Arabs Threatening to Destroy Israel? Don’t be Ridiculous

Jeff B, who has stimulated so much discussion here over Finkielkraut’s essay, asserts in his last comment:

    What existential threat? The notion that the Arabs want to literally exterminate the Jews is a self-serving paranoid delusion unsupported by any evidence. Did Arab armies in 1948 or 1967 or any other time massacre Israelis or otherwise display any genocidal intent or action? No. Were the Jewish populations in Arab countries after 1948 ever subjected to any organized genocidal efforts? No. There were riots in which people were killed, but there were no death squads, no concentration camps, no planned or organized efforts to threaten the existence of Jews.

Now Jeff has, of his own admission, acknowledged that he’s not well versed in the history of the conflict — something some of the better-versed commentators had noticed as well. So how he knows with such certainty that “the Arab armies… never displayed any genocidal intent or action” is something of a puzzle. But with that in mind, I post here a piece by Charles Krauthammer distilling the work of historian Michael Oren.

I was 18 at the time, and I remember well watching the footage of crowds of Arabs in the streets — we were told, students — dancing in the streets calling for the annihilation of Israel and driving the Jews into the sea. At the time — because they expected victory — they were unabashed about admitting their intentions. After they lost, they started complaining bitterly about Israeli imperialism. And when I came back from spending the summer in Israel (along with tens of thousands of volunteers, Jewish and non-Jewish from all over the world) the following Fall to go to college, I remember a leftist saying to me, “Israel? That’s a pretty militaristic society, isn’t it.” He preferred Mao, murderer of 70 million Chinese in peacetime.

Friday, May 18, 2007; A23

Prelude to the Six Days

By Charles Krauthammer

There has hardly been a Middle East peace plan in the past 40 years — including the current Saudi version — that does not demand a return to the status quo of June 4, 1967. Why is that date so sacred? Because it was the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War in which Israel scored one of the most stunning victories of the 20th century. The Arabs have spent four decades trying to undo its consequences.

In fact, the real anniversary should be now, three weeks earlier. On May 16, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser ordered the evacuation from the Sinai Peninsula of the U.N. buffer force that had kept Israel and Egypt at peace for 10 years. The United Nations complied, at which point Nasser imposed a naval blockade of Israel’s only outlet to the south, the port of Eilat — an open act of war.

How Egypt came to this reckless provocation is a complicated tale (chronicled in Michael Oren’s magisterial “Six Days of War”) of aggressive intent compounded with miscommunication and, most fatefully, disinformation. The Soviet Union had reported urgently and falsely to its Middle East clients, Syria and Egypt, that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian border for an attack. Israel desperately tried to disprove this charge by three times inviting the Soviet ambassador in Israel to visit the front. He refused. The Soviet warnings led to a cascade of intra-Arab maneuvers that in turn led Nasser, the champion of pan-Arabism, to mortally confront Israel with a remilitarized Sinai and a southern blockade.

Why is this still important? Because that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel’s 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of that war — the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza — in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez war, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.

All this disappeared with a wave of Nasser’s hand. During those three interminable weeks, President Lyndon Johnson did try to rustle up an armada of countries to run the blockade and open Israel’s south. The effort failed dismally.

It is hard to exaggerate what it was like for Israel in those three weeks. Egypt, already in an alliance with Syria, formed an emergency military pact with Jordan. Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began sending forces to join the coming fight. With troops and armor massing on Israel’s every frontier, jubilant broadcasts in every Arab capital hailed the imminent final war for the extermination of Israel. “We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants,” declared PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri, “and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them.”

For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating. Israel’s citizen army had to be mobilized. As its soldiers waited on the various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from its peril, Israeli society ground to a halt and its economy began bleeding to death. Army Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the life of his country in the balance, knowing that waiting too long would allow the armies of 100 million Arabs to strike first his country of 3 million.

We know the rest of the story. Rabin did recover in time to lead Israel to victory. But we forget how perilous was Israel’s condition. The victory hinged on a successful attack on Egypt’s air force on the morning of June 5. It was a gamble of astonishing proportions. Israel sent the bulk of its 200-plane air force on the mission, fully exposed to antiaircraft fire and missiles. Had they been detected and the force destroyed, the number of planes remaining behind to defend the Israeli homeland — its cities and civilians — from the Arab air forces’ combined 900 planes was . . . 12.

