Michael Oren and Klein Halevi: Palestinians Need Israel to Win ... If Hamas gets away with terror once again, the peace process will be over

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Mr. Klein Halevi is a fellow at the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.]

A quarter century has passed since Israel last claimed to go to war in the name of peace.

"Operation Peace for Galilee" -- Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon -- failed to convince the international public and even many Israelis that its goal was to promote reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. In fact, the war had precisely the opposite results, preparing the way for Yasser Arafat's disastrous return to the West Bank and Gaza, and for Hezbollah's ultimate domination of Lebanon. And yet, Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution.

Over the past two decades, a majority of Israelis have shifted from adamant opposition to Palestinian statehood to acknowledging the need for such a state. This transformation represented a historic victory for the Israeli left, which has long advocated Palestinian self-determination. The left's victory, though, remained largely theoretical: The right won the practical argument that no amount of concessions would grant international legitimacy to Israel's right to defend itself.

That was the unavoidable lesson of the failure of the Oslo peace process, which ended in the fall of 2000 with Israel's acceptance of President Bill Clinton's proposal for near-total withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the territories. The Palestinians responded with five years of terror.

Yet much of the international community blamed Israel for the violence and repeatedly condemned its efforts at self-defense. The experience left a deep wound in the Israeli psyche. It intimidated Israeli leaders from taking security measures liable to be denounced by the United Nations and the European Union, or worse, result in sanctions against the Jewish state.

One consequence was an Israeli reluctance to respond to periodic Hezbollah provocations following Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. This hesitancy allowed the Shiite terror organization to amass a rocket arsenal with the proclaimed intent of devastating Israel's population centers....

Gaza is the test case. Much more is at stake than merely the military outcome of Israel's operation. The issue, rather, is Israel's ability to restore its deterrence power and uphold the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity....
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art eckstein - 1/9/2009

I have now learned that the book PF keeps citing was originally published by the Institute for Historical Revision--an anti-semitic Holocaust-denial organization.

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

Well, whatever it was, it was incoherent.

And what "genocide" might you be talking about? Has the population of Gaza gone down since 2001, or 2003, or 2005, or 2007--or has it gone significantly up? Yes or no? (You know the answer.)

Arnold Shcherban - 1/6/2009

If it is a "rant" it is a rant in defense of peace and humanity, while yours - in defense of war and genocide.

art eckstein - 1/6/2009

The above rant by AS speaks, unfortunately, for itself.

Arnold Shcherban - 1/5/2009

You see, Professor, when you or some like you call me a Stalinist, you're just throwing out ungrounded, factless accusation. When I call you a Zionist, I stand on a solid construction built of the long record of your own statements in continious and unwavering support of any and all anti-Arab Israeli actions, in general, anti-Palestinian, in particular.
Only a small minority of the folks around the world who're against US Republicans and Democrats are Stalinists (you most certainly meant Communists - that's the other of your misconceptions), but undeniably a great majority of the world (including many American citizens) either doesn't trust the both US ruling parties, or just despises US arrogant, imperialist, and hegemonic policies designed and executed by the united effort of the US ruling financial and political elite, in general, and within the framework of Israeli-Arab conflict, in particular.
The evidence for such a conclusion, along with my disillusion with Obama (though, honestly speaking, I never had much of hope for any cardinal change he would constantly promise over his election campaign) is so abundant, conclusive and must be known by everyone who calls himself a historian that I would feel foolish listing it here, plus it requires a lot typing, which at this point I've done enough.
If the fact that I don't take any religious believer seriously as long as the discussion concerns ideology, sociology, politics, or philosophy makes me a Stalinist, let it be.
But that is the main reason why the overwhelming majority in this country has no clue in any of those matters, and those who have but deliberately distort the respective matters only claim to be religious (while their true Deus is a $) to get a public support of the majority , who believes in everything from gods and angels to ghosts and vampires, so will undoubtedly take for a face value any allegedly idealistic and noble missions (read: sabotage, state terrorism and open military aggression).

art eckstein - 1/5/2009

AS, that last statement shows just how little you know. Next time try having some evidence (e.g. about my beliefs, or the politics of the university administrators) before making assumptions and wild accusations. Otherwise I'll have to start using your postings as an example to my students of irresponsible method.

No doubt from the Stalinist perspective Obama IS the same as Bush, McCain and Palin; but I suspect few readers here will agree with you.

art eckstein - 1/5/2009

1. You ARE equating trying to save a few Jews (the Zionists) from cooperating with the Nazis to foster their conquests AND the Holocaust (the Palestinian leadership then), AND popularity of the Nazis now (the Palestinian leadership and masses).! "*Anyone* who...", indeed. .

2. In 1948 the Jews in what became Israel were atacked, and they were victorious. Wars have consequences. Lots of Palestinians fled, and some were kicked out. This is not unusual in war. 12 million Germans were kicked out of E Europe in 1945, 1 million died and another million or so were raped. NOTHING like that happened to the Palestinians.

From 1948 until 1960, 850,000 Jews were kicked out of Muslim lands and turned into penniless refugees. Perhaps that was a consequence of 1948 as well, but if so, it was a more than even exchange (100,000 more Jews than Palestinians were displaced and dispossessed) and some Muslim is enjoying those Jews' property as we speak. The *difference* is that those 850,000 Jews hadn't attacked anybody nor had they attempted to commit genocide on their neighbors. (The Palestinians had done both. They lost.) Where is your outrage about THAT, PF?

Note that the Egyptian government of Nasser kicked 300,000 Greeks out of Egypt in the mid-1950s in a classic case of ethnic and religious cleansing. The ancestors of all of those Greeks had lived in Egypt for hundreds of years, and some for thousands of years. These people became penniless refugees too. This had nothing to do with Israel. Where is your outrage about THAT, PF?

Arnold Shcherban - 1/5/2009

Who's Obama? The sample of perfection? As he's not a product of
US educational system and mass-media's brainwashing, and what's even worse - a believer in religious tales, as I'm sure you're too, "professor"!

Per Fagereng - 1/5/2009

How long do you want to expose your foolishness to the readers of this website?

I already said that anyone who co-operated with Nazis should be held accountable. I then asked:

1. Does that justify kicking them out of their homes?

2. Are you saying that ALL Palestinians supported the Nazis?

You didn't answer either question, nor did you answer my previous question. Why didn't the Jews demand half of Germany?

Three strikes, you're out.

art eckstein - 1/5/2009

You haven't answered mine. The Palestinian involvement with the Nazis was huge, and it is ongoing, from the popularity of Mein Kampf in Gaza and the West Bank, to naming children "Hitler", to Nazi salutes in the military.

If you are so concerned about Nazis, why aren't you OUTRAGED at this, and what it implies?

That's all quite different from Zionists trying to save whoever could be saved FROM the Nazis in the 1930s, which to you evidently equates with what the Palestinians are doing in their long-term SUPPORT of the Nazis during WWII and their ADMIRATION and IMITATION of the Nazis now.

Is that what you actually believe?

Per Fagereng - 1/5/2009

Anyone who co-operated with the Nazis should be held accountable. So how does this justify kicking Palestinians out of their homes? Are you saying that ALL the Palestinians supported the Nazis?

Now maybe you can answer my question. Why didn't the Jews demand half of Germany.

art eckstein - 1/5/2009

PF--you have NOT responded to my question: if you're so worried about Zionist "cooperation" with the Nazis, why AREN'T you HORRIFIED by Arab/Muslim REAL cooperation with the Nazis--and what that says about them morally, and about their ultimate aims?

Answer the question, please.

Per Fagereng - 1/5/2009

Art, you are a one-trick pony, and a pretty graceless one at that.

You say the Arabs lost a war so they deserve to lose their land. Seems to me it's a reason for them to fight another war and try to get it back.

You never did answer my question why the Jews didn't demand half of Germany.

Here's some reading for you: Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, by Lenni Brenner. And Shlomo Sand's book on the Jewish people, a best-seller in Israel and soon to be published in English.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

It's paranoid to think the administrators of my university are right-wingers. Or that I am. I gave $1000 to the Obama campaign.

It's also either ridiculous or malevolent of you to think that by repeating a slander against me ("racist"), this will make the slander any more convincing. Though I know this is a traditional tactic of the Stalinists--slander, repeat the slander, repeat the slander--on a blog where there are professional historians it just makes you look primitive, AS.

Arnold Shcherban - 1/4/2009

I and your students don't care how many awards you received (obviously -from the similar ideological zealots, who are in abundance in this country),
just stop racist brainwashing of your students!

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

They didn't take their rage out on the Palestinians. They were ATTACKED by the Palestinians.

But you don't know who the Palestinians were, or what their history is. You thought they were the Bedouins of Lawrence of Arabia!

If you're so obsessed with cooperation with the Nazis, I suggest you focus your attention on Amin al-Husseini. There was also an SS Einsatzcommando (Mass Murder Unit) riding with Rommel, who were in touch with Arabs in the Mandate, and were promising them a nice genocide of the Jewish settlers there. The Arabs were happy to hear it. This wat at a time when the only land the Jews had was land they had bought at inflated prices from Araba.

You can read all about it in Matthias Kuentzel's book, Swastika and Crescent. That is, if you are really interested in the Nazi connections here--for instance the Nazi connection to, say, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. That is, if you are not simply employing desperate Jewish attempts to save a few people in the 1930s in a despicable attempt to depict the Zionists as cooperating with the Nazis, when the REAL people who cooperated with the Nazis were the Arabs of the Mandate.

And if you ARE interested in Nazis and Arabs today, I suggest you also google-image 'Hezbollah + Nazi Salute"--and see what you come up with.

Time for you to stop being so incredibly ignorant, PF.

Per Fagereng - 1/4/2009

You're funny, Art. You seem to have a spanking fetish. I'm glad you're not my father or teacher.

Whether you call them "Palestinians" or "southern Syrians," there were real people who were driven out of real homes. They deserve justice.

Jews co-operated with the Nazis for various reasons, so let's not generalize. I once read about a young man who joined the Jewish police in hopes of saving his wife and child. They were sent to the death camps anyway, and he later killed himself.

Other Jews fought back. Others who survived the camps took revenge on the Nazis. But a lot of Jews put up little resistance.

So why didn't the Jews demand half of Germany? That would have been justice. Instead, they took out their rage on the Palestinians. Not very noble.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

1. Of course the Palestinians were there, but they were not Palestinians then; they were southern Syrians. They supported the Ottomans just like the northern Syrians did: it was all part of one Syrian province then. In fact the original meaning of the Nakhba ("the Catastrophe", now used to refer to 1948), in the 1920s, was the creation of the British Mandate, BECAUSE it divided the SYRIANS in half.

The Palestinians exist now as a national group, just like the Israelis do; but neither existed in the 1920s. You simply don't know any history, PF.

2. As for Jews trying desperately to save other Jews from the Nazis by getting them out of Europe, even if that meant cooperating with the German government--that is very DIFFERENT from Husseini cooperating with the Nazis to CREATE the Holocaust! Any idiot could see that.

You've just gotten spanked again, PF, and you will continue to be spanked. This is a forum for professional historians, though ignorant anti-semitic cranks such as yourself and Omar Baker do creep in occasionally.

Per Fagereng - 1/4/2009

What do you mean there were no Palestinians? Was the land empty of people?

The fact remains that after World War I the Allies carved up the Middle East to suit themselves.

I notice you didn't reply to my statement about Abraham Stern offering to fight with the Nazis.

art eckstein - 1/4/2009

1. You are confusing the Arabs of southern Syria (at that time there were no Palestinians) with the Bedouins of Arabia. The Bedouins are whom you are thinking of; the inhabitants of the settled regions that became the Palestine Mandate supported the Ottomans. And only a minority even of Bedouins fought with Lawrence and the Sheriff of Mecca.

2. Amin al-Husseini, the leader of the Palestinians in the 1920s and 1930s was a friend of Hitler, helped foment a pro-Nazi rebellion in Iraq in April 1941 that brought the Luftwaffe to Mosul and Bagdad, and when he was defeted there he fled to Berlin, where he spent the rest of the war. He was a special friend of SS leader Himmler, raised three divisions of Muslims for the SS in the Balkans, and was one of one two non-Germans indicted as a war criminal at Nuremburg. He remained and remains a hero of the Palestinians; "Hitler" has become a name Palestinians give to boys, and "Mein Kampf" is second only to the Koran as a best-seller in the PA and Gaza.

I conclude from your own posting, PF that:

1. You don't know any history, and therefore every time you post on History News Network you're gonna get spanked like you just did,

and from your tone and the kind of things you bring up, I am forced also to conclude not merely that you are ignorant but that

2. You are a simply an anti-semitic propagandist.

Per Fagereng - 1/4/2009

The Palestinians did not back the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Colonel Lawrence promised them freedom if they helped defeat the Ottomans. They helped and they were betrayed.

One person who offered to fight on the side of the Nazis in World War II was the Zionist Abraham Stern. He wrote a Nazi official that they had the same goal -- get the Jews out of Europe.

art eckstein - 1/3/2009

AS, that is factually wrong. I've stated repeatedly on HNN that I disagree with the settlements policy on the West Bank.

As for the charge of "racism", that's simply a desperate lie because you can't answer my facts. Nothing I've ever written is racist. So...Answer my facts, don't reply to my facts with vague slanders. Your accusation is the last desperate resort of an intellectual scoundrel.

BTW, I just won another university award for my teaching. It was awarded by professionals, which you are not.

Arnold Shcherban - 1/3/2009

The outstanding characteristic of this Professor is that never ever he acknowledged a single wrong done by Zionists (in his view they're immaculate), unless being too "soft" in dealing with Palestinians, in particular and Arabs, in general.

Professor, stop racist brainwashing of your students!

art eckstein - 1/2/2009

AS, I didn't say it. My Muslim interlocutor did.

His blog-name is Omar Ibrahim Baker, and he appears on HNN often. His statement was made in public on HNN.

He accepted that other peoples had suffered as much or more than the Palestinians (excluding the Jews,of course-- lyingly attributing their disappearance from the Muslim Middle East to a totally voluntary desire to join the "Zionist colonialist enterprise"). He accepted that other peoples had been displaced in equal or larger numbers than the Palestinians (again, excluding the Jews), and attributed their failure to go to terrorism in response to the fact: that "the Palestinian people are "more noble" than these others. That's an exact quote. It's in public on HNN.

Omar was agreeing that Palestinian terrorism, then, was not a "natural response". It was a cultural choice. It was occurring, he said, because Palestinians were "more noble" than other people.

I don't think Omar was making a racist point; I think he was making a cultural point. In any case, it was HIS point. Throwing the "r-word" around at ME simply shows you have no answer to the facts I have presented above--that other peoples have suffered equally or worse, but have not resorted to terrorism against civilians as Palestinians have.

AS, slander is not an answer to facts. Rather, it's a sign of desperation.

Arnold Shcherban - 1/2/2009

Occasionally the racist nature of Zionism reveals itself, almost inadvertently, despite commonly being meticulously covered by Zionist ideologues. That's exactly what happened to (as slip of a tongue, i.e.
a print) to the respected (by some) Professor when he announced that Palestinian/Arab terrorism is a "CULTURAL CHOICE".
Doesn't it remind us of something?
How about "Negroes like to serve; it
is their natural choice"?
Or another similar pearl: "Mexicans are pusillanimous and weak-minded people who cannot be entrusted with ruling themselves".
The outstanding characteristic of this Professor is that never ever he acknowledged a single wrong done by Zionists (in his view they're immaculate), unless being too "soft" in dealing with Palestinians, in particular and Arabs, in general.

Professor, stop racist brainwashing of your students!

art eckstein - 1/2/2009

No, Sir:

What occurred was that between 1880 and 1948, Jews bought land from willing Arab buyers at inflated prices. Then in 1948 the Arabs (including the Palestinians) rejected the UN resolution creating a Jewish state and attacked, with the aim of genocide. THEY LOST. In the process of attacking, they lost. Many Palestinians fled, some were kicked out. If they hadn't attacked, they wouldn't have needed to flee, or become security problem. They lost a war, PF.

The Palestinians are where they are because in WWI they backed Turkey and Germany, in WWII they backed the Nazis, in the Cold War they backed the USSR, in the First Gulf War they backed Saddam Hussein (one result was that 300,000 Palestinians were kicked out of Kuwait),
they refused the Camp David Accords (ask President Clinton about it), in the Second Gulf War they backed Saddam Hussein, and now they back the genocidal religious fanatics Hamas. It is a sorry, sorry record. And THAT is why they are in the position they are in.

