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The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, II Spring 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, II Spring 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, II Spring 2013

2 Guiding Ideas of 1947 UN Partition Plan Exclusively Arab areas became part of the Arab state, similarly for Jewish areas Mixed areas were supposed to become Jewish: creation of Arab minority (conceivably even majority) in Jewish state was preferred to alternative Unpopulated land (desert) given to the Jewish state to increase possibilities for expected immigration

3 David Wyman, Abandonment of the Jews Gives good sense of mind-set that led to such concessions to Jewish settlers in Palestine

4 Recall Future Territorial Development

5 Perspectives 1947/8 – Different accounts of events that led to state of Israel and Palestinian refugee camps Note: accounting is marred by fact that most documents are available only in Israeli, British, other non-Palestinian archives No national Palestinian archives Many more scholarly contributions from Israelis than from Palestinians

6 “New Historians” Earlier view: Britain tried to prevent establishment of Jewish state Earlier view: Palestinians fled homes of their own free will Earlier view: balance of power in favor of Arabs Earlier view: Arabs had coordinated plan to destroy Israel Earlier view: Arab intransigence prevented peace New Historians claim it tried to prevent a Palestinian state say refugees were chased out Israel had advantage in manpower and arms they were divided (Jordan wanted to benefit from partition to annex land) Israel is primarily to blame

7 Refugee Issue Palestinian psychology is marked by events of this period Arabs contend most Palestinians driven out by deliberate campaign of Jewish terror Israeli spokesmen insist vast majority left of their own volition

8 How Events Unfolded Violence erupted within hours of the vote on partition in November 47 (vote on Nov. 29, 47) Nobody considered partition plan binding given real or anticipated actions of the other STAGE I --- Civil war, Nov. 1947- May 14, 1948 STAGE II --- Declaration of State of Israel – Arab invasion War, in several stages, for much of remainder of 48

9 Relative Strengths Initially, Jews had about 35,000 fighters Lightly armed, well-trained, well-motivated, well-organized; supported from abroad Immigration policy had focused on young men; many Jews fought for British during war Palestinians: divided leadership; limited finances; no central administration; no reliable allies; harmed by rebellion 36-39 No elites with tradition of service because of subordinate status in Ottoman empire

10 Haganah

11 Irgun, Kind David Hotel, 1946 (91 dead)

12 Lehi/Stern Gang: assassinations

13 Civil War: Plan D – Expulsion? Palestinian strength well-suited to early months of the war, when conflicts were local – but then Haganah switched to offensive Lesch, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: ““Many scholars who have examined the issue have essentially concluded that Plan D was not intended to expel the Arabs entirely from Palestine but that it did create an operative framework and possibly a mind-set among some Jewish commanders and paramilitary groups taking matters into their own hands then led to unfortunate and tragic excesses. (…) One of those tragic excesses was the incident at the village of Deir Yassin on April 9, when elements from the Irgun and Lehi, led by Menahem Begin, killed (critics would say ‘massacred’) over 200 men, women and children in response to what they clamed to be enemy fire.”

14 (…) But instilling fear in the Arab population may well have also been Begin’s and his followers’ objective, and either as an intended or an unintended by-product, it seemed to work to a certain degree as word spread to other Arab villages, compelling many Palestinians to leave. It is also important to note that many Palestinians left their homes of their own accord to simply get out of the way of the fighting, especially as the conflicted broadened with the entrance of the Arab armies in mid-May. There is also some evidence to suggest that Palestinians heeded the call of Arab leaders to vacate certain areas so as not to impede their progression into Palestine. Again, however, regardless of the cause, it is clear that those Palestinians who either left or were forced out intended to return to their homes once the fighting was over. The Arabs retaliated for Deir Yasin on April 13, ambushing a column of primarily Jewish doctors and nurses on their way to Jerusalem – 77 were killed.” (pp 138f)

15 Benny Morris, Righteous Victims Morris p 205f: “The change in strategy was decided on incrementally in the course of the first week of April. Each decision appeared to be a response to a particular local problem. But by the end of the week it was clear that a dramatic conceptual change had taken place and that the Yishuv was now fighting a war of conquest as well as survival. This was prefigured in the Haganah’s Plan D (…) [to become effective after British departure] Its aim was to take over strategy areas vacated by the British, gain control over the main towns and the internal lines of communication, and secure the emerging state’s border areas in preparation for the expected invasion of the Arab armies. “

16 Cont. “Implementation in effect meant crushing the Palestinian Arab’s military power and subduing their urban neighborhoods and rural settlements in the areas earmarked for Jewish statehood. (…) Blocks of settlements outside the statehood areas (….) were also to be secured and linked up. Brigade and battalion commanders were given permission to raze or empty and mine hostile or potentially hostile Arab villages.”

