Israel, a Militaristic Society

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Can the Zionist militaristic society, with a century old blue print plan of action to settle Jews in all of Palestine, make concessions and compromise for the sake of peace? No, especially if it is the region’s only super-power supported and defended by the world’s only super-power. The Zionists have been either fighting a war or preparing to fight a war in Palestine and across its borders long before the establishment of Israel. Israel has been a military camp where every Israeli adult, male or female, is a soldier trained to kill. War science and technology and the Israeli warriors have become big commercial commodities ready for export as consultants and advisors. Israel’s military experience is sought by many countries after every one of its unending wars. Israeli leaders never set fixed borders for their state since its establishment. They always considered the pre-1967 borders as temporary armistice demarcation lines and that the land of Israel is “wherever the boots of its soldiers tread”.

Jewish historian Howard Sachar writes that Valdimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky has been considered by many historians as the second most charismatic Zionist figure after Theodore Herzl. Jabotinsky, a skillful journalist, eloquent orator and an ardent Zionist, was born in Odessa, Russia in 1880, immigrated to Palestine then exiled by Jamal Pasha, the Turkish military governor in Palestine. He pressed for colonizing Palestine by large scale immigration and the establishment of the Yishuv (pre-1948 settlements) armed forces in Palestine. Jabotinsky founded the Para-military Haganah organization in the Yishuv because he strongly believed that military power was necessary for establishing the Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River. He argued that since the Arabs would never agree voluntarily to turn Palestine into a country with Jewish majority, the Jews should establish settlements under the protection of their own military “behind an iron wall which they [the Arabs] will be powerless to break down”.

To enhance the British support for the Zionist program, Jabotinsky joined Joseph Trumpeldor, another exiled Zionist leader, in establishing a Jewish volunteer military unit within the British army to fight against the Turks in World War I. The decision to offer services to the war effort through several Jewish military units with their own Jewish symbols was a long term strategy by the Jewish leadership to develop and train the nucleus of the future military that would fight to establish and defend Israel. When Jabotinsky died in 1941, Menachem Begin emerged as his successor and became the leader of the Etzel organization.

Contrary to the prevailing perception of the 1948 Arab Israeli war, the 400,000 Jews in Palestine were able to provide more fighting men and women than all the invading Arab armies combined. According to Sir John Bagot Glubb, the Commader of the Arab Legion, Egypt dispatched 10,000 men, Syria 3,000, Lebanon 1,000, Iraq 3,000, and Trans-Jordan provided 4,500 soldiers. The military planning and extensive training to fight was another factor in providing the armed Jewish organizations with more strength and superiority in the 1948 war. Many of them had combat experience fighting against the Arab rebels in 1936-39 and later on against the Nazis with the British and the United States armies in World War II. The highly motivated veterans of the Haganah supported by the armed members of the Irgun, Stern, and LEHI paramilitary organizations were more than a match for the Arab armies that never had war experience. Arab military were poorly trained, badly equipped, and most importantly, their civilian leaders were rife with corruption. Israel defeated the Arab armies and by August 1949, an armistice agreement was announced by the U.N. Security Council. David Ben-Gurion led Israel to victory in 1948. Israel under all its historic leaders since Ben-Gurion never abandoned the Zionist strategy to dominate through overwhelming military power.

For Ben-Gurion, the 1948 War of Independence was only one step toward achieving the Great Zionist enterprise. After the 1949 armistice agreements with the Arabs, Ben-Gurion treated the negotiated borders only as temporary demarcations because he planned on expanding the State of Israel to absorb the thousands of Jewish immigrants who had been arriving in Israel every year. He wrote in his memoir that, “We [the Jews] have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion”. Ben-Gurion talked and wrote about peace with the Arab states, but his actions suggest he was reluctant to pursue permanent peace on the basis of the UN resolutions regarding the Arab refugees’ right of return. The armistice agreements provided Israel with immediate international recognition and security, and the potential to expand in the long run. With the passage of time the world forgets the UN resolutions regarding the partition or the right of return for the Palestinian refugees. In the meantime, Israel would use its military superiority and expand its borders when there was an opportunity to conquer more land.

