On May 7, Israelis began celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state. Soon, Palestinians will mark the nakba, or catastrophe.
Debbie Hill/Special to the Monitor
RAMAT HASHARON, ISRAEL
It's a letter that Maj. Gen. Amos Horev says is one of his most telling artifact from Israel's six decades of independence. "Please give to Amos two guns and one mortar from Jerusalem," reads the note to another commander from a Jewish US Army colonel who, after World War II, came to help the Jewish army in Palestine.
To Mr. Horev, himself a leader in the army called the Hagana, Hebrew for defense, it's a reminder of how low on guns and bullets his fighters were. "The most crucial war we ever fought was the War of Independence. We asked every day, 'Are we going to make it or not?' It was a very difficult time. We didn't know if we could protect Jerusalem, where we had 100,000 people. My parents were there." That period of time was the most difficult, he says, because of a scarceness of arms. "We could hardly buy anything. We were so poor in weapons, and afterwards, we said, never again can we suffer from this kind of shortage," he says, sitting on the sofa in his home in this quiet Tel Aviv suburb he's lived in for half a century. "We felt the world had granted us a state without giving us the means to defend it."
It is a common theme that Arabs and Jews who fought in 1948 express: a sense that the world supported the enemy, and that the British, as the rulers of Mandatory Palestine, sat back and let the other side do as it wished. "The British were there but they didn't give us any protection," says Horev. "It was a battle of the roads, of the highways, and of communications. We suffered from a total embargo."
Beginnings of a new Jewish state
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