Gaza, Israel and the Limits of "Escalation Dominance"

News Abroad

Geoffrey Wawro is the General Olinto Mark Barsanti Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas, and the author of Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (Penguin Press, April 2010.) This article originally appeared at Huffington Post.

Israel has long defended itself through a "doctrine of retaliatory action," which President Eisenhower angrily characterized in 1955—after savage Israeli reprisal raids into Gaza and Jordan—as "more like a head for an eye than an eye for an eye." The doctrine has not worked since Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which, in common with Gaza today, was launched to punish missile attacks (from Hezbollah country) and force the release of two Israeli soldiers seized by Lebanese guerrillas and carried back across the border. Today, Israel is blockading and intermittently pummeling Gaza (about 1,200 Palestinians were killed in the January 2009 "Gaza War") to secure the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in 2006, and to stop the sputter of missile attacks from Hamas country.

Although Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to extol the efficacy of coercion and reprisal, he is straining Tel Aviv's relationship with Washington, and leading Israel toward failure and international isolation.

Historically, the Israelis have used carefully timed wars to secure and even expand their borders. In the 1956 Suez War, for example, they joined a British and French attack on Egypt (to recover the Suez Canal from Nasser's nationalization) and used the conflict to seize the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. What followed gave a fascinating glimpse into the evolving Israeli strategy of "escalation dominance." Before the 1956 war, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had warned Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett that "the safety and continued existence of the free world" depended upon major Israeli concessions on territory, good behavior (no more reprisal raids), the opening of Jerusalem, and the repatriation or cash compensation of the Palestinian refugees. After the war, with Israel briefly in possession of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, those two tracts were traded for U.S. acceptance of Israel's 1949 borders (far bigger than those conceded by the UN in 1947) and U.S. indifference to the plight of the refugees. Until the Israeli invasion, Washington had been focused on the refugee issue. After the invasion, Washington focused on getting the Israelis out of Egyptian territory. Although the Israelis complained that they were "cheated" of the spoils of war in 1956, they actually traded them for Ike's weary acceptance of Israel's broader frontiers—all of the land that had been given the Jews in 1947 as well as the best part of the Palestinian grant—as well as Ike's weary acceptance that nothing would be done for the Palestinians after all.

In the years that followed, the Israelis recognized that short, sharp military actions would be used to ignite crises that would distract international attention from Israeli stonewalling, or permit a steady outward creep of Israel's frontiers. Moshe Dayan admitted as much. Coveting the Golan Heights before they were actually seized in the 1967 Six Day War, Dayan noted that "we'd send a tractor to plow some place in the demilitarized zone...and we knew ahead of time that the Syrians would shoot. If they didn't shoot, we'd tell the tractor to move deeper, until the Syrians fired on it. And then we'd activate artillery and the air force. We thought, 'we can change the armistice lines by a series of operations that are less than war.'" Always claiming to be a "status quo state," Israel was actually an expansionist one.

President Kennedy recognized this, and vowed to uphold a U.S. embargo on the sale of major weapons systems to all Middle Eastern countries, including Israel. He would send, as he put it, "tractors, not tanks; bread, not bombs." But Kennedy was the president who sparked Israel's breakthrough to military predominance; he bowed to congressional pressure and became the first U.S. president to sell Israel cutting-edge weaponry, early warning radars, and then, stunningly, in 1962, Hawk anti-aircraft missiles (the cream of the NATO arsenal), which the Israelis tactlessly installed around their Dimona nuclear weapons facility. Kennedy had been trying to close Dimona in the interests of nonproliferation, and certainly resented the chutzpah. President Johnson was even more obliging than Kennedy; flush with U.S. foreign aid, the Israelis spent increasing amounts on defense—9.5 percent of GDP in 1965, 10.4 percent in 1966, 17.7 percent in 1967 and 26.3 percent in 1971. LBJ's ambassador in Tel Aviv, Wally Barbour, warned in 1965 that the effect of American-subsidized Israeli defense spending was destabilizing, leading as it did to "Arab fury and intractability." It made Israel feel invulnerable, and unwilling to make any concessions. It also made it easy for Israel to contemplate further offensives, which Barbour urged Washington to prohibit and punish with "total economic sanctions." Secretary of State Rusk agreed, deploring the Israeli tendency to "take the law into their own hands."