Ben-Gurion believed that nuclear weapons that can be used as a deterrent to the Arab world would strengthen Israel. He authorized then Director-General of Defense, Shimon Peres, to seek a nuclear reactor from France to produce nuclear weapons. France built in 1957 the reactor in southern Israel with the capacity to produce weapon grade plutonium fuel and supplied the needed natural uranium to fuel it. Mordechai Vanunu, a technician from Dimona nuclear facilities, stole classified documents from his work-place, immigrated to Australia and published some secrets about Israel’s nuclear activity in the London Sunday Times in October 1986.  He unveiled information about a sophisticated nuclear program that had produced over 200 bombs deliverable by F-16 aircrafts and Jericho missiles.

In the quest to establish a Jewish state over the whole of Palestine, there have been many Zionist parties and organizations, but they all strongly believed that the support of the great powers was indispensable in the struggle for creating and defending the Jewish state. The Zionists however, never hesitated to fight back against any groups or states including the great powers with acts of violence if their plans were even marginally undermined. There are known examples that support this view. When the Zionists perceived a change in the policy of the British regarding the partitioning of Palestine, they fought back with guns and explosives. Britain provided the Zionists with the most important tool to establish a homeland, the Balfour Declaration, but the beneficiaries of the Declaration revolted against the mandate authority, killed and even hanged British officers when the Malcolm MacDonald White Paper that called for one independent state was released in 1939.

On another occasion, the Israeli Air-force shot down five British unarmed reconnaissance planes on January 7, 1949 for their non-hostile flight over the borders with Egypt. Another example was the contempt the Zionists showed for the UN personnel when it was perceived not to adopt their policies. Despite the UN contribution to the establishment of Israel, members of Jewish militant nationalists assassinated its appointed mediator in 1949 for his views on the Palestinian refugee’s right of return. The United States has been supporting and defending the State of Israel before and after its inception, but the Israeli air force attacked the US reconnaissance ship, Liberty, off the coast of Gaza killing 34 and injuring 171 sailors during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It is believed that the Israelis attacked the ship to prevent its crew from hearing incriminating radio traffic regarding the treatment of the Egyptian prisoners of war.

Today, Israel occupies all of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Sheeba Farms and implements repressive measures against their indigenous population, especially in Palestine, because no one can challenge its military superiority. This land became the only region in the world under occupation by a neighboring country. Israel has created apartheid regime in the West Bank and applied sanctions and collective punishment to starve Palestinians who refuse to accept its humiliating conditions. Israel has been conducting a systematic holocaust in Gaza by its own government admission, daily assassinations in the West Bank and cleansing in Jerusalem.

The Israeli air force flew hundreds of miles, violating the airspace sovereignty of Turkey, bombed and destroyed a suspected research project under construction that belongs to Syria, a victim of the Israeli occupation. And Israel threatens to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities located one thousand miles beyond its borders so that it will continue to monopolize military superiority in the Middle East. Israel in effect became the bully and the policeman of the region only because it can, and there is no opposing military power to restrain it.

The Israelis believe every crisis has a military solution, and if the military failed, their Israeli critics blame it on the execution of the plan rather than on its rational. The Winograd commission criticized the handling of the 2006 war against Lebanon, not the rational of destroying Lebanon and killing more than thousand Lebanese because two Israel soldiers were taken prisoners by Hizbullah.

The Israeli leaders are talking about peace, but their actions in the occupied lands preclude any possibility of real peace. Peace for the Israelis means the surrender of every Palestinian in a military sense. In the struggle to have an independent state of their own in a small part of their ancestral land, the Palestinians can win the moral arguments. But in the absence of the will to enforce the UN resolutions and the international laws, their relations with the Israel is based only on the balance of power rather than on the morality of the their case.

Given the power asymmetry between Israel and the Arab states, which have been reduced to spectators or collaborators pretending that the present fiasco will lead to peace, it is hard to persuade the militaristic Israelis to make concessions and compromise for the sake of a just peace.

-Born in Nablus, Palestine, Hasan Afif El-Hasan,Ph.D, is a political analyst. He contributed this article to

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