Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Pre-Army Mechinot at Begin Center

Several hundreds of students of the pre-army Mechinot institutions participated at a speical elections program that was held at the Begin Center this Sunday.

Among the candidates who came to explain and discuss and debate issues included Naftali Bennet, a Major in the reserves and a commander of a Sayeret Matkal team, who has been in the news in connections with remarks he made on the subject of refusing to serve as a reaction to political developments:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Realpolitik: From Herzl to Begin

From Shlomo Avineri:-

Today's leaders of Zion: Thinking you're right isn't enough

In responding to the UN vote on Palestinian statehood, the government's decision to build in E-1 and in East Jerusalem is the exact opposite of the underlying principles of how Zionist and Israeli international policies have evolved over the years...It is not enough to think you are right and to convince your supporters of that: In the cruel world of international politics, a small nation can achieve its aims only if it is able to forge alliances with the powers-that-be and to ensure their support - not out of love, but because they are convinced there is congruence between their countries' interests, or their leaders' considerations, and the aims of, in this case, Zionism and the State of Israel.

Theodor Herzl imprinted this harsh truth into the DNA of political Zionism despite considerable objections from other Zionist leaders, who thought it was enough to be convinced yourself that you are right...That was the significance of Herzl's political Zionism: As a political journalist...the father of modern Zionism understood that small nations like the Greeks or Serbs had won independence not only thanks to the liberal voices in the European Christian world that raised an outcry against the Ottoman- Muslim oppression of those nations, but rather because Britain and Russia had an interest in weakening the Ottoman Empire and getting a foothold for themselves in the Balkans.

Realpolitik of this sort is also what was behind the willingness of the Zionist leadership, headed by Weizmann and David Ben- Gurion, to accept the idea of partition.. .

...This harsh reality of international politics was not grasped by the Revisionist movement, the major precursor of the Likud party: Vladimir Jabotinsky's impressive rhetoric in his dramatic appearance before the Peel Commission convinced no one, and the Revisionists' maximalism ("There are two banks of the Jordan River, this one is ours and that one too" ) was perceived as unacceptable. Jabotinsky also failed in his attempts to persuade British policy makers that the Yishuv was Britain's best ally in its fight against the Arab world, and would constitute its imperial vanguard in the region. Jabotinsky and his followers convinced themselves of this, but the British felt they knew better what their own interests were.

Ben-Gurion, however, understood very well...

...Menachem Begin, though he came from a different background, also understood this basic truth of international reality during his tenure as prime minister. There is no doubt that his willingness to make far-reaching concessions in Sinai derived not only from his desire to reach peace with Egypt, but also from his realization that in the new reality created following Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's dramatic gesture toward the Jewish state, Israel would win American and international support only if it took a significant step toward the Egyptian position, thereby helping the United States strengthen its foothold in the Middle East and reduce the Soviet Union's influence in the region. Begin did this with impressive courage, counter to his previous positions and those of his movement, and with a willingness to risk a painful rift with many of his own supporters.

These are exactly the characteristics that are so lacking in the current moves undertaken by the Netanyahu government...


Begin's Vision, Dayan's Statement

From "Moshe Dayan and the settlements: A look back" by Alan Elsner, a former journalist and currently vice president of communications for J Street, a pro- Israel, pro-peace advocacy:-

Recently, while browsing through news clips I have collected over the past 30-plus years, I came across a story I wrote when I was a very young reporter for The Jerusalem Post.

“Dayan: Israel needs civilians in W. Bank,” the headline said. The story ran at the top left of the front page of this newspaper on October 17, 1979...

...What did Dayan say that day? “Just keeping the army in the territories and controlling a foreign people can’t be done any longer,” he declared. “This is not how we shall be in Gaza and Nablus. Our number one priority is to have Jewish civilians up to the Jordan, and then we shall also have soldiers, and then we shall have peace.”

He rejected the notion that settlements were built on Arab land: “We are not taking one acre from any Arab. I never heard one Arab complain that we are driving them out. Jewish settlements bring work and prosperity to the Arabs. They don’t like this policy but we shall do it whether they like it or not.”...

...One should not, of course, judge statements made in the past too harshly –20/20 vision is easy as long as it’s applied retrospectively. But it is hard not to be impressed by the sheer myopia and fatal naiveté of Dayan’s viewpoint.

He seemed to have envisaged a future in which Palestinians (a word he was careful to avoid using) would be content to live as a permanent minority alongside a growing settler population in exchange for the right to go shopping and work in Tel Aviv.

Dayan apparently could not imagine a way in which the Palestinians could effectively resist Israel, which held all the weapons and all the power. He seemed not to have envisioned either passive resistance or armed struggle. Instead, he trustingly foresaw Israelis proudly walking down the streets of Gaza, unthreatened by a cowed and compliant local population, while Palestinians would flock to the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv with string shopping bags.

IT’S POSSIBLE that Dayan’s real opinions were more nuanced and that he delivered this speech for the consumption of his gung-ho audience.

But there’s no doubt he was reflecting government policy and the deeply held views of his boss, Menachem Begin.

Begin’s vision, we now see, was an illusion built on wishful thinking and a willful misreading of the strength of Palestinian national identity.

Under his leadership, Israel began vastly expanding the settlements, helping to bring us to where we are today. Just as this flawed thinking helped create Israel’s current dilemma, the Netanyahu government’s determined defiance of international opinion in building yet more housing units in the territories will have grave implications for future generations. It is already threatening the viability of a two-state solution as well as the future of our Jewish, democratic state.

Dayan’s view was colored by arrogance: “They don’t like this policy but we shall do it whether they like it or not,” he said. Netanyahu seems to be cut from the same cloth.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dennis Ross at the Begin Center

If diplomacy fails to stop Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. will use military force, Dennis Ross, a former top adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a symposium at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, Ross said that people should believe Obama's declarations that he will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

"When the administration began and [Obama] made it very clear that he was prepared to pursue engagement with the Iranians, it was always a means, it was never an end. It was a means to see if you could affect and change Iran's behavior on the nuclear issue by dealing with them, but it was a means to try to do that. It was also a means recognizing that this was a way to build pressure on Iran," Ross said.

"If we reached out and the Iranians weren't responsive it would be far easier to mobilize the world to put real pressure on the Iranians. But you had to ask the question; what happens if we don't succeed?," he said. "If we do everything we can but it doesn't succeed, are we prepared to live with an Iran that has a capability and then contain it afterwards, or do we believe that the acquisition of that capability is so profoundly threatening to our interests that we really can't live with it and we have to prevent it?"

"If diplomacy fails, and I'm asked to give my advice, it is very important that having stated prevention as an objective that we act on it," he added.

"When President Obama says 'I don't bluff', I think he means what he says. If diplomacy doesn't work, we have to be prepared to use force, and I think we will be."
In the 1990s, Ross was appointed President Bill Clinton's Middle East envoy and was involved in brokering peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. More recently, Ross served as an adviser to Obama on Middle East affairs, before leaving the post in 2011.

At the symposium Wednesday, Ross argued that history had showed that second-term presidents act much as they did in their first terms, suggesting that Obama will not adopt a tougher stance toward Israel over the next four years, contrary to the pessimistic assessments of some Israeli media commentators.

Ross said that U.S.-Israel security cooperation, which was already good under previous presidential administrations, got even better during Obama's first term.

Ross also said the U.S. would remain consistent in its stance that Iran could not be permitted to get nuclear weapons, even with personnel changes at places like the Pentagon, where Chuck Hagel is expected to replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary in the near future.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 5, 1949 - Begin on Jerusalem

From JCPA:-

Prime Minister's Statement Concerning Jerusalem and the Holy Places Sitting 96 -- 5 December 1949


The Jewish Agency for Palestine had accepted the U.N. Partition Plan of November 1947, even though it called for the establishment of a corpus separatum in Jerusalem and its immediate environs, realizing that the only realistic alternative at the time would have been the failure to decide on the establishment of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. The failure of the U.N. in the implementation of its own resolution, the Arab invasion of all parts of Palestine, including Jerusalem, Count Bernadotte's proposal of June 1947 to incorporate the whole of Jerusalem in an Arab state--the latter when Israel was compelled to fight for its creation and survival--all these effected a fundamental change in the situation and Israel's position. When the U.N. General Assembly debated the issue of the internationalization of Jerusalem once more, the Knesset debated the subject in rare unanimity.

