Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Benny Morris, "Why Israel feels threatened," International Herald Tribune, December 30, 2008.

[Morris is one of the original "new" historians, now treated as apostate by the left much as Illan Pappé is by the center. It's worth noting when a man of such standing feels called upon to explain why people having rockets fired at their town feel threatened.

On the other hand, it's hard to argue that the Hamas rockets are "targeting" anything or anyone. If they could hit a target with any consistency, everyone, including Morris, would be speaking in entirely different terms--more like the way one spoke of Hezbollah as they were blowing up roughly one Israeli tank every day. However, these rockets are more an expression of blind (and impotent) rage--like a loose cannon.

The Israeli reaction is getting to be all too familiar: hypervigilant, bellicose, maybe even a little hysterical. But rather than pursue this geopolitical psychoanalysis, one translates simple pathologies into the language of international treaties and concludes that the attacks are "disproportionate."

"Surgical" is a description that has not been appropriate for a long time. When you have to kill between 10 and 100 innocents to get one "suspect," that's not "surgical." That lies somewhere between random "success" and complete incompetence.

Morris provides a detailed and articulate insight into what some will see as "the Israeli narrative." There are other Israelis (see The Other Israel) but Morris has to be understood as a moderate within his own political context. -jlt]

Many Israelis feel that the walls - and history - are closing in on their 60-year-old state, much as they felt in early June 1967, just before Israel launched the Six-Day War and destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies in Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

  If present trends persist, Arabs could constitute the majority of Israel's citizens by 2040 or 2050.

More than 40 years ago, the Egyptians had driven a UN peacekeeping force from the Sinai-Israel border, had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and air traffic and had deployed the equivalent of seven armored and infantry divisions on Israel's doorstep. Egypt had signed a series of military pacts with Syria and Jordan and placed troops in the West Bank. Arab radio stations blared messages about the coming destruction of Israel.

Read the rest here =>
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Anonymous said...

There was an interesting interview in Jan 2004 Haaretz in which he wrote the following:

There is no justification for acts of rape [...] or acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide—the annihilation of your people—I prefer ethnic cleansing.

That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

I think [Ben-Gurion] made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered. If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. [...] my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country -- the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. If he had carried out a full expulsion -- rather than a partial one -- he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."

Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them.

LeDaro said...

It is a sad sad situation. Too much human tragedy and Israel is not earning any friends.