A Gem of Absurdity from walt-mearsheimer
Finally got a look at walt-mearsheimer's magnum opus, a rather inflated tome called The Israel Lobby. Anyhow, I had a chance to read some of their slick but shallow arguments. Just leafing through the pages, I found a gem. In the chapter on Israel's moral case, they write that Israel's supporters could --in Israel's defense-- point to Arab threats to destroy Israel in several wars, 1948, 1967, 1973, etc. W-M admit that in 1948, some Arab leaders called for "throwing the Jews into the sea." But then they claim that the Arab leaders really didn't mean it. It was all just for domestic consumption, walt-mearsheimer claim. They go on to argue that this was because the Arab leaders knew that they couldn't destroy Israel. So here W-M make a leap of logic: Because the Arab leaders allegedly knew that the Arabs couldn't win the war against Israel, this means that they didn't want to destroy Israel.
Of course the whole argument is full of holes like swiss cheese --and it stinks like moldy cheese too. The Arab spokesmen were threatening war at the UN before the UN General Assembly made its partition recommendation on 29 November 1947. At that time, and up to 15 May 1948, Israel was not yet an established state. It was a dream, an idea, a hope. It had lightly armed forces that stayed in the underground during British rule. But it could not bring in heavy weapons as long as the British forces remained in the country, unless they could be smuggled past the British --who were actively pro-Arab at that time. So why would the governments of Arab states, that could bring in heavy weapons, and did get British supplies, know that they couldn't defeat the as yet unborn state of Israel? How do walt-mearsheimer know what the Arab leaders knew or believed at that time? The Arab League governments were NOT saying: We can't defeat the Jews. Indeed, they were boasting in their usual bellicose Arab rodomontade that they could win, and this view was shared by high officials in the British and US governments, for instance. Such as expert opinions produced by the UK & US governments that the Jews could not hold out against the Arabs. Abdul-Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, warned the UN that Arab states would use force against any partition plan and boasted of a bloody Arab victory in the coming war with the Jews:
'This war will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongol massacres and the Crusades.Can we imagine Arab officials telling each other at the Arab League conference at Bludan, Syria, in June 1946, as they reached a consensus to send forces to the Land of Israel to prevent emergence of a Jewish state: Of course, we can't win the war. And we really don't want to throw the Jews into the sea. But we must fight for the sake of fanatic domestic public opinion and we will be just delighted when we are defeated in a humiliating fashion. Public opinion will be delighted too. This defeat will bring us all closer together, governments and the fanatics in the street. Then we will plan together on how to lose the next war.
'[Ahkbar Al-Yom, October 11, 1947 quoted in Jewish Agency for Palestine, Memorandum 1948; Howard Sachar dates this statement to the Spring of 1948, in his A History of Israel (New York: Alfred Knopf 1976), p 333; Leonard Davis & Moshe Decter date the statement to 15 May 1948, in Myths and Facts 1982 (Washington, DC: Near East Research 1982), p 20]
There may have been some well-informed and thoughtful Arabs who had doubts, who thought that maybe the Arabs couldn't drive Israel into the sea. However, since the Arab states had been established as states, they had been able to build regular armies, train troops, and import weapons -- which weapons exporting states were quite willing, if not eager, to supply [in the United Kingdom's case]. Further, the Arab Legion [al-Jaysh al-`Arabi] of Transjordan was British-commanded [by Sir John Bagot Glubb] , British-financed and equipped, and most senior officers were British.
Why should the Arab leadership have believed differently from the UK and US government experts?? Moreover, given their traditional contempt for Jews who were traditionally at the bottom of the social ladder in the Arab-Muslim countries, given the age-old Arab/Muslim teachings about their own military superiority and the inferiority of the Jews, what else could a normal Arab-Muslim, educated in his own tradition, think but that the Arabs would be gloriously victorious? Furthermore, the UK and US were urging the Arab League states to go to war against the as yet unborn state [about US policy, see the research of Professor Shlomo Slonim].
