Rhode Island International Mail
January 27, 1948 Cover from Tel Aviv, Palestine
To the Providence Journal - Providence RI

(Scroll Down for Background Information and History)

The state of Rhode Island has a very substantial Jewish population and because of its history of religious tolerance was an early refuge for Jewish settlers. The first Jewish Synagogue in America was founded in Newport, Rhode Island.
SEE: First Day Covers and History for Touro Synagogue)

I found this cover very interesting, even though the contents/letter were not included. I believe that the letter was probably sent from a Providence Journal war correspondent who was covering the conflict in Palestine as the Jewish people were fighting to establish a homeland there. This letter was posted on January 27, 1948, shortly after the Arab league had organized a volunteer force of 3000 fighters and prior to the British mandate expiring in May. Many Jewish Americans in Rhode Island and elsewhere were contributing money and supplies to the cause.

During and just prior to World War II, many Jews began fleeing Europe  because of the "Nazi Pogroms." The British, who controlled the territory of Palestine, attempted unsuccessfully to stop the flood of refugees to the area, as they considered it a threat to the stability of the region.  Jewish organizations continued to smuggle refugees into the area and several underground Jewish militias were formed such as the "Irgun," who were responsible for the assassination of Lord Moyne in 1944. The Irgun's attacks culminated in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, when they blew up a part of the King David Hotel containing British government and military offices, with the loss of 91 lives.

Beginning in 1945, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased dramatically. The Zionists were determined to create a Jewish state and the Arabs were just as determined that Palestine would become an Arab state. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations passed a resolution partitioning Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem and its environs as an international city. 

On May 14, 1948, General Sir Alan Cunningham and the last British troops withdrew from Palestine and on that same day the State of Israel was declared. The following day, regular army units of Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt crossed the borders and the war began in earnest. Throughout 1948, in a series of brilliant military campaigns, the Jewish army managed to route superior Arab forces again and again. By early 1949 the Israelis had managed to occupy all of the Negev up to the former Egypt-Palestine frontier, except for the Gaza Strip.

By the summer of 1949 Israel had signed armistices with its Arab neighbors and was recognized by more than 50 governments throughout the world. By this time, Israel had established sovereignty over 8000 square miles of Palestine west of the Jordan River and joined the United Nations. The remaining 2,000 square miles of  the former Palestinian territory was divided between Jordan and Egypt.

At the time of the direct partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the Jewish population was 678,000 and the Arab population was 1,270,000. A majority of Arab-Palestinians fled into Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring countries during the conflict, (Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan).

The current Mid-East/Palestinian conflict stems from and is a direct result of what was seen by the Arab nations as an illegal land grab by the "Nations of the West."

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