War-a Tool for Political Ends The Evolution of Israel’s Military Psychology


War-a Tool for Political Ends The Evolution of Israel’s Military Psychology

The history of Zionist Movement and its role in the establishment of the State of Israel traces the importance of war, violence, and use of force from the very start. Considering the challenges to the project of creating a Jewish State in an area which was inhibited by an overwhelming Arab majority

Policy Perspectives , Volume7 , Number 1, Special Issue 2010


War is an act of violence, which in its application knows no bounds; as one dictates the law to the other, there arises a sort of reciprocal action, which in the conception, must lead to an extreme.
Carl von Clausewitz, On War


[The history of Zionist Movement and its role in the establishment of the State of Israel traces the importance of war, violence, and use of force from the very start. Considering the challenges to the project of creating a Jewish State in an area which was inhibited by an overwhelming Arab majority, the Jewish leaders developed militant groups for providing security to illegal Jewish immigrants and settlements and fighting off the Arab resistance. With the help of British administration of Palestine at that time, the Jewish militants developed their military capability in terms of procuring weapons, military training, comprehensive planning, greater mobility, and a more extensive use of automatic light machine-guns. These developments played a decisive role in the final combat and provided the Jewish state the foundations of special type of militaristic society that carried on through the future generations. – Author]



The evolution of Israel’s militaristic society and the notion of ‘using force for political purposes’ imbedded in its socio-political psychology can be understood through a historical analysis of the development of the Jews as a nation originating from a tug of war between small Jewish population in Palestine and the Ottoman Empire to the violent fight of the Zionist movement for the establishment of Israel. This study would further elaborate the questions: whether the Jews in Palestine were the victims of British policies and Palestinian violence; whether the procurement, employment and deployment of Jewish military capabilities were defensive in nature; and whether the transformation of war into an instrument of Israel’s national strategy was a reactionary approach.


The study of occupations, particularly the Zionist’s invasion of Palestine, substantiates that the nation, coming into existence by expelling indigenous population, yields to the use of “violence as the means”[1] for political, strategic, economic and socio-ideological purposes. The displacement of natives as a result of the invasion instantaneously creates a well-known ‘syndrome of victims turning perpetrators’.[2] This vicious circle instills fear in the two societies—the invaders and the invaded—and keeps them ready for the security of their lives, properties and infrastructure, that resultantly makes hard decisions of going to war light.


What is more peculiar in the rationale of establishing a Jewish State in predominantly Arab Palestine is that moral justifications for the use of force come from religious ideology and divine literature that metamorphoses a geographical dispute into “a contest over whether the word of God is true.”[3] Thus a purely political issue in any other case melts into an ideological struggle in the case of creating a Jewish national home, drawing “the ideologues of the extreme right,”[4] from the West in general and the United States in particular, towards “a shared Judeo-Christian religious tradition,”[5] and shouldering the “responsibility for the maintenance, and even the expansion, of Jewish state in Palestine.”[6]


The Israel’s will to “obtain superiority” and “compulsory submission of the enemy” by using “force unsparingly, without reference to the quantity of bloodshed,”[7] makes it important to trace the history of the evolution of Israel’s military psychology; to understand the significance of war in Israel’s survival and expansion; and to gauge the significance of superpowers’ assistance in developing the Jewish militant groups in Palestine into one of the world’s most powerful military.


Making of Israel’s Military Psychology


Pre-World War I Palestine: Although the establishment of Jewish homeland had long been awaited by the dispersed Jewish Diaspora living in various countries for centuries on, the project of turning this long-cherished dream into reality did not take its definitive form until the late 19th Century. The formation of covert non-state armed cells of Palestinian Jews,[8] commonly known as terrorist groups of ideologically motivated individuals in the modern international politics, marked the beginning of Jewish armed fight in Palestine as early as 1880s. This seemingly insignificant development provided foundation to the overt political movement of Zionist Jews based in the most powerful capitals of the world, particularly in Europe and America. The movement started off potently with the establishment of Zionist Organization[9] in 1897 by Theodore Herzl, a Hungarian born completely assimilated European Jew. The declared objective of the Organization was stated as: creating “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland in Palestine” for “the Jewish people.”[10] In his diary, Herzl wrote, “I founded the Jewish State” in the convention of European Jews that became known as first Zionist Congress.[11]


