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It seems Israel just picked another fight beyond its borders

Yesterday morning’s air strike in Syria was apparently the latest instance of Israeli aggression posing as self-defense.

No Israeli public figure I’m aware of has spoken out against yesterday morning’s attack on an arms convoy transferring weapons (reportedly not chemical ones) from Syria to Hezbollah, which, according to foreign news agencies, was carried out by the Israel Air Force. Everybody here is scared – look what’s happening in Syria, there’s chemical weapons up there, the country’s breaking up. “The entire area is raging and we must be prepared and strong and determined in the face of any possible development,” Netanyahu said this week, and everybody, as usual when the leader invokes national security, is dutifully quiet.

But the jet bombers, according to those foreign sources, didn’t hit chemical weapons. And the air strike wasn’t aimed at that butcher Assad, whom everybody’s afraid of.

No, yesterday morning’s attack was part of the old war Israel’s been fighting, the one against Hezbollah. In it, Israel’s right to self-defense includes possession of weapons that can destroy Lebanon, as well as the continual dispatch of spy planes over that country. But if Hezbollah tries to get anti-aircraft missiles against those spy planes, or long-range, powerful missiles against Israel’s cities, then what’s that? That’s not Hezbollah arming itself in self-defense, that’s Hezbollah threatening Israel’s existence, which gives Israel the right to attack it. In self-defense, of course.

Yesterday morning’s air strike, according to AP, Reuters, the New York Times and other international media, hit a convoy of trucks in Syria that was likely carrying anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, and possibly heavy, long-range missiles, to Hezbollah. Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel wrote today:

Israel is particularly concerned about the Russian-made SA-17s because they could substantially restrict the IAF’s freedom of movement over Lebanon − an area where today, it can operate virtually unhindered. These IAF flights are crucial for gathering intelligence about Lebanon.

Imagine what Israel would do if any foreign entity tried to fly spy planes over its airspace. But we’re entitled to because we’re good, and they’re not because they’re bad.

The new fear of chemical weapons “falling into the wrong hands” – as if Assad’s are the right hands! – was not addressed by this attack. “In the estimation of experts, the target was not chemical weapons – due to the fear that they could disperse in the air,” wrote Yedioth Ahronoth, citing foreign reports. (So chemical weapons can disperse in the air if they’re hit by bombs. Interesting thought. Does this mean that jet bombers may not be the best way to deal with them?)

The attack didn’t address the fear of Assad, either, the idea that a guy who’s willing to kill tens of thousands of his own citizens would be more than happy to launch his worst weapons at Israel. In fact, Israel has felt quite secure all along with Assad – both with Bashar and his murderous father Hafez – sitting on one of the world’s largest chemical weapons arsenals. The regime has kept the peace on the Syrian border for 40 years; the fact that it’s been led by monstrous dictators is not an issue for Israeli “realists” like Netanyahu; they prefer a stable dictatorship to an unstable Islamist insurgency. It’s only when high-class weaponry is moving out of Assad’s reliable hands into those of “irregulars” does Israel feel compelled to strike – as yesterday morning’s bombing apparently showed.

This is not self-defense, this is aggression – and it would have been aggression even if the target had been chemical weapons. It doesn’t matter how rotten Hezbollah’s ideology is, or the jihadists’, or Assad’s – Israel cannot build a military arsenal to the heavens, then bomb anybody who tries to acquire even a tiny fraction of it, and then go on telling the world it wants peace with its neighbors. It can’t keep attacking foreign countries and saying it did so because those countries are arming for aggression. And it can’t go on crying Holocaust when those countries, or those irregulars, answer Israel’s attacks with their own.

It seems we just picked another fight beyond our borders. And nobody in this country, nor among our friends abroad, is saying a word against it – because so far, we haven’t paid a price. But our power has made us arrogant, and our arrogance has made us blind and stupid, and we are riding for a fall.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. XYZ

      Weird. It seems he thinks it is “not fair” if we are stronger than our enemies and we are able to deter them from attacking us.
      I have heard the same from ultra-Leftists like Miko Peled who was “shocked” when he learned that in the 1948 War of Independence that Israel was stronger than its combined Arab enemies. That doesn’t seem fair, either.
      Let’s take it a step further…the famous distortion of the David-Golaith story which is wrongly interpreted to say that the weak are always better than the strong (actually David was the stronger because he had G-d on his side!). According to this bizarre thinking, Nazi Germany and Militarist Japan were the “good guys” in World War II because they were the weak…there was no way in the world they could defeat the combined forces of the US, USSR and British Empire.

      Reply to Comment
      • I’d reply, but you’d willfully misunderstand it.

        Reply to Comment
        • Nikki

          My exact sentiments. i first wondered if we read the same article but then it clearly dawned on me some people are willfully blinded by their ideology.

          Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “Weird. It seems he thinks it is “not fair” if we are stronger than our enemies and we are able to deter them from attacking us.”
        .
        If we are indeed so much stronger than our enemies, why is it we cannot deter them long-term from attacking us, and furthermore – cannot actually beat them on the battlefield (reminder: Israel has not won a war since 1967)?
        .
        If not for all those shiny American-made F-16′s and F-15′s, Israel’s tenuous security would be even worse that it actually is. That’s why any mention of surface-to-air missiles falling into the hands of our enemies is so frightening to Israelis.
        .
        Because the sad truth of the matter is that if not for Israel’s decisive air superiority, its wars would be even more closely-matched than they already are. Because at the end of the day, a Hizballah or a Hamas fighter is just as able and capable as an IDF one.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          “If we are indeed so much stronger than our enemies, why is it we cannot deter them long-term from attacking us, and furthermore – cannot actually beat them on the battlefield (reminder: Israel has not won a war since 1967)?”

          Because we are not that much stronger than our enemies? Israel isn’t strong enough to impose a political order on the region which is what ‘winning’ entails in the long-term. It is not possible to deter in the long-term ideological movements and terror groups whose rationality (in the material sense of the word) is questionable.

          “If not for all those shiny American-made F-16′s and F-15′s, Israel’s tenuous security would be even worse that it actually is.”

          Of course Israel benefits from getting advanced technology from the Americans and that comes with strings attached, such as not ‘winning’ wars or trying to totally restructure the region.

          “That’s why any mention of surface-to-air missiles falling into the hands of our enemies is so frightening to Israelis.”

          In other words, it makes sense to deny our enemies weapons that would damage Israeli security. Right?

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            “Of course Israel benefits from getting advanced technology from the Americans and that comes with strings attached, such as not ‘winning’ wars or trying to totally restructure the region.”
            .
            Strange – I seem to recall in 2006 Israel getting a carte blanche from G.W.B. to “win” the war against Hizballah. A whole month later, it wasn’t any closer to doing so than on the very first day of the war.
            .
            Oh, and about restructuring the region. Do you mean like how Israel tried in 1982 to “restructure” Lebanon? How did that turn out?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            In 2006 Israel had a terrible government with a horrible prime minister, an inexperienced defense minister and an idiot for a chief of staff. It took them three weeks to realize that you can’t defeat a dug-in opponent that isn’t concerned with damage to civilian infrastructure from the air. By the time they figured it out American patience ran out.

            The attempt to restructure Lebanon in 1982 is exactly what I mean. Israel wasn’t strong enough to impose its own order on that country and was under immense international (and American) pressure to avoid destabilizing the regional and international order.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            “In 2006 Israel had a terrible government with a horrible prime minister, an inexperienced defense minister and an idiot for a chief of staff.”
            .
            Just in 2006? What about other wars? 1973? 1982? 2012? Are we seeing a pattern forming here?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Israel did not have a good leadership in 1973, not on the political or military levels. In 1973 the IDF was stopped from destroying the last standing Egyptian force due to American pressure because of the legitimate fear of Soviet intervention. Soviet paratroopers were sitting waiting for the signal to intervene.

            In 1982 Sharon tried and failed to change the political order in Lebanon. In the process Israel defeated and pushed out the PLO and defeated the Syrian army in Lebanon. However, Israel was not strong enough to say occupy the whole country, set up a political government to its liking, ban all opposition, and leave when the new order was established and can sustain itself, which is what the US did in Germany and Japan and the Soviets did in Eastern Europe.

            In 2012 there was no need to destroy Hamas since it seems to be willing to play along now but the American and international opposition to an IDF ground operation should it have chosen to do so was plainly obvious.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            1973 was a terrible war for Israel – one it came within a hair’s width of losing outright. If not for Nixon’s supply convoy, Israel would have been finished. The fact remains that the Sinai was returned to the last inch, something that Golda said before the war that she would never do. Alas, poor, silly Golda had to resign her post in disgrace. A victory indeed!

            Reply to Comment
      • ABC

        If you think the axis was the “weaker” side then apparent that you know nothing of WW2 history either.

        Your position is strange anyway (besides that you straw manned this article) since if anything the entir e complaint of the Jews against antisemitism is that they were picked on as a minority. That was the Zionist justification behind building a country where they would have majority rule.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Didn’t the axis lose? Isn’t the basic definition of being the weaker side?

          Reply to Comment
          • ABC

            No. You don’t decide these things retrospectively. That’s the whole point of an “underdog”, if they win it is an “upset”.

            If not for certain tactical errors they may well have won. Also, it has to be remembered that they preempted strikes on both the Soviets and Americans and could have timed those differently.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Wait, what? The Axis was the stronger party even though they lost because they were thought to be the stronger party at one point or another? By 1943 the Soviets on their own were obliterating the German army. The Axis lost and had their territory occupied by the winners. If that doesn’t give away who the stronger party was I don’t know what can.

            As to your original comment. The Zionists settled Israel because it is the homeland of the Jews. The argument for not staying in Europe was because it was anti-semitic and didn’t accept Jews.

            Reply to Comment
          • ABC

            Not to get into your simplified history, but no it does not work like that. Think back to that David and Goliath story mentioned above. David won and therefore he was stronger by your reasoning, so how is that impressive? Not as if the original question matters anymore, since for you one can never judge weakness until a fight is over.

            As for your account of Zionism, it sounds like a simplified version of what I said. Frankly, this discussion has not been very stimulating, so unless this moves away from the simplifications I think I will end it.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      Israel is the aggressor because it prevents advanced weapons from reaching terrorist groups dedicated to its destruction? Now I have heard everything.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Communists were dedicated to America’s destruction, and for that reason the American equivalent of Likudniks justified every American aggression in Southeast Asia and South America, and they were just as wrong, just as destructive and just as self-destructive. And the British who attacked the Irgun and Lehi on the basis of your argument were wrong, too.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          The Americans destroyed themselves by taking on Soviet and Communist aggression in Southeast Asia and South America?

          Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        So if Hezbollah sinks a US ship loaded with advanced weapons dedicated to its destruction, that’s self-defense. Right?

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Israel isn’t dedicated to the destruction of Hezbollah. It couldn’t care less what Hezbollah does in Lebanon, but Hezbollah wasn’t getting advanced surface-to-air missiles to take on the Maronites.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            The hell it’s not.

            Israel is a lot more dedicated to the destruction of Hezbollah than Hezbollah is to the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah’s purpose is the defence of Lebanon from more Israeli aggression.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Israel is not dedicated to the destruction of Hezbullah?

            I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s cute that you think that, but maybe you should revist the statements made by Israeli politicians about Hezbullah.

            Reply to Comment
    3. No, Vietnam was a great war, so was the romance with the South American death squads.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Not everything that needs to be done is pleasant.

        Reply to Comment
        • Sad but true. The white man’s burden was never easy.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Of course you are right. The world would have been much better off under communist domination.

            Reply to Comment
          • That was a good excuse for America to invade several countries, support fascist dictatorships and kill millions of innocent people because we didn’t like their politics.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Yes, it was all an excuse. There were no Soviets. The Soviet Union did not have a state ideology with global designs. There was no communist intent to spread their ideology and influence. There was no intent to defeat ‘capitalism’ through any means necessary.

            It was an excuse because Americans like killing and enjoy seeing the blood of foreigners spilled for no reason.

            Reply to Comment
          • Intent? You slaughter en masse because of somebody’s supposed intent? You burn Vietnam to a crisp because of the Soviets’ intent? You support Pinochet and D’Aubuisson and various other death squad leaders because of the Soviets’ intent? Like I said, an excuse to go to war – for “American greatness.”

            Reply to Comment
          • If America had supported democratic forces against the Communists, it could have made the argument that it was fighting for freedom. But not only did it support one fascist after another, it fought every popular movement that wasn’t ready to do what America said – for instance Mossadegh, Ho Chi Minh, Allende, the Sandinistas. Outside the Communist world, America supported Saddam Hussein against Iran – because Iran was America’s primary enemy. It was a game of Risk – America wanted to put its markers on the choice countries. Freedom and goodness and all those ideas couldn’t have been more irrelevant. It was about power, about being number one, just like it’s been that for proud martial nations going back millenia. It was a huge lie that killed innocents by the millions.

            Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth

            Amen to that Larry.
            Power politics are no excuse for support of such groups, it is simply wrong, and in the end it doesn’t even work either. Iran for instance would have been much better off if Mossadegh had not been ousted. And Allende wasn’t even a communist…
            And it was the same in Africa, with US (and South African) backing of groups like Unita in Angola, whose first action entering a village was to shoot the nurses and teachers. What great freedom fighters…

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Intent? You slaughter en masse because of somebody’s supposed intent? ”

            There was nothing “supposed” about the Soviet’s intent.

            The invasions of Hungary, Poland, Cheslovakia and Afghanistan were actual events. We did not imagine them. And the supression and murder of countless millions of others in Gulags were not imagined either.

            Reply to Comment
          • Right, and the U.S. didn’t fight there – in the places where the U.S. did fight, the story was completely different.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Right, and the U.S. didn’t fight there – in the places where the U.S. did fight, the story was completely different.”

            Ok lets stop pretending. Nobody is innocent. Nobody is a knight in shining armour. But there are bad ones and there are worse ones. Here is how they rank for me:

            Israel/USA = Bad

            Soviets/Arabs/Pals = Worse.

            How do you rank them Larry?

            Reply to Comment
          • The question I’m dealing with is not who’s bad, but rather who, in a conflict, is wrong – and in the conflict over the occupation, Israel is wrong, in the fight between East European anti-Communists and the S.U., the S.U. was wrong, in the fight between the U.S. and the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong, the U.S. was wrong. Two more and then I’m going to stop: In the fight between the British and the Zionists, the British were wrong. In the fight between the Zionists and Palestinians in 1948, neither was wrong – they were both right.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Allied forces did some pretty bad things in WW2 such as Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            The German Nazis and Japanese did much worse things.

            Sometimes, the only thing that works against worse oppressors/tyrants is fighting fire with fire. Waving flowers at them, like most people on this site advocate, just does not work.

            Reply to Comment
          • Dany

            >Sometimes, the only thing that works against worse oppressors/tyrants is fighting fire with fire. Waving flowers at them, like most people on this site advocate, just does not work.

            Thanks for your supporting words for the Palestine resistance against occupation. Didn’t saw that coming.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Danny –

            What you claim – after decades of peaceful struggle, they made themselves turn to violence to promote their just cause to end occupation.
            Reality – the “resistance” started before 67 and was immediately violent. But not only violent – it was violence of the worst sort directed against civilians. The unarmed struggle is something new and is not the way but only a new option to be employed between violence. And even the “non violent” protests include throwing stones and molotov cocktails.

