After the Holocaust, the Creation of a Jewish State Was Anything but Guaranteed

Feb. 22 2019

Some 30 years after purchasing a used copy of The Redemption of the Unwanted: From the Liberation of the Death Camps to the Founding of Israel, by Abram Sachar—first published in 1983—Allan Arkush finally sat down to read it. He writes:

I have to say that it doesn’t contain much that I didn’t already know. Its chief merit is that it does an exceptionally good job of teaching what I consider to be a very important lesson.

Most people in the United States, I’m afraid, if they know anything at all about how the state of Israel came into being, believe that after World War II the nations of the world awarded it to the Jewish people as a compensation for what Jews had suffered at the hands of the Nazis. There’s a grain of truth in this, but only a grain. Between 1945 and 1949, the Zionists had to do a tremendous number of things on their own in order to obtain a state. They engaged in a vast amount of worldwide politicking, organized illegal immigration to Palestine, combatted the British administration in Palestine in order both to earn the world’s sympathy and to force the British government’s hand. Had the Zionists not done all of this, there would have been no decision at the United Nations to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state.

And had the Jews of Palestine then sat on their hands and waited for the UN to implement its decision, that state would never have come into being. They had to fight, on their own, a war of independence against the Arabs of Palestine as well as all of the surrounding nations. Abram Sachar was by no means the first or the last to explain all of this, but he did a singularly good job of it.

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More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Israeli War of Independence

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey