Israel and the Arab Coalition in 1948

In this seminar Avi Shlaim, professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford, launches into the heart of scholarly debate about the foundation of the state of Israel. Rather than accepting the Zionist account of what happened between the Arab states and Israel in 1948, Shlaim re-examines the traditional narrative about the birth of Israel. He suggests that the Zionist account of the first Arab-Israeli war is deeply flawed, as it places most of the responsibility for the conflict on the Arab side. For Shlaim, Zionist accounts portray Israel as the innocent victim of unremitting Arab aggression.

In this controversial and political assessment, Shlaim suggests that it is time to reassess the portrayal of Jews as victims of the Arab coalition. Instead he argues that throughout the conflict Israel had the military edge over its Arab adversaries and Israeli leaders exploited divisions within the Arab coalition. Whether the reader agrees with Shlaim's appraisal or not, this seminar offers a crucial perspective on the defining moment in Arab-Israeli history.

This seminar is based on Chapter 4 of The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, which offers a full account of a momentous event in the history of the contemporary Middle East. Through existing primary and secondary sources, the book re-examines the role of all the participants in the Palestine War.


Learning Objectives



back to Seminars

Home page    CV/Bio/personal    Research Interests    Academic Work    Media    Students    Links    Contact