Dr. Benny Morris, “The War of 1948: New Perspectives”

“The War of 1948: New Perspectives”

Dr. Benny Morris

Professor of History, Middle East Studies, Ben-Gurion University

Morris begins by arguing that the 1948 War was an unusual one for two reasons. He firstly approaches it as a war of two distinct halves. The first, before 1948, was a civil war; during and after 1948 was an interstate war. Secondly, the war was between two peoples also ruled by a third country.

 Morris moves on to underline the importance of religion in war. Whilst for Muslims historic Palestine was seen as a sacred land being overtaken by infidels, for the Zionists, their movement was seen as a rebellion against religion dictating Jews’ lives. From this Morris leads into a discussion of the strength of the idea of jihad against israel, using evidence from Arab contemporaries of the time.

Morris then covers the aims of different sides in conflict, arguing that documentation shows the Arab aims – traditionally seen as ‘throwing the Jews into the sea’ – as more complex. Conversely, he states that Jewish aims were more simple, wanting only to survive, and from 1948 to expand the borders of the Jewish state.

Morris finishes up by discussing the Jewish and Palestinian refugees which emerged after 1948, correcting previous historical assumptions, and the balance of forces between both sides in the war.