As the Zionist Organization was busy garnering political support of the Western powers for its enterprise, various Jewish militant groups started emerging with political motives in Palestine by the beginning of the 20th Century. These illegal terrorist[12] groups, organized to volunteer for security services in Jewish settlements and joined up with local farmers and youth groups, were supported through the Jewish National Fund, established by the Organization to raise funds for purchasing of land in Palestine, subsidizing settlers and settlements, and strengthening the security infrastructure for the safety and development of Jewish community.[13] The financial support was necessary to mobilize a well-planned, structured, and unhindered immigration and colonization movement for transferring Diaspora to Palestine and creating an immigrant settler society.


At this stage, Zionist leaders were aware of the implications of vast scale Jewish immigration and settlements in a country that constituted more than 90 percent of Arab population.[14] One of the most imminent implications was a violent conflict that was doomed to emerge between the two people subscribing to very opposite ideologies. Therefore, the Zionists made serious efforts from the onset to organize the newly-formed militias into a proper Jewish force. These efforts laid down the foundations of Jewish community as a “… special (but not unique) type of militaristic society. This civilian militarism was found to be not only a basic cultural code but also an organizational principle around which large segments of [Israeli] society are arranged.”[15]


On the political front, Zionist Organization’s agenda conspired with the British imperialism and Biblical aspirations of expanding its Empire to the Ottoman controlled trade and energy routes in the Middle East, and even to the Holy Land of Palestine. So, “the history of Anglo-Zionist relations in 1917 is a history of the slow movement into conjunction of two groups both of which, for different ends, wanted a British Palestine.”[16] The Zionists expected that the “Jewish dreams of establishing a State in Palestine” would come true and “Britain might derive from a protectorate over a grateful Jewish community on the east flank of the Suez Canal.”[17]


The collusion of British Empire with the Zionists became the first instance of superpowers’ support to Jews in Palestine. The Great Britain, being a shrewd imperial power, played a double game at this stage: on the one hand it promised the Arabs “of a confederacy of Arab states … ‘support in their struggle for freedom’ in all areas that the Arabs liberated for themselves.”[18] On the other hand, pledges “concerning the right of Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine”[19] and ultimately a Jewish State in Palestine were made with Jews in the form of Balfour Declaration, “the memorandum which for the first time used the phrase a ‘Jewish National Home’.”[20]


Fulfilling their due role, the Jewish militants and early settlers started performing ‘intelligence work’ for the British forces behind the Ottoman-German lines all through the World War I. “During this period, the first Jewish battalions were created within the framework of British Army fighting in the Middle Eastern theatre. These were composed of volunteers and conscripts from Palestine, Britain and America; and they provided the Jewish youth with their first opportunity to acquire better military training and organization, and also to accumulate a certain amount of light military equipment which proved subsequently to be of great use.”[21] The creation of these Jewish battalions was a signal towards proactive Zionists approach of employing force as a tool of achieving political goals and prevailing over the enemies of Zionist project in Palestine.


On the Arab side, the Arab leaders fighting along Allied forces against Turks wrongly assumed from British promises that “the independence promise included Palestine.”[22] However, at Peace Conference, held in Paris in 1919 to conclude the WWI, Britain struck a deal with France thereby Mandate in Palestine and Mosul was allocated to the former in exchange for the latter’s Mandate in Syria.


