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Palestine, a Twice-Promised Land, but for whom?

posted 6 Aug 2017, 08:20 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Who Really Started the 1948 War and When?

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Did Zionists start the war,

with the intention of driving out the Palestinian population?

...the United Nations, in its historic resolution in November 29, 1947, determined that two nations would arise in this land, a Jewish one and an Arab one, and it also laid down the border between them. The Arabs embarked on war against this resolution, and Israel took advantage of situation to expand its territory. The War of Independence in 1948 ended without a peace agreement. The cease-fire lines determined at the war’s end were accepted by the world as the border of the new state. In the 68 years since, that has not changed. inContext

Following the UNSCOP recommendations, on November 29 of that year the UN General Assembly approved a plan to create independent Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to remain a separate entity, under UN control. Although the area designated for the Jewish state was small, the Jews realized that independence was the most important thing. It was one of the lessons of the Holocaust, which had ended just three years earlier. On the other hand, the entire Arab world objected to the solution. Why, it asked, should the people of Palestine pay the price for the Holocaust that had been perpetrated by peoples of Europe?
A few days after the UN resolution was passed, shots were fired at a Jewish bus. That is how the first stage of the war began.


Arabs launched the 1948 war after the United Nations adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine.

To understand the events, the situation bears describing. The two populations in Israel were geographically intertwined. Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv had Jewish and Arab neighborhoods next to one another, within touching range. Practically every Jewish village was surrounded by Arab villages. Their existence depended on roads that were controlled by Arab villages. After the UN resolution, gunfire erupted throughout the land. True, formally the British still controlled it, but they endeavored not to get involved.


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David Ben Gurion, the Chairman of the Jewish agency, and named as the future Prime Minister of the Jewish state to be in Palestine, is shown at the Jerusalem camp visiting soldiers of the Haganah, the Jewish fighting force. The Jewish agency is expected to declare the Jewish state on May 16th, one day after the British leave Palestine.

The Haganah Jewish militia, which was still underground, got Jewish traffic moving, in convoys that were commanded by the organization’s young men and women. The women were especially important, because they could conceal weapons in their clothes.
On the Arab side, on the other hand, there was no central command. The attacks were being perpetrated by villagers, often armed with old rifles. Since some of these villagers were primitive, there were atrocities. Our side responded in the same coin, and thus the confrontation became more vicious. A group of 35 Haganah fighters, most of them students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was ambushed on the way to delivering supplies on foot to the four besieged kibbutzim of the Etzion Bloc, south of Jerusalem. All of them were slaughtered. We saw photographs showing their severed heads being paraded through the Old City of Jerusalem.
The inevitable strategy of the Jewish side was to expel the Arabs from around the roads. The Jewish communities were ordered to stay put, at any cost. Only a handful of isolated settlements were evacuated. In February 1948, the British withdrew from the area of Tel Aviv, which became the core of the Jewish state. At the same time, the British also withdrew from the Arab areas.
By late March, both sides were suffering terrible losses.


With the British about to leave, it became imperative for the Jews to gain control of the territory that had been assigned to the Jewish State. Such a move would enable the Jews to have a foothold when the Arabs would invade.
To this end, an operational plan ("Plan D") was devised. This plan would be carried out in stages which would be adapted to the manner and rate of the British troop withdrawal.
The first objective of Plan D was to open the road to Jerusalem, to this end Operation Nachshon was devised.
The name "Operation Nachshon" was derived from the biblical personage Nachshon Ben Aminadav who was the first to jump into the Red Sea when the Jews fled Egypt. . Operation Nachshon was a first in many respects. It was the first major Hagana operation and it was the first time that a "brigade force" was employed.
Before this the Hagana had operated in company-size only. The brigade force, comprised of three battalions and numbering 1,500 men, was and specifically organized for this operation. These men were armed with Czech weapons that had been smuggled into the country on April 1 at a hidden airstrip in the south. These weapons were covertly issued to Hagana members who were desperate for arms. inContext


[At some point it became] obvious that the armies of the surrounding Arab states were poised to join the war. That awareness changed the nature of the warfare completely. In preparation for the anticipated battles, the Jewish army “cleansed” large areas of its Arab population, in order not to leave concentrations of Arab civilians behind our lines. It could be justified on tactical grounds.

