Militants fighting against the Syrian government have abducted a group of UN peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
According to Reuter’s news agency, a militant group operating in Syria issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was holding the four peacekeepers.
The statement said the peacekeepers were being held for their own safety because of clashes in the separation zone between Syria and the Israeli-occupied heights.
A picture accompanying the statement shows four peacekeepers wearing light-blue UN flak jackets marked “Philippines.”
It is the second time that foreign-backed militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad seize UN troops in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
In March, anti-Syria militants detained 21 Filipino peacekeepers in the same region. They were released after three days.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the insurgents are foreign nationals.
Several international human rights organizations have accused foreign-sponsored militants of committing war crimes.
Syrian ambassador at the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, accused the Zionist entity of cooperating with the armed group that abducted 21 UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights earlier this week.
“Israel facilitated entry of Salafist elements into the buffer zone between Israel and Syria in Golan, which is considered a violation of the 1974 treaty signed between the two sides, Jaafari told reporters on Friday.
“Israel wanted to repeat what it had done in south Lebanon in 1970s when they created an isolating area and appointed a Lebanese officer to fight for them”.
“For achieving such aim, peacekeepers should be evacuated from Golan,” he added.
“Two weeks ago, seven terrorist from the same armed group that took the Filipino contingent staffers hostage where also rescued by the Israelis through the separation line, treated in Israeli hospitals and returned at an undisclosed place on the line of separation, according to the Israeli official statement.” he said.
“So that proves to itself that the Israelis are cooperating with these armed groups and terrorist groups.”
Jaafari also dismissed the notion that Assad government operations were endangering the hostages or impeding their release.
“We know what we are doing and we know where the peacekeepers are. Our task is to rescue these peacekeepers and safeguard their lives.”
21 UN peacekeepers of the Filippino nationalities were seized by rebels Wednesday near the armistice. But they crossed to freedom in Jordan on Saturday.
The Syrian rebels who captured a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers failed to release them despite earlier promises to hand over the hostages to the Red Cross, the Philippines government said.
The Syrian militant group that had captured 21 blue helmet troops in Golan Heights is sticking to its initial demands, said the spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez. After seizing the peacekeepers on Wednesday, the Syrian rebels demanded that Syrian government forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah in exchange for the release of the captives.
The abrupt change of plans appears a sign of discord among the Syrian rebel group, which is detaining the Filipinos. Earlier on Friday they seemed to have played down their demands, calling the hostages “guests” and stressing that they would not harm them.
It comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video showing some of the 21 peacekeepers, with one man – who identified himself as a captain in the UN Philippines battalion – saying that he and his men are in “a safe place.”
The peacekeepers were taken by Syrian rebels in Golan Heights, a territory that Israel captured from Syria in 1967. The land grab was not recognized as legitimate by either Syria or the international community.
The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. As of late January, there were more than 1,000 troops and about 100 civilian personnel deployed there.
A flurry of condemnation followed the ill-fated capture, as the countries and organizations usually seen as supporters of the Syrian armed opposition demanded their freedom. The US called it “absolutely unacceptable,” while the EU called such moves “serious breaches of international law.”
The UN and the Philippines government had condemned the capture of the peacekeepers and urged the insurgents to immediately release them. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said the seizure of the UN observers showed “gross disrespect for the United Nations.”
It’s not clear whether the militant group had changed their intentions about the hostages due to the international pressure or because they thought that holding UN personnel does not give them enough leverage on the Syrian government to force their troops out of Jamlah.
The incident will not make the UN withdraw its peacekeeping force from the Golan Heights, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
Israel has awarded its first license to drill for oil on the occupied Golan Heights to a US energy company, industry sources said on Thursday.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The strategic plateau has been extensively settled by Israelis and is the site of a major wind turbine project.
Energy sector sources said that after Israel decided last year to allow oil and gas exploration on the Golan, Genie Energy was awarded a license to drill. The New Jersey-based company still needs further work permits for drilling to commence, a process that could take years.
Genie did not immediately return calls for comment.
The company’s Strategic Advisory Board includes a number of high-profile pro-Israel political and business leaders: US Vice President Dick Cheney, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and British banking tycoon Lord Jacob Rothschild.
The strategic advisory board “advises management on strategic, financial, operational and public policy matters.”
The Golan’s status has been at the heart of past Israeli-Syrian peace talks, with Damascus demanding its full return. With a two-year-old Syrian revolt now threatening President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, Israel has dug in on the Golan.
Last Thursday, financial news site TheMarker reported that US-Israeli consortium developing the Tamar natural gas field off Palestine’s Mediterranean coast is in talks to sell gas to Jordanian companies.
The Tamar prospect, whose estimated reserves of 274 bcm made it one of the largest discoveries of the past decades, is expected to begin production in the next few months.
Jordan, like Israel, was dealt a wave of attacks on pipelines from Egypt. But Egypt still supplies Jordan with gas while it halted supply to Israel last year.
Egypt’s pipeline with Israel was attacked over 13 times since a popular revolt toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in
On the January 22 broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, correspondent Margaret Warner reported on the outcome of the Israeli elections. It told the same story as most other reports on the issue, trying to sort out the implications for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians basically do not exist in the report; Warner makes one reference to ultra-right Israeli politician Naftali Bennett, who she says believes “the time for negotiating with the Palestinians is over.”
But what was most intriguing was a comment at the end of the piece, from anchor Gwen Ifill: “We will hear more from Margaret as she travels through Israel, the West Bank and Gaza over the next week and a half.”
That sounded like it could be be an interesting opportunity for TV viewers to get a glimpse of Palestinian life. But that’s not what PBS chose to put on the air.
The next installment (1/25/13) was also about the Israeli elections: “So, Margaret, a few days after the election, what kind of government seems to be taking shape?” asked anchor Jeffrey Brown. The emphasis was on Israeli society: “How divided does it feel politically and culturally?”
Warner explained that
the old divide used to be over how much and how to deal with the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular and whether to give land for peace. The new divide is very cultural, and it is between the ultra-orthodox religious and also the pro-settler nationalist movement, which aren’t the same.
Later on Brown asked Warner to explain what her reporting would be touching on. Warner explained that the big stories are “the Iranian nuclear program, the conflict in Syria, and the Israeli/Palestinian issue.” She added that, “of course, we have talked to a lot of Israelis. But, yesterday, for instance, we went up to the Golan Heights, which is, you know, land that the Israelis captured from the Syrians.” So Israelis one day, Israeli-occupied land the next day. Warner nonetheless promised “some textured stories next week that look at all three of those.”
The next report (1/28/13) was again about the Israeli elections–a look at the relationship between Netanyahu and Barack Obama, including their plan to deal with “the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.” Warner started in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights:
The sweeping vistas of the Golan Heights plateau and the bucolic life of the Israelis who live here bear quiet witness to the strategic importance of this area, which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab/Israeli war.
The report was entirely about how Israeli officials view the possibility of the Syrian war “spilling over” into the land they were occupying. Warner shifts the focus to include a look at Tel Aviv, where houses include safe rooms, and she recalled
the conflict last November,when radical Palestinian groups in Hamas-controlled Gaza fired rockets into Tel Aviv, sending residents scrambling to their shelters.
In Gaza, such safe rooms mostly do not exist; over 100 civilians were killed in those Israeli attacks.
At the end of the piece, anchor Gwen Ifill previewed the next installment: “Margaret’s next story looks at the debate in Israel over how to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
And that’s exactly what viewers got on January 30, a report that started out with Warner’s unsubstantiated claims about an Israeli airstrike inside Syria, relying on what the Israeli and U.S. governments were saying. Warner also referred to how several nations were “concerned about Iran’s nuclear weapons program”–a false description of the state of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, which has not been shown to be connected to any weapons program.
On January 31, Warner was back–with another report about what Israelis think of the world. Anchor Judy Woodruff offered this description:
Tonight, Margaret Warner, on assignment in the Middle East, reports on the growing debate within Israel about how much of a threat Iran really is.
The piece was an exploration of Iran from various Israeli perspectives–from those who see Iran as an “existential threat” to those who do not. Current and former military officials occupied much of the conversation. And Warner took a look at an Israeli emergency medical facility.
It wasn’t until the February 1 broadcast–in a series that was supposed to take viewers around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza–that viewers actually started hearing from Palestinians.
The report started with a furniture business in the West Bank, which used to do a lot of business with Israelis. “Then came the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising,” explained Warner, “that brought suicide bombings and terror to Israel.”
Had violence ever been “brought” to Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank? Warner didn’t say.
And years later, this West Bank shopping district “has become a virtual ghost town.” Israelis and Palestinians are not hopeful about the future and are suspicious of each other. Warner makes a brief stop in Gaza, interviewing a Palestinian fisherman who used to work alongside an Israeli who lived in a Gaza settlement.
So what the PBS NewsHour gave viewers was the view from Israel–with a few moments at the end of the series to include Palestinian perspectives, never as subjects in their own right, but to illustrate a “divide” that exists on “both sides.”
On February 5, anchor Jeffrey Brown remarked, “All last week, Margaret Warner and a NewsHour team reported from Israel on many facets of its increasingly tense relations with its neighbors.” That is a far more accurate description of what PBS actually gave viewers.
Photo released August 15, 2012 shows NY State Sen. David Storobin (L) and his chief of staff, Paul Gullo, (R) with Israeli Gen. Shmulik Olansky (C) on Syrian border
A New York state senator has taken up arms while posing for a picture in an Israeli army uniform on the Syrian border during an official trip to Israel.
A New York state senator has been photographed with a weapon in his hands and posing for a picture in an Israeli army uniform on the Syrian border during an official trip to Israel.
A photo posted online on August 15 showed State Sen. David Storobin in an Israeli army uniform and with a rifle in his hands side-by-side with Israeli officers.
Storobin, who is running for reelection as a Republican, is seen standing next to Gen. Shculik Olansky, who is in charge of Israel’s Golan Heights Armor Division.
Storobin’s chief of staff, Paul Gullo, also appears in the image released by Storobin’s campaign.
The provocative move is the latest show of US support for armed gangs attempting to topple the Syrian government.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.
There has been a ridiculous notion amongst numerous left groups and those opposed to the Syrian government, that the Israeli regime does not want to see Assad fall. As self-professed “anti-zionists”, many in these groups are content to delude themselves into believing that both their enemies are on the same side. In the case of several socialist groups, they believe that this forcing of the Syrian crisis into their blanket “anti-authoritarian” narrative (regardless of the state in which they are applying that narrative to) enables them to maintain a façade of anti-imperialism.
London based socialist newspaper The Socialist Review writes: “Israel, although hostile to Syria, could depend on the Baathist regime to keep the frontier quiet. Thus criticism of Bashar is more muted in Tel Aviv.”
And Simon Assaf of the SocialistWorker writes:
The notion that ordinary Syrians struggling to change their country are the pawns of a ‘Western plot’ is absurd…In fact the Arab League is attempting to throw the regime a lifeline.
This view is also pervasive amongst the Islamic opposition to the Syrian government. Rafiq A. Tschannen of the The Muslims Times writes:
Israel believes that it would be safer under Assad regime than the new government whose credentials are unknown or the new Islamic extremist regime that would open a new war front with the Jewish state.
Israeli state media has actively fuelled this manipulation, as it has been beneficial to the Israeli state to both discredit the Syrian government in the eyes of Syrians and Arabs amongst whom cooperation with Israel has historically been a red line. Therefore the goal of these reports has been to create the false perception that Israel is uninvolved in the insurgency against the Syrian government. Similarly to how the NATO powers were keen to portray the Libyan insurgency as a “home-grown revolution”.
In this early 2011 Haaretz article entitled Israel’s favourite dictator, great lengths are taken to paint the Syrian president as a weak stooge of the Israeli state. The article regurgitates common Syrian criticisms and sources of frustration about the Syrian government’s failure to take back the Golan Heights. It even goes as far as to chastise Assad for not attacking Israel. The irony that an Israeli paper would be critical of a president’s failure to attack Israel is apparently lost on many. All the more incredible that these anti-Zionist groups have chosen to believe the spin of Israeli state media.
The Turkish based Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), also jumped on this bandwagon. The now deposed leader of the SNC, Burghan Ghallion told the Israeli paper Ynetnews “We are convinced that the Syrian regime’s strongest ally is Israel”.
Debunking the Myth
However the following facts expose all of the above as merely a part of the psychological warfare machinery directed from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the NATO countries, which is an essential part of the overall aggression against Syria, and that such leftists have willingly become a part of:
Israel’s most important ally, the US, has been amongst its other allies repeatedly calling for regime change in Syria
Israel’s strongest ally the United States has been pushing for regime change in Syria since before the first signs of insurrection began. Most famously in 2007, General Wesley Clarke, who served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander between 1997 and 2000 said he had received a memo from the US Secretary of Defense’s Office which read that the Syrian Government would be one of the seven governments the US would destroy in the subsequent five years.
The Guardian’s recent headline “Saudi Arabia plans to fund Syria rebel army” is in the typical style of the liberal media based in the NATO countries, a malignant manipulation. The text of that article is specifically about plans by the US’ and by extension Israel’s most important regional allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to pay the salaries of insurgents. But, buried further down, the very same article also reports that such support began months before. A less misleading headline therefore would replace “plans to fund” with “increases support for”, however a truthful headline would suggest external control over Syria’s insurgency has existed since its onset.
Indeed both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have a long history of hostility to the Syrian Ba’ath Party and Syrian foreign policy, a fact which is reflected in both of their leading medias (Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya respectively) severely distorted coverage of events in Syria from the outset.
But to highlight this context would give too much weight to the Syrian government’s consistent analysis that the crisis within its borders is externally created. A fact which leftist groups also fall over themselves trying to downplay or dismiss with the result of boosting the opposing narrative which imperialism has made dominant through its media machinery.
Why did that same Guardian article, and western leftists who claim that Assad is good for Israel, fail to mention that for example in early April, the US openly pledged to double its assistance to the insurgents to the tune of an additional $12 million, under the cover of “humanitarian aid”? Or the recent US admission that it is actively arming the insurgency using Qatar as a proxy? Or that in February, solid Israeli ally British Foreign Minister William Hague pledged more equipment to the insurgents, insisting there was “no limit on what resources” Britain would provide?
It shouldn’t have to be explained to anti-Zionists that US and Israeli foreign policy is one and the same.
Axis of Resistance
Syria is a member of the Axis of Resistance, which is the only effective military resistance to Israel left. It is made up of Syria, Iran and the resistance inside Lebanon with Hizbullah at the helm. Far from being a ‘safe’ option for Israel, as Al Akhbar writer Amal Saad-Ghorayeb sets out in her three part critique of the third-way position that has seized much of the western left, Syria has consistently put itself on the front line, risking its own survival, and has been involved in every Arab-Israeli conflict since they took power. Syria has been the strongest supporter of the Lebanese resistance movements against Israeli occupation; Hizbullah has repeatedly unequivocally attributed its ability to effectively win the 2006 war against Israeli invasion of Lebanon to its support from Syria and Iran.
A year since the beginning of the insurrection in Syria, the ridiculous notion that Israel was not pursuing regime change in Syria began to crumble. Israeli Intelligence Minister, Dan Meridor was quoted on Israeli radio, pointing out what was obvious all along: Regime change in Syria would break the Iran-Syria mutual defence pact thereby isolating Iran and cutting the supply of arms to Hezbollah. Finally, Israel’s greatest adversary, Syria, would be crippled.
This was not reported in Israeli mass media, which ensured that the lid was kept on the obvious, clearly in the knowledge that it would make the position of the insurgent’s self-professed anti-Zionist cheerleaders in the west and Arab world more untenable. Yet those cheerleaders who maintain that Assad is good for Israel have been unable to reconcile then why Israel relentlessly beats the war drums against one of Syria’s most important allies, Iran.
Aside from wanting to get rid of Assad to secure military hegemony of the region, Israel also has an economic interest in scuppering the Syria, Iran, Iraq oil pipeline which would rival both Israel’s BTC pipeline and the eternally fledgling plans for Europe’s Nabucco pipeline.
With increasing momentum, the already tenuous facade of being pro-Assad in the Israeli media began to crumble and increasingly, voices within the Syrian opposition have been crossing the red line of sounding friendly towards Israel.
MK Yitzhak Herzog, who has previously held ministerial posts in the Israeli parliament, said that Syrian opposition leaders have told him they want peace with Israel after Syrian President Bashar al Assad falls.
Indeed, SNC member Bassma Kodmani attended the 2012 Bilderberg conference where regime change in Syria was on the agenda. Kodmani has previously called for friendly relations between Syria and Israel on a French talk show, going as far as to say: ‘We need Israel in the region’.
Another SNC member, Ammar Abdulhamid declared his support for friendly relations between Israel and Syria in an interview with Israeli news paper Ynetnews.
Earlier this year a telephone conversation between the SNC’s Radwan Ziyade and Mouhammad Abdallah emerged where they begged Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack for more support.
Outside the SNC the children of former leadership figures now in opposition have joined the pro-Israel rat race. Ribal al-Assad, the son of Bashar Assad’s uncle and exiled former vice-president Rifaat al-Asaad welcomed the possibility of Syria making peace with Israel. And son of former Syrian prime minister Nofal Al-Dawalibi, said in an interview on Israeli radio that the Syrian people want peace with Israel. Dawalibi formed the “Free Syrian Transitional National Government”, another external opposition group rivaling the SNC for power in a situation where the Syrian government falls. The sectarian infighting and disunity, that is a mirror of post-Gaddafi Libya, is now threatening to plague Syria.
Lower down the opposition hierarchy, pro-Israel voices are still to be found.
Syrian Danny Abdul-Dayem, the almost one-hit-wonder unofficial spokesman for the FSA, appeared on CNN begging Israel to Attack Syria.
And in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Sheikh Abdullah Tamimi, an exiled Imam from the Syrian city of Homs, said that the Syrian Opposition does not have any enmity towards Israel. Tamimi proceeded to request monetary and military support for Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon.
Anti-Assad Zionists and Israeli Leaders
Socialists have chosen to be blind to the fact that prominent Zionists have been backing the Syrian insurgency since its inception.
US Senator John McCain and Joe Lieberman, both well known to be close friends of the Zionist entity, met with the SNC and Syrian insurgents on the Turkish border, then called for the US to arm them. In fact Joe Lieberman has been calling for war against Syria since 2011.
Another well known Zionist Bernard Henri-Levy, who spear-headed the destruction of Libya by NATO aerial bombardment, has also called for an attack on Syria.