            You can support their cause or wish for peace in the region without justifying some of the worst war criminals of our time.

            Reply to Comment
    4. aristeides

      when a nation is addicted to force, force is always seen as the solution to any problem, no matter how many more problems it causes.

      The idiots running the US are now inserting us into the bottomless sink of war in Africa, and they use the same excuse.

      Reply to Comment
    5. David

      The aggression of Americans during Vietnam was motivated by the colonialist belief that since national liberation was antithetical to the interests of American capitalism it must be destroyed. Capitalism requires markets; ergo the struggle of the Vietnamese was inimical to the American way.
      If Syrians intercepted a convoy in Israel it would be defined as an act of aggression; is not the converse equally true.
      Larry, your commentary fuels this American Jew with some element of hope for a saner Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Yigal

      The main reason such Israeli attacks are stupid (assuming the target was as described in the press) is that for the benefit of a limited tactical victory Israel gets only negative long term consequences. So they destroyed some SA-17 rockets. Does anyone believe that those rockets won’t make it into Lebanon eventually? Hamas managed to get long range rockets into Gaza, for god’s sake, so Hizbollah won’t get whatever it wants into Lebanon? All this does is just increase the determination of more people in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world to fight Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Seraphya

        This move was a strategic one, not a purely tactical one, based on the information out there currently. SA-17s are nothing to be laughed at and would change the parameters of the strategic situation. Israel was not simply destroying this weapons convoy, but was sending a message that there are certain red line that it will enforce to both Syria and Hezbullah. It also sent a message to Russia that Israel knows that Russian armaments are leaving Syria despite Russian claims to the contrary.

        What also is very strange here is the idea that Hizbullah has a right to “self defense”. They are a non-state armed terrorist paramilitary that exists to target Israel. Hizbullah is not one of the countries that border Israel that might make peace with Israel. Drug cartels do not have a right to arm themselves and the police in Mexico and the USA have a right to insist that they are armed but the drug cartels are not. I am also reminded of a clip I saw of an “gun rights” advocate saying that they will surrender their weapons when the US government does the same. That really seems to be close to the thrust of this article.

        Reply to Comment
        • Notwithstanding its shitty ideology, Hezbollah is the de facto ruler of S. Lebanon, and was founded in response to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which became the 15-year Israeli occupation of S. Lebanon. Calling it a terrorist organization with no right to bear arms is what the British called the Irgun and Lehi – either both accusations are true or they’re both false.

          Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Total nonsense.

          Hezbollah exists to protect Lebanon against Israeli aggression. It’s Israel that has invaded Lebanon, not the other way around. It’s Israel that violates the truce terms with its constant overflights, not the other way around.

          Any Lebanese has the right to defend itself against this agression.

          Reply to Comment
        • Yigal

          You’re ignoring my point. Israel may consider SA-17 to be strategic threats, and may wish to send signals to everyone in the area and beyond — but will such actions prevent it? If not, this is no more than a tactical move.

          By the way, do you think Israel did not consider long range Fajr rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to be strategic threats? What good did that do?

          These tactical “successes” are meaningless, even counter-productive in the absence of an effort to actually resolve the conflict(s).

          Reply to Comment
    7. Shmuel

      “In the fight between the Zionists and Palestinians in 1948, neither was wrong – they were both right.”

      Superficially at least, I tend to agree. But let me qualify, was fighting the wise thing to do?

      The Jews at the time certainly didn’t think so. The Arabs – Palestinians on the other hand did. That made them wrong. And it set the tone to this day.

      Let me make it crystal clear. BOTH sides had legitimate gripes and had reason to be discontented. But the Arabs – Palestinians were the ones to choose the path of violence instead of compromise. That is still the problem today.

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        “But the Arabs – Palestinians were the ones to choose the path of violence instead of compromise.”

        That partition plan cow has been milked bone dry. Benny Morris amply demonstrated individual Palestinian villages tried to compromise with their neighboring Yishuv settlements. Deir Yassin agreed with Givat Shaul to chase out irregulars and to signal with laundry if any should force their way in. There were many incidents were the village chased away armed bands and AHC representatives attempting to coax the villagers into fighting. The same goes for other Jerusalem-area villages like al-Maliha and Qaluniya.

        A similar pattern played out in the Jaffa-area villages (‘Birth Revisited’ p. 92):

        “During December 1947 and January 1948, the leaders of Sheikh
        Muwannis, Summeil (al Mas‘udiya), Jammasin, ‘Arab Abu Kishk and
        Jalil, met with Haganah representatives in the house of Avraham Schapira in Petah Tikva and expressed a desire for peace. They said that if they could not keep out the irregulars unaided, they would call on the Haganah. These overtures were apparently matched on the Jewish side in January and February by visits by Palmon and Danin to several villages, including Sheikh Muwannis and ‘Arab Abu Kishk, where they asked the inhabitants to remain where they were and to accept Jewish protection and rule.”

        Summeil was the first to be abandoned (Morris doesn’t have specifics). Jammasin fled following the infiltration of irregulars. After the kidnapping of five village men by Irgun, Sheikh Muwannis and abu Kishk fled to Qalqilya and Tulkarm. All these villages were incorporated into Tel Aviv and resettled with Israelis despite the complete lack of fighting on the villagers’ part. They didn’t receive preferential treatment for their recalcitrance.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          Links and quotes to what Morris said?

