Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day, is a remarkable day of celebration. After two-thousand years of exile, the Jewish people returned to its ancient homeland, the Land of Israel, 71 years ago. Notwithstanding profound trials and tribulations, the modern Jewish state boasts a thriving economy, remarkable innovation, and a democratic, free society in the heart of the Middle East. Yes, there are challenges, but there is success and hope, Prime Minister Netanyahu says. Happy Independence Day from the Prime Minister of Israel! Chag Atzmaut Sameach!
WATCH: PM Netanyahu’s Greeting for Israel’s 71st Independence Day: Benjamin Netanyahu: United With Israel, May 8, 2019, Video.
Six Days, Fifty Years: The June 1967 War and its Aftermath: Editors: Anat Kurz, Kobi Michael, Gabi Siboni, The Institute for National Security Studies, November 2018 — There is a broad consensus that the Six Day War of June 1967 was a formative event for the State of Israel and the Middle East as a whole, evidenced by the numerous academic, public, and political events held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the war. Likewise, at INSS, much thought and research were devoted toward a better understanding of this landmark episode. Various aspects of the war and its results, both short and long term, are discussed at length in this collection’s essays. In addition, INSS held a one-day conference in collaboration with Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi, which included the presentation of some of the essays compiled here.
How Harry Truman Crossed His Own State Department to Recognize Israel: Efraim Karsh, Middle East Forum, Apr. 16, 2018 — Within the leadership of the United States, there was a fierce debate over policy towards the prospect of Jewish statehood in 1948. Fortunately for the Zionists, they had in Washington one powerful ally in their fight against the ploy to defer, if not to abort, the creation of a Jewish state: namely, President Harry Truman.
Two New Books Spotlight the History and Consequences of the Suez Crisis: Reviewed by David Frum, NY Times, Oct. 12, 2016 — This book is subversively revisionist history with sharp relevance to the present. Listen to whether this tale is familiar.
The Mother Who Defended Her Home During Israel’s War of Independence: Chen Malul/National Library of Israel, Jerusalem Post, May 7, 2019. Includes unique photos. — Zipporah Rosenfeld immigrated to Israel from Europe as a survivor of the Holocaust. Like many of her generation who lived in the shadow of the catastrophe, Zipporah felt a sense of urgency to start her own family.
On Topic Links
WATCH: Emotional Musical Independence DayPprayers in Jerusalem. Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva, May 9, 2019 — Thousands celebrated Independence Day with the Orthodox Union (OU Israel) at the First Station in Jerusalem.
Grief to Jubilation: Israel Transitions from Memorial to Independence Day: Michael Bachner, Times of Israel, May 8, 2019 — Israel abruptly crossed over from grief to jubilation at nightfall Wednesday, as Memorial Day for the country’s fallen soldiers and terror victims came to a close and its 71st Independence Day began.
‘Telling Israel’s Story In The 21st Century Will Have A Lot Less To Do With The Warsaw Ghetto Than It Will With Kurdistan And Aleppo.’: An interview with Matti Friedman: Fathom Journal, Feb. 2019 — Journalist and author Matti Friedman talks to Fathom Deputy Editor Calev Ben-Dor about his acclaimed recent book, Spies of No Country which tells the little known story of the origins of Israeli intelligence by following four of Israel’s first spies through the 1948 War of Independence. He also discusses the importance of the ‘Mizrachi’ component in Israel’s identity, arguing that without grasping its centrality, neither Israelis, Westerners nor those in the Arab world can properly understand the country. Download a PDF version here.
Rare Photos from Israel’s War of Independence to be Auctioned: Times of Israel, May 8, 2019 — A rare collection of photographs from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence that offer a glimpse into both sides of the struggle will go on auction next week in Jerusalem, the Kedem Auction House said Wednesday.