Consequently, French became the Mandatory power in Syria in April 1920, and with the withdrawal of British forces, which helped Faisal I in power, the French forces fought to take control of Syria and drove him out by the mid 1920. In January 1921, Faisal asserted in the British Foreign Office that Palestine was included in the area of Arab independence. “His claim was part of an Arab case that they denied—to him there and then, and forever thereafter.”[23]


Arthur Balfour, the author of Balfour Declaration, expounded on British policy towards Palestine question as “British government was ‘committed to Zionism’ as its policy in Palestine … [a]ll development, industrial schemes of all kinds, and financial assistance must be based on the principle that Zionists are the Most-favored Nation in Palestine … In any Palestine Plebiscite, the Jews of the world must be consulted.”[24]


The subsequent developments unfolded the apprehensions of Lord Islington[25] that he explained:


The mandate imposes on Great Britain the responsibility of trusteeship for a Zionist political predominance where 90 per cent of the population is non Zionist and non Jewish … This scheme of importing an alien race into the midst of a native local race is flying in the very face of the whole of the tendencies of the age. It is an unnatural experiment… it is literally inviting subsequent catastrophe.[26]  


Post-World War I Palestine: True, the catastrophe, thence, became the norm of the region. The friction between Arabs and Jews came on the surface from the expulsion of King Faisal I from Damascus that made it sure to the Palestinian Arabs that the British government was in no way interested in catering for the wishes of indigenous majority population of Palestine. Adding to the Arab anxieties, Britain appointed a Jewish High Commissioner in Palestine, Herber Samuel, and the Zionist Commission marched enthusiastically in Palestine claiming Jewish predominance in Jewish newspapers.


The immigration and settlement of Jews from all parts of the world also started in large numbers right after the Peace Conference. They were facilitated as part of the promises made to Jews in Balfour Declaration and British Mandate in Palestine. Later, the terms of Balfour Declaration and Mandate leaked. The gathering of Jews at Wailing Wall[27] during the festival of Nabi Musa[28] in 1921 exacerbated the concerns of Palestinians. Moreover, the smuggling of arms had been a subject of constant Arab vexation since 1920 and it got stronger air when arms for Jewish militants were found by Arab employees in agricultural and building equipments in Haifa in 1921.[29]


These factors roused a strong impression that Arab majority was gradually being transformed into minority and they protested against these developments. Their protests met with strong Jewish force that continued to be intensified in terms of its scale and use of weaponry so much so that the British military administration in Palestine was compelled to write to London that the concessions given to the Jews had “firmly and absolutely convinced the non-Jewish elements of our partiality.”[30] In February 1921, the subsequent commission of inquiry described the ‘disturbances’ as “no ordinary riot.”[31]


Considering the seriousness of the issue and the dangers of losing control over the situation in Palestine, the British Royalty issued a statement of policy in a White Paper showing its intention of holding the balance between the two communities. Palestinian Arabs, however, called for an immediate national government as the White Paper for them meant “that self-government will be granted as soon as the Jewish people in Palestine are sufficiently able through numbers and powers to benefit to the full by self-government, and not before.”[32]


This situation strengthened Zionists’ and local administration’s belief that settling millions of Jewish immigrants would not be possible without facing a strong resistance from the indigenous population. Result being, the Jewish community and Zionist organizations started strengthening their military units. Besides many a small terrorist groups providing security to small and remote Jewish areas, some organized and vital militant organizations were established with the support of British administration in Palestine.


A few of the prominent Jewish groups were: Hashomer;[33] Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZL, National Military Organization, also known as Irgun); Lehi (also known as Stern Gang), and Haganah[34] (which was later transformed into Israel Defense Force [IDF]). Although these groups were not working under a unified command in early stages, they cooperated and sometimes collaborated with one another while preserving their individual character and carrying out their own terrorist activities.[35]


These militant outfits formed an offensive strategy of fighting and expelling the Arabs from the areas of Jewish interest and providing security to the pioneering Zionist settlements. They were organized keeping in mind political-strategic considerations such as: “economic viability; the needs of local defense; overall settlement strategy, which aimed at ensuring Jewish political presence in all parts of the country, with a view to ultimate solutions of the political problems of the country; and, finally, the role such blocks of settlements could play in an all-out clash which might be decisive for the future of Zionist aspirations.”[36]


Subsequently, individual or small groups of settlements were established in remote parts that were isolated “from one another by geographic distances, topographic barriers, and demographic differences” and closer to the political borders of the would-be Jewish State. “Every Jewish settlement had to be a Haganah fortress as well. Consequently, economic and agricultural planning alone were not enough: they had to be accompanied by military planning and arrangements and the budget had to take care of both swords and ploughshares.”[37]


