Monday, March 16, 2009

Chatting to an Israeli Officer

On Friday night last I somehow found myself up at the bar in a city center pub chatting to a random guy who turned out to be a former officer in the Israeli Defence Force. This man had been living and working in Ireland for three years, he was in his late 40s and had fought in the vicious Lebanon war in the early 80s. It was a fairly pleasant chat as he was surprised at the empathy I expressed toward his country, something he claimed was a very rare experience in Ireland. Here is a brief extract of our conversation as best as I can remember.

Random Israeli guy: The Arabs will never accept us. When they say they want to liberate Palestine they are lying. They want to destroy Israel. When they talk about Jewish settlements this is bullshit. They consider Tel Aviv to be a Jewish settlement, it all must go as far as they are concerned, not just the West Bank. When will they realise that we are going nowhere.

Me: Some clearly do think like this but come on, many are just regular people that want to live a normal life. I was in the West Bank once and the people there just want to get on with things. I spoke to a guy in Bethlehem who told me that during the siege of the Church of the nativity in 2002 they had a 23 hour daily curfew and that the IDF announced anyone breaking it was liable to be shot. Are you telling me these people are not entitled to be pissed off at Israel.

Random Israeli guy: I'm not saying they don't suffer. That's obviously a tough situation for them. But what can we do about it. Do you honestly think that if we didn't go after the terrorists and withdrew form all occupied territories that the Arabs would just stop hating us and that we would be safer in our tiny country.

Me: No, I suppose I don't.

Random Israeli guy: If things are that bad for them why don't they go and live in the twenty or so other Arab countries out there. The Jews only have one country. Arabs have many.

Me: But there you go, when you say it like that it sounds like Israeli actions are not motivated by security but the actual purpose is to make life so hard for Arabs that they will all leave and head off to Jordan.

Random Israeli guy: What do you mean ?

Maybe the Arabs do have loads of countries but the Palestinians only have one. Actually, they don't have any. As you rightly said earlier "we are not going anywhere" but the Palestinians, they are not going anywhere either.

Random Israeli guy: Look, if you at look any reasonably impartial historical text from the region you will see that the Palestinians were never a unique and distinct people from the rest of the Arabs. Before Israel was there the British were there, before the British it was the Turks for hundreds of years. People make it sound like Israel simply replace a bustling Arab Palestinian nation, this is nonsense. The Palestinians never had the land in any meaningful way. The Palestinians today living in Gaza and the West Bank are Arab refugees left over from the early Arab Israeli wars. They are not a distinct people entitled to a distinct homeland.

Me: There's the problem then, for all the talk of Hamas not recognising Israel's right to exist. For all the talk of the Arab countries failing to recognise Israel, the truth is you don't recognise the Palestinians right to exist.

Random Israeli guy: Its not that I don't see their right to exist, its that I don't see there claim to the land as legitimate

Me: Whats the difference ?

Random Israeli guy: The difference is that unlike them I don't want to kill every last single one of them.

Me: OK but do you accept the contradiction there. I believe in a secure Israel and a viable Palestine and that can never happen if Israelis keep building settlements and continue to undermine the very concept of a Palestinian as you have been doing.

Unfortunately at this stage the conversation was interrupted by someone from my group who came over to announce that we were leaving for another bar. The Random Israeli guy shook my hand, smiled and told me it was a pleasure discussing this with me before rejoining his work mates at a near by table. This was a very interesting experience and I am very glad it happened. I think it demonstrates the power of dialogue. Talking to Israelis, whether it be in the hazy context of boozed up night in a Dublin pub or through the blogosphere is so much more rewarding than badly informed and highly opinionated Israel bashing which has sadly become the norm in this country.


Zaki said...

The Israeli guy you talked to is right and he gave you the real assessment of things. The general public is dupped by this so-called Palestinian resistance and Intifada and the latest Hamas propaganda machine under which they stick any unimaginable nasty qualifiers against the state of Israel, that it is a racist, discriminatory, apartheid like, occupier, and bloody murderer...

All of which is wrong and intended to sway public opinion to rely on the old anti-semitic diatribes we are all familiar. This can be a surprise to you because I am of a Berber-arab descent originaly from Morocco but born in Algeria. My family left the country in early 1970's to France. I grew up with French and jewish children in a small urban town in center of Algeria. Although I am supposed to be a muslim, my family was a secular one. Am I glad I was born in such environment? I am pro-israel to the core. Why you might say? Because I identify with the Jews who were made to leave North Africa by force when these countries started with their independence. The jews were targeted as collaborators with the French, because they were assimilated with the French culture. The jewish people I knew and grew up with were not your hassidic religious type, they were like me. And of course, there came the education, the readings of history, the Jewish history, which precedes the muslim North Africa by a thousand years.

The israeli guy is right when he tells you that Arabs (muslims mostly) are out to kill every one jew. They lie when they say they want peace. Arafat lied, and everyone after him lie to their teeths about wanting peace. They will never accept defeat, unless they overrun the Jewish state. You need to read what the Koran tells these people to do. They took their holy book as a direct word of Allah, and in it there is only that muslims need to fight the jews. It is a literal interpretation. It is amazing that poeple still think that Israel is at fault.

Remember that this whole thing could have been settled if the arabs accepted the partition in 1946, which I think was fair due to the genocidal undertakings in Europe and previously in Arabs countries dhimmitude towards the jews. Then came the 1967 six-day war. The goal was to drive every jew into the mediteraneen sea. I can still think even right now that that possibility was real had they succeeded. They played the war card and lost everything, even the west bank and Jerusalem and Gaza and Golan Heights.

When all failed like arab nationalism, maxism, pan-arabism, Bathism, guerrila movements.. the arab leaders are now turning into their religious dogma because they knew that the mass of people will respond and would be willing to forgot their miserable lives of desperation and marginalization and focus their anger and uni-vision against the old stereotype anti-semetic jew hatred. And it is working and the Europeens sometimes fall into the trap.

One has to ask who is really behind the miserable lives of the Palestinians and Gaza people? It is pointless to discuss that it is only the Israeli defense forces who are perpetuating the calamity. The corrupt Hamas and its bloody cronies have hijaked and plan the destruction of everything even after Israel's pullout. It is a joke to even try to convince the world community that it is all the fault of Israel. And you know it very well.

Why have the nations and their head of states that were previously supporters of the Palestianian cause all have turn their back on it yet still providing lip service? It is because they do not trust anyone anymore, because of lies, deception, killing and destruction of anything that may bring some sort of closure to the problem.

They have used tyranical tactics to keep anyone who disagree with the so called "peace process". As a Berber-arab who had known a lots of Jews in 1950's and 60's in Morocco and Algeria, this might seem too strange, but I cannot deny what is true and what is fair and what is decent in this world.
They can no longer fool me with their propaganda and lines of deceit about this made up "zionist entity" which they plan to destroy and free the land that your muslims overlords overtook from the Nazareen, Chaldean, Christians in the 7th century.

If this is what they call their land, then everybody should pack up and leave because like the saying goes: "everybody live on a stolen land" . Think about it my friend. The americans needs to pack because they took the land from the indians. The Brits should live Scottland amd Ireland (you might disagree with me here but bear with me), and the ALL South Americans should pack and go back to Spain, Portugal and Italy. And I forget the Arabs of North Africa should pack and leave for their ancestors land in Saudia Arabia and let the Amazighen Berbers live in their own land and culture. You see, one cannot use the land argument anymore. The Jewish people have the same claim for the land. But they have a much stronger and defensible argument for the ancient lands of Israel, but as a land of refuge. At least the jews are willing to share it with all the other faiths, while the muslims want to ban, mistreat, and destroy all other religious buildings and relegate all non-muslims into the status of dhimmitude. Now who in his rational mind is going to fall for that? The "palestinians" are all alone now in this so called "struggle" which for me, looks like suicide. But it is their fate and they will want to do what they want. If they want to carry on this bloody fight I wish them good luck with all the palestinians who wish they can solve the problem with weapons.

I always was against the idea of military solution instead diplomatic solution, now I leaning toward the former, because the palestinians overlords and their cronies in Lebanon and Hamas always speak of a diplomatic solution in public but what they have in mind is a military solution which they have no way of winning if they undertook it genuinely and in earnest, I mean full war. Instead, they cry we are victims of isreali aggression and spend milions of dollars to try to kill even one israeli citizen. If you call that war or resistance I call it cowardice and deceit. Sacrificing the young and the uneducated masses to death while the overlords plan their next suicice missions only to try and try but failing all the time to sway public oipinion.

I have written enough, you will have to pardon my rambling sometimes and my lengthy comment. I know that you may not agree with me. But as for me I am dead with the Muslims. They called guy like me an Apostate. It is worse than being Jewish. I will be killed at will. The Koran says that: "Kills who ever leave Islam". Leaving is not that bad than critizising it publically. Well let's say I stay away from trouble, by only commenting on blogs about the middle East conflict. And I use different pen names, but I certainly voice my opinion and I wish you do not mind..

I wish I could have had a sip of some nice guiness with you and that Israeli guy... since today is St Patrick day... All the best

Ted Leddy said...


Thanks for your comment and don't worry about the length. Your wise words are always welcome here.

