AJC eBook: Israel’s Triple Anniversary - Page 11

2 01 7— I SR A E L’ S T RIP LE ANNIVERSARY YEAR 9 existence the sovereign Jewish homeland that the former had foretold and the latter had envisioned. The Arab world, though, was no more favorable to that concept now than it had been in 1917. Immediately after the UN acted, Palestinian Arabs launched attacks on the Jews. And on May 14, 1948, when the British officially relinquished the Palestine Mandate and the Jews declared the new State of Israel, the armed forces of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq attacked, fully expecting to bring the Zionist dream to a crashing end. They failed, and by the time the UN arranged an armistice in 1949, Israel was in control of more land than had been allotted by the UN plan. The Arab state that was to have been set up never came into being, Jordan occupying territory on the West Bank of the Jordan River that the UN had designated for that state—plus the Old City of Jerusalem, which was to a have been internationalized—and Egypt controlling the Gaza Strip. The hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled Palestine in the course of the fighting ended up in refugee camps, and a roughly equivalent number of Jews living in Arab countries were forced to leave, most finding haven in the State of Israel. 1967: Israel Defeats Those Seeking Its Destruction Israel’s Declaration of Independence stressed the historic connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel where “their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed,” the UN partition plan that authorized a Jewish state, and the new nation’s commitment to “the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race, or sex.”6 But even the creation of the democratic State of Israel and the international recognition conferred by its admittance into the UN did not alter the Arab refusal to countenance its reality or own up to its legitimacy. The Arab nations denied Israel diplomatic recognition and insistently proclaimed their abiding intention to destroy it. 6 Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin, eds., The Israeli-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (New York, 2008), pp. 81-83.