During this time, the Jewish population successfully swelled from 56,000 (10 percent of total population) in 1917 to 174,000 (17 percent) in 1931.[38] The growing Jewish immigration and settlements were considered by Arabs as a direct threat to their very existence in the country and an indication of the continuation of the policies of the British government. The expansionist posture of the Jewish community gave rise to the suspicions and culminated in riots ensuing from the rumors that Jews were planning to attack and destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque for building the Jewish Temple Mount in the guise of gathering at Wailing Wall on the Jewish Day of Atonement in September 1928.[39]


“For the first time, the British High Commissioner labeled these Arab passions ‘nationalism’” and asked the government to reshape the mandate, particularly the terms that provided Jews concessions over Arabs, the allowance of purchasing land and Jewish immigration. In response to such reports from Palestine, a Royal Commission under John Hope Simpson was sent to carry out an inquiry into the emerging situation in Palestine that resulted in the issuance of another White Paper that put partial restrictions on Jewish immigration and total restriction on land sales to Jews.


Immediately after the issuance of White Paper, the Zionists “raised a storm”[40] both politically and militarily with such an intensity that the British Prime Minister of that time had to surrender to Zionist and pro-Zionist pressure. He promised to the Jews that restriction of land sales would be temporary and that there would be no restriction, whatsoever, on Jewish immigration.


Removal of the restrictions, as if, opened the flood gate and early to mid 1930s Palestine witnessed a massive immigration of Jews from all over the World, particularly from Europe, becoming a reason for another phase of disturbance and Arab uprising that, the then High Commissioner of Palestine believed, was inflamed by “a genuine national feeling” and was anti-British rather than anti-Jewish.[41] The uprising further intensified after the discovery of the arms smuggling into Palestine through Jewish immigrants coming from Europe,[42] and transformed into a countrywide riots when “a barrel of cement broke open while being unloaded to reveal smuggled arms” at Jaffa in October 1935.[43]


The years following 1936 witnessed the peak of riots, killings and communal fighting between Zionist forces and Arab guerillas. The situation, rapidly going out of hand, forced the 1937 British Royal commission, famously known as the Peel Commission, to report that the division between Arabs and Jews was unbridgeable and partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish States was the only solution. Realizing the importance of pacifying the Arab population for creating peace in the country in order to prepare grounds towards ‘final solution to the problem’, the British government issued another White Paper in 1939 that embarked on: drastically delimiting Jewish immigration; prohibiting Jews from settling in extensive areas of Palestine; disbanding of the Haganah; and promising self-government in the near future.[44]


Old Ally into Enemy: The Zionist leaders thought that White Paper policy would hamper the struggle for creating Jewish State and ultimately extinct the Jewish community from Palestine. This feeling opened the doors for committing violence against the British administration after years of their cooperation with the Zionists. Using force against one’s own patron would certainly require great courage and deviation from moral principles; but the Zionists made it clear at this point that realpolitik transcended political morality. The Jewish forces, both military and political, instantly started the preparations of fighting the White Paper policy in the form of proliferating illegal immigrants from Europe to Palestine and establishment of settlements in restricted regions.


The new British policy also created an apprehension in Jewish leaders that an all-out confrontation with the Arabs or the enforcement of White Paper would undermine the Jewish hold on certain areas of the country, resulting in stimulating and accelerating the further expansion of the Haganah not only for the protection of lives and property but for their political objectives too. Fighting amidst these crucial years contributed a great deal in developing the military thinking and execution of the Haganah in a more integrated and overarching strategy. Responding to the need of the hour, Haganah focused more on local conditions, comprehensive planning, greater mobility, and an extensive use of automatic light machine-guns.


Moreover, recognizing the importance of fighting under unitary command in critical moments as these, the Zionist leaders established an illegal civil High Command, working under the legal political institutions and a military General Staff with a Chief of Staff at the head in order to bring all the Jewish militant factions working in Palestine in general and under Haganah in particular under civilian command.


There were a few very important factors that helped the Zionist leaders in the expansion, organization, structured military planning, battle ground tactics, and the growth of arms and ammunition of Haganah namely: Jewish recruits in British military carried the experience of fighting in WWI and military planning; the inclusion of Jewish guerilla fighters and terrorist outfits though small but long established in Palestine; the establishment of Jewish Settlement Police with the help of British military and political administration; the establishment of a mixed British-Jewish unit known as Special Night Squad, a semi-legal guerilla force formed by British Captain Orde Wingate (later General Wingate); and the regular supply of arms and ammunition from Europe, procured with the help of Jewish National Fund and carried into Palestine by the immigrants.[45]


Despite all this military preparation and expansion, Zionist leaders were mindful of the fact that an all-out clash between the Arabs and Jews is not possible in the presence of British forces, so they prepared its different legal and illegal smaller units for a guerilla fight. These units were trained to search for an enemy in different topographies; to launch an ambush; to carry out a raid; to back down the enemy; and to disengage rapidly whenever necessary for military or political reasons.


Besides, in order to avoid enemy attacks on Jewish villages and communities, the specially designed prefabricated settlements were set up in such a way that they act as settlement units for the immigrants as well as fortresses for Haganah with a watch tower, bullet proof walls and firing slits. The years 1937-39 turned out to be one of the peak periods of pioneering settlement, accompanied by military penetration into vulnerable areas based on the newly formed kibbutzim[46].


These settlements became Jewish fortresses and cantonments, ready for the militants to launch attacks around the country with a relative ease. However, the breaking out of World War II presented a difficult situation to the Zionist movement as Britain was fighting the Jewish enemy of Europe —Nazi Germany—and Jewish fighting with the British forces in Palestine could weaken its position in the vital military bases of the Middle East but if they stopped fighting the British, it could be taken as Jewish reconciliation to the White Paper policy. In this dilemma, David Ben-Gurion, one of the most important leaders of Zionist movement, gave his famous policy as: “We will fight the Germans as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no Germans.”[47]


The Zionist leaders at this stage realized the importance of finding alternative global powers as the patrons of their movement in Palestine and the best available option was the rising superpower—United States. All the prominent leaders of the Zionist Movement, particularly Ben-Gurion who later became the first prime minister of Israel, launched an aggressive campaign in the US to invoke sympathy and support of the three important components of American society—the government, general public and Jewish community. These efforts marked the beginning of an active and direct involvement of American Jewry in the fight for Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Nazi’s oppressive measures against Jews strengthened the arguments of the American Jewish leaders and Zionist groups and helped them in maneuvering public opinion in their favor and exerting stronger pressure on the US government to issue policy statements against the British policy of White Paper.


Artfully, the Zionist leadership upheld political fight against the politically motivated White Paper and its military force; Haganah, established an illegal striking force, consisting nine companies, to fight along with allied forces as advanced units and intelligence force.[48] On the other hand, tens of thousands of Jewish youth joined British Army directly. Both these experiences gave Jewish fighters an exposure to combating on large scale with asymmetry of force. The participation of Jewish regular military units proved to be a blessing as it gave them both military experience and a chance to establish their community on solid foundations deep inside Palestine along the borders of their future state.[49] It is important to note here that the Jewish population rose from 384,000 (28 percent) in 1936 to 640,000 (33 percent) in 1947.[50]


After the end of WWII and the victory of allied forces, the legal and illegal military units started fighting on the four main fronts: guerilla and terrorist tactics against the British forces to undermine their authority and the implementation of White Paper policy; receiving and settling the illegal immigrants from Europe; fortifying and protecting the already established settlement blocks and the establishment of new illegal settlements in restricted areas; and fighting the Arabs and expelling them from the lands that Jews acquired by force—either military or monetary, and sometimes a combination of the two.[51]


Throughout this period, the Haganah leadership adopted a policy of maintaining strong control over the remote settlements in every situation, as they would provide the bases for carrying out offensives in an all-out conflict and relieve the pressure of Arab attacks on Jewish centers in urban areas as well. It also opted for minimizing direct clashes with the British and major offensives against Arabs as it might bring intervention of British forces, and casualties on both sides of Jewish and British forces.[52] Nevertheless, the terrorist activities of blowing up British offices, target killing of British officers and Palestinian leaders, and looting of arms and ammunitions from British depots continued.


