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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The myth of the 'miracle' of 1948 evaporates., 13 May 2011
Germinal (St. Ives) - See all my reviews
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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.

Charles Tripp examines Iraq and shows that Iraqi politicians were big on pan-Arab rhetoric but ineffectual in practice and how they followed their Trans-Jordanian Hashemite kin in having, as their prime objective, the enhancement of Hashemite power and their hostility to a prospective independent anti-Hashemite Palsetine.

Fawaz Gerges looks at Egypt. Gerges points out that the entire Egyptian political, parliamentary and military establishment opposed intervention in the Palestine war. The pressure of public opinion, the desire of King Farouk not to lose face and the strategic aim of preventing Palestine falling under Hashemite domination lead Egypt into war. The Egyptian army was ill-equiped, barely trained, had no military intelligence and was reliant on Britain for logistics when Egypt was also in conflict with Britain over its own independence.

Josh Landis surveys Syria. It's army was tiny - little more than a gendarmerie - disloyal to the government, had little in the way of arms and ammunition, was most concerned not to become dominated by the Hashemites, was dealing with an internal Druze revolt and only got involved in Palestine due to public pressure and to keep faith with their Saudi and Egyptian allies.

Madawi al Rasheed looks at Saudi Arabia. She points out that it didn't really have an army, just weak tribal units but was looking to become a regional power and so wanted to get involved. Saudi Arabia's miniscule forces were under Egyptian command and proved themselves to be an ill-disciplined rabble.

Matthew Hughes consider Lebanon. Like Syria, but even more so, its army was a remnant of a French colonial gendarmerie that made a demonstration of capturing a village in order to save face by 'doing something' when doing nothing would have outraged public opinion.

Laila Parsons examines the Druze in Palestine and Benny Morris examines Zionist ethnic cleansing in Gallilee.

The myth of the Israeli David and the Arab Goliath and the `miracle' of 1948 evaporates.
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The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge Middle East Studies)
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