Sunday, January 11, 2009

State of Israel = State of War

Although I have lived in Israel for 35 years now and participated (passively) in 4 wars and 2 Intifadas, the penny has only now dropped for me that Israel is actually is a permanent state of war with only rest periods in between. This is amusingly (and terribly) illustrated by Doron Rosenblum's column in last Friday's weekend magazine of the Ha'aretz newspaper .

The wars and periods of unrest that I can remember:
  • 1967 - the 6 Day War , the glorious defeat of the Arab Goliath by Israel's David. Some of us now realise that that the colonisation of millions more Palestinians as the result of Israel's conquests in that war was the start of Israel's moral decline.
  • 1970- 1972 War of Attrition (along the Suez Canal). A cousin of mine was killed in this war
  • 1973 - Yom Kippur War. Israel won on points but the Arabs , especially the Egyptians consider this war a glorious victory for themselves
  • 1982-1985 The 1st Lebanon War. Then Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon (later Prime Minister and now in a coma) thought he could change the regime in Lebanon. He was wrong. 500 Israeli soldiers and countless Lebanese and Palestinians paid with their lives
  • 1987-1992 The first Intifada - popular uprising by the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories against Israeli occupation. The Jewish Israelis were genuinely surprised at this uprising "But we gave them new roads, clinics and jobs"
  • 1991 The Gulf War - Israel was a passive participant , being on the receiving end of Scud missiles from Saddam Hussein's Iraq
  • 2000 - 2005 The second Intifada -a second Palestinian uprising characterized by far greater use of arms and terror attacks (mostly suicide bombings) against Israeli civilians
  • 2006 The second Lebanon War , against the Hezbollah. Inconclusive.Over 1000 Lebanese killed, 300 Israelis killed (soldiers and civilians)

Why has the penny dropped only now?
  • A newspaper article after the first week of the current Gaza war included a melancholy note by the writer that he just realised that our wars are like the Thirty Years' War or the Hundred Years' War that we read about in the history books.
  • The last war (the 2nd Lebanon War in 2006) was the first one I felt directly and which got to me real bad. I live in Haifa in northern Israel and for 33 days we were under a constant barrage of missile attacks. For a nice Jewish boy from London to feel the fear of death when the air-raid siren goes off is a profound shock.
  • Only two and a half years have passed since the last war
  • Especially after the "glory" of Israel's victory in the 6-Day War, we had an expectation that the Israeli Army can work miracles and and bring us either victory or peace. We always thought that this war (whichever it was) would be the last . The last few wars (and the current one) have shown that to be illusory.
  • I have gotten to a reflective age where , at best, I am entering the last one third of my life. With great reluctance and sadness I accept that I am unlikely to see peace in Israel/Palestine in my lifetime.
A sad story, for someone like me who was once a passionate Zionist and who still wishes fervently for peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your observations, but it seems that you're only seeing a small part of the picture.
IMHO, what is happening now is part of a World War III. No less.
Unlike the previous world wars, this one is not about millions of soldiers charging with rifles, but a war of Muslim guerrilla (some call them "freedom fighters") against the free world.
9/11, Atocha station attacks, the London bus attacks, Mumbai attack, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now - the Hamas attacks on Israeli cities, each one of these is a battle in this great war.
God help us all.