Total Pageviews

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beating the Odds in 1948: The Plan Gone Sour For the Arabs

Nadene Goldfoot
Arabs thought for sure that they would win in a war against the embryonic Jewish state of Israel in May 1948.  There were only 650,000 Jews there and no professional army and no air force existed until 4 fighter planes were scraped together later.   Jews had individual groups of fighters which were the  Haganah, Palmach, Irgun, Lehi, and allied Bedouin tribes.  Altogether they numbered 29,677 and grew to 115,000 by March 1949.   By May 26, 1948 they were all identified as the IDF, Israel Defense Force.  The past few years had been spent fighting against the British.  For the past 6 months the Jews had also been fighting against Arabs and advance units from the armies of Syria, Iraq and Jordan along with the British assistance in many ways.

The British had opened land frontiers allowing neighboring armed Arabs to pour in.  The British even announced in the House of Commons at the end of February that 5,000 Arabs from the neighboring countries had entered Palestine in the preceding 3 months.  They refused to open a port for the Jews which the United Nations had recommended.  They kept up a blockade in the Mediterranean to prevent reinforcements from reaching Israel.  Even the USA announced an embargo and enforced it so that Jews were also deprived of  supplies that could have come to them from ports as ships were not allowed to leave and go to Israel.  .  

Then the Arabs were given material support by the British government.  They provided arms and ammunition for the war.  The UN criticized them about  aiding this aggressive invasion by saying that the State of Israel did not legally exist and could not therefore be invaded.

The leaders of the Arabs were the British in  the Transjordanian Arab Legion.  British soldiers were the officers.  The British had been cooperating in planning some phases of the war against Israel.  On January 15, 1948, a new treaty was signed with Iraq at Portsmouth.  The British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, had reached an agreement with the Iraqi leaders.  With this agreement the British sped up the supply of weapons and ammunition from Britain to supply automatic weapons for 50,000 policemen.  The purpose was to arm the Arab fighters to be able to fight in the liberation of Palestine.  Iraqi forces would enter every area evacuated by British troops in Palestine so that a Jewish state would not be formed.

Six weeks later, Bevin and the PM of Transjordan along with General John Bagot Glubb, commander of the Arab Legion, approved of Transjordan doing her share by invading and occupying the area allotted for an Arab state.

The  Arabs had the numbers, arms and ammunition and plans to overtake 3 fronts against a Jewish force of untrained, poorly armed men along a coastal strip of land.  A slaughter was promised by the Arab leaders.  The Arabs had a history of conquering half of the world 1,300 years earlier.  They counted on winning in a few weeks or days.  Palestine would be a part of the reborn Arab empire.

Fighting against the newly formed Jewish state were Egypt with 10,000-20,000, Iraq with 3,000-15,000, Syria with 2,500-5,000, Transjordan with 8,000-12,000, Lebanon with 1,000, Saudi Arabia with 800-1,200, Yemen with 300, and Arab Legion Army with 3,000-6,000.  Volunteers also fought with these soldiers.  The Holy War Army, Arab Liberation Army, Muslim Brotherhood,  the Anglo Egyptian Sudan Group and volunteers from Pakistan came.

Against all these odds of a huge attack against the few, the Jews won. 6,373 had been killed including some civilians.  The Arabs lost anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000.   To the Arabs, they feel they have been dishonored and Israel has become the focus of all their frustrations and  hatreds.  Arabs have not lost their desire for vengeance which has only grown deeper with time.  They still are bent on destroying Israel.

This all came about with the ambitions of the British imperialists who were looking out for their own domination of the Fertile Crescent through Arab puppet states they could control.  They even established the Arab League in 1945 and thought they had taken care of reducing any Jewish Homeland with their White Paper of 1939.  The Arabs thought so, too.  That's why they had accepted this decree.  When Britain forced the French out of Syria, they thought that also meant the end of the Jews.  A miracle had happened.  The Jews were there to stay.

Resource: Battleground, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz, page169-171
Frank Sinatra famously played the role of a pilot in Cast a Giant Shadow,  as Vince, an expatriate American pilot who takes part in what becomes a suicide mission to bomb Arab positions.

No comments: