2019-03-27

The Golan Heights: the Myth versus the Historical Record

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by Neil Godfrey

It is an article of faith among Israelis that the Golan Heights were captured in the Six-Day War to stop the Syrians from shelling the settlements down below. — Avi Shlaim

The State of Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats. — Donald Trump

Avi Shlaim in The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World writes that Israel’s escalation of tensions on the Syrian front prior to June 1967 was the “single most important factor dragging the Middle East to war”. Prior to the war news stories told again and again of Syrian’s firing at Israeli farmers from the Golan Heights but the full circumstances of those conflicts was not revealed publicly until 1997 when a reporter published notes of his interview with the military commander Moshe Dayan in 1976. In that interview

Dayan confessed that his greatest mistake was that, as minister of defense in June 1967, he did not stick to his original opposition to the storming of the Golan Heights. Tal began to remonstrate that the Syrians were sitting on top of the Golan Heights. Dayan interrupted,

Never mind that. After all, I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let’s talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow someplace 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 farther, 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. I did that, and Laskov and Chara [Zvi Tsur, Rabin’s predecessor as chief of staff] did that, and Yitzhak did that, but it seems to me that the person who most enjoyed these games was Dado [David Elazar, OC Northern Command, 1964–69].

(Shlaim, 250f)

The Road to War

According to the evidence in Shlaim’s study neither side wanted the 1967 war. There was no conspiracy by Arab states to launch a surprise attack on Israel and Israel had no plan to seize extra territory at the time. War came about as a consequence of political miscalculations and blunders, or a “crisis slide that neither Israel nor her enemies were able to control.”

Stage 1 – careless threats in media interviews

To begin with, Israel made a series of threats against the Syrian regime unless it stopped its support for Palestinian guerillas:

  • 11 May 1967, Israel’s director of military intelligence in a briefing of foreign journalists “gave a distinct impression that Israel was planning a major military move against Syria.”
  • Then the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces dropped a hint published in an Israeli newspaper “that the aim might be to occupy Damascus and topple the Syrian regime.”

Stage 2 – cornered into a show of leadership

The Soviet Union, supporter of the Syrian government, in response sent a report to Syria’s ally Egypt to warn that Israel was moving its forces towards the northern border and planning to attack Syria. Egypt’s president, Nasser, was pressured to take some decisive action to maintain his credibility as leader of the Arab nations:

The report [from the USSR] was untrue and Nasser knew that it was untrue, but he was in a quandary. His army was bogged down in an inconclusive war in Yemen, and he knew that Israel was militarily stronger than all the Arab confrontation states taken together. Yet, politically, he could not afford to remain inactive, because his leadership of the Arab world was being challenged. . . . Syria had a defense pact with Egypt that compelled it to go to Syria’s aid in the event of an Israeli attack. Clearly, Nasser had to do something, both to preserve his own credibility as an ally and to restrain the hotheads in Damascus. There is general agreement among commentators that Nasser neither wanted nor planned to go to war with Israel. (252f)

I have circled the Straits of Tiran in red. Map is from p. 192 of Iron Wall

Nasser decided on three-fold action to impress the Arab public:

1. He sent a large force into the Sinai

2. He ordered the removal of the U.N. peacekeepers from the Sinai

3. He closed the Straits of Tiran to Israel shipping

Stage 3 – the psychological hit

It was #3 that rankled in Israel the most since the Straits were the prize gain of the Israeli forces in the 1956 Suez War:

For Israel this constituted a casus belli. It canceled the main achievement of the Sinai Campaign. The Israeli economy could survive the closure of the straits, but the deterrent image of the IDF could not. Nasser understood the psychological significance of this step. He knew that Israel’s entire defense philosophy was based on imposing its will on its enemies, not on submitting to unilateral dictates by them. In closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, he took a terrible gamble—and lost. (253)

Stage 4 – collective psychosis

According to Shlaim the Israeli government was paralyzed for two whole weeks with indecision. The lack of leadership led to public panic:

During this period the entire nation succumbed to a collective psychosis. The memory of the Holocaust was a powerful psychological force that deepened the feeling of isolation and accentuated the perception of threat. Although, objectively speaking, Israel was much stronger than its enemies, many Israelis felt that their country faced a threat of imminent destruction. For them the question was not about the Straits of Tiran but about survival. Weak leadership was largely responsible for permitting this panic to spread from the politicians to the people at large. (253)

Stage 5 – threat of the religious party

Israel’s political impasse was resolved on 1 June with the formation of a national unity government. But the National Religious Party threatened to withdraw from the coalition unless the outspoken and belligerent Moshe Dayan was put in charge of the Defense Ministry.

Warnings against:

From Israel’s primary founder and first prime minister

Ben Gurion, no longer prime minister, was furious. He excoriated the military Chief of Staff:

“I very much doubt whether Nasser wanted to go to war, and now we are in serious trouble,” said Ben-Gurion. He claimed that the mobilization of the reserves had been a mistake. Rabin replied that he had recommended mobilization in order to make sure they were ready. “In that case, you, or whoever gave you permission to mobilize so many reservists, made a mistake,” repeated Ben-Gurion. “You have led the state into a grave situation. We must not go to war. We are isolated. You bear the responsibility.” (255)

From the President of the United States

Johnson told Eban [Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs] that it was the unanimous view of his military experts that there was no sign that the Egyptians were planning to attack Israel and that if they did attack, the Israelis would “whip the hell out of them.” Johnson promised to act with other maritime powers to open the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, and he warned against the initiation of hostilities by Israel. He repeated several times, “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone.” Eban’s report to the cabinet on the disappointing results of his trip reopened the debate on the proposal for military action. By a majority that included Eshkol, the cabinet decided on 28 May to wait two or three weeks. (255)

From Israel’s Prime Minister

That evening [Prime Minister] Eshkol met with the General Staff to explain the decision of the cabinet. The meeting was very stormy. The generals used blunt language in charging the civilian leadership with weakness, muddle, and confusion. . . . . All the speakers stressed that time was of the essence because the longer they waited, the heavier would be the price of victory in terms of casualties. Eshkol disputed that the only way to achieve deterrence was by launching an immediate attack, and he elaborated on his reasons against preventive war. “Would we live forever by the sword?” he asked, his voice rising in anger. (256)

Stage 6 – The U.S. winks

Since Eban’s visit the U.S. had changed its mind and assured the Director of Mossad in a secret meeting that it would favour an Israeli attack on Egypt, and that

the CIA estimated that Israel could defeat the Egyptian army without any outside help. (257)

Sunday, June 4, the full cabinet took the decision to go to war.

The Six Day War and the Golan Heights

Israel destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground in the early hours of June 5 1967.

Egypt down

. . . but false information was given to Egypt’s allies to encourage them to join in the fighting. At noon the air forces of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq started to attack targets inside Israel. Within two hours the Syrian and Jordanian air forces were also wiped out, as was the Iraqi airbase . . . near the Jordanian border. In all, four hundred enemy planes were destroyed on the first day of fighting, and that in essence sealed the fate of the Arab armies. (257)

Jordan down

The fighting on the eastern front was initiated by Jordan, not by Israel. King Hussein got carried along by the powerful current of Arab nationalism. . . . On 5 June, Jordan started shelling the Israeli side in Jerusalem. This could have been interpreted either as a salvo to uphold Jordanian honor or as a declaration of war. Eshkol decided to give King Hussein the benefit of the doubt. Through General Odd Bull, the Norwegian chief of staff of UNTSO, he sent the following message on the morning of 5 June: “We shall not initiate any action whatsoever against Jordan. However, should Jordan open hostilities, we shall react with all our might, and the king will have to bear the full responsibility for the consequences.” King Hussein told General Bull that it was too late; the die was cast. Hussein had already handed over command of his forces to an Egyptian general. He made the mistake of his life. Under Egyptian command the Jordanian forces intensified the shelling, captured Government House, where UNTSO had its headquarters, and started moving their tanks into the West Bank. (260)

