Latest News from the Middle East — PEACE just for the recognition of International Law

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by Neil Godfrey

The caption that originally displayed beneath the Vridar title of this blog was

Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

Unfortunately I was unable to salvage that detail when I moved to the current WordPress theme. Nonetheless, it encapsulates the original intent of this blog. Even I need the odd breather from posts relating to biblical studies.

I don’t know how many Westerners were exposed to the latest news from the Middle East but, since the overwhelming majority of this blog’s readers are in affluent Western nations, I would like to bring to the notice of any reader with an interest in Israeli affairs the following news item that has emerged within the past 24 hours. It’s the sort of news item that tends to pop up at least once a year and then gets buried before anyone has time to notice it. Just as well. Otherwise the myths about Arab intransigence over the Israel-Palestine situation would be seriously threatened by an eroding of general public credibility.

Missing from the Arab Peace Plan: an Israeli Partner

Yep, once again, the Arab states are offering Israel a peace agreement. You never heard of any such thing before? Read on, and watch the video at the end. (I know, the Arabs really should lift their game and hire Western Public Relations firms to assist them with how they come across to the public. But I know Vridar readers are smart enough to read the core and dismiss the fluff.)

For reasons best left for another post (though addressed in previous comments here), most Westerners have been exposed to a constant barrage of “news” that depicts the Israeli government as bending over backwards, giving up land and all sorts of concessions, all for the sake of peace — yet in vain! The Arabs and Palestinians, our news media and official channels regularly inform us, are hate-filled war-mongers who want nothing but the complete eradication of Israel from the map.

This week, however, has seen the repeat of an annual event that this time has come with an added punch.

Every year since 2002 the Arab states have re-endorsed their offer to Israel for complete and full recognition of the State of Israel, an end to all hostilities and affirmation of peace, if Israel agrees to accept the borders still legally binding by the United Nations — the borders that existed before the Israeli attack on Arab states in June 1967.

A quick aside here. A few people old enough still cling to the propaganda that was fed to the Western media at the outbreak of the June 1967 attack by Israel on its neighbours and quaintly think David-Israel itself was being threatened with annihilation by Goliath-Arabs at the time and was thus fighting for its very survival. For the benefit of any Westerner still enamoured with that illusion, I present the following:

Israel Air Force Commander General Ezer Weitzman: Israel “faced no threat of destruction” but the attack on her Arab neighbours was justified so that Israel could “exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.”

Menahem Begin: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff: “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.”

New York Times, 1997: “Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan . . . [said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland . . . [Dayan stated] ‘They didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land . . . We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot.

And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was . . . The Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.’”

At the time of the 1967 war, or at least in its immediate aftermath, the Israeli government declared that the territories that it had conquered in June 1967 were “a bargaining chip”. That is, at the time of their conquest, the Israeli state knew that it lacked any legitimacy to hold on to its conquered territories. It hoped to gain further concessions in the wake of the 1967 war of aggression through the territories it had conquered.

But this year, 2013, the Arab states have gone a step further. They have allowed Israelis living in the West Bank’ densest settlements to remain there!!!!!

And there’s a video presentation on The Real News network presenting the same recent event within a deeper historical context:


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Neil Godfrey

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22 thoughts on “Latest News from the Middle East — PEACE just for the recognition of International Law”

  1. This morning there was a new spot in our local newspapers: The Russians are occupying our (the northern Europeans) preferred summer Holiday resorts in Turkey, on the Canarian Islands and elsewhere, as it this was an offense done to us. Yes, they are different, speaks their own language which is difficult to understand, and are noisy. Saw them last year enjoying themselves in places like Alanya. However, who can blame them?

    This is, however, a problem for a post-colonial power like the Western World (including both the US and EU): we are getting marginalised and do not understand that the World is moving on leaving us behind. Israel was clearly a result of western ideology about the superiority of the western World. This ideology combined with bad feelings (of course) because of the Holocaust allowed a racistic Jewish state to be formed on Arab soil, according to Ben Gurion’s and his comrades paln Daleth–or whatever you call it: to deport the Arab population from Palestine. The big setback was that they did not succeed in conquering old Jerusalem in 1948. Suleiman’s walls kept them out. Now they have created a situation of no return (have a look of the occupied territories and the fragmented enclaves here left as “Arab”). A Palestinian state is already a fata Morgana However, being caught in a situation where the stubburn Palestinians remaining in their land decline to move away to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, the idea of the Jewish state seems as remote as ever. Israel cannot allow for an independent Palestinian state, and they cannot integrate the Palestinian population in Israel and hoping Israel to remain a Jewish state. Instead they are doing nothing, fighting their small political civil wars in the Knesset trying to ignore what is apparent: Another sign that Western ideology has Little future in the World as it seems to develop.

    The best sign–and a warning to Israel–is Obama’s reluctance to get involved in wars in the ME. Libya was mainly a European business. Don’t criticize him too much! But to Israel it says that they cannot automativally rely on help from the US.

    The recent Arab move seems important but has Little change of success. As I said, the demographic situation in the occupied territories makes such a situation impossible. Really, Sadat went to Jerusalem more than thirty years ago to explain how it could be done to the Knesset. It cost him his life and the Israelis moved nowhere. Now they have nowhere to move.

    The best commentary on ME affairs now-a-days would probably by the third volume of Runciman’s History of the Crusades, the last chapters about the Kingdom of Jerusalem: Israel is by now 65 years old. The Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted for 88 years. Will there be an Israel” in 23 years? As Gorbatjov said to Honecker in 1989: History condems those who come too late.

    A special part of this discussion has of course to with the way biblical studies have been hijacked by supporters (Jewish and non-Jewish) of modern Israel. An ideology which bases itself on the historical King David cannot, of course, accept tha David’s historicity is questioned.

    Niels Peter Lemche

  2. Israel was not threatened in 1967 ? What do you think Egypt and Jordan intended ? “On May 19, 1967, Egypt deployed 100,000 soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. It again closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, returning the region to the way it was in 1956 when Israel was blockaded.

    On May 30, 1967, Jordan signed a mutual defense pact with Egypt. Egypt mobilized Sinai units, crossing UN lines (after having expelled the UN border monitors) and mobilized and massed on Israel’s southern border.” (Wikipedia)

    If the Arab states had proposed a treaty BEFORE attacking Israel the second time (Yom Kippur war in 1973), they might have been credible. Now it’s 40 years later, and there is no return to the ‘good old days’.

    Your reference is to Jonathan Cook, who makes a living out of bad-mouthing Israel. Have you ever wondered why there is so much attention for the Palestinian interests ? Why doesn’t (any) league argue to give back New Zealand to the Maori’s, Texas to the Mexicans, or Marocco to the Berbers ?

  3. Neil, let me try to explain, would not like to leave you confused.

    Let’s consider the brief quotes you give in their contexts:

    1) Weizman spoke this quote in 1972, five years after the fact. I can well understand that this military man and politician did not want to advertise Israels’ vulnerability to attack from its neighbours.

    Note that Weizman spoke these words shortly before the Yom Kippur war; would Israel have survived this war in its 1948 borders ? Not according to Weizman, as your quote actually says.

    2) Begins says there was no proof that Nasser would launch an attack. That doesn’t mean that Israel wasn’t under serious threat, with large numbers of Arab troops amassing at its borders. Note that Nasser (the President of Egypt) mobilized all his reserves and sent seven more divisions into Sinai at the end of May. On 27 May, Nasser, declared: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.” True, no proof, but is this not a serious threat ?

    3) Rabin: here, you quote a statement in the wrong context; let’s assume this is just sloppy research…..When Rabin said that he thought that ‘Nasser did not want war” etc., Rabin spoke about the situation on May 14th, when Nasser ousted UN troops from Sinai. Rabin did not speak about the later situation, when Nasser sent another seven divisions into Sinai, in addition to the two he sent on May 14th.

    4) Dayan: spoken 9 years after the events. Hindsight is a good history teacher !

    He may have been correct that the main threat came from Egypt and Jordan, not from Syria. But I’m not sure he is the best judge of the criticality of these situations: after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, he was forced to resign as Defense Minister over the failure to anticipate the Arab attack…………..

    1. – “Note that Weizman spoke these words shortly before the Yom Kippur war; would Israel have survived this war in its 1948 borders ?”

      There would never have been a Yom Kippur War if the borders were not redrawn in 1967. It was 1967 that was Sadat’s entire casus belli. It achieved its goal of restoring Arab pride.

      – “True, no proof, but is this not a serious threat ?”

      The quotations themselves are testimony that it was not considered a serious threat. Unless you are begging the question.

      – “Rabin spoke about the situation on May 14th, when Nasser ousted UN troops from Sinai. Rabin did not speak about the later situation, when Nasser sent another seven divisions into Sinai, in addition to the two he sent on May 14th.”

      So on the 14th May Israeli leaders knew Nasser did not want war but we must believe, even though Rabin never qualified his statement, that he suddenly changed his mind 2 days later. Besides, you are overlooking the stated reasons Nasser gave for that troop buildup: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_the_Six-Day_War#Egyptian_Troop_Build-up_in_Sinai and additional Israeli explanation:

      Major General Mattityahu Peled, the Chief of Logistics for the Armed Forces during the war, said the survival argument was “a bluff which was born and developed only after the war … When we spoke of the war in the General Staff, we talked of the political ramifications if we didn’t go to war — what would happen to Israel in the next 25 years. Never of survival today.” Peled also stated that “To pretend that the Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult to Zahal (Israeli military).”

      The evidence trail tells us that the pretext for war — survival against a Goliath-like threat — came after the event. No pre-war cries for help from the US or UN who had enabled the state of Israel?

      But even the post-event excuse that it was a pre-emptive war is itself a war-crime anyway — a war of aggression.

      – “Dayan . . . ut I’m not sure he is the best judge of the criticality of these situations: after the 1973 Yom Kippur war, he was forced to resign as Defense Minister over the failure to anticipate the Arab attack…………..”

      So we are agreed that the hero of the 1967 war attacked the Arabs in the belief that they had no intention of attacking Israel.

  4. Israel made only one mistake in 1967: Its Victory came too easily. Made people think hat it was not really threatened, but had made a situation where Nasser had only one option–according to his background–to make a show of himself.

    It is evident that Israel was threatened as far as Words are concerned, but hardly from a military point of view. They still are not. Then there is today all other kinds of problems to present-day Israel, like Iranian rockets going to organizations like Hizbollah and Hamas.

    Niels Peter Lemche WHO very well remembers his own reactions in the fateful days way back in 1967

    1. Israel made only one mistake in 1967: Its Victory came too easily. Made people think hat it was not really threatened,

      What an eminently sensible conclusion.

      Neil — who also very well remembers his own reactions to that week in June 1967: God had performed another miracle. The last days were upon us.

  5. It seems China is getting involved in I/P–apparently hosted Abbas and Netanyahu (separately)

    Why in the world China wants to get involved in such a messy business is hard to understand—especially when it has territorial disputes of its own to resolve in Asia—perhaps it wants to show that a new era is dawning…?…..

    1. China has been working quietly but busily away building strong diplomatic ties and influence (often through aid programs) for some years now — among Pacific nations, African nations, Middle Eastern nations, I don’t know about the Latin American but would not be at all surprised if they have been steadily building strong bridges there, too. (The Communist Party of China through a surrogate institution has even been making special donations to Australian university libraries.)

  6. “It (the Yom Kippur war) achieved its goal of restoring Arab pride.” This is a gross oversimplification; if sacrificing vast numbers of human lives (on both sides) restores Arab pride, than it was certainly achieved.

    For the objectives of the war, I refer to the quotes of Nasser (Sadat’s predecessor), the destruction of Israel. What reason did Israel have to believe that the Arab objective was to ‘just’ restore the 1948 borders ? Imagine yourself in Israels’ position, hearing Nasser speak in May 1967: “The armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria are poised on the borders of Israel … to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not of more declarations.” Would you take the risk by accepting indefensible borders when you are surrounded by hostile neighbouring countries, who are not only heavily armed, but who’s leaders say that they are out to destroy your country ?

    Regarding the quotes: keep in mind that in a such a precarious situation, military leaders and politicians of any country would not admit that their country is in danger of being destroyed; this would only encourage the enemies at its borders and demotivate their own side.

    ” No pre-war cries for help from the US or UN who had enabled the state of Israel?” So you see the UN as an ally of Israel ? Then why did the UN withdraw its troops from Sinai, at the first blink of an eye of Nasser ? You seriously say that Israel should rely on the (few hundred) UN troops to engage the 100000 Egyptians ?

    1. Do you have any data? Any evidence? Have you read the history of the diplomatic exchanges or Sadat’s and Begin’s autobiographies? You’re just reading news headlines (or dramatic claims from your favourite propaganda sites) and making up your own drama. The Israeli leaders themselves say they were not threatened. The overwhelming nature of the Israeli victory is surely the strongest testament against the claim that Israel was threatened by overwhelming armies.

