(March 13, 2006)
[Ed. As a reminder to Letter writers: If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Continuing Discussion between Dr. Jacob Amir and Gilles d'Aymery
I read Greenspan's response and your 2 cents. I hope the flu is gone. (Good doctor...). Here is my response to both of you:
First the quotes. On page 157 of Michael Bar-Zoar's The Armed Prophet, one can find the Ben-Gurion quote from July 18, 1948. Here is that quote in its entirety:
Even if the front lines are in our favour at the moment of the truce being declared, it does not mean that we shall be allowed to retain the occupied territory, for now a diplomatic battle is about to begin. If, on the other hand, the front lines are favorable to the Arabs, it is almost certain that they will be allowed to keep the territory they hold. So, what happens during the truce is of great importance.As you see, there is nothing even close to what Greenspan quoted: "We must do everything to insure they never do return." The book is available in the Hebrew University Library.
As to the second quotation, referring to the Nile and the Euphrates. I contacted Prof. Michael Bar-Zoar, who is probably the most knowledgeable historian on Ben-Gurion, and he told me, and I quote: "This is total rubbish."
One should ask why would Greenspan accept those quotes, which are obviously false, without checking their veracity? Especially the one about the Nile and the Euphrates. Anybody with even a minimal knowledge of the Zionist scene would have known that Ben-Gurion could have never said such nonsense. The eagerness to accept those malicious quotations and then build bizarre theories on them shows very clearly Greenspan's anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli bias. By the way, the Internet is full with false anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli quotes. One wonders why? One has to check carefully the veracity of those quotes before using them.
Amira Hass did not write that Israel has annexed the Jordan Valley. When, and if, the bilateral negotiations start, the Jordan Valley will be on the table like ALL other occupied (or "disputed") territories. Israel has very important security concerns about its Eastern border, but, I believe that these concerns can be answered without annexing the Valley.
I have visited the West Bank numerous times. And I agree, the life of the ordinary Palestinian is very hard. For you and Philip to understand why Israel is imposing its security measures, you should consider visiting several of the more than 3,000 Israeli families who have had a loved one killed or gravely wounded. Then it will become very clear.
Whatever happened in the 1980s does not diminish the danger that Hamas presents for Israel. It is not an existential danger but it requires continuous vigilance. Take a look at article 11 of the Hamas covenant (it speaks for itself):
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered; it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgment Day.By the way, Abbas did not end the violence. Israel did.
Norman Finkelstein is not an historian. He is a political scientist with a very strong anti-Zionist bias. When he writes that "Indeed, right after issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish state proposed by Ben-Gurion, for example, included not just the whole of Palestine, but all of present day Jordan as well as wide swaths of Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.", he forgets that the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917. At that time, Palestine included what later became known as the Kingdom of Jordan. That is why the Zionist movement considered ALL of Mandatory Palestine the site of the future Jewish state. In fact, when Ben-Gurion accepted the UN partition plan, and Israel was proclaimed in 1948, it occupied just 12 percent of what the Balfour Declaration proposed as the Jewish National Home. Menachem Begin, who felt that ALL of Mandatory Palestine (including Jordan) should be included in the Jewish state, opposed Ben-Gurion and rejected the partition. But Ben-Gurion prevailed.
I have no doubt that if the Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs had recognized Israel between 1948 and 1967 and reached a peace agreement, the war of 1967 (and all subsequent wars) would not have occurred. If, for example, an agreement with Jordan would have left the old city of Jerusalem in Arab hands, I am sure that many Israelis would have objected but I am also sure, that in the end, the government would have prevailed. The fact is that Israel was stronger than Jordan in the mid sixties. It could have easily taken the whole West Bank or at least the whole of Jerusalem. But it did not, precisely because there was no expansion policy.
After the war of 1967, Israel made a grave mistake by not withdrawing from most of the territories. Ben-Gurion said very early on that Israel should withdraw from everywhere except Jerusalem. We did not listen, because many of us considered the West Bank, the birthplace of the Jewish people. Now, gradually, many Israelis understand that the territorial compromise is a must, just like it was in 1947-48.
There is no intent for expansion. If there was, we would be still in the Sinai, in Lebanon, in Gaza. We would have annexed the whole of the West Bank. Barak would not have proposed to give back almost all of the Golan Heights and 96 per cent of the West Bank.