Sitting 96 of the First Knesset

5 December 1949--14 Kislev 5710
Tel Aviv, Knesset Building

The Prime Minister, D. Ben-Gurion: As you know, the U.N. is currently discussing the issue of Jerusalem and the holy places. The State of Israel is a member of the U.N., not because of political convenience but because of its traditional, deep-seated commitment to the vision of world peace and the brotherhood of nations, as preached by our prophets and accepted by the U.N.
This membership obliges us, from the podium of Israel's First Knesset, to tell all the nations assembled at the U.N. and all those who love peace and justice in the world what has been in Israel's heart since it became a united nation under King David three thousand years ago as regards Jerusalem its holy city and as regards its attitude to the places which are holy to the other religions.
When we proclaimed the establishment of the renewed State of Israel, on 14 May 1948, we declared that, "The State of Israel will guarantee freedom of religion and conscience, of language, education and culture. It will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions. It will be loyal to the principles of the United Nations Charter." Accordingly, our delegation to the U.N. announced that Israel would honor all the existing rights regarding the holy places and sacred buildings in Jerusalem, assure freedom of worship and free all the holy sites under its control, recognizing the rights of pilgrims of all religions and nations to visit their holy places and assuring freedom of movement for clergymen. We agreed to allow effective U.N. supervision of the holy places and the existing rights.
At the same time we see fit to state that Jewish Jerusalem is an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an integral part of Jewish history and belief....Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel. We are proud of the fact that Jerusalem is also sacred to other religions, and will gladly provide access to their holy places and enable them to worship as and where they please, cooperating with the U.N. to guarantee this.
We cannot imagine, however, that the U.N. would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel or harm Israel's sovereignty in its eternal capital.
Twice in the history of our nation were we driven out of Jerusalem, only after being defeated in bitter wars by the larger, stronger forces of Babylon and Rome. Our links with Jerusalem today are no less deep than in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and Titus Flavius, and when Jerusalem was attacked after the fourteenth of May 1948, our valiant youngsters risked their lives for our sacred capital no less than our forefathers did in the time of the First and Second Temples.
...A nation which, for two thousand and five hundred years, has faithfully adhered to the vow made by the first exiles by the waters of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem, will never agree to be separated from Jerusalem. Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youngsters liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism.
We do not judge the U.N., which did nothing when nations which were members of the U.N. declared war on its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land and destroy Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jewish people.
Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against the U.N., Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of Israel would not have arisen. Thus, we are no longer morally bound by the U.N. resolution of November 29, since the U.N. was unable to implement it....
The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold on to Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington.
This is the first time in this country's history that the state controlling Jerusalem willingly accepts the principle of the international supervision of the holy places. It is no coincidence that it is being done by the nation which made Jerusalem an internationally sacred center and by the first government elected by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
We hope that the religions which honor Jerusalem's sanctity and the nations which share our belief in the principles of peace and justice will honor Israel's rights in Jerusalem, just as Israel honors those of all the religions in its sacred capital and sovereign state.

Debate on the Prime Minister's Statement

...M. Begin (Herut): Distinguished Speaker, knowing that our proposal to restore the status of the City of David as our capital will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Constitution Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee next Wednesday and will then be brought before the plenum of the Knesset, on behalf of the Herut party group founded by the IZL, I have the honor of announcing that any attempt to impose alien rule on Jerusalem will be smashed on the rock of the resistance of the entire nation.
The youth of Jerusalem, and of all Israel, which has drawn its renewed strength from the eternal sources of the liberators of the homeland and the rebels of Judea, which raised the banner of freedom aainst the British oppressors, penetrating their strongholds and wreaking havoc among them, which did not recoil from attacking forces far vaster than its own when more than one hundred thousand well-armed soldiers and policemen sought to maintain alien rule over our homeland, and which succeeded in overcoming the oppressors and driving them out of part of the homeland and from Jewish Jerusalem, will thwart any attempt, no matter by whom, to make Jerusalem subservient to foreigners once again.
The Political Subcommittee, which is parallel to the U.N. Assembly, passed a resolution reiterating the U.N. decision of 27 November 1947 to sever Jerusalem from the body of Israel. The official prestate institutions, regrettably, accepted this, and we are happy to hear from the Prime Minister today that that resolution is no longer valid. We believe that this statement also applies to the Partition Plan. Foreign powers will not determine the borders of our state. The nation that dwells in Zion will decide what the extent of Israel's sovereignty shall be.
...Whatever the outcome of the debate in the U.N., we must decide to put an end to the artificial situation in which we await the decision of other nations regarding the fate of Jerusalem. On the contrary, the representatives of other countries must be told quite clearly that the Jewish nation has made its decision concerning Jerusalem. Our own hesitancy has allowed the present situation to arise. The acknowledgement of the existence of "Jewish Jerusalem," implying that some other Jeru-salem exists, has enabled other nations to conclude that some parts of the nation are prepared to relinquish certain sections of the city....
This must be stopped....The world must be told that Jerusalem is ours, all of it--the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Jerusalem inside and outside the walls--and that it is our capital, both in practice and in theory. This is a decision which the Knesset must make.
We no longer have pre-state institutions which must meet at times of danger and pass resolutions protesting the decisions made by foreign nations. We are a state, a sovereign state, and Jerusalem is ours. Justice, history, emotions and faith favor undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We no longer meet in order to protest. We will decide and implement our decision....We must make it clear to the world that all of Jerusalem is our capital.

...N. Yellin-Mor (Fighters): In making this statement I am the representative of a public which is small in numbers but has considerable specific weight. I speak in the name of soldiers who are alive today and of many who did not survive, and on behalf of soldiers who raised the banner to free the homeland several years ago. For them Jerusalem was not merely a holy symbol, but a sacred objective in the endeavor to substitute Jewish for alien rule.
For them Jerusalem was a principal objective of the war and also a testing point. Dozens of my colleagues spent many years in prisons in Jerusalem, in the Russian Compound. There they appeared before the courts of the foreign ruler, asking them: "Who are you to judge us here, in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish homeland?" For their independence they were sentenced to many years in prison. But they went to jail joyfully, knowing that even by doing so they were undermining the oppressor's rule.
In the solitary confinement cells in Jerusalem my colleagues wore the red garb of those who had been condemned to death, and Moshe Barazani, together with Feinstein, a member of the IZL, tore their hearts out on the eve of their execution, not wanting to fall at the hands of foreigners.
My colleagues fought on the walls of Jerusalem in the summer months of 1948; there they shed their blood, and they were buried in Jerusalem's soil.
...Consequently, there is no power in the world which can deprive the Jewish nation of Jerusalem, which was conquered by fire and blood. It will not be abandoned at the arbitrariness of those who raise their alien hands to vote, no matter who they be. The shame of foreign oppression will not return to Jerusalem! Foreigners will not order those who dwell in Jerusalem to deny the blood that was shed for the city's freedom!
If the sanctity of graves is a political reason there are thousands of fresh graves which are more sacred to us than anything else, and they command us to fight for our capital. Every soldier will defend Jeru-salem, and if additional sacrifices are required Jewish youngsters will willingly shed their blood.
Let the foreigners who are discussing the fate of Jerusalem take note of our call: Remove your hands from our capital! Jerusalem will be Jewish forever, and its government will be only Jewish!
The Speaker, J. Sprinzak: Knesset Members, we have heard the Prime Minister's statement and those of all the parties, all of whom spoke clearly on the question of Jerusalem.
Despite the differing views, I declare that the entire Knesset is united in stating that Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and cannot be placed under foreign rule of any kind. This is the view of the First Knesset of the State of Israel.
(The members rise and sing the national anthem.) 

TransJordan and Meanchem Begin 1950

From JCPA:


Annexation of the West Bank by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Sitting 135 -- 3 May 1950


In December 1948, at a conference which took place in Jericho, a group of hand-picked leaders of Palestinian Arabs resolved to ask King Abdullah of Transjordan to incorporate the Arab parts of Palestine into his kingdom. The General Armistice Agreement of 3 April 1949 constituted de facto recognition of that incorporation; however, it was specifically designed as a military agreement which did not prejudice the political positions of the contracting parties.
On 25 April 1949 the king officially changed the name of his kingdom, henceforth to be known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Almost one year later, having secured the support of Great Britain (albeit qualified--Great Britain did not recognize the incorporation of East Jerusalem, maintaining that it ought to be part of a corpus separatum, an international enclave), King Abdullah went one step further. On 24 April 1950 the Jordan House of Deputies and House of Notables, in a joint session, adopted a resolution declaring "complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union in one whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Hussain, on a basis of constitutional representative government and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens."
Almost a week later the Knesset devoted a sitting to a debate of the subject.

Sitting 135 of the First Knesset

3 May 1950 (16 Iyar 5710)

...The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: Mr. Speaker, I have asked for the floor now not in order to address the issue, but solely to clarify the parliamentary status of the debate, which has been described as strange and unprecedented.
It is strange to condemn an institution as young as this Knesset for departing from precedent....I would like to point out that as far as other parliaments are concerned it is quite customary that when the Opposition demands a debate on a specific topic its leaders open the debate, and the Government steps in only when it sees fit to do so. This Government subscribes to that view, and will continue to do so in the future....
If, however, it is claimed, as MK Bar-Yehuda has done, that the Government has not reacted and has said nothing about the recent event, I must point out that this is not so....The Government Spokesman issued the following statement, in the Government's name: "The decision to annex the Arab areas west of the River Jordan to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a unilateral step to which Israel is not a party in any way. We are connected with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan through the Armistice Agreement, which we will uphold rigorously. This agreement does not include any final political settlement, however, and no such settlement is possible without negotiations and a peace treaty between the sides. It must be evident, therefore, that the question of the status of the Arab areas west of the River Jordan remains open as far as we are concerned." A few days later, when the associated British announcement was made, the Government stated: "With regard to the annexation of the Arab areas west of the River Jordan by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Government has already announced that it regards the status of these areas as being open. The Government notes the fact that the British government does not intend to establish military bases in the areas west of the River Jordan during peacetime. The content of the treaty between Britain and Transjordan regarding these areas is surprising, and the Government of Israel maintains its reservations about the status of these areas." At present the Government has nothing to add to these statements. It is interested in hearing the views of the Opposition and of the House, reserving the right to react to what is said at any stage of the debate.

