Jewish War Plan D[aleth] Accelerated
In early April 1948, the Jewish leadership under Ben-Gurion gradually operationalized their offensive Plan D[aleth]. It was still several weeks before British withdrawal when the plan was originally to come into effect. Part of the accelerated program, known as Operation Nachshon, involved opening up a corridor from the coast to Jerusalem—a narrow road overlooked by Arab villages. This action came in response to the attacks of an Arab armed band that had formed along with others in December 1947-January 1948. One of the largest was led by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni, whose territory encompassed the hills around Ramallah and Jerusalem and who was known to be active in attacking the corridor road. According to Michael Hudson, Operation Nachshon also foresaw the annexing of "as much as the city as possible to the Jewish state."
Two critical events in April led to the subsequent Zionist capture of significant parts of Jerusalem.
On March 31 Ben-Gurion had met with Jewish underground (Haganah) leaders and ordered an attack on the Arab village of Kastel, which overlooked the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. The Palmach captured the village on April 2, only to be counter-attacked by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni's men. Believing that the village was in his hands, at dawn on April 8 Abdel Qadir mistakenly walked up to a Jewish sentry and was shot dead. Recapturing the hilltop of Kastel, Arab forces took the leader's body to the Haram/Temple Mount and buried him there next to his father. Husayni's death was a tremendously demoralizing moment for the Palestinians and a turning point in the war.
The second event was the infamous Jewish attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem. We will come to that next time.
The future division of Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis stalls "core issues" negotiation
Israel's PM Ehud Olmert seemed to push Jerusalem off the table again today. He said that because the city's future is such a sensitive issue, other matters, such as borders, will be tackled first as this year proceeds toward George Bush's timetable for a Mid-East agreement before he leaves office in January 2009. Not without good reason have many observers noted that the city is really the heart of the century-long conflict.In the opening chapter of Identity Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem (Palgrave 2006), I wrote:
Explosive, contentious, capable of drawing in much of the world community—this is the pervasive nature of the problem.
Today's Middle East Crisis and the Holocaust
The 1948 foundation of the State of Israel came in the wake of the Holocaust. Some have tried to deny the reality of that horrific period. But to their credit, the United Nations designated 27 January 2006, as the first projected annual International Day of Commemoration to honor the victims.
January 27 is also the the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
Could there ever be another holocaust? It's a question I put to three well-known historians and the creator of the award-winning documentary "Genocide." The answer is in Part One and Part Two of my series, Final Solutions.
Sixty years ago, events in Palestine set in motion an inevitable coming clash of Arabs and Jews over refugees and Jerusalem—Part Two
In February 1948, Ben-Gurion gave orders to the Haganah (the Jewish underground) to take possession of more Arab areas in West Jerusalem and to populate them with Jews.
In March, the Haganah agreed on offensive actions (Plan D[alet]) against the Palestinians, including the expulsion of the population of entire Arab villages.
On March 31 Ben-Gurion met with Haganah leaders and ordered an attack on the Arab village of Kastel, which overlooked the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. Several weeks before the official British withdrawal, the plan became operational, with a view to opening a corridor from the coast to Jerusalem (Operation Nachshon), and annexing "as much of the city as possible to the Jewish state" (Michael Hudson, "Transformation of Jerusalem," 258).
Though Ben-Gurion later claimed that the Negev was his first priority (Memoirs, 136-7), based on interviews with Yigal Allon, Yigael Yadin and Ben-Gurion, foreign correspondent Dan Kurzman wrote: "The full impact of his lifelong obsession with the Bible struck with blistering force when it appeared that Jerusalem would fall to the Arabs and perhaps be lost forever to the Jewish state. Whatever happened to any other Jewish areas, the Holy City must be saved. It was the soul of the Jewish people, the fount of the light to be cast unto the nations. He had agreed that it be internationalized as a temporary concession. But an Arab flag over Jerusalem? Not for one minute!" (Ben-Gurion, 279).
The stage was set for a decades long clash over Jerusalem as well as the Palestinian refugee question.
Events that preceded the founding of Israel 60 years ago and why Jerusalem is still at the center of the Middle East conflict--Part One
The following comes from my "Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem" (Palgrave 2006).
Current Israeli-Palestinian Impasse in Context of the 60th Anniversary
It's often noted that the ongoing Middle-East Conflict had its origins in two seminal events—the 1948 and 1967 wars—and the effects they had on the Palestinian population. Last year saw the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War/June 1967 War. I covered this in earlier posts on February 7, May 7, May 9, June 6 and June 7, 2007.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel (May 14) and the war that broke out immediately afterwards as Arab armies attempted to destroy the UN-sanctioned Jewish state at birth. In the next few days, we'll look at the events leading up to the 1948 war.
I have delayed comment on President Bush's only visit to Israel and Palestine during his two terms of office to be able to take a longer view.
Assessments of the visit are guarded at best.
At the beginning of the tour the Economist laid out the puzzle and the challenge in Israel and Palestine. At the end of the week long circuit, the same source summed up the prospects of success and the sub-text of the tour when it comes to arms supplies and who is providing what to whom.
|B'Tselem, the human rights agency that reports on violations in the West Bank and Gaza, has released its 2007 year end report. While the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed has dropped, there is deterioration in other humanitarian sectors.|