Beyond the Palestinian Crisis
Part II- Trajectory of Middle East Conflict
Israelis and Palestinians placed themselves in no-win situations, proceeded to lose-lose situations, and remain in an intense conflict. The western world ignores the consequences of the situations. Institutions and agencies who gather data and predict trends must know that the conflict's monotonic trajectory of violence forecasts disaster and its citizens will suffer greatly from the fallout in which Israelis and Palestinians have trapped one another. Yet, policies don't seem to consider the ominous signs - just the opposite - the rhetoric pardons, the direction plods, and illegal actions draw only mild rebuke.
Somewhere at sometime at some agency or think tank briefing, someone must have examined the critical situation and calculated its trajectory. Nothing heard. By concentrating on immediate effects and withholding analysis of the future situation, the world bodies and its media skew the determination of resolution of a conflict that has moved beyond the borders of the Middle East. Knowing the trajectory determines its possible outcome. A corollary - No sound western nation will permit this trajectory to come to fruition. One problem - finding a sound western nation.
The more publicized reports shape the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an embattled Israel that struggles for security by repelling attacks from antagonists. By removing ourselves from the cinematic Exodus perspective, and briefly examining the Middle East wars with less publicized information, another dimension to the struggles is revealed; how the world misperceived each crisis, and allowed Israel to extend its territory and guide the Middle East conflict in its own direction. Recognition of the other dimension is a preliminary step to calculating the trajectory of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis.
In the 1948 war, contrary to the over-expressed statement that the Egyptians, together with other Arab armies, intended to throw the Israelis into the sea, the Arab forces did not have the military strength to accomplish the task. Egyptian troop movements indicate a defense of the new Palestinian state rather than intent to occupy the new Israeli state. The Egyptian army, which entered the battle after David Ben Gurion's May 14, 1948 declaration of a new independent nation, and months after hostilities had enabled the Zionists to gather territory, refrained from entering land that United Nations (UN) Resolution 181 placed in the Israeli state. It stopped at Ashdod, the northernmost extension of the southern coastal territory awarded to the Palestinians. Elements of the force crossed the northern Negev (awarded to Israel), and only attacked Jewish settlements that stood in the advance to defend Beer Sheeva, which had been given to a Palestinian state. The same army then continued through Palestinian territory to safeguard Hebron. Egyptian military attacked Tel Aviv by air and sea, but the Egyptian army did not enter territory awarded to Israel. The reality is that the Israelis figuratively threw the Palestinians into the sea, or at least into refugee camps, by being complicit in the leaving and expulsion of 750,000 of the 900,000 Palestinians who inhabited the British Mandate, and by barring return to the lands and homes their families had possessed for centuries.
It is no coincidence that Israel invaded and occupied the Sinai in 1956 before French and British coordinated attacks against Nasser's Egypt. Rarely mentioned is a controversial meeting, known as the Protocol of Sèvres,1956, and reported in Anatomy of a War Plot, Avi Shlaim International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), pp.509-530, which describes Israel Prime Minister David ben Gurion's proposed plan to Great Britain and France. Although the meeting records are not available in French and British government archives, the meeting occurrence and parts of ben Gurion's plan are confirmed in Shimon Peres: the biography By Michael Bar-Zohar.
The session started at 4 p.m. on Monday, 22 October, in the conservatory of the villa and it was intended to enable the leaders of the two countries to get to know each other and to have a preliminary discussion. Ben-Gurion opened the discussion by listing his military, political and moral considerations against the English plan. His main objection was that Israel would be branded as the aggressor while Britain and France would pose as peace-makers but he was also exceedingly apprehensive about exposing Israeli cities to attack by the Egyptian Air Force. Instead he presented a comprehensive plan, which he himself called fantastic, for the reorganization of the Middle East. Jordan, he observed, was not viable as an independent state and should therefore be divided. Iraq would get the East Bank in return for a promise to settle the Palestinian refugees there and to make peace with Israel while the West Bank would be attached to Israel as a semi-autonomous region. Lebanon suffered from having a large Muslim population which was concentrated in the south. The problem could be solved by Israels expansion up to the Litani River, thereby helping to turn Lebanon into a more compact Christian state. The Suez Canal area should be given an international status while the Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba should come under Israeli control to ensure freedom of navigation. A prior condition for realizing this plan was the elimination of Nasser and the replacement of his regime with a pro-Western government which would also be prepared to make peace with Israel.
At the start of the 1967 war, Israel claimed that Arab armies had prepared an attack, which forced Israel to defend itself. The media didn't accurately portray the hostilities that preceded the battle. Israel reacted to events with its own provocative behavior and initiated the offensive that started the 6-day war.
Moishe Dayan has been quoted as saying,... "at least 80 percent of two decades of border clashes were initiated by Israel. We would send a tractor to plow some (disputed) area...and we knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was."
- As early as 1964, Israel had diverted the headwaters of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to Israel's South. Syria responded by building its own diversions in the Golan. The Israel forces attacked these facilities on several occasions.
- On April 26, 1967, two months before the start of the 6-day war, Israeli jets shot down 6 Syrian planes over Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. Later that day Israeli jets flew over Damascus.
- Israel bombed all Egyptian airfields and destroyed the Egyptian air force before any declaration of war.
- Although Israel accused Egypt of preparing for an immediate attack, no Egyptian soldier set foot on Israeli territory.
- Israel captured and occupied the entire Sinai.
- Israel continued attacks in the Golan after a preliminary truce had been declared and did not stop the attacks until the entire Golan had been captured.
As in previous engagements, Israel fought a defensive war in an offensive manner and seized large amounts of territory. The war created another flood of Palestinian refugees, a total of 300,000 fled the West Bank and Gaza, of which 180,000 were first time refugees and another 120,000 were already refugees from previous actions. One clue to the reason for the war - Illegal settlements under direction of the Labor government quickly followed the occupation of the West Bank.
The first Lebanon war (1982-1985) started from Israel's pronouncement that, despite a July 1981ceasefire between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the PLO committed 240 terrorist actions against Israeli targets, an exaggerated number that included the PLO units that attempted to enter from Jordan. President Johnson's UN ambassador George Ball stated that the PLO had observed the ceasefire and observed. "Israel continued looking for the internationally recognized provocation that Secretary of State Alexander Haig said would be necessary to obtain American support for an Israeli invasion of Lebanon." George W.Ball, Error and Betrayal in Lebanon, p. 35.
The second Intifada (2000-2004) and its suicide bombings erupted from Israel's aggressive tactics. Statistics from Israel Human rights organization, B'Tselem, show that from the date of Ariel Sharon's unnecessary excursion on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif in September 29, 2000 until the beginning of the year 2001 Israeli forces killed 237 Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories. More than 100 Palestinian civilians, of which about 1/2 were minors under 18 years of age, had already been killed before two terrorist bombings killed four civilians in Israel. (http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Sharon.html)
In the second Lebanon war (2006), Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel, abducted two Israeli soldiers, killed three others, and fired two harmless rockets close to Shlomi, an Israeli town near the border. Without seeking international support to free its abducted soldiers, and immediately after a military excursion into Lebanon failed to locate its captured soldiers, Israel's navy blockaded Lebanon and its air force bombed several targets, including Beirut's airport and Hezbollah's headquarters in southern Beirut. More than twenty four hours after these attacks, Hezbollah fired long range rockets into Israel.
By killing several Israeli soldiers and abducting two of them, while firing mortars at the Israel town of Shlomi, Hezbollah started an unjustified skirmish; no doubt about that. However, Israel, after learning it could not use a ground campaign to retrieve its military personnel, escalated hostilities that could have and should have been contained, and started a pulverizing war. Hezbollah started a low-level conflict and Israel propelled the skirmish into a violent war with the intent of rousing the Lebanese against Hezbollah and destroying the Shiite militia.
Operation "Cast Lead" (December 2008 to January 2009) ostensibly resulted from Israel's attempt to silence rocket fire from Gaza. Ignored were Israel's punishing tactics against the Gazans, which provoked the rocket attacks, and that, in the three months preceding the invasion, the rockets did no damage. "Cast Lead' managed to kill many Palestinians and destroy Gaza infrastructure but did not end hostilities between Israel and the rocket firers.
- The reported number of Palestinian fatalities during "Cast Lead" ranges from an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) estimate of 1,116 to a Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza summary of 1,455.
- Amnesty International reports that "In Gaza, Israeli attacks damaged or destroyed civilian buildings and infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, the water and electricity systems. Thousands of Palestinian homes were destroyed or severely damaged. An estimated 280 of the 641 schools in Gaza were damaged and 18 were destroyed. During Operation Cast Lead, from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, 13 Israelis were killed, including three civilians in southern Israel, where dozens more were injured in indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups."
- IAF strikes Gaza terror cell attempting to fire rockets, By JPOST.COM STAFF, Oct.1 2011 - "Saturday's strike came a day after the IAF struck the central Gaza Strip early Friday morning in response to a Kassam rocket attack on Thursday. The IDF Spokesman's Office said that the location of the strike was a terror activity site."
Israel's attack on Gaza tested new invasion strategies and weapons for future wars. Since Israel did not satisfy its stated objective for its attack, which was to "stop the rocket firing," other reasons and objectives prevail.
What can we conclude from the wars?
Since the world allowed one-sided and horrific wars, Israel has an incentive to continue its drive towards a Greater Israel. Why would it stop, even if it is becoming more isolated? More isolation dictates more self sufficiency - just improve the military and keep going. After suffering casualties during the Second Lebanon War, and in order to prevent damage to its citizens in the coming wars, Israel modified military strategy and exposed its intentions. All rockets fired from Gaza now serve to test the new Iron Dome anti-ballistic missile weapon system. Robotic armaments (Israel eyes futuristic robot army August 29, 2011, Ryan Jones, Israel Today Magazine) are being designed to replace the warring foot soldiers.
Israel has de facto control of the West Bank. Its next step is to achieve de jure recognition. Once that occurs, the new Israel emerges with a likelihood of giving attention to only citizens of the Jewish faith, adding another flame to a burning situation.
Evidence - The discrimination against Israeli Arabs has existed for decades and no positive changes are being offered. The status of Israel's Palestinian citizens compares to that of the Blacks in the United States in the years before 1950. While being almost 20% of the population, only 13 of the 120 members of the Israeli Parliament are Arab citizens, and they are powerless. At the end of 2010, 7.5% % Israeli civil servants were Arab with mostly serving Arab communities. Laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel are summarized in War in Context - Discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
The future continues the past
No strong Israeli movement protests the exclusions of Israeli Palestinians from society. This attitude permits future Israeli governments to accelerate a downward drift in rights for the Palestinian Israelis. As both ethnic populations grow and seek more space, the room for the Palestinians, who cannot purchase land or move to new communities, will shrink. Noting the escalating ethnocentric and virulent nationalism of the Jewish Israelis, the future of the Israeli Arabs is that of benign neglect and pressure to move away, with some talk of expulsion. That trajectory has started,
JERUSALEM (Reuters) Oct. 5, 2011 -- "Following a recent increase in 'Price tag' attacks on Palestinian holy sites, former high-ranking Israeli security officials warned of the risk of a surge in violence across the region. The attack this week on a mosque in the village of Tuba-Zangariya in northern Israel, where the interior prayer hall and religious emblems were set on fire, was the most recent in a series of attacks that Jewish settlers label 'Price Tag' attacks, signifying payback for any Israeli curbs on settlements in the West Bank. By spreading a yearling trail of torched mosques and vehicles from occupied territory into Israel, the elusive militants now threaten not only peacemaking with Palestinians but an already strained coexistence between Israel's Jewish and minority Palestinian citizens."
The trajectory is worse for the Palestinians living in the West Bank. With no rights, no economic stability, no relief from movement restrictions, and continuous harassment and encroachment by Israeli settlers, these Palestinians awake on a reservation, and have two choices - bear it or leave it. Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up more than 50 percent this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.
With Egypt moving away from Mubarak's policy of catering to Israel, and the Muslim Brotherhoods entering governments of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the Gazans will finally have a window into the world and companions in its struggle. Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, and Hezbollah, who shares the fundamentalist Islam attitude towards Israel, will be more emboldened. If the present windowless and helpless Gazans receive constant attacks from Israel, what will their hopeful and renewed energy bring from their powerful neighbor?
Jerusalem's political fate brings the conflict into a new arena. Muslim anxiety over East Jerusalem and Haram al-Sharif destinies will bring Iran and other Muslim nations to react aggressively at Israeli moves to modify Wafq control of its Holy Sites. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already announced in 2010 that two Jewish holy sites in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque and Bethlehem's Rachel's Tomb, none of which contain proven remains of Abraham or Rachel and both revered by Muslims, are to be Israeli national monuments. The moves to rewrite history and redefine religious places are certain to bring violent reactions from the Muslim world, who will view these actions as additional steps to degrade Islam and limit its authority.
Put it all together and we have an alignment of forces that completely, except for Jordan for the time being, surround Israel and contain aggressive militants, willing to fight vociferously for Arab and Muslim causes. These forces will have more access to heavy weapons, no unified command, fewer restrictions and less control of their actions. Random attacks on Israel over a wide front will escalate. Punishing revengeful attacks by Israel will occur. Similarly to how Israel augmented its disputes with the PLO and Hezbollah to include Lebanon and its dispute with some rocket firers to include all of Gaza, the IDF will include in their bomb sights Arab nations that contain antagonists. There will be mounting death totals, infrastructure destruction, and no end to the hostilities.
If Israel finds itself in a losing situation, it will assuredly turn to the nuclear option. Iran and Egypt's large territories can be blasted without radioactivity escaping to neighboring nations. Not so with Israel. The tiny nation borders with Arab nations, and a nuclear strike on Israel will affect the bordering nations. But who knows? In a confused world anything can happen.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AFP) Oct. 5, 2011-- "I right now see Israel as a threat for its region, because it has the atomic bomb," Erdogan said in a foreign policy speech during an official visit to South Africa. He also accused Israel of committing "state terrorism."
Aftenposten, Norways largest newspaper, "reported it has all 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables that were obtained by WikiLeaks. One cable from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department in Washington recounts a meeting between the visiting American congressional delegation headed by former Democratic Representative Ike Skelton, (the head of the House Armed Services Committee, who was defeated for re-election last November) and Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli chief of staff, which took place on November 15, 2009. Another details a briefing given by Israeli generals to another delegation led by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat, New York) on September 2 and 3 of the same year.
"The Israeli military preparations for a new war in the Middle East are in full swing. General Ashkenazi is quoted in the November 2009 cable as saying that the Israeli military is preparing to wage the next war 'in the same areas where the previous wars took place, namely in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.' He told the visiting members of the US Congress: 'Im preparing the Israeli army for a major war since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite.'
Amid New Threats, Israel Preps for Multi-Front War, Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, April 05, 2011
"With Hezbollah's rockets now capable of reaching central Israel, the northern border isn't the only danger zone. Add the rockets from Hamas in the south and all of Israel is in range of its Islamic enemies. Recent developments prompted Israel's new Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to hold military drills. The IDF simulated a war with Hezbollah and Syria on its northern border, Hamas on its southern border, and the involvement of Iran. An Israeli general explained the exercise was meant to prepare the IDF for a future war in light of the recent changes in the Middle East."
If the previous arguments are insufficient to predict havoc, other arguments over water rights will fuel a greater conflagration.
According to the Lebanese Water Ministry, 30-40 percent of the River Dans water flows into it through underground supplies originating in the Shebaa. Israel is worried that if Lebanon gains control of the Shebaa, it can then control the flow to the Dan River."
Ilan Berman and Paul Michael Wihbey, The New Water Politics of the Middle East, Strategic Review, Summer 1999, write that "A breakdown of relations between Jordan and Israel could lead to water grabs by either side. Plagued by escalating populations that are stretching water availability beyond sustainable levels, Jordan has placed increased value on its 'hydraulic imperative,' a move that has created growing Israeli fears of a Hashemite grab of resources. For its part, Israel, facing reductions of internal water sources as a result of expanding Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, may soon eye the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers as important enough to risk conflict over."
Can there be any doubt that an ongoing and huge Middle East conflict will spill over into the western world?
As Radical Islam grows and flexes its muscles, those who sense that western assistance to Israel has handicapped their battle will react aggressively. Expansions of the scope, boldness, numbers, weapons, destruction, and audacity of present terrorism are probable. New weapons that kill without danger of being killed are being made available to all. . As one example, the previous monopoly of pilotless aircraft by the United States and Israel has been broken. Drones of all sizes are becoming widely produced and prominently marketed at air shows. Iran, an often mentioned future combatant, has an unmanned aerial vehicle that is capable of carrying out bombing missions against ground targets and flying long distances at a high speed.
The final blow hits the western world in its most sensitive feature - the gushing oil that lubricates its economy. Sabotaging oil fields and restricting exports will affect world economies and intensify western involvement in the conflict.
That is the trajectory of the Middle East conflict, and probably, but not necessarily the outcome. Probably, because once the U.S. or Israel contemplate or face war, the battle occurs with no consideration of compromise and with terrible ferocity. Note Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel's constant wars; all combats with no decided outcome except to proceed to the next war. If the present perspective of the conflict changes from: "Will the peace process be harmed if Israel increases its settlements?" to "Can we permit destruction of vast areas of the world because Israel continually increases settlements and control of the West Bank?" then the seriousness will move the world to more accurately evaluate situations and provide direction towards preventing the catastrophe. Just ask some questions.
- Who talks from history and archaeology and who talks from unverified Biblical stories?
- Who has legal right to the land and who bases claims on an incomprehensible "given by God, to me" story?
- What will happen if Israel is forced to depart from its goal of being an expanded "Jewish state?" How many persons in the world will be disappointed? How much of the world, including Jews who sense they are being co-opted by Israel's maneuvers to include them, will feel relief?
- What will happen if Israel is not forced to depart from its goal of being an expanded "Jewish state?" Won't we eventually have killings and destruction to those in the "Jewish only state" and those in several Arab nations, mass terrorism, and economic collapse of the western world?
- Why is a relatively small group with inflated designs and spurious dreams allowed to push the world towards catastrophe?
When Jack Nicholson, in the film A Few Good Men, shouted at Tom Cruise, "You can't handle the truth," he might have been speaking to a disillusioned world. He could have added, "and unable to face reality."
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