Someone in the far-right anti-Zionist blog world has attempted to pull a fast one at Israel’s expense and utilized distinguished Hebrew University professor Martin Van Creveld as the patsy. This article is circulating in right-wing sites like Stormfront which allegedly quotes Van Creveld as endorsing “deportation” of all Israeli Palestinians and the notion that Israel should avenge the Holocaust by pointing its nuclear weapons at European cities:
An Israeli professor and military historian hinted that Israel could avenge the holocaust by annihilating millions of Germans and other Europeans.Speaking during an interview which was published in Jerusalem Friday, Professor Martin Van Crevel [sic] said Israel had the capability of hitting most European capitals with nuclear weapons.
“We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets of our air force.”
Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, pointed out that “collective deportation” was Israel’s only meaningful strategy towards the Palestinian people.
“The Palestinians should all be deported. The people who strive for this (the Israeli government) are waiting only for the right man and the right time. Two years ago, only 7 or 8 per cent of Israelis were of the opinion that this would be the best solution, two months ago it was 33 per cent, and now, according to a Gallup poll, the figure is 44 percent.”
Creveld said he was sure that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wanted to deport the Palestinians.
“I think it’s quite possible that he wants to do that. He wants to escalate the conflict. He knows that nothing else we do will succeed.”
Asked if he was worried about Israel becoming a rogue state if it carried out a genocidal deportation against Palestinians, Creveld quoted former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who said “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”
Creveld argued that Israel wouldn’t care much about becoming a rogue state.
“Our armed forces are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that [sic] this will happen before Israel goes under.”
After reading this I said to myself: “Huh, I thought I knew Van Creveld’s views better than that. But I guess it’s possible he did another Benny Morris and turned into a right-wing lunatic.” But what sent up a red flag for me was the claim that Van Creveld was interviewed in “Jerusalem on Friday,” which made a claim for recency. Yet the rather lame smear job made the stupid mistake of retaining the reference of Ariel Sharon as the current prime minister. I was hoping this indicated fraud, but I wasn’t sure.
On the off-chance that this might, I circulated the article to some of my more learned blog colleagues and the trusty Paul Woodward penetrated the fog. He found the original article from which the fraud was sprung. Needless to say, Van Creveld was arguing neither of the points it is claimed above. In 2003, the Guardian published an extract of the updated edition of David Hirst’s The Gun and the Olive Branch. This article is absolutely prescient in its predictions of what would come to pass in Iraq, Iran and Israel over the following years. I recommend it highly. But the salient passage dealing with Van Creveld’s views reads:
Iran can never be threatened in its very existence. Israel can. Indeed, such a threat could even grow out of the current intifada. That, at least, is the pessimistic opinion of Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. ‘If it went on much longer,’ he said, ‘the Israeli government [would] lose control of the people. In campaigns like this, the anti-terror forces lose, because they don’t win, and the rebels win by not losing. I regard a total Israeli defeat as unavoidable. That will mean the collapse of the Israeli state and society. We’ll destroy ourselves.’
In this situation, he went on, more and more Israelis were coming to regard the ‘transfer’ of the Palestinians as the only salvation; resort to it was growing ‘more probable’ with each passing day. Sharon ‘wants to escalate the conflict and knows that nothing else will succeed’.
But would the world permit such ethnic cleansing? ‘That depends on who does it and how quickly it happens. We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.’
Thank God, Prof. Van Creveld’s reputation is intact. He retains his stature as one of the most lucid commentators on the Israel-Iran and Israel-Palestinian conflict. It would’ve been a shame to allow some idiots to push their anti-Israel agenda at Van Creveld’s expense. Let’s be clear, Israel is in a mess. Its policy towards Iran threatens a military assault if not regional war. Peace with the Palestinians is as remote as ever. There is much to criticize. But anyone who would circulate such muck does their cause a disservice. If we want to criticize Israel we must do it in a principled way, not this way. In fact, this scumminess plays right the hands of the most right-wing of Israeli political leaders. No doubt, we’ll see an article from Alan Dershowitz or some other Jerusalem Post columnist featuring this as Exhibit A in the smear Israel campaign.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.