          He is the only one who has credibility from all the ones you mention above.

          Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            In any case, like I said, no side can claim to be knights in shining armour.

            But the pertinent fact is that the Palestinians, as a group were the ones who rejected UN Resolution 181. They were the ones who rioted. The Palestinian Arabs were the ones who attacked and murdered Palestinian Jews randomly and destroyed Jewish property after the UN vote.

            Was every individual Palestinian guilty? Of course not. Was every individual Palestinian village guilty? Of course not. Same as not all Germans were Nazis but they suffered too in the war that their people started as a group.

            Is that fair? Is that Just? Of course not but thats war.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            If you want fair and just, Shmuel, you might start be recognizing that both sides, equally, began hostilities even before the UN resolution, instead of solely blaming the Palestinians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Let’s see. Your friend Andrew suggested that Benny Morris is the authority on this subject and I agreed with him.

            Morris clearly blames the Palestinians for rejecting UN resolution 181 and rioting in response to the UN resolution. Morris also sid that the Arabs aim was to drive the Jews into the sea. These were not Morris’s words, he just pointed to what the Arabs openly promised to do to the Jews at that time as well as before and after 1947.

            Now lets see what Morris said about the Camp David peace process:

            “Morris co-authored an article with Ehud Barak pinning responsibility for the failure of the Camp David summit on Yasser Arafat alone”

            Does that answer your question, Ariste?

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            The post above was taken from ‘Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited’.

            A few decades ago, most defenders of Israel wouldn’t try to justify the expulsion of the Palestinians on the basis they started a war; the fact they were expelled would not even be mentioned. Instead we’d face the wacky assertion that they ran way expecting the Arab League states to do the fighting for them, which researchers like Morris have now made unpalatable.

            But now? Oh, the Palestinians started a war, directly contradicting the previous assertion. Don’t think it goes unnoticed that justifications for Zionist behavior change in the face of new information.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Oh and Andrew, Morris clearly said that there was no official policy of expulsion. There were acts of expulsion by individual commanders. He even justified some of those acts of expulsion by claiming that individual Arab villages were situated in places where they had strategic control of supply routes that could influence the outcome of battles. As such, Morris claimed they had to be neutralised. Such decisions are made by all commanders in all wars.

            Not nice but necessary. That’s what Morris said. You brought him up as an authority to back up your assertions. So I trust you believe him on this score too?

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            You’re leaving Morris’ views incomplete; he has made it clear that the Zionists wanted a Palestine free of Arabs. (This is from a Guardian article but he makes a similar remark in ‘Birth Revisited’).

            “The idea of transfer is as old as modern Zionism and has accompanied its evolution and praxis during the past century. And driving it was an iron logic: There could be no viable Jewish state in all or part of Palestine unless there was a mass displacement of Arab inhabitants, who opposed its emergence and would constitute an active or potential fifth column in its midst. This logic was understood, and enunciated, before and during 1948, by Zionist, Arab and British leaders and officials.

            (…)

            “Ben-Gurion hailed Lord Peel’s recommendations: “The compulsory transfer of the Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had … during the days of the First and Second Temples … an opportunity which we never dared to dream in our wildest imaginings.” In August 1937 he told the emergency 20th Zionist Congress, convened in Zurich: “We do not want to dispossess, [but piecemeal] transfer of population [through Jewish purchase and the removal of Arab tenant farmers] occurred previously, in the [Jezreel] Valley, in the Sharon and in other places … Now a transfer of a completely different scope will have to be carried out … Transfer is what will make possible a comprehensive [Jewish] settlement programme. Thankfully, the Arab people have vast empty areas [in Transjordan and Iraq]. Jewish power, which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the transfer on a large scale.”

            Notice the complete lack of military necessity in Ben-Gurion’s speech. He’s justifying transfer with reference to how it will make increased Jewish settlement possible. This doesn’t exactly suggest the expulsions were a spontaneous initiative by brigade commanders.

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/oct/03/israel1

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Ah the good old Guardian. As biased anti Israel publication as there ever was one or will be one.

            Quoting out of context and distorting everything to further their anti Israel agenda.

            Now do you want me too to quote from publications that you consider have an anti Arab pro Israel agenda? I can too you know.

            How about we both stick with Morris?

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            In any case, the facts speak for themselves.

            Today 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs (over one million people). If there would have been an official policy of transfer in 1947-48, Israel today would not have any Arab citizens.

            End of story.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            “As biased anti Israel publication as there ever was one or will be one.”

            And it happened to publish an article by Morris which is the one I linked.

            “End of story.”

            Of course not, just the end of you listening.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Of course not, just the end of you listening.”

            Are you listening? 20% of Israel’s citizens, over one million people, are Arabs, today. How come?

            Official policy of transfer, my foot. Morris said that there wasn’t one and the facts speak for themselves. You are the one who is not listening.

            End of story.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Here read what Morris said about actual policies NOT chattering about wish lists:

            http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/benny-morris-on-why-he-s-written-his-last-word-on-the-israel-arab-conflict-1.465869

            ” He also noted that there was no deliberate policy of expulsion, but says now that “the senior Israeli command did carry out expulsions in certain areas.”

            He also clearly blames Arafat and Abbas about their unwillingness to make peace with Israel. He says their aim is to destroy Israel in stages.

            ““Arafat, since the ‘70s, after Fatah’s guerrilla warfare failed to yield results, concluded that the liberation of the homeland would be accomplished through a ‘policy of stages.’ The idea of the ‘struggle in stages’ was meant to achieve the gradual elimination of Israel and a solution of a single Arab state.”

            Yes, Benny Morris said that. Your own reference.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            For a start, Israel’s Nationality Law of 1952 effectively stripped all Palestinians of the citizenship they held under the British Mandate; it wasn’t until 1980 that the Nationality Law was amended to ease the process of attaining citizenship for those Palestinians who remained in the Green line. During that period most of them were stateless just like those in the West Bank and Gaza.

            http://books.google.com/books?id=C9TkD3ugwEUC&pg=204

            Getting back to ‘transfer’, let’s put it all on the table. Here’s Morris’ argument (‘Birth Revisited’ 166):

            “Plan D aside, there is no trace of any decision-making by the Yishuv’s
            or Haganah’s supreme bodies before early April in favour of a blanket,
            national policy of ‘expelling the Arabs’. Had such a decision in principle been taken by the JAE, the Defence Committee, the HNS or the HGS, it would have left traces in the documentation. Nor – perhaps surprisingly, in retrospect – is there evidence, with the exception of one or two important but isolated statements by Ben-Gurion, of any general expectation in the Yishuv of a mass Arab exodus from the Jewish part of Palestine. Such an exodus may have been regarded by most Yishuv leaders as desirable; but until early April, it was not regarded as likely or imminent.

            (…)

            “But a vital strategic change occurred during the first half of April:
            Clear traces of an expulsion policy on both national and local levels with respect to certain key districts and localities and a general ‘atmosophere
            of transfer’ are detectable in statements made by Zionist officials and officers. They are discernable, too, in the actions of Haganah units around the country. A vital shift occurred in the mindset of the political and military leadership. During 4–9 April, Ben-Gurion and the HGS,
            under the impact of the dire situation of Jewish Jerusalem and the ALA attack on Mishmar Ha‘emek, and under pressure from settlements and local commanders, decided, in conformity with the general guidelines of Plan D, to clear out and destroy the clusters of hostile or potentially hostile villages dominating vital axes. The decision may have been reached, initially, ad hoc and only in relation to two specific areas – the coast road and the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv road – or it may have been reached in principle, in relation to all the areas earmarked for Jewish sovereignty. We
            don’t know. But in any event, a policy of clearing out Arab communities sitting astride or near vital routes and along some borders was instituted.
            Orders went out from HGS to the relevant units to drive out and, if necessary, expel the remaining communities along the Tel Aviv–Haifa axis, the Jenin–Haifa road (around Mishmar Ha‘emek) and along the
            Jerusalem–Tel Aviv road.”


            So Morris makes some fine distinctions here: While there was no “blanket, national policy”, there was a policy of concentrated expulsions emerging based on Plan Dalet, and even he admits the decision to begin expulsions may have been in relation to all the areas given to the Jewish state by the UN.

            There’s a comical understatement in that ha’aretz interview. “Morris showed that the Palestinians who fled their homes between 1947 and 1949 did so largely due to Israeli military attacks, undermining the official story. He also noted that there was no deliberate policy of expulsion, but says now that ‘the senior Israeli command did carry out expulsions in certain areas.’”

            In Morris’ own research there are expulsions taking place in all border areas, the coast, the Galilee, the center and the Negev. So basically all of Palestine.

            Even if there was no smoking gun policy, it’s clear there was a process. If anything inhibited Haganah/IDF operations, it was logistical and political concerns. Yigal Yadin formulated Plan Dalet in early March and didn’t expect to enact it until the last week of the British Mandate. Yet as the British left each district, the plan was implemented sooner. (see ‘Birth’ p. 163-4). Another example is the reluctance to destroy Nazareth. In some cases Christian villages were treated with more leniency (Though make no mistake, the Christians who fled the urban centers were not returning anymore than the Muslims). And Druze villages were generally spared since they decided to cooperate with the Yishuv.

            Nevertheless, the fact is most Palestinians who lived in what became Israel by 1949 were expelled, most of their homes being demolished and replaced with Jewish settlements. Given all the information supplied by Morris, it’s pretty weak to argue that was all done in self-defense and wasn’t an implementation of Zionist utopian ideals.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Very verbose Andrew. You read what Morris said in Haaretz?

            “He also noted that there was no deliberate policy of expulsion, but says now that “the senior Israeli command did carry out expulsions in certain areas.”

            If you dispute what he said then why bring him up as a referee?

            You also did not respond to my question about the fact that 20% of Israel’s cotizens are Arabs.

            And you are trying to whitewash Arab – Palestinian culpability about why this conflict has been ongoing. Yes, Morris, your referee says that too. You have nothing to say about that?

            You are beginning to bore me.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Of course I did. My favorite part was when he explained the social ostracism and lack of employment he experienced due to his work. But I have no doubt that his views would be the same even if his professional life wasn’t ruined for a few years.

            “If you dispute what he said then why bring him up as a referee?”