M. Begin (Herut): Distinguished Speaker, we accuse Mr. Sharett and the Government...of having given Abdullah and the Bevin government...the green light to go ahead and turn an act of conquest and plunder into a recognized political act. Last year the first agreement with the British protectorate in the eastern part of the Land of Israel, called "the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" by the conquerors and our Govern-ment, was submitted to us. We warned the Government then that by signing that agreement it was granting threefold recognition to the enemy: first--recognizing the separation of the eastern part of Transjordan; second--openly recognizing the annexation of parts of the western Land of Israel by the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan"; third--implicitly recognizing the validity of the enslaving treaty which Bri-tain ordered its vassal Abdullah to sign, enabling it to establish military bases in the territory he had conquered.
The Government took no heed of our warning, assuring the nation that the agreement was merely a first step and would eventually be followed by a peace agreement....It must be admitted that since then the Government has done its best, or its worst, to obtain a peace agreement with King Abdullah, and its failure is not its fault....We ask what benefit would we derive from an agreement of this kind?...Our institutions tried in the past to win Abdullah's heart by offering him a bribe...but for more than fifty years this has not succeeded....The Cabinet Secretary has revealed...that prior to the invasion by the Arab armies Mrs. Golda Meyerson (Meir), disguised as an Arab woman, was sent on a dangerous...mission to Transjordan. I must congratulate the lady on her courage and her expertise in conspiracy, but the fact is that she did not succeed. (From the floor: How do you know?) Jerusalem is the proof.
When the invasion began Mr. Ben-Gurion made a supreme effort to guarantee King Abdullah's friendship, praising him in public and saying: "I believe in the peacable intentions of the wise ruler who seeks the welfare of his people and his country."...But it was to no avail. As ordered by Glubb Pasha and Clayton, Abdullah sent his Legion against us, destroying the Etzion Bloc, attacking Jerusalem...and attempting to join up with the other Arab armies on the coastal plain, thereby destroying our national endeavor and enabling Bevin to..."rescue" those of us who remained and enclose us in a ghetto.
...Today Abdullah has no more than 15,000 soldiers, albeit welltrained and armed, and no reserves....Even now the IDF could defeat them in a head-on clash, so the possibility of a war on that front represents no threat to us....But Abdullah may become stronger in the future...and may try once again to destroy us. Would a slip of paper called a peace treaty stop him?...Recent experience indicates that it would not....
Because of our past experience, the present situation and future possibilities, we are all amazed by this headlong pursuit of a peace treaty with a vassal state which controls part of our homeland....Even if this peace treaty were to bring us some benefit, this would not justify our signing it....
...But the peace treaty accords official recognition by us to the severing of Transjordan. The eastern part of it was taken away from us at the famous Cairo Conference of 1922, in which Churchill, who was Colonial Secretary, Herbert Samuel, Viceroy of India, and Intelligence Officer Lawrence, participated. Since then a great deal of water has flowed in our Jordan River. Despite my searches, I have not found any document issued by a Jewish or Zionist body recognizing the severing of Transjordan from our homeland. That area was recognized as being part of our territory by more than forty nations, as well as by you, when Britain agreed to it. We ask: does a nation exist by the charity of others?
Until 1937 Mr. Ben-Gurion opposed the establishment of a Jewish state, maintaining that it involved our ruling another nation. In 1937...Lord Peel, Copeland and two other British Gentiles said that Palestine should be partitioned and a Jewish state established in the smaller part. From then on Ben-Gurion was an ardent supporter of a Jewish state....When Britain changed its mind about the Jewish homeland on both banks of the Jordan...when one old desert king was driven out by another, and one of his sons had to be compensated and another base built, and the control of Transjordan with its 250,000 Beduin and Circassians was handed over to a foreign ruler who had no connection with them, our institutions were prepared to accept that too....Our entire future depends on the territorial integrity of our historic homeland...and you are prepared to legitimize the annexation of part of it, of Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and Shechem, by a British-controlled, foreign ruler.
