The Situation in Jerusalem and Palestine, 1948
Memorandum from Yitzhak Ben Tzvi to the Jewish Agency
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Historians debate the relative strengths of the Jewish community and the Arabs of Palestine at the start of the Israeli War of Independence. Revisionist historians insist that the Jewish victory was a foregone conclusion. This was not, in fact, either a reflection of the actual military situation or the assessments of contemporary experts. The CIA had estimated that the Jewish side would lose the war, even without taking into account the participation of the Arab states, and even thought they vastly overrated the Jewish forces. In May of 1948, US Secretary of State George Marshall had told Jewish Agency foreign Minister Moshe Sharett,
A secret Haganah intelligence report of March, 1948 assessed that the situation was critical, especially in the Jerusalem area. At the end of March, bad got worse. In the space of a few days, the coast road to the Negev settlements was cut and two convoys were ambushed and lost, with considerable loss of life as well as arms: the Nebi Daniel Convoy sent to relieve the Etzion Bloc, and the Yehiam Convoy. The Nebi Daniel convoy ambush on March 27 was a particularly acute disaster because it represented the loss of the entire "heavy" arms supply of the defenders of Jerusalem including armored vehicles, machine guns, mortars and a quantity of vehicles that had gotten to Jerusalem in a last convoy from Tel Aviv.
On March 28, the Political Department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem sent a cable to the Department Head, Moshe Sharett (Shertok), who was then in New York. The cable included this message: 1
The longer report below was filed by Izhak Ben Tzvi, future president of Israel, at the beginning of April. 3
There is also no doubt that the British believed in Arab victory as late as the end of May 1948, as they blocked a US attempt to obtain a UN imposed cease fire.
1. History Book of the Haganah, volume 3, p.1403
The introduction above is copyright 2007 - 2008 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is in the public domain. Please cite the sources.
Memorandum to the Jewish Agency from Yitzhak Ben Tzvi
[...] Since I have neither the practical opportunity nor the emotional ability to leave the besieged and isolated city of Jerusalem and to come to the Executive meeting, I have decided to express my views in writing...
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