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African Studies Review

Description: African Studies Review, a multi-disciplinary scholarly journal, publishes original research and analyses of Africa and book reviews three times annually. It encourages scholarly debates across disciplines. The editing of the African Studies Review is supported by Five Colleges, Inc., a consortium representing Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts.

Coverage: 1970-2011 (Vol. 13, No. 1 – Vol. 54, No. 3)

The “moving wall” represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a “zero” moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication. Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted. For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.

ISSN: 00020206

EISSN: 15552462

Subjects: African Studies, Area Studies

Excerpt from:
Unfinished Migrations: Diaspora – JSTOR

Written on November 5th, 2015 & filed under Diasphora Tags:

Written on November 5th, 2015 & filed under Palestine Tags:

HISTORY Settled in 9500, B.C. the Arab city of Jericho is one of the oldest human settlements. People farmed crops and kept animals. There is little documentation on the earliest inhabitants of modern Israel.

Throughout history many powers have ruled the area, including the Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Islamic leaders. Fighting continues today in the region.

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is considered a holy city by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. This city is the historical hub of all three religions and faithful followers of each religion have fought over it. Jews believe the Messiah will one day appear here, Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven from here, and Christians believe this is where Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

After the Nazi takeover of many countries in Europe, the Jews who were able to leave needed a new home. Many went to Israel. The State of Israel was created after Israel fought six wars with its Arab neighbors and the British left Palestine in 1948.

In 1967, after the Six Day War, Israel took control of Arab areas of Palestine which included the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Golan Heights. The areas became known as the Occupied Territories. To secure peace, Israel in 1982 ended its occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and returned the land to Egypt.

Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it in 1967Syria still claims this territory.

A Palestinian rebellion, called an intifada, began in 1987 and took hundreds of lives before negotiations resulted in a 1993 accord that granted Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho.

The Israeli military withdrew from all West Bank cities by 1997and also left southern Lebanon in 2000. After peace talks failed another intifada started in September 2000, and most of the West Bank was reoccupied by 2002.

See the article here:
Israel – National Geographic Kids

Written on November 5th, 2015 & filed under Israel Tags:

State of Israel

President-elect: Reuven Rivlin (2014)

Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu (2009)

Land area: 7,849 sq mi (20,329 sq km); total area: 8,019 sq mi (20,770 sq km)

Population (2014 est.): 7,821,850 (growth rate: 1.46%); birth rate: 18.44/1000; infant mortality rate: 3.98/1000; life expectancy: 81.28

Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Jerusalem, 791,000 Note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the U.S., like nearly all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Other large cities: Tel Aviv-Yafo 3.381 million; Haifa 1.054 million

Monetary unit: Shekel

National name: Medinat Yisra’el

Current government officials

Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic, English

Ethnicity/race: Jewish 75.1% (of which Israel-born 73.6%, Europe/America/Oceania-born 17.9%, Africa-born 5.2%, Asia-born 3.2%), non-Jewish 24.9% (mostly Arab) (2012 est.)

Religions: Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9% (2012 est.)

National Holiday: Independence Day, April or May 14

Literacy rate: 97% (2004 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2014 est.): $273.2 billion; per capita $36,200. Real growth rate: 3.3%. Inflation: 3.9%. Unemployment: 1.7%. Arable land: 13.68%. Agriculture: citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products. Labor force: 3.493 million; agriculture 1.65%; industry 18.1%; services 80.3% (2012). Industries: high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, footwear. Natural resources: timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand. Exports: $62.32 billion (2012 est.): machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel. Imports: $67.03 billion (2013 est.): raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods. Major trading partners: U.S., Belgium, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, UK, China (2006).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 3.594 million (2012); mobile cellular 9.225 million (2012). Broadcast media: state broadcasting network, operated by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), broadcasts on 2 channels, one in Hebrew and the other in Arabic; 5 commercial channels including a channel broadcasting in Russian, a channel broadcasting Knesset proceedings, and a music channel supervised by a public body; multi-channel satellite and cable TV packages provide access to foreign channels; IBA broadcasts on 8 radio networks with multiple repeaters and Israel Defense Forces Radio broadcasts over multiple stations; about 15 privately owned radio stations; overall more than 100 stations and repeater stations (2008). Internet hosts: 2.483 million (2012). Internet users: 4.525 million (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 975 km (2008). Roadways: total: 18,566 km; paved: 18,566 km (including 449 km of expressways) (2011). Ports and terminals: Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa. Airports: 47 (2013).

International disputes: West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement – permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a “seam line” separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel announced its intention to pull out Israeli settlers and withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank in 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied (Lebanon claims the Shab’a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region.

Major sources and definitions

Israel, slightly larger than Massachusetts, lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Egypt on the west, Syria and Jordan on the east, and Lebanon on the north. Its maritime plain is extremely fertile. The southern Negev region, which comprises almost half the total area, is largely a desert. The Jordan, the only important river, flows from the north through Lake Hule (Waters of Merom) and Lake Kinneret (also called Sea of Galilee or Sea of Tiberias), finally entering the Dead Sea 1,349 ft (411 m) below sea levelthe world’s lowest land elevation.

Parliamentary democracy.

Palestine, considered a holy land by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and homeland of the modern state of Israel, was known as Canaan to the ancient Hebrews. Palestine’s name derives from the Philistines, a people who occupied the southern coastal part of the country in the 12th century B.C.

A Hebrew kingdom established in 1000 B.C. was later split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel; they were subsequently invaded by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, and Alexander the Great of Macedonia. By A.D. 135, few Jews were left in Palestine; most lived in the scattered and tenacious communities of the Diaspora, communities formed outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile. Palestine became a center of Christian pilgrimage after the emperor Constantine converted to that faith. The Arabs took Palestine from the Byzantine empire in 634640. Interrupted only by Christian Crusaders, Muslims ruled Palestine until the 20th century. During World War I, British forces defeated the Turks in Palestine and governed the area under a League of Nations mandate from 1923.

As part of the 19th-century Zionist movement, Jews had begun settling in Palestine as early as 1820. This effort to establish a Jewish homeland received British approval in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. During the 1930s, Jews persecuted by the Hitler regime poured into Palestine. The postwar acknowledgment of the HolocaustHitler’s genocide of 6 million Jewsincreased international interest in and sympathy for the cause of Zionism. However, Arabs in Palestine and surrounding countries bitterly opposed prewar and postwar proposals to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish sectors. The British mandate to govern Palestine ended after the war, and, in 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine. When the British officially withdrew on May 14, 1948, the Jewish National Council proclaimed the State of Israel.

U.S. recognition came within hours. The next day, Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the new nation. By the cease-fire on Jan. 7, 1949, Israel had increased its original territory by 50%, taking western Galilee, a broad corridor through central Palestine to Jerusalem, and part of modern Jerusalem. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first president and prime minister. The new government was admitted to the UN on May 11, 1949.

The next clash with Arab neighbors came when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 and barred Israeli shipping. Coordinating with an Anglo-French force, Israeli troops seized the Gaza Strip and drove through the Sinai to the east bank of the Suez Canal, but withdrew under U.S. and UN pressure. In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel made simultaneous air attacks against Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian air bases, totally defeating the Arabs. Expanding its territory by 200%, Israel at the cease-fire held the Golan Heights, the West Bank of the Jordan River, Jerusalem’s Old City, and all of the Sinai and the east bank of the Suez Canal.

In the face of Israeli reluctance even to discuss the return of occupied territories, the fourth Arab-Israeli war erupted on Oct. 6, 1973, with a surprise Egyptian and Syrian assault on the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur. Initial Arab gains were reversed when a cease-fire took effect two weeks later, but Israel suffered heavy losses.

A dramatic breakthrough in the tortuous history of Mideast peace efforts occurred on Nov. 9, 1977, when Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat declared his willingness to talk about reconciliation. Prime Minister Menachem Begin, on Nov. 15, extended an invitation to the Egyptian leader to address the Knesset in Jerusalem. Sadat’s arrival in Israel four days later raised worldwide hopes, but an agreement between Egypt and Israel was long in coming. On March 14, 1979, the Knesset approved a final peace treaty, and 12 days later, Begin and Sadat signed the document, together with President Jimmy Carter, in a White House ceremony. Israel began its withdrawal from the Sinai, which it had annexed from Egypt, on May 25.

Although Israel withdrew its last settlers from the Sinai in April 1982, the fragile Mideast peace was shattered on June 9, 1982, by a massive Israeli assault on southern Lebanon, where the Palestinian Liberation Organization was entrenched. The PLO had long plagued Israelis with acts of terrorism. Israel destroyed PLO strongholds in Tyre and Sidon and reached the suburbs of Beirut on June 10. A U.S.-mediated accord between Lebanon and Israel, signed on May 17, 1983, provided for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Israel eventually withdrew its troops from the Beirut area but kept them in southern Lebanon, where occasional skirmishes would continue. Lebanon, under pressure from Syria, canceled the accord in March 1984.

A continual source of tension has been the relationship between the Jews and the Palestinians living within Israeli territories. Most Arabs fled the region when the state of Israel was declared, but those who remain now make up almost one-fifth of the population of Israel. They are about two-thirds Muslim, as well as Christian and Druze. Palestinians living on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip fomented the riots begun in 1987, known as the intifada. Violence heightened as Israeli police cracked down and Palestinians retaliated. Continuing Jewish settlement of lands designated for Palestinians has added to the unrest.

In 1988, the leader of the PLO, Yasir Arafat, reversed decades of PLO polemic by acknowledging Israel’s right to exist. He stated his willingness to enter negotiations to create a Palestinian political entity that would coexist with the Israeli state.

In 1991, Israel was struck by Iraqi missiles during the Persian Gulf War. The Israelis did not retaliate in order to preserve the international coalition against Iraq. In 1992, Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister. He halted the disputed Israeli settlement of the occupied territories.

Highly secretive talks in Norway resulted in the landmark Oslo Accord between the PLO and the Israeli government in 1993. The accord stipulated a five-year plan in which Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would gradually become self-governing. Arafat became president of the new Palestinian Authority. In 1994, Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan; Israel still has no formal agreement with Syria or Lebanon.

On Nov. 4, 1995, Prime Minister Rabin was slain by a Jewish extremist, jeopardizing the tentative progress toward peace. Shimon Peres succeeded him until May 1996 elections for the Knesset gave Israel a new hard-line prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by a razor-thin margin. Netanyahu reversed or stymied much of the Oslo Accord, contending that it offered too many quick concessions and jeopardized Israelis’ safety.

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in 1997 were repeatedly undermined by both sides. Although the Hebron Accord was signed in January, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron, the construction of new Jewish settlements on the West Bank in March profoundly upset progress toward peace.

Terrorism erupted again in 1997 when radical Hamas suicide bombers claimed the lives of more than 20 Israeli civilians. Netanyahu, accusing Palestinian Authority president Arafat of lax security, retaliated with draconian sanctions against Palestinians working in Israel, including the withholding of millions of dollars in tax revenue, a blatant violation of the Oslo Accord. Netanyahu also persisted in authorizing right-wing Israelis to build new settlements in mostly Arab East Jerusalem. Arafat, meanwhile, seemed unwilling or unable to curb the violence of Arab extremist.

An Oct. 1998 summit at Wye Mills, Md., generated the first real progress in the stymied Middle East peace talks in 19 months, with Netanyahu and Arafat settling several important interim issues called for by the 1993 Oslo Accord. The peace agreement, however, began unraveling almost immediately. By the end of April 1999, Israel had made 41 air raids on Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. The guerrillas were fighting against Israeli troops and their allies, the South Lebanon Army militia, who occupied a security zone set up in 1985 to guard Israel’s borders. Public pressure in Israel to withdraw the troops grew.

