Interactive Editorials, Al-Jazeerah.info
Israeli aggression in the past and present
By Hassan El-Najjar and Michael Bokerelli
June 15, 2003
I would just like to ask you to explain yourself when you use the terms Israeli agression and israeli wars. I certainly hope you are not referring to the War of Independance, the 6-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, and the War of Attrition. These wars were all declared on Israel but the Arab world, not the other way around. If you are referring to the pre-emptive strike by Israel at Lebanon in 1982 when it took land from the North, I should remind you that Lebanon and Syria had been threatening Israel a long time, had ammassed some 10,000 soldiers to its southern border, and had been firing katucha rockets into Israel proper for the past decade. Certainly these cannot be condisered Israeli aggression, these acts have been Israel defending itself against enemies who had been attacking them.
On a final note, I do believe in a two-state solution, where there are two democratic states living side by side. I believe that this type of government should be in place not only for Palestinians but in the entire Arab World. This will allow for each citizen, men and women to have the right to choose thier own leaders and policies.
I believe that both Israel and Palestine have the right to a state, and have a right to elect thier own leaders. By allowing 4 million Arabs to become citizens into Israel, these new citizens will choose an Arab leader, and the entire purpose of the State of Israel will be demolished. Every major religion on this planet has a right to self-governance, and every major religion has at least one country which would be considered religious, Muslims have many, Christians have one, and so must the Jews.
The Zionist aggression against the Palestinian people started in 1897 in Basle, Switzerland, when the founders of Zionism decided to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, on the expense of the Palestinian people. The 1947 UN Partition Resolution gave the two warring parties a state for each one of them with clearly defined territories (See the map in the Documents section). The 1948 war, which you describe as the war of independence and I describe as An-Nakba (the Calamate or the Disaster), is the original example of Israeli aggression. By the end of that war, Israel has annexed the Palestinian Arab territories of Galilee, Auja, parts of Gaza Strip, and parts of the West Bank, all of which were parts of the Palestinian Arab state according to the Partition resolution. Israeli forces had attacked Palestinian territories, particularly Galilee, well before the Arab states entered the war. If you go back to the memoirs of all Israeli leaders, you'll find that they wanted to annex Jerusalem, which was in the middle of the Arab territory of the West Bank. To do that they penetrated the West Bank to Jerusalem, that is why there is a corridor linking Israel to Jerusalm. Finally, the Israeli forces, the Haganah, had a plan known as Plan Dalet, according to which they attacked Palestinian villages to evict Palestinians from them, in our time now we call this ethnic cleansing. All this has nothing to do with the intervention of other Arab states in the war. The Israeli aggression has continued ever since by not allowing Palestinian refugees, who were evicted by Israelis from their towns and villages, to return to their property,. That is why the problem has continued until today.
The October 31, 1956 war, in which Israel participated with Britain and France in attacking Egypt and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, was Israel's second major war of aggression against Arabs. Because you have not mentioned it, I assume that you agree that it was an aggression.
The June 5, 1967 war, that you call the six-day war, was the third major Israeli war of aggression against Arabs (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza). It was justified by Israeli leaders and their supporters as a pre-emptive strike. Sharon still uses this type of justification by following his policy of the assassination of Hamas leaders. He justifies that policy by "pre-empting" them from doing any harm to Israelis in the future. It is an ancient policy of aggression used by the enemies of ancient Israelites. The Pharoah followed it when he ordered the killing of all newly born children to prevent (pre-empt) the prophecy from being fulfilled, but God saved Moses and the prophecy was fulfilled. Arabs did not declare that war on Israel, you cannot find any historian or even any Israeli leader who would agree with you that Arabs declared that war. It was an Israeli war of aggression, launched for expansion and justified as a preemptive strike.
The war of attrition that the Egyptians engaged the Israelis on the banks of the Suez Canal between 1967 and 1973 was the Egyptian resistance to the Israeli occupation of Sinai, which continued as an aggression against Egypt during that period. What would you expect the Egyptians, the most ancient nation on earth, to do? Did you want them to submit to the will of the Israeli invaders? They couldn't allow themselves to be humiliated. So, this was nothing but resistance to the Israeli aggression which started on June 5, 1967.
