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Palestine Siege: Jerusalem 1948

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Introduction

Zipporah Porath, an American student and Haganah volunteer, wrote this letter   from Jerusalem in the Israel War of Independence. The Palestinian Arab irregular forces had blockaded the road to Jerusalem, ambushing convoys as they reached the defile at  Bab El Wad. ‎ Life was metered by the arrival and departure of each shayarah (convoy), ‎and by the convoys and guards who did not get through. The situation was ‎becoming desperate. A few days later the convoys would stop entirely and by ‎the end of April, Jerusalem was under total siege for nearly two months. ‎

Jerusalem looked and sounded like the war zone it was. Concrete ‎fortifications were built, trenches dug, streets were torn up to form anti-tank ‎defenses. Old and young and even schoolchildren were mobilized for this ‎work. Ultraorthodox Jews volunteered to fight. Explosions and sniping were ‎routine during the day. Shooting continued all night and travel through the city ‎was perilous. ‎

The British Mandatory authorities looked on with total unconcern as Arab ‎irregulars carried out their plan to starve the hundred thousand Jews of ‎Jerusalem. No health organizations checked if there was a humanitarian ‎crisis. No humanitarian supplies were sent to the beleaguered Jewish city. ‎The international community expressed no concern when, eventually, even ‎water had to be rationed. ‎

This letter relates the excitement and peril involved in obtaining the one-egg ‎rationed to students.‎

 Palestine Siege: whole egg

Palestine Airletter 1948

Zipporah ("Zippy") arrived in Mandatory Palestine in Oct. 1947, as an American student, for what was intended to be a year of study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  But, caught up in Israel's War of Independence, she served first as a medic in the underground Haganah defense forces, and then in the nascent IDF and the fledgling Israel Air Force. These volunteers from abroad were later recognized as part of the MACHAL volunteer corps.

The letters Zippy wrote to her parents and sister capture the historic events as they occurred. They are compiled in the book, Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948. You can order it from zip(at)netvision.net.il (Israel) or click here for review and order information

Jerusalem Palestine Air mail letter, 1947


 Jerusalem,

March 23, 1948

Dear Everybody,

Exhibit A: Life in Jerusalem. For three weeks I've been waiting for my grocer to save me an egg. I've got a ration card, but by the time I get to the store I'm registered at, which is in town, he's all sold out. Well, today he did it. With the utmost tenderness, he wrapped my egg in paper and, along with my ration of margarine, cheese and some other stuff, placed it gently on top of the parcel.

The entire bus ride I protected the egg vigilantly. Then, bingo, right in front of the door, I missed a step and my three and half groush treasure went flying. But I saved the day and part of the egg. Took the remains, added some powdered milk and powdered egg and scrambled up a delicious little dish. That should be the worst calamity to befall me.

In general, I splurged today -- figured I needed a pick-me-up after the miserable winter. I spent almost two pounds [Palestine Pounds] on a lovely poplin sports shirt that I've had my eye on for a long time. I decided to get it while the getting is good. Next week the store might be bombed out. Anyhow, the money I had earned was burning a hole in my pocket.

My social life has calmed down a bit since I showed one admirer the gate and another the door. You've got a problem here when you're not anxious for a relationship to develop: everybody plays for keeps. My favorite friends are out risking their lovely necks in not so lovely places, so now I have time to knit them sweaters and write cheerful letters in fractured Hebrew.

Just heard that a shayarah [convoy] finally left.

Love,

Zippy  

Palestine siege: ration card


From  Zipporah Porath, Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948. Order it from zip(at)netvision.net.il (Israel) or click here for review and order information

More letters from the book: Letters from Jerusalem, 1948


Notice

Letter copyright 1987 by Zipporah Porath. Introduction copyright 2008 by Zipporah Porath and Zionism-Israel.com. All rights reserved. This document may not be reproduced without express permission of the author and the publisher.


See also::Palestine Partition - November 29, 1947 Memoirs of a Palmach volunteer, 1948 , Was there Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine in 1948?
Israel - Birth of a Nation - The struggle for Israel's independence 
1948 Israel War of Independence (First Arab-Israeli war) Timeline (Chronology) MACHAL In Israel's Wars MACHAL in Israel's War of Independence MACHAL - in illegal immigration to Palestine and Israel War of Independence

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