The Origins of Israel and the Birth of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945-67

Modern World Civilization

Spring 2009

Map of the Middle East

The Background

•      Between 1945-51, Egypt experienced many rebellions, but no revolution.

•      The reasons for this were many.

•      Britain no longer appeared as potent.

•      Many Egyptians put their faith in the UN.

•      The Communists had yet to make serious inroads in Egypt.

•      King Farouk and the ruling Wafd party began to see themselves as Arabs.

•      This may have been a reaction to the growing Arab-Israeli problem.

The Birth of the Arab League

Egyptian Problems After World War II

•      Concerned about the stationing of British troops in Egypt.

•      The failure to include the Sudan as part of Egypt.

•      Egypt was being drawn into the conflict in Palestine.

•      One reason they were was that Amir Abdallah of Transjordan was reaping the benefits of his support of the Palestinians.

•      When they do get involved the Jewish settlers make short work of the Egyptians.

Growing Tensions with Britain

•      In 1950 the Wafd Party won elections and Farouk’s government moved Egyptian troops into the Canal Zone to draw the British out.

•      The Egyptian government abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936.

•      In the struggle, the British killed 36 Egyptians.

•      To the Egyptians called this “Black Sunday.”

•      Within Seven months Farouk was deposed by the Army in 1952 and died in 1956.

The Opposition to King Farouk

•      A secret society of Army officers was organized by Muhammad Nagib.

•      The Coup was Bloodless.

•      Britain and the United States did not stop them.

•      Within three days Farouk abdicated.

The Government of Egyptian Colonels

•       Abolished Political Parties.

•       Seized the palaces and centers of political power.

•       Parliament was dissolved.

•       Land reform was introduced and landholding was limited to 200 acres.

•       All extra land went to the landless peasants.

•       In 1954 Nagib was deposed and replaced by Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The Result of Jewish Persecutions

•      Historically could not be returned to Palestine until the coming of the Messiah.

•      Some Jewish nationalist wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in order to avoid the systematic persecutions they experienced.

•      Some Jewish writers felt that Jews were persecuted because they did not have a homeland.

•      This was was particularly true in Russia where many Zionist-like Jewish groups were organized.

Theodore Herzl and Modern Zionism

•       He was influenced by the Dreyfus Case.

•       He felt that if Jews were not safe in France then where were they safe?

•       In 1896 he wrote Der Judenstaat.

•       Soon his ideas spread of thousands of German speaking regions.

•       He organized the first Zionist organization in Basel in 1897.

•       The British offered a region in Uganda.

Map of Palestine

The Russian Revolution of 1905

•      With the failure of the Russian Revolution in 1905 it led to a mass migration to Palestine.

•      This was called the Second Aliyah.

•      This set the stage for a new wave of emigration.

•      Especially for a Jewish life in Palestine – schools, unions, theaters, etc.

•      It also led to revival of Hebrew as a language.

•      The most famous was the establishment of the Kibbutz or Collective farm.

•      The Bedouins often attacked them.

The Balfour Declaration

•      The British sought Jewish support during World War I.

•      The result was the Balfour Declaration.

•      Promising a Jewish homeland in Palestine for Jewish support during World War I.

•      It was Zionism’s Magna Carta.

•      This led to growing tensions between the increasing Jewish settlers and the Arabs.

•      The British, especially the authorities in Palestine, supported the Arabs.

•      At least, that is what the Jewish immigrants claimed.

Events in Palestine Between 1918-22

•      April 1920 – Arabs rise up and attack Jewish settlers in Palestine.

•      1922 – The League of Nations awarded a Mandate to Britain to administer Palestine.

•      The League required Britain to implement the Balfour Declaration.

•      Which required a Jewish National Homeland.

•      Establishing a Jewish Agency to help the British.

•      The British violated this agreement by establishing the Emirate of Transjordan 2/3s of Palestine east of the Jordan River.

The Jewish Response

•       Established a Jewish Militia to protect themselves from the Arabs.

•       This was done by Vladimir Jabotinsky, a militant Jewish nationalist.

•       His views on a Greater Israel influenced Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin.

•       The first British Governor, Sir Herbert Samuel, tried to be fair to both sides.

•       He appointed Hajj Amin al-Husayni as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

•       He was deported in 1937.

The Situation Between 1926-39

•      1926-1928 – Jewish population doubled.

•      1929 – Wailing Wall Incident – Arabs feared that the Jews were making a move on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

•      Screens were set up to separate males from females at the Wailing Wall.

•      The Arabs built a road near the site to disrupt religious gatherings.

•      Soon the fighting escalated from fist fights to full scale civil war.

•      It intensified the hatreds between the two groups – Arabs and Jews.

Palestine and the Coming of Hitler

•       The Rise of Hitler led to increased immigration to Palestine.

•       Hajj Amin organized Christian and Arab opposition.

•       The British established the Peel Commission which advocated a partition with a small section in Nothern and Central Palestine for the Jews.

•       This would serve as a home for Jews refugees

•       Palestinian Arabs rejected it.

The Peel Commission issues The White Paper

•      It said that the British Mandate should end in ten years.

•      Jewish immigration was set at 15,000 refugees a year.

•      After 1944, further immigration could only continue with Arab agreement.

•      Selling Arab lands in restricted in some areas and prohibited others.

David Ben Gurion’s Position

The Situation after World War II

•      After World War II violence increased in Palestine.

•      Much of this was the work of two Jewish terrorist organizations – Irgun and the Stern Gang.

•      They targeted British military posts.

•      In 1946 some groups wanted to continued the mandate and increased immigration to Palestine by 100,000.

•      The British government rejected this plan.

•      A year later, the British government declared that they would no longer continue the mandate.

The UN Special Committee on Palestine in 1947

•      Recommend that Palestine be partitioned into seven parts.

•      Three would be controlled by the Jews.

•      Three would be controlled by the Arabs.

•      Jerusalem and Bethlehem would be controlled by the UN.

•      The idea proved to be impractical.

•      Partition was passed by the UN by a vote of 35 to 13.

The Arabs Plot Their Strategy

•       The Arabs began to combine their forces.

•       As violence continued, the British sat on their hands.

•       Washington even proposed to let the partition plan rest for ten years in order for both sides to cool off.

•       Harry Truman was under considerable pressure to act.

•       On May 14, 1948, the new state of Israel was proclaimed.

•       The Arabs invade Palestine.

Why Did Israel Win?

•      The Arab Armies were too small.

•      The Arab States were politically divided.

•      The Israelis actually had 100,000 men and women under arms.

•      The Israelis had superior elan or spirit.

•      At the Kibbutz at Yad Mordechai held up an Egyptian Brigade for six days.

•      The Kibbutz was defended by 80 men and women.

•      The Great Powers – USA and the CCCP recognized Israel.

When the UN Attempted to Negotiate a Settlement

The Canal Issue

•      Nasser arranged for the British to renounce their claims on the canal.

•      The last British troops left on June 18, 1956.

•      This was the first time since 1882 that there was no British presence in the canal zone.

•      Pan-Arabism was on the rise in Egypt after this.

Nasser the Man and Political Leader

•       He was the son of a postal clerk in Alexandria.

•       His mother died when he was eight.

•       He was an avid reader.

•       He admired such men as Caesar, Napoleon, and Mustafa Kemal.

•       He joined the Army in 1937.

•       He soon gathered around him other patriotic officers.

•       He disliked the British.

•       At first he ruled from behind the scenes.

What is Nasserism?

•      Pan-Arabism.

•      Positive Neutralism.

•      Arab Socialism.

Nasser and the Need for Weapons

•      After an Israeli retaliatory raid on Gaza, Nasser realized he needed a source of weapons.

•      He approached the West.

•      Britain and the US refused to deal with him.

•      Unless he joined an anti-Communist coalition.

•      He would not accept any strings from the Americans.

•      Likewise he was upset when Iraq joined the Baghdad Pact in 1955.

