A long and awkward title obscure a clear and direct thesis: that Israel won its War of Independence against the Arabs in 1948-49 thanks primarily to its far greater success in evading the arms embargo the great powers had imposed on all combatants. According to Ilan, who began this research project in the History Department of the Israel Defense Forces, "although the Arab armies started the war better equipped than the Israeli army, their organization was from the start badly lacking and their stores of ammunition and spare parts were nearly empty. Thereafter, due to embargo restrictions, their former sources of supply and military know-how were cut off" and they failed to find satisfactory replacements. "In contrast, the Israeli forces, which were also badly hit by the embargo, nevertheless managed to import a considerable number of weapons and supplies and to produce some at home as well, and to attain considerable foreign military expertise." This difference gave the Israelis a decisive strategic advantage.
To prove his argument, Ilan delves in deep detail into each embargo-the U.S., British, and Soviet especially-as well as the Middle East efforts at evasion. His sources, of course, are far more complete for the Israeli side than for the Arab parties, but his thorough mastery of the topic imbues the study with great authority. In a bit of convincing revisionism, he shows that the value of Czechoslovak arms to Israel was "small," mattering far less than usually thought; and that Stalin had no master plan to aid Israel.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, History, Israel & Zionism
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