Syria and the Golan Heights

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47697717

My own highlighting throughout…

Syria for its part, wanted to stay out of this war. True, its air force made a sortie and its artillery bombarded Israeli settlements along the front line on 5 June, but these were limited hostilities and they ceased after Israel’s devastating counterattack on Syria’s air force. There was no need for Israel to open a second or third front. David Elazar, OC Northern Command, exerted all the pressure he could for all-out war against Syria, but Dayan kept him on a very tight leash.

. . . .

Dayan was determined not to run the risk of Soviet military intervention on the side of Syria. He was also worried that their forces would become overextended. “We started the war in order to destroy the Egyptian force and open the Straits of Tiran,” he said. “On the way we took the West Bank. I do not think that it is possible to open another campaign against Syria. If the idea is to go into Syria and change the border in order to make life easier for the settlements, I am against.” Dayan pointed out that the Syrians would never accept the loss of their territory, and the result would be never-ending conflict. Dayan pointed out that the Syrians would never accept the loss of their territory, and the result would be never-ending conflict. Rather than trying to move the international border, he proposed moving ten settlements to a distance of fifteen kilometers from the border.

. . . .

Dayan’s next move completely astounded his colleagues. Early in the morning on 9 June, a few hours after Syria requested a cease-fire, Dayan called General Elazar directly, bypassing the chief of staff, and ordered him to go to war with Syria.

. . . .

What prompted Dayan to change his mind so suddenly was a message from Gamal Abdel Nasser to the Syrian president, Nur al-Din al-Atasi, which was intercepted on the night of 8–9 June by Israeli intelligence. The message said,

I believe that Israel is about to concentrate all its forces against Syria in order to destroy the Syrian army and regard for the common cause obliges me to advise you to agree to the ending of hostilities and to inform U Thant [the UN secretary-general] immediately, in order to preserve Syria’s great army.

We have lost this battle.
May God help us in future.
Your brother, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Dayan claimed that this message completely changed the situation and led him to give the order to storm the Golan Heights and capture even more territory than had been proposed the preceding day. His order was “Do whatever can be done.” In the margin of the text of Nasser’s message, Dayan scribbled,

Eshkol,

1. In my opinion this cable obliges us to capture the maximal military lines.
2. Yesterday I did not think that Egypt and Syria (the political leadership) would collapse in this way and give up the continuation of the campaign. But since this is the situation, it must be exploited to the full.

A great day.
Moshe Dayan.

. . . .

Although Dayan got most of the glory for the victory over Syria, he himself later regarded the decision to go to war against Syria as a mistake. In his 1976 conversations with the journalist Rami Tal, Dayan confessed that on the fourth day of the June War he had failed in his duty as minister of defense by agreeing to the war with Syria. There was really no compelling reason to go to war with Syria, he said.

. . . .

The allegation that Israel went to war against Syria because the kibbutz residents coveted Syrian land provoked strong indignation in Israel. There was even greater anger at Dayan’s allegations from the grave that Israel’s security was not threatened by the Syrians. For it became an article of faith among Israelis that the Golan Heights were seized in 1967 to stop the Syrians from shelling the settlements down below. When Rami Tal tried to make this argument, Dayan cut him short: “Look, it’s possible to talk in terms of ‘the Syrians are bastards, you have to get them and this is the right time,’ and other such talk, but that is not a policy. You don’t strike at every enemy because he is a bastard but because he threatens you. And the Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.(262-266)

 

Netanyahu called Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights “historic justice” and a “diplomatic victory,” saying that “Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense.” — Noa Landau (Haaretz Correspondent)

 


Landau, Noa. 2019. “Trump Signs Order Recognizing Golan Heights as Israeli Territory.” Haaretz, March 26, 2019. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-trump-signs-order-recognizing-golan-heights-as-israeli-territory-1.7058996.