Labor Party leader Ehud Barak won the 1999 election and announced that he planned not only to pursue peace with the Palestinians, but to establish relations with Syria and end the low-grade war in southern Lebanon with the Iranian-armed Hezbollah guerrillas. In Dec. 1999, Israeli-Syrian talks resumed after a nearly four-year hiatus. By Jan. 2000, however, talks had broken down over Syria’s demand for a detailed discussion of the return of all of the Golan Heights. In Feb., new Hezbollah attacks on Israeli troops in southern Lebanon led to Israel’s retaliatory bombing as well as Barak’s decision to pull out of Lebanon. Israeli troops pulled out of Lebanon on May 24, 2000, after 18 consecutive years of occupation.

Peace talks in July 2000 at Camp David between Barak and Arafat ended unsuccessfully, despite President Clinton’s strongest effortsthe status of Jerusalem was the primary sticking point. In September, Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon visited the compound called Temple Mount by Jews and Haram al-Sharif by Muslims, a fiercely contested site that is sacred to both faiths. The visit set off the worst bloodshed in years, with the deaths of around 400 people, mostly Palestinians. The violence (dubbed the Al-Aksa intifada) and the stalled peace process fueled growing concerns about Israeli security, paving the way for hard-liner Sharon’s stunning landslide victory over Barak in Feb. 2001. Attacks on both sides continued at an alarming rate. Palestinians carried out some of the most horrific suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in years (Hamas and the Al-Aksa Martyr Brigade claimed responsibility for the majority of them), killing Israeli civilians at cafs, bus stops, and supermarkets. In retaliation, Israel unleashed bombing raids on Palestinian territory and sent troops and tanks to occupy West Bank and Gaza cities.

In 2003, in an attempt to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Israel and the United States resolved to circumvent Arafat, whom Sharon called irrelevant and an obstacle. Under U.S. pressure, Arafat reluctantly appointed a prime minister in April, who was to replace him in negotiating the peace process, Mahmoud Abbas, formerly Arafat’s second-in-command. On May 1, the Quartet (the U.S., UN, EU, and Russia) unfurled the road map for peace, which envisioned the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. Although Sharon publicly acknowledged the need for a Palestinian state and Abbas committed himself to ending Palestinian violence, by fall 2003, it became clear that the road map led to a dead end as Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians continued, and Israel stepped up its targeted killings of Palestinian militants. Sharon also persisted in building the highly controversial security barrier dividing Israeli and Palestinian areas.

In May 2004, the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s attack on the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, the largest Israeli military operation in Gaza in decades. In July, in response to a ruling by Israel’s supreme court about the construction of the West Bank barrier, Israel revised the route so that it did not cut into Palestinian land. The UN estimated that the original route would have taken almost 15% of West Bank territory for Israel.

Yasir Arafat’s death in Nov. 2004 significantly altered the political landscape. Mahmoud Abbas was easily elected the Palestinian president in Jan. 2005, and at a summit in February, Abbas and Sharon agreed to an unequivocal cease-fire. A continued threat to this cease-fire were Palestinian militant groups, over whom Abbas had little control.

On Aug. 15, the withdrawal of some 8,000 Israeli settlers began. The evacuation involved 21 Gaza settlements as well as 4 of the more isolated of the West Bank’s 120 settlements. The majority of Israelis supported Prime Minister Ariel Sharons unilateral planwhich he pushed through the Knesset in Oct. 2004viewing it as Israel’s just and humane response toward the Palestinians as well as a significant step toward real security for Israelis. But tens of thousands on the right protested that Sharon, an architect of the settlement movement, had become the agent of Gaza’s dismantlement.

While Sharon was lauded for what has arguably been the most significant step in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process since the Oslo Accord, the prime ministers unstated motives in conceding Gaza were generally assumed to be the strengthening of Israel’s hold on the West Bank.

Israel’s political parties underwent a seismic shift in late Nov. 2005. The Labor Party elected left-leaning Amir Peretz as their new leader, a defeat for long time leader Shimon Peres. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Sharon quit the Likud Partya party he helped foundand formed the new, more centrist Kadima (Forward) Party. The Likud Party had largely disapproved of the Gaza withdrawal Sharon sponsored, and he faced increasing discontent from the more right-wing members of the Likud Party. Former prime minister and hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu became Likud’s new leader.

In Jan. 2006, Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke that left him critically ill and unable to govern. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert became acting prime minister, and in general elections on March 28, Olmert’s Kadima Party won the largest number of seats. In May, he formed a coalition between the Kadima, Labor, ultra-orthodox Shas, and Pensioners parties.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died on Jan. 11, 2014. The official cause of death was heart failure, although Sharon had been in a coma since suffering from the stroke in Jan. 2006.

Israeli-Palestinian relations were thrown into further turmoil when the militant Hamas Party won an unexpected landslide victory in the January Palestinian parliamentary elections. Although Hamas had been in a cease-fire with Israel for more than a year the party continued to call for Israel’s destruction and refused to renounce violence.

In April 2006, Hamas fired rockets into Israeli territory, effectively ending the cease-fire between them. After Hamas militants killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped another on June 25, Israel launched air strikes and sent ground troops into Gaza, destroying its only power plant and three bridges. Fighting continued over the summer, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli troops reoccupying Gaza.

In early July, Israel was involved in war on a second frontwhich was soon to overshadow the fighting in Gazaafter Hezbollah fighters entered Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. In response, Israel launched a major military attack, bombing the Lebanese airport and other major infrastructures, as well as parts of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, led by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, retaliated by launching hundreds of rockets and missiles into Israel. After a week of fighting, Israel made it clear that its offensive in Lebanon would continue until Hezbollah was routed. Although much of the international community demanded a cease-fire, the United States supported Israel’s plan to continue the fighting until Hezbollah was drained of its military power. Hezbollah was thought to have at least 12,000 rockets and missiles, most supplied by Iran, and proved a much more formidable foe than Israel anticipated.

An Israeli opinion poll after the first two weeks of fighting indicated that 81% of Israelis supported the continued attack on Lebanon, and 58% wanted the offensive to continue until Hezbollah was destroyed. The UN brokered a tenuous cease-fire on August 14. About 1,150 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 150 Israelis, the majority of them soldiers, died in the 34 days of fighting.

A commission that investigated 2006’s war between Israel and Lebanon released a scathing report in April 2007, saying Prime Minister Olmert was responsible for “a severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility, and prudence.” It also said that Olmert rushed to war without an adequate plan. Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former army chief Dan Halutz were also rebuked in the report. Olmert resisted calls for his resignation and survived a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak returned to politics in June, having been elected head of the Labor Party. He defeated Knesset member Ami Ayalon. In addition, Shimon Peres, of the Kadima Party, was elected president in June. The presidency is a mostly ceremonial post.

Israeli jets fired on targets deep inside Syria in Sept. 2007. American and Israeli intelligence analysts later said that Israel had attacked a partially built nuclear reactor. Several officials wondered aloud if North Korea had played a role in the development of the nuclear plant. Syria denied that any such facilities exist and protested to the United Nations, calling the attack a “violation of sovereignty.”

At a Middle East peace conference in November hosted by the U.S. in Annapolis, Md., Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas agreed to work together to broker a peace treaty. “We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements, a joint statement said. We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. Officials from 49 countries attended the conference.

In Jan. 2008, the Winograd Commission released its final report on Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. It called the operation a “large and serious” failure and criticized the country’s leadership for failing to have an exit strategy in place before the invasion began. Prime Minister Olmert was spared somewhat, as the commission said that in ordering the invasion, he was acting in “the interest of the state of Israel.”

Prime Minister Olmert faced legal difficultiesagain beginning in May 2008, when he faced accusations that he accepted hundreds of thousands dollars in bribes from a New York businessman. Olmert said the funds were campaign contributions. The businessman, Morris Talansky, testified in May that he gave Olmert about $150,000, mostly in cash, over 13 years. Talansky said the money was for election campaigns and personal expenses and did not expect Olmert to reciprocate in any way. Olmert has faced similar investigations in the past but deftly survived the scandals.

For the first time in eight years, Israel and Syria returned to the bargaining table in May 2008. Israel hopes an agreement will distance Iran from Syria and diminish some sway Iran holds over the Middle East, and Syria wants to regain control over the Golan Heights, which was taken by Israel in 1967.

After years of almost daily exchanges of rocket fire between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, signed an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire in June. The fragile agreement held for most of the remainder of 2008. Israel continued its yearlong blockade of Gaza, however, and the humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza intensified.

Olmert resigned in September, as expected, after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was elected head of Kadima, the main party in the governing coalition. She was not able to form a new majority coalition, however.

While Palestinian and Israeli officials continued their dialogue throughout 2008, a final peace deal remained out of reach amid the growing rift between Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas. In addition, Israel’s continued development of settlements in the occupied West Bank further stalled the process. In late December 2008, days after the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired, Hamas began launching rocket attacks into Israel, which retaliated with airstrikes that killed about 300 people. Israel targeted Hamas bases, training camps, and missile storage facilities. Egypt sealed its border with Gaza, angering Palestinians who were attempting to flee the attacks and seeking medical attention. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the goal of the operation was not intended to reoccupy Gaza, but to restore normal life and quiet to residents of the south of Israel.

After more than a week of intense airstrikes, Israeli troops crossed the border into Gaza, launching a ground war against Hamas. Israeli aircraft continued to attack suspected Hamas fighters, weapons stockpiles, rocket-firing positions, and smuggling tunnels. After several weeks of fighting, more than 1,300 Gazans and about a dozen Israelis had been killed.

In September, Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist, released a UN-backed report on the conflict in Gaza. The report accused both the Israeli military and Palestinian fighters of war crimes, alleging that both had targeted civilians. Goldstone, however, reserved much of his criticism for Israel, saying its incursion was a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate, and terrorize a civilian population.” Israel denounced the report as “deeply flawed, one-sided and prejudiced.” The United States also said it was “unbalanced and biased,” and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that called the report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”

Goldstone recommended that both Israel and the Palestinians launch independent investigations into the conflict. If they refused, Goldstone recommended that the Security Council then refer both to the International Criminal Court. The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution in October that endorsed the report and its recommendation regarding the investigations. In November, the UN General Assembly passed a similar resolution. Both Israel and the U.S. said continued action on the report could further derail the peace process.

Parliamentary elections in Feb. 2009 produced inconclusive results. The centrist Kadima party, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, won 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the most of any party. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud took 27. The Labor Party fared poorly, garnering only 13 seats, behind the far-right party, Yisrael Beitenu, which took 15. Netanyahu, who became prime minister in April, formed a coalition government with Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, who was named foreign minister, and the Labor Party led by Barak, who became defense minister.

As a gesture of good will, compromise, and a fresh attempt at peace talks between Israel and Palestine, U.S. vice president Joe Biden traveled to Israel in March 2010 to begin indirect negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Soon after Biden arrived, however, it was announced that 1,600 houses would be built for Jewish settlers on the Eastern tip of Jerusalem, a section of the city Palestinians saw as part of their future capital. Biden immediately condemned the plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the timing, but refused to rescind the decision.

Just two weeks later, Netanyahu traveled to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama; their encounter was unusually secretive and specific discussions were not widely released. Obama was reportedly trying to force Netanyahu into making concessions, specifically to freeze the Jewish settlement-building plan in East Jerusalem. Obama insisted that Jerusalem and other larger issues of contention between Israel and Palestine be discussed in “proximity talks” and that eventual negotiations would have to include steps to build Palestinian confidence, such as releasing Palestinian prisoners and dismantling Israeli military road blocks. Netanyahu complained that his allies would rebel against him if such steps were promised. Obama emphasized that the two countries would have to resolve their issues themselves; the U.S. could only help in the discussion, not solve their problems for them.

In late May 2010, an activist group, Free Gaza Now, and a Turkish humanitarian organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi, sent a flotilla of aid to Gaza, a violation of a blockade that Israel and Egypt imposed on Gaza in 2007. The move was an apparent attempt to further politicize the blockade. In the early hours of May 31, Israeli commandos boarded one of the ships, and there are conflicting accounts of what happened next. The Israelis say the commandos were attacked with clubs, rods, and knives, and that they fired upon the activists in retaliation; the activists say the commandos opened fire when they landed on deck. Nine activists were killed in the conflict. Israel’s use of force on civilians was widely criticized as provocative and prompted leaders throughout the world to question the effectiveness of the blockade it has thus far failed to weaken Hamas but has had a punitive effect on the citizens of Gaza. Israel did in fact ease the blockade in June, allowing building materials and other essentials goods to be brought into Gaza.

Direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians resumed in September 2010. They hit a potentially deal-breaking snag early in the talks when Netanyahu allowed the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction to expire, and bulldozers were put to work almost immediately. Abbas, however, kept hopes for peace alive by saying he’d consult with other members of the Arab League before walking away from the table. Weeks passed with no progress, and as the impasse dragged on, the U.S. stepped in and offered to sell Israel 20 F-35 stealth airplanes and veto any anti-Israel resolutions put to a vote at the UN in exchange for a 90-day extension of the freeze. Netanyahu seemed open to the compromise, but failed to get the backing of his cabinet. The U.S. abandoned its pursuit of a deal in December, when it became clear that little would be accomplished in 90 days even if the deal were reached. At the same time, the U.S. declared that this round of negotiations had ended in failure.

In Jan. 2011, Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense and Labor party leader, quit his party to set up a new party called Independence. Four other members of parliament left with him. The remaining eight Labor party members moved to the opposition, shrinking Netanyahu’s coalition from 74 seats to 66 in the 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu insisted that the shift made his coalition stronger because members became more ideologically aligned. However, the opposition became stronger, too, which may be a sign that peace negotiations with the Palestinians can be revived.

On May 19, 2011, attempting to capitalize on the season of change in the Arab world, President Obama declared that the borders demarcated before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the basis of a Mideast peace deal between Israel and Palestine. He also said that the borders should be adjusted to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Obama’s speech came a day before a scheduled meeting with Netanyahu in Washington. The Israeli government protested immediately, saying that a return to the pre-1967 borders would leave Israel “indefensible,” which Netanyahu reiterate during his meeting with Obama. However, Netanyahu maintained that Israel is open to negotiations.

On July 30, 2011, 150,000 people protested in streets across the country, including in Jerusalem. It was one of the largest demonstrations in Israel’s history and the biggest protest ever over economic and social issues. Protests started earlier in the month over rising housing costs, organized largely by a Facebook-driven campaign by young people, much like the social media campaigns that aided change in Egypt and other nations in the region. With much of the region knee-deep in political unrests, and no peace plan with Palestine in sight, protestors have grown tired of setting aside domestic issues for the sake of the nation’s security. While increasing housing costs were a catalyst, protestors were also reacting to a growing sense of frustration over the fact that the country’s soaring wealth remains in the hands of a few people, while the average Israeli struggles to cover basic expenses.

On July 31, 2011, the director general of the finance minister resigned over the protests. Although none of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition parties have pulled out, the protests could have an impact on the government, particularly in reviving the defeated left. Left wing parties could swing the power back in their direction with the public focused on social issues rather than settlements in the West Bank and a two-state solution with Palestine. Those latter two issues still put the left wing at odds with the majority in Israel.

As protests continued throughout August 2011, Israel announced a plan to build a 1,600-unit apartment complex in Ramat Shlomo, an area of East Jerusalem. The Interior Ministry also said that it would soon approve another 2,700 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, part of the area that Israel annexed after capturing it from Jordan. The announcement threatened the United States effort to renew the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The new housing plans angered the Palestinians and came a month before the Palestinian Authority was scheduled to go before the United Nations General Assembly to declare statehood. Israeli groups opposed to housing construction on land conquered in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War were also angered. These opposition groups accused the Israeli government of exploiting the country’s housing shortage, which has led to high rent costs and recent mass protests.

Tensions flared between Israel and Egypt in August 2011, when militants attacked the Israeli resort town of Eilat, on the Egypt-Israel border. Eight Israelis were killed and 30 were wounded. Six Egyptian border guards were also killed in the shootings. Israeli authorities blamed the attacks on the Popular Resistance Committees, a group that has worked with Hamas and said they believed the attackers crossed into Israel from Egypt. Egypt in turn blamed Israel for the deaths. Israel responded with several airstrikes on Gaza, killing the Popular Resistance Committee’s commander, among others. Egyptian officials denied that the attackers crossed through. Hamas also denied Israel’s accusations.

The cross-border attacks threatened the decades of peace between Israel and Egypt. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants fired several rockets into Israel from Gaza, killing one civilian and wounding six others. Hamas, which controls Gaza, took credit for the rockets fired into Israel.

In Sept. 2011, thousands of protestors attacked the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, demolishing a protective wall while Egyptian security forces watched. Two dozen protestors broke into the offices and threw documents into the street. The Israeli flag was ripped down. When riot police attempted to stop the attack, protesters fought back with Molotov cocktails and stones. At least two protestors died in the attack and at least 1,200 were injured. The attack in Egypt came just one week after Turkey expels Israel’s ambassador.

On Sept. 23, 2011, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas officially requested a bid for statehood at the UN Security Council. The request came after months of failed European and U.S. efforts to bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority requested a Security Council vote to gain statehood as a full member of the UN rather than going to the General Assembly. One of the reasons for this was that the General Assembly could only give the Palestinian Authority non-member observer status at the UN, a lesser degree of statehood. In addition, the European states in the General Assembly made it clear that they would support the proposal if the Palestinians dropped their demand that Israel halt settlement construction. The Palestinians have long insisted that Israel cease the settlement construction and deemed the condition unacceptable. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority preferred to take its case to the Security Council even though the U.S. has vowed to veto the request.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the United Nation’s General Assembly hours after Abbas filed the bid for statehood. Netanyahu disagreed with the Palestinian’s proposal for statehood through the UN, urging Abbas to return to negotiating directly with Israel instead. “The truth is the Palestinians want a state without peace,” he said.

The following year, on Nov. 29, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly approved an upgrade from the Palestinian Authority’s current observer status to that of a non-member state. The vote came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the General Assembly and asked for a “birth certificate” for his country. Of the 193 nations in the General Assembly, 138 voted in favor of the upgrade in status. While the vote was a victory for Palestine, it was a diplomatic setback for the U.S. and Israel. Having the title of “non-member observer state” would allow Palestine access to international organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). If it joined the ICC, Palestine could file complaints of war crimes against Israel.

In response to the UN vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not transfer about $100 million in much-needed tax revenue owed to the struggling Palestinian Authority and would resume plans to build 3,000-unit settlement in an area that divides the north and the south parts of the West Bank, thereby denying the Palestinians any chance for having a contiguous state.

In Dec. 2012, Israel defied growing opposition from the international community by forging ahead with the building of new settlements. Israel’s Housing Ministry approved various new settlements throughout the last month of 2012. Construction on them began immediately. With the exception of the United States, every member of the UN Security Council condemned the construction, concerned that the move threatened the peace process with Palestine.

On Oct. 18, 2011, Gilad Shalit, a 25-year-old Israeli soldier, was released after being held for more than five years by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group. In a deal brokered by Egypt, Shalit was exchanged for 1,000 jailed Palestinians, some of whom were convicted planners or perpetrators of deadly terrorist attacks. After the swap, Hamas called for its members to capture more Israel soldiers to exchange them for the remaining 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Still many saw the exchange as a sign of hope. Shalit’s release had become a national obsession in Israel. He had been held in Gaza since Palestinian militants kidnapped him during a cross-border raid in 2006. In a televised address following Shalit’s release, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Today we are all united in joy and in pain.” Shalit was the first captured Israeli soldier to be returned home alive in 26 years.

In Jan. 2012, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Jordan. Seen as an effort to try to revive peace talks, it was the first time the two sides had met in over a year. On Jan. 25, 2012, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the discussions had ended without any significant progress.

Also in Jan., Iran blamed Israel and the United States for the death of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a nuclear scientist. A bomber on a motorcycle killed Roshan in Tehran during the morning commute, according to Iranian media. It was the fourth attack on an Iranian nuclear specialist in two years. Immediately following the attack, Iran accused the U.S. and Israel. The United States responded by denying any responsibility and condemning the attack. Tension between Israel and Iran intensified in Febrary, when Israeli officials accused Iran of being involved in multiple attacks against Israelis in Georgia and India.

In a speech on May 6, 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections. The speech was in response to unrest among his coalition as well as his opponents. The official reason for early elections was the upcoming expiration of the Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israeli Army service. However, some election analysts believed that Netanyahu wanted to act swiftly while his Likud Party was polling strongly.

Two days after the call for early elections, Netanyahu formed a unity government with Shaul Mofaz, the newly elected chief of Kadima, the opposition party. The new coalition gave Netanyahu a very large legislative majority and ended the need for early elections. Mofaz was made deputy prime minister under the terms of the agreement. Some saw the new coalition as a way for Netanyahu to gain even more political power. Former Kadima chief, Tzipi Livni, joined a protest against the alliance. A week earlier, after losing her position as both leader of the opposition and chief of the Kadima Party, Livni resigned from Parliament, saying she was not “willing to sell the country to the ultra-Orthodox in order to form a government.”

The new unity coalition turned out to be short-lived. In July 2012, Kadima left the coalition. Kadima chief Mofaz said his party pulled out due to irreconcilable differences with Netanyahu over the pending universal draft law.

In Aug. 2012, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that while economic sanctions have hurt Iran, they have not slowed progress on the country’s nuclear program. In fact, the report found that Iran’s nuclear program had progressed even faster than anticipated. The report validated Netanyahu’s suspicion that Iran’s nuclear program has continued to move at full speed despite the sanctions and diplomatic isolation imposed on Iran by an international community. The agency’s report also confirmed that three-quarters of nuclear centrifuges needed for an underground site had been installed.

The report brought out the differences between Israel and the United States on the issue of how to deal with Iran. The main disagreement between the two countries has been how much time it would take Iran to complete its production of nuclear weapons. Even within Israel there were signs of disagreement. On Sept. 27, 2012, Netanyahu spoke about the issue at the United Nations. “The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. It is at what stage can we stop Iran from getting the bomb,” he said. A few days later, Netanyahu calmed fears that a preemptive attack was imminent in an address to the UN General Assembly. He said he believed Iran would not have the technology to enrich uranium until at least the spring of 2013 and therefore there was time for diplomacy to deter Iran’s nuclear program.

On Oct. 9, 2012, Netanyahu once again called for early parliamentary election, saying the lack of cooperation with his coalition partners made it impossible to pass a budget with severe cuts. He ordered them for January 2013, eight months ahead of schedule. He said the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party would run with his conservative Likud Party on a joint ticket. Netanyahu’s political rivals warned that the alliance of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu was exactly the kind of extremism that Israel didn’t need.

On Nov. 14, 2012, Israel launched one of its biggest attacks on Gaza since the invasion four years ago and hit at least 20 targets. One of those targets was Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari. He was killed while traveling through Gaza in a car. Al-Jabari was the most senior official killed by the Israelis since its invasion in 2008. The airstrikes were in response to recent repeated rocket attacks by Palestinian militants located in Gaza.

By Nov. 16, 2012, according to officials in Gaza, 19 people had been killed from the Israeli airstrikes. Hesham Qandil, Egypt’s prime minister, showed his country’s support by visiting Gaza. However, his presence did not stop the fighting. Heavy rocket fire continued from Gaza while the Israeli military called in 16,000 army reservists. For the second time since 2008, Israel prepared for a potential ground invasion.

Throughout mid-Nov. 2012, Israel continued to target members of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza while Hamas launched several hundred rockets, some hitting Tel Aviv. Egypt, while a staunch supporter of Hamas, attempted to broker a peace agreement between Hamas and Israel to prevent the conflict from further destabilizing the region. Finally on November 21, Egypt’s foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a cease-fire had been signed. Both sides agreed to end hostilities toward each other and Israel said it would open Gaza border crossings, allowing the flow of products and people into Gaza, potentially lifting the 5-year blockade that has caused much hardship to those living in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected to a third term in January 2013, but the election was not the expected landslide. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu won 31 seats, followed by Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party, with 19 seats. Tzipi Livni’s newly formed Hatnua (the Movement) party won six seats, as did Meretz, a pro-peace party. Netanyahu formed a coalition with Yesh Atid, Hatnua, and the Jewish Home party, which supports settlement building. He appointed Livni as justice minister and asked her to lead Israel’s peace talks with Palestine. Lapid was named finance minister.

In mid-March 2013, President Obama visited Israel. During the visit, he helped negotiate a reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed sincere regret to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, for the commando raid in 2010 on a Turkish ship that killed nine people. Israel also offered compensation for the incident. Erdogan accepted Israel’s apology. After the apology, both countries announced that they would reinstate ambassadors and completely restore diplomatic relations.

In early May 2013, Israel ordered two airstrikes on Damascus. The first happened on May 3, and the second two days later. Israeli officials maintained that the airstrikes were not meant as a way for Israel to become involved in Syria’s ongoing civil war. Instead, the strikes focused on military warehouses in an effort to prevent Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militia group with strong ties to Iran, from getting more weapons.

On Aug. 14, 2013, Israelis and Palestinians began peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations were low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks began just hours after Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoner release was an attempt on Israel’s part to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israel said the prisoner release would be the first of four. Palestinian officials expressed concern about Israel’s ongoing settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, land that would be part of an official Palestinian state.

Israel: Geography, History, Politics, and More

Written on November 4th, 2015 & filed under Israeli History Tags:

Efraim Karsh is director of the Mediterranean Studies Programme at King’s College, University of London, and editor of the quarterly journal Israel Affairs.

One of the reasons I gave up political history was that it is very difficult not to direct it towards the future, towards your idea of what ought to happen. And that somehow distorts your view of what has happened.

Albert Hourani

As Israel edges toward peace with the Palestinians, old, highly controversial, and seemingly defunct issues are back on the table, such as the legal status of Jerusalem and the question of the Palestinian refugees. The refugees and their present rights inspire two very different approaches. The Israeli view, based on an assessment of the 1947-49 period that ascribes primary responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy to an extremist and short-sighted leadership, sees Palestinian wounds as primarily self-inflicted and so not in need of compensation. In contrast, Palestinian spokesmen justify their “right of return” to the territory that is now part of the State of Israel (or an alternative compensation) by presenting themselves as victims of Jewish aggression in the late 1940s.

Ironically, it is a group of Israelis who have given the Palestinian argument its intellectual firepower. Starting in 1987, an array of self-styled “new historians” has sought to debunk what it claims is a distorted “Zionist narrative.” How valid is this sustained assault on the received version of Israel’s early history? This question has real political importance, for the answer is bound to affect the course of Israeli-Palestinian efforts at making peace.


Simha Flapan, the left-wing political activist and editor of New Outlook who inaugurated the assault on alleged “Zionist myths,” made no bones about his political motivations in rewriting Israeli history, presenting his book as an attempt to “undermine the propaganda structures that have so long obstructed the growth of the peace forces in my country.”1 But soon after, a group of Israeli academics and journalists gave this approach a scholarly imprimatur, calling it the “new history.”2 Its foremost spokesmen include Avi Shlaim of Oxford University, Benny Morris of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ilan Papp of Haifa University. Other prominent adherents include Tom Segev of the Ha’aretz newspaper, Benjamin Beit Hallahmi of Haifa University, and researchers Uri Milstein and Yosi Amitai.

Above all, the new history signifies a set of beliefs: that Zionism was at best an aggressive and expansionist national movement and at worst an offshoot of European imperialism;3 and that it was responsible for the Palestinian tragedy, the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict, and even the Middle East’s violent history.

In an attempt to prove that the Jewish State was born in sin, the new historians concentrate on the war of 1947-49 (in Israeli parlance, the War of Independence). Deriding alternative interpretations as “old” or “mobilized,” they dismiss the notion of a hostile Arab world’s seeking to destroy the Jewish state at birth as but a Zionist myth. They insist that when the Jewish Agency accepted the U.N. Resolution of November 1947 (partitioning Mandatory Palestine into Arab and Jewish states), it was less than sincere.

It is obviously a major service to all concerned to take a hard look at the past and, without political intent, to debunk old myths. Is that what the new historians have done? I shall argue that, quite the contrary, they fashion their research to suit contemporary political agendas; worse, they systematically distort the archival evidence to invent an Israeli history in an image of their own making. These are strong words; the following pages shall establish their accuracy.

A number of scholars have already done outstanding work showing the faults of the new history. Itamar Rabinovich (of Tel Aviv University, currently Israel’s ambassador to the United States) has debunked the claim by Shlaim and Papp that Israel’s recalcitrance explains the failure to make peace at the end of the 1947-49 war.4 Avraham Sela (of the Hebrew University) has discredited Shlaim’s allegation that Israel and Transjordan agreed in advance of that war to limit their war operations so as to avoid an all-out confrontation between their forces.5 Shabtai Teveth (David Ben-Gurion’s foremost biographer) has challenged Morris’s account of the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem.6 Robert Satloff (of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy) has shown, on the basis of his own research in the Jordanian national archives in Amman, the existence of hundreds of relevant government files readily available to foreign scholars,7 thereby demolishing the new historians’ claim that “the archives of the Arab Governments are closed to researchers, and that historians interested in writing about the Israeli-Arab conflict perforce must rely mainly on Israeli and Western archives”8 — and with it, the justification for their almost exclusive reliance on Israeli and Western sources.

This article addresses a different question. The previous critics have looked mostly at issues of politics or sources; we shall concentrate on the accuracy of documentation by these self-styled champions of truth and morality. By looking at three central theses of the new historians, our research reveals a completely different picture from the one that new historians themselves have painted. But first, let us examine whether the alleged newness of this self-styled group is justified.


The new historians claim to provide factual revelations about the origins of the Israeli-Arab conflict. According to Shlaim, “the new historiography is written with access to the official Israeli and Western documents, whereas the earlier writers had no access, or only partial access, to the official documents.”9

The earlier writers may not have had access to an abundance of newly declassified documents, which became available in the 1980s, but recent “old historians,” such as Rabinovich and Sela, have made no less use of them than their “new” counterparts, and they came up with very different conclusions. Which leads to the self-evident realization that it is not the availability of new documents that distinguishes the new historians from their opponents but the interpretation they give to this source material.

Further, much of the fresh information claimed by the new historians turns out to be old indeed. Consider Shlaim’s major thesis about secret contacts between the Zionist movement and King `Abdallah of Transjordan. He claims that “it is striking to observe how great is the contrast between accounts of this period written without access to the official documents and an account such as this one, based on documentary evidence.”10 Quite the contrary, it is striking to see how little our understanding has changed following the release of state documents. Shlaim himself concedes that the information “that there was traffic between these two parties has been widely known for some time and the two meetings between Golda Meir [acting head of the Jewish Agency’s political department] and King `Abdullah in November 1947, and May 1948 have even been featured in popular films.”11 Indeed, not only was the general gist of the `Abdallah-Meir conversations common knowledge by 1960,12 but most of the early writers had access to then-classified official documents. Dan Kurzman’s 1970 account of that meeting is a near verbatim narration of the report prepared by the Jewish Agency’s political department adviser on Arab affairs, Ezra Danin.13 Shlaim also relies on Danin’s report, adding nothing new to Kurzman’s revelations.

Much of the fresh information claimed by the new historians turns out to be old indeed. . . .

. . . As for new interpretations, some are indeed new, but only because they are flat wrong.

Similarly, Shlaim places great stress on a February 1948 meeting between the prime minister of Transjordan, Tawfiq Abu’l-Huda, and the foreign secretary of Great Britain, Ernest Bevin, claiming the latter at that time blessed an alleged Hashemite-Jewish agreement to divide Palestine. But this meeting was already known in 1957, when Sir John Bagot Glubb, the former commander of the Arab Legion, wrote his memoirs,14 and most early works on the Arab-Israeli conflict used this information.15

Morris’s foremost self-laudatory “revelation” concerns the expulsion of Arabs from certain places by Israeli forces, at times through the use of violence. This was made known decades earlier in such works as Jon and David Kimche’s Both Sides of the Hill; Rony Gabbay’s A Political Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict; and Nadav Safran’s From War to War.16

Eager to debunk the perception of the 1947-49 war as a heroic struggle of the few against the many, the new historians have pointed to an approximate numerical parity on the battlefield.17 Yet this too was well known: school-children could find it in historical atlases, university students in academic books.18 Ben-Gurion’s autobiographical account of Israel’s history, published nearly two decades before the new historians made their debut on the public stage, contains illuminating data on the Arab-Israeli military balance; his edited war diaries, published by the Ministry of Defense Press in 1983, give a detailed breakdown of the Israeli order of battle: no attempt at a cover-up here.19


As for new interpretations, some are indeed new, but only because they are flat wrong. Ilan Papp has gone so far as to argue that the outcome of the 1947-49 war had been predetermined in the political and diplomatic corridors of power “long before even one shot had been fired.”20 To which, one can only say that the State of Israel paid a high price indeed to effect this predetermined outcome: the war’s six thousand fatalities represented 1 percent of Israel’s total Jewish population, a higher human toll than that suffered by Great Britain in World War II.21 Further, Israel’s battlefield losses during the war were about the same as those of the Palestinians; and given that its population was roughly half the latter’s size, Israel lost proportionately twice the percentage of the Palestinians.22

Other interpretations ring truer, but only because they are old and familiar. Shlaim concedes that his charge of Jordanian-Israeli collusion is not a new one but was made decades before him.23 In fact, this conspiracy theory has been quite pervasive. In Arab historiography of an anti-Hashemite caste, “the collusion myth became the crux of an historical indictment against the king for betraying the Arab national cause in Palestine.”24 On the Israeli side, both left- and right-wingers have levelled this same criticism at the government’s conduct of the 1947-49 war. Shlaim has hardly broken new ground.

Shlaim’s main claim to novelty lies in his challenging “the conventional view of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a simple bipolar affair in which a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world is pitted against the Jews.”25 But this “conventional view” does not exist. Even such passionately pro-Israel feature films on the 1947-49 war as Exodus and Cast a Giant Shadow do not portray “a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world pitted against the Jews,” but show divided Arab communities in which some leaders would rather not fight the Jews and others would cooperate with the Jews against their Arab “brothers.” And what applies to popular movies applies all the more to scholarly writings. Not one of the studies by the “old historians” subscribes to the stereotypical approach attached to them by Shlaim.

The same applies to Morris. His claim that “what happened in Palestine/Israel over 1947-9 was so complex and varied . . . that a single-cause explanation of the exodus from most sites is untenable”26 echoes not only Aharon Cohen’s and Rony Gabbay’s conclusions of thirty years earlier27 but also the standard explanation of the Palestinian exodus by such “official Zionist” writers as Joseph Schechtman: “This mass flight of the Palestinian Arabs is a phenomenon for which no single explanation suffices. Behind it lies a complex of apparently contradictory factors.”28

Even the claim to novelty is not new! Aharon Klieman, the quintessential “old historian,” wrote in his study of Hashemite-Zionist relations, published just two years before Shlaim’s book, that “it has been a commonplace to present the Palestine or the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its historical stages as a simple bilateral conflict. . . . It is a mistake to present the Arab side to the equation as a monolithic bloc. The `Arab camp’ has always been divided and at war with itself.”29

At times, the new historians themselves realize they are recycling old ideas. For example, Shlaim acknowledged that their arguments were foreshadowed by such writers as Gabbay, Israel Baer, Gabriel Cohen, and Meir Pail.30 In all, the new historians have neither ventured to territory unknown to earlier generations of scholars, nor made major factual discoveries, nor provided truly original interpretations, let alone developed novel historical methodologies or approaches. They have used precisely the same research methods and source-material as those whose work they disdain — the only difference between these two groups being the interpretation given to their findings. Let us now turn to the accuracy of those interpretations.