We also forget that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was entirely unsought. Israel begged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the conflict. Engaged in fierce combat with a numerically superior Egypt, Israel had no desire to open a new front just yards from Jewish Jerusalem and just miles from Tel Aviv. But Nasser personally told Hussein that Egypt had destroyed Israel’s air force and airfields and that total victory was at hand. Hussein could not resist the temptation to join the fight. He joined. He lost.

The world will soon be awash with 40th-anniversary retrospectives of the war — and exegeses on the peace of the ages that awaits if Israel would only to return to lines of June 4, 1967. But Israelis are cautious. They remember the terror of that June 4 and of that unbearable May when, with Israel in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever, the entire Arab world was furiously preparing Israel’s imminent extinction. And the world did nothing.

So Jeff, what do you think? It’s not true? It’s not relevant? Please, let me know what you conclude from this.

25 Responses to Arabs Threatening to Destroy Israel? Don’t be Ridiculous

  1. JeffB says:

    RL 5/18/07

    Talk is cheap, and hyperbolic threats are common in every conflict, from barroom brawls to WWII. As I asked, what actions provide evidence of genocidal intent?

    As for Krauthammer’s text, it’s typical propoganda that conveniently ignores Israel’s misdeeds and the valid enmity they produce to wrongly portray Israel as the innocent victim of Arab malice.

    “… that unbearable May when, with Israel in possession of no occupied territories whatsoever, the entire Arab world was furiously preparing Israel’s imminent extinction. And the world did nothing.”

    Israel was in possession of no occupied territories only because the US forced it to withdraw from the Sinai after Israel invaded Egypt and occupied the Sinai in 1956. What did the world do when Israel made this unprovoked attack on its neighbor? France and Britain joined right in, and the rest of the world sat back until the fight was over. What did the world do when the homes and lands of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian were seized by Israel in 1948? Welcomed Israel into the UN.

    “For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating.”?

    Was the decision to invade Egypt “excruciating and debilitating”? How about the decision to drive half a million people into refugee camps?

  2. fp says:

    I reiterate what I said in a previous post about JeffB: there is an american tendency to not think that one needs to be knowledgeable about a subject to opine on it. all one needs is his own experience and intuition. hence his simplistic and irrelevant examples. this is part of the failed educational system and it is in large part responsible for the abject foreign policies of the US.

    One would have to be blind to not see the overwhelming evidence of the murderous genocidal thoughts AND DEEDS of the palestinians as well as other arabs and muslims.
    And that is exactly what JeffB is in his lack of knowledge: blind.

  3. fp says:

    And by the way, Krauthammer is wrong: it’s not 1967 that is the critical date for the arabs, it’s 1948, the nakba. When they say to return to 1967 borders they mean as a first step. Then it will be even easier to get the whole thing.

    It’s the same strategy that Arafat used at Oslo: get what you can from the Israelis and make it harder for them to defend themselves. There is a video at MEMRI TV in which Arafat is quoted saying exactly this.

    As Patrick Poole says, the difference between Fatah and Hamas is that the former is for slow jihad and the latter for fast jihad. I happen to think that the slow one is more dangerous.

  4. fp says:

    BTW, regarding talk vs. actions, there is an excellent precedent: they said about Hitler exactly what JeffB says about the palestinians. Yet when he came to power, he did exactly what he said he would and by that time nobody stopped him.

    Does suggest that the israelis should give in to the palestinian demands and see if they are serious or not?

  5. Michael B says:

    “What existential threat?” … unsupported by any evidence.

    A voluptuous self-parody, a sumptuous solipsism; rhapsody. The ideational and the incurious overtaking the empirical/rational, and holding it in contempt.

    Lota’ that goin’ ’round.

  6. fp says:

    Michael,

    You got that right.

  7. USBeast says:

    JeffB, they are called books, actual printed pages of paper bound together. They were written, most of them, by people who either experienced the events first hand or did something called “research” which was the labor-intensive predecessor of “surfing”.

    You can find books at libraries which will let you borrow them for free for a set period of time.

    Trusting political “information” found on the net is like trusting playground “information” about sex.

  8. fp says:

    He probably bases his opinions on something like the following, which Martin Kramer, one of the most knowledgeable scholars of the ME calls hallucinations:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0514/p09s01-coop.html

  9. fp says:

    And here is another of the best who takes on an prominent Israeli JeffB. It is amazing how leftism disables even decent people from reasoning and from considering factual evidence.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/contentions/index.php/karsh/443

  10. Joanne says:

    Maybe be I should’ve been paying more attention. I thought of JeffB as being opinionated, which is neither here nor there. After all, he’s entitled. But it wasn’t until I read his “what existential threat?” comment (pasted at the beginning of this post) that I realized how biased he really is. It’s not even as if he were making points that had a grain of truth in them. I’m sorry, but his points here are clearly off the wall.

    I’m no expert in Middle Eastern history, either, but even I know better than to say that
    “the notion that the Arabs want to literally exterminate the Jews is a self-serving paranoid delusion unsupported by any evidence.” Huh? He must be kidding! There are lots of statements by Arab leaders, especially the Grand Mufti himself, that made their intentions very clear.

    “The Arab armies in 1948 or 1967 or any other time massacre Israelis or otherwise display any genocidal intent or action? No.” Again…huh? So, where did that “throw the Jews into the sea” expression come from, if it wasn’t announced by Nasser? The Arabs were indeed displaying genocidal intent, only they weren’t able to follow through with it. They thought they were going to win in 1948 and in 1967, and it was no mystery to anyone what an Arab victory would’ve meant. Again, Arab leaders were not shy about expressing their intentions. It’s all on record.

    “Were the Jewish populations in Arab countries after 1948 ever subjected to any organized genocidal efforts? No.” Actually, yes. That’s what the whole invasion by five Arab armies in 1948 was about. And 1967. And, for all I know, 1973 as well. These were precisely organized genocidal efforts. The only sticking point was that these efforts were unsuccessful. If the Arab armies didn’t commit genocide, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    “There were riots in which people were killed, but there were no death squads, no concentration camps, no planned or organized efforts to threaten the existence of Jews.” Again, what is he talking about? Yes, there were riots…in 1929, 1936, and of course the two Intifadas. Yes, some people were killed. [Note the unspecified “people” and the use of the passive case here...mistakes were made.] But there were two good reasons why there were no concentration camps: The Arabs didn’t capture any number of Jews to inprison, and the Arabs weren’t interested in taking any prisoners. It was to be death or expulsion for the most part. No Arab death squads? So, all those attacks on civilians for 60 years were commited by…whom? No planned or organized efforts to threaten the existence of Jews? OK, so I guess those six wars were fought just for the hell of it. Uh huh.

    What is it with this guy? When it comes to outrageous statments, he must be taking lessons from Chomsky.

    This is just silly. JeffB couldn’t be serious. He must be teasing us, just trying to get a rise out of us. He really doesn’t take what he’s saying seriously. He’s joking. Right? Please say yes.

  11. fp says:

    Joanne, for other readers of this your comments are needed, but insofar as JeffB is concerned he is a lost cause. He’s not just biased, he’s ignorant too, and his ignorance is due to bias.

    See my comments above.

  12. I have recently posted an essay that I think sheds more light on JeffB and even more light on the reasons for The Wilfull Stupidity of the left. In it I use two great thinkers, Charles Kettering and Milan Kundera as examples of real thought and the celebrity ignoramus Whoopie Goldberg to illustrate how JeffB and his ilk get away with endangering their own wellfare and the future of civilization by claiming “the right to their own opinion”. here is a snip-

    Ms Goldberg speaks in half truths with half sentences. We must continue to advocate real understanding. When she says, “everyone is entitled to their opinion” she has omitted the most important part of that assumptive sentence- the other half is “no matter how ill considered and uninformed it may be.” The entitlement to opinion and expression is not a validation of content- in fact, it is a call for responsibility. Equal rights to speak them doesn’t mean all opinions are of equal value it means that they should to be considered and supported rather than merely indulged.

    The first recorded declaration of that responsibility in U.S. history came in the fall of 1787 when a woman approached Benjamin Franklin immediately following the concluding session of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and asked “What form of government have you given us?” Franklin replied: “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

    We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled by the easy appeals to emotion and received ideas contained in Ms Goldberg’s typical liberal glibness. No matter how secure we feel we must realize that we have enemies. As the usually non political Kettering said, “The future can be anything we want it to be, providing we have the faith and that we realize that peace, no less than war, requires “blood and sweat and tears.””
    The post is http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/05/understanding-vs-nonthought-why-left.html

  13. Jeff B says:

    Joanne 05/19/07

    “Were the Jewish populations in Arab countries after 1948 ever subjected to any organized genocidal efforts? No.” Actually, yes. That’s what the whole invasion by five Arab armies in 1948 was about. And 1967. And, for all I know, 1973 as well. These were precisely organized genocidal efforts”

    My quoted statement referred to native Jewish populations – the large populations of Jews who lived in Muslim countries prior to 1918, for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years, as a number of commentors have pointed out.

