Volume 3: The First Invasion

Dr. Uri Milstein is one of Israel's most famous military historians.  He is a Senior Lecturer at Bar Ilan University.  His history series on Israel's War of Independence  translated by Alan Sacks, a Philadelphia lawyer with a long and distinguished history of translation of Hebrew into English.  Volume 3 is highly recommended for all persons interested in Israeli history.

Sixty years ago, the State of Israel was founded.  The establishment of Israel as a nation is one of the most important developments in Jewish and world history.  How did this come about?  If you wish to know the answer to this question, read Dr. Milstein's Volume 3, "The First Invasion" which is a comprehensive treatise on the political, diplomatic and military background to Israel's War of Independence.  These historical books are meticulously researched and thoroughly documented and footnoted.  They are considered "the authentic history" of Israel in the years leading up to 1948 and has been identified by Time Magazine as the "definitive" books on pre-1948 Israel.  Volume 3 is written in a flowing style that will fascinate the expert, the educated, the curious reader, the high school student and the university and graduate school student and professor. 

Volume 3 deals with the historical record of the first four months of Israel's War of Independence.  The topics covered are the "first invasion", "the rescue army", "the car bombs", "arms procurement, including arms from Ethiopia and Nicaragua.  Also covered is the "City of Jerusalem" during the war, the "Old City" and surroundings.  In this volume the dissolution of LEHI and the end of ETZEL are discussed in detail.  Volume 3 ends with a discussion of "Sasa", "The Battle for the Roads", and "The Gallant and the Greedy".  It was during the first four months of the War of Independence that the Palestine Arabs attacked Jewish settlements with the support and assistance of volunteer Arabs from the surrounding Arab states.  These Arabs had infiltrated the mandated Palestine freely even though the British were in control and were strictly limiting the number of Jews who could likewise enter.  British operational policy clearly favored Arab in-migration and in-infiltration into the land the British were mandated to provide as a Homeland for the Jews.  It is clear that the British would have preferred to remain for many years in Palestine as the controlling power which is why they stationed 100,000 of their best soldiers there, a full 20% of the entire British army.  It would have been the British preference to limit the Jewish population of what remained of the mandated Palestine, (with Churchill having already granted 80% of the Palestine mandate to Abdullah in the form of Transjordan), to approximately 30% of total occupancy with the Arabs filling the other 70% of the population total.  With such a demographic mix, Britain, could remain in the Middle East with all her bases and military staff for years.  David Ben-Gurion was worried that the United Nations might, at any time, withdraw its mandate granting the Jews a Homeland and a State in Palestine and so acted defensively.  In the fighting between Jews and Arabs, he allowed the Arabs to "strike first" and used Jewish forces only in retaliation for such strikes.  David Ben-Gurion hoped that a real war would never mature and that the Arabs would tire of fighting and that Israel would be able to defacto establish a "state" in as much land as they could occupy at the time such a Jewish state came into existance.  He feared that a real war between the Jews and the Arabs would result in the loss of support for the Jews by the United Nations and by the United States thus negating the possibility of Israel ever coming into existance as a "state". 

Ben-Gurion, however, made a mistake in this as the Arabs did not tire of fighting and the attacks on the Jewish settlements eventually developed into a real war between Jewish and Arab forces.  Jabotinski and David Stern and Menachem Begin had forseen such an outcome from the very beginning and always believed that if there was to be a "State of Israel", it would have to be fought for and created by the Jews themselves without the help of the British or the United Nations or even the United States.  If the Jews wanted a "State" in their Homeland, they would have to take the necessary action to make themselves a "State".  Eventually, Ben-Gurion came around to see that Jabotinski, the Irgun and the Lehi were right and that the Jews could not remain militarily "defensive"; they would have to take "offensive action" to be successful.  In 1948, the Arabs killed 35 fighters of a Hebrew unit in Mt. Hebron that had traveled to Gush Ezyon from Jerusalem.  After killing these Jewish fighters, the Arabs abused their corpses and this escalated the war on both sides.  This disaster of the "thirty-five" was the largest number of Jewish fighters killed in a single incident since the starting of the war and there was great mourning on the part of the Jews and a tremendous drop in morale.  While the Jewish sentiments went down, the Arabs were jubuliant and the story of the "Battle of the 35" who fought to their last drop of blood and were killed in great heroism became a basic myth not only of Israel's War of Independence but of all Israeli wars.  Dr. Milstein describes this important battle in great detail.  It was also during this time period that the Arabs exploded three booby-trapped cars in the Jewish center of Jerusalem causing many casualties and destruction of property.  In response, the Jews exploded two booby-trapped cars in Jaffa and in the Arab district of Haifa.  This back and forth fighting and initiative and response went on for considerable time with the Arabs succeeding more than the Jews.  At the end of this "defensive" and "offensive" war period the Jewish leadership found itself in an acute crises.  In Volume 4, Dr. Uri Milstein describes the crises and how the Jews were able to overcome it and become successful in the "Israeli War of Independence".

Before writing Volume 3, Dr. Milstein conducted hundreds of interviews with actual participants in the War of Independence, many of whom have now passed on leaving these interviews as unique original primary source material for the War as it actually occurred.  In addition, thousands of pages of documents were analyzed, many of which are detailed in this books voluminous footnotes.  Volume 3 is a documented historical record of the first four months of the War of Independence unparalleled in any other treatise or book on Israel before or since published.  The research in Dr. Milstein's book is outstanding and brilliant, it is history at its very best, a masterpiece.  Although exceptionally free flowing and easy to read, it is a book that deal with "facts and footnotes" so that the reader is left with a clear understanding and comprehension of Israel's early history.  Dr. Milstein writes as a true historian, without personal biases or prejudices, he presents the history of early Israel in an organized manner and lets the reader understand the factual reasoning behind all conclusions presented.  This book should be required reading today for all persons interested in the history of Israel and the world of the Middle East as it is at the start of the 21st Century.

Dr. Milstein is not only one of the most famous of all military historians in Israel, he is also a security analyst and philosopher, an expert on security matters, who is loved by many Israelis for his refusal to compromise the facts of history for personal political or financial gain.  Many of his followers see him as a genius and one of the key fighters for academic truth in Israel today.

Volume 3: The First Invasion
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Price $79.50
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