...The mutual defense clause in the British-Transjordanian friendship treaty of 15 March 1948...means that if the King of England is at war in Hong Kong or Malaya he will ask King Abdullah to come and rescue him....And vice versa....That is what your recognition of Britain's right to establish bases in the western part of the Land of Israel means....
Why are you so eager to sign a peace treaty with Abdullah?...Are you afraid of him and his 15,000 soldiers?...Or is one of the ministers, who promised the people "peace" in the election campaign, eager to keep his word? Do not worry, it would not be the first time you failed to keep an election promise. In the past you asked us what right we had to act as we did in order to drive out the British oppressor, and we answered "we were chosen."...It was at a time when our people were being slaughtered in Europe, and the oppressor closed our gates and would not allow Jews in....Revolutions do not take place after orderly resolutions have been passed. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was written after the Bastille was stormed; the American Declaration of Independence was drawn up after the Boston Tea Party. A revolution always erupts from the depths.
But today we will ask you that question. You have acknowledged the legitimacy of handing over Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the Cave of Machpela, Rachel's Tomb, Hebron, Bethlehem, Shechem, Gilead and Bashan to a foreigner, an enemy, an oppressor. Who gave you this right? You were elected to conduct the affairs of the country. The nation may reelect you or not....But when were you authorized to hand over sites which have been historically hallowed for 120 generations, and for which the blood of millions has been shed?...
I would like to ask the religious Ministers and Knesset Members if they have read the unfortunate memorandum which Mr. Sharett submitted to the Conciliation Commission stating that Israel had no claim to the areas under the control (not the illegal conquest, heaven forfend) of any Arab country. We were told that not even the Government's statement on Independence Day was submitted for your approval. I assume that you were unaware of this document too. But does that mean that you should grant it your approval now?...You must choose between the eternity of our attachment to the Land of Israel and your temporary membership in a coalition government....
That is the situation in which the Government has placed us. And then it is surprised that we are isolated....Does it think that the world is blind? That it fails to see that we are willing to accept the annexation of four-fifths of our homeland by Abdullah...and the reestablishment of British bases?...You are going towards bondage...and further isolation....
You should read the article in the Times agreeing with the "de jure" recognition of Israel, but warning that "Israel's territorial ambitions" should not be tolerated. You will yet be asked to abandon not only what you have relinquished but the territory we hold....Mr. Sharett, you have received a letter from the State Department demanding that compensation be paid for the areas we liberated and which were not included in Israel as defined by the U.N. resolution of November 29. You replied that there is no one to give compensation to since there are only invading armies in Palestine. Now there is someone to give it to....You have recognized the annexation....That kingdom has been recognized by Britain and America, and other countries will follow; then the demands will start, whether for Haifa, the southern Negev or other areas.
I would like to announce, on behalf of my party, that I do not think that this problem can be resolved anymore by a show of hands. I wish to state that...we do not accept the Israel Government's recognition of what has happened in the eastern and western parts of Transjordan. In civilized countries what one government decides is generally binding on others....But this signature is not binding upon us, it is the signature of this Government alone....The entire Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and we will not recognize the right of Abdullah or Britain to govern one inch of our homeland.