Both of you underline that some critics of Israel are Jews or even Israeli Jews. As if being Jewish gives them some special gravity. It does not. I look only at the strength of the argument, without caring who makes it.
Jerusalem, Israel - February 28, 2006
I read the Haaretz newspaper every day, and read every article written by Amira Hass. I read that article before I got your message. I did not think for a moment that you misconstrued Hass. I wanted to emphasize that in spite of her vivid description of the harsh Israeli measures, Israel has not annexed the Jordan Valley. All three major political parties consider the Valley an extremely important security asset, because it borders the Jordan River, which can become a port of entry of both arms and combatants against Israel. What is more, the number of Palestinians living there is very small. But, I think that in negotiations between the parties, one can reach a security arrangement without annexing the Valley.
I will re-check Bar-Zoar's book. I went by the date mentioned in Philip's quote (July 18, 1948.) on page 157. That appears in the middle of the page and I admit, I could have easily missed something that appears in the bottom of the page as I did not read the whole page but only the quote. I do not doubt the veracity of your correspondents but following the advice of a well known American, I will trust but verify... I will be in the Library in the next few days and I will e-mail you what I find.
I am not concerned so much with that quotation, which expresses the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Israelis, to this day, not to allow the refugees back into Israel proper. They should be appropriately compensated and resettled in the future Palestinian state or in third countries.
The second quotation however is much more disturbing. It implies that Ben-Gurion in particular (and of course, the Zionists in general) wanted (and still want) to expand over more and more territory between the Nile and the Euphrates. You yourself appear to think that that is true. During the centuries, when a Jew said Eretz Israel, he meant the land on both banks of the Jordan River. And when Great Britain was granted the mandate over Palestine it encompassed both banks of the Jordan. So, there is nothing unusual in the fact that the Zionist movement understood that the Jewish National Home would occupy ALL of Mandatory Palestine. And in fact, the Zionists bought several tracts of land in Transjordan and started settling there. Then came the 1921 decision of Great Britain to cut off the land east of the Jordan, forbidding any Jewish settlement there, and the establishment of the Emirate of Jordan, under the leadership of King Abdullah. That prompted the Zionist leader, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, to found the Revisionist Zionist movement, which believed that the future Jewish state should extend over both banks of the Jordan. One of the fiercest opponents of Jabotinsky was...Ben-Gurion.
While Jabotinky's followers opposed vehemently the UN partition plan, Ben-Gurion strongly supported it. I vividly remember Ben-Gurion, in the late fifties, stating that if the Arabs recognize Israel he is willing to guarantee the Green Line borders for the next 1000 years. And I remember how Begin attacked him for "giving up" parts of the motherland. After the Six-Day War, Ben-Gurion declared that all the land won in the war should be exchanged for peace, except for Jerusalem. That, in strong opposition to Begin and Co., who saw the great victory as the first step towards fulfilling Jabotinsky's dream of "There are two banks to the Jordan, this one is ours, that one too." Today, with the exception of the religious fanatics who want to keep all the occupied territories (because this is the "promised land from the Bible"), more and more of Begin's followers support the two states solution and a withdrawal from most of the territories. Even those who consider those territories not "occupied" but "disputed" accept the principle of the territorial compromise and the necessary withdrawal.
It is very important to stress that, in spite of what Finkelstein writes and says, Zangwil's idea that "Palestine is a land without a people for a people without a land" was NEVER the official policy of the Zionist movement. And Zangwil himself abandoned the idea of a state in Palestine and supported the idea of a state in Argentina. What is more, even Jabotinsky knew that this is not an empty land. He wrote in 1923 that in the future Jewish state, if the President is Jewish the Vice President will be Arab and vice versa. And Ben-Gurion himself wrote in 1937 that, "We do not wish and we do not need to expel Arabs and take their place. All our aspiration is built on the assumption -- proven by all our activity in the Land [of Israel] -- that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs."
I listened to the Democracy Now! discussion, live, when it happened. (Miracles of the Internet...) I have not read yet Ben-Ami's book. But, Ben-Ami is an ardent Zionist (his words), just like I am. And there can be many disagreements between people who share the same basic beliefs.