      I invite you to actually read some serious history — but I have found that most people who argue the most vociferously on behalf of Israel actually know very little about what the Israeli sources themselves say, or any of the details that lay behind the banner headlines and propaganda claims of just one side of the dispute.

      Your last paragraph indicates you are just going ballistic over any trigger words — this time over my mention of the UN. You are not addressing anything I actually said — and are speaking in ignorance of the role of the UN in the founding of Israel.

      And your opening paragraph is a gross insult — bordering on racism. You obviously have read nothing apart from one side’s propaganda about the background to and results of the Yom Kippur War.

      If you want to seriously engage in a discussion I would have expected you to be aware of more than one side of the argument by now. I expect nothing more from you than knee-jerk hostility against anything that dares breathe the slightest whisper contrary to your one-sided beliefs.

  7. Well to Bob de Jong WHO should try to study ME retorics: On the first morning of the six-days war, Hail Ha’avir destroyed most of the Egyptian air force on the ground, lined up as if to a parade, just to show how how ready for war the Egyptians were.

    As I already said: This Victory was too easy to be believed. And nothing has appeared since those days changing that evaluation. 1973 was a totally different matterMaybe the Arabs should have opened with a massive attack on Israeli airforce bases? Still, especially the Syrians came close to overrun Zahal in the Golan. And there was panic that day on the Israeli site. But 1967, the trap was laid, and the Arabs were all too willing to let them catch by this trap.

  8. “The overwhelming nature of the Israeli victory is surely the strongest testament against the claim that Israel was threatened by overwhelming armies. ” If this is your strongest argument, then you disappoint me: it is nothing more than begging the question.

    ” ignorance of the role of the UN in the founding of Israel”. I’m addressing why Israel did not ‘cry for help’ of the UN or US. The topic is the situation in 1967; the position of the UN changed considerably after WWII: already in the early post-war period, and further in the period 1948-1967, in response to the growing (economic and strategic) power of the Arab states. Do you deny Thant’s immediate compliance to Nasser’s request to withdraw the peacekeeping UN forces from Sinai ?

    Or should Israel have relied on a rapid US intervention ? With Russia supporting Egypt and Syria ? Nice scenario for WWIII.

    I honestly say that I was surprised and disappointed by the ad hominem character of your last response. Even if you rate my scholarship low, I would not have expected your offensive tone and lack of respect. I must have hit a nerve.

    1. Yes, I agree I was impatient and when I re-read my comment this morning I did recognize how rude I was. I should not have expressed myself like that and I am sorry.

      I do remain dismayed, however, at the number of times people who so strongly defend Israel at some point in their argument do admit they know very little of the actual history or detail (keeping in mind that details are where the devils live) of what they are talking about.

      You say that the position of the UN changed considerably after WWII. That’s true. It was after WW2 that the UN was midwifed into official existence (after floating around as a prototype in last months of the war.)

      Your scenarios about what might have happened etc are entirely speculation fed by Israeli propaganda. I’d rather investigate the historical evidence and know what was really going on at the time.

      I still have to finish a series of posts setting out the evidence of Zionist intentions and plans for the Arab population leading up to the founding of the State of Israel, and that were in large measure carried out in 1949 and 1967. It’s a history relatively few in the West know anything about.

      As for the overwhelming nature of the Israeli victory, it is certainly not begging the question as to the intent of the Arab states to attack Israel. As NPL has pointed out, events proved that the Arab armies were clearly in no state to engage in imminent conflict with Israel. But I have cited the evidence of the Israeli political and military leaders themselves. You agree with at least one of them that he fully believed he was attacking armies that were not being primed to attack Israel. I have pointed to where you can read the Egyptian explanation for their build up.

      Khrushchev is reported to have said to the United States/West, “We will bury you”. That does not prove he was planning to nuke the capitalist world. We know he wasn’t. Nasser said many things but it is necessary to know how to evaluate what he said by studying the context, his audience, the history, and the diplomatic exchanges with other states and organizations, and the actions undertaken.

      1. Neil, apology accepted.

        – Regarding the UN: I meant to say that the position of the UN changed over time, in particular regarding Israel’s borders.

        – What evidence do you have that my “scenarios about what might have happened etc are entirely speculation fed by Israeli propaganda.” ? NB: Scenarios are speculation by nature; it is – in my view- relevant, and even essential, to the question in hand (was Israel under threat) to speculate what would have happened if Israel had not taken the initiative. What is your scenario ?

