On this week’s History of Israel Explained, we’re heading back to 1948 and Israel’s War of Independence. While modern-day Israel is a force to be reckoned with, in its early days, its military might was pretty much non-existent.
Back then the Israeli army primarily consisted of a bunch of barely trained Holocaust survivors who waged war with outdated, ineffective and hardly functioning weapons. Actually, “weapons” is probably too strong a word for most of the equipment they were using, which included the (in)famous Davidka…
Above all odds, though, this makeshift army performed heroic – some would say miraculous – feats, including the creation of Israel’s own Burma Road. These feats turned the tide in the war and guaranteed the existence of the fledgling State of Israel amid a sea of hostile neighbors.
In time, Israel went from a scrappy underdog with a rag-tag army (albeit one with the world’s support) to a strong regional superpower and military leader that is now seen as a Goliath rather than a David.
But is this viewpoint fair? Did Israel gain support in the early days because no one expected it to survive? Does a strong country still deserve world support? Should we always root for the underdog?