            Because he did original research and when you make arguments based on secondary information it’s a good idea to cite the source. Plus he reported facts that anyone who wants to intelligently discuss the conflict needs to know. That doesn’t mean I have to concur with all his value judgements. And the fact remains that he makes comments in public that downplay his own research, including that quote from Ha’aretz you keep pushing.

            “You also did not respond to my question about the fact that 20% of Israel’s cotizens are Arabs.”

            You seem to ignore my explanation that it took 30 years for all Palestinians remaining in the Green line to get Israeli citizenship. As to why Israel doesn’t expel its 20% Arab minority, I think the real deterrent is the possibility of armed conflict with Syria (pre-2011), Egypt and Jordan should Israel attempt more expulsions out of pre-1948 Palestine.

            “Yes, Morris, your referee says that too. You have nothing to say about that?”

            Morris did original research on 1948; although I haven’t read his books that deal with the later developments, I doubt he’s uncovered anything about the last 40-odd years that isn’t already common knowledge (Especially since the real work that made him noteworthy is based on declassified documents). So when he reverts to type over Barak and Camp David, he only becomes one more Israel-apologist spouting conventional wisdom. And it should be noted, if Arafat planned to destroy Israel in stages, turning down an offer for a state (which he supposedly did in 2000) isn’t exactly sticking to the plan.

            “You are beginning to bore me.”

            Most of the above post is either an extended quote from Morris’ book or summarizing information from the same book. So he’s the one boring you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            SHMUEL: “You also did not respond to my question about the fact that 20% of Israel’s cotizens are Arabs.”
            ANDREW: “You seem to ignore my explanation that it took 30 years for all Palestinians remaining in the Green line to get Israeli citizenship. As to why Israel doesn’t expel its 20% Arab minority, I think the real deterrent is the possibility of armed conflict with Syria (pre-2011), Egypt and Jordan should Israel attempt more expulsions out of pre-1948 Palestine.”

            It does not matter how long it took. Had there been a POLICY of expulsion, they would not have even stayed within the green line. They would have been EXPELLED!!! Are you unable to comprehend that?

            The fact that there are 1 million Arab citizens, 20% of Israel’s population, shows that there was no centralised policy of expulsion implemented.

            Were there expulsions by individual commanders? Yes. As there were also expulsions of Jews from many Arab countries and even in Palestine where the Arabs got the upper hand in the fighting.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            As for this bit:

            “I think the real deterrent is the possibility of armed conflict with Syria (pre-2011), Egypt and Jordan should Israel attempt more expulsions out of pre-1948 Palestine.”

            I think you both missed my question and mistimed your timeline.

            We were talking about 1947/48. I asked you why didn’t the Jews expell ALL the Palestinian Arabs at that time? If there was a policy of expulsion that is?

            An invasion by Syria snd Egypt would hardly have been a deterrent because they already DID invade. And all the other refugees did flee/were expelled in 1947/48.

            So how come those particular Palestinian Arabs didn’t or weren’t expelled?

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            “It does not matter how long it took. Had there been a POLICY of expulsion, they would not have even stayed within the green line. They would have been EXPELLED!!! Are you unable to comprehend that?”

            One, I suggested two posts ago some reasons why any Palestinians remained in the Green line. Another possible reason is that for the IDF, making sure refugees didn’t return (or infiltrate as Morris would have it) back across the armistice line was a full-time job. The resources to expel every last individual were probably not available. In some cases like Iqrit (A Christian village) they were content with removing the villagers from the border. The village was depopulated in late 1948 but not demolished until 1951, suggesting that lack of equipment was the main factor in holding back (my speculation).

            But expulsions out of Palestine still continued after the armistice with the Arab states: the Faluja pocket, Ashkelon and the DMZ with Syria.

            “The fact that there are 1 million Arab citizens, 20% of Israel’s population, shows that there was no centralised policy of expulsion implemented.”

            Or it was partly a logistical failure. Israel’s policies vis-a-vis its Arab citizens are very telling in that department.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Wow. What convoluted spin you have Andrew. I am tempted to cut and paste some horrors that Palestinian Arabs and their allies committed against Israelis. But really, I don’t see the point. I am done with you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            On second thought, I will do what you did Andrew, cut and paste stuff:

            “The video focuses on an interview with Hazem Nusseibeh, a member of one of Jerusalem’s most prominent Arab families. In 1948 he was an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service’s Arabic news.

            In this interview with the BBC he admits that in 1948 he was instructed by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state. He made this damming admission in explaining why the Arabs failed in the 1948 war. He said “this was our biggest mistake”, because Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims.

            Nusseibeh describes an encounter at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City with Deir Yassin survivors and Palestinian leaders, including Hussein Khalidi… ‘I asked Dr. Khalidi how we should cover the story,’. He said, “We must make the most of this. So we wrote a press release stating that at Deir Yassin children were murdered, pregnant women were raped, all sorts of atrocities”

            In the video clip Abu Mahmud, who was a Dir Yassin resident in 1948, told the BBC that the villagers protested against the atrocity claims: We said, “There was no rape. But Khalidi said, We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews.”

            This false press statement was released to New York Times correspondent, Dana Schmidt leading to an article in the New York Times on April 12, 1948, claiming that a massacre took place at Deir Yassin that was reprinted worldwide and cited even in Israel as proof of Israeli atrocities

            Dr. Hazem Nusseibeh was a representative of Jordan at the Mixed Armistice Commission and he was Minister of Foreign Affairs.He was also the Permanent Ambassador of Jordan to the UN and has authored several books, including The Ideas of Arab Nationalism, Palestine and the United Nations and A History of Modern Jordan.

            http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/deir_yassin.html

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            .
            And yes, I said your convoluted spin Andrew.

            When I talked about 20% of Israel’s citizens who are Arab (over one million people), those are their numbers TODAY.

            So do your math. In 1947/48, their numbers would have been much lower.

            Why do I say that? Because logistics had nothing to do with why they are still in Israel. If the Jews had a central policy of expulsion, those Palestinians would have been expelled in 1947/48. And today, Israel would not have over one million Arab citizens. Those are the facts Andrew. And mo matter how much you try to spin, twist and turn the facts, you can’t change facts.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Israel cannot really affect the Syrian civil war positively; it is so hated that whatever it might do would probably end up causing something unwanted. Hezbollah is not the State of Lebanon. Military weapons should go to the State, not Hezbollah. Likely, this convoy (if the reports are correct) was demanded by Iran for its support of the Syrian regime.

      I don’t approve of the strike, or not. That the Israeli State is going to intervene over weapons flow is foregone. If the IDF focuses only on this, I suspect your fears are unfounded.

      As to bombing chemical storage sites, I think IDF Command knows what that would do internationally. NATO much more likely will act on that issue, if ever anyone does.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Gearoid

      It’s worth noting some military analysts have come out and said it’s unlikely those particular arms were being given to Hezbollah, because, while potent, they require large launching sites and radar assistance, something Israel could easily demolish before they were set up.

      This, combined with the confusion over the target and number of strikes (and Iran saying members of the Revolutionary Guard were killed in the supposed strike on a research facitily) is muddying the waters considerably about WHY Israel chose to strike now.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Mikesailor

      This is a strange argument. Israel lies about an explosion in Iran, and the Iranians, UN and even the US says the Israeli report was totally false. Then Israel bombs something in Syria (and reports conflict about what exactly the target was) and everyone buys into the Israeli line. Does Israel really have any credibility? The only thing certain is that they bombed something or other within a sovereign country not currently actively hostile or threatening. It’s not self-defense. It is criminal and in violation of any international law. Yet, there is no argument whether such a blatant violation and aggression will lead to sanctions against Israel. Interesting how brainwashed everyone is into accepting any ‘excuse’ or other hasbara explaining the specious reasoning behind Israeli violations of another country’s sovereignty. Whether Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza, International Waters (the flotillas): the list of Israeli violations is long and without US cover would long ago have led to some international action.

      Reply to Comment
    11. GKJames

      While it’s unlikely that countries like the US and Israel — practitioners of affirming might-makes-right when it suits but the first to bleat about international law when it doesn’t — think much these days about the long-term implications of their unilateral violations of other countries’ sovereignty, it might be a good idea to do so. This assumes, of course, that peace, stability, prosperity, and comity among nations is in fact a policy of theirs rather than mere lip-service.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Shmuel

      .
      “Most of the above post is either an extended quote from Morris’ book or summarizing information from the same book. So he’s the one boring you.”

      No Andrew, Morris does not bore me. Your interpretation of what he says is beginning to bore me.

      Remember how our discussion started? I agreed with Larry that both parties had historical reaons to be discontented. I said that neither side can consider themselves to be knights in shining armour.

      But I remindid him that the choice of war was made by the Palestinians – Arabs and their allies. Not the Jews, who accepted UN resolution 181.

      You took exception to that. And you brought in Morris to try and prove me wrong. But the only thing that you managed to do is to selectively point to things that Israel can be criticised for in hindsight. At the same time you omitted all context and acted as if the Paelestinian Arabs did nothing wrong and pretended that they were the only victims.

      The problem with your approach is that you selectively quote Morris (as does the Guardian). But Morris is much more balanced in his account. Firstly, he does not agree with you that there was a centrally coordinated policy of expulsion. Secondly, he backs up what I said about who initiated this conflict. Thirdly, he puts a context to what happened in the conflict and in all such conflicts. Fourthly, he lays a greater blame on the Arabs as to why this conflict has been protracted. I’ll stop there for now.

      So please tell me what are you driving at? To me this conflict is not black and white. But it seems to me that according to you, the Palestinian Arabs are just pure victims who haven’t done anything to contribute to this tragedy. Yes, a tragedy for both peoples.

      If you keep this approach up, I’ll copy your tactics and will copy and paste a litany of wrongs that the Palestinian Arabs perpetrated against Israelis. And I can point to Arabs admitting mistakes that they made which contributed to the refugee problem too, if you want me to.

      Ok this post is already too long.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Charles-Jerusalem

      Me, I think that they did well. If I see my ennemy, calm until now because attacking me would cause him great damage, getting much bigger weapons with the objective to hit us harder, I am sorry but I can’t approve what Larry Defner write.
      But I understand his position that as Israel is strong, it should think more strategically and think again before performing this type of deadly operations. Perhaps it did. We don’t know everything about this operation.

      Reply to Comment
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