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1948
Cover of 1948
1948
A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

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 side—where the archives are still closed—is 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 Powers—Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union—in 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.

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 side—where the archives are still closed—is 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 Powers—Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union—in 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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  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2008
    Morris (history, Ben-Gurion Univ.) offers a study of Israel's war of independence, effectively debunking many of the myths surrounding it. He divides that war into phases: civil war between Palestinian Arabs and Jews, begun in November 1947, followed by a Pan-Arab (i.e., Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq) invasion in May 1948. The Arab defeat in the civil war resulted in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs fleeing, most expecting to return behind a triumphant Arab invasion force. Although outnumbered, the Israelis had spent months after the UN partition resolution in 1947 preparing for war, while their opponents spent more time calling for jihad against the Jews, which naturally inspired Jewish fear of a second Holocaust. The Israelis had a unified command system, internal lines of communication, and the ideological fervor that came from defending their homes. The invaders (the author's term), meanwhile, lacked coherent leadership and a unified strategy, so by the fall of 1948 the Israelis had achieved local military supremacy. Morris disputes the assertion that Israel had an overall policy of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. He meticulously documents the expulsions and atrocities that occurred on both sides. His work demonstrates that passion, not polemic, about this controversial era leads to good history. Recommended for all libraries.Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati, Clermont Coll.

    Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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1948
1948
A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
Benny Morris
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