        – “As NPL has pointed out, events proved that the Arab armies were clearly in no state to engage in imminent conflict with Israel.” What events proved what ? NPL only says “It is evident that Israel……..” without giving the slightest evidence for it. So you use NPL as ‘evidence, and NPL uses your ‘evidence’, and the circle is round.

        – your last 2 paragraphs baffle me: you argue (rightly in my view) that we should not accept everything politicians say as historical fact, and you cite Nasser and Krutchev as examples. But at the same time you present interviews with Israeli politicians as hard evidence, and you criticise me for putting these words in historical context.

  9. Now I am really curious: “Even if you rate my scholarship low …” WHO is talking. I tried to Google Bob de Jong and found many hits, including a Wikipedia article, to a speed skater from Holland WHO won several Olympic medals (including gold medals). Is this the Bob de Jong here? If that is the case, I would like to have a confirmation from him. Otherwise, is this an anonymous poster? There are several Bob de Jongs around, it seems, but nobody relating to ME studies.

    So what Means “scholarship” in thius connection?

    1. Niels Peter: I haven’t won Olympic medals and I’m not a Middle East scholar.

      If you are the Lemche from Copenhagen, then I recognize your scholarschip in Ancient ME, in particular Old Israel history.

      I’m interested in your credentials regarding the issue under discussion: was Israel under military threat in 1967 ? What have you published (in peer reviewed journals) on Modern Warfare, or Military Strategy, or even modern history ?

        1. Tim, is that your learned contribution, or some kind of joke (which – I regret – I don’t get) ?

          Let’s see: NPL spelled ‘thius’ where it should be ‘this’. Will you add a similar comment to NPL’s comment ?

  10. Bob wrote “Your reference is to Jonathan Cook, who makes a living out of bad-mouthing Israel.” the purpose of my comment is to thank Neil for the links to Jonathan Cook, who “makes a living’ from his integrity as a decent investigative journalist. Now I have connected to his facebook page I have access to all his updates from their source so to speak. I am grateful too for Niels Peter Lemche’s insightful comments from experience. Bob asks “Have you ever wondered why there is so much attention for the Palestinian interests ? Why doesn’t (any) league argue to give back New Zealand to the Maori’s [sic]…” Even the Australian original people have international groups lobbying for their human and land rights. And we have too, here in Aotearoa and here we have been successfully returning land and status to Maori and promoting and preserving Maoritanga and te reo Maori. We have had the Waitangi Tribunal and other groups for several decades. One of the latest settlements has been with Tuhoe, my Iwi, returning Te Urewera. Kia Kaha – Free Palestine!

    1. Stephanie Louise: thanks for your update on the Maori (and sorry about the ‘s’). I’m happy to hear that significant progress is being made to restore lands to the Maori. I admit I know too little of this process; you can – with some right – blame me for this.

      However, it seems fair to say that the international community (press, authors, scholars, UN, bloggers etc.) has given far less attention to the struggle of the Maori than given to the Palestinians. Perhaps we can look forward to a series of Blogposts at Vridar on the Maori struggle; instead of the continuation of the series on “Zionist intentions and plans’, which has been a popular topic in many media for quite some time ?

      I would suggest that the success of the Maori can serve as a model for the Palestinian issues: through social, political and legal struggle, and (mostly) peaceful means, the Maori succeed in regaining their lands. Furthermore, the Maori claims take account of, and respect the rights of, the Europeans who settled there. I hope the Hamas leaders take note of this.

      1. The story with Australian aboriginals is very similar. The Palestinian struggle is all about attempting to avoid the complete dispossession and cultural destruction and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians as Europeans inflicted upon indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, North America — to avoid a repeat of that. It is all very fine for the pitiful generational remnant of indigenous survivors to be given some recognition of rights to a few lands after they have been reduced to little more than tokens in the White-European landscape that has dispossessed and all but destroyed them as a people. We can mourn and say “sorry” about the sins of the past.

        The question of Palestine defines how we respond to those sins as they are still happening before our very eyes.

        Israeli leaders want the Palestinians to become as supine and peaceful as the indigenous populations of NZ, Australia and North America are today — so they can be left in little reservations and one day generations from now people can say, “Oh, how sorry we are, here, have a few more acres that we no longer want any more or that we can afford to do without to appease our consciences of being the descendents of our brutal forefathers.”

        I am amazed that the Palestinians have shown such incredible resilience after all this time and have not gone the way of other indigenous peoples — yet.

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