The new historians make three main claims about the Zionist movement in the late 1940s: it secretly intended to expel the Palestinians, it conspired with King `Abdallah to dispossess the Palestinians of their patrimony, and it won British support for this joint effort. Are these accusations accurate?

Morris writes that “from the mid-1930s most of the Yishuv’s leaders, including Ben-Gurion, wanted to establish a Jewish state without an Arab minority, or with as small an Arab minority as possible, and supported a `transfer solution’ to this minority problem.”31 He argues that the transfer idea “had a basis in mainstream Jewish thinking, if not actual planning, from the late 1930s and 1940s.”32 But Morris, the new historian who has made the greatest effort to prove this thesis, devotes a mere five pages to this subject. He fails to prove his claim.

First, the lion’s share of his “evidence” comes from a mere three meetings of the Jewish Agency Executive (JAE) during June 7-12, 1938. Five days in the life of a national movement can scarcely provide proof of longstanding trends or ideologies, especially since these meetings were called to respond to specific ad hoc issues. Moreover, Morris has painted a totally false picture of the actual proceedings of these meetings. Contrary to his claim that the meetings “debated at length various aspects of the transfer idea,”33 the issue was discussed only in the last meeting, and even then as but one element in the overall balance of risks and opportunities attending Britain’s suggested partition rather than as a concrete policy option. The other two meetings did not discuss the subject at all.34

Secondly, Morris virtually ignores that the idea of transfer was forced on the Zionist agenda by the British (in the recommendations of the 1937 Peel Royal Commission on Palestine) rather than being self-generated.35 He downplays the commission’s recommendation of transfer, creates the false impression that the Zionists thrust this idea on a reluctant British Mandatory power (rather than vice versa), and misleadingly suggests that Zionist interest in transfer long outlived the Peel Commission.36

Thirdly, and most important, Morris systematically falsifies evidence, to the point that there is scarcely a single document he relies on without twisting and misleading, either by a creative rewriting of the original text, by taking words out of context, or by truncating texts and thereby distorting their meaning. For example, Morris finds an alleged Zionist interest in the idea of transfer lasting up to the outbreak of the 1948 war. Yes, Morris concedes, Ben-Gurion in a July 1947 testimony to the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) “went out of his way to reject the 1945 British Labour Party platform `International Post-war Settlement’ which supported the encouragement of the movement of the Palestine Arabs to the neighboring countries to make room for Jews.”37 But he insinuates that Ben-Gurion was insincere; in his heart of hearts, he subscribed to the transfer idea at the beginning of the 1947-49 war. Becoming a mind-reader, Morris discerns the transfer in a Ben-Gurion speech in December 1947:

There was no explicit mention of the collective transfer idea.

However, there was perhaps a hint of the idea in Ben-Gurion’s speech to Mapai’s supporters four days after the UN Partition resolution, just as Arab-Jewish hostilities were getting under way. Ben-Gurion starkly outlined the emergent Jewish State’s main problem — its prospective population of 520,000 Jews and 350,000 Arabs. Including Jerusalem, the state would have a population of about one million, 40% of which would be non-Jews. “This fact must be viewed in all its clarity and sharpness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be complete certainty that the government will be held by a Jewish majority. . . . There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%.” The Yishuv’s situation and fate, he went on, compelled the adoption of “a new approach . . . new habits of mind” to “suit our new future. We must think like a state.”38

Morris creates the impression here that Ben-Gurion believed only transfer would resolve the problem of a substantial Arab minority in the Jewish State.

Is this mind-reading of Ben-Gurion correct? Was there really a hint of the transfer idea in his speech? Here is the text from which Morris draws his citation:

We have been confronted with a new destiny — we are about to become masters of our own fate. This requires a new approach to all our questions of life. We must reexamine all our habits of mind, all our systems of operation to see to what extent they suit our new future. We must think in terms of a state, in terms of independence, in terms of full responsibility for ourselves — and for others.39

This original text suggests that Morris has distorted the evidence in three ways.

First, Morris omits Ben-Gurion’s statement that there can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as the Jewish majority “consists of only 600,000 Jews.” He distorts Ben-Gurion’s intention by narrowing the picture to a preoccupation with the 60-40 percent ratio, when its real scope was a concern about the absolute size of the Jewish population.

Secondly, Morris creates the impression that Ben-Gurion’s call for a “new approach . . . new habits of mind” applied to the Arab minority problem, implicitly referring to transfer. In fact, it applied to the challenges attending the transition from a community under colonial domination to national self-determination.

Thirdly, he omits Ben-Gurion’s statement on the need to take “full responsibility for ourselves — and for others.” Who are these others but the non-Jewish minority of the Jewish State?

Worse, Morris chooses to rely on a secondary source rather than consult the primary document; and for good reason, for an examination of the original would easily dispel the cloud of innuendo with which Morris surrounded Ben-Gurion’s speech:

. . . There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 percent, and so long as this majority consists of only 600,000 Jews.

From here stems the first and principal conclusion. The creation of the state is not the formal implementation process discussed by the UN General Assembly. . . . To ensure not only the establishment of the Jewish State but its existence and destiny as well — we must bring a million-and-a-half Jews to the country and root them there. It is only when there will be at least two millions Jews in the country — that the state will be truly established.40

This speech contains not a hint of the transfer idea. Ben-Gurion’s long-term solution to the 60-40 percent ratio between the Jewish majority and non-Jewish minority is clear and unequivocal: mass Jewish immigration.

As for the position of the Arabs in the Jewish State, Ben-Gurion could not be clearer:

Ben-Gurion envisaged Jewish-Arab relations in the prospective Jewish State not based on the transfer of the Arab population but as a true partnership among equal citizens; not “fortress Israel,” a besieged European island in an ocean of Arab hostility, but a Jewish-Arab alliance.

These passages make it clear that Benny Morris has truncated, twisted, and distorted Ben-Gurion’s vision of Jewish-Arab relations and the Zionist position on the question of transfer. All this is especially strange given that Morris contends that the historian “must remain honour-bound to gather and present his facts accurately.”42


Shlaim traces Israel’s and Transjordan’s alleged collusion to a secret meeting on November 17, 1947, in which King `Abdallah and Golda Meir agreed supposedly to frustrate the impending U.N. Resolution on Palestine and instead divide Palestine between themselves. He writes that

Is there any evidence for this alleged conspiracy? No, none at all. First, a careful examination of the two documents used to substantiate the claim of collusion — reports by Ezra Danin and Eliyahu Sasson, two Zionist officials — proves that Meir implacably opposed any agreement that would violate the U.N. partition resolution passed twelve days later. In no way did she consent to the Transjordan annexation of Arab areas of Palestine. Rather, Meir made it eminently clear that:

* Any Zionist-Hashemite arrangement would have to be compatible with the U.N. resolution. In Danin’s words: “We explained that our matter was being discussed at the UN, that we hoped that it would be decided there to establish two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and that we wished to speak now about an agreement with him [i.e., `Abdallah] based on these resolutions.”44 In Sasson’s words: “Replied we prepared [to] give every assistance within [the] frame [of the] UN Charter.”45

* The sole purpose of Transjordan’s intervention in post-Mandatory Palestine would be, in Meir’s words, “to maintain law and order and to preserve peace until the UN could establish a government in that area,”46 namely, a short-lived law-enforcement operation aimed at facilitating the establishment of a legitimate Palestinian government. Indeed, even `Abdallah did not expect the meeting to produce any concrete agreement. In Danin’s words: “At the end he reiterated that concrete matters could be discussed only after the UN had passed its resolution, and said that we must meet again immediately afterwards.”47

Secondly, Meir’s account of her conversation with `Abdallah — strangely omitted in this context by Shlaim (though he cites it elsewhere in his study) — further confirms that Mandatory Palestine was not divided on November 17, 1947.

For our part we told him then that we could not promise to help his incursion into the country [i.e., Mandatory Palestine], since we would be obliged to observe the UN Resolution which, as we already reckoned at the time, would provide for the establishment of two states in Palestine. Hence, we could not — so we said — give active support to the violation of this resolution.48

Thirdly, Shlaim’s thesis is predicated on the idea of a single diplomatic encounter’s profoundly affecting the course of history. He navely subscribes to the notion that a critical decision about the making of war and peace or the division of foreign lands is made in the course of a single conversation, without consultations or extended bargaining. This account reflects a complete lack of understanding about the nature of foreign policymaking in general and of the Zionist decision-making process in particular.

Fourthly, as mere acting head of the Jewish Agency’s political department, Meir was in no position to commit her movement to a binding deal with King `Abdallah, especially since that deal would run counter to the Jewish Agency’s simultaneous efforts to win a U.N. resolution on partition. All she could do was try to convince `Abdallah not to oppose the impending U.N. partition resolution violently and give him the gist of Zionist thinking.

Fifthly, Meir’s conversation with `Abdallah was never discussed by the Jewish Agency Executive, the Yishuv’s effective government. The Yishuv’s military operations during the 1947-49 war show not a trace of the alleged deal in either their planning or their execution. Quite the contrary, the Zionist leadership remained deeply suspicious of `Abdallah’s expansionist ambitions up to May 1948.

Lastly, while the Jewish Agency unquestionably preferred `Abdallah to his Palestinian rival, the Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin al-Husayni, this preference did not lead the agency to preclude the possibility of a Palestinian state. As late as December 1948 (or more than a year after `Abdallah and Meir had allegedly divided Palestine), Ben-Gurion stated his preference for an independent Palestinian state to Transjordan’s annexing the Arab parts of Mandatory Palestine. “An Arab State in Western Palestine is less dangerous than a state that is tied to Transjordan, and tomorrow — probably to Iraq,” he told his advisers. “Why should we vainly antagonize the Russians? Why should we do this [i.e., agree to Transjordan’s annexation of Western Palestine] against the [wishes of the] rest of the Arab states?”49

In short, not only did the Zionist movement not collude with King `Abdallah to divide Mandatory Palestine between themselves but it was reconciled to the advent of a Palestinian state. `Abdallah was the one who was violently opposed to such an eventuality and who caused it to fail by seizing the bulk of the territory the United Nations had allocated to the Palestinians.


Shlaim writes that “Britain knew and approved of this secret Hashemite-Zionist agreement to divide up Palestine between themselves, not along the lines of the U.N. partition plan.”50 This alleged British blessing was given in the above-noted conversation between Bevin and Abu’l-Huda, in which the foreign secretary gave the Transjordanian prime minister

This thesis is fundamentally flawed. True, the British were resigned to Transjordan’s military foray into post-Mandatory Palestine, but this was not out of a wish to protect Jewish interests. Rather, it was directed against those interests: Israel was intended to be the victim of the Transjordanian intervention — not its beneficiary.

* Contrary to Shlaim’s claim, the British government did not know of a Hashemite-Zionist agreement to divide up Palestine, both because this agreement did not exist and because `Abdallah kept London in the dark about his contacts with the Jewish Agency. The influential British ambassador to Amman, Sir Alec Kirkbride, was not aware of the secret Meir-`Abdallah meeting until well after the event.52 How then could the British bless a Hashemite-Zionist deal?

* Glubb’s memoirs alone indicate that Bevin gave Abu’l-Huda a green light to invade while warning him, “do not go and invade the areas allotted to the Jews.”53 In contrast, declassified British documents unequivocally show that Bevin neither encouraged Abu’l-Huda to invade the Arab parts of Palestine as “the obvious thing to do,” as claimed by Glubb, nor warned him off invading the Jewish areas. Bevin said only that he “would study the statements which his Excellency had made.”54 Shlaim’s choosing an old and partisan account over a newly released official document suggests a desperate attempt to prove the existence of such a warning.

* The British archives are bursting with evidence that the foreign secretary and his advisers cared not at all whether `Abdallah transgressed Jewish territory; they only wanted to be sure he did not implicate Britain in an embarrassing international situation. Shortly after the Bevin-Abu’l-Huda meeting, Bernard Burrows, head of the Eastern department, wrote (with Bevin’s approval) that

More important, on May 7, 1948, a week before the all-Arab attack on Israel, Burrows suggested to the Foreign Office intimate to King `Abdallah that “we could in practice presumably not object to Arab Legion occupation of the Nejeb [i.e., Negev].”56 In other words, not only was the Foreign Office not opposed to Transjordan’s occupation of the Jewish State’s territory but it encouraged `Abdallah to go in and occupy about half of it.

* Having grudgingly recognized their inability to prevent the partition of Palestine, British officialdom wished to see a far smaller and weaker Jewish state than that envisaged by the U.N. partition resolution and did its utmost to bring about such an eventuality. Limitations of space do not allow a presentation of the overwhelming documentary evidence of British efforts to cut Israel “down to size” and stunt its population growth through the prevention of future Jewish immigration.57 Suffice to say that British policymakers sought to forestall an Israeli-Transjordanian peace agreement unless it detached the Negev from the Israeli state.


Recently declassified documents in Israeli and Western archives fail to confirm the picture of the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict painted by the new historians. The self-styled new historiography is really a “distortiography.” It is anything but new: much of what it presents is old and much of the new is distortion. The “new historians” are neither new nor true historians but rather partisans seeking to give academic respectability to longstanding misconceptions and prejudice on the Arab-Israeli conflict. To borrow the words of the eminent British historian E.H. Carr, what the new historians are doing is to “write propaganda or historical fiction, and merely use facts of the past to embroider a kind of writing which has nothing to do with history.”58

Returning to political issues of today: the Palestinian claim to national self-determination stands on its own and does not need buttressing from historical falsification. Quite the contrary, fabricating an Israeli history to cater to interests of the moment does great disservice not only to historical truth but also to the Palestinians that the new historians seek to champion. Instead, they should heed Albert Hourani’s advice. Securing the future means coming to terms with one’s past, however painful that might be, not denying it.

1 The Birth of Israel: Myths and Reality (New York: Pantheon, 1987), p. 4; see also pp. 10 and 233. 2 The new historians make much of their relatively young age: “Most of them, born around 1948, have matured in a more open, doubting, and self-critical Israel than the pre-1967, pre-1973, and pre-Lebanon War Israel of the old historians.” Of course, biological age indicates little about outlook. The opponents of the new historians also matured “in a more open, doubting, and self-critical Israel,” many of them belonging to the same age group and having lived in the same milieu as the new historians. Moreover, some new historians are older than the “old” historians, especially Flapan, who was born in 1911 and thus precisely a member of that generation that “had lived through 1948 as highly committed adult participants in the epic, glorious rebirth of the Jewish commonwealth” and that was consequently derided by the new historians as being “unable to separate their lives from the events they later recounted, unable to distance themselves from and regard impartially the facts and processes through which they had lived.” Benny Morris, 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), p. 7. 3 Avi Shlaim writes: “At the time of the Basle Congress, Palestine was under the control of the Ottoman Turks. It was inhabited by nearly half a million Arabs and some 50,000 Jews. . . . But, in keeping with the spirit of the age of European imperialism, the Jews did not allow these local realities to stand in the way of their own national aspirations.” Avi Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), p. 2. Ilan Papp has been far more outspoken in articulating Zionism as a brand of Western colonialism that “gained control over a land that is not theirs at the end of the nineteenth century.” See, for example, “Damning the Historical Forgery,” Kol Ha-ir, Oct. 6, 1995, p. 61.

4 Itamar Rabinovich, The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). 5 Avraham Sela, “Transjordan, Israel and the 1948 War: Myth, Historiography, and Reality,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 28, No. 4Oct. 1992, pp. 623-89. 6 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 286; Shabtai Teveth, “The Palestine Arab Refugee Problem and its Origins,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2Apr. 1990, pp. 214-49. 7 Robert Satloff’s review of Morris’s Israel’s Border Wars, in Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 31, Number 4 Oct. 1995, p. 954. 8 Benny Morris, “A Second Look at the `Missed Peace,’ or Smoothing Out History: A Review Essay,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn 1994, p. 86. 9 Avi Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Aug. 1995, p. 289. See also Morris, 1948 and After, p. 7. 10 Shlaim, Collusion, p. viii. 11 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 296. 12 Jon Kimche and David Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill (London: Secker and Warburg, 1960), p. 60; Marie Syrkin, Golda Meir: Woman with a Cause (London: Victor Gollancz, 1964), pp. 195-202. 13 Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War (New York: New American Library, 1972), pp. 42-44. 14 Sir John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1957), pp. 63-66. 15 For example, Kurzman, Genesis 1948, pp. 116-17; Zeev Sharef, Three Days (London: W.H. Allen, 1962), p. 77; and Kimche and Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill, p. 39. As we shall see (on p. XX), the newly released official British documents do shed fresh light on the Bevin-Abu’l-Huda meeting but completely in the opposite direction from that claimed by Shlaim. 16 Kimche and Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill, pp. 227-28; Rony Gabbay, A Political Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Arab Refugee Problem (A Case Study) (Geneva: Libraire E. Droz, 1959), pp. 108-11; and Nadav Safran, From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation 1948-1967 (Indianapolis, Ind.: Pegasus, 1969), pp. 34-35. 17 Morris, 1948 and After, pp. 13-16; Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” pp. 294-95. 18 See, for example, Moshe Lissak, Yehuda Wallach, and Eviatar Nur, eds., Atlas Karta Le-toldot Medinat Israel: Shanim Rishonot, Tashah-Tashak (Karta Atlas of Israel: the First Years, 1948-61),(Jerusalem: Karta, 1978); Safran, From War to War, p. 30. 19 David Ben-Gurion, Medinat Israel Ha’mehudeshet, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1969), pp. 70-71, 98, 102, 106, and 115; idem, Israel: A Personal History (London: New English Library, 1972), pp. 61, 90; G. Rivlin and E. Orren, eds., Yoman Ha-milhama, 3 vols. (Tel Aviv: Misrael Ha-bitahchom, Ha-hotsa’a La-or, 1983), particularly vol. 3, pp. 1013-19. 20 Ilan Papp, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1992), p. 271. 21 See, for example, Martin Gilbert, The Second World War (London: Fontana, 1990), p. 746; National Register of the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, Statistics of Population on 29 September 1939 (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office (hereafter HMSO), 1939. 22 “Casualties in Palestine since the United Nations Decision, Period 30th November, 1947 to 3rd April, 1945,” CO 733/483/5, p. 19. 23 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 296. On the Jordanian side, Col. `Abdallah at-Tall, who served as a messenger between King `Abdallah and the Zionists during the armistice talks at the end of the 1947-49 war, then defected to Egypt and wrote about his experiences in Karithat Filastin: Mudhakkirat `Abdallah at-Tall, Qa’id Ma`rakat al-Quds (Cairo: Al-Qalam, 1959). On the Israeli side, Lt. Col. Israel Baer, an adviser to Ben-Gurion later convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, told about the negotiations in Bithon Israel: Etmol, ha-Yom, Mahar (Tel Aviv: Amikam, 1966). 24 Sela, “Transjordan, Israel and the 1948 War,” pp. 623-24. See also his article “Arab Historiography of the 1948 War: The Quest for Legitimacy,” in Laurence J. Silberstein, ed., New Perspectives on Israeli History (New York: New York University Press, 1991), pp. 124-54. 25 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 297. 26 Morris, Palestinian Refugee Problem, p. 294. 27 Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (London: W.H. Allen, 1970), pp. 458-66; Gabbay, A Political Study, pp. 54, 85-98. 28 Joseph B. Schechtman, The Arab Refugee Problem (New York: Philosophical Library, 1952), p. 4. 29 Aharon Klieman, Du Kium Le-lo Shalom (Unpeaceful Coexistence: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians) (Tel Aviv: Ma`ariv, 1986), pp. 15-16. 30 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 289. And, years earlier, Arnold Toynbee, Alfred Lillienthal, Noam Chomsky, and Edward Said all used these same arguments. 31 Morris, 1948 and After, p. 17. “Yishuv” refers to the Zionist community in Palestine before the establishment of Israel. 32 Morris, Palestinian Refugee Problem, p. 24. 33 Ibid., pp. 25-26. 34 Protocols of the Jewish Agency Executive meetings of June 7, 9, and 12, 1938, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem. 35 The Peel report suggested the partition of Mandatory Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish; to reduce frictions between the two communities, the commission also suggested a land and population exchange, similar to that effected between Turkey and Greece after the First World War. See Palestine Royal Commission, Report, Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, July 1937, Cmd. 5479 (London: HMSO, 1937), pp. 291-95. There being far more Arabs in the Jewish state-to-be than the other way around (225,000 vs. 1,250), Ben-Gurion and some other Zionist proponents of partition viewed this exchange (or transfer, as it came to be known) as a partial compensation for the confinement of the prospective Jewish state to a tiny fraction of the Land of Israel.

Yet they quickly dismissed this idea, as shown by the fact that not one of the 30-odd submissions the JAE made to the Palestine Partition Commission (the Woodhead Commission, 1938) suggested population exchange and transfer.

36 Morris, The Birth, pp. 27-28. 37 Ibid., p. 28. 38 Ibid. Morris traces the speech to Dec. 3, 1947, as is done in the secondary source from which he borrowed it. In the original source, however, the date given is Dec. 13, 1947. 39 Rivlin and Orren, eds., Yoman Ha-milhama, vol. I, p. 22. 40 Ben-Gurion, Ba-ma’araha, vol. IV, part 2 (Tel Aviv: Hotsa’at Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisra’el, 1959), pp. 258-59 (emphasis added). 41 Ibid., p. 260. 42 Morris, 1948 and After, p. 47. 43 Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan, p. 1; idem, The Politics of Partition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. viii (this is an abridged and slightly revised edition of Collusion). Other new historians have taken up this thesis. Thus, Papp: “The common ground for the agreement was a mutual objection to the creation of a Palestinian state. . . . The Jewish Agency in particular abhorred such a possibility, asserting that the creation of a Palestinian state would perpetuate the ideological conflict in Palestine” (The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, p. 118). 44 Ezra Danin, “Siha in Abdallah, 17.11.47,” Central Zionist Archives, S25/4004. 45 Sasson to Shertok, Nov. 20, 1947, Central Zionist Archives, S25/1699. 46 Danin, “Siha in Abdallah.” 47 Ibid. 48 Golda Meir’s verbal report to the Provisional State Council on May 12, 1948, Israel State Archives, Provisional State Council: Protocols, 18 April – 13 May 1948, Jerusalem, 1978, p. 40.[Eds: the collection had an English title. Yeshivat Minhelet Ha-am, 12/5/48.] 49 Ben-Gurion, Yoman Ha-milhama, vol. III, Dec. 18, 1948, p. 885. 50 Shlaim, “The Debate,” p. 297. 51 Ibid., p. 293. 52 See, for example, Kirkbride’s telegram to Bevin dated Nov. 17, 1947, displaying total ignorance of the Abdullah-Meir meeting, which was held that very day (FO 816/89). For further evidence of British ignorance of the alleged Hashemite-Jewish deal, see a personal and secret letter from H. Beeley, Eastern Department, Foreign Office, to T.E. Bromley, Jan. 20, 1948, FO 371/68403/E1877; and Michael Wright, “Brief for Conversation with Transjordan Prime on Palestine,” Feb. 6, 1948, FO 371/6837/E1980G. 53 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, p. 66. 54 Mr. Bevin to Sir Alec Kirkbride (Amman), “Conversation with the Transjordan Prime Minister,” Feb. 9, 1948, FO 371/68366/E1916/G. 55 Memorandum by Bernard Burrows, Feb. 9, 1948, FO 371/68368/E296. 56 Bernard Burrows, “Palestine After May 14,” May 7, 1948, FO 371/68854/E6778. 57 For a discussion of this issue, see Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History: “The New Historians” (London: Frank Cass, forthcoming). 58 E.H. Carr, What is History? (Harmondworth: Penguin, 1984), p. 29.

Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, History, Israel & Zionism, Middle East studies | Efraim Karsh | June 1996 MEQ receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Rewriting Israel’s History :: Middle East Quarterly

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Dear Akhlah Friends and Family:

Sixteen years ago, I saw a need for Jewish education materials designed just for very young children that would be freely available online. A site where Jewish families who lived far from a temple or shul, or didn’t have access to a congregational cheder, could access the teaching/learning materials that would strengthen their childrens’ connection to their Jewish heritage. No advertisements, no off-site links, no subscription charges, just a place for learning the alef-bet and the Hebrew language, Judaism’s history, and all about Israel and the people who helped build her. So I began creating Akhlah’s pages, every year adding more categories, and now Akhlah has users all around the world, with more than 12,000 unique users every day.

I’m proud of Akhlah; I very much want to keep it alive and growing. But I am facing a diagnosis and consequent surgery that may oblige me to set all my work on Akhlah aside. I will not be able to cover Akhlah’s expenses for the next few months and I must ask for your assistance. Without your financial support, Akhlah cannot be sustained. Please consider helping out in this time of need. Your donation will keep Akhlah online through this crisis, and I will soon, I pray, be able to return to my regular job and resume my role as Akhlah’s backbone.

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The west bank at Luxor is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It is much more than what we refer to as the Valley of the Kings, though many have called the whole of the area by that name. In fact, many good books on the west bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) are titled, “Valley of the Kings”, even though they cover the entire area. It can be a bit confusing for the novice, particularly considering the actual conceptual scope of the religious concept. If one looks at just the Valley of the Kings, one only sees tombs, but the tombs were an integral part of larger mortuary complexes. Indeed, the whole west bank is honeycombed with tombs, not just of the ancient Egyptian Kings, but of their families and the noblemen who served them.

Layout of the West Bank

As the Valley was in Egypt’s Dynastic Period

The west bank necropolis can be divided into a number of zones and sub-zones, of which the Valley of the Kings is only one zone. The northern sector of the west bank closest to the Nile River is often referred to as the Tombs of the Nobles, but it can be divided into about five different sub-zones. Farthermost north is an area known as el-Tarif, where large, row tombs were dug during the late Second Intermediate Period and early Middle Kingdom.

Just south of el-Tarif is Dra Abu el-Naga, which is a hillside with about 80 numbered tombs most belonging to priests and officials of the 17th through 20th dynasty, including some rulers of the 17th dynasty. Just southwest of Dra Abu el-Naga is an area called El-Assasif, where there are 40 tombs, mostly from the New Kingdom and later. Just south of El-Assasif is El-Khokha, a hill with five Old Kingdom tombs and 53 numbered tombs from the 18th and 19th dynasty.

Directly west of El-Khokha is Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. This hill was named for a mythical Muslim sheikh, and has 146 numbered tombs, most of which are from the 18th Dynasty. Here one finds some of the most beautiful private tombs on the West Bank.

Just north of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna is Deir el-Bahari, well known for the northernmost temples in the Valley, including that of Hatshepsut and Mentuhotep.

Finally, south of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna and near the Temple of Merenptah is Qurnet Murai, a hill with 17 numbered tombs mostly dating to the Ramesside period. Where there are probably thousands of tombs in these areas, Egyptologists have only explored and numbered a total of about 800 of them.

Further west is the highest of the peaks in the Theban range of hills. This is Qurn, which can be translated in Arabic to mean “horn”, or “forehead”. At this mountains northern base, fairly well separate from the other burials in the West Bank, is the Valley of the Kings. Along with a number of unfinished tombs, 62 numbered tombs are known to Egyptologists. This was the final resting place of many of the New Kingdom rulers.

South of the Valley of the Kings, and closer to the Nile lies the Valley of the Queens. This area is inappropriately named, because it houses family members of the kings, including both males and females, and even some high officials. There are about 80 numbered tombs in this area, probably the most famous of which is that of Queen Nefertari.

Just southeast of the Valley of the Queens is Deir el-Medina, the ruins of a village that housed the craftsmen and workers who dug and decorated the tombs and other Theban monuments. It is a very important area to Egyptology, because it has revealed many of the facets of ordinary life in Egypt, and there are some wonderful tombs in its necropolis. All along the border between the fertile section of the Valley and the hills we find Temples and one palace. The southern most temple is that of Ramesses III located at Medinet Habu. The palace, one of the southernmost monuments in the Valley, is at Malkata, just south of Deir el-Medina, and belonged to Amenhotep III, but was probably also inhabited by a few of his successors. At one time, it was a huge complex. The northernmost temple is that of Seti I, which at one time also probably served as an administrative center on the West Bank.

Religious significance and the Temples of Millions of Years

The temples within the Valley, each built by individual kings or queens, were collectively known by the Egyptians as the “Temples of Millions of Years”. Early Egyptologists referred to them as funerary or mortuary temples, but in fact they were temples built for the worship of the deceased kings, and were even used for his worship while he lived. There were originally many more temples then one finds today, and those that remain are in much ruin.

Amun was the principle deity worshiped at Thebes, and the Pharaoh was considered his son. Celebrating this union, each year a celebration was held called the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, where the royal power was renewed and strengthened. Also, on the 30th year of the pharaoh’s reign, the sed-festival took place in order to renew the king’s strength, as well as the vitality of all Egypt. These celebrations took place in the Temples of Millions of Years, and so activity on the Theban West Bank was centered around the Temples, while the tombs themselves were for the most part off limits.

The temples were meant to honor the dead king, perhaps through eternity. In fact, they might more resemble a modern foundation or trust. They were intended to keep the king’s cult alive, guaranteeing him eternal deification, and not simply through festivals.

For example, the storerooms of the Ramesseum were capable of storing enough grain for 15 to 20 thousand people. In effect, the temples were endowed with property and assets by the king before his death, so that after his death, the temple could continue to fund exploits and building projects in his name.

The Big Picture

Typically, tourists to the West Bank will spend a day there, or even a half day. They are shown a few tombs, including several in the Valley of the Kings, and perhaps one in the Valley of the Queens, and they visit several of the temples, most notably those of Deir el-Bahri. To an extent, this provides something of an overall picture of the West Bank, but its complexity and size are often not realized.

See also:

General Topics

General Areas


Akhenaten, Tiy (Tiye) or Smenkhkare?, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV55)

Amenherkhepshef, Tomb of – Valley of the Queens (QV55)

Amenhotep II, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV35)

Amenhotep III, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (WV22)

Amenmesses, Tomb of and King – Valley of the Kings (KV10)

Ay, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (WV23)

Benia (Pahekmen), Private Tomb of

Hatshepsut-Meryetre, Tomb of (though not used) – Valley of the Kings – KV42

Horemheb, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV57)

Inherkhau, Tomb of Foreman – Deir el Medina Necropolis (TT359)

Irunefer, Tomb of – Deir el-Medina Necropolis (TT290)

Khaemhat, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT57)

Khaemwaset, Tomb of – Valley of the Queens (QV44)

Kheruef, Private Tomb of – Asasif (TT192)

Khonsu, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT31)

Amenhotep I? Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV39)

Menna, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT69)

Merneptah, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV8)

Nakht, Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT52)

Neferrenpet, Tomb of – al-Khokha (TT178)

Nefersekheru, Private Tomb of – al-Khokha (TT296)

Nefertari, Tomb of – Valley of the Queens

Pashedu, Tomb of – Deir el Medina Necropolis (TT3)

Ramesses I, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV16)

Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great), Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV7)

Ramesses II’s Sons, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV5)

Ramesses III, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV11)

Ramesses IV, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV2)

Ramesses VI, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV9)

Ramesses VII, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV1)

Ramesses IX, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV6)

Ramesses X, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV18)

Ramesses XI, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV4)

Ramesses-Mentuherkhepshef, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV19)

Ramose, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT55)

Rekhmire, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT100)

Roy, Private Tomb of – Dra’ Abu al-Naja (TT 255)

Sennedjem, Private Tomb of – Deir el Medina Necropolis (TT1)

Sennefer, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT96)

Seti I, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV17)

Seti II, The King and His Tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV15)

Shuroy, Tomb of – Dra Abu el-Naga (TT13)

Siptah, the King and his Tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV47)

Sitre In?, Tomb of in the Valley of the Kings (KV60)

Tausert and Setnakht, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV14)

Tutankhamen (King Tut), Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV54)

Tuthmosis I and Hatshepsut, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV20)

Tuthmosis I, Second Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV38)

Tuthmosis III, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV34)

Tuthmosis IV, Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV43)

Tyti, Tomb of – Valley of the Queens (QV 52)

Userhat, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT51) Userhat, Private Tomb of – Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (TT56)

Yuya and Tjuyu, Private Tomb of – Valley of the Kings (KV46)


Amenhotep III, Temple of – West Bank, Luxor

Deir el Bahari, Temple of – West Bank, Luxor

Horus, Temples of (at Thoth Hill) – West Bank, Luxor

Mentuhotep II, Mortuary Temple of – West Bank, Luxor

Merenptah, Mortuary Temple of – West Bank, Luxor

Other Temples on the West Bank at Thebes, Part I

Temples belonging to Amenhotep I, Amenhotep II, Siptah, the Colonnaded Temple of Ramesses IV, the Ramessid Temple, the Chapel of the White Queen and the private temple of Nebwenenef

Other Temples on the West Bank at Thebes, Part II – Temples of Ramesses IV (mortuary), Amenophis son of Hapu, Tuthmosis II, and the North and South temples at Nag Kom Lolah

Other Temples of the West Bank at Thebes, Part III: The Temples at Deir el-Medina – Temple of Amenhotep I, the Hathor Chapel of Seti I, the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor, and a small Temple of Amun.

Other Temples of the West Bank at Thebes, Part IV – Mortuary Temple of Tuthmosis III, and the temples of Tuya and Nefertari, Tuthmosis IV, Wadjmose and Siptah and Tausert

Ramesseum – West Bank, Luxor

Ramses III, Temple of – West Bank, Luxor

Seti I Temple of Millions of Years – West Bank, Luxor

Tuthmosis III, Temple of Amun at Deir el-Bahari – West Bank, Luxor

Other Miscellaneous






Reference Number

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Egypt: An Overview of the West Bank at Luxor (Ancient Thebes)

Written on November 2nd, 2015 & filed under West Bank Tags:

The West Bank (Arabic: , al-diff l-arby, Hebrew: , Hagadah Hamaaravit) is the area west of the Jordan river that was occupied by Transjordan since 1949. The name “West Bank” was devised by Transjordanian and British diplomats following World War II, when Jordan contemplated annexing a portion of the Palestinian Arab state that was to be created when the British vacated Palestine, and later envisioned by the UN when it partitioned the Palestine Mandate into Jewish and Arab states (See Partition Resolution). Following Israeli territorial gains during the 1948 Arab-Israel war, about 2,200 square miles were left in the territory of the West Bank. Currently about 2.4 million Arab Palestinians, including a significant number of refugees of the 1948 Arab Israel War, live in the West Bank, along with about 250,000 Israeli settlers.