Nasser and Pan-Arabism

•      Nasser was influenced by the Asian nationalists he met at the Bandung Conference in 1955.

•      He then purchased $200 million in arms from the CCCP.

•      He then provided arms to Palestinian youth called the Fidaiyin who started to conduct cross border raids on Israel.

Nasser and the John Foster Dulles

•       Dulles wanted Nasser to concentrate on Egyptian internal improvements.

•       Dulles offered loans to construct the Aswan High Dam.

•       Dulles disliked Nasser’s Positive Neutralism – playing the West and East – as well his supports of his attacks on Israel.

•       Nasser accepted the American offer, but Dulles than pulled the offer.

•       Nasser responded by Nationalizing the Suez Canal.

Impact of Nationalization of the Canal

•      Nasser became a hero in the Arab world.

•      Scorn in the West.

•      The British saw the canal as vital to protect their interests east of the Suez.

•      Anthony Eden, the PM, now compared Nasser to Mussolini.

•      He wanted Nasser stopped before the West’s position was seriously damaged in the Arab world.

•      The Americans disliked him for his friendship with the Commies and his attack on Israel, but did not want a military showdown.

•      The French sided with the British and opposed the US.

Paris and London Plan

•      The Egyptians ran the canal with cool efficiency.

•      The French and British planned for a military operation to seize the canal.

•      The Israelis wanted part of the action too.

•      The Israelis saw their chance to settle with the Fidaiyin once and for all.

•      And end Egypt’s blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.

•      The Israeli’s saw this a preventive measure.

•      The UN was listening to arguments to avoid future trouble.

•      Nasser felt all this was a bluff.

Let the Fighting Begin

•      On Oct. 28, 1956, Israel called up their reserves and the following day the Israeli Defense Forces crossed the Egyptian border in the Sinai and Gaza.

•      While Israeli columns were gaining speed, London and Paris then issued a joint ultimatum to Cairo and Tel Aviv to withdraw their forces to ten miles from the Suez Canal.

•      The ultimatum was directed against Nasir.

•      When Egypt rejected the ultimatum the Anglo-French attacked Egyptian air fields.

•      The Anglo-French forces then landed troops at Port Said and at the northern section of the canal.

Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

•      The British and French lost.

•      They did not drive Nasser from power and the Army did not rise up and topple him.

•      Instead, Nasser turned defeat into a victory.

•      The USA and the CCCP joined forces and condemned the attack.

•      The west was also preoccupied with the situation in Hungary.

•      Plus the Americans hoped to curry favor with the Third World.

•      Nasser’s stature increase and Eden was driven from power.

Main Gain for the Israelis

•      While Israel lost control of the Sinai and Gaza Strip.

•      The UNEF did occupy Sharm al-Shaykh.

•      Which overlooked the Gulf of Aqaba.

•      This arrangement lasted until 1967.

•      Nasser would not have survived if it was not for the United States challenging London and Paris.

•      Now why did they do it?

•      Support for small nations in the Cold War.

•      Especially in light of the Hungarian Revolt and the need to win support in the Arab World.

The Eisenhower Doctrine

•       Offered to any Middle Eastern Nation that was threatened by Communist subversion.

•       When it was proclaimed in Jan. 1957 it impressed the American public of the importance of the Middle East.

•       But it received a mixed review among the Middle East.

•       Only Lebanon accepted American help.

Lebanon Accepts American Help

•      Lebanese President Kamil Sham’un accept Ike’s offer.

•      This was really a way of placating the key Christian politicians in Lebanon.

•      And to keep the Arab nationalists in check.

•      Even some have contended that this was a method to rig the next parliamentary elections.

•      And contributed to the 1958 Lebanese Civil War.

Coup and Revolution in Iraq

•       The Iraq situation changed on July 14, 1958.

•       The Iraqi revolution began as a coup.

•       A group of Iraqi army officers seized the royal palace.

•       Murdered Faisal II and his uncle, Abd al-Ilah and then hunted down and murdered Nuri al-Said.

•       Who was a pro-Western Iraqi political leader.