Moreover, all eligible men and women of the Jewish community were recruited,[53] trained intensively on different types of weapons and explosives on regular basis, organized into smaller units and guerilla groups, and assimilated the Jewish soldiers who returned to Palestine after serving in British military.[54] All these preparations were made keeping in mind the possible needs of the final battle for the creation of Jewish State and any unexpected development at national, regional or international level.[55]


The Last Battle: The tensions between Jews and Arabs mounted to even a higher level during the political fight over Palestine problem in the United Nations particularly in the year 1947. While negotiations on the final settlement of Palestine problem were undergoing in the UN and the big powers were bent on two-state solution; Haganah, Stern Gang, Irgun and other small military factions of the Jews, equipped with the smuggled weapons, started executing the military plans in and outside the boundaries of the future Jewish State from late 1947 onwards. These plans were offensive-defensive in nature as they catered for seizing “control of the area of the Jewish State … defend its borders … Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris) … In the event of resistance, the armed force [of Arabs] must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.”[56]


Even those villages which were under the ‘Non-Aggression and Good Neighbor Oral Agreement between Palestinian villages and Jewish settlement during the 1948 War’ particularly the five villages—Sheik Muwanas, Deir Yassin, Zarnuqa, Abou Zureiq and Caesaria—that enjoyed good neighborly relations with Jewish settlements were not spared. The Palestinians from these villages were expelled and massacred;[57] for instance 300 men, women and children were massacred at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948.[58] The memoir of Mêrôn Benveniśtî, the author of ‘Sacred Landscape: the Buried History of the Holy Land since 1948’ exposed these unnerving raids:


A few villages in the area established good connections with neighboring Jewish communities and even expressed willingness to surrender and continue living under Jewish rule. In spite of this (and even after several villages did surrender and hand over their weapons), their inhabitants were expelled by force of arms and with the help of ‘psychological warfare’. Serious atrocities were committed in the large village of Zarquna … the Jewish forces also commenced the “cleansing” of the area of its Arab population … the principal objective [was] to take revenge on the Arab villages … [the commander] gave an order (not without an element of vengefulness and atonement for his earlier failings): ‘To attack, with the aim of capturing, the villages of Kabri, Umm al-Faraj, and al-Nahar, to kill the men, (and) to destroy and set fire to the villages’.[59]


The policy of ‘use of force’ at this critical juncture of the Zionist fight for creating a State in the “land without people for people without land” came very clear from the Jewish terrorist group Lehi that urged its members to take “advantage of the situation” of the increased Arab-Jewish hostilities in March 1948. The gruesome attacks on the Palestinian population were the practical translation of Lehi’s orders: “There is no room for courtly behavior … The Arab enemy has to be hit in places where it hurts the most. And if he has shown weaknesses in Haifa, he should not be left in peace there. Let his trade be destroyed and his tens of thousands forced to flee. Let them become burden in Nablus, Nazareth and Jenin.”[60] The execution of these plans resulted in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.[61]


This policy of committing violence for political means was smoothly transferred to the future generations of Israeli leadership and has been echoing continuously in the statements of Israeli premiers and prominent leaders as:


“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!”[62]


Yitzhak Rabin, former Israeli Prime Minister

October 23, 1979


“We say to them [Palestinians] from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us … Anybody who wants to damage this fortress and other fortresses we are establishing will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls.”[63]


Yitzhak Shamir, former Israeli Prime Minister

April 1, 1988


“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours…Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”[64]


Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Foreign Minister November 15, 1998


The Zionist leaders, therefore, were never shy of using force even after the establishment of the State of Israel. In the subsequent wars—1956 Suez Canal Crisis, the Six-Day war in 1967, and Yom Kippur War in 1973—as well as in a number of invasions of Lebanon, Palestinian refugee camps, West Bank and Gaza, it continued to expand its boundaries much beyond the ones set forth in the UN partition plan. The global powers particularly of the West have been funding, facilitating and enlarging the Jewish military to the point that it is now considered one of the most sophisticated military of the world.