Now, the widely known Arab journalist, Muhammad Hassanayn Haykal [Mohamed Hassanein Heikal], wrote --on the eve of Soviet leader Khrushchov's visit to Egypt -- that the British had urged Egypt to go to war against the soon to be proclaimed Jewish state. He added that the British had given the Egyptian army weapons and ammunition from British stocks in the Suez Canal Zone, at that time under British control [of course, the Egyptian army had to go through the Suez Canal Zone in order to get to Israel, which may have been so obvious to Haykal that he didn't bother to point it out]. Haykal also claimed --after the fact [in 1964]-- that he had known in 1948 that the Arabs could not win and that he had discussed this with prime minister Nuqrashy Pasha who knew it too. Here, Haykal does what walt-mearsheimer do. He too indulges in after the fact psychologizing. He argues that the British knew that Egypt could not win and wanted Egypt to be defeated in the war with Israel in order to weaken Egypt's negotiating position when negotiations came up with Britain over the Suez Canal's status. That's why the UK pressured Egypt to get into the war, Haykal claimed.
Be that as it may, the decision-makers in Arab League states [in Egypt the king] decided to destroy Israel at birth. And their threats of war and massacre were heard at the UN General Assembly too. Here is the crucial question for Walt & Mearsheimer. Can they produce records of the deliberations at the Arab League meetings that decided to go to war? If so, can these records or minutes or protocols or proceedings demonstrate that the majority of Arab states at that time admitted an Arab military incapacity to defeat Israel?
Walt-Mearsheimer claim that the bellicose threats to Israel, the Arab rodomontade, were for domestic consumption. Indeed, there were attacks, pogroms, on Jews in Arab countries in that period, such as in self-governing Egypt and in Aden which was under British control. So the Arab home front or "street" wanted to kill Jews. But if the leaders knew that they could not win a war against the Jews, then why would they rationally send their armies into a certainly humiliating defeat [any defeat at the hands of the despised Jews would be humiliating!!]? Such a defeat could and DID lead to the overthrow of existing Arab governments --as in Egypt and Syria. They could instead have loudly and for a long time condemned Britain for not preventing a Jewish state from emerging, or a similar diplomatic-political subterfuge, engaging in a lot of sound and fury to satisfy the fanatics at home, with little shooting.
The argument and the book are ridiculous. Mearsheimer has even admitted, in so many words, that he was lying. As we recall, one of the charges made in the original w-m article in the London Review of Books in 2006 [Nota Bene: the London Review] was that Israel and/or the Israel Lobby had pushed the Bush administration into the war against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. However, in an interview on National Public Radio, Mearsheimer stated that the war on Iraq had been decided on by the US Govt before Israeli officials knew about it. According to Mearsheimer in this interview, the Israelis suggested that if there were to be a war, it should be against Iran, which Israel saw as more threatening an enemy at that time. But the Bush Administration decided otherwise. As to Walt-Mearsheimer, they knew that they were lying. As competent political scientists with the status of consultants to the State Department, they were part of policy making. They were in a position to know the truth. They lied knowingly and deliberately.
Now what are the context and the purpose of the w-m lies???
They and their article, book, media appearances, etc. are part of a concerted anti-Israel propaganda campaign by the Petro-Diplomatic Complex. Others taking part are former president Carter, James Baker-Lee Hamilton, Professor William Polk-George McGovern, etc. All those named have recently produced tracts that argue against either Israel's morality or moral rights, or against Israel's usefulness to the United States, that is, to US interests, or both. One problem is What are American interests abroad generally, and in the Middle East in particular? Another issue is: Who is to decide what these interests are? Is it the Petro-Diplomatic Complex that has had the upper hand in the US's Middle East policymaking over the years? The purpose of the campaign appears to be to besmirch Israel in public opinion in the US so much so that Israel is softened up for a diplomatic crushing at an international "peace" conference, which Secretary of State Rice is conveniently preparing for the end of November. This conference will be a conference in favor of Arab terrorism. It will reward Arab anti-Israel terrorism. Rice has already pressured Israel to release terrorist prisoners in order to supposedly support the "moderate" Mahmud Abbas [Abu Mazin].
