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The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge Middle East Studies) [Hardcover]

Eugene L. Rogan , Avi Shlaim
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

19 Nov 2007 0521875986 978-0521875981 2
The 1948 war led to the creation of the state of Israel, the fragmentation of Palestine, and to a conflict which has raged across the intervening sixty years. The historical debate likewise continues and these debates are encapsulated in the second edition of The War for Palestine, updated to include chapters on Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. In a preface to this edition, the editors survey the state of scholarship in this contested field. The impact of these debates goes well beyond academia. There is an important link between the state of Arab-Israeli relations and popular attitudes towards the past. A more complex and fair-minded understanding of that past is essential for preserving at least the prospect of reconciliation between Arabs and Israel in the future. The rewriting of the history of 1948 thus remains a practical as well as an academic imperative.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (19 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521875986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521875981
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,075,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'The result is a book which is rich in new material and new insights and which enhances considerably our understanding of the historical roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.' The Middle East

' … a scholarly, readable volume that will provoke more debate …'. Reviews in History

'This stimulating guide to the complex political and military topography of the 1948 war sets new, rigorous standards for subsequent scholars, and should be required reading for anyone who needs to understand what the whole Arab-Israeli business is about.' Contemporary Review

'… a cogent and comprehensive work on the central event in the Middle East in the year 1948 … The War for Palestine demonstrates a dedication to empirical research and a determination to draw independent conclusions'. English Historical Review

'This volume presents important and original scholarship on the 1948 war … It succeeds in bringing together historians from different backgrounds and demonstrates their ability to communicate and jointly challenge historical myths.' American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

'This critical look at internal factors on the Arab side is most welcome in order to understand the events of 1948.' Journal of Peace Research

Book Description

The updated second edition of The War for Palestine presents the most balanced assessment of the different perspectives of the genesis of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Contributions cover the creation of the state of Israel, the fragmentation of Palestine, the conflict of the intervening sixty years and the continuing historical debate.

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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The myth of the 'miracle' of 1948 evaporates. 13 May 2011
One of the myths regarding the dispute between the Palestinians and the Zionists surrounds the war for Palestine of 1948. This myth posits an Israeli David overcoming an Arab Goliath as the nascent Israeli state overcomes the combined effort of the Arab world, with 6 armies, to crush the Zionist state; the Zionists, outnumbered, nevertheless prevail and the state of Israel is born - as if by a miracle.

This is the myth addressed by this excellent book. The book is a collection of essays by leading historians in the field that looks at the various factions and assesses whether the myth stands up.

Rashid Khalidi examines the Palestinians themselves. Khalidi demonstrates that they were weak, divided, outnumbered, poorly armed and still suffering from the defeat endured during their revolt of 1936-39.

Avi Shlaim examines the Israeli side. Shlaim shows how the Israelis were better armed, better led, were unified and outnumbered the combined Arab forces. He also demonstrates how the Israelis and Trans-Jordanians, the most powerful Arab faction, colluded to partition Palestine between them and stymie the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Eugene L Rogan confirms this analysis in his study of Abdullah and the Trans-Jordanian side, looking at how Abdullah's key war aim was to try to impose his leadership on the Arab world and examines subsequent Jordanian attempts to re-write history to conceal this collusion. This collusion effectively neutralised the most powerful Arab military force.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible 6 Jun 2010
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on
These essayists (Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said and others), consider all previous historical accounts "Zionist propaganda," as Yehoshua Porath observes in his important summer, 2002 review in Azure. Actually, this book is propaganda, not the reverse. These essays weakly attempt to recast Israel's 1947 and 1948 fight for survival --- and fail.

There is nothing new to the idea that Israel instigated the flight of Arabs from Israel in 1947 and 1948, but the falsity of these accusations has been proved time and again by extensive historical research since 1948. Israel did not deliberately expel Arabs.

Taken on together, or case by case, such claims are easily disproved. Inhabitants of Saffuriya, for example, accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. But in the 1930s, the village hosted anti-Jewish radicals and in 1948 it was headquarters for Arab Liberation Army leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji, who ignored the June 11, 1948 U.N. truce. Thus inhabitants fled en masse, expecting "revenge for their numerous onslaughts upon Jews," --- before the IDF captured the village, according to historical documents, military orders, oral testimonies and diaries cited in Yoav Gelber's Palestine 1948 (p. 165).

These authors also accuse Israel by selectively citing certain items but neglecting critical contextual factors that disprove their allegations.

Contrary to this book's contention, "civil war in Palestine" did not "break out" on Nov. 30, 1947. The "outbreak" wasn't spontaneous, but a well organized series of Arab riots and attacks targeting Jewish communities and people after Arab commanders, leaders and neighboring nations rejected the U. N. Partition Plan--which Israel had just accepted.

These authors, like many other anti-Israel dogmatists, harp on 100 Arabs killed at Deir Yassin --- meanwhile neglecting that the village was actually militant stronghold central to Arab attacks on the roads to Jerusalem, intended to cut off the city's access to Jews. In other words, the so-called Deir Yassin massacre occurred in a bona fide battle zone, where Iraqi combatants had encamped and joined local aggressors.

The fact is, Arab men dressed in women's clothes and opened fire. They weren't innocent civilians at all. Likewise, Arabs at a Haifa refinery murdered 50 Jewish civilian co-workers on Dec. 30, 1947 and Arabs slaughtered 80 civilian Jewish medical workers and professors on Apr. 13, 1948. The sole motivation were the victims' Jewish faith.