And is nihilistic genocidal terrorism a natural response to what occurred to the Palestinians (because of their own mistakes) in 1948, as you seem to believe, PF? In the disordered period 1945-1960 many millions people were made refugees:

12 million Germans were kicked out of E. Europe where they'd lived for centuries; one million died; one million women were raped. But you don't see Germans blowing up kindergartens in Danzig.

7 million Hindus were kicked out of what became Pakistan in 1947, where they had lived from time immemorial. But you don't see Hindus blowing up busses filled with civilians in Karachi. (Religious minorities in Pakistan now constitute less than 1% of the almost-totally Muslim population; by contrast, Muslims in India re 14% of the population--care to guess WHY?)

850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab/Muslim lands between 1948 and 1960, losing everything and arriving penniless in Israel, or Britain, or the U.S. That is 100,000 MORE people than Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. But you don't see Jews blowing up supermarkets in Tunis.

As we speak, some Muslim is enjoying all this property stolen from the Jews when they were expelled. Yet this is never ever an issue to be discussed, when "stolen lands" comes up.

300,000 Greeks were expelled from Egypt in 1955-1957 as a result of a classic ethnic and religious cleansing by the Nasser regime. Some had lived there for hundreds of years, some for thousands. Some Muslim is enjoying the confiscated property of all these Greeks as we speak. But you don't see Greeks blowing up discoteques in Cairo.

50,000 more Greeks were expelled from northern Turkey in the mid-1950s, after living there for 3,000 years. They arrived in Greece penniless (like the people from Egypt), and some Turk is enjoying their confiscated property as we speak. But you don't see Greeks blowing up universities in Ankara.

Get the point? As one Palestinian interlocutor explained to me when I brought up these parallels, "This is because they are not as noble as the Palestinian People." GET THE POINT? The genocidal terrorism of the Palestinians is no "natural reaction" to trauma--a traum that many others have suffered, and in larger numbers than the Palestinians. It is a CULTURAL CHOICE.

Per Fagereng - 1/2/2009

Hello Art,

What would you do if an armed gang kicked you out of your home? It happened to Palestinians, and if it happened to me I might fire a few rockets myself.

art eckstein - 1/1/2009

The continuing attacks on Israel from those who claim to favor civilised values are based on a perverse inversion of reality.

When theocratic devotees of a Jihadist death cult launch murderous attacks on Israeli civilians, the fashionable approach is to ‘understand’ these criminal actions. And when Israel fights back against this violence being directed at its civilian population it encounters a firestorm of criticism and abuse, being accused of ‘racism’ and painted as a bloodthirsty monster that delights in ’slaughtering’ and ‘massacring’ women and children.

Here is what the political philosopher Michael Walzer wrote about what we are witnessing:

When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks intentionally from within civilian Palestinian areas against Israeli civilians, they are themselves responsible--AND NO ONE ELSE IS--for the civilian deaths caused by inevitable Israeli counterfire.


Does anyone doubt that if Hamas ceased firing rockets into Israel--they fired 3,000 in 2008--that the Israelis would stop their bombing campaign. The Israelis would like nothing better than a peaceful and prosperous Gaza--but that is not what Hamas wants: it is a death cult, it is the Taliban, and peace and prosperity would only "divert" the population from the goal Hamas has set for it: the destruction of Israel.

It is a measure of the intellectual degradation of the Left that Leftists such as Mr. S take the side even of retrogressive 7th century religious death-cults like Hamas, as long as it is Israel that is the target.

Arnold Shcherban - 12/31/2008

goes on and on: war for peace.
It looks like many people don't draw any lessons from modern and very recent history. The main one that must be drawn if those folks really
strive for long-lasting peace is the following: does not only war kills human beings by scores and often indiscriminantly, does not only it causes major destruction and chaos in
respective country's economy and infrastructure, but it seeds even more anger and hatred into the hearts of the next and current generations of the losing side, thus creating a perfect conditions for a new wave of violence and, eventually, war - so called - vicious circle of violence.
As all previous Israel's "punishing" actions this last deadly assault in Gaza causes hundreds of mainly civilian casualties and destruction of already barely sirviving infrastructure of the bombarded region.
Israel (the major military and nuclear power in the whole Middle East) needs to restore its "deterrence power" towards militarily hapless Palestinians?
The crooked brutality of this alleged need is difficult to one up.
How dare you folks to even raise your hand in order to greet such a development as a generator of new horizons for peace?