...Z. Abrahamowitz (Mapai): If an independent Arab state were to be established now we would be facing the front of the Arab League and its pressure in the U.N. to push us back to the borders of November 1947, against which we would have fought....But even a purely political dispute would have caused a rift between us and the U.N. If an Arab state were established I believe that this would temporarily strengthen the Arab League, which is generally regarded as being anti-Soviet and anti-Israel. The U.S.S.R.'s retreat from the demand to internationalize Jerusalem may be partly due to the fact that it has realized this.
But we must take the longer view. We are interested in the stability of the Middle East....At the moment Iraq wants to take over Syria, Syria wants to take over Lebanon, Transjordan wants to take over Syria, and Egypt apparently wants to take them all over....If another "independent" Arab state were to arise and wish to take over Israel, and all the Arab countries wanted to take the new state over, would that add to peace and stability in the Middle East?
Distinguished Knesset, if the status quo no longer exists, if we must oppose a new Arab state, only the third possibility--war--remains....In Tel Aviv, where he spoke with less restraint than here, MK Begin referred not only to the Triangle but also to the Bashan and Amman. His concern for security is shared by all the Opposition parties when it comes to the application of the British-Transjordanian treaty to the annexed territory. We are all anxious, and have been for some time, because that treaty has existed for some time....But I claim that there is something new in it now, namely, that it strengthens the tendency for British military participation in the annexed area, and also that England has announced that the treaty will be held in abeyance during peacetime.
M. Begin (Herut): Do you believe that assurance?
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): I cannot guarantee that any assurance will be kept, the debate is not about who trusts England more or less, however, but about how we should act in the circumstances.
Mr. Begin said what he did relying on historical reasons, which I do not accept. During the course of the history of the Jewish people in Israel the borders have changed....We do not have to achieve in two years what the Jewish nation was unable to do for two thousand.
M. Begin (Herut): Do we have to give it up?
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): Two and a half years ago the public in Israel and the Zionist Organization held different views about partition. Some people opposed an Arab state on principle, some wanted a Jewish all western Palestine, and some wanted a Jewish state on both banks of the Jordan. But the World Zionist Organization...decided, taking the historical circumstances into account, to accept a Jewish state in western Palestine. The Government of Israel and the IDF also decided, expanding Israel's borders through conquest....What representative body has authorized you to speak about your political borders, Mr. Begin...?
E. Raziel-Na'or (Herut): They shouldn't be blocked!
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): In his speech in Tel Aviv Mr. Begin also made use of sentimental reasons, claiming "Rachel weeps for her sons," and mentioning Rachel's Tomb. I draw your attention to the thousands of graves of the nation's best sons who fell in Israel's war and the mothers who weep for them. Who wants a war of expansion? The workers? The landlords? Mothers and fathers? The youngsters? The IDF? On no account!
N. Yellin-Mor (Fighters): You are mocking the IDF.
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): A war of expansion now would also endanger our national existence. You should say quite clearly: "We oppose x and y, and propose war." And if you do not say that to us in the Knesset, how can you appear in Israel's public squares and incite the nation to war?
E. Raziel-Na'or (Herut): There we said that we don't want war.
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): There you said: "The Hashemite kingdom shall be destroyed by the sword."
Y. Bader (Herut): You'll have war when they want it.
Z. Aharonowitz (Mapai): We do not ignore the fact that the annexation was a unilateral step...that the British-Transjordanian treaty has been extended to the annexed territory and that Britain's statement contains reservations about Israel's borders. All that is worrying. Those points are included in the Government's statement. The Knesset must authorize the Government to deal with the situation on the basis of two clear elements: rejection of the alternative of an independent Arab state, and adherence to the aspiration for peace.
Y. Harari (Progressives): Every now and again, when this debate is held in the Knesset, one gets the impression that there are ardent patriots on one side and stubborn defeatists on the other. This debate has been conducted, in my view, for the last thirteen years, since 1937, when Zionist policy was obliged to decide whether to agree to an independent Jewish state in part of Palestine.
MK Begin has told us of the qualms of conscience he and his friends experienced when they did what they did. I can say that my conscience bothered me...when I decided in favor of partition....It is far easier to address meetings, or even this Knesset, about Israel's historic borders than to explain to the nation that we should set our sights lower and accept imperfect borders....
I doubt whether it has often happened...that a political plan has been as that of those who advocated partition. We would never have achieved the decision of November 29 had we not agreed, unwillingly but perceptively, to a Jewish state in part of Palestine. None of the facts and operations by which MK Begin and his associates think they brought about the state would have helped had it not been for the official Zionist plan, authorized by the Zionist Congress.
M. Begin (Herut): The last Congress rejected that plan utterly. It forbade you to go to London.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: It did not reject it, that is not true!
Y. Harari (Progressives): We all want a great many things, but one has to know how and when to accept facts, and not to miss opportunities. The fact that Israel agreed to the partition borders does not mean that Rachel's Tomb has ceased to be a national monument for us, the Cave of Machpelah will always be the site where our forefathers are buried, Jericho will still be the town whose walls fell at the sound of the trumpets and the historical borders in the Bible will never change. But this did not prevent us agreeing to the possible borders at the appropriate moment. Did we fight less for the areas which were not within the partition borders of 29 November 1947? Did we not do everything possible at the right moment, in the war, to conquer them?
H. Landau (Herut): Of course you didn't.
Y. Harari (Progressives): Only you did!
H. Landau (Herut): The Gentiles stopped and our Government surrendered.
Y. Harari (Progressives): One also has to know when to stop during a ceasefire.
Y. Bader (Herut): One also has to know when not to stop.
Y. Harari (Progressives): Correct, and that's what we did, at the right moments. Are our borders today those we fixed of our own free will, or are they the outcome of various conditions and circumstances, both military and political, as well as of political resolutions passed in an international forum?
