16 thoughts on “Lord of the Land: Some Countries Have an Army, the IDF Has a Country – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The reason why the IDF is so important is because it and its predecessors (The Hagana and the Irgun) were and ARE involved in continuous wars/conflicts. Many Israelies do army service and there is a draft in Israel. I think comparing it to other “Western countries” is a mistake because Israel is not located in the West and neither are its surrounding neighbors/enemies!

  2. @NILI:

    I think comparing it to other “Western countries” is a mistake

    Israel itself wishes to be considered a developed nation and not a 3rd world nation. Israel itself constantly compares itself to western nations. So what you’re saying is that when it’s convenient to you you’d like to compare Israel favorably to western nations. But when it’s not, you can just as easily claim it’s unfair to compare Israel to western countries.

    Nice work if you can get it…

  3. Richard-I see you interpret everything through Western eyes. You are assuming Western=1st world and non-Western=3rd world. Western in this context I think means Enlightenment values and Western culture. China and Japan are not Western and having risen or are on the rise.
    Israel doesn’t know what it is. It doesn’t have a formal constitution. I am not sure if you have been to Israel, but nearly half of the Jews come from Arab countries and then there are the Arabs themselves! Certainly not Western. Officially, Israel is the last country in Asia. Israel has many influences-that is why it sometimes appears to be one or the other. Peres is the President (Poland) but Shlomo Amar (Morocco) is one of the Chief Rabbis. Israel doesn’t “try” to be diverse-it IS. Your portrayal of the country doesn’t always show this fact.

  4. I agree with Richard,

    And I think that NILi’s comment digresses from the point.

    Israel has the largest military personnel/poplulation ratio in the world. Larger than some of the most militarized countries in the African continent!

    Forget comparing Israel to Western countries, if you study the history of countries like Pakistan and Thailand where the military and parliament keep butting heads you will notice that these are clear examples of why this model can be counter-productive and regressive at times.

    Lastly one must keep in mind that a country where the military is strong will always feel it in its best interest to keep up the appearance of threat. If there is no need for security then the military is practically redundant.

    I’m not saying that Israel doesn’t face a threat from certain countries in the Middle East but I am saying that if you want to ever visualize a peaceful Middle East then you will have to visualize a less militarized Israel.

  5. @NILI: I’m not sure how precisely you’re interacting with what I wrote so I’ll ignore the whole western issue.

    As for the confusion of Israel’s identity, I agree with you. But Israel isn’t really a diverse country in the sense that the U.S. or other western nations might be. It has a prevailing Ashkenazi consensus identity. Despite their numbers, even Mizrahim have not broken through in the way that Obama has here. So Israel has diverse ethnic groups within it. But their status is universally low. Israel doesn’t embrace ethnic diversity the way some countries do, or at least attempt to do.

  6. FROM “COMMON Dreams”:

    On Top of Humanitarian Disaster, A News Blackout

    by Cherrie Heywood, Inter Press Service

    RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israel has imposed a virtual news blackout on the Gaza Strip. For the last ten days no foreign journalists have been able to enter the besieged territory to report on the escalating humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s complete closure of Gaza’s borders for the last two weeks.

    Gutkin said that “while Israel has barred foreign press from entering Gaza in the past, the length of the current ban makes it unprecedented.” He added that he has received no “plausible or acceptable” explanation for the ban from the Israeli government…….

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/11/18-7

  7. Israeli Peace Activist Jeremiah Haber (nom de plume) Endorses Bibi Netanyahu (my pariah) for Prime Minister

    Endorsement: Benjamin Netanyahu for Prime Minister

    by Jerry Haber @ Manges Zionist

    Elections for Israel’s parliament are scheduled for February 10, 2009. Israel, the least stable parliamentary regime in the Middle East, now holds parliamentary elections on the average of one every 2-3 years. There is no reason to believe that the government to be elected will last longer than its predecessors. So the question is: who will be the best prime minister for Israelis and the Palestinians ruled by Israel. As far as I can see, there are two main possibilities: Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu. Between the two, Netanyahu wins hands down…….

    ENTIRE POST – http://themagneszionist.blogspot.com/2008/11/endorsement-benjamin-netanyahu-for.html

  8. On Tuesday, Israel reinstated the full blockade leaving the people of Gaza without essential humanitarian aid.

    Upping the Ante – Israel Bulldozes Gaza Lands

    By: Siun @ firedoglake

    On Monday, Israel allowed the UN to bring 33 trucks of food and medicine into Gaza, momentarily lifting the complete blockade which has been in force since November 6. With 750,000 people reliant on that aid, this was clearly a drop in the bucket.

    On Tuesday, Israel reinstated the full blockade leaving the people of Gaza without essential humanitarian aid.

    And then they upped the ante, as Israeli:

    tanks, backed by a bulldozer and military jeep, rumbled about a quarter-mile deep into the tiny seaside strip…

    Residents said they levelled lands along the border east of the city of Rafah. It was the first ground action in a week… The Israeli military described the activity as “a routine operation to uncover explosive devices near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.” (h/t Cernig)

    ENTIRE POST / MUSIC VIDEO – http://firedoglake.com/2008/11/18/upping-the-ante-%e2%80%93-israel-bulldozes-gaza-lands/

  9. @Gitanjali:

    if you want to ever visualize a peaceful Middle East then you will have to visualize a less militarized Israel.

    How about a less militarized EVERYONE? I agree that demilitarization is a key for successful and lasting peace, but your comments seem to disclose the uninformed point of view that Israel is the main aggressor in the region, and I can’t agree with that.
    Arab countries began the ’48 war by way of invasion; Egypt began the ’56 and ’67 wars by closing the Suez Canal (not to mention countless threats and military buildup by Jordan and Syria in ’67); Egypt and Syria began the ’73 war by way of invasion; the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in ’82 was preceded by months of rocket attacks on North-Israeli towns; and the invasion of 2006 was preceded by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers.
    Again, I agree with the concept of demilitarization, but I also agree with a concept called objectivity.

  10. @Josh Stadd: You claim you believe in objectivity yet you shun it in claiming that Egypt provoked Israel’s invasion of Egypt in 1956. Everyone but you knows that the Israelis colluded with the British & French to gain control of the canal & thus deprive Egypt of control. That’s why Eisenhower forced them to give it back. Or are you arguing that Eisenhower was an Israel-hater too?

    As for 1982, Sharon raced to Beirut and took control of half of Lebanon. Did he do that to prevent rocket attacks? Or did he have other more grandiose motives?

    In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt’s air force & thus started the war. How about facts. Do you believe in facts?

  11. I do believe in facts, and we can go tit-for-tat all day long:
    It’s a fact that Britain and France wanted control of the canal, but it’s also a fact that Egypt shut off Israel’s access to it in ’56, cutting off a vital economic asset. You see your reason as the main catalyst for war and I see mine. They’re both facts.
    It’s also a fact that the ’67 war started with Israel’s attack of Egyptian air force bases. It’s also a fact that for months leading up to this attack, the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria made not even the slightest bit of effort to hide their major military buildup along their borders with Israel, and all made very blatant speeches as to their invasion plans. Ask any Israeli who was alive during this time and they will tell you the entire country was in an incredible state of panic, even worse than the lead up to the ’48 war. Again, we both have based our points on facts.
    As for ’82, there were factual rockets falling on Israeli civilians for months leading up to the war. The Knesset-approved plan was to invade Southern Lebanon 40 kilometers north, to provide a barrier with which the rockets could not reach Israel. Sharon, who was minister of defense at the time, seeing how rapidly the Army had reached the 40 kilometer barrier, decided on his own, without consulting anyone, to continue the invasion on to Beirut. This was a terrible mistake and the blame is squarely on Sharon’s shoulders, not the State of Israel’s. Sharon’s unfortunate decision does not have anything to do with the cause of the war, however.
    So now perhaps we see how both sides of this ongoing fight can point to facts supporting their own positions, which brings us back to my original point of OBJECTIVITY. I simply can’t agree with the notion that Israel is the major aggressor in the region and peace hinges solely on it’s demilitarization and not everyone else as well.

  12. @Josh: in 1956 there was a dispute between Egypt and the US/UK over the financing of the Aswan dam, in which the US and the UK withdrew their pledges because they mistakenly thought Nasser was coming under the influence of the USSR, and, in the case of the US, because Nasser had just, to J.F. Dulles’ chagrin, recognized the People’s Republic of China. In response Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, which in turn led Britain to start a military intervention in a secret pact with France and Israel.
    Egypt had closed the Strait of Tiran specifically to Israeli ships, not the canal, which was closed entirely during the crisis.