More recently voices within the Israeli government have been more vocal and demanding in their desire to see the Syrian government’s replacement with a more friendly puppet regime.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, upon receiving the ‘Medal of Freedom’ from US President Barack Obama, said that the world had to get rid of Assad. That he was receiving such a medal requires its own article dedicated to psychoanalyzing such an event, but that he could also claim, while being part of a system that is responsible for some of the gravest abuses to humankind in history, that from a “human” point of view Assad must go, should really get so-called anti-Zionists thinking.
Other members of the Israeli government, such as Israeli Vice Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, urged world powers to mount a Libya style regime change in Syria.
And Israeli defense minister Ehud Barack called for the ‘world to act’ to remove Assad.
Finally, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused the ‘world’ of wrong doing for failing to act against the Syrian government and then offered Israeli ‘assistance’ for Syrian ‘refugees’. Thin euphemism for arming insurgents on the border.
In spite of the overt desire of the US government for regime change in Syria, which they have made clear time and time again, Israel has obvious economic and military interests for pursuing regime change in Syria, most notably the the break up of the Axis of Resistance and the destruction of plans for rival oil pipelines. Despite numerous public statements by Syrian opposition members that they are pro-Israel and the multitude of Israeli government officials calling for the fall of the Syrian government as well as Zionist lobbyists and key Zionist figures like Bernard Henri-Levy backing the insurgency, so called ‘anti-Zionist’ socialists and Islamic groups persist in their claim that Israel has no stake in regime change in Syria and that the insurgency inside Syria is from the grass roots. Though all information contrary to this delusion is in clear sight, it seems that the socialist and Islamic groups are willfully blind.
This position has become increasingly untenable however, most recently in light of the murder of Syria’s Deputy Defence Minister Asef Shawkat, which along with the simultaneous murder of Defence Minister Raoud Dajiha and Assistant to the Vice President Hassan Turkomani, which the Syrian government laid the responsibility for squarely at the doors of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as new information has come to light as revealed by Al Akhbar editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin.
In an article published today, Amin writes of Shawkat, that in spite of the incessant attempts by the US, Israel et al to demonise him, he in fact,
played a major role in resisting Israeli occupation in and around Palestine. Right to the end, he took practical charge of meeting the needs of the resistance forces in Palestine and Lebanon, and of their members and cadres in Syria. He oversaw everything from their accommodation and transportation, to their training camps and provisions, and arranging for cadres from inside Palestine to come to the country secretly for training.
For the resistance in Lebanon, Shawkat was a true partner, providing whatever assistance was needed without needing orders or approval from the leadership. He was a central player in the June 2006 war. He spent the entire time in the central operations room that was set up in line with a directive by Assad to supply the resistance with whatever weapons it wanted, notably missiles, from Syrian army stocks. Shawkat and other officers and men of the Syrian army – including Muhammad Suleiman who was assassinated by the Mossad on the Syrian coast in 2008 – spent weeks coordinating the supply operation which helped the resistance achieve the successes that led to the defeat of Israel.
Despite the accusations levelled against Asef Shawkat regarding security, political or other matters, for Imad Mughniyeh, the assassinated military leader of Hezbollah, he was just another comrade, a modest man who would bow when shaking hands with Hassan Nasrallah, and liked to hear the news from Palestine last thing at night.
However anti-Zionist one proclaims to be, there are few in this world that can claim to have done as much as the above for the Palestinian resistance to the Zionist entity. But having proven to willfully ignore all of the facts and history of Syria’s long history of resistance to Israel, it is a great tragedy that those who cling to the argument dealt with in this essay, would only perhaps be able to let go of it should Syria fall and then the reality of Palestine’s total military abandonment would be all too devastatingly clear to see.
- Israel Invents Syrian WMD Threat, IDF Commanders Threaten Intervention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Syria: FSA ziothugs murder 17 Palestinian fighters (alethonews.wordpress.com)
In retrospect it can be seen that the 1967 war, the Six Days War, was the turning point in the relationship between the Zionist state of Israel and the Jews of the world (the majority of Jews who prefer to live not in Israel but as citizens of many other nations). Until the 1967 war, and with the exception of a minority of who were politically active, most non-Israeli Jews did not have – how can I put it? – a great empathy with Zionism’s child. Israel was there and, in the sub-consciousness, a refuge of last resort; but the Jewish nationalism it represented had not generated the overtly enthusiastic support of the Jews of the world. The Jews of Israel were in their chosen place and the Jews of the world were in their chosen places. There was not, so to speak, a great feeling of togetherness. At a point David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, was so disillusioned by the indifference of world Jewry that he went public with his criticism – not enough Jews were coming to live in Israel.
So how and why did the 1967 war transform the relationship between the Jews of the world and Israel?
Part of the answer is in a single word – pride. From the Jewish perspective there was indeed much to be proud about. Little Israel with its small but highly professional defence force and its mainly citizen army had smashed the war machines of the frontline Arab states in six days. The Jewish David had slain the Arab Goliath. Israeli forces were in occupation of the whole of the Sinai and the Gaza Strip (Egyptian territory), the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem (Jordanian territory) and the Golan Heights (Syrian territory). And it was not much of a secret that the Israelis could have gone on to capture Cairo, Amman and Damascus. There was nothing to stop them except the impossibility of maintaining the occupation of three Arab capitals.
But the intensity of the pride most Jews of the world experienced with Israel’s military victory was in large part a product of the intensity of the fear that came before it. In the three weeks before the war, the Jews of the world truly believed, because (like Israeli Jews) they were conditioned by Zionism to believe, that the Arabs were poised to attack and that Israel’s very existence was at stake and much in doubt. The Jews of the world (and Israeli Jews) could not be blamed for believing that, but it was a big, fat propaganda lie. Though Egypt’s President Nasser had asked UNEF forces to withdraw, had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and had reinforced his army in the Sinai, neither his Egypt nor any of the frontline Arab states had any intention of attacking Israel. And Israel’s leaders, and the Johnson administration, knew that. In short, and as I detail and document in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the offensive Israel launched at 0750 hours (local time) on Monday 5 June was not a preemptive strike or an act of self-defence. It was a war of aggression.
The summary truth about that war is this.
Assisted by the regeneration Palestinian nationalism, which became the tail that wagged the Arab dog despite the brutal efforts of the intelligence services of the frontline Arab states to prevent it happening, Israel’s military and political hawks set a trap for Nasser; and he walked into it, with eyes half-open, in the hope that the international community, led by the Johnson administration, would restrain Israel and require it and Egypt to settle the problem of the moment by diplomacy. From Nasser’s perspective that was not an unreasonable expectation because of the commitment, given by President Eisenhower, that in the event of the closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt to Israeli shipping, the U.S. would work with the “society of nations” to cause Egypt to restore Israel’s right of passage, and by so doing, prevent war.
A large part of the reason why today rational debate about making peace is impossible with the vast majority of Jews everywhere is that they still believe Egypt and the frontline Arab states were intending to annihilate Israel in 1967, and were only prevented from doing so by Israel’s pre-emptive strike.
If the statement that the Arabs were not intending to attack Israel and that the existence of the Zionist state was not in danger was only that of a goy (a non-Jew, me), it could be dismissed by supporters of Israel right or wrong as anti-Semitic conjecture. In fact the truth the statement represents was admitted by some of the key Israeli players – after the war, of course.
On this 45th anniversary of the start of the Six Days War, here is a reminder of what they said.
In an interview published in Le Monde on 28 February 1968, Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin said this: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
On 14 April 1971, a report in the Israeli newspaper Al-Hamishmar contained the following statement by Mordecai Bentov, a member of the wartime national government. “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”
On 4 April 1972, General Haim Bar-Lev, Rabin’s predecessor as chief of staff, was quoted in Ma’ariv as follows: “We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the Six Days War, and we had never thought of such a possibility.”
In the same Israeli newspaper on the same day, General Ezer Weizmann, Chief of Operations during the war and a nephew of Chaim Weizmann, was quoted as saying: “There was never any danger of annihilation. This hypothesis has never been considered in any serious meeting.”
In the spring of 1972, General Matetiyahu Peled, Chief of Logistical Command during the war and one of 12 members of Israel’s General Staff, addressed a political literary club in Tel Aviv. He said: “The thesis according to which the danger of genocide hung over us in June 1967, and according to which Israel was fighting for her very physical survival, was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war.”
In a radio debate Peled also said: “Israel was never in real danger and there was no evidence that Egypt had any intention of attacking Israel.” He added that “Israeli intelligence knew that Egypt was not prepared for war.”
In the same programme General Chaim Herzog (former Director of Military Intelligence, future Israeli Ambassador to the UN and President of his state) said: “There was no danger of annihilation. Neither Israeli headquarters nor the Pentagon – as the memoirs of President Johnson proved – believed in this danger.”
On 3 June 1972 Peled was even more explicit in an article of his own for Le Monde. He wrote: “All those stories about the huge danger we were facing because of our small territorial size, an argument expounded once the war was over, have never been considered in our calculations. While we proceeded towards the full mobilisation of our forces, no person in his right mind could believe that all this force was necessary to our ‘defence’ against the Egyptian threat. This force was to crush once and for all the Egyptians at the military level and their Soviet masters at the political level. To pretend that the Egyptian forces concentrated on our borders were capable of threatening Israel’s existence does not only insult the intelligence of any person capable of analysing this kind of situation, but is primarily an insult to the Israeli army.”
The preference of some generals for truth-telling after the event provoked something of a debate in Israel, but it was short-lived. If some Israeli journalists had had their way, the generals would have kept their mouths shut. Weizmann was one of those approached with the suggestion that he and others who wanted to speak out should “not exercise their inalienable right to free speech lest they prejudice world opinion and the Jewish diaspora against Israel.”
It is not surprising that debate in Israel was shut down before it led to some serious soul searching about the nature of the state and whether it should continue to live by the lie as well as the sword; but it is more than remarkable, I think, that the mainstream Western media continues to prefer the convenience of the Zionist myth to the reality of what happened in 1967 and why. When reporters and commentators have need today to make reference to the Six Days War, almost all of them still tell it like the Zionists said it was in 1967 rather than how it really was. Obviously there are still limits to how far the mainstream media is prepared to go in challenging the Zionist account of history, but it could also be that lazy journalism is a factor in the equation.
For those journalists, lazy or not, who might still have doubts about who started the Six Days War, here’s a quote from what Prime Minister Begin said in an unguarded, public moment in 1982. “In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us, We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
- Israel’s right or not to exist – The facts and truth (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Is JINSA preparing for another Israeli-Egyptian war? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
They Can’t Stop Building Walls
Beirut – It may be that researchers would want to examine as long ago as the period from the 3rd century BC until the beginning of the 17th century in order to find a regime so frenetically building walls and barriers in a hopeless quest to hold onto stolen lands as we in Lebanon may soon witness in the south of the country. It was back in 221 BC that in order to protect China from the land claims of the Xiongnu people from Mongolia, the Xiongnu tribe being China’s main enemy at that time who sought the return of lands they claimed the Chinese had stolen, that the emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of a wall to guard China’s territorial gains.
Lots of walls have been built throughout history to preserve occupied lands.The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall in England to keeep the Picts out and the East Germans built the Berlin wall to keep the people in. But no regime in history has built, in the span of six decades, the number of walls as the paranoid regime in Tel Aviv has erected. And it plans at least five more “anti-terrorist protective walls” including one slated to begin soon along the Lebanese-Palestine border at the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila. And that one may present a problem.
The decision to build a wall “to replace the existing Israeli technical fence” along the Blue Line near the town of Kfar Kila was announced last month by Tel Aviv. The announcement followed a meeting between the Israel military and UNIFIL and both are keeping fairly mum about what it knows about this latest wall but UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh hinted to this observer that the first section will be about half a mile long and approximately 16 feet high.
Some south Lebanon residents are strongly objecting for among other reasons that the high wall will block the scenic views into Palestine. Others are ridiculing the reasons for the wall expressed by the US-Israeli lobby that will ask the American taxpayer to pay for it.
Israel firster, David Schenker, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, set up by AIPAC, told a Congressional hearing recently: “South Lebanon is obviously a very sensitive area [for Israel], being so close to Metula and the possibility of infiltration by Hezbollah and Palestinians is a legitimate concern. The Israeli government believes that this wall will prevent terrorists from launching direct line-of-sight firing of things like RPGs and mortars. Even the throwing of stones which some tourists visiting the area are in the habit of doing.”
Local observers, UNIFIL officials and experts like Timor Goksel, who worked as UNIFIL’s spokesman for 24 years along the blue line, expressed surprise at why Israel is claiming that Kfar Kila is a particularly dangerous area that needs a wall.
In point of fact the area has not been a particularly hazardous or “sensitive” one historically, even when the PLO controlled the area in the 1970’s. Goksel explained; “In my 24 years’ experience, there were never any attacks there because it’s adjacent to a Lebanese village, so any attack there will make life for the Lebanese difficult. I don’t think anybody has ever thought of doing anything there. Moreover, even if you cross into Israel at Kifa Kula there, you’re not going to come across an Israeli position for a long time, so it doesn’t make sense for anyone to attack from there. What are you going to attack? There’s no target.”
Some local observers are speculating that the real reason Israel wants the barrier in Kfar Kila might be to stop its troops from bargaining for drugs in exchange for weapons and classified military information, as the IDF’s drug problem among its “northern command” soldiers has escalated since the battering it took in the July 2006 war.
Israel’s newest frontier wall will follow the one being erected along the 150-mile boundary between the Sinai and Negev deserts. That wall building project is due to be completed by the end of this year of 2012. Once the Kfar Kila wall is finished, Israel will be almost completely enclosed by steel, barbed wire and concrete, leaving only the southern border with Jordan between the Dead and Red Seas without a physical barrier. But that too, may be walled in the future according to Shenker. He testified that the reason was due to the uncertainty in Jordan and its increasingly wobbly government.
