Monday, January 16, 2023



From famed journalist and historian Jon Kimche, writing for the Palestine Post, January 14, 1948:

A leading Arab personality, close to leaders of the [Arab] Higher Executive, who has just returned from a tour of most of the Arab capitals, yesterday gave me a picture of the Palestine situation as top Arab leaders see it.

... Conflict in Palestine was unavoidable, he thought , and it would be accompanied by the close economic blockade of thc Jewish State , which would go on until one side or the other was prepared to surrender unconditionally. 

The Arabs would call off the fight, he said, if the Jews abandoned the Jewish State  and immigration. No other terms would be acceptable.

The Husseinis, he said , were confident that in the long run - perhaps three or four years—they could break the Jewish State and force the submission of Palestine Jewry though this might cost the Palestine Arabs an enormous number of casualties. The Arabs had a great advantage, as they held life cheaply and had little to lose in Palestine in contrast to the Jews.

Discussing the military line-up inside Palestine, he estimated that in the opening phases, the Jews would have an actual striking force of about 10,000 men, and that the striking force available for the Arabs would be about 5,000 active guerrillas . He calculated that the incidence of fighting and terrorist actions against nonparticipating Arabs will gradually draw into the conflict Arabs who at present are opposed and unwilling to join in the battle, and this wonkl become a constant source for the reinforcement of Arab strength. 

He also banked on changes in the international situation which would create great difficulties in the long run for the Jewish State, which would have to draw its resources and food supplies largely from overseas. 

"This is how we see it," concluded this Arab personality. "We do not underrate the strength of the Jews, and we think that the issue will be decided not so much by pure weapon power, but ultimately on the decision of who will crack first politically, psychologically and morally. On that we place all our cards. It will be a long struggle and it will require taut nerves."
The highlighted text is more telling than it seems. He is saying that Palestinian Arabs did not have as emotional a tie to the land as the Jews do, so they had "little to lose" - they could go elsewhere in the Arab world if necessary. The Jews don't have that luxury.

The Arab thinking is that the Jewish regard for human life would demoralize them and force them to flee, but they had nowhere else to go. That is why this analyst had it exactly backward - the Arab fighters had little incentive to risk their lives, while the Jews had no choice but to stand and defend their land.

An analogy could be made to Ukraine today - one side is fighting for their homeland, and while the other side also claims the same land, its fighters don't care much about it, even though they seem to have far more military assets available. And just like the Arab world at the time, the Russian side is happy to play the long game, thinking that they will force the other side to surrender by running out of resources and food.





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