1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

Yale University Press
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This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab sidewhere the archives are still closedis illuminated with the help of intelligence and diplomatic materials. Morris stresses the jihadi character of the two-stage Arab assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Throughout, he examines the dialectic between the war's military and political developments and highlights the military impetus in the creation of the refugee problem, which was a by-product of the disintegration of Palestinian Arab society. The book thoroughly investigates the role of the Great PowersBritain, the United States, and the Soviet Unionin shaping the conflict and its tentative termination in 1949. Morris looks both at high politics and general staff decision-making processes and at the nitty-gritty of combat in the successive battles that resulted in the emergence of the State of Israel and the humiliation of the Arab world, a humiliation that underlies the continued Arab antagonism toward Israel.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Yale University Press
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Published on
Oct 31, 2008
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Pages
524
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ISBN
9780300145243
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Middle East / General
History / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
History / Military / Wars & Conflicts (Other)
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / World / Middle Eastern
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From Israel's leading historian, a sweeping history of 1967—the war, what led up to it, what came after, and how it changed everything

Tom Segev's acclaimed works One Palestine, Complete and The Seventh Million overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now, in 1967—a number-one bestseller in Hebrew—he brings his masterful skills to the watershed year when six days of war reshaped the country and the entire region.

Going far beyond a military account, Segev re-creates the crisis in Israel before 1967, showing how economic recession, a full grasp of the Holocaust's horrors, and the dire threats made by neighbor states combined to produce a climate of apocalypse. He depicts the country's bravado after its victory, the mood revealed in a popular joke in which one soldier says to his friend, "Let's take over Cairo"; the friend replies, "Then what shall we do in the afternoon?"

Drawing on unpublished letters and diaries, as well as government memos and military records, Segev reconstructs an era of new possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces the legendary figures—Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Gamal Abdul Nasser, and Lyndon Johnson—and an epic cast of soldiers, lobbyists, refugees, and settlers. He reveals as never before Israel's intimacy with the White House as well as the political rivalries that sabotaged any chance of peace. Above all, he challenges the view that the war was inevitable, showing that a series of disastrous miscalculations lie behind the bloodshed.

A vibrant and original history, 1967 is sure to stand as the definitive account of that pivotal year.

It's usually called the Yom Kippur War. Or sometimes the October War. The players that surround it are familiar: Sadat and Mubarak, Meir and Sharon, Nixon and Kissinger, Brezhnev and Dobyrnin. It was a war that brought Arab and Jew into vicious conflict. A war in which Israel almost unleashed her nuclear arsenal and set two superpowers on a treacherous course of nuclear escalation.

And a war that eventually brought peace. But a peace fraught with delicate tensions, disputed borders, and a legacy of further bloodshed.

The Two O'Clock War is a spellbinding chronicle of the international chess game that was played out in October 1973. It is a story of diplomacy and military might that accounts for many of the dilemmas faced in the present-day Middle East.

This is a war that Israel never thought was possible. Surprised by the fury and excellent execution of the Arab onslaught, and perhaps more than a little complacent, Israel suddenly found itself on the point of losing a war because of a lack of ammunition, planes and tanks. The United States, after much vacillation, finally elected to help Israel, beginning a tremendous airlift (code name: Operation Nickel Grass) which incurred the wrath of the Arab states, and their sponsor, the Soviet Union.

Fortunately the airlift came just in time for Israeli ground forces to stabilize their positions and eventually turn the tide in the Sinai and Golan Heights. And it was all made possible by an operation that dwarfed the Berlin Airlift and the Soviets' simultaneous efforts in Egypt and Syria.

The Two O'Clock War is bound to become the definitive history of a war that quite literally approached Armageddon.

“A brilliant look into the psyche of combat. Where he once took us into the Spartan line of battle at Thermopylae, Steven Pressfield now takes us into the sands of the Sinai, the alleys of Old Jerusalem, and into the hearts and souls of soldiers winning a spectacularly improbable victory against daunting odds.”
—General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army, ret.; author of My Share of the Task

June 5, 1967. The nineteen-year-old state of Israel is surrounded by enemies who want nothing less than her utter extinction. The Soviet-equipped Egyptian Army has massed a thousand tanks on the nation’s southern border. Syrian heavy guns are shelling her from the north. To the east, Jordan and Iraq are moving mechanized brigades and fighter squadrons into position to attack. Egypt’s President Nasser has declared that the Arab force’s objective is “the destruction of Israel.” The rest of the world turns a blind eye to the new nation’s desperate peril.