Yet another wall, approximately seven miles from the Mediterranean along the southern border will meet the fence Israel has already been built around Gaza. This wall runs for 32 miles, with a buffer zone, which Palestinians are forbidden from entering, and extends close to 1,000 meters inside the narrow Gaza Strip, walling off more prime Palestinian agricultural land. This “security war” has caged Palestinians inside Gaza but did not prevent the cross-border capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
Along the Palestine-Lebanon border, a barrier built by Israel in the 1970s along the boundary was reconstructed, after Israel was forced out of Lebanon in 2000 following a 22-year occupation. This barrier did not prevent Hezbollah in a cross-border ambush in 2006, capturing two Israeli soldiers in order to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Nor did it prevent Hezbollah from firing of thousands of rockets during the ensuing 33-day war in retaliation for Israel bombing much of south Lebanon.
And the “protective walls” rise like mushrooms after a summer rain.
Further east from Lebanon, an Israeli barrier has been constructed on the ceasefire line drawn at the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, running between the Golan Heights, which Israel has illegally occupied for nearly 45 years, and Syria. It was here that hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators entered occupied Palestine last May, in the Golan and along the Lebanese border. More than a dozen people were killed and scores injured when Zionist forces opened fire on the unarmed civilians.
A crossing at Quneitra, now operated by the UN, does allow some movement of UN personnel, truckloads of apples, a few Druze students and the occasional Syrian bride in white.
A few miles north of Quneitra is Shouting Hill, where Druze families in the Golan yell greetings across the barrier to relatives in Syria.
Moving south through heavily mined fields and hills, the 1973 ceasefire line is bordered by Israeli military bases and closed military zones, and shells of tanks from past battles, until it connects with the border with Jordan. It then joins with one of Israel’s first walls, constructed in the late 1960s, which now stretches almost from the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Most of this line is not Israel’s border, but rather a barrier separating Jordan from the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Around a third of the way down this stretch, the barrier joins the infamous huge steel-and-concrete West Bank wall. This runs along or inside the 1949 armistice line, swallowing up tracts of Palestinian agricultural land, slicing through communities and separating farmers from their fields and olive trees. As with its other 18 walls and barriers, the Zionist regime claims it is simply a security measure, but many believe it marks the boundaries of a future Palestinian state, consuming an additional 12 per cent of the West Bank. Approximately two-thirds of its 465-mile length is complete, mostly as a steel fence with wide exclusion zones on either side. According to the current route, 8.5 per cent of the West Bank territory and 27,520 Palestinians are on the “Israeli” side of the barrier. Another 3.4 percent of the area (with 247,800 inhabitants) is completely or partially surrounded by the barrier.
Two similar barriers, the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier and the Israeli-built 7-9 meter (23 – 30 ft) wall separating Gaza from Egypt (temporarily breached on January 23, 2008), which is currently under Egyptian control, are also widely condemned by the international community.
Returning to the subject of the latest wall project, increasingly the Zionist regime opposes discussions, hearings, visits, expressions of solidarity with Palestinians, and even the viewing its garrison state from south Lebanon. Cutting off a view that people throughout history have marveled at represents a continuation of its isolation and xenophobia.
Following the joint meeting at Kkar Kila noted above, UNIFIL Major-General Serra said: “The meeting was called to assist Israel in putting in place additional security measures along the Blue Line in the Kafr Kila area in order to minimize the scope for sporadic tensions or any misunderstandings that could lead to escalation of the situation.”
In fact, the opposite with likely happen. In a recent visit to Ahmad Jibril’s Palestinian camp in the Bekaa Valley, and in discussion with salafist groups in Saida, it’s plain the wall will likely become an object of target practice and further strain UNIFIL and Hezbollah efforts to keep the border calm.
In a scathing commentary in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, defense analyst Alex Fishman recently wrote: “We have become a nation that imprisons itself behind fences, which huddles terrified behind defensive shields.” It has become, he said, a “national mental illness”.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
BETHLEHEM – The founder of humanitarian organization Roots of Peace said Friday that the group has demanded that Israel work to remove landmines from the Palestinian territories.
Heidi Kühn told Voice of Palestine radio that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would help to remove mines in the West Bank if the organization assisted with mine removal within Israel. [...]
Around 1.5 million landmines and unexploded ordinances prevent access to more than 50,000 acres of productive land in Israel, the West Bank and the Jordan River valley, Roots of Peace says.
The Israeli-Jordanian border areas and the Jordan Valley are still heavily land-mined, together with areas of the Golan Heights and the northern West Bank.
The mines no longer serve any military purpose.
- Roots of Peace society plans to clear landmines near West Bank village, Israel has blocked removal (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel digs trench to isolate farms in the Jordan Valley (alethonews.wordpress.com)