    I agree that Sharon’s advance to Beirut in 1982 was a terrible mistake, but to absolve the state of Israel, whose public servant Sharon was, of all responsibility is bizarre. When his action transpired, was he reprimanded for this massive insubordination? Were the troops recalled at least to the Litani river? No, once again “facts on the ground”, that fetish of Israeli politics, ruled.
    It was the Sabra and Shatila massacre that finally got Sharon what he deserved…a ministerial post without portfolio.

  13. @fiddler:
    Thanks for your clarification as to the Straits of Tiran; my memory ain’t what it used to be. I still haven’t heard a good argument refuting my point that Israel is not the main aggressor in the Middle East:
    Egypt did indeed close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, an aggressive act seeing as Israel receives its oil from that route. Any competent lawyer could prove this act to be a casus belli.
    As for ’82, I say again that Sharon’s unfortunate decision, and the Knesset’s failure in bringing him to justice, are in no way connected to the cause of the war. The PLO and other groups had been firing rockets into Northern Israel. Would anyone disagree that firing rockets is an aggressive act?
    Don’t misunderstand me, Israel is far from innocent and played no small role in pushing everyone down the slippery slope towards war in each instance. Israel was certainly not, however, alone in this. I don’t understand how people see Israel as the main aggressor, when it’s very obvious that the Arab states have proved themselves to be just as aggressive themselves.

  14. @Josh Stadd:

    the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria made not even the slightest bit of effort to hide their major military buildup along their borders with Israel

    Or so you claim. Care to provide a credible reference that supports yr claim? Many other serious analysts claim that Nasser was doing little more than rattling sabers and never intended to start an actual war. One can admit that he was playing a dangerous game and that Israel called him out & he paid the price for his foolhardiness. But that doesn’t mean that he actually planned to attack Israel. In fact, based on the abject failure of the Egyptian military to stop Israel’s offensive and the fact that their entire air force was caught flat-footed on the ground and destroyed rather easily, this argues against Nasser’s offensive intent.

    the blame is squarely on Sharon’s shoulders, not the State of Israel’s.

    This is rather novel approach to statecraft which claims that a rogue defense minister can actually have his own personal military policy and agenda separate from that of the state he represents. That would make him a dictator, which would make Israel not a democracy but victim of a military putsch. Is that what you’re arguing in Sharon’s case?

    As for demilitarization, I’m for all sides demilitarizing, including doing away with nukes. How ’bout it?

  15. First of all, for the fourth time, I wish to state that I support demilitarization of all sides, especially nuclear weapons. As to credible references supporting my claims that the Arab states are just as aggressive as Israel (these quotes were taken from a lecture on the build up to war given by Dr. Jonathan Spyer):
    -In a speech given in March 1965: ‘We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand. We shall enter it with its soil saturated with blood.’ -Nasser
    -The Ba’athist regime of Syria armed and trained the Palestinian Fatah movement, and permitted its members to conduct raids across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the Golan Heights against Israeli communities in the Galilee.
    -May 15 1967: President Nasser ordered two armoured divisions into the Sinai Peninsula.
    -May 17 1967: Nasser ordered UNEF, the UN force in the Sinai, to depart from Egyptian territory. Three Egyptian divisions and 600 tanks then deployed in the Sinai.
    -May 22 1967: Nasser announces the closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, cutting off all shipping to Israel’s port of Eilat.
    -May 25 1967: Nasser, in speech to Egyptian National Assembly: ‘The problem presently before the Arab countries is not whether the port of Eilat should be blockaded or how to blockade it – but how to totally exterminate the State of Israel for all time.’
    His rhetoric and actions don’t seem to me like rattling sabers. And you seem to take “the abject failure of the Egyptian military to stop Israel’s offensive” as proof that they were not preparing for war. The fact that they were totally humiliated means they had no intention of winning? By this train of thought I can prove the Patriots had no intention of winning the Super Bowl last year. The Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians had every intention of destroying Israel in ’67, the fact that they didn’t achieve their objective does not refute their will to achieve it.
    I simply don’t understand why we all can’t agree that Israel has been proved by history to not be any more aggressive than it’s neighbors. Is it so hard to accept that everyone in the Middle East is aggressive?

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