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Book cover of 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

by Benny Morris

Publisher: Yale University Press
Pages: 544
Paperback
ISBN: 9780300151121






Available to Buy

Overview of 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.

 

Synopsis of 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.

 

The Washington Post - Glenn Frankel

[Benny Morris] first came to prominence with his 1988 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, a ground-breaking, revisionist account of how Israeli forces uprooted and expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel's independence war. His new book is an ambitious, detailed and engaging portrait of the war itself—from its origins to its unresolved aftermath—that further shatters myths on both sides of the Israeli-Arab divide.

About the Author, Benny Morris

Benny Morris is professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He is the leading figure among Israel's "New Historians," who over the past two decades have reshaped our understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict. His books include Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001; Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956; and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited.

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Editorials

Glenn Frankel

[Benny Morris] first came to prominence with his 1988 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, a ground-breaking, revisionist account of how Israeli forces uprooted and expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel's independence war. His new book is an ambitious, detailed and engaging portrait of the war itself—from its origins to its unresolved aftermath—that further shatters myths on both sides of the Israeli-Arab divide.
—The Washington Post

David Margolick

The history of the 1948 war desperately needs to be told, since it's so barely understood or remembered and since so many of the issues that plague us today had their roots in that struggle…No one is better suited to the task than Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who, in previous works, has cast an original and skeptical eye on his country's founding myths. Whatever controversy he has stirred in the past, Morris relates the story of his new book soberly and somberly, evenhandedly and exhaustively. Definitely exhaustively, for 1948 can feel like 1948: that is, hard slogging. Some books can be both very important and very hard to read.
—The New York Times

Library Journal

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

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