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EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 664 
In February 1948 Arabs likely slipped through lax British security and detonated a bomb that reduced the Jewish District of Jerusalem to the rubble seen here. Three months later, on May 15, the day-old state of Israel was at war following attacks by Egypt and Jordan.
Photo: UPI / Corbis-Bettmann
Israel soundly defeated Arab attackers in the Six-Day War in 1967. The triumph enlarged Israel's borders, created a new image of Israeli strength and power in the region, and engendered self-confidence and pride among Jews.
Photo: Bilderdienst SYddeutscher Verlag / Central Press
In Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, several months after the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states and the British had begun their withdrawal from Palestine, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence. The census taken six months later found that the new nation's population numbered 782,000. Of that number, 713,000 were Jews, including Holocaust survivors whose numbers would approach 140,000 by the end of the decade.

Statehood, however, did not guarantee Israeli security. The new nation was declared on May 14, 1948, and on May 15 Israel was invaded by Arab forces; a cease-fire followed eight months later. The 1948-49 clash was the first in a series of wars with hostile Arab neighbors--most significantly the Six-Day War in June 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, both of which resulted in tremendous Israeli victories and territorial gains. Still, while the prospects for lasting peace in the region have improved, they are by no means assured. The vexing issue of an independent state for Palestinian Arabs, which would be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, remains in suspense as the 21st century begins.

Would the state of Israel have existed if the Holocaust never happened? Some arguments hold that a Jewish homeland might have existed even sooner if World War II and the Holocaust had not intervened. Other arguments, whose framers are skeptical about "what-if?" speculation, stress that the existence of the state of Israel is bound up inextricably with Holocaust history. And as the sirens' scream warns, some would add, Israel can never relax its vigilance.

Israel's existence invites another "what if?" question--one grounded in Theodor Herzl's dream that an independent Jewish state was the only viable answer to the "Jewish question." The question asks: If the Jews had possessed a state of their own at the beginning of the 20th century, would the Holocaust have taken place? Perhaps not, but this question, too, invites deep speculation. Is it possible that the Nazis would have/could have deported all nine million European Jews to a Jewish Palestine, and that the territory could have handled such an enormous influx of humanity? Such a scenario strains credulity at every turn.

That said, the question nevertheless calls attention to key issues. Statelessness can mean helplessness and hopelessness. Defenselessness is unsound strategic policy.

 January 7, 1949: A cease-fire ends Arab-Israeli hostilities that began in May 1948. In the settlement, Israel increases its territory by 50 percent.
 May 11, 1949: Israel is admitted to the United Nations.
 May 23, 1949: The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) is established as a parliamentary democracy.
 October 7, 1949: Communist East German states establish a centralized constitution and come together as the Democratic Republic of Germany.
 1949-1952: Acting under encouragement from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, puppet-state courts mount show trials of Jews in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
 1950: Responsibility for prosecution of the remaining Nazi war criminals is handed by the Allies to West Germany.
 1950: Erich Koch, former high commissioner for the Ukraine, is extradited to Poland for his complicity in the deaths of millions, including 72,000 Poles. His subsequent death sentence is commuted to life in prison because of his poor health.
EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 664 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.