SIX DAYS, FIFTY YEARS: THE JUNE 1967 WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH
Editors: Anat Kurz, Kobi Michael, Gabi Siboni
The Institute for National Security Studies, November 2018
There is a broad consensus that the Six Day War of June 1967 was a formative event for the State of Israel and the Middle East as a whole, evidenced by the numerous academic, public, and political events held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the war. Likewise at INSS, much thought and research were devoted toward a better understanding of this landmark episode. Various aspects of the war and its results, both short and long term, are discussed at length in this collection’s essays. In addition, INSS held a one-day conference in collaboration with Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi, which included the presentation of some of the essays compiled here. The collection is therefore a contribution by INSS to the public discourse following the fiftieth anniversary of the war, which too often reflects a common tendency to emphasize one of two opposing viewpoints on this significant occurrence: superlative evaluations of the war itself and its immediate political and territorial outcomes; or a critical view of Israel’s political and military leadership prior to and during the war, and the war’s consequences in subsequent decades.
The State of Israel and Israeli society have changed dramatically since the Six Day War. The results of the war not only tripled the territory under Israel’s control and strengthened the image of the IDF in Israeli society, in the international community, and within the military itself; they also all at once bolstered the sense of security among the Israeli public and the self-confidence of its political leadership and its military, to the point of euphoria and intoxication.
Alongside Israel’s territorial achievements and upgraded regional and international status, the results of the war created a deep political rift in Israeli society. They also shaped military and political thinking for years to come. Furthermore, there has been a change in the nature of IDF activity as a result of the tremendous resources it was forced to invest in policing operations in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. Likewise over the past five decades, the Palestinian national movement grew rapidly, and this translated into greater international pressure on Israel to soften its opposition to the national claims of the Palestinians. The State of Israel became increasingly perceived in the international arena as an occupying force—a kind of “David turned Goliath.”
A historical perspective facilitates a critical examination of events and their results that is as balanced as possible, but it can nonetheless be misleading. The tendency to ascribe various trends and developments to the Six Day War and its aftermath can be problematic, since some of the developments attributed might have occurred in other historical contexts as well. Nonetheless, it appears that this war created four main conflict arenas and affected their respective developments in subsequent years: the internal Israeli arena; the Israeli-Palestinian arena; the regional arena; and the international arena as it relates to Israel. These arenas, of course, overlap and influence one another. The connection between them is reflected in many of the essays in this collection, which have been divided into three sections by subject: security-political issues, military dimensions, and civil-military relations.
This introduction discusses issues that appear in many of the essays and in all three sections: the military-security challenge facing Israel, as it developed since the Six Day War and against the background of the war’s political and territorial outcomes; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which joined the regional and international agendas as a result of the war, and became the center of discourse and debate in Israeli society itself; and questions on relations between the socio-political and military leaderships that arose following the war and remained of vital importance in subsequent decades… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
HOW HARRY TRUMAN CROSSED HIS OWN STATE DEPARTMENT TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL
Middle East Forum, Apr. 16, 2018
Within the leadership of the United States, there was a fierce debate over policy towards the prospect of Jewish statehood in 1948. Fortunately for the Zionists, they had in Washington one powerful ally in their fight against the ploy to defer, if not to abort, the creation of a Jewish state: namely, President Harry Truman. Indeed, at precisely the same time as their own deliberations over independence in Tel Aviv, Truman was laboring to convince George Marshall, his formidable secretary of state, that the U.S. should extend recognition to the soon-to-be-declared Jewish state.
And therein lies a tale.
Ever since the November 1917 Balfour Declaration—the first international recognition of the Jewish right to national self-determination—the idea of “turning the Holy Land over to the absolute control of the race credited with the death of Christ,” as Secretary of State Robert Lansing put it at the time to President Woodrow Wilson, had been anathema to the State Department. And while, following Wilson himself, all subsequent U.S. presidents endorsed both the Declaration and the attendant League of Nations mandate for the “establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine”—as did the U.S. Congress in a July 1922 joint resolution—the State Department worked indefatigably to subvert the Jewish national movement.
Matters came to a head in November 1947 when the UN General Assembly was about to approve the partitioning of Mandatory Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Having failed to persuade the world organization to desist from this move, and faced with the president’s own support for partition, the State Department colluded with the British foreign ministry to slash the territory of the prospective Jewish state by depriving it of the Negev desert—nearly half of Palestine’s total size. It was only Truman’s last-minute intervention, after a dramatic secret meeting with Chaim Weizmann (who 30 years earlier had been the driving force behind the Balfour Declaration) that nipped the plot in the bud.
Undaunted, State proceeded to exploit the violence in Palestine, spiralling upward with the passage of the UN’s partition resolution, as grounds for sidelining the idea of Jewish statehood for the foreseeable future. Thus, on March 19, 1948, Warren Austin, the U.S. representative to the UN, proposed to replace the partition plan with a temporary trusteeship under UN auspices in order “to maintain the peace and to afford the Jews and Arabs of Palestine, who must live together, further opportunity to reach an agreement regarding the future government of that country.”
The news took Truman by surprise. As he angrily recorded in his diary, “This morning I find that the State Dept. has reversed my Palestine policy”:
The first I know about it is what I see in the papers! Isn’t that hell? I’m now in a position of a liar and a double-crosser. I never felt so in my life. There are people on the 3rd and 4th level of the State Dept. who have always wanted to cut my throat. They are succeeding in doing it.
Yet, for all his exasperation with the “striped-pants boys” (as he dismissively called State’s bureaucrats), and despite the warning by the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that “both Arabs and Jews regard trusteeship scheme undesirable and most observers feel bloodshed will now increase tremendously,” Truman refrained from disavowing the State Department’s proposal. Marshall, the most illustrious member of his cabinet, had positioned himself solidly behind the move, and the president was wary of antagonizing him… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
TWO NEW BOOKS SPOTLIGHT THE HISTORY AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE SUEZ CRISIS
Reviewed by David Frum
NY Times, Oct. 12, 2016
This book is subversively revisionist history with sharp relevance to the present. Listen to whether this tale is familiar.
A new administration comes to power, convinced that its predecessor has made a hash of Middle East policy. The new team’s big idea: a bold diplomatic overture to the region’s leading Muslim state. True, that leading Muslim state has a bad habit of sponsoring terrorism and threatening important allies. But the new team believes that much of this bad behavior is a response to provocations by the West and by Israel. Anyway, like it or not, the troublesome Muslim state represents the future, its local enemies outdated legacies of the past. By squeezing Israel and other allies for concessions, the United States could prove its own good faith — and get on the right side of history.
This strategic perception gripped its believers so strongly that such terms as “worldview” fail to do it justice. Its proponents “regarded it not as an intellectual construct but as a description of reality itself.”
Barack Obama and the ayatollahs’ Iran? Yes. But before that, Dwight Eisenhower and Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt. The gamble of “Ike’s Gamble,” by Michael Doran, is the determined wooing of Nasser by the Eisenhower administration over its first four years in office. Why that gamble failed is the urgently timely question answered by this deeply researched, tightly argued and accessibly concise book.
Hoping to stabilize the region, Doran argues, Eisenhower instead convulsed it. Seeking to assuage radicals, his administration instead empowered them.
Doran, a senior director of the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration and now at the Hudson Institute, is a leading expert on radical ideologies of the Middle East. He writes with the authority of the scholar and the familiarity of the senior policy adviser.
In 1953, most of the Middle East was ruled by cautious, Western-aligned leaders who had come to power after World War I. They were backed by British military power. British troops protected the Suez Canal, through which oil from the Persian Gulf, also British-protected, moved to European markets.
This inherited order began to dissolve in 1952. That summer, a group of nationalist military officers overthrew Egypt’s monarchy. They reviled the government for its failure to destroy Israel, and for a too-cozy relationship with Britain and the West. Although only a colonel at the time of the coup, Nasser soon emerged as the new regime’s dominant personality.
The Eisenhower administration relied on the advice of officials who admired Nasser as a nationalist and anti-Communist: a secular modernizer, the long hoped-for “Arab Ataturk.” The most important and forceful of the Nasser admirers was Kermit Roosevelt, the C.I.A. officer who had done so much in 1953 to restore to power in Iran that other secular modernizer, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
To befriend Nasser, the Eisenhower administration suggested a big increase in economic and military aid; pressed Israel to surrender much of the Negev to Egypt and Jordan; supported Nasser’s demand that the British military vacate the canal zone; and clandestinely provided Nasser with much of the equipment — and many of the technical experts — who built his radio station Voice of the Arabs into the most influential propaganda network in the Arab-speaking world. Yet each of these overtures produced only grief — as Eisenhower himself soon came to learn.
