New Israeli Scholarship Shows That an Alleged 1948 Massacre Never Happened

Reviewing three Hebrew-language works about Israel’s War of Independence, Yoav Gelber begins with Eliezer Tauber’s study of the battle of Deir Yassin, long assumed to have culminated in a massacre of Arabs by the Jewish Irgun and Leḥi militias. Tauber demonstrates that (like the “massacre” in Lydda) it was nothing of the sort. Both sides, however, greatly exaggerated the number of Arab casualties for propaganda purposes, with consequences that also bear examining:

[Before the battle of Deir Yassin], the bulk of the Arab population had looked on the fighting from the sidelines. The local Arab leadership in Jerusalem strove to excite the Palestinians, and bolster their motivation to fight. This was the main purpose of the propaganda campaign that Hussein Khalidi, the only member of the Higher Arab Executive who remained in the country, and his associates launched in the days following the battle. They achieved the opposite outcome: instead of inspiring the Arabs’ stamina and will to fight, the inflated numbers of casualties and faked atrocity rumors shocked and intimidated the non-combatant population and considerably encouraged the mass flight.

Nonetheless, I think that Tauber overstates the part of Deir Yassin in causing the Arab mass flight. Before Deir Yassin, about 100,000 Arabs left their homes, huts, or tents and went to the neighboring countries or to purely Arab regions within Mandatory Palestine. The Palestinians have tried to minimize the scope of this early wave of refugees and claim that only members of the elite fled, but the refugee population was much larger and more varied.

Gelber concludes his review by offering some general conclusions about the 1948 war:

The Palestinians’ refusal and inability to build institutional and administrative infrastructure that would take over the Arab areas from the receding mandatory authorities caused anarchy and created a vacuum that was only partly filled by the Arab armies later, after the invasion. The few vain attempts to create quasi-governmental institutions were an exception testifying to the rule and took place mainly in Jerusalem. [As a result], invading Arab armies increasingly had to devote attention and logistical resources to fill the vacuum at the expense of their military mission.

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Read more at Tel Aviv Review of Books

More about: Deir Yassin, Israeli history, Israeli War of Independence, Palestinian refugees

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin