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The Lebanon War, a Post-Mortem

Israeli Militarism and the Necessity of a One-State Solution

By Alan Hart

CounterPunch, August 17, 2006

I'm going to suggest to you that what we might now be witnessing is the long beginning of the end of the Zionist state of Israel. In the next 10 minutes or so I will talk my way to an explanation of why I think so; and then I'll address the question of what the most likely consequences would be. I can see two--One State of Palestine for All and real, lasting peace, or Catastrophe for All... and by "All" I don't just mean Israeli Jews and the Arabs of the region, I mean all of us, everywhere. I thought I would be the first to give voice in public to the idea that Israel might be planting in Lebanon the final seeds of its own destruction, but while I was working on my text for this evening, I came across an interview given by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was PresidentCarter's National Security Adviser. He said: "Eventually, if neo-con policies continue to be pursued, the United States will be expelled from the region and that will be the beginning of the end for Israel as well."As Israel's bombardment of Lebanon unfolded, a great deal of nonsense was written and spoken by pundits and policymakers throughout the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian world about why it was happening. The main thrust of the nonsense was that Hizbullah started the war and that Israel was merely defending itself. I think the truth about Hizbullah's role in triggering the war can be summarised as follows--bearing in mind that the border incident of 12 July was one of many since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, and which more often than not, according to UN monitors, were provoked by Israeli actions and/or Israeli violations of agreements. By engaging an IDF border patrol, killing three Israeli soldiers and taking two hostages, and firing a few rockets to create a diversion for that operation, Hizbullah gave Israel's generals and those politicians who rubber-stamp their demands the pretext they wanted and needed to go to war--a war they had planned for months.

I was reminded of what was said to me on the second of the six days of the 1967 war when I was a very young ITN correspondent reporting from Israel. One of my sources was Major General Chaim Herzog. He was one of the founding fathers of Israel's Directorate of Military Intelligence. On the second day of that war he said to me in private conversation: "IfNasser had not been stupid enough to give us a pretext for war now, we would have created one in the coming year to 18 months." Hizbullah's purpose in taking Israeli prisoners/hostages was to have them as bargaining chips - to secure the return of Lebanese prisoners Israel had refused to release in a previous prisoner exchange. As former President Carter implied in an article for The Washington Post on I August, it was not unreasonable for Hizbullah to assume that an exchange would be possible because "the assumption was based on a number of such trades in the past." But on 12 July 2006 the government of Israel was not interested in trades. It did not give a single moment to diplomacy or negotiations of any kind. It did not even consider a local retaliation to make a point. Israel rushed to war. As Defence Minister Amir Peretz put it: "We're skipping the stage of threats and going straight to the action."

On the subject of Hizbullah's rockets, (which are hit-and-miss low tech weapons when compared with Israel's state of the art firepower), it is right to ask-Why, really, were they there? What, really, explains Hizbullah's stock-piling and its bunkering down? The honest answer, which has its context in the whole history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Zionism's demonstrated designs on Southern Lebanon in particular, is this: Hizbullah was strengthening itself militarily for the same reason as Eygpt did when President Nasser, with great reluctance after America had refused to supply him, accepted weapons from the Soviet Union. Nasser did not upgrade Eygpt's military capabilities to make war on Israel. He wanted to be able to demonstrate to Israel that attacking Eygpt to impose Zionism's will on it was not a cost-free option. In other words, Hizbullah had been improving its military capability to deter Israeli incursions and attacks, which was something the Lebanese army was incapable of doing. Am I suggesting that Hizbullah would not have let loose its rockets if Israel had not gone for the war option? YES! The notion that, on 12 July 2006, Hizbullah was joined in conspiracy with Iran and Syria to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is nothing but Zionist and neo-con propaganda nonsense--to justify Israel's latest war of aggression and also, perhaps, to justify, in advance of it happening, war on Iran.

It's true that the rhetoric of Iran's President gave and gives a degree of apparent credibility to Zionist and neo-con spin--but only to those who are unaware of, or don't want to know, the difference between the facts and documented truth of the real history of the Arab-Israeli conflict (as in my book) and Zionism's version of it. To those who really want to understand why the Zionist state of Israel behaves in the way it does, and is (as described in a recent article courageously carried by The Independent) "a terrorist state like no other", I say not only read my book, but give special attention to page 485 of Volume One. On it I quote what was said behind closed doors in May 1955 by Moshe Dayan, Israel's one-eyed warlord and master of deception. He was in conversation with Israel's ambassadors to Washington, London and Paris. At the time the Eisenhower administration was pressing Israel to abandon its policy of reprisal attacks.

Eisenhower was aware that Nasser did not want war with Israel, and that he would, when he could, make an accommodation with it. Eisenhower also knew that Israel's reprisal attacks were making it impossible for Nasser to prepare the ground on his side for peace with Israel.

In conversation with Israel's three most important ambassadors to the West, Dayan explained why he was totally opposed - whatever the pressure from the West - to the idea that Israel should abandon its policy of reprisal attacks. They were, he said, "a life drug." What he meant, he also explained, was that reprisal attacks enabled the Israeli government "to maintain a high degree of tension in the country and the army."

What, really, did that mean? Israel's standing or full-time army was (as it still is and must be) relatively small, not more than about 23,000 souls in all. The other quarter of a million fighting men and women who could be mobilised in 48 hours were reservists from every walk of Israel's civil society. The real point? Without Israeli reprisal attacks and all that they implied--that the Zionist state was in constant danger of being annihilated - there was a possibility that some and perhaps many reservists would not be motivated enough to respond to Zionism's calls to arms.

Put another way, what Dayan really feared was the truth. He knew, as all of Israel's leaders knew, that Israel's existence was not in danger from any combination of Arab forces. And that was the truth which had to be kept from the Jews of Israel. Dayan's fear was that if they became aware of it, they might insist on peace on terms the Arab regimes could accept but which were not acceptable to Zionism. Among those present when Dayan explained the need for Israeli reprisal attacks as a "life drug" was the Foreign Ministry's Gideon Rafael. He reported what Dayan told the ambassadors to Prime Minister Moshe Sharret-in my view, and with the arguable exception of Yitzhak Rabin, the only completely rational prime minister Israel has ever had. And we know from Sharret's diaries what Rafael then said to him: "This is how fascism began in Italy and Germany!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I think future historians may say that was how fascism began in the Zionist state of Israel.

The idea of Israel as a fully functioning democracy is a seriously flawed one. It's true that Israeli Jews are free to speak their minds (in a way that most Jews of the world are frightened to do), and to that extent it can be said that Israel has the appearance of a vibrant democracy... But in reality, and especially since the countdown to the 1967 war, it's Israel's generals who call most of the policy shots, even when one of them is not prime minister.

In June 1967 Israel's prime minister of the time, the much maligned Levi Eshkol, did not want to take his country to war. The war, was imposed upon him by the generals, led by Dayan. As I explain in Volume Two of my book, what really happened in Israel in the final countdown to that war was something very close to a military coup in all but name.

And that's where we are today--the generals effectively calling the shots in Israel, to the applause of the neo-cons. Why, really, did Israel's generals want to make war on Lebanon? There was obviously much more to it than the collective punishment of a whole people as part and parcel of a stated objective - the destruction of Hizbullah as a Moslem David which could hit and hurt the Zionist Goliath. I think there were two main reasons. The first was that Israel's generals believed they should and could restore the "deterrent power" of the IDF (Israel's war machine). They believed, correctly, that it had been seriously damaged by Hizbullah's success in not only confronting the IDF following Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, but eventually forcing it to withdraw, effectively defeated and humiliated... I think it is more than reasonable to presume that for most if not all of the past six years, Israel's generals were itching to make war on Lebanon to repair that damage--to restore the IDF's deterrent power. Put another way, it was time, Israel's generals believed, to give the Arabs (all Arabs, not just Hizbullah) another lesson in who the master was.

The second main reason for the insistence of Israel's generals on 12 July this year that war was the only option...? I think it's also more than reasonable to presume that they saw the opportunity to ethnically cleanse Lebanon up to the Litani River, with a view, eventually, to occupying and then annexing the ethnically cleansed territory. For Zionism this would be the fulfilment of the vision of modern Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion - a Zionist state within "natural" borders, those borders being the Jordan River in the East and the Litani River of Lebanon in the north. Israel gained control of theJordan River border in its 1967 war of expansion, but prior to its rush to war on 12 July, all of its attempts to establish the Litani border had failed. Since 1982 because of Hizbullah's ability to cause the occupying IDF forces more casualties than Israeli public opinion was prepared to tolerate. According to those currently calling the policy shots - Israel's generals and politicians, the neo-cons in and around the Bush administration and their associate in Downing Street - the name of the game is creating a "new Middle East". It is happening. A new Middle East is being created.

But what kind of new Middle East will it actually be? In my analysis it will be one in which the Zionist state of Israel, having rejected a number of opportunities to make peace with the Palestinians and all the Arab states, will become increasingly vulnerable and, at a point, actually for the first time ever in its shortish history, could face the possibility of defeat. In my view the seeds of that possible defeat have just been sewn in Lebanon. The fact is that Israel's latest military adventure has been totally counter-productive in that it has caused Hizbullah to be admired by the angry and humiliated masses of the Arab and wider Moslem world. That being so, would it really be surprising if, in growing numbers, Arabs and Moslems everywhere begin to entertain- if they are not already entertaining-something like the following thought: "If 3,000 Hizbullah guerrillas can stand up to mighty Israel for weeks and give it a seriously bloody nose, what would happen if we all joined the fight?" (Do I hear the sound of pro-Western Arab regimes being toppled? Yes, I think so). I imagine that even the thought of Israel being defeated one day will bring joy to very many Arabs and other Moslems. But there ought to be no place for joy because there's no mystery about what would happen in the event of Israel actually being on the brink of defeat. I want to quote to you now from one of my Panorama interviews with Golda Meir. (It can be found, this quote, on the second page Volume One of my book, in the Prologue which is titled Waiting for the Apocalypse).

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 the whole world down with it?" Without the shortest of pauses for reflection, Golda replied: "Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying." In those days Panorama went on-air at 8 o'clock on Monday evenings. Shortly after the transmission of that interview The Times had a new lead editorial. It quoted what Golda had said to me and added its view that "We had better believe her." How, actually, would the Zionist state of Israel take at least the region down with it? It would arm its nuclear missiles, target Arab capitals, then fire the missiles. Such an End-Game to the Arab-Israeli conflict, if it happened, and which I would describe as a self-fulfilled Zionist prophesy of doom, would probably take many years to play out. But the countdown to such a catastrophe would be speeded up if, as Brzezinski put it, "neo-con policies continue to be pursued." If they are, and if Iran is attacked, I think that a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, would become unstoppable.

Is there no way to stop the madness and create a "new Middle East" worth having? Yes, of course, there is, but it requires the agenda of the neo-cons and their associates to be thrown into the dustbin of history, in order for there to be a resolution of the Palestine problem, which I describe as the cancer at the heart of international affairs. Unfortunately, and because of the facts Zionism has been allowed to create on the ground in Israel/Palestine, it's already much too late for a genuine two-state solution, one which would see Israel back behind more or less its pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem an open city and the capital of two states. The conclusion which I think is invited is this:

If the countdown to catastrophe for all is to be stopped, the only possible solution to the Palestine problem is One State for All. That would, of course, be the end of Zionism's colonial enterprise and of Zionism itself. But in my view that's what has to happen if there's to be a "new Middle East" in which there can be security and peace for all, Arabs and Jews. Ladies and gentlemen: I'm not a politician or, any more, a working journalist and broadcaster who must write and speak in way that doesn't offend very powerful vested interests. I am a reasonably well informed human being who cares and who is free to say what he really thinks. (Which probably makes me a member of a very small club!)

And in summary of all that I've said this evening, what I really think comes down to this: The equation is a very simple one: No justice for the Palestinians = no peace for any of us.

Alan Hart is a well-known Middle East scholar.


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