The area is currently officially under Israeli occupation or “administration” with partially autonomous government of the Palestinian National Authority. It incorporates part of the areas known since ancient times as Judea and Samaria. “Judea and Samaria” as a unit is the name officially given to the West Bank in Israel, but the ancient areas of Judea and Samaria in fact overlapped into current portions of Israel. The name is used by the Israeligovernment and military communiques, and by media outlets and politicians associated with Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the mainland Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, it shares a border with Jordan. The West Bank also includes a significant coast line along the western bank of the Dead Sea and part of the Dead Sea may be included in its territory. Since 1967, the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation.

Prior to the First World War, all of the area known to Europeans as Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. In the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allies allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw the establishment of Israel in parts of the former Mandate, while the West Bank was captured and annexed by Jordan, which destroyed any existing Jewish villages. The 1949 Armistice Agreements defined its interim boundary. From 1948 until 1967, the area was under Jordanian rule, and Jordan did not officially relinquish its claim to the area until 1988. Jordan’s claim was not recognized by most other countries. The West Bank was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War. Most of the residents are Arabs, although large numbers of Israeli settlements have been built in the region. Most of the Arab portions of the West Bank are administered by the Palestinian National Authority.

The West Bank has an anomalous international status, since Jordan’s occupation was never recognized as legitimate by most countries, and Jordan relinquished its territorial claims. The area is not occupied under the strict definition of international law, since it is not territory of another sovereign, but most countries consider that Israeli rule there constitutes occupation. Israeli courts apply most aspects of international law regarding occupation to cases where it is relevant. The West Bank is legally distinct from the area of Jerusalem, which the UN declared to be an internationalized Corpus Separatum in 1947.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Palestine

Map of Palestine History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

West Bank – Middle East: MidEastWeb

Written on November 2nd, 2015 & filed under West Bank Tags:

Welcome to the Westbank which is the area on the west bank of the Mississippi River from New Orleans. There are three bridges and three ferries which connect the Westbank to the Greater New Orleans area. The main bridge is the Crescent City Connection which goes to the Downtown area and the Super Dome. You also have the Huey P Long Bridge which goes from Bridge City to Elmwood. The third bridge is in St Charles Parish and is called the Hail Boggs Bridge which is the newest bridge.

The Huey P Long Bridge is going thru a widening project which will make many people very happy. It is known for its narrow lanes which for the 1st time ride over it can be a little nerve racking.

The three ferries run from one side of the river to the other. The Gretna and Algiers ferry cross the river and go to the same landing area near the foot of Canal Street in Downtown New Orleans. If you are visiting the city I highly recommend you take the ride and see New Orleans on the Mississippi River.

The links below go to an encyclopedia with census and other types of information. The Westbank is a suburban area of New Orleans that is on the west bank of the Mississippi River from New Orleans and is composed of parts of three Parishes. The Westbank includes part of Jefferson Parish including the cities and towns of Waggaman, Avondale, Bridge City, Nine Mile Point, Westwego, Marrero, Harvey, Gretna, Terrytown, Jean Lafitte, Lafitte, Crown Point, Barataria, Estelle, Timberlane, and Woodmere that lies on the western bank of the river. A portion of Orleans Parish is also on the Westbank which includes the area cities and communities of Algiers and English Turn. Further down the Mississippi River is the city of Belle Chasse which has a large Navy Base that makes up for a large part of the population. The West Bank of Plaquemines Parish will also be included on this website. Plaquemines Parish both encompasses and is bisected by the final leg of the Mississippi River before it enters the Gulf of Mexico. Down river from Belle Chasse is an area of Plaquemines Parish that has numerous rural communities scattered along both banks of the river, but none of these communities have a population greater than 5,000. The terms “Eastbank” and “Westbank” are spelled as one word in the local official terminology when being applied to the Greater New Orleans area.

Excerpt from:
Westbank Louisiana-Gretna, Algiers, Marrero, Louisiana

Written on November 2nd, 2015 & filed under West Bank Tags:

The following is a very short synopsis of the history of this conflict. We recommend that you also read the much more detailed account, “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict.”

For centuries there was no such conflict. In the 19th century the land of Palestine was inhabited by a multicultural population approximately 86 percent Muslim, 10 percent Christian, and 4 percent Jewish living in peace.[1]

In the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as Zionists, they represented an extremist minority of the Jewish population. Their goal was to create a Jewish homeland, and they considered locations in Africa and the Americas, before settling on Palestine.[2]

At first, this immigration created no problems. However, as more and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine many with the express wish of taking over the land for a Jewish state the indigenous population became increasingly alarmed. Eventually, fighting broke out, with escalating waves of violence. Hitlers rise to power, combined with Zionist activities to sabotage efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries[3], led to increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and conflict grew.

Finally, in 1947 the United Nations decided to intervene. However, rather than adhering to the principle of self-determination of peoples, in which the people themselves create their own state and system of government, the UN chose to revert to the medieval strategy whereby an outside power divides up other peoples land.

Under considerable Zionist pressure, the UN recommended giving away 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state despite the fact that this group represented only about 30% of the total population, and owned under 7% of the land.

While it is widely reported that the resulting war eventually included five Arab armies, less well known is the fact that throughout this war Zionist forces outnumbered all Arab and Palestinian combatants combined often by a factor of two to three. Moreover, Arab armies did not invade Israel virtually all battles were fought on land that was to have been the Palestinian state.

Finally, it is significant to note that Arab armies entered the conflict only after Zionist forces had committed 16 massacres, including the grisly massacre of over 100 men, women, and children at Deir Yassin. Future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, head of one of the Jewish terrorist groups, described this as splendid, and stated: As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest. Zionist forces committed 33 massacres altogether.[4]

By the end of the war, Israel had conquered 78 percent of Palestine; three-quarters of a million Palestinians had been made refugees; over 500 towns and villages had been obliterated; and a new map was drawn up, in which every city, river and hillock received a new, Hebrew name, as all vestiges of the Palestinian culture were to be erased. For decades Israel denied the existence of this population, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once saying: There were no such thing as Palestinians.[5]

In 1967, Israel conquered still more land. Following the Six Day War, in which Israeli forces launched a highly successful surprise attack on Egypt, Israel occupied the final 22% of Palestine that had eluded it in 1948 the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since, according to international law it is inadmissible to acquire territory by war, these are occupied territories and do not belong to Israel. It also occupied parts of Egypt (since returned) and Syria (which remain under occupation).

Also during the Six Day War, Israel attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen. President Lyndon Johnson recalled rescue flights, saying that he did not want to embarrass an ally. (In 2004 a high-level commission chaired by Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, found this attack to be an act of war against the United States, a fact few news media have reported.)[6]

There are two primary issues at the core of this continuing conflict. First, there is the inevitably destabilizing effect of trying to maintain an ethnically preferential state, particularly when it is largely of foreign origin.[7] The original population of what is now Israel was 96 percent Muslim and Christian, yet, these refugees are prohibited from returning to their homes in the self-described Jewish state (and those within Israel are subjected to systematic discrimination).[8]

Second, Israels continued military occupation and confiscation of privately owned land in the West Bank, and control over Gaza, are extremely oppressive, with Palestinians having minimal control over their lives.[9] Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons.[10] Few of them have had a legitimate trial; Physical abuse and torture are frequent.[11] Palestinian borders (even internal ones) are controlled by Israeli forces.[12] Periodically men, women, and children are strip searched[13]; people are beaten; women in labor are prevented from reaching hospitals (at times resulting in death)[14]; food and medicine are blocked from entering Gaza, producing an escalating humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces invade almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants.[15]

According to the Oslo peace accords of 1993, these territories were supposed to finally become a Palestinian state. However, after years of Israel continuing to confiscate land and conditions steadily worsening, the Palestinian population rebelled. (The Barak offer, widely reputed to be generous, was anything but.[16]) This uprising, called the Intifada (Arabic for shaking off) began at the end of September 2000.

Largely due to special-interest lobbying, U.S. taxpayers give Israel an average of $8 million per day, and since its creation have given more U.S. funds to Israel than to any other nation.[17] As Americans learn about how Israel is using our tax dollars, many are calling for an end to this expenditure.

[1] John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel: an Investigation of the Morality of Americas Role (Los Angeles: Deshon, 1995), 48; Mike Berry and Greg Philo, Israel and Palestine (Pluto Press, 2006) p. 1; Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle, includes a number of population tables in this book, which are available in his booklet, Palestinian Refugees Right to Return and Repatriation (; Justin McCarthy, author of The Population of Palestine: Population History and Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate, provides detailed information on population in the excerpt Palestines Population During The Ottoman And The British Mandate Periods. (

[2] John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel: an Investigation of the Morality of Americas Role (Los Angeles: Deshon, 1995), 47-52.

[3] In many places Zionists manipulated local Jewish populations into going to Palestine/Israel, in some cases using subterfuge and terrorism.

Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest, p. 37: Commenting, author Erskine H. Childers, wrote, one of the most massively important features of the entire Palestine struggle was that Zionism deliberately arranged that the plight of the wretched survivors of Hitlerism should be a moral argument which the West had to accept. This was done by seeing to it that Western countries did not open their doors, widely and immediately, to the inmates of the DP. (displaced persons) camps. It is incredible, that so grave and grim a campaign has received so little attention in accounts of the Palestine struggle it was a campaign that literally shaped all subsequent history. It was done by sabotaging specific Western schemes to admit Jewish DPs.

A number of authors have discuss Zionist connections with Nazis; for example:

He describes this in greater detail in his book: Ben-Gurions Scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews:

I write this book to tell the American people, and especially the American Jews, that Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel; that, to force them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that, to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives from their Arab neighbors. I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called cruel Zionism. I write about it because I was a part of it.

[4] Qumsiyeh, Palestinian Refugees Right to Return and Repatriation (

Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; George W. Ball & Douglas B. Ball, The Passionate Attachment, on p. 29: quotes a message from future prime minister Menachem Begin, head of the Irgun Zionist terrorist group, commending them on the grisly massacre of women, children, and old men at the village of Deir Yassin: Accept my congratulations on this splendid act of conquest. Convey my regards to all the commanders and soldiers. We shake your hands. We are all proud of the excellent leadership and the fighting spirit in this great attack. We stand to attention in memory of the slain. We lovingly shake the hands of the wounded. Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue thus until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.

[5] Sunday Times, June 15, 1969, quoted widely.

[6] Donald Neff, The Six Days War, Simon & Schuster

During the Six-Day War, Israel also attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen. Many analysts believe that the fact that there were no consequences for this attack led Israeli leaders to conclude that they could commit any act of aggression without US complaint. While this attack has largely been covered up in the US media (see American Media Miss the Boat: For USA Today, Freedom of the Press Means the Right to Report It Wrong, Alison Weir, CounterPunch, June 23/24, 2007), it is discussed in a number of books, including James Ennes, The Assault on the Liberty; William Gerhard, Attack on the USS Liberty; Dr. John Borne, The USS Liberty, Dissenting History vs. Official History; Stephen Green , Taking Sides: Americas Secret Relations with a Militant Israel; James Bamford, Body of Secrets; and in a recent article: New revelations in attack on American spy ship Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didnt tell full story of deadly 67 incident, John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007 (,0,66005.story?coll=chi_tab01_layout).

Additional information can be found at:

[11] See, for example, BTselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Absolute Prohibition: The torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees, May 2007,

Defence for Children International/Palestine Section,

Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association,

Samidoun, Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network,

Alison Weir’s new book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy the book on

Visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Ethnic Cleansing: How Palestine Became Israel In the late 1800s a small, fanatic movement called political Zionism began in Europe. Its goal was to create a Jewish state somewhere in the world. Its leaders settled on the ancient and long-inhabited land of Palestine for the location of this state. READ MORE | FOOTNOTES

See more here:
A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Written on November 2nd, 2015 & filed under Israeli History Tags:

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