In 1967, Israel went on the attack again. Nasser's bombast was used by the Israelis to justify a preemptive attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria. By escalating a minor threat—Nasser's announced but never implemented blockade of the Gulf of Eilat—the Israelis delivered a knock-out blow to three neighboring militaries and raked in the massive annexations that we today call the "occupied territories": Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Instead of compelling Israel to obey the November 1967 UN resolution demanding an Israeli withdrawal from the conquered territory and a political settlement, LBJ stunningly endorsed the "good beating" the Israelis had administered. A senior State Department official resigned to protest that "basic change in the attitude of the U.S. government...from one of balance and fairness to one of total support for the development through force of an Israeli empire."

Publicly committed to negotiations with the Palestinians and Israel's neighbors, Israel has made little effort to crown those negotiations with success for the simple reason that permanent tension is useful; it is the weather in which Israel flourishes. As long as the region is in flux, the Israelis can eternally postpone concessions and final settlements. They can continue building settlements and military roads in the occupied territories in the name of "security." They can cling to their controversial nuclear weapons as the only salvation against "wild" neighbors.

But, as events in Gaza now demonstrate, escalation dominance no longer works, and Netanyahu is exposed as having no new usable doctrine to replace it. The first cracks appeared in the Lebanon War of 2006. When Hezbollah paramilitaries fired Katyusha rockets into northern Israel and seized two Israeli sergeants from a Humvee patrolling the border, Israel reflexively demanded "a head for an eye." "If the soldiers are not released," the IDF chief of staff growled, "we will turn Lebanon's clock back twenty years." He wasn't kidding. Israeli airstrikes took out bridges, roads, airports, harbors, water and sewage treatment plants, power grids, schools, hospitals, shops and homes. At least 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed in the campaign, several hundred Hezbollah fighters, and 121 Israeli troops and 43 Israeli civilians. The attempt at escalation dominance—ratcheting the rocket attacks and kidnappings into a knock-out blow against Hezbollah—failed. The two kidnapped soldiers were returned—in a prisoner exchange—but they were dead. Hezbollah lived on, and has been rearmed. Israel was condemned for its disproportionate use of force everywhere but the Bush White House. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 repeated the methods of Lebanon. More than a thousand Palestinians were killed—including hundreds of civilians—and factories, workshops, mosques, homes and water treatment plants were destroyed.

Despite tactical successes in Lebanon and Gaza, Israel earned international condemnation, which has intensified in this latest effort to enforce the blockade of the Gaza Strip. When Israel escalates and takes a "head for an eye," it no longer enjoys the respect or connivance of the international community. Certainly a final settlement of the Palestinian question will not appear final to diehards in Hamas or Hezbollah, or to their Iranian minders, but it will prick Hamas' bubble in Gaza and create the conditions for a determined assault on extremism and violence. If Israel embarks seriously on peace negotiations, to include the cession of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the removal of settlements, then it will rally more support for its efforts to defend itself. If Israel hastens the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, it will steal votes from Hamas and gain legitimacy in what is sure to be a long and bitter struggle against the region's "rejectionists." By casting himself as a rejectionist, Netanyahu is doing Israel (and the United States) no favors. When Eisenhower scolded the Israelis fifty-five years ago for their "merciless severity," then Prime Minister Ben-Gurion reacted Netanyahu-like: "Our future depends not on what the goyim say, but on what the Jews do." "Yes," his foreign minister shot back, "but it is also important what the goyim say."

Related Links

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

omar ibrahim baker - 6/13/2010

So what?
what is your point any way ??
reiterating common knowledge to impress?
you started by asking a vacuous question and now you display your knowledge what is it that you want to say??

Elliott Aron Green - 6/13/2010

Omar, far more Arabs fought in the ranks of the Ottoman army, loyal to the Sultan/Caliph than revolted against the Empire. Most Arabs would have been happy to stay part of the Empire than to be independent. Even the Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini said that he would have preferred to remain within the Ottoman Empire. That was one reason why Husseini hated the Hashemites who revolted against the Ottoman Empire.

It was the British who facilitated the so-called Hashemite-led Arab Revolt. Yes, a few young intellectuals and ambitious members of notable families in Syria and Lebanon also plotted during WW One and were duly hung in Beirut & Damascus. Altogether the Arab revolt, both in the desert of Hijaz and in bilad ash-Sham was a rather minuscule affair.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/13/2010

I certainly DO know that BUT I do NOT see your point.
It is a historical fact that the Arabs, some of them at least one way or another, revolted against Ottoman rule pre and during WWI and allied themselves with the enemies of the Ottomans.
Should you recall may earlier posts, while refuting Zionist allegations that Palestine never was self governing, you may note that I did several times refer to the fact that Palestine was part of the Ottoman empire, with Palestinian members representing it and Bilad Ash Sham in its Majliss, and as such did partake in self governing as ,say, Texas partakes in self governing as part of the USA!

That however in no way precludes establishing a new relationship hopefully leading to a strategic alliance with a major regional power that is as indigenous in its domain as the Arabs are in their.
Once again I fail to see your point , if any at all of substance,exists.

Elliott Aron Green - 6/13/2010

Thank you for reminding me, Omar. My mother always told me to improve my manners.

Now what explains your constant use of insults, invective, pejorative hyperbole and the like?

Elliott Aron Green - 6/13/2010

Omar, don't you know that members of the most prominent palestinian Arab families, Husseinis, Khalidis, Abdul-Hadis, and others got high positions in the Ottoman Empire. So did Syrians and other Arabs. This was so much true that both Ziya Gok Alp, a Turkish nationalist, and Zeine N Zeine, an Arab historian, described the Ottoman Empire as a Turkish-Arab empire. That is, it was a partnership of Turks and Arabs.

Pres. Obama's great pal, Rashid Khalidi, belongs of course to that family as does Walid Khalidi, who had a comfy place at Harvard while Rashid is now at Columbia.

Peter Kovachev - 6/13/2010

Oh, and Arnie, here's an example of not-trash. Caspian Makan who, you no doubt know, was the fiance of Neda Agha-Soltan. Hes has escaped and made it to my country, Canada; may he feel welcome and may he prosper and find happiness here. In case you've been addled by the "unfortubate and deeply regrettable" shooting of the Turkish lynch thugs on the Turkish love boat, Agha-Soltan was the Iranian woman shot and killed by the Iranian regime during the protests a year ago.

Anyway, Caspian Makam spent the anniversary of his fiance's murder in...you'd have never guessed it...Israel. This is what he had to say about why he is there in symbolic solidarity with the country and its people: "The Iranian government created a virtual enemy called Israel. Since the beginning of the 1979 Revolution, every time the people of Iran think about a revolution, the current regime starts mentioning Israel as the enemy to divert their attention, and they tell the people, hey, we’re defending you against Israel." Thank goodness for that 10%; quality, not quantity counts for some us.

Peter Kovachev - 6/13/2010

In other words, Arnie, you telling me that 90% of the world is composed of dangerous trash, but that it needs to be respected and obeyed due to your goofy interpretation of what democracy means and implies. If the destruction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people is what the glorious and infallible proletariat wants, then that's what it gets?

One of the problems with your primitive "ethics" is that the same characters want you dead and your country in ruins as well. Or are you actually deluded enough to believe that if you collaborate and hand the Jews over to the mob, it'll leave you alone? Never works.

Joseph Mutik - 6/12/2010

It's even written in the new testament and has to be true?! You Arnold are a strong believer, Marxism or Christianity are both religions so not much difference. Only very few differences, Catholic priests molest children but Marxist priests molest entire nations. You use the old blindness argument that killed a lot of Jews, in pogroms holocaust etc. The world told you that you are blind you have to believe you are, even if the story of Jesus took about 300 years to concoct and the proof is only in the minds of the believers.
Arnold you are in good company, the Islamic Turkey, a nation of genocidal criminals, but what can one expect from a burnt out Marxist. Your last message is worthy of Pravda.

Arnold Shcherban - 6/12/2010

Sure, all those folks, comprising about 90% of the world population, along with the political, intellectual leaders representing them are "mysterious nobodies", but 10% percent of the rest
are the cream of the cream.
That how clownish, so-called "democratic" arithmetic of neo-colonial era defies all cultural, moral, and scientific heritage of the mankind.
Yours is the language and arithmetic of the sworn enemies of democracy, freedom, and, ultimately, the Jews themselves.
But that 10% that calls themselves Pro-Israeli or Zionists is too radical, or stupid, or dogmatic to realize that Jews of the world have no worse enemies than them.