The aims of the w-m book and of the campaign by carter, baker, et al., are objectively genocidal.
As evidence that US policy --especially under Bush-- is anti-Israel, Bush is the first US president to come out unequivocally for an Arab state to be named "palestine" to be set up in the Land of Israel. Such a state would inevitably threaten Israel militarily and economically. The Arabs are not now ready to make a real peace with Israel on any reasonable terms. Another sign of Bush's hostility to Israel were his demands at the beginning of Israel's anti-terrorist offensive in 2002 --the Defensive Shield operation-- that Israel's army immediately withdraw from the areas assigned to the Palestinian Authority --areas from which the mass murder bombers were coming. These demands are forgotten now in the present surreal air of political deception in which we live.
UPDATING #1-- There was a precedent for throwing a hated ethnic group into the sea: In 1922 Turkish nationalist forces led by Kemal Ataturk drove the Greek population of Smyrna into the sea. Smyrna had been a Greek-speaking city for more than 2,000 years. It remained predominantly Greek in population even after the Ottoman Empire conquered Smyrna from the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire hundreds of years before 1922. Smyrna also had a Turkish-Muslim minority, a Jewish quarter, an Armenian quarter, and many Europeans and Americans who had come for purposes of trade or were there for religious/missionary purposes. There were also Levantines, people with mixed European and Greek or Armenian ancestry. These Levantines too were mainly involved in trade and services for the European and American communities. In 1922 the Turkish nationalist army of Ataturk drove the Greeks out of the city, while it massacred the surviving Armenians in the city and set fire to Greek and Armenian neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the fleets of the major Western powers sat at anchor in the harbor of Smyrna. They had orders not to interfere with the slaughter perpetrated by the Kemalist forces and were reluctant to help the refugees. Greece sent a motley assortment of boats to take out the refugees, including surviving Armenians. Since the expulsion of the Greeks and the massacre of the Armenians, the city has been officially called Izmir. This is a historical precedent for what those Arabs may have been thinking who called for driving the Jews into the sea, as walt-mearsheimer admit they said.
Ernest Hemingway, "On the Quay at Smyrna," in In Our Time [starting with the 1930 edition of the anthology In Our Time; New York, Scribner's]. This is a fictionalized account of the events at Smyrna that rings true. Hemingway was a reporter in Anatolia and the Balkans in that period. See his description of a Kemalist official in this post.
George Horton, The Blight of Asia -- Horton was the US consul in Smyrna in 1922, that is, he was an eyewitness.
Marjorie Housepian, The Smyrna Affair
- - - - - - -
UPDATING #2 as of 12-2-2007 Original Quote from walt-mearsheimer
. . . some argue that the Arabs precipitated wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973 in order to "drive Israel into the sea."For more commentary on walt-mearsheimer: see this link.
While there is no question that Israel faced serious threats in its early years, the Arabs were not attempting to destroy Israel in any of these wars. This is not because the Arabs were happy about the presence of a Jewish state in their midst --they were not-- but rather because they have never had the capability to win a war against Israel, much less defeat it decisively. There is no question that some Arab leaders talked about "driving the Jews into the sea" during the 1948 war, but this was largely rhetoric designed to appease their publics. In fact, the Arab leaders were mainly concerned with gaining territory for themselves at the expense of the Palestinians, one of the many occasions when Arab governments put their own interests ahead of the Palestinians' welfare. [Walt & Mearsheimer, pp 83-84]
- - - - - - -
Coming: UK journalopropagandist, Max Hastings, gushes over the w-m book, Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron, peace follies, propaganda, etc.