Wednesday 11 January 2017

The Purity Of Arms.

The Face Of A Killer - Or A Hero? Most Israelis would crown Elor Azaria (above) with the garlands of a national hero. The Israeli Defence Force, however, upholding its "Purity of Arms" doctrine, found him guilty of manslaughter for shooting a wounded and unarmed Palestinian terrorist in the head.
ELOR AZARIA entered the courtroom with a boyish, almost bashful, smile on his face. If you did not know that he was there to discover whether he had been found guilty or not guilty of manslaughter, you might think he was there to receive some sort of prize or award. Certainly, the crowd outside the military courtroom would gladly have awarded Azaria the garlands of a hero. He had shot dead a Palestinian terrorist – what more needed to be said?
Much, according to Sergeant Azaria’s superior officers. They found him guilty of manslaughter and of violating the ethical code of the Israeli Defence Force. The soldiers of Israel, the court reminded Azaria, are required, at all times, to demonstrate the “Purity of Arms”.
According to this extraordinary doctrine: “The soldier shall make use of his weaponry and power only for the fulfilment of the mission and solely to the extent required; he will maintain his humanity even in combat. The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, body, honour and property.”
The Purity of Arms doctrine speaks to the time when Israel was young, socialist, and determined to build a new and very different kind of society. The Israel of soldier-scholars; of kibbutzim, trade unions and co-operatives. The Israel that is no more. The Israel swallowed up by the intolerance, hatred and fanaticism which, like a mighty sandstorm, has enshrouded all the nations of the Middle East.
The idealism of the young Israel; it’s determination to be better than the circumstances which made its declaration of statehood so urgent and unavoidable; was by no means universal within the ranks of the Jewish nationalist community. Those who had fought the Nazis face-to-face in the forests of Eastern Europe arrived in Palestine with an altogether darker view of human nature.
In the places they had left whole peoples were in motion. Ethnic groups which had lived for centuries in the towns and cities of Eastern Europe were being driven from their homes, packed into railway-cars, trucks and buses and ferried hundreds of miles to the west. Today, we would call it “ethnic cleansing”. In the years immediately following World War II it was called “repatriation”. There were to be no more Sudetenlands, the victors insisted. No more ethnic enclaves out of which grievances could be fanned into resentment, rebellion and war.
In the civil war that followed the 1948 declaration of Israeli statehood, these darker Zionists were determined to “repatriate” the Palestinian people by force and terror: north, into Lebanon and Syria; south, into Egypt; east into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. They wanted Israel for the Jewish people – and only the Jewish people.
On 9 April 1948, in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, two Jewish militia groups, Irgun and Lehi, massacred around 120 people, many of them women and children, pour encourager les autres. Thousands of terrified Palestinians responded by fleeing towards the borders. Five weeks later the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked the fledgling Israeli state.
Twenty-five years earlier, the radical Zionist, Vladimir Jabotinsky, had warned: “Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through.”
An ever-advancing wall of concrete: The growth of one Israeli settlement on the West Bank.
For decades, the idealistic Israel resisted the steely logic of Jabotinsky’s “iron wall”. Their doomed mission: to preserve the ideal of an independent Jewish state whilst constructing a free and equal secular society inside it. As if trusting in the purity of Israeli arms could somehow transform the task of protecting the borders and institutions of the Zionist homeland into something other than the brutal and bloody exercise it was always destined to become.
The Israeli military court’s verdict – a fading echo of the nation’s founding principles – has called forth a cacophony of angry voices demanding Azaria’s instant pardon. Polling indicates that a clear majority of the Israeli population would rather have a dead Palestinian terrorist than an pure Israeli soldier. The dark Zionism of Irgun and Lehi; the ruthless Zionism of Jabotinsky: between them these two powerful ideological currents have swept away and extinguished the idealism of Israel’s founders.
The walls of the settlements that are advancing relentlessly into what remains of Palestinian territory may be made of concrete, rather than iron, but the “colonization” of the territory of the “native population” that they make possible will not stop. And the Israeli soldiers that walk those walls; men like Sergeant Elor Azaria, will laugh to scorn the notion that the imposition of military force can ever be pure.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 10 January 2017.


peteswriteplace said...

Interesting post Chris. A sad state of political and human affairs. There is a Palestinian state and that is Jordan. That is where things should start. Hamas was set up to agitate and fight against Israel.

exkiwiforces said...


I wrote this on the Standard a while back. I'm going to post the comments from my old army cadet mate. Gone back over my notes and I've added one more comment.
I ran into a old friend back in day when both of us were in the army cadets and he is now serving officer IDF while I was NZ attending the laying up of the NZ Scots colours in April. We ending up talking about the West Bank problem among other things (Bear in mind my friend is right wing Jewish) and he made few comments I’ll like to share.

1. He said weather this is true or not as he is not sure (I’m not sure either, but it sounds great). When the Six Day war ended the 3 Senior IDF Officers (Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan and one other were overheard saying we now know why Jordan went to war with us because the Palestine problem is no longer theirs, but is now our problem to sort out and one of them replied do our Politicians now and into the future understand this!!

2. He said there are a lot of Officers (He is one of them) and OR’s within the IDF who think the west bank should handed back to them and both Jerusalem and Hebron should UN mandated cities. The only chance of that happen died with Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan. But this will never happen now as Bibi is out for revenge for the death of brother Yoni and Bibi has made no secret about either over the years. Also the extreme right wing parties that make up the government won’t allow it as they think we are the rightful owners of the West Bank.

3. The West Bank requires a Political solution not a military one and he said ever since Op Thunderbolt our Politicians seem think we the IDF/ Mossad can solve any Political problem by other means. In other words Op Thunderbolt was IDF Rhodesian moment where Politicians judgement and reality becomes clouded by their own beliefs.

4. He said the IDF was a very secular force like all modern militaries, but this is slowly dying since the extreme right now have the balance of power in government, which has allow a new generation (a very extreme right wing people)of IDF soldiers which most of these newcomers are from overseas to come along and think Israel is for the Jewish people only and everyone can go to hell. The young ones are questioning the orders and the Purity of Arms doctrine among other things. This in turn is slowly destroying the very fabric of Jewish Society and he said are we repeating the history of Spartans a state within a state which in the end destroy itself? I said its looking that way.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Even if he is not pardoned, he almost certainly won't serve more than about eighteen months in jail. I could only find one example of an Israeli who killed a Palestinian for pretty much whatever reason who served more than that. And he only did seven years. They may be more, but it isn't at all common. And anyone who saw the video of the incident would probably concur that he should have been charged with murder.

Sanctuary said...

"...The Purity of Arms doctrine speaks to the time when Israel was young, socialist, and determined to build a new and very different kind of society..."

He was convicted because to have let him off would be ruinous to military discipline. No army can afford to have heavily armed hotheads who feel they have a right to execute people who have upset them. The use of the purity of arms doctrine in his conviction is just the figleaf the Israeli military used to hide from the world the fact their ongoing occupation duties to repress the ongoing resistance of the Palestinians is slowly eroding discipline and reducing their vaunted army to an undisciplined and murderous rabble.

Armies are terrible at occupation and police work, they quickly dehumanise the occupied population and the desire for vigilantism undermines discipline and produces a military force capable of great barbarism, at the cost of military efficiency when they come across opponents who shoot back. The Israeli armies performance against Hizbollah in 2013 was abysmal, basic tactical errors, troops falling to easily into panics and lack of bold leadership all pointed to an army whose war fighting skills and discipline has been worn away.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

Thankyou for the research and the lucid portrayal of the history and the status quo.

What do you see as a possible peaceful solution? If the settlements stopped , or even withdrew , would peace be possible? Or is Israel a festering saw that only cauterisation can remedy? Perhaps a Jewish state of New York is the answer.
Cheers David J S

Sanctuary said...

Well worth a read -

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The whole idea of creating a Jewish state in the Middle East, worthy though it might have been, was a huge mistake. And in fact probably beyond the bounds of what the UN could ethically do. And in my opinion there is at present no solution. No one is thinking long-term about this problem. Or even medium-term. So it will continue to be a running sore. I would really like to know what people like Netanyahu think the state of Israel is going to be like in fifty or a hundred years. Because it seems to me the alternatives are either ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or the complete withdrawal of settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state. And over fifty or a hundred years the first seems more likely to me. At least until they get rid of Netanyahu, who is poison to the whole peace process, and has been caught on film boasting about sabotaging the peace talks. Not saying that the Palestinians have behaved a heck of a lot better, but certainly somewhat better. And the occupation is sapping what's left of the Israeli army's morale and ethics as shown by this incident and the probable outcome.

Polly said...

A very good article,
I believe that both parties Hamas / Israeli government should ask Putin and Trump to seek resolution for them on the matter.
There would be business and common sense injected.
That may happen.

exkiwiforces said...

Guerilla Surgeon,

As my mate said to me, Bibi is out of for revenge for the death of brother Yoni during OP Thunderbolt in 1978 and Bibi has made no secret about either over the years.

David Stone said...

You'r a Pollyanna too .
Cheers David J S

swordfish said...

Sorry, Chris, but your argument constitutes little more than a regurgitation of the old, fully-discredited Israeli version of Middle East history. More specifically - an utter Romanticisation of both:

(1) The Aims and ideology of Pre-1967 Israel (particularly of the Israeli Labour Party Establishment and their close (at times, interchangeable) colleagues in the IDF))
(2) The Authenticity of Israel's "Purity of Arms" doctrine - a fiction best seen as a core component of Israel's long-term PR strategy.

jh said...

The thing that intersts me about Israel is that it is the sort of problem that bloodshed solved (in the past). It may have seemed ruthless for one side to wipe the other out but it was also practical since no memories remain.
So I wonder why Israel draws the SJW. Is it that they think Israel is a moral issue and moral issues have a solution - the left seems to have a penchant for thinking they are the mum or dad figure at the World Kindergarten?
And what is it with the left that they think they own the Maori issue (to the degree that they can blend biculturalism with multiculturalism agencies necessitating a thurough take over of societies institutions)?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"So I wonder why Israel draws the SJW. "

I am so sick of this "SJW" business. As if social justice is some sort of joke. Or not worth bothering about. As far as I'm concerned you use those three letters you lose the Internet. The reason that us "social justice warriors" are drawn to Israel, is that it is a ticking time bomb in the Middle East. Which is where you "RWNJs" get the oil from that fuels your damned buses so you have a job. And to the extent you can't see this you are an idiot.

"And what is it with the left that they think they own the Maori issue (to the degree that they can blend biculturalism with multiculturalism agencies necessitating a thurough take over of societies institutions)?"

And how do you define "own" I've never heard of anybody saying they "own" this issue. Except maybe Maori. And they are probably entitled to. This just makes no sense.

David Stone said...

@ JH

The problem with the past approach of " fight till there's one side beaten
and then there'e a truce declared"
is that while Israel can easily exterminate the rest of Palestine, she would then be at war with the rest of the middle east. And the the US and Nato would be at war with the rest of the middle east on Israel's behalf ,( not that they aren't already). As Chris describes a solution seems as essential as it is impossible.
Cheers D J S

Victor said...

An excellent post, Chris.

One point I'd add is that (apart from east Jerusalem) the majority of Israelis have no great interest in holding on to the territories occupied in 1967, other than for security reasons.

The Likud and most of its parliamentary allies, however, are all ideologically expansionist. The trick they've performed is to convince Israelis that they, and only they, are capable of keeping their country secure from enemies that are irrevocably bent on its destruction.

Hamas, Hezbollah, Isis, Iran et al make this an easy trick to perform. But, just in case their enemies fall down on the job, the Israeli occupation forces have the ability to keep stoking a state of constant, low-intensity warfare, which is, inter alia, requisite for keeping Bibi and his bunch of opportunists and fanatics in power.

Violence in the territories tends to surge between US presidential elections and inaugurations. It's long been my view that the enemies of peace on both sides make a point of ratcheting things up at that point in order to discourage and prevent an incoming US administration from pursuing a vigorous peace process on land rendered newly bitter by yet more blood.

Interestingly, there hasn't been yet another war this time around, perhaps because Trump has made abundantly clear his lack of interest in what remains of any peace process.

So Polly might be right. Putin and Trump might yet get their heads together and seek to impose a settlement on the area. If so, given the predelictions, prejudices and concerns of the two individuals involved, it will be a peace that's broadly acceptable to their mutual friend, Bibi.

Obviously, the main losers will then (yet again) be the Palestinians. But another bunch of losers will be the people of Israel, whose democracy will continue to deteriorate and evaporate. And, of course, for these very reasons, the peace is unlikely to be robust, let alone permanent.

That's how things will tend to be in the post-liberal world that's so suddenly taking shape.

David Stone said...

Fair Comment Victor

Not that I can claim any particular knowledge beyond what everyone knows; But what can Russia / US do to stop the low level,home-made rocket attacks and incidental terrorist attacks that Israel is defending herself against? There seems not to be any authority that is organising this or in a position to stop it. Rather it seems to be at a level of the individual or very small groups.

It seems to me the solution must be a world wide plan to comprehensively improve the lives and prospects of the displaced and disposed people of the refugee camps and Gaza, and give them hope.
Cheers David J S

Victor said...

"Armies are terrible at occupation and police work, they quickly dehumanise the occupied population and the desire for vigilantism undermines discipline and produces a military force capable of great barbarism, at the cost of military efficiency when they come across opponents who shoot back. The Israeli armies performance against Hizbollah in 2013 was abysmal, basic tactical errors, troops falling to easily into panics and lack of bold leadership all pointed to an army whose war fighting skills and discipline has been worn away."

A masterly summary, Sanctuary.

But, for all its lack of size, Israel is now a technological super-power and so the abilities of its infantry matter a lot less than in previous decades.

I agree, however, that Yadin, Dayan or Rabin would weep if they could see how the IDF's fighting qualities had eroded.

A question that intrigues me, though, is how Russia is going to square its newfound friendships with Israel and Turkey with its long standing attachment to the Iranian-led Shi-ite alliance. Add Trumkins to the mix and it becomes even more messy.

Victor said...


There's not much the US can do, apart from encouraging Israel and the PLO to get back to talking and placing at least some limits on its support for Israel.

Freed from electoral pressures, Obama has recently made what would have been significant and long overdue changes in US policy, were he not a "lame duck". Trump, clearly, has no interest in taking this new approach forward. So we can forget about it.

As to Russia, it can do nothing to restrain small, localised guerilla and terrorist operations, other than by taking over the Gaza strip and applying the Grozny/Aleppo treatment. This, thankfully, is not going to happen.

Where Russian influence might be useful is in restraining its Shi'ite allies, including Hezbollah. But, its Syrian intervention notwithstanding, how much influence does Moscow really have in Teheran or East Beirut? Not a lot, I reckon.

I agree, of course, that those outside the conflict should be doing all they can to make life more tolerable for the inhabitants of Gaza. But it doesn't help when, every three or four years, the IDF creates a very minor version of the Grozny effect in the strip.

For what it's worth, my own long-held view, as a diaspora Jew, is that diaspora communities should make their support for Israel more explicitly conditional on the country behaving according to the norms that they themselves live by.

This is already happening through organisations such as 'J Street' in the US and 'Yachad' in the UK, both of which claim to be "Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine".

But US Jewry's traditional liberalism means that, son-in-law and a few cronies apart, it's firmly outside the new administration's circle of affection. So its opinions will be of little significance in either Washington or Jerusalem over the next four years.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Trump's attitude on Israel is going to be "interesting". A Jewish son-in-law, and a daughter who has converted – yet he surrounds himself with people who are almost certainly anti-Semitic. On the other hand of course there is the traditional American support base for Israel, which largely consists of evangelicals who both voted for Trump and believe that Israel is going to bring on the end of times and the rapture. Can't wait myself. Get rid of all the idiots and are sensible people can get on with our lives. Plus I will be the first person up and down the street going through the houses of the "raptured" to see what they have left behind – after all you can't take it with you.:)

Victor said...


My apologies. I've misunderstood your question and concentrated on what the US and Russia could do separately when I think you were asking what they can and/or are likely to do together.

Well, one possibility is to just allow Bibi to annex everything up to the "Separation Barrier". No, it won't solve anything. But it will be some sort of "settlement" and the three tough guys - Trump, Putin and Bibi - would have an apparent solution that fits their predelictions.

I suspect, though, that Putin will be too smart for this as it would mean sundering his connection with the Shi'ite block and placing his new friendship with tough guy number 4, Erdogan, in jeopardy.

So all I think will happen is that they will give Israel a free hand in Gaza, next time there's a terrorism spike and otherwise allow it to further entrench itself on the West Bank. So not much will change. It's just there will be less pretence about peace processes.

it seems to me that a key fact is that Putin, unlike many nationalistic Russians, does not seem to be personally Antisemitic. He also sees Russian-born immigrants to Israel as part of a greater Russophone community that he has a responsibility to protect. In fact, he's called Israel the most Russian country outside Russia.

Add that to Israel's technology and you have a relationship of growing significance, albeit one tempered by Russia's other relationships in the Middle East. We will have to wait and see how all this plays out.

Victor said...


I think you misunderstand the "Rapture". As I understand it, you won't have much of a life to get on with.

David Stone said...

Hi Victor

Thanks for that, Evidently you are quite familiar with the situation there. Is it conceivable that a land swap rather than a grab could be worked out that would provide Israel with the strategic security she wants in exchange for a continuity of Palestine with Gaza and equivalent productive land to what has been taken?

You don't seem to think Trump is going to help the situation much , or is particularly pro Israel, but he sided strongly against the UN resolution that settlements should stop. Do you think he feels that rather than a two state solution a one state reality should be recognised, encompassing all of Palestine/Israel and giving voting, citizen and property rights to Jew and Arab alike?
Cheers D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

That's only their interpretation of the rapture Victor. I have a different interpretation myself. It largely involves me driving around in a Rolls-Royce, and not being badgered on my front doorstep by people wanting to give me the blessings of religion :-).

Victor said...


Without any huge, specialised knowledge, I've been thinking about possible land swaps since, if not 1967, then about 1973.

I frankly can't see how it would work, other than on a very minor (and necessary) scale, given the narrow parameters of both Israel and any putative Palestinian state.

It would , perhaps, have been easier to suggest swaps if the UN had split the two parts of mandatory Palestine on an east/west axis instead of a north/south axis, which, for broadly demographic reasons, it didn't do. That
way, you wouldn't have had two long, thin, hard-to-defend strips.

I also think that the problem has been bedeviled by Winston Churchill hiving-off the larger part of Palestine to form the Emirate (later Kingdom) of Transjordan in nineteen-twenty-something and by the decision of King Hussein, under huge pressure from all sides, to relinquish Jordan's claim to authority on the West Bank circa 1970.

The net result of these two decisions has been to restrict the geographical space needed for any settlement.

And I think that I must have explained myself very badly in previous posts on this thread because I believe Trump to be very, very pro-Israel, a point I thought I'd made quite clear.

The last thing to expect from him (or from Putin) is a move to make Israel/Palestine into a single entity, based on equal rights for all. Moreover, obviously, neither he nor Putin are likely to consent to the alternative project of a non-democratic, Apartheid-style, unified Israel/Palestine, as this would give them both far too many enemies globally, let alone in the Middle East.

But, despite his fondness for Israel, Trump's campaign included sending dog-whistle Antisemitic messages to his supporters and, even if it hadn't, American Jews would not have voted for him in large numbers, both because they traditionally vote Democratic and tend to have liberal attitudes and because, like most diaspora Jews, they can spot a fascist at ten thousand paces.

What I was suggesting is that an increasing tendency amongst US Jews to make their support for Israel more nuanced, will not have any effect on the Trump administration, because liberal Jews (i.e. the majority of US Jews)dislike and are disliked by the new administration, which owes them no favours. Bibi, of course, knows this and is very happy with the outcome. Also, Bibi and Obama cordially hated each other.

So profuse apologies for not making my point clearer. In my defence, may I add that nothing about the Middle East is easy or, very often, clear.

Charles E said...

Chris an informative piece on the enforced humanity principle of the IDF and its future. I agree, you are partly right, in your claim that it arose from socialist origins. But Israel has always also been a religious country, nation, aspiration. Before its latest supposedly secular re-founding in 1948 the Jews living there were mostly religious and it is Judaism that has been the cement throughout the thousands of years the Jewish people have survived, there and elsewhere, despite many attempts to destroy them. Their enemies never learn. But they do.

So the current apparent dominance of the religious right may not last. They are perhaps in power because the majority of Israelis think their country is safer in their hands, that’s all. The majority of Israelis are no more religious than Kiwis.
I was there for a few weeks last year visiting a daughter on a kibbutz based cultural and political gap year. The movement she was part of still calls itself Socialist Zionism. It is reduced compared to when I was on kibbutz in 1981 but still I would say half the country is left wing, and going nowhere (in both senses). So I would not be so pessimistic as you.

I actually think there may be a federation one day between Israel, Jordan & and a Palestinian entity. A relative (by marriage) of mine in Haifa, when I pointed out how busy the big port there was, said ‘Of course, it is a vital port for Jordan now. Don’t you know, Israel and Jordan are close and getting closer. They have the same enemies.’. Jordan is very afraid it could go down the Syrian road too. There are a lot of refugees there and the huge majority of the population are Palestinians. Very few want war so the security system ruthlessly keeps it that way. They see the economic growth in Israel, which is spectacular and they want that. And they can have it, once Islarmism is defeated. Until then, the Likud Party will be in power indefinitely and those people who attacked Israel in the past and lost those wars, will continue to lose ground. It’s what happens to those who lose wars.

Victor said...


If I could go back in time and be someone famous for a day, I'd be David Ben Gurion in 1947, when Golda Meier returned from her meeting with Abdullah I, with his plan for a federation under the Hashemite crown.

I'd have said:"There may be something here that we can work with. Let's talk".

Charles E said...

Yes if only Victor.
One quite possible event that could change things in that sort of direction dramatically would be a war directly between Iran and Saudi Arabia, where Israel agrees to support SA, the Sunnis, in exchange for a comprehensive peace deal with the remaining Sunni dominated countries. They have peace with Jordan, Egypt and Turkey already, all Sunni.
Probably too simplistic and war is almost always a disaster.

Ian said...

"Those who had fought the Nazis face-to-face in the forests of Eastern Europe arrived in Palestine with an altogether darker view of human nature"

Where did this myth come from?

It doesn't fit with the rest of your post where you talk of Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose brand of Zionism predates the Nazis.

And Jabotinsky isn't an isolated example, groups like Irgun, Lehi (aka the Stern Gang) were founded by people who were already in Palestine before the Nazis came to power. Some like Ariel Sharon were born in Palestine, Sharon's Unit 101 of the IDF carried on the "dark" work (aka terrorism) that Irgun and Lehi had done in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is very romantic to blame the dark side of Zionism on the Nazis or Netanyahu but it was there from the beginning of the 20th century. It also existed among the socialist Zionists. While David Ben-Gurion was idealistic in public, his private statements about dealing with the Arabs living in Palestine are no different from Jabotinsky's. He was also just as much a fear monger as Netanyahu. Publicly warning of another Holocaust in 1947 when he knew from his spies that the Arabs had neither the capacity nor the inclination. He also claimed Sinai was Israel's in 1956. Most of Israel's wars of expansion (1947/8, 1956, 1967) were started by Israeli socialist governments. Both the 1947 and 1967 wars included ethnic cleansing. If Eisenhower hadn't pressured Israel to withdraw from Sinai in 1957 (which they did with ill-grace, theft and destruction) we would surely have seen ethnic cleansing and settlements there too, as David Ben-Gurion made good on his claim.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well said Ian. People seem to forget that Ben Gurion was happy to ethnically cleanse hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. There are two options for this problem. Essentially a two state solution or a one state solution. Neither of which are viable – due to Israeli government policies mainly. And with Trump in the White House now, Netanyahu is looking at and annexing more and more land. As indeed the Likud charter says he is entitled to. That's scuttling the two state solution. And the one state solution cannot exist without ethnic cleansing or more Apartheid. As I said, no one in Israel is thinking long-term. The present situation might be sustainable in the short term but in the medium to long-term it's a lit fuse. Oh well, if it blows up I guess it will be a boost for more sustainable power systems when the oil dries up.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Ian.

I was thinking of men like Menachem Begin. Born in Poland, fled the Nazis, interned by the Soviets, released and joined the Jewish resistance, given leave in 1942 to make his way to Palestine where he organised Lehi/Irgun militia. As the leader of Likud, he became Israel's first non-Labour prime minister.

Don't dispute your claims re: Ben Gurion. I'm sure all the Zionist leaders understood in their hearts that the only long-term solution was, as Jabotinsky asserted well before 1948, a one-state solution - erected behind the iron wall of Israeli arms.

Ian said...

Good point about Begin, I didn't know he arrived so late in Palestine compared to other Zionist leaders of his generation.

Though Wikipedia and JVL claim he joined the Polish Anders' Army rather than Jewish resistance, and it looks unclear how much fighting against the Nazis was done before the Anders' Army arrived in the Middle East via Iran. It looks like he was one of about 3000 Jewish soldiers from that army that stayed in Palestine before it became part of the Polish II Corps which later fought in Italy.

I think the idealism and the "dark side" go hand-in-hand in Zionism, as they do in many things (e.g. Soviet communism, U.S.A, Dr Truby King, Wiston Churchill etc). Sometime Dr Jekyll has the upper hand, sometimes Mr Hyde. Sometimes Jekyll is used to disguise Hyde.

Victor said...

Zionism's "dark side" may have been present for several decades before World War Two. However, the movement definitely became more militant and less compromising in the shadow of the Holocaust and, even more so, in its immediate aftermath.

This reflected not just the urgent need to find a home for the survivors (often unwanted and in peril in their pre-war places of domicile) but also the way that the Shoah seemed to justify Herzl’s founding premise that Jews could never be safe or accepted in the Diaspora.

And Chris is certainly correct that some of those who had fought the Nazis in Europe (western as well as eastern ) were amongst the harbingers of this new militancy, even though they drew on a "Revisionist" ideology that dated back to the 1920s and 30s. The same was true of many a concentration camp survivor, as well as of Jewish veterans of the Free Polish army.

He’s also right about Ben Gurion. However, that arch-pragmatist was never an enthusiast for expanding much beyond Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers.

There’s an oft-told tale of how the elderly ‘BG’ was taken round the newly-occupied West Bank by his former protégées Dayan and Rabin. The old man looked distinctly unimpressed and said curtly: “ We should take the little we need and then get out as quickly as possible!”

Both Israelis and Palestinians might be happier today if that advice had been taken,