The 1948 Arab-Israeli War was the result of growing tensions in the region between the Jewish communities and the Arab communities. This war is referred to in different ways, depending upon the point of view. It is referred to as “The Catastrophe” by the Arabic countries; however, the Jewish communities refer to it as “The War of Independence.” Regardless of the terminology, it must be noted that the war was one of the most important developments in the Mid-Eastern region, leading to shifts in the demographics of the region. These global issues have remained until the present time. The war helped to establish firmly the State of Israel. It helped to create a large number of Palestinian refugees who would be refused citizenship in other countries. It also led to a Jewish exodus from other regions in the Mid-East.
The Arab-Israeli War broke out in 1948 between the newly created State of Israel and a group of Arab States, which included Palestinians. At the time, the United Nations had just declared that the State of Israel should be established through its power of a resolution. This resolution worked to partition the region, giving the Jewish individuals a state of their own. This resulted in the Arab states and many of Arab descent around the world becoming enraged that the Jewish people would receive a parcel of land from the region (International Fellowship of Christian and Jews). As a result of this outrage, violence broke out in the region. The violence lasted from May 15, 1948 until March 10, 1949.
When the violence ended, the State of Israel had been firmly established. This is why it is known as the “War of Independence” among the Jewish Community, as well as “The Catastrophe” for the Arab communities. Furthermore, the State of Israel had expanded its allotted territories due to the territories that it had captured during the war. It is likely that the Arab and Palestinian communities would have been better in the end had they not challenged Israel to this fight. At the beginning of the war, the entire Arab coalition had rejected the idea that the State of Israel should be created. They rejected the UN Resolution that split the territory and created this state. It is not enough, however, to indicate that this resolution had been rejected by the Arab communities and coalitions. They were fundamentally and vehemently opposed to the idea. As a result, many Palestinians in the region began a massive exodus out of the area that would now begin to belong to the State of Israel. They immigrated to other Arab states, which denied them citizenship (this will be discussed in more detail later in the paper). The Arab states believed that had no other alternative except to declare war against the newly-founded Israeli State. They invaded the region. One of their regions was also that the area should be made into a State of Palestine, not a State of Israel (League of Arab States). However, as the Arab coalition lost, the end result was that Israel had achieved more territory as a result of the war. Israel succeeded in establishing herself as a state as well as increasing her size.
As mentioned in the previous section, another issue with the war was the exodus of Palestinians from the region. This is also known as Nakba in the Arabic world. In all, 700,000 individuals became refugees as they were forced to leave land that was now a Jewish state. Obviously, the exact number will never be known, as is often the case in a refugee situation. However, it is believed that approximately eighty percent of those who were of Arab descent in what is now Israel were forced to leave their homes in 1948. As with the name of the 1948 war, there is also a disagreement with regards to why there was an exodus. The Jewish side indicates that this occurred because there was a collapse in Palestinian leadership and the Arab coalitions ordered them to leave. However, the Arab side contends that there were advances by the Jewish military that forced the individuals from their homes. Obviously, this is a source of contention, as with much in the Jewish-Palestinian debate. Despite the possible causes, it must be noted that there are still a large number of refugees from the region. Their descendants are still in refugee status in their new lands; the countries that admitted them have never granted them citizenship. The Arab countries argue that this would prevent them from the right of return to their homeland (United Nations Relief and Works Agencies).
There was also a Jewish exodus into the regions that were now the State of Israel. This resulted in the largest demographic of Jewish nationals in one region. Just as Arabs were forced to abandon their homes in Israel, Jewish individuals were forced to do so if their homes were in Palestine. This helped to consolidate the Jewish individuals into the State of Israel. It quickly increased the population, which was soon followed by a mass exodus from other countries. These other countries were predominantly ones in Europe that had just experienced the Holocaust as part of World War II. Many of these had lost their homes and families as a result of the Holocaust and were obviously eager to begin a new life. Regardless of the reasons, the outcome was that the Jewish exodus from other regions resulted in Israel becoming a solid state which would later fight and defend herself in a series of wars (Shulewitz 139).
The 1948 Arab-Israeli War is referred to by several names. However, it began after the United Nations granted a resolution that decided to give the Jewish community part of the Middle East as a homeland. The Arab countries objected to this, leading to a war. The geopolitical and global outcomes of this have been tremendous. This includes the State of Israel growing in size. It also includes a mass exodus of both Palestinians and Jewish people due to the war and the shifting borders. The outcomes still reverberate today and continue to be debated. One cannot read the news without encountering a story about the Middle East and its problems. These problems are in part, due to this war and its outcomes, as well as its causes. Because of this, it is important to have a basic understanding of both sides.
- International Fellowship of Christian and Jews. “History of Israel.” 2014. 2 November 2014. http://www.ifcj.org/site/PageNavigator/sfi_about_history_british
- League of Arab States. “Cablegram to the United Nations.” 15 May 1948. 2 November 2014 http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=S/745
- Shulewitz, Malka Hille. l The Forgotten Millions: The Modern Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands. New York: Continuum, 2001.
- United Nations Relief and Works Agencies. “Palestinian Refugees.” 2014. 2 November 2014. http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees