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An ‘Arab-Jew’ sets the record straight: Israel never wanted peace
In an insightful interview, Iraq-born Avi Shlaim, a member of the Israeli Defence Forces in the 1960s, asserts that it is Israel which poses a threat to both Hamas and Iran
In an insightful interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Professor Avi Shlaim, who was part of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the 1960s, asserts that neither Hamas nor Iran poses a threat to Israel; it is Israel which poses a threat to both Hamas and Iran.
Professor Shlaim is the author of a new book, Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew.
The Israeli army, he points out, is one of the most powerful in the world. It is armed with nuclear weapons, war planes, lethal rockets and missiles, with technology, drones, the works. In comparison, Iran is a non-nuclear power and feels threatened by Israel, which has been singling it out as a singular threat to itself. Similarly, he says, Hamas is a very small and poorly armed band of "resistance fighters".
Most people in Israel, he concedes, call him a traitor, but truth is more important to him as a scholar of history, he adds. The following are some of the points he makes in the interview, a link of which appears at the end of this text.
1. Israelis are so obsessed with their own security and victimhood that they are largely indifferent to the insecurity of others, especially Palestinians.
2. When Hamas was formed in 1987, it was an Islamic resistance movement against occupation, and Israel actually supported Hamas against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But when Hamas won a fair election in 2006-07, Israel refused to recognise the Hamas-led government. The United States and European Union sided with Israel, and they have been trying to overthrow Hamas ever since.
Also Read: How do Hamas and Hezbollah compare with IDF?
3. Israel’s military doctrine has been a) If force does not work, use more force and b) Periodically, mow the lawn (weed out Palestinians). These are done mechanically and are not products of any political movement.
4. Unconditional support by the US, UK and EU has emboldened Israel to commit war crimes. The West does not seem to be aware of the asymmetry of power, and is completely one-sided. They are out of touch with reality but people in the West are not, and they increasingly see Israel’s position as untenable and unjust.
5. The current conflict did not start on 7 October with the Hamas attacks on Israel. It started in 1967 with Israel occupying the West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai. Israel refused to return occupied areas to Jordan and Syria, and agreed to a deal with only Egypt.
6. Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving prime minister of Israel, and his Likud party were hawks who never recognised the Oslo Accords of 1993 by which the PLO and Israel recognised each other and agreed to a two-state settlement. Indeed, Likud rejects the idea of a Palestine state.
7. Likud won a narrow victory in 1996, but Netanyahu set about negating the accord and grabbed more land and encouraged Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, as a result of which there are 7.5 lakh (750,000) Israeli Jews in the West Bank today. The settlements are illegal under international law, but the West turned a blind eye to them.
8. Israel has blockaded Gaza for the past 16 years, turning it into the world’s largest open-air prison. Netanyahu has manipulated to divide Hamas and Fatah.
9. Despite 750,000 Arabs displaced in 1947-48 to enable Israel to come into being, Arabs in 1949 had accepted the boundaries and legitimacy of Israel. Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine and Arab land since 1967 is what has led to the impasse.
10. While killing of civilians by Hamas is condemnable and cannot be justified, Hamas does have the right to resist Israeli occupation; and terrorist acts by Hamas cannot justify state terrorism by Israel.
Professor Shlaim, an Arab-Jew born in Iraq, blames the Western policy of not dealing with Hamas for the stalemate in West Asia. Western double standards, he asserts, is evident in the conduct of the International Criminal Court, which has displayed its keenness to investigate allegations of war crimes and genocide against Hamas or Russia in Ukraine, but been largely indifferent to allegations of war crimes against Israel.
You may like to watch the full video here:
Published: 27 Oct 2023, 6:24 PM