In Mandatory Palestine there was (and is) a struggle between two national entities. The Arab side did not want to accept a Jewish state in Palestine, regardless of its size. That is the basic reason for the 100-year old conflict. Now, we enter into "what if." I stand by my previous statement that IF the Arabs had accepted the UN plan, their state would have been 58 years old today, without a single Palestinian refugee in existence. Finkelstein, some of the "new historians," and others think otherwise. They are certain that even if the Arabs had accepted the UN plan, those terrible Zionists would have expelled them anyway according to the Zionist master plan. You write: "You appear to blur over the historical record that the Yishuv knew full well that they could defeat the Arab armies in 1948, which had already been defeated in 1936-1939 by and large (see Ben-Ami)." The historical record says nothing of the sort. In 1936-39, what was defeated was the local Palestinian armed resistance to the British, not the neighboring Arab armies. Are you implying that the Yishuv "invited" the Arabs to attack so that they could be defeated and expelled? I hope not. And do not forget that the Yishuv paid an enormous price for the 1948 victory. It lost a whole one percent of its total population -- 6,000 out of 600,000.
But this is only "what if." The facts are irrefutable. We accepted the UN plan, they did not. They started the war, which latter became known as the Israeli War of Independence, one day after the UN vote, on November 30, 1947, when several Arab terrorists (or freedom fighters to some) ambushed a civilian bus traveling from Petach Tikva to Lydda, murdering five Jews and wounding several others. The terror attacks on the Jewish population went and intensified. Attacks on the roads and on isolated villages became a frequent occurrence. The Jews responded and an atmosphere of continuous warfare enveloped the country. On both sides, Arab and Jewish, there was a composite of flight and expulsion. Jews fled in fear from mixed neighborhoods such as the border areas between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, and even from Jaffa itself. There were some 10,000 Jewish refugees in the early stages of the war. Gush Etzion, on the road between Bethlehem and Hebron, was captured by the Arab Legion and local Palestinian forces: the inhabitants were killed or taken prisoner and carried across the Jordan River. Their settlements were completely demolished. The settlements Neveh Ya'akov and Atarot north of Jerusalem, also captured, were totally obliterated. All the residents of the Jewish quarter in the Old City in Jerusalem, conquered by local forces with the aid of the Arab Legion, were taken captive. No Jew was allowed to return to settle in the Old City -- not even the ultra-Orthodox who detested Zionism and were prepared to live under Arab rule.
That atmosphere of impending war was a major factor in the flight of many Arabs, even before the invasion by the Arab armies. As Benny Morris writes: "The Palestinian refugee problem was born of war, not by design, Jewish or Arab. It was largely a by-product of Jewish and Arab fears and of the protracted, bitter fighting that characterized the first Arab-Israeli war; in smaller part, it was the deliberate creation of Jewish and Arab military commanders and politicians."
The fact that Ben-Gurion withdrew from the Sinai in 1956, that Menachem Begin, of all people, withdrew from ALL of the Sinai in exchange for peace, that Rabin accepted the two states solution, that Barak withdrew from Southern Lebanon, that Israel signed a peace agreement with Jordan, thus giving up any claims on Transjordan, that Barak was ready to give up almost all of the Golan Heights and 96 percent of the West Bank, that Nethanyahu withdrew from part of Hebron, and that Sharon withdrew from all of the Gaza strip should tell you that the fable of a continuous Zionist territorial expanse is just that, a fable. But, Philip and others will tell you that all those withdrawals are nothing but tactical steps, in preparation for future expansion... It is noteworthy that Ehud Olmert, the leader of the Kadima Party, said today that in the future Israel will not invest in any infrastructure development in the areas beyond the green line and that all efforts will be made to develop the Negev, the Galilee, and Jerusalem.
Zionism today, at least to me, means a recognition that the Jewish people are a people like all others and as such, are entitled to political self-determination and statehood. That is it. All the rest is just commentary.
I came to the conclusion of the two-states solution in the early seventies. Not because the Jewish people do not have historic rights on all of Mandatory Palestine, but because, if I want to live in a Jewish AND a democratic state, I have to give up my dream of the "whole Eretz Israel" and accept the territorial compromise, just as it was proposed by the UN and accepted by Israel in 1947. I will support in the next elections those who have the better chance to come to power and be able to execute the withdrawal, preferably through negotiations and if not, unilaterally. I have no illusions that it will be easy, but there is no other way. Unfortunately it may take time and more blood on both sides.
Jacob - March 7, 2006
P.S. you should stop smoking -- and that is an order...