Offers of aid were leveraged by Nasser to extract better terms from the Soviet Union, his preferred military partner. Pressure on Israel did not impress Nasser, who wanted a permanent crisis he could exploit to mobilize Arab opinion behind him. Forcing Britain out of the canal zone in the mid-50s enabled Nasser to grab the canal itself in 1956. Rather than use his radio network to warn Arabs against Communism…. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
THE MOTHER WHO DEFENDED HER HOME DURING ISRAEL’S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Jerusalem Post, May 7, 2019
Zipporah Rosenfeld immigrated to Israel from Europe as a survivor of the Holocaust. Like many of her generation who lived in the shadow of the catastrophe, Zipporah felt a sense of urgency to start her own family. She had met her husband Yehiel while still in Europe. After the war, the coupled decided to immigrate to Palestine and settle in Gush Etzion (the “Etzion Bloc”, in English), a cluster of settlements in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Their first child, Yossi, was born there. Despite the Etzion Bloc’s location in the midst of a hostile Arab population, its Jewish residents felt they had found a place they could call home. Over time, they began to develop economic ties and a life of co-existence with the neighboring Arab villages.
The Partition Plan put an end to all that. According to the border plan, Gush Etzion would remain outside the borders of the Jewish state. Yet, even with the sweeping approval of the plan by most of the member states of the United Nations, the Palestinian representatives and the Arab countries made clear they were willing to fight with any means at their disposal in order to prevent the partition plan from being implemented.
Over the years, there have been quite a few grievances aired surrounding the representation of the National Religious sector in the context of commemoration of Israel’s War of Independence. However, the group whose story has been suppressed perhaps more than any other is that of the religious Zionist women who bore the burden of caring for the children during wartime, with many risking (and sometimes even forfeiting) their lives in defense of their homeland.
Even before the war, National Religious women, including the women of Gush Etzion, took an active part in the building of the country. It was a significant departure from the traditional conception of the role of the religious Jewish woman. The women of Gush Etzion, like many National Religious women, welcomed their new responsibilities in building the nation. During the period of calm before the war, the women of the Gush trained and took up defensive positions when the men were out patrolling the surrounding area.
However, with the outbreak of fighting and the Arab Legion’s attack on Gush Etzion, most of the mothers and children were evacuated. British armored vehicles used during the evacuation of women and children from Gush Etzion (Credit: The Historical Archives of Gush Etzion) British armored vehicles used during the evacuation of women and children from Gush Etzion (Credit: The Historical Archives of Gush Etzion)
The female fighters who remained were all unmarried, with the exception of two, one of whom was eventually evacuated before the fall of the Gush. Zipporah Rosenfeld, the only mother who stayed behind to help in the defense of her home, was caught in a terrible dilemma.
When the fighting began, she hurried to send her only son Yossi along with the other evacuees from the Gush. She chose to remain with her husband and protect her home with her own body. Almost to the end, Zipporah debated whether to leave and join her little boy or stay and fight. “We left the decision until the ambulances arrived. I’m torn. I must decide between my duty as a mother and my obligation to my fellow members under siege” (Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman, Revolutionaries against Their Will, 324 [Hebrew]). As one of the fighters, she saw with her own eyes the severe shortage of people able to use a rifle, and therefore decided to delay her evacuation. Eventually, the siege by the Arab Legion prevented the possibility of evacuation and Zipporah and her husband Yehiel were killed in the final battle of the Etzion Bloc.
Along with Zipporah and Yehiel, another 127 soldiers were killed in the last and most difficult battle over Gush Etzion, which took place on May 13, 1948. Among the fatalities were twenty-two women, the highest number of female fatalities in a single battle in all of Israel’s wars. Dozens of women from across the Etzion Bloc were taken captive by the Jordanian Legion. They were taken with the remaining men to Umm al Jamal, a prisoner-of-war camp on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The women were released six weeks later, while the men only returned to the territory of the fledgling state nine months after being captured… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]