The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948

Co-edited by Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim


Table of content:

1.Rashid Khalidi The Palestinians and 1948: the causes of failure
2. Benny Morris Revisiting the Palestinian exodus of 1948
3. Laila Parsons The Druze and the birth of Israel
4. Avi Shlaim Israel and the Arab coalition in 1948
5. Eugene Rogan Jordan and 1948: the persistence of an official history
6.Charles Tripp Iraq and the 1948 war: mirror of Iraq’s disorder
7. Fawaz Gerges Egypt and the 1948 war: internal conflict and regional ambition
8. Joshua Landis Syria and the 1948 war
Edward Said Afterword: the consequences of the 1948 war


The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the most intense and intractable international conflicts of modern times. This book is about the historical roots of that conflict. It re-examines the history of the 1948 war, in which the newly born state of Israel defeated the Palestinians and the regular Arab armies of the neighboring states so decisively. The book includes chapters on all the principal participants, on the reasons for the Palestinian exodus, and on the political and moral consequences of the war. The chapters are written by leading Arab, Israeli and Western scholars, who draw on primary sources in all relevant languages to offer alternative interpretations and new insights into this defining moment in Middle East history. The result is a major contribution to the literature on the 1948 war. It will command a wide audience of students and general readers with an interest in the region.

Israelis call the 1948 war "The War of Independence" while Arabs call it al-Nakba or the disaster. The conventional Israeli version portrays 1948 as an unequal struggle between a Jewish David and an Arab Goliath, as a desperate, heroic, and ultimately successful battle for survival against overwhelming odds. In this version all the surrounding Arab states sent their armies into Palestine to strangle the Jewish state at birth and the Palestinians left the country on orders from their own leaders and in the expectation of a triumphal return.

Since the late 1980s, however, a group of "new historians" or revisionist Israeli historians have challenged many of the claims surrounding the birth of the State of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war.

The present volume was conceived as a contribution to the ongoing debate about 1948. The War for Palestine brings together leading Israeli new historians with prominent Arab and Western scholars of the Middle East who revisit 1948 from the perspective of each of the countries involved in the war. The resulting volume offers new material and new insights that add to our understanding of the historical roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Link to the publisher: Cambridge University Press