Special to My Catbird Seat
Ronen Bergman, a senior military and political analyst for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, recently wrote what I consider to be one of the most important articles for decades on the subject of the mindset of the Zionist state’s military and political leaders. It was reproduced in the Wall Street Journal under the headline Siege Fatigue and the Flotilla Mistake.
Getting to the main thrust of his analysis, Bergman wrote this (my emphasis added):
- “What we witnessed in the early hours of Monday morning was symptomatic of a new degree of fatigue in Israeli governing circles. The fact that both the political and military authorities could sign off on such an irresponsible operation suggests that the leadership of the country has given up what it has concluded is ultimately a Sisyphean attempt to accommodate world opinion. Isolation is no longer a threat to be fought, their thinking seems to go, because Israel is terminally isolated. What remains is to concentrate exclusively on what is best for Israel’s survival, shedding any regard for the opinion of others.”
Bergman went on to quote from a conversation he had with a very senior military source two days before Israel’s attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla. The source said it made no difference how careful Israel was in its actions or how it tackled the flotilla. “Whatever we do, they’ll all be against us, they’ll condemn us at the UN and we’ll be scolded. We might as well at least preserve our national dignity and maintain the blockade of Gaza.” In other words, Bergman commented, “the war over world opinion is over and Israel has lost.”
A little later in his article Bergman wrote:
- “Israel’s fatigue and deep sense of ostracism is, to say the least, unhealthy… And, of course, it is profoundly disturbing when the fatigued and isolated country itself has the means to strike pre-emptively and punishingly at its enemies, including in ways from which, realistically, there may be no return.”
As I note in the three-volume, American edition of my book ZIONISM: THE REAL ENEMY OF THE JEWS (www.claritypress.com), the question of whether or not Israel should care about what the non-Jewish world thinks was the ticking time-bomb at the heart of Israeli politics from the moment of the Zionist (not Jewish) state’s birth.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, was firmly and unshakably of the opinion, as were most of his leadership colleagues, that what the non-Jewish world thought of Israel’s policies and actions did not matter. “Our future,” Ben-Gurion was fond of saying, “does not depend on what Gentiles say but on what Jews do.” The logic (paranoia?) supporting this way of thinking went something like this. The world has always been and always will be anti-Semitic (anti-Jew). Holocaust II, shorthand for another great turning against the Jews, is at some point in the future inevitable. So by definition there can be no limits to what Israel might have to do to preserve itself as refuge of last resort for all Jews everywhere.
My own Gentile take on this aspect of the matter is that after the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant of anti-Semitism would have gone back to sleep and, very probably, would have died in its sleep – if the major powers had not allowed Zionism right or wrong to have its way. But let’s put that to one side.
The only heavyweight Israeli leader who opposed Ben-Gurion’s view of Israel’s position in the world was Moshe Sharett, the state’s first foreign minister and prime minister for a short period after Ben-Gurion stood down because of doubts about his mental stability. In my view Sharett was the only completely sane member of Israel’s early leadership.
I think the most perceptive summary of Sharett and his significance is to be found in The Iron Wall, Israel and the Arabs, a book of revelations by Avi Shlaim, one of Israel’s leading “revisionist” (meaning honest) historians who now lives in the UK and is Professor of International Relations at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Shlaim wrote (my emphasis added):
“In sharp contrast to Ben-Gurion, Sharett was highly sensitive not only to what the Gentiles said but even more to what they did. He acknowledged that the UN had played an indispensible part in the creation of the State of Israel, and he was in favour of allowing it to play a larger and more effective role in the regulation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He believed that international public opinion had a bearing on Israel’s security and was, therefore, a factor worth taking into account. Above all, he was eager to enlist the sympathy and support of the Western powers in Israel’s quest for security and peace. To this end he deemed it necessary to abide by the prevailing norms of international behaviour and to refrain from actions that would fuel Arab hatred.”
The quality of Sharett’s insight into what would be in store for Israel if its hawks had their way was indicated by his diary entry for 12 October 1955, shortly before Ben-Gurion reclaimed the dual role of prime minister and defense minister. This diary entry, an expression of naked despair, was in the form of a question: “What is our vision on this earth – war to the end of generations and life by the sword?”
As I explain in detail in my book, Sharett was destroyed by Ben-Gurion not only because he wanted Israel to be a normal state, but also because he wanted to make peace with the Arabs. (Sharett responded positively to secret messages from Eygpt’s President Nasser who wanted an accommodation with Israel).
Now to the headline over this article – Zionism’s Colonial Enterprise Is Doomed, but…
In1948, as a consequence of Israel’s victory on the battlefield, the Palestine file was closed. One of the unspeakable truths of the time was that behind closed doors the divided, defeated and impotent Arab regimes shared the same hope as Zionism and the major powers. It was that the Palestine file would remain closed. In the script written by Zionism and endorsed by the major powers and the Arab regimes, there was not supposed to be a regeneration of Palestinian nationalism. The Palestinians were supposed to accept their lot as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of political expediency.
On reflection it’s my view that Zionism’s colonial enterprise was doomed by its failure to keep the Palestine file closed. Once the file was re-opened by Yasser Arafat and his Fatah colleagues, Zionism had a choice – either to make an accommodation with the Palestinians (by the end of 1979 Arafat had prepared the ground on his side for peace on terms which any rational government and people in Israel would have accepted with relief); or by all and any means, including state terrorism, to try to break the will of the Palestinians to continue their struggle for an acceptable amount of justice.
Israel’s leaders chose the latter course, and in doing they have not deviated from Zionism’s defining ethic as written and published by Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founding father of Israel’s army. His text, published a decade before the Nazis came to power in Germany, explains why Israel was bound to become a rogue state and, at the time of writing, a monster beyond control. As put into words by Jabotinsky, the following was, is, Zionism’s defining ethic (my emphasis added):
- “Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization.
- “To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer – absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.”
Today the incredible almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians is proof if more was needed of Zionism’s failure and that its colonial enterprise is doomed. And that begs the following question. How will the story end?
Because of Israel’s colonization, still on-going, of the occupied West Bank, a genuine and viable two-state solution is D.B.A. (Dead Before Arrival). It follows that there are now, in theory, only two possible end-game scenarios.
In one Israeli Jews come to their senses and accept that their best and actually only hope for a future with security and peace is the One State solution – a single, democratic state in which all of its citizens, Jews and Arabs, would have equal civil and political rights. (One of my anti-Zionist Jewish friends with a sense of humour said it could be called Palestein). In theory it could happen. In practise I fear it won’t because it would amount to the de-Zionization of Palestine; and I can’t see Zionism agreeing to that.
In the other foreseeable end-game scenario, the action starts with the final ethnic cleansing of Palestine. That happens when Israel’s leaders conclude that they cannot break the will of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians and force them to accept crumbs from Zionism’s table – a few Bantustans on 40% or thereabouts of the West Bank. When they come to that conclusion, Israel’s leaders invent a pretext to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever.
In terms of defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation, that would buy the Zionist state some time, but how much time and to what end?
An Israel that resorted to a final round of ethnic cleansing would become a pariah state like no other. The anti-Israel outrage of citizens of all faiths and none around the world would be such that the governments of the major powers, including the one in Washington D.C., would be obliged to punish the Zionist state with boycott, sanctions and divestment.
Then what? How would Zionism’s in-Israel leaders respond?
I think it’s more than possible, even probable, that, feeling themselves backed into a corner with no acceptable escape route, they would launch their nuclear missiles in a defiant farewell gesture and take the region down with them.
For those readers who believe that such a scenario is unthinkable, I recall in my book what was said to me by Golda Meir, in a filmed interview for the BBC’s Panorama program, when she was Israel’s prime minister.
At a point I interrupted her to say: “Prime Minister, I want to be sure I understand what you’re saying… You are saying that if ever Israel was in danger of being defeated on the battlefield, it would be prepared to take the region and even the whole world down with it?”
Without the shortest of pauses for reflection, and in the gravel voice that could charm or intimidate American Presidents according to need, Golda replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.”
After that interview was transmitted, The Times of London, then a seriously good newspaper (not the Murdoch-owned, pro-Zionist paper it is today), replaced its lead editorial with one quoting what Golda had said to me. That replacement editorial ended with a short statement of the paper’s own opinion. “We had better believe her.”
If instead of saying to Golda “if ever Israel was in danger of being defeated on the battlefield” I had said “if ever Israel was put under real pressure by the whole of the international community to do what it did not want to do”, I’m sure her answer would have been the same.
According to Roger Tucker in a recent article for Dissident Voice, an Armageddon ending to the story of Zionism’s colonial enterprise is not inevitable. Under the headline The One State Solution Sounds Like a Good Idea, but…, he wrote (my emphasis added):
- “What is it that most Israelis actually want. Not surprisingly, we find that they want what people everywhere want, security and stability, peace, to be respected if not loved, to be free of constant fear and anxiety, to have the sense that their children will have the opportunity to live normal, productive and happy lives. All surveys have been consistent in this respect. None of these things are possible as long as the Israelis stick with political Zionism, and the Israelis, deep down, know this. They may be temporarily deluded, even collectively insane, driven by the howling winds of paranoia, arrogance and bloody-minded defiance… but they aren’t actually stupid, and the madness cannot last.”
In my view the matter of whether Israelis are stupid or not misses the point. What they are was summed up to me by the best and the brightest of Israel’s Directors of Military Intelligence, Major General Shlomo Gazit.
When I talked about him in the major capitals of the world to diplomats with the prime responsibility for crisis managing the Middle East, I said that if I was putting together a world government with 20 portfolios, he would have several of them, on account of his experience, his intellect, his wisdom and his humanity. In private conversations with me he did not display even a hint of the insufferable self-righteousness that is the hallmark of Zionism. He is without arrogance. For about two decades he was the head of research at the Directorate of Military Intelligence. In that capacity he was the single most informed man in the world on the reality or not of the Arab military threat to Israel’s existence. Then, in 1973, he was called upon to become DMI, with a brief to make sure there could never again be an intelligence failure of the kind that had occurred in the countdown to the Yom Kippur war. He was, in short, the man to whom the government of Israel turned for salvation in the aftermath of what it perceived at the time, wrongly, to be a real threat to the Zionist state’s existence. He did not want to become DMI and did so only out of a sense of duty. Over coffee one morning in early 1980, I took a deep breath and said to Shlomo: “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all a myth. Israel’s existence has never ever been in danger.” Through a sad smile he replied, “The trouble with us Israelis is that we’ve become the victims of our own propaganda.”
I know from my own experience of reporting from Israel how that happened. When I was writing my long chapter on the 1967 war, I found myself saying to readers that there were times, this was one of them, when I wanted to “cry out with the pain of knowing how much Israel’s Jews (as well as the Jews of the world and the whole of the Western world) had been lied to and deceived by their leaders.”
Simply stated, most Israeli Jews have been brainwashed; and it seems to me that the “madness” in Israel will last and take the region and possibly the whole world all the way to Armageddon unless… Unless a way can be found to open Israeli eyes and minds to the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel.
I dare to suggest that the publication of my book in Israel, in Hebrew as well as English, would be a good start.
Question: Is there in Israel a publisher with the integrity and courage to take my book on?