June 10, 1967. The Arab armies have been routed, ground divisions wiped out, air forces totally destroyed. Israel’s citizen-soldiers have seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. The land under Israeli control has tripled. Her charismatic defense minister, Moshe Dayan, has entered the Lion’s Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem to stand with the paratroopers who have liberated Judaism’s holiest site—the Western Wall, part of the ruins of Solomon’s temple, which has not been in Jewish hands for nineteen hundred years.

It is one of the most unlikely and astonishing military victories in history.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans of the war—fighter and helicopter pilots, tank commanders and Recon soldiers, paratroopers, as well as women soldiers, wives, and others—bestselling author Steven Pressfield tells the story of the Six Day War as you’ve never experienced it before: in the voices of the young men and women who battled not only for their lives but for the survival of a Jewish state, and for the dreams of their ancestors.

By turns inspiring, thrilling, and heartbreaking, The Lion’s Gate is both a true tale of military courage under fire and a journey into the heart of what it means to fight for one’s people.
Righteous Victims, by the noted historian Benny Morris, is a comprehensive and
objective history of the long battle between Arabs and Jews for possession of a land they both call home. It appears at a most timely juncture, as the bloody and protracted struggle seems at last to be headed for resolution.

With great clarity of vision, Professor Morris finds the roots of this conflict in the deep religious, ethnic, and political differences between the Zionist immigrants and the native Arab population of Palestine. He describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers, which was eventually fiercely resisted by the Arabs during the decades of  British Mandatory government following World War I.

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 - 48 gave the Jews a homeland in the wake of the Holocaust, but the ensuing flight of the Palestinian Arabs shattered their society and led to the birth of a festering refugee problem. Morris describes these epic events and the Arab onslaught that followed, as he does each of the subsequent wars (in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 - 85); the Intifada of 1987 - 91, when the Palestinian populace of the West Bank and Gaza Strip rebelled against Israeli rule; and the rise of fundamentalist religious movements on both sides of the barricades. Tracing the successes and failures of politicians, generals, and diplomats in both camps, he regards their actions and plight with accuracy and empathy, drawing on archival materials, memoirs, and secondary works to give a vivid account of each major military encounter--and of the vicissitudes of peace efforts from the post-1948 negotiations through the Camp David (1977 - 79), Oslo (1993 - 95), and Wye River Plantation (1998) accords. Mr. Morris offers sharply etched portraits and illuminating anecdotes about the charismatic leaders who have been the chief protagonists of this contentious history, including Theodor Herzl, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, David Ben-Gurion, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin, to name only a few.

Righteous Victims ends with Mr. Morris's analysis of the current state of play, when the election of Ehud Barak as prime minister (May 1999) has opened the door to a renewal of negotiations between Israel and its Palestinian and Syrian neighbors. As the denizens of the Middle East set out to write the next chapter in this long and difficult struggle, Righteous Victims is essential reading: a monumental work of narration and explication for all who seek to understand the history of the conflict and the prospects for peace.
Benny Morris is the founding father of the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who have challenged long-established perceptions about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their research rigorously documented crimes and atrocities committed by the Israeli armed forces, including rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing. With Making Israel, Morris brings together the first collection of translated articles on the New History by leading Zionist and revisionist Israeli historians, providing Americans with a firsthand view of this important debate and enabling a better understanding of how the New Historians have influenced Israelis' awareness of their own past. "The study of Israeli history, society, politics, and economics over the past two decades has been marked by a fierce and sometimes highly personal debate between 'traditionalists'---scholars who generally interpreted Israeli history and society within the Zionist ethos---and 'revisionists'---scholars who challenged conventional Zionist narratives of Israeli history and society. Making Israel brings together traditionalists and revisionists who openly and directly lay out their key insights about Israel's origins. It also introduces multidisciplinary perspectives on Israel by historians and sociologists, each bringing into the debate its own jargon, its own epistemology and methodology, and its own array of substantive issues. This is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the different interpretations of Israeli society and perhaps the central debate among students of modern Israel."
---Zeev Maoz, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, and Distinguished Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya "Israel's 'new historians' have done a great service to their country, and to all who care about the Arab-Israeli conflict. By challenging myths, reexamining evidence, and asking truly important questions about the past they help to confront the present with honesty and realism. This book provides a sampling of the best of what these courageous voices have to offer."
---William B. Quandt, University of Virginia Benny Morris is Professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, and is the author of Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999.
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