To Bush Land with LoveTo the Editor:
Bush's approval rating at last count was 34%. Which means there are 66% of us who disapprove. But where are those 66%? Who are those 66%? Why are those 66% so quiet?
Perhaps the most compelling reason is a lack of leadership. Is there no one amongst the 66% capable of creating a resistance against the most evil, corrupt, criminal Federal administration in our nation's history? Has our democracy been turned into a fascist country without a shot being fired? Is it too late to take to the streets to reestablish a "We the people" nation?
WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH?
Charles A. Kerr II, Ph.D.
Everett, Washington, USA - March 3, 2006
Want change? Make it happen...and, please,us help YOU make a difference.
Folks, this real... Rigging an election via e-voting: Milo Clark's To Ignore Is To ParticipateTo the Editor:
Wonderful, if chilling, article by Milo Clark about voting in Hawaii with DRE's.
On the subject of our election system and what has happened to it in recent years, here is a magnificent article by Cheryl Gerber that shows what we are facing: [ed. see below]
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA - March 9, 2006
A Replay of Yesterday for a Billion TomorrowsTo the Editor:
Allow me to share a true story that I would entitle, "Officer's Club, Fort Ord, California -- Spring of 1965."
I enlisted Airborne during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, with nuclear war looming on the horizon. I grew up in Chicago, where military service seemed inevitable, and a "right-of-passage" into manhood.
After the crisis was resolved, I wanted out, but was locked in under my oath and signed contract for three years active duty, now against my free will.
I was shipped to South Korea, the 10 year armistice was expiring in July, and I was sent to the northernmost US outpost in South Korea. JFK was escalating in Vietnam simultaneously. His assassination was suspicious to NCOs and delightful to officers.
I returned assigned to 198th Armored Brigade at Fort Ord, California, in May 1964. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is passed by Congress, the military draft is increased and it is an election with LBJ vs. Senator Goldwater. I registered the troops to vote, and campaigning against Goldwater for being a madman.
The Watts Riots broke out, and we were put on alert with weapons drawn, ammo trailers attached to "duce and a half" parked outside the barracks. And the only concern voiced by officers was about wearing the gold neck scarves as they presented a target.
I was dismayed and outraged, for my alienation was intense and I was following the Civil Rights Movement in the press with great love and admiration for Martin Luther King. Comments were about who would get shot in lieu of the people in Los Angeles, and we were considered unreliable consequently and not sent.
Meeting college students on weekend pass, I was further educated on the Vietnam War, and came to consider the US role as neo-colonial, we had become the British and they the Americans in my mind. I became adamantly opposed to going to Vietnam and said would defy orders to go.
I was in B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, which was awarded the "Best Troop in the Army" trophy in the compulsory annual Army Training Test in the field. A party was thrown in our honor at the officer's club.
All 137 enlisted men of the troop and the 6 officers were the guest of honor, with drinks on the Pentagon, even hired a civilian band, and open invitations to all the officers and their wives from Fort Ord. Hundreds people filled the enormous room seated at large round tables, and had been drink and dancing to the music.
I had been busy downing glasses of rum and coke at the bar, when the band took a break, and I without any prior idea of doing so, I mounted the stage and blow into the microphone to see if it was hot, it was and a loud piercing noise filled the club. I raised my and said loud and clear:
"I want to propose a toast to the President of the United States!"
The first reaction was a stunned silence, and then the loud screech of hundreds of chairs rubbing against the wooden floor, as everyone got to their feet with their drinks in hand.
"This is to President Johnson, for not making good on a rumor that he was going to add a year to our time, and send us en masse to Vietnam. For if that had become a reality, if would have necessitated an armored column to Canada!"
An uproar of shouts rang out, most clearly cheers of approval for sure, when suddenly my First Sergeant charged the stage and threw me over his shoulder and off the stage and ordered me to leave as a protective reflex, we were friends, I had been to dinner at his house, and he worried about me and he didn't want to go to Vietnam himself.
As I move towards the exit, more than a dozen lieutenants gathered between me and the double doors. I signaled my squad to assembly around me by hand signal, and they immediately did so. And I told them, we are going through! Lt. Oaks, my former platoon leader put up his palm, saying, "Mitchell, you don't understand, we are here to thank you." I said, "what for?" Lt. Oaks replied, "For saying what you did." I paused in disbelief, and said, "You are the officers, the ones with the college educations, and should have been the ones up there saying that!" Lt. Oaks, hanging his head, said, "We know, want do you want us to do?" I said, "Get out of the way!" They parted and we exited to a still stunned packed Officer's Club, and without further delay went back to the barracks.
