusalem, which included the Old City and the holiest places for Jews, remained in the Jordanians’ hands. According to the best of Arabic tradition, for 19 years, until Israel liberated East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War (1967), any access by Jews to these places, for visiting or prayer, was denied.
During the time between the War of Independence and the war that followed in 1956, the Jewish community doubled. Most of the young state’s resources were invested in absorbing close to a million Jews who immigrated to the State of Israel.
Most Jews from Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa were settled in the periphery under challenging conditions. It was a period of austerity and food rationing.
In contrast, the one million Arabs who fled under the Arab leadership’s order, hoping to return after the destruction of the Jewish community, became trapped in refugee camps in Egypt (the Gaza Strip was then under Egyptian control), in Jordan (both within Judea and Samaria and ruled by Jordan as well as within Jordan), Syria and Lebanon.
The Arab states, which had vast workforce resources, money (oil-derived), and territory, did not allow the Muslim Arab refugees, their own brothers, and sisters, to naturalize within the Arab states to fuel the hatred of the confrontation between Islam and the Jewish people.
That is, a small Jewish population of fewer than one million people managed to absorb close to one million people, into a tiny country. In inferior means, refugee Muslim Arabs were thrown into their bitter fate and housed in harsh conditions, unable to improve them.
This is how the Islamic world created a muggle wound that could not heal and continues for a fifth generation. Even these days, the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, and Hamas organization in the Gaza strip, perpetuates the refugees, which could have long been resolved, as weapons against the State of Israel.
This abnormal situation created an absurd in which “refugee status” became a kind of national genetics. Father bequeaths to his children, who continue to bequeath to their children, and so on to fifth generation, the state of “refugee.”
It is worth noting that this phenomenon is nowhere else in the world. World War II left tens of millions of refugees, and no one remained a refugee after a few years. The idea that there are refugees from the Second World War will sound despicable to all minds.
One million Jewish refugees forced to flee Arab countries for fear of their lives, leaving behind billions of dollars worth of property, were rehabilitated in the State of Israel. None of their descendants was considered a refugee. Only in the Arab world, through UN support and European countries, can “refugee status” go from one generation to the next.
To intensify the problem, and in stark contrast to the story of the Arabs being permanent residents of the Land of Israel long before the Jews began to resettle, the United Nations defined the Palestinian Arab refugees as living in Israel between June 1946 and May 1948 (the beginning of the War of Independence).
That is, it was enough to live in Israel for two (!) years only to receive the refugee status and move it on for a fifth generation.
If the Arabs were indeed residents of the country for so many years, why did the United Nations and the Arabs need to define refugee status for those who have only lived for two years in the territories of Israel?
Israeli Arab relations these days
Ironically and remarkably, the Arab world that invented the “Palestinian” problem because it refused to rehabilitate them after the War of Independence is also the one that began to lose interest in this problem in a wave of bigger problems.
The Arab World – Sony faces several unprecedented challenges that are causing a tectonic change in relations between Israel and Arab countries.
The Iranian challenge is the biggest and most serious of all. Iran, the leader of Shiite Islam, is waging an open war against it against Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunni Islam, through rebel groups in Yemen. Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose an unprecedented existential threat in its severity to Saudi Arabia.
2. The Economic Challenge – The global oil market has changed unprecedentedly as the United States has become energetically independent and an energy supplier to other countries. Falling oil prices pose a threat to the future of Saudi Arabia’s economy and Gulf states.
These two threats have the same answer, Israel. The overt and covert war waged by Israel against Iran, even when Obama turned the terrorist Iranian regime into an ally, gave confidence to Arab countries that Israel is a loyal and very significant ally in the struggle against Iran.
As for the economic challenge, Israel’s technological capabilities also enable strategic cooperation between Israeli technology companies and investment companies from the Gulf.
And so before our eyes take place a process that seemed impossible until a year ago. The Arab world that has been fighting against Israel for so many years is recalculating its course. There is a reasonable and optimistic basis for assuming that the dramatic change occurs before our eyes find expression in the Islamic worldview.