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1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War Paperback – March 23, 2009
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From the Author
A conversation with Benny Morris
Q: How does 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War relate to your previous work?
A: In the past, I have written about one particular aspect of the warabout the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem over 1947-1949, for exampleor, more generally, about the course of the Zionist-Arab conflict from 1881 to 2000. In this book I address the whole of the 1948 War in its political and military aspects, taking in as well the international context and interventions, the Arab world, and the internal Israeli scene. I try to present a good overall picture of what happened and why, from the UN handling of the Palestine issue to the Israeli-Arab armistice agreements that ended the war.
Q: What do you think at bottom is the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
A: I would say that there is a territorial dispute between two peoples who claim the same patch of land. It is a very small, patch of land, and so the idea of dividing it between the two is extremely problematic a the technical sense. But it is also a cultural-religious conflict between the Islamic East and the West. The Islamic Arab world sees Israelas it sees itselfas an offshoot and outpost of the West inin their viewa Muslim area and as an infidel, invasive presence. Israel and Zionism are seen by the Islamic Arab world, and the wider Islamic world, as illegitimate. This, at root, is the cause of the ongoing conflict. Were they to accord it legitimacy, the problem in Palestine/Israel would be soluble. At present, given this mindset, it isn't.
Q: Are there any lessons to be learned from the study of the 1948 War?
A: To be sure, many Israelis will learn that they must remain strong and technologically advanced; otherwise they will be overwhelmed by Arab numbers and fervor. The Arabs might learn that they must improve themselves, at least on a technological-scientific level, and better their societies and armies, if they hope to overcome Israel, though it is possible that if they do, they may lose the desire to destroy Israel. Outsiders may simply learn about the conflict and the nature of the two contending societies, at least as they were in 1948, and perhaps with certain implications for the present and future.
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Top Customer Reviews
There have been other stand alone studies of the war by Gelber, Palestine 1948: War, Escape And The Emergence Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and War in Palestine, 1948: Strategy and Diplomacy (Israeli History, Politics, and Society). But each has had its own weaknesses, either because it concentrates on the military aspects or because it is terribly biased.Read more ›
The book can be divided into three segments: 1). an introductory section, which places in context the, 2). major middle-section, which exhaustively deals with military affairs and, 3). a summary/conclusion section, which presents the author's perspectives based on presently available evidence. As Arab archives have not been opened to researchers as of the 2008 publication date, this work cannot be considered "definitive", but certainly holds this status as of now.
There is one major shortcoming of this book: the lack of maps. The barrage of detail on virtually every military and paramilitary engagement becomes confusing and frustrating, as the reader cannot readily follow the strategy and tactics elaborated in the text. Further, many of the maps have inadequate legends, rendering the majority of them difficult to understand.
Morris attributes the Israeli military victories to a combination of better planning, better logistics, better preparation, better motivation, better training, fighting along "interior lines", internal cohesion in the form of communality of purpose and international sympathy.Read more ›
"1948" skillfully weaves together the political and military history of Israel's war of independence. The atrocities of war being what they are, he places those committed by Israelis, whose command was not always unified, against the Arabs' threats to destroy them Those threats remained largely (though far from completely) unfulfilled due to incompetence, and not a lack of desire. The Arab countries surrounding Israel had no interest in allowing the Arabs who lived in Mandate Palestine to form their own country, and the the Arabs who lived within the Mandate territory (whom we now call Palestinians) lacked the will to better their situation militarily, economically, educationally and politically. If they had succeeded in driving out the Jews, they would not have been Palestinians, but Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians. Their land would probably still be impoverished, disease ridden, and lacking any serious institutions of higher learning. They did not want a nation-- they just wanted the Jews to leave.
The men and women who formed modern Israel determined that they would be victims no more. Few gentiles complained when, wherever they lived, Jews' land, chattel and lives were stolen or destroyed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book on the subject, and required reading for anyone who wants the facts on how the mess in the middle east got started. Read morePublished 3 months ago by b scott mccord
Important history book about the first Arab Israeli war and how that war affected Isreal forever afterwards. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. J. Singer
The most thorough depiction of 1984 that I have come across. But, wasn't what I was looking for. After a certain point, it was one hostile, illegal settlement takeover/massacre... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ronando
Very great, had historical information in there that I never knew. It told what really happen there at that time.Published 5 months ago by Kevin Lee
Professor Morris presents a clear and well-documented account of the events leading up to the civil war in Palestine and the war of independence and how that conflict set the stage... Read morePublished 9 months ago by H.L. Bushart
excellent researched blow by blow study of the situation in 1948 and a demonstration of what the new nation of Israel had to overcome ( with amazing results - God is surely for... Read morePublished 16 months ago by David Cole