Peter Kovachev - 6/10/2010

Goodness, Arnie, I would never call Chomsky or Finkelstein little nobodies. The two are the big cahoonas in the revived Jew hatred industry that's cropping up around you while you still look at the world with your old KGB-coloured glasses. Most others are mere apprentices in the age old guild of "critics to the Jews" and are, what my Jewish friends would call in Yiddish, just little pishers. Dangerous little pishers, though, as the keep the machine running for mere crumbs.

"Criticism" of Jews and their state sells like hot cakes, Arnie. And there are different flavours for all. The primitives get to enjoy things like tv serials about Jews as blood-sucking, organ-stealing ogres, while the well-fed, sophisticated, supposedly civilized humanitarian crowd goes for the more genteel and nuanced approach of Israel as the arch-enemy of human progress and international amity, if not Mother Earth. It’s an interesting kind of “criticism” where a Jew can’t walk ten metres in a kippa in the posh Europen cities. You know, Gidget country.

As for petro-dollar paid-off ageing failures, the disastrous Windbag-in-Chief your country can’t wait to get rid of, or whoever your mysterious “intellectuals” may be, well, that’s too bad. And please, don’t embarrass yourself with legal-illegal this or that when it comes to Israel, unless you know what you’re talking about, or unless you are ready to apply the same standards and sanctions to every other country and people in the world. You know you won’t, and that’s a personal puzzle you may want to think about.

Arnold Shcherban - 6/10/2010

<As is the case here, "pulp antisemitica" was and is produced by obscure little nobodies of moderate talent and vision.>
Please, let one little nobody to do little decoding here: "pulp antisemitica" is any little shadow of critique of any Israeli governments' actions and their rabid Zionist supporters;
"little nobodies" are such miscreants as, e.g. Noam Chomsky
or the current and former Presidents of the USA, or, in general, about 85-90% of the world's renown and greatest intellectuals that one time or another uttered a critical word or two about any illegal action of Israel's authorities.
So, Yes: Ignore the latter ones' conclusions and opinion on your own and Israelis' risk...

Peter Kovachev - 6/9/2010

Yes, you read it correctly folks, I like this piece a lot. In fact, I love it, although not for its assumed "merits." I've been rummaging for short, illustrative examples of the creeping new antisemitism that is so poorly understood nowadays. And thanks to the hard-working professor, we have a veritable high-energy bar of a summary here. I nearly called it “antisemitism with a human face,” but in this case, “antisemitism of the face-less ciphers” would be more accurate.

My ongoing contention, for whoever cares to hear it, is that our composite image of classic antisemitism is badly skewed. We conjure up a construct resembling the angry, malice-ridden elderly and lower class White ogre, spitting hyperbolic venom and waving brass knuckles. Of course, there are plenty of such fine examples, but most of the new antisemitism today that makes it into the mainstream is a product of the educated, trendy, ethnically diverse middle class types with degrees and real jobs. They strive to convince the rest of us (and themselves) that they are merely knowledgeable, high-thinking, principled humanitarians, political realists and caring critics who, with a sad sigh, take it as their necessary duty imposed by history and Progress to chide and correct Israel and the Jews. These pioneers do not usually see themselves as antisemites, of course, a word which funnily enough once actually served as the PC version of the proletarian term ,*judenhasse* (Jew-hatred).

Sadly, Professor Wawro's essay, which is essentially an a-historical pastiche of carefully selected and blatantly misinterpreted factoids obscuring a political agenda, is not in fact unique. It resembles the bulk of rarely studied old and new antisemitic literature. The badly faked calm, the authoritative posture and seeming appeals to reason, fairness and good sense are standard tools of that genre. As is the case here, "pulp antisemitica" was and is produced by obscure little nobodies of moderate talent and vision. They appeal to the gutsier zealots, while taking the least amount of risk to their own modest stature and income. But in time, their petty literary endeavors are incorporated by the bolder, flashier and truly dangerous types to be presented as authoritative sources by honest, hard-working and far-seeing "researchers." Such seems to be the usual pattern.

I interrupt this monologue to raise my hat to our Messrs Green, Shalit and Mutik. The blokes are doing a swell and necessary job of deconstructing the petty-seeming fibs and massive whoppers in Wawro's pseudo-thesis. In that they face a task similar to what jaded divorce lawyers and exhausted friends of bitter ex-spouses have to deal with, namely sorting through a deluge of swill, hopelessly countering a never-ending stream of lies, outrageous accusations and complaints that would take millennia to respond to. Unfortunately, such Sisyphusian deconstruction of trash reap few rewards, as ours is not an age which values truth or reason. Thank goodness for people like them, though.

Anyhow, perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm not sure Wawro has the intellectual depth or introspective skills to figure out what he is doing and where he has placed himself in history. To many of us, though, the pattern and thrust of his piece are glaringly obvious and his “place in history” is depressingly familiar. The bulk of the piece is composed of the predictable aggregate of old whoppers and annoying ankle-bites. We have the same-old of an Israeli over-reaction, this time to a single abduction of a once-young soldier and a "sputter of missile attacks." We can welcome yet another silly neologism like "escalation dominance." Of course, the old and all-important "international condemnation" should sober us all. Let's not forget sinister allusions to a supposed Israeli imperial might and expansionism, and for spice, we must have the familiar careful selection of out-of context quotes. All standard fares in the political lexicons of the destroy-Israel crowd. And, for an update, in tune with current Iranian propaganda goals, the good prof of course calls for a limit or full stop on any attempts at self-defense or retribution by the Jewish state. Wars of attempted annihilation by Arab states? Baah, just misunderstood sabre-rattling. Cross-border missile attacks, abductions, eight thousand Kassams, suicide bombers, threats of genocide? Come on now, all minor and well-deserved irritants to the vast and mighty Israeli empire. Certainly not important enough to deserve a military response by Israel, since any such response is, by definition and only in the case of Israel, hysterical and disproportionate. No, Israel must continue to surrender parts of itself and remain at the negotiation table, even when the other side refuses to sit at it. Goodness, such stuff is what passes for "military history" nowadays?

For a hint to where Wawro's sentiments may lie, it’s worth revisiting his closing paragraph. There, in the time-honoured odious tradition of many an antisemitic tract, he brings out a real or concocted quote which in this context we may presume is supposed to righteously anger and incite all the good, honest-broker "goyim" over the cynical and dastardly duplicity of the eternally toxic Jew. Hannah Arendt's aptly-named "banality of evil" does spring to mind. So, once again, ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages, meet yet another minor literary contribution to the old-new antisemitism. The nasty whack-jobs and their venom out there get all the attention, but as always, the real grunt work is performed and promoted by a multitude of petty, semi-talented and fundamentally cowardly opportunists. Like their predecessors, they may not shine intellectually, but they are masters of floating with the stream and at surfing the trendiest waves of the current manifestation of what some have called the longest hatred in history. Ignore them at your own risk.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/9/2010

The Turks certainly are NOW supporters of the Palestinian people's strugle for independence in his own homeland.
That this is very vexing to you is perfectly understandable but that is the way nations are moving; as many in South America are treading the same path.
BUT that is how things should be, and will be, once Israel is totally denuded of its false pretensions and its real ugly and racist face is in the open for all to see.

Elliott Aron Green - 6/9/2010

Omar, so the Turks are now your great heroes. So they really weren't your oppressors in Ottoman times, but merely senior partners in a Sunni Muslim empire.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/9/2010

Pondering the responses of the pro Israel brigade an overwhelming fact imposes itself: their utter inability to hear, or tolerate, anything except their own version of history.
Natural as that is in their ultimately futile attempt to build on the falsehoods and deceptions of the past and the, numerically pro rata, less so recently the nervousness, distemper and plain impoliteness they display is indicative of their premonition of the approaching universal unveiling of what Israel truly is.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/9/2010

The reality of Israel is slowly, but inexorably, coming out for the entire world to see and ponder the colossal mistake it made!
And there is little Israel can do about hiding its real face and inner self having had the mode of birth, the genesis, it HAD!
Recent events in Gaza then the Flotilla and before that in Southern Lebanon with Qanaa I and Qanaa II, Jenin and Baruch Goldstein and the no longer possible to hide rapacious land grab: the creeping annexation of the West Bank and the Wall, the starkly racist recent call for an all Jewish Palestine etc, defiance and insulting its major benefactor and virtual mainstay, creeping rule of terror over USA media most recently leading to the virtual capacity to censor and punish any “errant”, ie non Zionist orthodox, views .
In essence, and in “fairness”, Israel having erected its own nation/state on a land it usurped and depopulated
, having achieved international sympathy and support by outright lying and falsification and by hiding its crimes is presently in the situation whereby it is doing all within its powers to retain that usurped land and efface the indigenous people it supplanted who refuse to give up and to go on deluding the world about its reality
Israel having faced total, and escalating, national, in Palestine, and regional, in the Middle East, rejection and condemnation is at a loss how to preserve its ill begotten loot and war spoils, ingratiate itself with its co regionists, achieve acceptance and retain whatever is left of the international support it once enjoyed can only hit on further aggression, further bloodshed and further land usurpation and further wallowing and engulfment into its racist dogma ….which, in “fairness”, are the only avenues open to her being the alien aggressive and usurping implant IT REALLY IS!

But surely that cannot go on indefinitely unchecked: its powers to transgress, usurp and kill are diminishing certainly not out of a reevaluation of its options but out of the growth of the powers of its adversaries and the progressive denudation of its real self for the entire world to see and ponder.

Elliott Aron Green - 6/9/2010

jjb, apparently you haven't read my comment of June 8 at 8:27 am. I explained that it was the Jewish National Home that was divested of its territory. All the territory on both sides of the Jordan had been assigned to the Jewish National Home by the San Remo Conf. [1920], the League of Nations [1922], and other international instruments. From hindsight, we can see that it was British policy manifest in the 1939 "palestine white paper" which led to the UNSCOP recommendation of borders between an Arab state and a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. That White Paper policy severely limited the number of Jews who could come into the Jewish National Home when the Jews most needed a home. In fact, fewer Jews were allowed in than even allowed by the quota of the White Paper. Parenthetically, this was part of the British contribution to the Holocaust, to Britain's role as a silent partner in the Holocaust. The White Paper and subsequent Land Purchase regulations enacted by the British govt in the Land of Israel forbid Jewish land purchase in most of the country, a clear act of anti-Jewish racism. The areas assigned to the Arab state in the UNSCOP Partition Plan were in areas where Jewish land purchase was forbidden. The British White Paper policy was found illegal by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. But that illegality did not stop His Majesty's Govt.

It is curious that Mr Butler who considers himself loyally Irish finds himself supporting what is essentially a British imperial policy.

Joseph Mutik - 6/8/2010

This article, written by Wawro it's a shameless falsification of historic facts. In a previous version of blaming the Jews, Mearsheimer and Walt used mostly innuendo in their attack against the Jews, In this article Wawro simply falsifies history to make his point. In 1967 Egypt, using armed forces, closed the straits of Tiran (the only entry to the Gulf of Eilat), ordered the UN troops out of Sinai and sent the Egyptian army into Sinai at the Israeli borders. It was a clear Egyptian aggression but Wawro, falsifying history, dismisses it as a "normal and baseless" Jewish fear. This is a normal way of thinking for someone masking his hatred of Jews with anti-Zionism.
History is not a an exact science but replacing facts wit fiction isn't the best way to make a point!

james joseph butler - 6/8/2010

Apart from not granting the Israelis a real measure of fear regarding 1967 Prof. Wawro does a great job in pointing to the obvious, that Israel from time that Ben-Gurion stated as much, as used whatever means necessary to acquire more land. They're still doing it 62 years later, (the Gaza withdrawl was a real politick recognition of reality) because it works and their sponsor, as Dayan pointed out, keeps sending money and ignoring the dead, after all they're terrorists or they associate with terrorists or they had terrorist training or they're Muslim.

The Huffington Post is to be applauded for exposing more Americans to the other side of the story.

Elliott Aron Green - 6/8/2010

Prof Wawro knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict seems to go back no farther than 1948. He writes:

Ike's weary acceptance of Israel's broader frontiers—all of the land that had been given the Jews in 1947 as well as the best part of the Palestinian grant.