Adding to its conventional military capability, Israel possesses nuclear capability with the most advanced delivery systems. Considering the readiness of Israel Defense Force to wage wars and carrying out invasions, as has been observed in case of Israeli invasions of Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (Dec 27, 2008-Jan 19, 2009), it would not be strange to witness aggression from Israel on one pretext or another in future.




Use of force and perpetrating violence against the enemy is neither an accidental phenomenon nor a reactionary approach in the Zionist fight for the Jewish homeland in Palestine. The establishment of Jewish terrorist cells under the Ottoman rule; the formation of militant groups with the help of Britain; smuggling of weapons; the doctrine of unproportionate use of force for creating fear on mass scale; and the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their lands demonstrate the psychology of Jewish leaders that transformed into well-thought-out policy. The basic factor behind the development of this psychology is the fact that Palestine was not an empty land and establishing a State for foreigners in the already inhabited land could never be viable without expelling the local population that would ultimately require unbridled force. This fact is evident from Ben-Gurion’s statement:


If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. This is natural. We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to me, but what does it matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it is true, but two thousand years ago, and what is it to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.”[65]


In the face of this realization, he said in 1948:


“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”[66]


Keeping aside the discourse on the legitimacy and morality of the cause of Jews securing a homeland in the lands of others, it is important to underline that well-organized militancy, violence, use of force and terrorism are legitimate albeit with the backing of powerful international actors and players. In the politico-ideological perspective, the very existence of the State of Israel in the Middle East is a great example of the clash of ideological struggle, religio-ethnic chauvinism, and dichotomy between political morality and realpolitik.


As is evident in the making of Israel’s military psychology, the use of violence and unproportionate force against enemy not only becomes easier but morally justifiable if the rationale is derived from religious obligation, ideological imperatives and racial supremacy.[67] The creation of Israel in Palestine, in this context, carries almost the same implications as the creation of an Islamic State in Vatican City might.


Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that Jewish-Arab rivalry over the Palestinian land is not simply a geo-political dispute that can be resolved by merely addressing the issues of ‘settlements’ and giving Palestinians a small area out of their own vast land. Thus, the possibility of wars and civilian casualties in the future of Middle East is not out of question.






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[1] Clausewitz, On War.

[2] Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

[3] Inhofe, “Peace in the Middle East Speech by U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe.”

[4] Lieven, An Anatomy of American Nationalism, 182.

[5] Public Broadcasting Service, “U.S. Foreign Policy.”

[6] United States Department of State, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948,” 524.

[7] Clausewitz, op. cit.

[8] Allon, The Making of Israel’s Army. 337-338.

[9] Originally called Zionist Organization, it came to be known as the World Zionist Organization (WZO), a name it officially adopted in 1960. The word “Zionism” was coined to label the Jewish movement of the return of stateless and persecuted Jews to the political stage of history. “Zion,” a biblical term for Jerusalem, as well as for the entire Holy Land, refers to the ancient patrimony of Jews, which, according to Jewish mythology, was “promised” to Abraham and his descendants, the Children of Israel.

[10] Mendelsson, “From the First Zionist Congress (1897) to the Twelfth (1921).”

[11] Kimmerling, The Invention and Decline of Israeliness, 25.

[12] The Jewish Agency for Israel, “Shlomi: A Guide through Names.”

[13] Lehn and Uri Davis, The Jewish National Fund.

[14] Kimmerling, op. cit., 29.

[15] Ibid., 12.

[16] Mansfield, The Middle East: A Political Economic Survey, 48-51.

[17] Mansfield, op. cit., 48-51.

[18] Ibid., 52.

[19] Allon, op. cit.

[20] Mansfield, op. cit., 51.

[21] Allon, op. cit., 338.

[22] Mansfield, op. cit., 52.

[23] Friedman, “The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence and the Question of Palestine.”

[24] Sabbagh, Palestine: A Personal History, 138-139.

[25] Sir John Poynder Dickson, came to be known as Lord Islington, was an elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the Chippenham Division of Wiltshire. In 1910, Lord Islington was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand, a post he held for two years, and the same year was created ‘Baron Islington’ of Islington in the County of London. In 1912, he was appointed President of the Royal Commission on the Public Services of India.