Impact of the Iraqi Revolution

•      Appeared as a victory for Nasserism in the Arab World.

•      Also appeared as a victory for both Arab Nationalism and Communism.

•      Appeared as a forecast of what was about to happen in Jordan and Lebanon.

•      Where the U.S. would not topple Nasser.

•      Now Washington and Eisenhower was concerned.

•      So when a call was made for intervention in Lebanon, Ike responded.

America Responds

•       When Sham’un issued a request.

•       The U.S. sent in the Marines.

•       Even the British sent troops to Jordan.

•       The U.S. would have entered Iraq too, if there was any hope of restoring the Monarchy.

•       Any hope of a grand Nasser-like state would not happen, since the Iraqis realized that they would have to share their oil revenue with Syrians and Egyptians.

Background to the War

•       By the mid-1960s Syria was the most radical of the Arab states.

•       Syria attempted to cut water from the Jordan river.

•       Fired on Israel from the Golan Heights.

•       In Feb. 1966 even a more militant Ba’thist wing took over in Damascus.

•       This group belonged to an Alawi religious sect.

•       Nasser needed Syria, because he Egypt was bogged down in the Yemen civil war

•       Since Nasser’s relations with Washington was lower than low.

Syria Round II

•      Nasser hoped to restrain the Syrian leadership by proposing a military alliance with Damascus.

•      In 1967, Syria was involved in an aerial dogfight with the Israelis and came out second best.

•      Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned his military that war may happen.

•      He also warned the Syrians to stop firing on the northern Israel.

•      Likewise the Saudis kept taunting Nasser of talking tough with Israel and then hiding behind UNEF.

The Sharm al-Shaykh Problem

•       Nasser wanted some of the UNEF troops removed in Gaza and the Sinai.

•       Amazingly, U Thant removed all UN Troops.

•       Egypt then reoccupied the Sharm al-Shaykh heights.

•       Imposed a blockade on the Gulf of Agaba.

•       The U.S. was bogged down in Vietnam.

•       So it offered little help for Israel.

•       Which was crucial for Israeli trade with Southeast Asia.

The Road to War

•      King Hussein of Jordan flew to Cairo on May 30, 1968 and signed an agreement with Nasser.

•      The goal was to established Arab Military Command.

•      PM Eshkol and the Israeli government put the whole nation on a war footing.

•      Calling up reservists.

•      Mobilizing the economy.

•      On June 2, 1968, Moshe Dyan was made Defense Minister.

•      This gave Israel hope especially since he was a hero of the Sinai campaign in 1956.

The Israeli Preemptive Strike

•       The Israelis conducted a massive air strike on the Egyptians on June 5, 1967.

•       Then followed up with another series of spectacular raids on Jordan and Syria.

•       Then moved in the Sinai and four days later were masters of the region.

•       Israelis then broke the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.

•       The IDF then took the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

•       200,000 Arabs then fled the fighting.

•       Then the IDF seized the Golan Heights.

Reasons for the Israeli Victory

•      The Odds were in the favor of the Arabs.

•      In tanks alone they had 2,700 tanks to Israel’s 800.

•      Fighters 800 to 190.

•      Manpower 25 to 1.

•      Yet they lost.

•      Why?

The Endgame

•      When the fighting ended on 10 June 1967, Israel increased to three times of what she was merely six days before.

•      Israel now controlled the Golan, Gaza Stripe, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Sinai.

•      No one expected such a quick and decisive victory.

•      Most Israelis were relived that the casualties were kept to a minimum.

•      Privately many hoped that new moderate Arab governments would seek peace.

The Arab Position

•       Thought that a better peace could come through the UN.

•       When the Security Council took up the case, both sides were locked into their positions.

•       The Arabs were wrong.

•       Now the Israelis were moving into traditional Palestinian areas with no intention of leaving.

•       The result was UN Resolution 242.

U.N. Resolution 242

•      The author was Lord Careadon.

•      It was just ambiguous to be accepted and forever remembered as UN Resolution 242.

•      It called for:

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