As promised, here's my second round of responses to right-wing Zionist talking points. One of these general points, applied in many situations is this one: The Arab nations want to "sweep Israel into the sea" and won't stop until they do. Thus, Israel must defend itself all the time.
3.According to Zionist history, in 1948, Israel had to defend itself against annihilation by the united force of all the Arab countries - whose primary motivation was anti-semitism. The Arab nations told the Palestinians to flee.
It is true that Israel was "born in the midst of a war with the Arabs of Palestine and the neighboring Arab states." (Shlaim, 28), but it is not clear that the motivation for this war was the hatred of Jews, nor is there any evidence to suggest that the Arab leadership issued orders to Palestinian Arabs to flee. From 1946-1947, David Ben Gurion united Zionist forces in Palestine into an army to pursue the formation of an Israeli state. In 1947, only one Arab leader supported such a Zionist state in Palestine, King Abdullah of Transjordan. The not-nearly as well organized Palestinian nationalists, a total of 4000 fighters united under the leader, al-Husayni, attacked Jewish targets in Palestine immediately following the UN decision to partition Palestine in the fall of 1947.(Pape, 65,77).
The response was as follows:
Ben Gurion's army pursued the objective of "Plan D" which was to attack Arab villages in Palestine (civilians) and thus remove Palestinians from Israel, beginning in April, 1948. In all, 350 villages were evacuated or abandoned, and 700,00 to 750,000 Palestinian refugees fled to the West Bank, to Gaza, and to Transjordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The very worst atrocities of the war (massacres of villagers) occurred in October and November of 1948. The goal was not simply to create a new state, but a state that was ethnically pure, or at least dominated by a Jewish population. Who then, are the people with a strong case of ethnic nationalism or "tribalism"?
Another part of the Zionist version of this history regards the combined invasion of Palestine by Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, which is usually portrayed by Zionists as a group that numerically overwhelmed Israel. In fact, as Avi Shlaim points out, the Israeli forces outnumbered the combined Arab military force; Arab troops numbered 25,000, Israel troops went from 65,000 to 97,441. Moreover, the war aim of the Arab nations was not the single goal of "sweeping Israel into the sea" but a complicated mix of individual national objectives.
(on 1948, see Pape, Shlaim, and Morris).
4. Modern American zionism came to its full fruition following the 1967 war, when Israel expanded its territory significantly. This war has been portrayed in Zionist history as a heroic victory over hostile forces, and a necessity for Israel to defend itself from the hostile Arab world.
In 1967, Israel faced Palestinian attacks that were supported by the Syrian government. In response, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin threatened to "overthrow the Syrian regime" (Shlaim, 236). As Egypt, under Nasser, closed off the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, massed troops on the Sinai border, and asked for the UN emergency forces to be removed from the Sinai, Israel responded with an attack now known as the "six day war" during which Israel was victorious and took the following territories: the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. This expansion of Israel's borders and its attempts to keep these territories remains the bone of contention today, and the proposal of many peace groups (including Jewish ones) is that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. In my next post, I will go into more detail on the history of the fate of territories occupied in 1967. In general, one could say that this occupation, and effort to make it permanent, and not anti-semitism, is the real source of continuing hostility to the state of Israel.
5. Another common event used to support the hypothesis of unrelenting Arab hostility is the "Yom Kippur War" of 1973
The surprise attack on Israel by Syria and Egypt in 1973 was a response to the continued Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, it was Moshe Dayan who told Time magazine in July of 1973, "There is no more Palestine. Finished" and his policy was to move settlers into the occupied territories "won" in 1967, including the Golan Heights, which were once part of Syria, and sought an Israel whose authority extended "from the Jordan to the Suez canal." The reason that Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in October of 1973 (The surprise "Yom Kippur war") was to put pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied territories.
* For all of the above references, see Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.
and that's it for now.