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A proper understanding of the philately of the transition period from the end of the British Mandate over Palestine to the issuance of the first stamps of the State of Israel depends on knowing some of the background of the historic events. However, even if we do not take into account the events themselves and their short and long term consequences, it has become clear that this transition period, or interim period, comprises only the two weeks from May 1st to 15th, 1948.
The important decisions concerning the viability of Israel were made during this short span of time just before reaching the goal of independence. The British Cabinet, due to the failure of the Mandate policy, was unable to find a solution and forced to lay the problem of Palestine before the United Nations. Even President Harry Truman’s intervention of 1945, and his pointed reminder of the burning human problems in the aftermath of World War II, had failed to change the obdurate course of British Prime Minister Atlee, and make him face reality. Six million Jews had been murdered in Europe, yet England still waged war with 100,000 soldiers, planes and destroyers against the last remnants of European Jewry who had managed to escape Hitler’s delusion of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”.
The resolution by the United Nations to partition Palestine was the most important political precondition for the foundation of the State of Israel. The General Assembly of the UN voted on November 29, 1947, 33 for 13 against, and 10 abstentions, to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish zones. Neither party liked the partition plan as voted, however, the Jews accepted the decision, while the Arabs rejected it out right. Arab aggression against the Jewish population began immediately. Arab armies marched into Palestine- there was war. The Arabs lost, and from the ruins of the Palestine Mandate rose the State of Israel, solemnly proclaimed by David ben Gurian in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948.
This article will attempt to cast some light on the Interim Period of 1948, one of the most fascinating philatelic periods in the more than 130 years of postal history of the Holy Land, as it also shows again that the Jewish people, in spite of chaos and adversity, found ways to maintain communications. The iron will to carry on has always been, and always will be, an integral part of Jewish heritage and history.
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Suse Justh The Israel Philatelist, vol. 39, no. 11/12 December 1988