A2 Coursework: Israel 1948

Pages: 5 (2375 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Israel 1948 was one of the key turning points in the political development of the contemporary Middle East. From 1948 on, Israel was an independent state ruled by their own government which brought Israeli organizations together under one rule, liberated from foreign influence. After the creation of the State of Israel, frequent wars in opposition to its existence broke out due to the tremendous antagonism felt towards a Zionist state (e.g. The Arab-Israeli war 1948, the 1956 Suez War, 1967 Six Day War, 1967-1970 War of Attrition and Yom Kippur 1973). It was wars such as these that forced Israel to bolster its own military defense, increase diplomatic ties with the West, and attempt to become a self-sufficient "island" surrounded by enemies. Israel, in fact, is known to possess nuclear weapons, albeit as both a deterrent and weapon of absolute "last resort" (Shalom, 2005). The road, however, to Israeli statehood and hegemony was quite long and difficult.

BALFOUR DECLARATION - Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the Balfour Declaration on the 2nd November 1917 was as a turning point in the political history of the Jewish nation. Essentially, the British government stated that:

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country (Yapp, 1987, p. 290).

The declaration of British support caused outbreaks of unorganized violence all over the Arab world. British reports found Arabs to be the culprits, nevertheless their negative presentation was not wholly deserved as the rebellion was arguably actions of defense, and they saw themselves losing their homeland they had occupied since the 7th Century. Arabs approached the League of Nations to ask for an election for an independent Palestine, that way they believed they could prevent immigration by force. Eventually the White Paper 1922 was issued by the British government in an attempt to calm violence, assuring them that there would not be a Jewish state and that it was not meant so in the Balfour Declaration. Indeed, in 1922 the League of Nations granted Great Britain a mandate over Palestine under terms quite similar to Balfour -- with the population of the area only 11% Jewish at the time (League of Nations, 1922).

Despite it not amounting to much change politically, it was a turning point towards Jewish statehood. What the Balfour Declaration, and subsequent documents and discussions did, was create a driving force within the Zionists movement, causing them to become increasingly determined and convinced that a Jewish homeland in Palestine was within reach. It certainly proved they had support from powerful people, despite opposition by vocal statesmen like Winston Churchill.

CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL - By the end of 1917 11% of Palestine was Jewish, by 1939 the Zionist movement had encouraged a total of nearly 450,000 to inhabit Palestine. Although Arabs still claimed a hefty 89% majority they were to face complete devastation during the Second World War while discontented and displaced Jews actively wished to relocate to what they viewed as "the promised land." Too, the Second World War was a significant turning point in pushing a stronger political stance on creating an independent state for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. Six million Jews had been killed and the Zionists were in no mood to be patient. These "survivors" were convinced that they now had justice and the international public on their side, the war gave an official need for a state to be created for the refugees.

Again and again though, at least until the foundation of Israel, Jews in almost every country were persecuted, often by governmental decree. The Christian World focused anti-Semitism throughout Europe, Russia and the Catholic World post-1600. During the High Middle Ages there was full-scale persecution, and even into the 19th century many Jews were forced into ghettos by the governmental authority under which they lived. Culminating this in Europe was, of course, the horrific Holocaust, a full-fledged attempt at eliminating Judaism from Europe by the National Socialist Party in Germany. In the Middle East and Arab World, too, there was much persecution from various governments, including and up to contemporary issues surrounding the legitimacy of the State of Israel vs. Arab controlled Palestine (Lindemann & Levy, 2010).

The war, Holocaust, and even events like the Nurmburg Trials were also significant in pushing Zionists to look for support from the United States. There were 2 million Zionists in New York alone; therefore they were in an ideal position to put pressure on the U.S. government. The British, however, were put in an impossible situation. As more and more Arabs became landless and discontented, British reports all recognized the Arab fear of losing their country. Thus, to protect their standing in the Arab World, the British made plans to restrict immigration and land sales in Palestine. This was designed to protect Arabs and prevent a dangerous uproar. The restrictions backfired, though, and the policy was seen as a complete failure. Even though there was still an almost 90% Arab majority prior to the War, the emergent diaspora from Europe provided an influx of almost 1/2 million Jews into Palestine (Bergman, 2003).

FOUNDATION- A combination of increasing pressure from an emigrant population, the war years, political pressure, and the state of affairs elsewhere (political issues with Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R.), by November 1947 the newly created United Nations approved the Partition Plan for Palestine, seeking to divide the country into two states -- one Jewish, one Arab. The Jewish community accepted the plan, the Arab League rejected it and began attacking Jewish targets. On May 14, 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, the political powers in Jewish controlled Palestine proclaimed a new country, Israel. The next day, the armies of four Arab countries (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq) attacked Israel, beginning what was known as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (Ben-Sasson, 1985).

SIX DAY WAR AND BEYOND -- What followed were years of conflict, treaties, and more conflict. The Israeli victory of 1948 certainly established the Jewish State, but it was really not until the 1967 "Six Day War" that Israeli dominance was realized. However, much of the conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s were a result of the complex nature of Israeli-Arab relations, and the animosity between the United States and Britain (backing Israel) and the Soviet Union (backing Egypt and the Arab World).

There has been a conflict between what is now the State of Israel and the Arab world for decades. Many trace this conflict to the large-scale migration to Palestine, particularly after World War II. The conflict seemed to start as a nationalist political conflict over territory after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire; the Jewish Zionist Movement believing that they had a historical right to a homeland, the Palestinians believing that theirs was the legitimate claim to the area. Over the years, the conflict shifted from a large scale political disagerement to a more localized Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the bulk of the Arab world remaining anti-Israel (Lesch 2007).

Relations with Egypt (the United Arab Republic) were tense since the 1956 Suez Crisis. Over the next several decades tensions, and actual armed conflicts, were regular between the two nations, culminating in the Six-Day War in 1967 between the UAR and Israel. Israel was decisive and swift, and cripled the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian Air Forces -- from their, a ground victory was relatively easy (Oren 2002).

SADAT, BEGIN and A NEW ERA - Despite the animosity between the two countries, in November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat surprised the world by announcing his intention to visit Jeruselem -- stating publically that he would travel anywhere, even Jerusalem, to discuss peace (Feron 1992). Sadat's motivations were simple, and quite pragmatic. The Egyptian economy was in shambles, and in order to receive NATO aid, he needed to persuade the world that he, as an Arab leader, wanted genuine peace. This public focus, he believed, would force Israeli to at least come to the negotiation table or look to the world like they were the ones stalling peace (Finkelstone 1996). Sadat also wanted to realign with America, and saw within President Jimmy Carter a way to diplomatically solve a variety of ills. Sadat and Begin needed a more secretive, neutral place to meet, so each brought a negotiating team an met at the Presiental compound in Camp David, maryland for thirteen days of negotiations. Most accounts of the event say that there were numerous moments of frustration and tension, but that President Carter's tenacity and belief in the peace process drove a solution. Sadat and Begin, in fact, disliked each other so intensely that it was… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Israel 1948."  Essaytown.com.  May 6, 2011.  Accessed April 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/israel-1948-one-key/2616942.