    My point is that these large, but minority populations were pretty much at the mercy of the Muslim majority, and could have been subject to organized genocidal efforts (concentration camps, death squads, etc.) if that was the intent of the Muslims. When the Nazis had the opportunity to carry out genocide they used it, the Muslims did not.

    As for the Europeans Jews who essentially invaded Palestine and drove out most of the native inhabitants, they have indeed been attacked in a series of wars. But wars are very, very rarely genocidal, and I see no evidence (massacres of civilians or prisoners, etc., such as in Bosnia) in the conduct of the wars against Israel to indicate genocidal intent. The intent of those wars was the destruction or diminution of the political entity of Israel and restoration of the lands seized from the native population. Perhaps you are right that the opportunity just never materialized for Arabs to carry out their genocidal intentions, but I’m not aware of any tangible evidence to prove it.

    As for terrorist attacks on Israel, do they represent genocidal intent or are they a means to attack a militarily superior enemy? Were Menachim Begin and his fellow terrorists genocidal killers or were they using the available tools to achieve their military/political ends? Is there any other historical evidence that links terrorism to genocide?

  14. Jeff B says:

    fp, Michael B, USBeast 05/19/07

    I may be ignorant, but I’m teachable. Please share your knowledge and correct the mistakes in my post. Did Israel not invade the Sinai? Did Israel not seize the land of the Palestinians who sought refuge from the 1948 fighting? Some other fact I’m misinformed about?

  15. JeffB Writes: “I see no evidence (massacres of civilians or prisoners, etc., such as in Bosnia) in the conduct of the wars against Israel to indicate genocidal intent. The intent of those wars was the destruction or diminution of the political entity of Israel and restoration of the lands seized from the native population. Perhaps you are right that the opportunity just never materialized for Arabs to carry out their genocidal intentions, but I’m not aware of any tangible evidence to prove it.”

    If you are not being disingenuous, then you are so ill-equipped for any sort of awareness that you would not recognize genocidal intent if it blew you and your entire family up.

    Israel and Israelis seized no lands. We either bought them from their owners or were granted them under Un and international sanction by virtue of them being vacant and ownerless. We even have established special legal protection and redress for arabs with claims on land in Israel. There was never any invasion by European Jews and there was a clear and proven complicity between the Arab leadership and the Nazis including a close personal relationship between the Mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler himself.
    You alternate between posing as an ignoramus and pretending to be omniscient when you claim ignorance of these facts and then further claim to know that “The intent of those wars was the destruction or diminution of the political entity of Israel and restoration of the lands seized from the native population.” My conclusion is that you not as dumb as you seem to want us to believe nor as smart as you think you are. You are, rather, a garden variety, Israel bashing, Jew hating leftist with a penchant for transparent disguises. Your lazy, illogical arguments are a shameful waste of time and a despicable charade.

  16. Joanne says:

    JeffB,

    Oh, so now you say that it’s before 1918 that you’re talking about! I could’ve sworn that you were referring to after 1948.

    As I understood it, Jews living in the Middle East (and North Africa) were at times subject to pogrom-like attacks. They were second-class citizens who subject to humiliating rules. Sure, there was no concerted attempt to wipe them out whole. But then, that kind of policy hadn’t existed anywhere. Aside from the Armenian massacre by the Turks in WW1, the genocide in WW2 was unprecedented. (In any case, the Mufti of Jerusalem and other Arab leaders supported Hitler’s attempt to wipe out the Jews and hoped to do the same in Palestine)

    What you’re setting up here is a straw man, and it really doesn’t matter because you’re making a weak point, anyway. The blacks in the American South were never the object of genocide, but that didn’t prevent the oppression of Jim Crow and the occasional lynching.

    And let’s get back to your original point, what you really said. The Arab leaders were very clear in their desire to wipe out Israel and the Israelis. You were silly to hold that they never had that aim, and you were caught in that mistake. Just leave it alone and move on.

    About your being teachable…hmmmmm. I don’t know. My feeling is that you should do some independent reading of books representing both sides of the conflict and in between.

  17. fp says:

    You cannot learn history seriously in exchanges over the net, after you swallowed whole propaganda nonsense.
    You have to go to serious sources and spend serious time on them with an open mind. If you want to opine on something, it’s your responsibility to learn and not that of others to teach you.

    I can refer you to some sources, but my sense is that your ideology and tendency to oversimplify will inhibit you. That is clear to how you react to evidence contrary to your preconceptions and your reasoning capability.

