Monday, June 04, 2007

History: Odre Wingate, Father of the Israeli Defense Forces

(MFL: another chapter from Walid Khalidy's From Conquest to Haven, Chapter 39, whereby I did a summary of an article of how Odre Wingate transformed the Haganah (future IDF) from the defensive to offensive)

Odre Wingate was a British officer who considered himself in a religious quest to restore the ancient glories of the Old Testament. His own superiors disliked his tactics and always kept opposing him, while needed his serves every time the Arabs caused security havoc to the Brits and the Jews. Palestine then was undergoing the great Palestinian Revolution of 1936-1939.

Wingate’s most critical achievement was taking the Jews from the defensive to the offensive. The first time any Jewish platoon entered an offensive position was under Wingate in the campaign against an Arab village called Hanita. The Jews were overthrilled, but the British officials were totally angry because Wingate never told the commanding officer his whereabouts. Second, he broke British protocols which imposed that the British should keep the Hagana on the defensive rather the offensive. His initiatives showed how the Zionists loved Wingate and rushed to use their connections to assist him when he was called to Jerusalem for investigation. He was even coded as “The Friend” in their secret messages along the wire.

Wingate’s tactics gave the Zionists the experience they needed as he merged British and Jewish units into one. He taught them Guerilla Warfare. He preached to the Jews the necessity of building the state of Israel, as he concluded on his own logic that the Jews are lovers of freedom disregarding the whole view point of the Arabs. Wingate is a proof of how successful Zionist propaganda was/is in Europe; however, Wingate ended training the future officers of the Israeli Defense Forces. Wingate’s biased opinion towards the Jews and his obsession with the re-building of Zion in the name of God even challenged the British’s own perspective concerning Night Patrols. All Hagana Commanders trusted Wingate over the British Empire, and David Ben-Gurion displays unlimited gratitude to the builder of the core of the Israeli Army. According to Ben-Gurion, it was due to Wingate’s training that the IDF was established in a matter of 12 days after the declaration of Jewish State.

The Brits didn’t like Wingate’s dedication towards the Zionists, and considered him a risk factor as he showed more motivation towards the Zionists rather the British. In the end, the British sought to control Palestine via the Jews, and not empower the Jews in such a radical manner which threatened their own priority goals in Palestine.


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