New York Post

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 1948

The Spirit of Israel

New Nations Shows That Love for Peace
Should Not Be Mistaken for Weakness


On June 9 Count Bernadotte arranged a four-week truce in Palestine. The problem before him was not to convince the Israelis that peace is better than war, but to convince the Arabs. And actually, it was not he who convinced the Arabs of this but the military success of the Israelis, who not only beat the Palestinian Arabs and the Army of Liberation based in Syria, but also withstood the regular armies of Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, supported by Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and richly supplied by the British with tanks, planes, fieldguns, and other material, as well as officers and pilots.

When the truce was proclaimed, the Israelis had in their hands the area allocated to them by the U.N. partition and, in addition, western Galilee with Acco, the plain of Jenin, and the city of Jaffa. The Arab armies, on the other hand, held no Israeli territory, with the expectation of a few villages. Jerusalem, designated to be an international city, is occupied largely by the Israelis (the new city) and partly by the Arabs (the old city).

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Although it is tragic that the State of Israel is being born in the blood sacrifice of its sons and daughters, the war nevertheless has its positive aspect. Had an international force effected partition, the illusion would remain that the State of Israel was a defenseless community, artificially made into a nation and a state by support solely from the outside. Not only no international force was sent to effect the partition but the Israelis have even been denied arms. But the Jewish State has been reborn and is beholden to no one for its redemption save to God and to the courage of its people.

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Although the Israeli has proved a splendid fighter, he is also a man of peace. This he has demonstrated repeatedly. He refrained from answering Arab fire for a number of days after the conflict started; five times he accepted the Security Council’s cease-fire order. The Arabs on British advice, rejected these orders until fear of the imposition of sanctions and especially recognition of the hard fact that they are unable to beat Israel made them agree to a truce for peace negotiations.

Israel regards its return to statehood, not as a narrow chauvinistic affair, but as an historic mission and as the fulfillment of the visions of the Hebrew Prophets. This mission is also to promote peace in the world and a spirit of friendliness in the family if nations.

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When, in 1936, the British Royal Commission, headed by Lord Peel, recommended partition of Palestine, the Arabs, led by the Mufti, started a three-year war against Jewish Palestine. Daily and nightly men, women, and children were killed from ambush on roads, on farms, and on the outskirts of towns. Every morning the newspapers carried the names of the victims in this one-sided war, and before long the number of the assassinated was over 500. It was a one-sided war because the Jews of Palestine, during three years of disturbances did not answer a single shot. This policy was called Havlaga, or self-restraint, and was dictated by high humanitarian principles of the Tolstoi or Gandhi type. What was the result? The British imposed the While Paper of 1939, sweeping away the decision of Lord Peel’s Commission, and introduced Nuremberg laws into Palestine: Jews were barred from buying land there and were discriminated against in immigration; Arabs were free both to enter Palestine and to buy land there.

The Havlaga of 1936-39 was repaid with the White Paper, which contributed to the death of millions of people who were caught between the Nazi gas chambers and the British blockade of Palestine, their one haven.

The Arab world concluded erroneously that the Jews did not answer a single shot between 1936 and 1939 because they were weak and cowardly. The supreme motives that guided the Jews in acting thus were not understood.

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When the Arab princes visit the White House they regularly bring a sword or a dagger as a gift for the President. When Prof. Chaim Weizmann, the first. President of Israel, went to the White House he brought as Israel’s gift to the President of the United States a scroll of the Bible. This is symbolic of Israel’s striving for peace.

But if there is no other choice—Israel fights. And has fought so well that military experts have had to change their prognoses weekly, saying that a miracle of human nature not reckoned on by them has intervened: the indomitable spirit of Israel.