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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pro-Israel Readers can still appreciate this book..., December 21, 2012
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This review is from: Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country--and Why They Can't Make Peace (Hardcover)
The author of this book is critical of the militaristic direction of Israel's policies in the Middle East. And he marshals an impressive set of facts and insider accounts to support these claims. Yet one could still read this book, acknowledge the overall factual context of the book, yet still disagree with the author by still leaving one's encounter with the book as a supporter of Israel. (I am deliberately taking this point of view of disagreeing with the author, yet still appreciating his argument.)

As opposed to following a more idealistic foreign policy that the author would prefer, Israel has chosen to take the realist approach of Morgenthau, Waltz, and Mearsheimer in dealing with its immediate neighbors. Yes, one could make the case that Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion had a pattern of taking overly militaristic, often covert actions that set the tone for Israel's local foreign policy in the decades to come; yet keep in mind that Israel's founders were survivors of the Holocaust when the rest of the world ignored the plight of European Jewry, first during Kristalnacht and other events in Germany, and later even after learning during the war of the Final Solution. Ben-Gurion's covert acts may at times have been too provocative, yet they need to be understood by us in context, 70+ years removed from the Final Solution.

Furthermore, one cannot ignore the fact that Jews were returning to the land promised to them by God in the Bible, perhaps the most influential book in Western Civilization. I can hold a personal view of skepticism towards this covenant, yet even a basic understanding of human psychology can lead a reader to see why Jews may want to expand their territorial foothold in the Middle East, including the conquest of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 when the main threat was actually Egypt's army in the Sinai.

And as for standing up to Nasser in 1956, well even then Nasser was making nationalistic pan-Arab noises, and the British and French shared Israel's hostility towards him. After World War Two, the international community has frowned on "military adventures of choice", yet how is the war of 1956 all that different from American wars of choice such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq? The author argues that in 1967 the Israelis could have stayed mobilized longer than the Egyptians without going to war, essentially forcing the Egyptians back into their barracks. Yet from a realist view of foreign policy, why not take advantage of the opportunity to smash the Egyptian Army?

The author is also quite critical of Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons; yet all the conversations and events he cites can be viewed as a justifiable pursuit of policy given the Holocaust. One cannot be too critical of the Israelis' actions after the Holocaust and upon reaching the land promised to them by God; however, I will readily agree that the United States should have used its influence to leverage AGAINST this, as opposed to basically writing the Israelis one blank check after another with large weapons sales and a total absence of criticism after the 1967 war.

Basically, upon reading this book, I am quite enlightened by all the inner policy discussions of Israel's leaders which illuminate why pressuring the Israelis to make peace with the Arabs will be so difficult, primarily stemming from the militarization of Israeli society and the leadership of its government. Yet I am not as critical as the author is of the Israelis involved, as I tend to subscribe to the realist school of foreign policy. However, from the standpoint of American interests, I am quite critical of the fact the the United States has repeatedly written blank checks in support of Israel policy after 1967.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 27, 2012 8:19:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 8:24:28 AM PST
Seer says:
The gigantic flaw in your arguments, Mr. Raghaven, are that they all depend on the holocaust narrative as dogmatized by Ben Gurion. The fact that challenges to or revision of holocaust narrative are criminalized in many nations, and closely monitored, i.e. sanctioned, even in the United States, suggests broadly that somebody has something to hide -- if the story of holocaust as dogmatized by zionists is true, why would there be any objection to applying the sort of further research that is applied to every other event in history?
Furthermore, while Tyler's book covers Israeli policy/tactics beginning with 1948, the zionist project, and zionist militarism and dispossession of Palestinian Arabs, predated Israeli statehood by at least forty and close to fifty years. In Arthur Ruppin and the Production of Pre-Israeli Culture (Studies in Jewish History and Culture) Etan Bloom details how Arthur Ruppin took steps to deliberately disrupt Arab trade in oranges, displace Arab ports, and destroy the economy of Arabs in Palestine, in favor of Jewish immigrants. That's just one example.
Tyler explained in a book discussion that Ben Gurion was aware of the power of the holocaust -- of playing on emotions, and maintaining that sense of victimhood among Jewish settlers, and a sense of pathos and guilt among the rest of the world, in order to give cover to the zionist colonization of Palestinian land.
Bit by bit, the cover is being blown.
Only when Israel is fully honest with itself and the world will Israelis live in peace; peace cannot be built on lies.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2012 3:32:19 AM PST
Seer,

The only part of your argument that is correct is that it is unfortunate that disputing the Holocaust is criminalized in many European nations. The fact of the matter is that there is plenty of evidence, photographs and documents, from World War Two and its immediate aftermath that the Holocaust did indeed occur. Of course this is fading over time as the World War Two generation (witnesses to the initial evidence, as well as survivors of the Holocaust) passes away. If there is a suppression of honest debate in the West, particularly in America, it is the suppression of debate over Zionism. In that we will likely agree. Unqualified support of Zionism, including the Israeli claim to the occupied territories does not coincide with America's geopolitical interests, as it alienates the Arab world. If you were to ask me, here is my view (which does not detract from the religious argument I make in my review): "Centuries of Anti-Semitism teach us that the world needs a Jewish state in secure borders. Yet Arabs did not murder 6 million Jews during the Holocaust; Germans did. Why should Arabs pay for the sins of European Christians? Germany should give up land for a Jewish state." However, events at the UN in November 2012 shows us that Europeans have been shamed by this argument. That is why Western Europe voted in favor of a Palestinian state, and why Germany (with its guilt) and Eastern Europe (dependent on US protection from Russia) abstained. As for the Zionist messianic argument for the State of Israel, I disagree with it, but I can understand how it affects the psychology of the Jewish people.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2013 10:30:32 AM PDT
J. A Magill says:
While I do not necessarily agree with the criminalization of Holocaust negationism, your argument seems to be missing a major point. These laws were enacted as part of a broader effort to prevent the resurgence of Fascism. Moreover, the notion that these laws are particularly widespread is simply absurd. In the few states that do have such laws, about half actually make it illegal to try to negate any "crime against humanity." If you look at those who expressly make this illegal, almost all were states that actively abetted Germany's final solution.

Of course, all of this speaks to the broader problem, the idea that the Holocaust somehow "caused" the state of Israel. If anything, the opposite is true. Near half a million Jews lived under the British Mandate. Should those folks have been made stateless, especially at a time when the Jewish and Arab populations were actively engaging in hostilities? Even if the UN had voted down partition, the end result would have been the same: the emergence of a Jewish state. That defacto state would have been recognized after the end of hostilities. And, of course, absent the Holocaust this state would have had millions of potential citizens who in our tragic reality, were turned into human smoke.

Lastly, more than half of modern Israelis descend from Arab-Jews who were expelled from the Islamic world, not from European Jews.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2014 11:22:54 AM PDT
Leonid Ioffe says:
> The gigantic flaw in your arguments, Mr. Raghaven, are that they all depend on the holocaust narrative as dogmatized by Ben Gurion.

-- Not at all. There were a lot of savage Arab assaults on the Jews in Palestine which validate the policies of the Jewish community there.

> if the story of holocaust as dogmatized by zionists is true, why would there be any objection to applying the sort of further research that is applied to every other event in history?

-- Wrong. There no objections to honest research. There are objections to outright lies and vicious disinformation.

> ...the zionist project, and zionist militarism and dispossession of Palestinian Arabs, predated Israeli statehood by at least forty and close to fifty years.

-- The Jews in Palestine were buying what was being sold. More than that, it was mostly desert, swamps and wastes. The Jews had to flee from Arab states due to persecutions. So the Jewish response was an adequate and fair enough policy in those circumstances. You cannot demand that the Jews be more catholic than the Pope himself while totally ignoring the attitudes on the other side.

> Only when Israel is fully honest with itself and the world will Israelis live in peace; peace cannot be built on lies.

1. This applies to the Arab side to a much greater degree but for some reason you don't demand that from them.

2. Your suggestion even fully fulfilled will not lead to peace as the Arabs do not want to co-exist with Israel. They want to live without Israel. Too bad.
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