Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem
by Yoav Gelber
Brighton, England: Sussex Academic Press, 2001. 399 pp. $75
Middle East Quarterly Winter 2002
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
There have been flashier histories of Israel's war of independence and
longer ones, but none as well informed, more sensible, and more compelling
than Gelber's magisterial account. Making full use of the archives and
blending them into a lively account, he provides enough specifics to make
the hostilities come alive without ever bogging down in detail.
He also dismisses with grace and ease the "particularly irritating" work of the self-styled New Historians, which he finds "one-sided and incomplete." The book's only defect is being published in a limited edition and at a vastly too-high price; let's hope an inexpensive paperback follows soon.
Gelber argues that the first phase of the war began just one day after the
United Nations decision to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947 and
continued through to the British retreat on May 15, 1948. During that
half-year, a civil war took place within the boundaries of Mandatory
Palestine, with the British not willing to expend lives to stop it.
The Zionists won this round with an ease that astounded them almost as much as the Arabs, an ease which Gelber attributes not to their greater martial abilities but to the vast infrastructural superiority they enjoyed.
He also makes the interesting point that the voluntary Arab flight from the contested areas fit into a cultural pattern; historically by-standers to the wars of their rulers, the farmers and townspeople escaped the hostilities temporary, then returned when the fighting ended. But Zionists came out of a Europe context in which abandoning the land was tantamount to forfeiting it.
The second round began with the Arab armies' invasion on May 15. Those armies were almost as ill-prepared for fighting as the Palestinians had been and, like them, were soundly defeated, with shuddering consequences for all the regimes involved. But don't be satisfied with this potted version - read the full version Gelber so capably recounts in Palestine 1948.
Excerpts from Will Durant's The Age of Faith Pages 162-186 Pub. 1950
- Koran: Form
- Mohammed in Mecca: 569-622
- Mohammed in Medina: 622-30
- Mohammed Victorious: 630-32
- Islam and Science
- Murdering Mother The Hidden Face of Honor Killing
- Twenty-Year Plan Islam Targets America
- Who is an Arab Jew? Albert Memmi
- Not Islam - Sufism the Deviated Muslim Path
- America Did Nothing for Israel in 1948
- Islamists Murder Dozens in Bombay India
- Islam Versus Deism
- When Humanism Becomes Fundamentalism
- Deist Examination of Islamic Trinity
- Mohammed the Man as Islamic Ideology
- Why Muslims Can't Build a Lightbulb
- Bacon is not a Hate Crime
- Press Tries to Cover Up Muslim Violence
- Fear of Islam Not Islamophobia
- Islam Versus Deism
- Europeans as Victims of (Muslim) Colonialism
- The Historical Reality of the Muslim Conquests
- Dangers of Political Islam by Lewis Loflin
- Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?
- Judeo-Christian Violence vs. Islamic Violence