For his part, Rashid Khalidi focuses on 1948 Palestinian Arab failures --- criticizing Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. Yet he ignores Haj Amin's alliance with Hitler, his wartime refuge in Berlin, his anti-Jewish Berlin radio broadcasts, and his personal request that Hitler refuse to spare 400,000 Hungarian Jews in exchange for military supplies. Haj Amin also elicited a Nazi promise to exterminate Israel's Jews. Nor does Khalidi mention the murders by Palestinian Arabs of 129 of the 131 Jewish prisoners who surrendered at Etzion Bloc.

Avi Shlaim claims that Jewish soldiers vastly outnumbered 25,000 Arab soldiers. But as Porath notes, Israel's Jewish people totaled no more than 750,000, could find no more fighters, and exhausted their resources mounting their self-defense, while seven Arab nations opposing them could easily have drafted far more soldiers from their combined populations of more than 50 million.

Finally, comes the late Edward Said, writing on his family's "flight" from Jerusalem's Talbieh neighborhood. The details confirm --- like many 1948, 1949 and 1950 Arab newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, U.N. and Arab League statements and personal Arab accounts --- that Arab leaders' urgent calls for Palestinian flight, resulted in massive, voluntary urban Palestinian departures. Said claims to have been forced to leave. His own details contradict him.

Despite these essayists claims, 1947 and 1948 Arab attacks on Jews were very significant, and existential threats, just like frequent publicly announced plans to destroy Israel at its birth.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for an introduction to 1948 1 Sep 2011
By Christopher M. Whitman Jr. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is written and edited by a handful of new historians and various academics who study the Israeli-Palestinian/Israeli-Arab conflict.It discusses 1948 from an overall perspective instead of focusing on one actor or part of the war like most books on the subject. This is why I say it is a good introduction. Almost every author who writes in here has a book or long article detailing specifics in their articles here. Contrary to other reviewers, I think the book adequately addresses the war, its failures on all sides, and its impact on the Middle East. The book is not a comprehensive history, but more a showcasing of various motives and issues involved in it, hence it does not have every little detail. Much to the dismay of the other reviewer, the impact of Deir Yassin is what they emphasize, NOT that the Zionists did it. The impact of Deir Yassin massacre on the Palestinian/Arab community was much stronger than the impact of the Gush Etzion or Haifa massacres. A simple reading of the book and/or others would easily validate this. The book is worth reading for an introduction on 1948, beyond that, there are many other books that are better.
2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 28 Jun 2012
By Robert - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I love this classic! This is a great book for all ages. I looked for 'shlian' and I found this. And wasn't the sample just marvelous! I will put it into my Crisis collection though. I think that this book is 4.55star because it had very scary parts. Worth the money.
4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Israel NOT Palestine 15 April 2013
By Kitchen Magician - Published on
The authors are rewriting history in referring to Israel by the artificial name "palestine" "Palestine" was merely the European Christian name for Israel that was formalized after World War I when the British, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, named the British Mandate [southern Syria] "palestine" that did eventuate in Israeli statehood in 1948. Of course, the Jews established Israel over 3000 years ago. The British called all the inhabitants of the British Mandate, including Jews, "palestinians" The original name of the Jerusalem Post was the Palestine Post. The Israeli Philharmonic was originally the Palestine Orchestra.

Ironically, Arabs vehemently rejected the names "palestine" and "palestinian" as Western inventions and an attempt for the Western powers to sever Syria. The Muslim-Christian Association of 1919 declared that British "palestine" was really an integral part of Syria.

During 400 years of Ottoman rule, there was never any "palestine" nor any "palestinians" "Palestine" is an English name. Arabs viewed the land merely as part of Syria, al-Sham in Arabic. They identified as Arabs or Ottoman nationals or Syrians or Muslims, but they were not called "palestinians" Jews called the land Eretz Israel, Land of Israel, designated with the inscription "EI" on British coinage minted during the British Mandate.

The British Mandate ended in 1948 with Israeli statehoodand, so, too, the invention of "palestine and so-called "palestinians" who became Israelis.

The name "palestine" has absolutely nothing to do with so-called "palestinians" Never in history has there been an country called palestine established by palestinians

It was the Romans who first officially imposed the Latin name "palaestina" on Israel in the 2nd century in retribution for the Bar Kokhba revolt, in an attempt to punish the Jews by erasing 1000 years of Jewish nationhood. Adding insult to injury, the Romans based "palaestina" on the Philistines who were ancient enemies of the Jews. Later in the 19th century, European Christians Anglicized the Latin "palaestina" into the English name "palestine"

500 years after the Arab conquest of Byzantine Syria, the Arabs merely Arabized the Roman name "palaestina" into "Filastin" "Filastin" has no meaning in Arabic, it's just the Arab mispronunciation of the old Roman name. In fact, since there is no letter p in Arabic, so-called "palestinians," who are just Arabs, cannot even write their own invented identity in their own Arabic language!

In addition to the archaeological record verifying the 3000 year Jewish identity of Israel [not palestine], one need only to look to the biblical and koranic literature created in that very region to see the people and places used by inhabitants of the Near East: Neither "palestine" nor "palestinians" appear, not even once. 99 percent of so-called palestinians worship the koran, yet, they are not mentioned in their own book of scripture.

Ironically, the koran does reference the Children of Israel. In fact, surah [chapter] 17 of the koran is entitled, "Bani Isra'il," The Children of Israel. In the koran, the God of the so-called "palestinians" ordained Israel to the Children of Israel...

Koran 10:93 We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling place, and provided for them sustenance of the best: it was after knowledge had been granted to them

Biblically, Israel appears in the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament 2500 times. In fact, Jesus is called King of Israel...

John 12:13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! "Blessed is the king of Israel!"

Historical revisionists, especially those with an anti-Semitic bent, who replace Israel, the correct historical name of the land named by its indigenous Jewish population, with the European incorrect name "palestine" are attempting to erase the Jewish identity and origin of the land, just as the Romans attempted to do in the 2nd century.
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