Israel's Birth MythsBy Simha Flapan, from the introduction to his book The Birth of Israel, Myths and Realities 1987.
For each of these myths Flapan dedicates a chapter in his book, describing what really happened.
Myth One: Zionist acceptance of the UN Partition Resolution of November, 29 1947, was a far-reaching compromise by which the Jewish community abandoned the concept of a Jewish state in the whole of Palestine and recognized the rights of the Palestinians to their own state. Israel accepted this sacrifice because it anticipated the implementation of the resolution in peace and cooperation of the Palestinians.
My research suggests that it was actually only a tactical move in an overall strategy. This strategy aimed first at thwarting the creation of a Palestinian Arab state through a secret agreement with Abdallah of Transjordan, whose annexation of the territory allocated for the Palestinian state was to be the first step in his dream of a greater Syria. Second, it sought to increase the territory assigned by the UN to the Jewish state.
Myth Two: The Palestinian Arab totally rejected partition and responded to the call of the mufti of Jerusalem to launch an all-out war on the Jewish state, forcing the Jews to depend on a military solution.
This was not the whole story. While the mufti was indeed fanatical in his opposition to partition, the majority of the Palestinian Arabs, although also opposed, did not responds to his call for a holy war against Israel. On the contrary, prior to Israel's Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, many Palestinian leaders and groups made efforts to rech a modus vivendi. It was only Ben-Gurion's profound opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state that undermined the Palestinian resistance to the mufti's call.
Myth three: The Flight of the Palestinians from the country, both before and after the establishment of the state of Israel, came in response to a call by the Arab leadership to leave temporarily, in order to return with victorious Arab armies. They fled despite the efforts of the Jewish leadership to persuade them to stay.
In fact, the flight was promoted by Israel's political and military leaders, who believed that Zionist colonization and statehood necessitated the "transfer" of Palestinian Arabs to Arab countries.
Myth Four: All of the Arab states, unified in their determination to destroy the newborn Jewish state, joined together on May 15, 1948, to invade Palestine and expel its Jewish inhabitants.
My research indicates that the Arab states aimed not at liquidating the new state, but rather at preventing the implementation of the agreement between the Jewish provisional government and Abdallah for Greater Syria scheme.
Myth Five: The Arab invasion of Palestine on May 15 in contravention of UN Partition Resolution, made the 1948 war inevitable.
The documents show that the war was not inevitable. The Arabs had agreed to a last-minute American proposal for a three-month truce on the condition that Israel temporarily postpone its Declaration of Independence. Israel's provisional government rejected the American proposal by a slim majority of 6 to 4.
Myth Six: The tiny, newborn state of Israel faced the onslaught of the Arab armies as David faced Goliath: a numerically inferior, poorly armed people in danger of being overrun by a military giant.
The facts and figures available point to a different situation altogether. Ben-Gurion himself admits that the war of self-defense lasted only four weeks, until the truce of June 11, when huge quantities of arms reached the country. Israel's better trained and more experienced armed forces then attained superiority in weapons on land, sea and air.
Myth Seven: Israel's hand has always been extended in peace, but since no Arab leader has ever recognized Israel's right to exist, there has never been anyone to talk to.
On the contrary, from the end of World War II to 1952, Israel turned down successive proposals made by Arab states and by neutral mediators that might have brought about an accommodation.