    There are some books here:

    http://www.dbdebunk.com/page/page/4304773.htm

    Here’s a few articles. Anything by these authors is good.

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/humanities/medstu/pales.pdf
    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/humanities/medstu/werep.pdf
    http://www.aijac.org.au/review/2001/266/essay266.html
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/747
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/02/why_it_would_be_a_catastrophe.html
    http://www.israelinsider.com/views/articles/views_0356.htm
    http://zioncon.blogspot.com/2007/04/israel-at-59-facing-unpleasant-fact.html
    http://sandbox.blog-city.com/read/page/sandstorm_geopolitics_jews_israel.htm
    http://www.bitterlemons-dialogue.org/dialogue6.html
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/cm/main/viewArticle.aip?id=10829
    http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2007_01_23.htm
    http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/Hamas.pdf

    There is a longer list on my blog, but these are not enough. You gotta educate yourself seriosuly on islamism, anti-semitism, zionism, etc. before you can discuss the subject intelligently and be taken seriously. And that’s usually an effort that americans have a tendency not to invest.

  18. fp says:

    Jeff,

    I have a question for you that I posted earlier somewhere here: would you be willing to return the US to the native indians and leave? After all, unlike the arabs who are now called palestinians — most of whom came from arab countries to take advantage of the development that the jews started in a scarcely populated desert, and who either sold their land, or lost it in genocidal wars they started — were TRULY native, and ruthlessly killed/displaced by your forefathers?

    How come you are not as fired up about that real injustice as you are about a fake one you know so little about?

  19. RL says:

    Jeff’s answer, posted elsewhere:

    That’s the $64 question. To be consistent with my principles I should be willing to do so, but I am not. I am willing to acknowledge the injustice committed, my part in them, and make amends/reparations.

  20. The simple fact is that the world stage is not for the weak and failed. Jews have the right to the land by any historical accounting but owning it and holding it are two different things. For anyone interested in a real attempt to cope with the Indian/Palestinian conundrum I have addressed it in a 2 part analysis on my blog Part 1 ia here: http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/04/indian-guilt-and-american-view-of-islam.html and Part 2 is here: http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/2007/04/indian-guilt-and-american-view-of-islam_19.html

  21. fp says:

    yaakov,

    of course. but my point was different: that lefty do-gooders like jeff ignore practically all real injustice in the world (particularly those close to home) in order to obsess about one that is a fake injustice, which is due to ignorance and, as RL explained, moral competitiveness.

    jeff does not require that americans do about the native what he requires israelis about the palestinians, nor is he as obsessed and rabid about them. in fact, that’s an excellent validation of RL’s theory.

    and, as I told him, what he proposes for americans as a solution for the plaestinians was exhaustively proposed by the israelis but rejected by the palestinians.

    i am not even mentioning the jewish refugees from the arab countries which, unlike arab states, israel resettled and integrated. in fact, the numbers cancel each other out and should be the obvious response to any arab’s right of return or compensation.

    the reality is, though, that ror is not a bargaining chip for the arabs, but part of the slow jihad.

  22. Michael B says:

    “Talk is cheap …” JeffB

  23. fp,

    I see your point and while I agree with you on all the particulars, it ignores the basis of JeffB’s inability to see the inner contraditions in his view. He simply does not want to. As I stated in #16 above, it is clear to me that he is playing a rather silly and transparent game with us. He started with a patently false anti-Israel assertion and then fell back on a series of lines of defense consisting of resonable sounding requests for more information each of which were really accusations in disguise. When his last line of defense is breached he simply goes back to the beginning and asserts some naive and obviously uninformed anti-Israel slogan.

    The effect of this tactic is a “no lose” situation for the Israel basher because even while he knows that, if we know what we are talking about, he will be disproven on every point he has put us on the defensive while engaging us and wasting our time in the futility of “educating the ineducacable”. On the off chance that one of his insipid “requests for information” stumps us, he wins the whole table without having risked anything.

    Playing his game is a no-win for us.

    That is why I wrote to him, “My conclusion is that you not as dumb as you seem to want us to believe nor as smart as you think you are. You are, rather, a garden variety, Israel bashing, Jew hating leftist with a penchant for transparent disguises.”

  24. fp says:

    yaakov,

    of course. my comments were intended to any other readers that may lurk here.

    jeff and his ilk are a dime a dozen on the net. they populate exchanges and waste time and bandwidth under the delusion that they are cunning enough to make his stupid propaganda stick.

    hence my comments to RL to stop feeding him. it’s useless.

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