Shlaim, Avi. 2014. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. London: Penguin.

Trump, Donald J. 2019. “Proclamation on Recognizing the Golan Heights as Part of the State of Israel.” The White House. Accessed March 27, 2019. https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-recognizing-golan-heights-part-state-israel/.


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Neil Godfrey

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24 Comments

  • db
    2019-03-27 11:20:03 GMT+0000 - 11:20 | Permalink

    • June 5
         A small Syrian force attacks a water plant in northern Israel.

         Several Syrian tanks are lost in the early hours and the Syrian command abandon plans for a ground assault, opting instead to shell towns in the Hula valley.

         Israel turns its attention to , , , Syria’s air forces. By the evening . . . Syria has lost two-thirds of its aircraft.

         Israel later begins air strikes . . . and targets Syria air force bases.

         Syria . . . begin air strikes on Haifa.

    • June 6
         Syrian forces fortify the border with Israel and begin artillery fire.

    • June 7
         Fighting between Syria and Israel continues on the border of Golan.

    • June 8
         Fighting continues on the border of Golan.

    • June 9
         An attack on Golan Heights is ordered.

         After delaying its offensive against Syria until it can free up troops from the Egyptian and Jordanian fronts, Israel now moves against the Syrian army in its heavily entrenched positions in the Golan Heights.

         Paratroopers defeat a series of posts overlooking the Hula valley in the southern sector of the Heights, enabling the passage of tanks deep into Syrian territory.

    • June 10
         Israeli units move to trap the Syrians on the Golan plateau, but as the balance of power shifts in Israel’s favour, the Syrians flee.

         Early in the afternoon, Israel captures the town of Kuneitra and by the evening an armistice is agreed, leaving Israel in control of all of the Golan Heights, including parts of Mount Hermon.

         Cease-fire with Syria is agreed upon.

         War ends, with Israel claiming the , , , Golan Heights

    Sources:
    “Timeline: The Six Day War”. NPR.
    “1967 Arab-Israeli war timeline”. Al Jazeera

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-03-27 21:18:02 GMT+0000 - 21:18 | Permalink

      Lists of dates and events like this are a chronicle but not history. More meaningful are historical accounts that present contexts for the events, their scale, the decision makers, the evidence for certain motives and intents, etc.

      • db
        2019-03-28 00:05:30 GMT+0000 - 00:05 | Permalink

        Chronologies are problematic, one might conclude that Syria invaded first per the above chronology, not knowing the prior water conflict.

        • “Israel . . . was determined to protect its vital interests and to proceed with its plan to draw from Lake Kinneret the quantities of water that had been allocated to it under the Johnston plan.” (Shlaim 2014 [2000])

        NB:The following report was released after Shlaim’s 2000 first edition.
        THE JORDAN WATERS ISSUE” [PDF]. cia.gov.

        APPROVED FOR RELEASE
        DATE: OCT 2002

        | SPECIAL REPORT
        | THE JORDAN WATERS ISSUE
        | CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
        | OFFICE OF CURRENT INTELLIGENCE

        4 December 1964
        […]
        The water in Lake Tiberias . . . is becoming more saline, partly because of the current withdrawals, and one of the major problems the Israelis now face is to tap and divert the saline springs near the shore of the lake and at its bottoms. Thus far, they have had little success in capping the springs in the lake, but they have succeeded in diverting the springs on the shore.

        Israel is dumping highly saline water from these springs back into the river after it leaves the lake–a process which will make the waters of the lower Jordan virtually unusable for irrigation. —(p. 1)

        Cf.
        “War over Water (Jordan river)”. Wikipedia
        “Headwater Diversion Plan (Jordan River)”. Wikipedia

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-03-28 01:35:31 GMT+0000 - 01:35 | Permalink

          Chronologies are problematic

          Chronicles, I think you mean, not chronologies.