The October 1973 War, that you refer to as Yom Kippur War, was an Egyptian and Syrian war to liberate their territories that Israel occupied on June 5, 1967. How can you ignore the original Israeli aggression and look at the reaction to it as an aggression? This is exactly the problem of today between the Sharon government and the Palestinian people. Sharon wants to continue assassinating Hamas leaders and killing Palestinian civilians as a collateral damage without receiving back their reaction, suicide bombing, rocket launching, and attacks on Israeli soldier. Many Israelis still insist not to see their aggrression, as represented by their military occupation of the Arab territories and the subjugation of the Palestinian people to their military rule. All what they focus on is the Arab reaction to their aggression.*
Then came the war on Lebanon, which started with the 1978 invasion of South Lebanon. It was aimed at crushing the Palesinian resistance there. Palestinian organizations quickly retreated to the north and Israeli forces occupied parts of south Lebanon. The Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continued, with its headquarters in South Lebanon.
As a solution, Sharon convinced Begin to invade south Lebanon to crush the PLO once and for all. Again, the Israelis think only in terms of military power, not in terms of ending their military occupation and the injustice it brings to peopole. Sharon double crossed Begin by going to Beirut, following the PLO to the Lebanese capital. If that was not aggression, what is aggression? You invade a country and almost destroy its capital, killing tens of thousands of people and injuring hunreds of thousands of people and still don't see that this is aggression!
Then, even after forcing the PLO out of Lebanon, Israeli forces still continued their occupation of south Lebanon, which triggered the emergence of Lebanes resistance to liberate the south. First Amal emerged, then Hizballah became the prominent resistance movement until Israeli occupation forces were forced out of Lebanon, in June 2000. The Lebanese did not occupy parts of Israel. Their resistance was aimed at the aggressive Israeli occupation. When the Israelis withdrew, there were no more confrontations between the two parties. Only few attacks occurred in the sill occupied Shib'a Farms.
In brief, all the wars launched in the Middle East were Israeli wars of aggression or reistance to these wars. It seems that the Middle East, and the world, will not see peace until Israelis and their supporters acknowledge that you cannot invade and occupy other nations without triggering resistance. Only when Israelis become peaceful people, the Middle East and the world will enjoy peace. I hope and pray that this happen as soon as possible.
I agree with you, and I think the whole world also agrees that the two-state solution is not only the only feasable one now, but the most urgent step to stop the bloodshed on both sides. However, I know and you know that Israeli settlers and their militant supporters in the US do not believe in that. They want the land without the people, which leads to nothing but the continution of the conflict. They should not be allowed to continue in control of this bloody game.
Having said that, I do not believe that the two-state solution is a perfect solution on the long-run. The problems of refugees, borders, resources, and Jerusalem will prevent the two states from complete separation. Cooperation in all aspects of life is inevitable, particularly in the economic field. That is why it is wrong to have all this bloodshed and all this bitterness before the temporary separation, the Palestinian independence. This means that insisting on the Jewishness of Israel is not right. Palestinian Arabs who hold the Israeli citizenship constitute about 20 percent of the Israelis right now. If the state is to be exclusively Jewish, does this mean that they will lose their citizenship? Does this mean that they have to convert to Judaism? I don't think you want to do that. The future is for more pluralism, more peace, and more integration. When peace prevails and people enjoy it after a century-long conflict, they will be more tolerant and more cooperative. At least this is what I think and I hope more people will agree with me. Peace.
* This is exacly what has happened in the most recent round of violence btween Israelis and Palestinians. It started when Israeli forces assassinted two Hamas local leaders in Tulkarem. This triggered the Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers in Beit Hanoon-Erez chechpoint. Then, Sharon ordered the failed assassination attempt on Al-Rantissi, which triggered the Jerusalem suicide bombing. Then, Israel assassinated two Hamas activists in the Zaytoon neighborhood in Gaza, which triggered the Hamas missile attack on an Israeli neighborhood north of Gaza Strip. Finally, Israel assassinated the Hamas activist, Al-Lidawi, yesterday (6/13/03). Now, it's Hamas's turn to retaliate.
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