Conflicting Narratives of the 1948 War
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The 1948 War was a triumphant victory for the Jews of Israel and a tragic disaster for the Arabs of Palestine. The traditional Zionist rendition of the war, or “old” history, depicts Israel as a fledgling Jewish state heroically thrust into a survivalist fight for independence. Revisionist works of “new” history challenge these accounts, and reject Israel’s role as an innocent protagonist in the conflict. While there is extensive literature analyzing these conflicting narratives in depth, there exists a lack of academic writing that objectively compares the two accounts through the lens of specific historical events. This paper discusses the differences in new and old history in the context of the 1948 War, specifically focusing on the issues of the Arab-Israeli military balance, the motivation behind Arab war objectives, and the origins of the Palestinian refugee crisis. It concludes that no narrative has a complete monopoly of historical accuracy, and that it is necessary to consider information from both sides in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the 1948 War.
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