17 Expulsion Policy? Morris P 256: “[W]hile there was no blanket policy of expulsion, the Haganah’s Plan D clearly resulted in mass flight. Commanders were authorized to clear the populace out of villages and certain urban districts, and to raze the villages if they felt a military need. Many commanders identified with the aim of ending up with a Jewish state with as small an Arab minority as possible.” Norman Finkelstein, for one, argues that there was such a blanket policy About the later stage: P 257: “Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state. But there was still no systematic expulsion policy; it was never, as far as we know, discussed or decided upon at Cabinet or IDF general staff meetings. Yet Israelis troops, both in the ‘Ten Days’ in July and (…) in October- November 1948, were far more inclined to expel Palestinians than they had been during the first half of the war.”

18 Expulsion Policy? Pappe Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine “This fourth and last blueprint spelled it out clearly and unambiguously: the Palestinians had to go. In the words of one of the first historians to note the significance of that plan, Simcha Flapan, ‘The military campaign against the Arabs, including the conquest and destruction of the rural areas, was set forth in the Hagana’s Plan Dalet.’ The aim of the plan was in fact the destruction of both the rural and urban areas of Palestine. […] Once the decision was taken, it took six months to complete the mission. When it was over, more than half of Palestine’s native population, close to 800,000 people, had been uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighborhoods emptied of their inhabitants. The plan was decided upon on 10 March 1948, and above all its systematic implementation in the following months, was a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity.” [pp xii-xiii]


20 More Pappe: “ Official Israeli historiography describes the next month, April 1948, as a turning point. According to this version, an isolated and threatened Jewish community in Palestine was moving from defense to offence, after its near defeat. The reality of the situation could not have been more different: the overall military, political and economic balance between the two communities was such that not only were the majority of Jews in no danger at all, but in addition, between the beginning of December 1947 and the end of March 1948, their army had been able to complete the first stage of the cleansing of Palestine, even before the master plan had been put into effect. If there were a turning point in April, it was the shift from sporadic attacks and counter-attacks on the Palestinian civilian population towards the systematic mega- operations of ethnic cleansing that now followed.” (p 85)

21 Deir Yassin, April 1948 – notice the causal grounding Dan Cohn-Sherbook, “A Jewish Perspective”, p 46 “In December the British indicated that they would continue to rule Palestine until 15 May 1948. The Mandate would then come to an end. In the remaining months British forces would be used only in self-defense; this meant that they would not intervene in any conflict between Arabs and Jews. In November the Jewish population was subjected to a number of attacks; these were followed by retaliation against the Arabs in which both the Haganah and the Irgun played a role. An these new circumstances the policy of self-restraint was abandoned. In April 1948 the Irgun attacked Deir Yassin, an Arab village near Jerusalem, killing 107 citizens. This onslaught led to the flight of the Arab population from areas with large Jewish populations. By mid-May about three hundred thousand Arabs had fled, seeking refuge in neighboring countries. “

22 Deir Yassin, Different Perspective Dawoud el-Alami, “A Palestinian Perspective:” Jewish terrorist organizations had fought the British since the 1930s but had showed restraint during the war. After the war, however, there was a wave of Jewish terrorist activity against Palestinians and even more so against the British. On 9 April 1948 a branch of the Irgun led by Menachem Begin carried out a massacre of mena, women, and children in the village of Deir Yassin. The calculated intention of this was to cause mass panic in the surrounding areas and in this aim it was entirely successful. Entire villages fled in fear that they would suffer the same fate. (…) The Israeli state [once declared] had the advantage of vastly superior organization, combined with the financial backing of world Jewry.

23 From Civil War to War British High Commissioner leaves country, May 14, 1948 4 pm: David Ben-Gurion declares statehood Arab armies invaded – strength: about 25,000 (in some estimates several thousands higher) Except for Arab legion in Jordan, these armies were ill-trained, undermanned, poorly led, ill-equipped Avi Shlaim: “The Arab coalition was one of the most divided, disorganized, and ramshackle coalitions in the entire history of warfare.”

