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Arab Israeli Relations and the War of 1948

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The War of 1948

Palestine, a land divided between Jews and Arabs, a holy place meant to fuse cultures under the banner of a higher power, a battle ground drenched in blood and tears, a homeland claimed by both Jews and Arabs.

War was to become the fate of a generation living in Palestine. Jews from all walks of life, countries, and practices banded together in a global movement to be freed from persecution. At the end of the Second World War the Zionist movement and Jews of Palestine were determined to establish a Jewish state, a notion that had not been seen or spoken of for nearly two thousand years. At the end of World War Two an endless surge of ships came from every crevasse of Europe. Arabs, fearful of becoming a minority, persuaded Britain to limit Jewish immigration, limiting not just their numbers but also their ability to create a home. Haifa was the main port and controlled by Britain, who used this to stifle Jewish immigration, turning away survivors and sending them back to countries of persecution. During this period Britain split interest between both groups. "The British formally negotiated with Palestine and other Arab representatives while informally meeting with Zionist officials behind the scenes" (Morris 2001). A rise in Jewish extremist saw direct attacks against British troops, dismantling of government buildings, and destruction of ships. Great Britain had ruled Palestine for three decades, but after years switching sides the disparaged Jews wished to see the rule of Britain disintegrate. After years of strenuous effort the British reached the conclusion that they are not able to bring about a settlement in Palestine, based on the bitter relationship between Jews and Arabs. In 1947 the British decided to hand over the issue to the UN, it was their headache now. The UN committee saw first hand the immigrants despair when they were forced to return to Europe, sympathetically siding with the Jews. On the shoulders of these delegates rested a heavy responsibility, to compel both sides into compromise with a two-state solution, a Partition Plan. The lines were drawn, and enemies were made. This ignited what would become the most devastating blow witnessed by the Arab community; conversely a paramount outcome for the Jews.

"Jews are the historic enemies of Muslims and carry out the greatest hatred for Muhammad" and Morris states, "Such thinking characterized the arab world" (Morris 2008). This sentiment cannot be further from the truth, but nonetheless the attitude grew. Outrage, the only sentiment exuded by Arabs. The Arab League refused to accept any compromise, rejecting any notion of a Jewish state in Palestine. Disgust grew amongst the Arab world; a flurry of questions plagued their brain like the Black Death upon Europe. Palestinians could not fathom a European power deciding the future of a non-European territory, despite uproar, disregarding them. The international community failed to recognize the existence of a people within Palestine, who have occupied the territory for hundreds of years. Until the massive demographic shift after the holocaust, they represented an overwhelming majority. The narcissism of the U.N. perplexed Arab communities who felt they were suffering for the atrocities of the holocaust. Indignity overwhelmed the European community and to ease the collective conscience the U.N. pressed the creation of a Jewish State. It was Arab opinion that nothing would be gained through compromise or peace, but instead gains would be achieved through military might. Palestine was not an unpopulated land, but instead populated already with a highly flourishing culture.

A shift in demographics caused tensions to rise as hordes of Jewish immigrants flooded the docks. Arabs were not the ones responsible for holocaust, and felt they were paying the price. Despite unending opposition by the Arabs the partition was approved November twenty-ninth, 1947. When the lines were drawn the minority populace, Jews, had fifty five percent of the land, leaving Arabs with forty five percent, despite the fact that the Arabs represented over two-thirds the population at the time. On the fifth of December 1947, essential enlistment of Jews was instituted. David Ben-Gurion saw this as a necessary measure to combat the superior number of Arab forces, which would play a pivotal role in the fight to come. Zionist leaders took advantage of their superior military preparation and immediately began occupying major Arab cities and settlements in Palestine. Systematic expulsion of Palestinians, an ethnic cleansing operation taking place on the Jews end. Jews were given not only the most land but also the most fertile land. The Chairman for the Arab Higher Committee, Abd-al-Qadari-al-Husayni, delivered a statement that resonated in the international community, embodying the stance of Arabs; that they would rather lay down their lives then see the Jews take over.

Haganah was the strongest of the pre state armies, and reported to head of Jewish agency, David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion embodied the plight felt by the jews, and became their messiah, a bright figure whose sternness and ability to react without penitence helped forge the state of Israel. He felt the only way Jews could be secure was to represent the majority. On the eleventh of March an explosion at the Jewish Agency, seat of Jewish government, destroyed the offices, 7 killed, more then a hundred wounded. Rage buried deep within the Jews erupted, like magma from the depths of a Vesuvius. This began a rapid international movement, one that saw sympathy grow beyond expectation. The U.N. blamed Arabs for conflict because they defied the resolution, but without the brutality of Arab forces the Jews would have little support. April 1948 became colloquially known as the cruel month, a crucial month that would determine the direction of the coming storm. Death or Victory, both sides adopted this belief.

Palestinian forces from towns and villages along the road to Jerusalem were commanded by Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni. They're job was to block supplies going from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and this did this very well. Keeping the Jews in Jerusalem, now a warzone, supplied was a top priority of the Jewish army, the Haganah. They attempted to defend the convoys but it was difficult because Arabs controlled many of the roads and were able to ambush them. The Jews marched to seize Castel and initial reports would exhibit victory. A Palmach unit killed Husayni, delivering crucial blow to Arab leadership. Because of this Jews witnessed Arab ferocity in a passionate counter attack to recover body of they're fallen leader, the same passion seen in the eyes of every Jew in Palestine. The same fervor that propelled the Jews to fight for their livelihood could be seen in the Arab army that day.

In early April

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