          • db
            2019-03-28 06:58:12 GMT+0000 - 06:58 | Permalink

            • The source titles read:

            NPR
            | Timeline: The Six Day War
            |

            June 4, 20079:18 AM ET

            Al Jazeera
            | 1967 Arab-Israeli war timeline
            | A chronology of the major military events during the conflict.
            |

            13 Jul 2009

            • I concur that chronicles is correct, but with the caveat that perhaps it may be deprecated in our Brave New World vocabulary of the masses.

            Someone once said (perhaps Lord Byron) —You can know a person by how they give the plural for rhinoceros: rhinoceroses or (nonstandard) rhinoceri or (archaic) rhinocerotes 🙂

            • Neil Godfrey
              2019-03-29 10:09:50 GMT+0000 - 10:09 | Permalink

              Now you’ve placed the term in its original context — a specific branding application to a list of dates and events as published by various news sources. A kind of encyclopedic list. Those sorts of lists have been around since Mesopotamian times and are known to historians under the general term chronicles. Before I saw the context I took your reference to chronologies as any ordering of events in sequence which, of course, historians also do, without creating chronicles! 🙂

  • 2019-03-27 14:40:24 GMT+0000 - 14:40 | Permalink

    What’s interesting about this is what I also find and write a lot about on various other topics, which is, essentially, that there is no narrative. This has been one of my biggest realizations of history. When you really get down to it, so much of reality lacks narrative. And this is part of the issue, because people are so driven by narratives.

    People have a hard time comprehending history that doesn’t have narrative. They want history to be a story.

    But real history is often not a story and has no coherent narrative or driving purpose. I’m getting into this more in my next book as well. And its very unsatisfactory for many people. The reality that is revealed is that things happened in a kind of ponderous, unintentional, meandering way without foresight. And as a result of a bunch of random nonsense, these huge consequences emerge. Many people just can’t accept such things, much like the idea of evolution being random and not purpose driven.

    And I think many “historians” actually recognize this and they themselves, in order to be more appealing, create narrative where in fact no narrative exists.

    So yeah, I mean in so many ways, not just what you’re talking about here, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is driven by false narratives and certainly many false beliefs. This is why I view history and issues like properly understanding Christian origins as important and not merely academic. Because many of the world’s problems today are driven by false narratives and beliefs about history that simply aren’t true. And those beliefs have real-world implications and millions of people have died and continue to die around the world as a result of beliefs in false narratives in many forms, relating to many different topics.

    Israel and Christianity just happen to be two of the biggest subjects around which false narratives have driven and continue to drive real-world conflict, but really its a pervasive issue that impacts virtually every topic in every culture.

    • db
      2019-03-27 18:07:07 GMT+0000 - 18:07 | Permalink

      Avi Shlaim is a member of the “New Historians” who challenge zionist historiography, often on the basis of recently declassified state documents and new research into archival documents. See for example: “Avi Shlaim (2013): British partage of the 1948 Palestinian exodus “Al NakbaYouTube.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-03-27 21:30:41 GMT+0000 - 21:30 | Permalink

      The question of narrative in history is a major one among historians with a long and diverse history of debates, discussions, philosophizing, disputes.

      It is interesting to compare our own personal lives or histories. An outsider will see so many diverse influences, interests, pressures, contexts, that have gone into our biographies, and when we look at our own past we are surely aware that there is much more to be told than what we can meaningfully relate when we reflect upon and talk about our past. Narrative is essential to give some shape and meaning to our past without assuming to be a complete story of our whole life — which would be impossible to present.

      It is like memory: we would become bottlenecked and unable to communicate anything at all if we remembered literally everything about a past event and attempted to communicate our experience that way. Selection for certain (narrative) purposes is absolutley necessary. That does not make the narrative invalid, however.

      Other narratives can also be told about the same event and the fact that they will differ from the one we give does not render them invalid either.

      Even the story of accidental bumbling into war with the interplay of the various actors and their respective interests is a narrative.

      It is necessary for the historian to be able to justify her narrative. That’s where the checks and balances enter.