There were hours in which all seemed lost. But then, slowly, our luck began to change. [We saw] mass expulsions of Arabs from the cities and villages. It was clear that this was an intentional policy by the Jewish leadership.


When both sides were completely exhausted, the war ended with a series of cease-fire agreements and the Green Line – the 1949 Armistice Line marking Israel’s de facto borders – was created.
Relatively few Arabs remained within Israel’s post-1948 borders, but the forgotten fact is that not one single Jew remained in the territories conquered by the Arab side. Luckily for us, these territories were small relative to the territories conquered by our side. Both sides engaged in ethnic cleansing before the term had been coined.  inContext


Palestine, a Twice-Promised Land,

but for whom?

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Isi Davis’ Uncle Shlomo/Solomon was born in Romania. During the war he was sent to a Hungarian slave labour camp. After the war he went to Israel.


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Isi’s Aunt Sheva, (in uniform,) and his two uncles, Solomon and Baruch .

Sheva and Baruch stayed in Israel. Solomon emigrated to Canada in 1953 and had two children.



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In the field. Golda Meir and the first prime minister David ben Gurion came to inspect the troops before they went into battle… giving them a pep talk.



In Solomon’s own words:

2. When I was 21 years old, 1940, I was in the Romanian Army. After Hungary occupied Romania, I was allowed to go home. I stayed home until 1942 with my parents and 8 brothers and sisters. After 42, I was sent to go to the Hungarian Forced Labour Camp.


3. The Bricha were at the Czech/German border secretly taking Jews by night over the border, through Germany. After crossing I registered to go to Palestine. First I went to German Kibbutz and waited 6 weeks. From there we travelled...


4. In Tel Aviv we landed, the Israelis came to take us off the boat. I was dressed as a soldier after 5 days. I was ready! I was happy to volunteer as a soldier!


5. First I was stationed for 2 months training in Machne Davide. We moved after 2 months to Nesher Haifa and trained again. We used English rifles from WW2, French machine guns (Bren,) hand grenades, and bazookas. I was sent north to the Galil in the mountains, we made bunkers and camped against the Arabs.


6. I especially remember the 10 days of attacks. I remember the time before we attacked. We prepared for the order, we sat in position for 4 weeks. We patrolled 3 or more times per week the area, looking for Arabs, protecting the Kibbutzim. I remember everything from the moment I was dressed as a soldier, in the bunkers and in the mountains. I recall our last attack, we captured Arabs and German officers. We took them and blindfolded them until the police took them for espionage. Interrogation.


5. They (the Arabs,) were attacking the Kibbutzim. They had Syrian rifles. There I received a new Czechoslovakian rifle. I carried also a “Sten” machine gun day and night, grenades and bandages. I spoke Yiddish at first, and began to learn Hebrew. I was in the Galil 1 year and we made heavy attacks. We attacked 4 major bases - Lebanese bunkers.

  1. Miron - The first major attack - the worst, and then we went forward to

  2. Tarsheecha - 1 day later

  3. Sassa - 3 days later, finally…

  4. Malchia - inside Lebanon, about 5 miles in.

This whole venture took 10 days of day and night fighting, non stop. Very heavy. We slept little.


6. The first attack I travelled with the Kernel. I protected him all night with another soldier and our Jeep driver. We delivered special letters to the Front in the middle of the night.

Bullets were flying. The driver was swerving and it was heavy battle. The machine guns didn’t stop.

The driver wanted to stop, and the Kernel insisted he had to continue and deliver the messages.

In the morning we took Maron. Then I took position with my land bazooka and missile gun.

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Galil -- I’m the one with the cap.


I remember seeing Ben Gurion. He came to see us up north and spoke to us for 20 minutes. I saw him again in Eilat with Golda Meir.


7. After the war of independance… They sent us to Haifa and gave us 4 pounds per week. We looked for work and told we were free to go. We had no families. We could go back to the Army to eat and sleep. I found carpentry work in Beit Shan. And got married.


8. How did your experiences of 1948 change you?  A lot! My life was changed, I always think about what happened and my friends who fell, close to me. And the injured.


9. Young people today… They should volunteer in Israel to protect our Israel. They must understand we have a Jewish land. -- VOLUNTEER


10. Peace is essential and necessary. When I came back from the 2nd world war, I felt I had to go fight for the Jewish State.


Thanks Isi and please thank your cousin Leah


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