Originally posted as:
Into the fray: The Arabs’ war against the Jews (cont.): Root causes & red herrings.
If the Jews are to prevail in the Arabs’ war against them it is essential that they accurately differentiate misleading red herrings from real root causes.
Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse any aggression, but to initiate it ourselves, and to destroy the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland of Palestine. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.
– Hafez Assad, then Syrian defense minister, later president, May 20, 1967 We will not accept any… coexistence with Israel.
The existence of Israel is in itself an aggression…against the Palestinian people.
– Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt, to the international media, May 28, 1967
The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.
– Abdul Rahman Arif, president of Iraq, May 31, 1967
The Arabs have been waging war against the Jews and their presence in the Land of Israel for over a hundred years; they have been waging war against the Jewish political sovereignty for almost seven decades.
The war has ebbed and flowed over the years, but as I have pointed out in recent columns, we are entering a new, and particularly menacing, phase of ongoing Arab aggression aimed at the annihilation of the Jews and their nation-state. As Shmuley Boteach wrote in his column earlier this week, the sense is that “it’s open season on the Jews of Israel.”
Diagnosing root causes & red herrings
If the Jews are to prevail in this brutal assault to drive them out of their ancestral homeland, if they are to preserve their national independence, it is essential that they diagnose the true reasons for Arab aggression, and distinguish misleading red herrings from real root causes.
After all, if the diagnosis is flawed, the prescription for remedy will be similarly flawed – even fatally so.
Sadly, if we judge by the tenor of public discourse in Israel today, there is little ground for optimism.
One senior public figure after another – not only on the Left of the political spectrum – have come out with declarations that have ranged from regrettably inappropriate, through hopelessly unfounded, to dangerously counter-productive.
From the newly elected president, Reuven Rivlin, to veteran Police Chief Yohanan Danino, statements explicitly alleging or insinuating that the Jews’ own conduct – such as exercising their right of access to religious sites or legislative initiatives to codify in law the values reflected in the Declaration of Independence – precipitated, or at least, exacerbated, recent Arab butchery of innocent Jews in the streets, on the roads, inside synagogues, and at building sites across the country.
Apart from a resurgence of a shtetl mentality that Zionism was supposed to eradicate, such unfortunate proclamations reek of the “soft racism” of low expectations for the Arabs, and a craven desire to avoid upsetting non-Jews that is dangerously detrimental. These personages hopelessly conflate red herrings with root causes – and in so doing, promote misguided policies and foster the very problems they mean to contain.
What the Jews are, not what they do
Only the moronic or the malevolent could seriously contend that Arab animosity toward the Jews is a result of anything the Jews do.
No matter what the Jews do, they are assailed for what they don’t; and no matter what they don’t do, they are assailed for what they do. If they do not concede to Arab demands, they are accused of being intransigent. If they make far-reaching concessions, they are berated for those not made.
As the introductory excerpts show, Arabs harbor a burning Judeophobic hatred, and a blatant Judeocidal desire to annihilate the Jewish state infuses the entire Arab world – from Iraq through Syria to Egypt. This obdurate enmity had nothing to do with the policies of the Jewish state, but with its very existence.
For these bellicose proclamations all predate the 1967 Six Day war. They were all made before any Jewish presence in Judea-Samaria (a.k.a. the “West Bank”); before “occupation” and “settlements” – the perennial buzzwords for rallying anti-Israeli sentiment – had any practical relevance or conceptual significance.
It was before there was any access for Jews on the Temple Mount, or any legislative initiative to declare Israel a “Jewish state.” It was a time when Jewish holy sites in the Jordanian-controlled “West Bank” were desecrated, made into public urinals or converted into goat sheds; when Jewish cemeteries were defiled and Jewish gravestones uprooted to be used as construction materials; when, under the Hashemite monarchy, Jordanian snipers lurked atop the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, randomly picking off civilians going about their business on the Israeli-controlled western side of the city.
The mortal sin of existence
Yet despite this, on March 8, 1965, fully two years before the outbreak of the 1967 war (!), long before Israel controlled a square inch of territory now claimed as “Palestine,” long before any “radical right-wing rabbi” could offend Arab sensibilities or ignite Arab rage with “rabid religious rhetoric,” Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser laid out the Arabs’ bloodcurdling objective: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.”
Not to be outdone in the expression of sheer savagery, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor as PLO chairman, Ahmad Shukeiri, crowed in a somewhat premature expression of triumph, a few days before the crushing Arab defeat: “The Arabs… will not flinch from the war of liberation…
This is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road… We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors – if there are any – the boats are ready to deport them.”
It is clear, therefore, that the Arabs cannot countenance Jewish existence itself – or at least, the existence of a sovereign Jewish political entity. They unequivocally state and actively strive to fulfill their stated intention: “The [very] existence of Israel is in itself an aggression; they “will not accept any… coexistence with Israel” since “the existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified.”
‘establishment of the state of Israel entirely illegal’
The same implacable refusal to accept any form of Jewish national independence is clearly reflected in the founding documents of all Palestinian political organizations.
Thus, Fatah’s constitution declares its goal to be the total “eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence,” which it pledges to achieve by “armed struggle…[which] will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished”; the Hamas Charter candidly asserts:
“Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims,”
cautioning that the Day of Redemption will not come
“until Muslims fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him; while the Palestinian National Covenant declares: “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time,” denying that “Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own,” since “Judaism… is not an independent nationality.”
But this adamant inflexibility is by no means confined to documents alone. It epitomizes the unequivocal positions of the current leadership of the Palestinian-Arabs – including the allegedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO.
Breathtaking duplicity & double standards
The PLO’s response to the proposed “Jewish state” legislation (The Jerusalem Post, November 25) should be extremely edifying for anyone at all open to being edified.
According to the PLO, the bill
“is a racist political decision to complete the theft of Palestinian land and rights,” and “the so-called historic homeland of the Jewish people is a racist and ideologically exclusionary attempt to obscure the Palestinian historic narrative and abolish Palestinian existence.”
With a breathtaking display of hypocrisy and double standards, Abbas, who has unabashedly and consistently proclaimed that any Palestinian state must be entirely judenrein, had the temerity to declare that the initiative to codify Israel’s status as a Jewish state in law “places obstacles in the way to achieving peace.”
There you have it. The prospect of a Jewish state is a racist obstacle to achieving peace on the basis of the two-states-for-two-peoples principle, but the exclusion of all Jews from a Palestinian one, is not? Hmmm.
It is against this background of uncompromising rejection by Abbas and the PLO of any permanent acceptance of, or possible reconciliation with, some arrangement that would allow the Jews national sovereignty in land the Arabs perceive as theirs, that Israel’s policy options should be evaluated.
Corroborating breaking news
The Arabs’ war against the Jews has taken on many forms and configurations. When one method proved ineffective, another was adopted – fedayeen insurgency, conventional warfare, terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, rockets and missiles at civilian targets.
All were tried. All failed to bring about the demise of the Jewish nation-state. We are entering a new phase: Ideological incitement to provoke individuals, or small unorganized groups, to commit acts of slaughter, and to foster insurrection among Arabs with Israeli citizenship.
But before considering how this should be dealt with, one must grasp that none of the manifestations of Arab endeavor to eliminate the Jewish state were a result of provocation on the part of the Jews – not “occupation” (there was no “occupation” prior to 1967), not settlements (there are no settlements in Gaza), not Jewish access to the Temple Mount, not any legislative initiative to declare Israel what it is – a Jewish state. Rather, they are all rooted in the abiding hostility and hatred that Arabs harbor for the Jews, or, at least, for Jewish sovereignty.
And consistent with this, breaking news came while this column was being composed of a massive terrorist plot, initiated from Hamas headquarters in Turkey, that was uncovered and thwarted by the security services.
The Post reported that the terrorists planned massive attacks against Jerusalem’s main Teddy soccer stadium, the capital’s light rail system, car bombings, and kidnappings of Israelis in the West Bank and elsewhere.
Significantly, the terror network began operating at the end of August – well before MK Moshe Feiglin’s visits to the Temple Mount or MKs Yariv Levin and Ayelet Shaked submitted their proposal (based on former Kadima MK Dichter’s initiative) for “Jewish state” legislation.
None of those are the real reason for Arab violence against Jews – only opportunistic excuses, sadly endorsed by many Jews.
Ruthless resolve, not reticent restraint
The Arabs cannot be appeased or placated into abandoning their quest to eradicate Jewish national sovereignty. Each gesture of conciliation will only fuel further demands for additional such gestures.
They can only be deterred from pursuing their design, or – should deterrence fail – be defeated in doing so.
Anything else is a dangerous delusion, which will result in tragedy.
Tough measures – punitive and preemptive – are called for. Arab communities must be saturated with intelligence collection efforts – whether conducive, consensual or coercive.
Challenges to Jewish sovereignty must be met with stiff penalties, including deportation and loss of citizenship/residency for offenders and their dependents. The Jews must convey an unambiguous message to the Arabs – on both sides of the Green Line – that they will not brook any challenge, domestic or foreign, from within its borders or from without, to their national sovereignty and political independence.
Unless the Jews convey the unequivocal message that any such challenges will be met with overwhelming force, they will increasingly be the victims of such force at the hands of their Arab adversaries.
There may be those who find this prescription excessively harsh.
Sadly, the only way the Jews can avoid living permanently by the sword is to convey convincingly to the Arabs that they have the resolve to do so. I invite everyone to consider the alternative.
Only Arab despair can bring any hope for peace.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.