web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

60 Years Later, Arab Goal Remains The Same


In the course of a lengthy essay in The Atlantic, writer Jeffrey Goldberg quotes an encounter he had with a Gazan imam named Ibrahim Mudeiris, who had just delivered a sermon in which he had described the Jews as “the sons of apes and pigs.”

Mudeiris summed up the current standoff between Israel and the Hamas movement which currently runs Gaza by saying, “It does not matter what the Jews do. We will not let them have peace.”

He went on to succinctly describe the futility with which generations of Israelis have sought to deal with the Palestinians: “They can be nice to us or they can kill us, it doesn’t matter. If we have a cease-fire with the Jews, it is only so that we can prepare ourselves for the final battle.”

What can Israel do when faced with such intransigence?

Goldberg’s lengthy and disquieting ruminations on this question provide no easy answers, but the question in the title of the piece, “Is Israel Finished?” provides a decidedly non-celebratory feel to a piece published to coincide with Israel’s 60th birthday.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert comes across in Goldberg’s story as a petulant, defensive figure who is clearly uncomfortable being in the crosshairs of vocal critics like novelist David Grossman, who lost a son during the prime minister’s disastrous Lebanon war. It is also hard to argue with Goldberg’s contention that “he is not Israel’s deepest thinker.”

But you have to sympathize with Olmert during the course of his interview when he expresses impatience with Goldberg’s focus on the “flaws in the execution of the Zionist program.” Speaking of Israel’s many achievements, he begs for a bit of historical perspective.

And for that, readers can do no better than go to a new authoritative source about the beginnings of the Israeli state, Benny Morris’s 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. Those who do will be left with the inescapable conclusion that there is nothing new about Olmert’s dilemma.

Morris is the most famous and certainly the best of the so-called “new historians” who rose up in the 1980’s to question the romantic view of Zionism that had heretofore prevailed in Jewish history writing.

The author’s diligent digging in the state’s archives has resulted in some work that has outraged many Israelis. But no nation’s history is that one-sided.

Some Jews speak as if Israel’s right to exist is called into question unless all Israelis were and are without blemish, though that is a notion that is nonsensical in itself. As such, there will be readers of 1948 who will howl with outrage at Morris’s acknowledgement that there were some atrocities committed by Israelis during the course of the bloody War of Independence.

Others will be uncomfortable with his presentation of the fact that, at certain points of the conflict, the Israelis outgunned the Arabs, even though the few hundred thousand Jews in the country were outnumbered by the tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims in the region who opposed them.

But the general thrust of the narrative is inescapable. War was inevitable, not because the Zionists were imperfect or wanted a larger Jewish state than the truncated province offered them in the various partition plans, but because the Arabs never once considered making peace with the Jews on any terms.

“The 1948 war, from the Arabs’ perspective, was a war of religion as much as, if not more than, a nationalist war over territory,” Morris writes. “Put another way, the territory was sacred its violation by infidels [Jews] was sufficient grounds for launching a holy war and its conquest or reconquest, a divinely ordained necessity…. The evidence is abundant and clear that many, if not most, in the Arab world viewed the war essentially as a holy war.”

Morris once refused service in the IDF because of his opposition to Israel’s presence in the territories, and he is still reviled by many on the Right. But in recent years he has spoken of the need for Israel to act to stop the threat of nuclear attack from Iran. He has also ruminated publicly that Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, may actually have erred by not doing what the Jewish state’s opponents accused him of having done: actively seeking to push all the Arabs out of the country.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “60 Years Later, Arab Goal Remains The Same”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A poster in Gaza showing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, shortly after Morsi's election in 2012.
Egypt Designates Hamas a Terrorist Organization
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Tobin-012315

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem at the President's Residence, February 2014 (archive)

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/60-years-later-arab-goal-remains-the-same/2008/05/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: