Every nation throughout history has come into existence through the use of warfare as a means to take and hold land. No nation willingly gives up land. In order for existing holdings to be taken, it must be won in conflict. Expansion of an existing nation, on rare occasion, does come about as the result of a purchase, but mostly expansion has come at the point of a sword or barrel of a rifle.
Mahatma Ghandi’s peace movement had very little backing in India, even after a resolution was passed overwhelmingly by Congress of a Bill he submitted and remained largely intact. His Quit India! Now! Campaign was rendered leaderless right from the start due to the leaders being arrested.
As Defense Media Network states:
“Ironically for the apostle of non-violent protests, when news of Gandhi’s arrest was reported it caused an eruption of violence among his followers throughout India. But the waves of vandalism, sabotage, and arson were not directed against whites or the tens of thousands of British and American soldiers stationed there, but against government offices and the railways,. Before it ended, 208 police stations had been torched and almost 750 government offices and railroad stations destroyed.”
Gandhi lacked a military force to take India, since the Indian Army was loyal to the British. It was another group, the Indian National Army, which was separate from the Army, who did use force as a means to resist the British. It wasn’t Gandhi’s peaceful movement that had the British concerned, but the INA.
According to The Conversation, “After the Second World War, many British officials were unsettled by fear of the Indian National Army, a military organisation made up of Indian prisoners of war released from Japanese custody… Despite being defeated militarily, the INA strengthened British unease that the continued occupation of India would be met by violent resistance. Following the end of the war, the trial of INA prisoners provided a serious problem for colonial legitimacy and helped to stoke the mass nationalism that forced Britain to withdraw in 1947.”
Just as India had multiple factions needed to defeat the British, so too did the Irish in their own War of Independence, which preceded India’s final fight. Guerrilla warfare is a legitimate means of fighting; so long as the target is of military importance, rather than political importance. Ireland used that type of warfare effectively in their fight, with a few factions going beyond military.
There were numerous groups involved, but most of the conflict was carried out by the Irish Republican Army. Within the IRA were factions who supported more extreme measures beyond military targets. The more radical measures were a setback to the IRA, since terrorist actions strengthen, not weaken, the resolve of the enemy. A war that lasted two years after a lot of bloodshed prior to that, could have been shortened by several months had the IRA answered to anyone and not covered up for the terrorist actions taken by a small minority within the group.
Michael Collins led the IRA throughout the war, which makes him partly responsible for the actions of a few, but the IRA had so many different subgroups it was difficult to tell who was doing what.
After the defeat of the British, which created Ireland and Northern Ireland, with Northern Ireland still under British rule, Collins accepted the results, unlike some who were supposed to be under his command. It did not matter that almost the entire island was free, since some were never able to accept even a small portion remaining in British hands.
The “Irregulars” separated from the government and a civil war broke out, which led to another year of fighting against the official Army of Ireland, the Irish Free State Army. The ‘Irregulars” used the same extreme measure on their new government as they did with the old, but with their capitulation in the end, rather than victory.
In 1920 Palestine, the Hagenah was formed to defend Jewish villages against Arab attacks, which, according to Britannica, “activities were moderate, at least until the end of World War II, in accord with the organized Jewish community’s policy of havlaga (“self-restraint”).”
The Irgun, created in 1931, was a more radical means of taking action against the British, since the Hagenah were not willing to fight as some believed was necessary. Unlike the IRA, which accepted the radicals at great cost to themselves, there was no room in Hagenah for those drawn to Irgun activities, which did include terrorist attacks against the British for political, not military, aims.
One of the many actions the Irgun took was, according to Britannica, “Irgun’s violent activities led to execution of many of its members by the British; in retaliation, Irgun executed British army hostages.” They were the same one’s who, “On July 22, 1946, Irgun blew up a wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 soldiers and civilians (British, Arab, and Jewish).”
The terrorist attacks were a setback to the same goal as Hagenah, since every terrorist attack committed by Irgun strengthened the resolve of the British. From the time they were formed, there was always a distinction between the two groups.
The fighting Hagenah did was more than defending villages, but fighting the British as well. Before independence can be fought for, the battles must come and go leading up to the official start of a war.
After the end of WWII, Hagenah, in response to the British clamping down on Palestine, blew up strategic targets, without going to the extremes of the Irgun. Rails, bridges and ships are all military in nature.
Israel’s War of Independence may not have been against the British, but no less a war than India and Ireland experienced. All three had been fighting British rule long before the first shots of war were fired. Neither India nor Ireland have their legitimacy as a nation questioned, but Israel is more than questioned.
From the moment Israel became a nation, they have faced attacks from their neighbors through traditional and terroristic means. No other nation, once formed, faced extinction from the start. No other nation, once formed as part of the world of nations, has faced the same criticism as Israel. Israel has every right to exist as any other nation who fought for their land through military force.