In fact, Judea-Samaria ["West Bank" to some] were parts of the ancient Jewish homeland. They were recognized as part of the Jewish National Home juridically erected by the San Remo conference [1920], League of Nations [1922], the UN charter [article 80], and other international instruments. The partition plan proposed by the UN general assembly on 29 November 1947 was a mere recommendation as are all UN GA resolutions on political matters. On this Prof Wawro can simply read the UN charter, articles 10 to 14. So the UN GA recommended taking away part of the Jewish National Home and giving it the Palestinian Arabs who, at that time, rejected the very name "palestine", claiming that the country was really part of Syria [bilad ash-Sham; also implying that there was no "palestinian people"]. On this Prof Wawro can look up Arab expert testimony at the 1946 Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine.

Maybe the good prof can go back to the library and do some reading on the pre-1948 legal status and events. On post-1948 events I largely agree with Mr Mutik.

Sol S Shalit - 6/7/2010

A biased and factually distorted historical account, a self-serving narrative to advance an anti-
Israel agenda. Two examples will suffice; there are many more:

Israel 'coveted' the Golan Height. Not mentioned was that Syria has been bombarding the Israeli villages below the Heights for many years, with little else Israel could do to stop it.

Israel used Abdul Nasser's 'bombast' as a pretext to start the 1967 War. Not mentioned was that Nasser closed the Straights of Tiran to Israeli shipping, kicked out the UN of the demilitarized Sinai, and sent the Egyptian army into the Sinai right up to the Israeli border.

The good professor was critical of "retaliation", but suggested no alternative approach. How about "surrender"? Would "surrender" work?

Joseph Mutik - 6/7/2010

In the "great tradition" of Mearsheimer and Walt Mr. Wawro blames the Jews for the problems of the world. Symptomatic for his kind of Jews-Israeli bashing is the following quote from his shameless misrepresentation of historic facts:
"By escalating a minor threat—Nasser's announced but never implemented blockade of the Gulf of Eilat"
First another "minor" Egyptian aggression, of the time, was closing the Suez canal to any Israeli ship.
Second but the most important for Israel was the blockade of the Straits of Tiran for the Israeli ships going to or from Eilat, the only way Israel was able to have commerce with Asia and the far east without using the Suez canal. Naser ordered a blockade of the Tiran straits the only entrance to the Gulf of Eilat.
Between 1945 and 1948 about 200000 Jews out of concentration camps were stranded in displaced persons camps in Europe. When Polish Jews tried to go back to Poland in 1946 the poles organized a pogrom in Kielice. The US army, in Europe, who forced at the request of Stalin the soviet soldiers ,caught by the Germans during the war, back into USSR didn't think that some stranded Jews deserve any effort. United Kingdom didn't want to accept Jews in the vast open lands of Australia or Canada and USA didn't want to accept more Jews. In 1948 Harry Truman couldn't risk his reelection against the will of the Jew hating American population so he had to support the formation of the state of Israel, against the advice of his secretary of state Marshall, as a way to solve the problem of the stranded Jews in Europe.
USA didn't help in any way the new state of Israel, probably expecting that the Arabs will finish what Hitler begun but with minimal help from the American Jews the Israeli Jews survived the 1948 war.
To the Jewish refugees of Europe the Arabs added the refugees from the Arab countries (about 800000 after 1948) by expelling the Jews without compensation.
The Jews of Israel know very well that only a very aggressive self defense could keep them alive. When the Jews couldn't defend themselves no one in the world wanted to help them.
Interesting that Eisenhower the commander in charge of the butchery of Dresden during WWII scolded the Israelis for their "merciless severity,". War was/is a savage beast but blaming the Jews for nothing always works.
Turkey, a nation of genocidal criminals, joined the blame the Jews crowd. The Turks killed more than a million Armenians, tenth of thousands of Kurds, ethnically cleansed the Greeks of 40% of Cyprus (where the Turkish population is about 18%) and divided the island with a fence.
The world considers killing Jews so normal that can't stand Jews defending themselves. The main argument against Israel is that the Arabs didn't kill enough Jews to make the world happy.

omar ibrahim baker - 6/7/2010

This essay is a truly rare "event" in US media with its objective, cool headed and clear eyed follow up of events, designs and motives i.e. a piece of real scholarship that should be emulated.
Most interestingly is the fact that comes out of it: that it is the USA, by its actions and inactions, that is primarily responsible for Israel’s present arrogance and intransigence that eventually led it , lately, to defy and insult its primary benefactor: the USA.