[26] Cattan, The Palestine Question, 15.

[27] The Western Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered by the Jews to be the last remnant of the Jewish Temple Mount, the most sanctified space of ancient Israel and a symbol linking the modern Jewish nation with the land. For Muslims, the wall is the outer rim of Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in the Islamic world, from where Prophet Muhammad commenced his Night Journey to Heavens.

[28] The Jews gathered at the supposed tomb of Moses in Jerusalem on April 5, 1921, to celebrate the day that, they considered, was the birth day of Prophet Moses.

[29] Seikaly, Haifa: Transformation of an Arab Society 1918-1939, 173.

[30] Barbour, Nisi Dominus: A Survey of the Palestine Controversy, 97.

[31] Mansfield, op. cit., 53-54.

[32] Royal Institute of International Affairs, “Great Britain and Palestine, 1915-1945,” 159.

[33] It was later assimilated with Haganah after 1921. However, some of its members kept carrying out their own militant activities until early 1930s.

[34] Haganah, the Hebrew word for Defense, was the name of the general illegal militant force of the Jewish community in Palestine under the British Mandate. It was controlled by the elected national institutions of Zionist Movement until it was renamed to Israel Defense Force. Other terrorist Jewish groups and organizations were also merged into it to make it a formal military force of Israel.

[35] For details, see Heller, The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics, and Terror, 1940-1949; Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement; Bar-On, Never-Ending Conflict: Israeli Military History; Bell, Terror out of Zion: the Fight for Israeli Independence; Zweig, Israel: The Sword and the Harp; Stein, The Hope Fulfilled: The Rise of Modern Israel and Kimmerling, The Invention and Decline of Israeliness.

[36] Allon, op. cit., 339.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Kimmerling, op. cit., 35.

[39] Ibid., 31.

[40] Mansfield, op. cit., 56.

[41] Ibid., 59.

[42] Schreiber, Land of Dreams: An Israeli Childhood, 29-30. See also, Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, 28.

[43] Bell, op. cit., 30. See also, Sabbagh, Palestine: History of a Lost Nation, 193.

[44] Stein, The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939.

[45] Stein, op.cit., 170-171.

[46] A kibbutz (pl. kibbutzim) is a form of pioneering cooperative settlements, based on collective ownership of property and a communal mode of life.

[47] Hahn, Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 14.

[48] Ibid., 346.

[49] Bar-On, op.cit., 3.

[50] Kimmerling, op. cit., 35.

[51] Bar-On, op. cit., 3.

[52] Allon, op. cit., 357.

[53] Kimmerling, op. cit., 31.

[54] Bar-On, op. cit., 3.

[55] Heller, The Birth of Israel, 1945-1949, 78.

[56] Isseroff, “Plan Daleth (Plan D).”

[57] Rotberg, ed., Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict, 87-88.

[58] Harms and Ferry, The Palestine Israel Conflict.

[59] Benveniśtî, Sacred landscape: the buried history of the Holy Land, 137-139.

[60] Heller, op. cit., 202.

[61] There is controversy over the exact number of expelled population that is estimated between 500,000 to 700,000, as well over the reasons of Arabs expulsion—whether they left voluntarily or were forced to leave their villages. There are, however, accounts that explain that the Palestinian exodus around 1948 was partly due to Jewish atrocities and partly due to the shrewd application of the tools of psychological warfare. Nevertheless, the fear factor behind this mass expulsion cannot be overruled by any means. For details, see Khalidi, “Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine.” and Vidal, “The expulsion of the Palestinians re-examined.”

[62] Bradford, “The Conflict in Quotes from Past and Present Zionist Leaders.”

[63] Reuters, Shamir Promises to Crush Rioters.

[64] Bradford, op. cit.

[65] Dasgupta, Cheated by the World, 66.

[66] Herman and Kwinjeh, “Ethnic Cleansing: Constructive, Benign, and Nefarious.”

[67]This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.” Golda Meir, Le Monde, October 15, 1971.


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