24 Declaration of State of Israel

25 Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage “[O]f the five Arab regular armies, one (that of Lebanon) never crossed the international frontier with Palestine, two (those of Iraq and Transjordan) scrupulously refrained from crossing the frontiers of the Jewish state laid down in the UN partition plan as per secret Jordanian understandings with both Britain and the Zionist leadership and thus never ‘invaded’ Israel, and one (that of Syria) made only minor inroads across the new Israeli state’s frontier. The only serious and long-lasting incursion into the territory of the Jewish state as laid down under the partition plan was that of the Egyptian army. “

26 Cont. “Meanwhile, the fiercest fighting during the 1948 war took place with the Jordanian army during multiple Israeli offensives into areas assigned by the UN to the Arab state, or into the UN-prescribed corpus separatum around Jerusalem. This story of an invasion by multiple, massive Arab armies, and other legends, is not just an important element of the Israeli myth of origin: it is a nearly universal myth, and in taking it on, the Israeli (…) “new historians” (…) are shouldering a doubly daunting task.” [p XXXiX]

27 More Khalidi “The traditional Israeli narrative of these events ascribes responsibility almost entirely to the Arabs, claiming that Arab leaders told the Palestinians to flee and denying that Israel bore any responsibility for the flight of the refugees. Israel’s new historians, using Israeli, British, United Nations, and other archives opened since the early 1980s, have shown these claims to be groundless. (…) [W]hile in a few areas noncombatants were urged by the Palestinian leadership to evacuate their homes for their safety, and some fled before the fighting reached them, most Palestinians left because they were forced to do so either by direct Israeli attacks on their cities and villages or due to conditions of extreme insecurity.

28 Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel “ The reality: Israel defended itself against a genocidal war of extermination. The proof: As soon as Israel declared its independence, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon attacked it, with help from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Libya. Arab armies, with the help of Palestinian terrorists, determined to destroy the new Jewish state and exterminate its population. (…) The Israeli War of Independence was started by the Arabs, whose express aim was genocidal. (…) In defeating the Arab armies, Israel captured more land than that allotted to it by the UN partition. Much of the newly captured land had significant Jewish populations and settlements, such as in western Galilee. This land had to be captured in order to assure the safety of its Jewish civilian residents. The Egyptians and Jordanians also captured land, but for no reason other than to increase their own territory and to control their Palestinian residents. “ (p 74-77)

29 Results of the War Fighting with Arab armies happened in stages throughout 1948 In the end, 6000 Israelis dead; about the same, maybe more Palestinians; 1,400 Egyptians; several hundred Jordanian, Iraqis, Syrians, respectively; a few dozen Lebanese More than 700,000 Palestinians had fled their homes

30 Ruth Wisse, Jews and Power (2007) P 141: “Originally, he Palestinians who fled from their homes in 1948 were a relatively small and easily assimilable group moving often no more than several miles among people who spoke their language and shared their religion and culture. [The war over the creation of Pakistan and the Korean War] produced more than 20 million refugees between them, yet most of those refugees were reabsorbed within a generation. Only in the Arab case did a coalition of rulers, with millions of square miles and great wealth at their disposal, foster and cultivate the state of emergency as a means of sustaining a casus belli.”

31 Law of Return, revisited P 162f: “The antithetical politics of Jews and Arabs have produced antithetical results. Through tough centuries Jews looked inward, caring for one another. Shortly after its founding, Israel passed the Law of Return, granting every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel unless he or she is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people or is likely to endanger public health or the security of the state. (…) Because o Arab country shares Israel’s sense of responsibility for its co-religionists, because Arabs passed no Law of Return but instead prevented their resettlement, Palestinians must interpret solidarity as a crime or else admit the crime Arabs committed against them.”


33 Amos OZ “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (…) is not a struggle between good and evil, rather it is a tragedy in the ancient and most precise sense of the word: a clash between right and right, a clash between one very powerful, deep, and convincing claim, and another very different but no less convincing, no less powerful, no less humane claim.”

34 “[T]he crucial first step ought to be, must be, a two-state solution. Israel must go back to what has been the initial Israeli proposition since 1948 and even before, from the beginning: recognition for recognition, statehood for statehood, independence for independence, security for security. Neighborliness for neighborliness, respect for respect. The Palestinian leadership for its part must turn to its own people and say at last, loud and clear, something that it has never succeeded in pronouncing, namely that Israel is not an accident of history, that Israel is not an intrusion, that Israel happens to be the homeland of the Israeli Jews – no matter how painful this is for the Palestinians. Just as we Israeli Jews have to say loud and clear that Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian people, inconvenient as this may seem to us.”

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