Your point of view is fascinating. It is of course unusual for someone of Arab origin to be pro Israeli but not entirely illogical. I was actually very much aware of the plight of Algeria's Jews as I had read about it recently. I know how they were targeted by the FLN and others after the creation of Israel, this despite the fact that they had been living in Algeria for thousands of years. This is a particularly sore point for the Jews as it has become such a popular theme among many Palestinian supporters to lobby for a return of Palestinian refugees into what is now Israel. But nobody aver makes an issue of the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries (mostly Algeria) since 1948.

I don't agree with you and the Israeli guy that most Arabs want to kill all Jews. Only the most exteme of the extreme such as Al Qaeda want to kill all Jews everywhere. Many more Arabs however do not want peace with Israel under any circumstances, they just cannot accept a Jewish country in their neighborhood. But many Palestinians I believe are willing to accept Israel. Believe me Zaki, I spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland when I was younger and you can be guaranteed in a place where there is conflict and both sides hate each other like the Middle East, you will hear a lot of unreasonable talk that would make you think there will never be peace.

It is true, I'm sure if the Arabs could go back in time they would grab the offer of the Palestinian state that was on the table back then.

I agree that all Arab leaders still like to play the Anti Israeli card whenever they can in order to distract their people from their own problems. however I have heard that part of the peace plan being worked on by Tony Blair, is that the Arab nations examine and try to put a halt to their own anti semitism that comes in the form of holocaust denial and other types of "blame the Jews talk".

Some people will blame Israel for everything in the conflict. I do not, but they do have obligations, the most important one being to halt and ultimately remove Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

I understand your point about the land. Many countries were founded by settler movements but for some reason Israel is singled out.

I don't however believe there is a military solution to the conflict. The Palestinians will keep finding a way to fight back until there is a legitimate settlement, a secure Israel and a viable Palestine. Some still will not stop at that point. At that stage there will have to be a strong Palestinian leader capable of taking them on and making them accept it by force.

Thanks Zaki and thanks for your Patrick's day wishes.

Zaki said...

Just an addition, when I said that Arabs are out to kill every jew, I did not mean it literally. Of course there are those who want peace, but I have not seen them on the streets screaming or excalting Peace or condemning Hammas. It has always been one sided show....

I am convinced that if there is a sort of a hypothetical "pogrom", many of so called "moderates" WOULD look the other way. It is just how I feel about it. Some apologists moderate would rather just sit in their ivory towers and do not voice anything AGAINST the violence that emanate from their own camps. They should preace peace to their own people who do not want it, instead of mentioning it only to western audiences and media and ONLY when there is a conflict (like the latest one). Instead there is nothing....

Second problem with Arab politics, is that the masses LEND themselves to be led by "bad poeple". Anyone who would say anything about real peace which mean free travel, recognition of israel right to exist, cultural exchange, ambassador appointment....would see the wrath of GOD fall on him.

For your information, one of my uncle (my mother's brother) was assassinated by the FLN in Paris, France in 1948, because he belonged to a spliter group called the MLDA, which was the one of the first Messalist political organization (way way before the FLN) that ask for autonomy of Algeria. Another uncle survived the vendetta by hidding. He died 8 years ago of old age.

Ted Leddy said...

We both agree that not all Arabs hate Jews but there must be more condemnation in the Arab world of acts of terror.

I suppose because I have seen it all in Northern Ireland very little surprises me. When an act of terror is committed against Israel or particularly America many Arabs will say "isn't that terrible, they should not target civilians". But inside they secretly feel, well now they know how it feels to be bombed. I know this because this is how most of the Irish felt during the troubles. If there was an act of terrorism against British forces or mainland Britain most Irish in the southern republic would condemn it but also say, well it wouldn't happen if the British were not there. That was how I felt and you know how strongly I condemned the recent attacks here. The reason I am making this point is because I find it less alarming that you that moderate Arabs do not make more of an effort to condemn acts of terror.

I agree that many Arabs would look the other way in the event of a pogrom.

"Anyone who would say anything about real peace,"...."would see the wrath of GOD fall on him". I don't think this is as true as it used to be. There is a general realisation in the Arab that the situation cannot continue indefinitely. Many Arab leaders, including the (non Arab) Iranians have said that if there was a peace deal, that included full recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and if the Palestinians people voted to accept it then they would accept it too. It has been made clear to the Arabs, I think, that the world cannot afford another ten years of Israeli Palestinian violence like we have seen since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000. And since then there has been wars in 2002 (west bank), 2006 (Lebanon) and 2009 (Gaza). We are living through one of the worst global recessions ever. More Israeli Palestinian violence has the potential to significantly worsen it. I think the Arab leaders are beginning to realise that it is finally in their interests to see the conflict resolved.

That is fascinating about your family. No wonder you have such an insight into the whole Jewish Algerian situation. I wonder, how did your uncle who died 8 years ago feel about the French (and Algeria's Jews) in his later life.