May 16, 1948 – The Day After Independence – New Israel – Old Neighbors. Past Daily Reference Room

Israel Independence - Tensions in the Middle East
A Declaration of independence quickly followed by a Declaration of War.
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On May 15, 1948 The State of Israel came into being. The end of a long, arduous and contentious journey. A move not favored in the Middle-East. A move which set off a war between a new country surrounded by hostile neighbors.

Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyar 5708) by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and soon to be first Prime Minister of Israel. It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day.

The declaration was signed in the context of civil war between the Arab and Jewish populations of the Mandate that had started the day after the partition vote at the UN six months earlier. Neighboring Arab states and the Arab League were opposed to the vote and had declared they would intervene to prevent its implementation. In a cablegram on 15 May 1948 to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States claimed that “the Arab states find themselves compelled to intervene in order to restore law and order and to check further bloodshed”.

Over the next few days after the declaration, armies of Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, and Syria engaged Israeli troops inside the area of what had just ceased to be Mandatory Palestine, thereby starting the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

This broadcast of the NBC Radio program The Story Behind The Headlines, outlines the issue of Independence and what the political ramifications potentially were.

What’s interesting to note is the issue of East-West relations and how the Cold War could potentially play into this seemingly unconnected move. How this turmoil might actually benefit the Soviet Union in its quest for influence throughout the region by way of military aid in exchange for access to Mediterranean ports – taking advantage of a contentious situation and turning it into a rallying cry for dramatic political change in the Middle-East.

Here is that broadcast, as it was originally aired on May 16, 1948.

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