      • 2019-03-28 09:36:06 GMT+0000 - 09:36 | Permalink

        Perhaps I should have said that there is no narrative, but that the narrative isn’t a compelling one that serves any given agenda. Yes, arguably anything is a narrative, it’s just a matter of being a good narrative. Generally speaking, just random bumbling isn’t the way anyone would write a story or script, other than someone explicitly trying to make a point about the randomness of life.

        • db
          2019-03-28 15:12:04 GMT+0000 - 15:12 | Permalink

          Perhaps 99+ percent of all human history has no coherent narrative and may be interpreted by two points:
          • Economic resources are limited
          • Might makes right

          “There is something profoundly cynical, my friends, in the notion of paradise after death. The lure is evasion.” —Steven Erikson

  • Richard Stokes
    2019-03-28 07:45:46 GMT+0000 - 07:45 | Permalink

    Interesting discussion about what Dayan really thought.
    And I appreciate R G Price’s comment that “real history is often not a story and has no coherent narrative or driving purpose”.

    But they are called the Golan Heights for a reason. They are not the Golan Plains.
    I visited them briefly in 1985. They have a commanding view over Israeli territory.
    For security reasons I would not want them in the hands of an enemy power.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-03-28 07:52:06 GMT+0000 - 07:52 | Permalink

      Your last sentence makes me think the best security for Israel would be that they remain with their legal (according to international law) owner and that Israel try to avoid doing anything that might make a generational enemy of their neighbour by stealing them. Stealing the lands is surely a guarantee for troublesome and very insecure relations for decades and more. After all, Israel has shown it can establish workable relations with other Arab neighbours (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt).

    • db
      2019-03-28 14:44:28 GMT+0000 - 14:44 | Permalink

      “Golan Heights profile”. BBC News. 25 March 2019.

      The area is also a key source of water for an arid region. Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment feeds into the Jordan River. The area provides a third of Israel’s water supply.

      “Israel official reveals plan to change Golan Heights’ demographic balance”. Middle East Monitor. 28 March 2019.

      An Israeli official revealed a plan to triple the number of Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights in the coming years in order to create a Jewish majority in the occupied Syrian territory.

      The Mayor of Katzrin settlement in the occupied Golan, Dmitry Apartzev, said the plateau’s total population will increase to 150,000 people which means the number of Jews will reach 100,000 people while the number of Druze will be 50,000.

      • Mark S
        2019-04-01 15:54:42 GMT+0000 - 15:54 | Permalink

        Meanwhile Putin has expelled 1/3 million Kurds from Afrin and donated it and Euphrates Shield to Turkey for re-settlement (many settlers were bused over to vote in the Turkish elections yesterday). That’s about 7 or 8 Golans. It is high comedy to pretend Damascus cares a whit about Golan.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-04-02 08:33:06 GMT+0000 - 08:33 | Permalink

          Do you know of any other state that cares not a whit about enemy capture and confiscation of its historical territory? Is Syria unique in the history of the world? Are Arabs not like other human beings?

    • RoHa
      2019-03-31 04:50:48 GMT+0000 - 04:50 | Permalink

      But the Golan Heights are in the hands of an enemy power. They have been held by Israel since 1967, and Israel uses them as a base for attacks on Syria.

      • Mark S
        2019-04-01 15:51:56 GMT+0000 - 15:51 | Permalink

        The Crimea is recognized as Russia by the real estate agent Bashar; it is in the hands of an enemy power and is used by Russia as a base for attacks on the Ukraine. The difference is that Ukraine hasn’t attacked Russia with genocidal purpose. (It is entering a fascist downward spiral like US, Russia and Israel, so they might imagine it.) These terminological disputes are absurd, especially where Trump imagines he can solve them by decree.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-04-02 08:30:02 GMT+0000 - 08:30 | Permalink

          The difference is that Ukraine hasn’t attacked Russia with genocidal purpose.

          Russia has attacked Ukraine with genocidal purpose? That is the logical inference from your statement.

  • Mark S
    2019-03-28 15:23:22 GMT+0000 - 15:23 | Permalink

    The Assad family could easily have recovered Golan in the seventies or eighties, and probably now, by the simple expedient of recognizing Israel and dropping its position that Israel is the equivalent of the Islamic “State” of Iraq and Syria. The Assads have internal political reasons for maintaining the 1948 state of war (the end of that state of war was the first thing explicitly conceded in the Egypt-Israel treaty) and refusing citizenship to descendants of Palestinians who took refuge there. ISIS-ization of Israel, dismal as it may be – was just more important to them than the Golan was.

    The same family – which seems to be a sort of real estate conglomerate – has accepted Putin’s sale of the Euphrates Shield area and Afrin to Turkey. The latter involved the expulsion of 1/3 million Kurds on racial grounds (1/2 the size of the disgusting Nakba expulsions) and recolonization with Turkish-approved settler populations (perversely Erdogan has been trying to move Palestinians there in particular – many of them see the identity and refuse – as he cuts down old Kurdish olive groves to make return pointless.) The area of Afrin+ES is five or six times that of Golan. The Assads just don’t care about this stuff, it’s strange you would be crying about it on their behalf.

    The context for this discussion – Trump’s nugatory ‘recognition’ of Israel’s imaginary annexation – is not worth a second thought. It will probably be reverted by the next president. Meanwhile of course Damascus has recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea and recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-03-29 10:17:06 GMT+0000 - 10:17 | Permalink

      The Assad family could easily have recovered Golan in the seventies or eighties, and probably now, by the simple expedient of recognizing Israel

      Are you so sure of that after reading the background to Israel’s capture of the Golan Heights in the above post?

      This is part of the Israeli narrative and the myth of the Golan Heights. You are very familiar with it, clearly. But have you ever stepped back and wondered what the actual policies of Syria have been and the rationales for them? Not from what the Israeli side of narrative says they are, but from the Syrian or Arab side of the debate?

      One way to get a clearer bird’s eye view of both narratives is to examine history books by authors such as Shlaim who have had access to documents not widely recognized in the standard Israeli narrative.

      Do you know why Syria and other Arab states have not recognized Israel till now, and why offers to recognize Israel by the Palestinians including Hamas! have been rejected by Israel?

      We need to be aware that the common narrative that is pushed to Westerners through mainstream and other media really is only one side of the story and we ought to be careful to examine it critically.

      • Mark S
        2019-03-29 19:41:53 GMT+0000 - 19:41 | Permalink

        The case is 100% symmetrical with the Sinai, which was clearly vastly more ‘important’. H Assad just preferred the state of hostility for internal political reasons, and for his status on the general Arab stage. That it was rather Israel that preferred this state of hostility, is again disproven by the Sinai.

        Syria and the other Arab states didn’t recognize Israel because they were engaged in a grand pan-Arab project at the time, and the expulsions and freak eruption of a ‘Jewish state’ was taken as a sort of national humiliation and impediment to unity. The claim that any of them ever had the least interest in the actual human beings expelled in the Nakba is unhistorical. I was reading the other day about a 4th generation Palestinian refugee from Bashar’s Syria who already has permanent residence in Ireland and will soon be a citizen and never had anything like this to look forward to. The founding of Israel was taken by the planet to be a minor Jew-Arab partition, a detail at the time of the partition of India and the giant movements of population in east Europe, coming a couple decades after the astounding events of the founding of the Turkish Republic and the division of population with Greece. All of these insane events were considered sensible by the slightly mad world order at the time. In all of them, the millions of refugees soon became citizens of definite states. The solution adopted by the world was for two states and everyone should still demand this and it should be forced upon Israel by an alliance of great powers. That Israel is a disgusting state, spiraling into some kind of neo-fascism – like most countries – is depressing, but again it’s a micro-state like Kuwait. No one labors details of the history of the Turkish Republic or declares it illegitimate because of the unimaginable horrors that it began with, nor because of the astounding crimes it commits nowadays – e.g. its half-Nakba of 1/3 million in Afrin and consequent jihadist resettlement. It’s a perfectly legitimate state that needs to change its behavior, like most of them, Israel certainly included.

        I don’t believe what you are calling the ‘standard Israeli narrative’ about anything and have read quite a bit of Shlaim. I’ve been a left wing crank and Israel critic since 1983.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-04-02 08:12:30 GMT+0000 - 08:12 | Permalink

          Do you have any intention of addressing the evidence cited in the post?

          The case is 100% symmetrical with the Sinai

          How so?

          H Assad just preferred the state of hostility for internal political reasons, and for his status on the general Arab stage.

          What were those “internal political reasons”, exactly? If Indonesia decided to confiscate northern Australia then I would expect any Australian PM to have very valid “internal political reasons” to protest, and even to have a valid case to present to the world stage of the United Nations.

          That it was rather Israel that preferred this state of hostility, is again disproven by the Sinai.

          How so, exactly? Please cite evidence to support any assertion.

          I was reading the other day about a 4th generation Palestinian refugee from Bashar’s Syria who already has permanent residence in Ireland and will soon be a citizen and never had anything like this to look forward to.

          So a transfer of all Palestinians to Ireland is a solution to the tensions?

          The founding of Israel was taken by the planet to be a minor Jew-Arab partition

          The planet? I don’t think you have read much about the history of the League of Nations’ or other Arab states’ role in this affair. I have posted a series on this blog about the early Zionist comparisons of a transfer of Palestinians with the Greek-Turkish problem and subsequently with the Indian partition. I am somewhat gobsmacked that anyone who is aware of these comparisons could relate them seriously to Palestine pre 1949.

          The solution adopted by the world was for two states and everyone should still demand this and it should be forced upon Israel by an alliance of great powers.

          Have you kept up to date with what’s been happening these past 20 years? How exactly would a two-state solution work today?

          That Israel is a disgusting state, spiraling into some kind of neo-fascism – like most countries – is depressing,

          I have never said “Israel is a disgusting state” and would sympathize with anyone protesting that such a characterization is bordering on anti-semitic. How about we be more precise with exactly what and who we think are the problematic parties.

          it’s a micro-state like Kuwait

          With nuclear weapons? When I last looked some years ago it was among the most powerful militaries of the world.

          No one labors details of the history of the Turkish Republic or declares it illegitimate because of the unimaginable horrors that it began with

          I was not aware that the ongoing protests and suffering were about thoughts of history all those years ago? I thought they were present day realities. Again, I am perplexed by the comparison with Turkey. You will have to explain that one, but in the light of the evidence I have posted here over the years of the very conscious and explicit comparisons of the early Zionist movement with a Turkish situation. I

          No one labors details of the history of the Turkish Republic or declares it illegitimate . . . because of the astounding crimes it commits nowadays

          Have you observed what the “labors” today are in relation to “the astounding crimes [a state] commits nowadays”? Are you trying to say that people don’t complain about today but use today to complain about something else that is presumably unrelated and that happened a long time ago? Is not his like a French resistance prisoner complaining about the German invasion of France and being told that his complaint is irrelevant to what he is supposed to be complaining about today?

          I don’t believe what you are calling the ‘standard Israeli narrative’ about anything and have read quite a bit of Shlaim. I’ve been a left wing crank and Israel critic since 1983.

          I don’t believe the “standard Israeli narrative” either (and nor do I believe I came up with the expression!) Left wing means nothing today as it used to mean. Today we might say there are two left-wings: the one that is quick to label any criticism of Israel as antisemitic and those who still continue to support justice for Palestinians.

  • James D. Williams
    2019-03-28 19:48:41 GMT+0000 - 19:48 | Permalink

    The border Kentucky on the Ohio River extends…
    …to the low water mark
    …on the State of Ohio’s side of the river.
    Causes of violent conflict on that account…
    … remain to be fully understood.

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