Later I was threatened with court martial for sedition, a penalty carrying 10 years punishment, most likely at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The army brass thought better of it, considering how it would look in the press that "The Best Troop in the Army" favored mutiny to Vietnam, and junior officers in as much saluted it! Further, I was known to activist in Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose, and most of the bars in Monterey, had made many friends by my extroverted and engaging personality. So nothing happened consequently, until what was the happiest day of my life, the day I got my honorable discharge and returned home a free man at the age of 22.
I got out with an honorable discharge, and was unable to turn my back or conscience away from the war in Vietnam, the high school photos of the kids killed kept coming out in Life Magazine. I kept running into people I knew who were telling me about napalm being used and they were tormented from their being there. I gave up trying to cope in the workaday world. Ending the war was my mission and remained so for the duration.
I had no idea that what is was doing, was in fact, not sedition, but keeping faith with the oath we all take before putting on the uniform as a member of the United States Armed Forces. I was keeping faith with the highest traditions of honor to country, compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, The Law of Land Warfare, and the binding treaties made under the provisions of Article VI, Sec II, of the US Constitution, which I made a binding oath to "protect and defend against all enemies, domestic or foreign."
I have never broken that oath, regardless of the treachery of others. I knew it was my Duty to Disobey Unlawful Orders, but had I know going to Vietnam was one, I would have said so, and mounted a fight against LBJ et al, as our domestic enemies of the Constitution, by issuing unlawful orders to commit unlawful acts, that were in fact, "Crimes Against Peace, Crimes Against War, Crimes Against Humanity" under the Nuremberg Principles, published in Army Field Manuel FM 27-10 for all soldiers to obey as directed by President Eisenhower in 1956.
Millions of people have been killed and murdered in unlawful wars of aggression and occupation since I left the service. I have opposed every one of them, not only in principle, but by my deeds as well. I keeping with this mission of honor and duty, not just to country, but now to humanity itself, for we are all in grave danger being guilty of allowing the world to become lifeless.
Is there a greater crime than that! Absolutely not, for it means no more babies of any kind, man or animal, fish or fowl, all will become extinct by atomic sub-particles bombardment of the very code of life itself, our DNA cut to ribbons and then reconnecting in disorganized forms providing unviable babies, until no one or thing is left alive on what was the only planet we know to have life on it in the universe. And the orders issued were unlawful, and it is and was the duty of every member of the US Armed Forces to disobey them. For in fact they are not orders, they are instigations to commit crimes, and must be countermanded as every level, by every member of the US Armed Forces.
I immediately call on all those true to their oaths to inform those under it, to cease and desist obeying unlawful orders immediately! Most importantly is the complete stopping of any and all use of depleted uranium before the contamination of Earth is so severe that all life will be wiped out by destruction of the DNA that passed us from one generation to another. This is genocide worldwide forever.
Yes, here we stand on the battle field of honor, for "these are times that try men souls" and the alternative is dooming all life on this planet. We have no honorable or sane options.
We must rally the all veterans nationwide, to contact the families and friends of every member of the US Armed Forces, telling them that DU will not only kill them, but before they die, they will be a toxic biohazard that will produce children with severe birth defects that will not likely live long enough to be parents themselves, thus the end of their family bloodline, millions of years evolution whipped out with the inhalation of invisible nuclear dust.
That "We, the people," are ordering them to disobey the criminally insane unlawful orders coming from the lying war criminals in the White House, Pentagon, and those who repeat those unlawful orders in the field. The firing of missiles, dropping of bombs, firing of any weapons using any outlawed chemicals and nuclear contaminates must be carried out by force if necessary, for the people of this country outrank those braking their oaths and by doing a clearly domestic enemies we are sworn to use force against, unless they surrender to be brought to judgment under due process of law. That is the solution if we have the resolve to stand and speak freely, bravely, honestly, before it is too late to make a damn bit of difference!
Salem, Oregon, USA - March 2, 2006
Remember,Swans. It only will hurt your wallet, not your freedom to be heard.
We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject you are commenting on at the beginning of your e-mail. Also, ***PLEASE,*** sign your e-mail with your name ***AND*** add your city, state, country, address, and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. Send your comments to the Editor. (Letters may be shortened and edited)