Abstract

The article analyzes David Ben-Gurion's lessons from the Holocaust and from Israel's War of Independence and deviations from his strategy. The lessons of the Holocaust were three-fold: First, that Israel, Zionism and Jews as well were a unique historical phenomenon, and therefore could expect to be alone and remain alone for decades to come. That Zionism, having lost its European backbone in the Holocaust, would have problems of legitimacy unless the Jewish state would accept the partition of Western Palestine and avoid ruling over a large number of Arabs, especially in the politically sensitive West Bank. Second, that every Israeli-initiated war will not be accepted by the Arabs as final, since they would recover and get ready for a new round, whereas Israel could not sustain one crucial defeat. Third, that the longer range solution to the total imbalance between Arabs and Jews in conventional terms, such as numbers, political and strategic clout, oil and vast territories, must be counterbalanced by invoking unconventional deterrence. The ensuing, even if limited to the elite, discussion of alternatives to this strategy was coined in terms of conventional preemption and acquisition of more territory, especially in the West Bank. The demise of Ben-Gurion's leadership in the early 1960s, and the emergence of security alternatives to his, in addition to role of the US in making the unconventional option illegitimate, would explain the road to the Six-Day War of 1967 and its ramifications until today.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-201x
Print ISSN
1084-9513
Pages
pp. 65-93
Launched on MUSE
2009-02-07
Open Access
No
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