Those areas are not in our possession as the result of circumstances which were beyond our control. One does not choose one's enemies, or even the regimes in hostile countries, nor does one sign armistice agreements with allies....We cannot prevent Lebanon giving bases to America if the Christians there prevail over the Moslems. We could not prevent any Arab country giving bases to the devil himself unless we conquered those areas. If that's what you want, then say so in the Knesset. Only MK Yellin-Mor has consistently demanded that we fight for those areas....
The complaint Mapam proposes we submit to the Security Council is not clear to me either. The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan is not a member of the U.N....Should we complain against England for making an agreement with the Hashemite kingdom; for recognizing us "de jure"; or because it has announced that it will not establish bases in peacetime?...And whence this sudden, exaggerated trust in the decisions of the Security Council?
Because time is pressing...I will merely add...that the U.S.S.R.'s announcement is surprising. I never know when to take what the Maki MKs say seriously and when they are merely following the dictates of opportunism. Out of compassion for dumb animals I will drop the subject. But I would like to ask Mapam, which has often said that any contact with the government of Transjordan makes the U.S.S.R. our enemy--
I. Ben-Aharon (Mapam): We never said that....That's not true.
Y. Harari (Progressives): You have said it not only from this podium but also in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
You...are always asking why we should negotiate with a vassal of England and of imperialism and thereby arouse the enmity of the U.S.S.R.
I. Ben-Aharon (Mapam): I repeat that that is untrue.
Y. Harari (Progressives): Those things are in the record, in black on white, and can be found there. I would like to recommend that this Knesset resolve that Israel and its Government should continue with its foreign policy of attempting to protect our interests...without being concerned with what impression this makes on either East or West. Only by being consistent will we gain the support of both East and West and become a strong state which is generally respected.
J. Burg (Religious Front): Distinguished Knesset...As a believing Jew, I must confess that I cannot grasp the great sacrifice of six million Jews which our nation lost in the war. I find some small consolation in the fact that this tiny corner is left to us, and we can build it....I think that the task of our generation is to build, and refrain from doing anything--as long as there is no provocation--which could impede this task.
I very much regret the fact that we are obliged to discuss annexation here rather than the agreed basis for a political settlement in the region, at least as regards our closest neighbor. But if the Arab world that opposes us is divided, and if some understanding can be reached, even if only temporary, with part of that Arab world, it should be done. Because it is our duty to preserve every drop of Jewish blood that remains.
The previous speaker said that a decision in principle was made in the past about partition, not only in the Knesset but even before the establishment of the state, and without it neither the Knesset nor the state would have come into existence....Consequently, I maintain, we may have to take a course which is not pleasant for us....We have also heard MK Begin talk about the religious parties, and I do not know whether he was praising or condemning us. He claimed that we have abandoned the concept of the Divine promise. We have not relinquished the view that God will keep His promise.
I. Ben-Aharon (Mapam): To what do you adhere meanwhile?
J. Burg (Religious Front): We adhere to the commandments which you wish to neglect.
E. Preminger (Mapam): And force others to adhere to them!
J. Burg (Religious Front): ...There is really no point answering such remarks. Our scriptures tell us what will happen to the generation before the Messiah. They mention suffering--which we have undergone in large quantities....They mention poverty--towards which our Minister of Finance is helping us. They also state that we must build in Israel. We must live according to moral precepts--which we are trying to do. That is why I disagree with the argument that we have abandoned the concept of the Divine promise. He who attempts to live in accordance with God's holy law will, I hope, deserve to see the Divine promise fulfilled.
...The Jews who still believe in God and His promises continued to believe in all of Jerusalem, Rachel's Tomb, Hebron and the whole country when they were in the...diaspora, and still do so today, living in those parts of Israel which are ours.
...I think that the Government's representative spoke clearly. The annexation is a unilateral which we do not agree. I think it is harmful if the Opposition in this House pretends that we did agree to it.
E. Preminger (Mapam): Do you want bilateral annexation?
J. Burg (Religious Front): I oppose barren argumentativeness!...Jewish history did not begin yesterday and does not end today. The history of Israel depends not on unilateral declarations, but on Divine decrees. I think that it is our task, in our situation, to find the path which is not always readily apparent but leads from the Divine intention to the exigencies of the moment. I think that the entire House should take care in posing questions and in weakening the position of the Government on an issue which is vital for us.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: The genuine excitement expressed here regarding the annexation is worthy of attention....It is shared by the general population, and I hope that those involved will take it into account. The State of Israel cannot be indifferent to the fate of an area with whose history it is so closely bound up and whose regime and military status is likely to have so direct an influence on its security. The Government has declared...that as far as it is concerned the issue remains open, because without our assent and cooperation, which have not yet been given, no regime can regard itself as being stable and sure there. We seek stability, security and peace, both for ourselves and for the entire region, but these will be attained only through cooperating with us.
...Not all the excitement expressed here can be regarded as genuine, however. When MK Begin deliberately distorts the Government's position, representing it as having agreed to the annexation, he ignores the fact that he is thereby destroying the building which he is supposedly seeking to erect. But he does not really want to build anything; all he seeks is to destroy the Government's standing, and he has failed in that too....He has merely reiterated his bombastic and empty phrases about both banks of the Jordan, the Bashan and the Golan Heights.
M. Begin (Herut): There was a time when the Jewish state was a bombastic phrase too, as far as you were concerned.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: In fact, if one listens to him...he has made his own words meaningless. His contention is that we decided matters long signing an Armistice Agreement with Jordan. If that is the case, what is the point of this very much overdue debate? It has already been said that this policy, which led to our signing armistice agreements with all the neighboring Arab countries...has gained the support of the entire nation. In accordance with his party's tradition of distorting facts, MK Begin also twisted what I said in the election campaign which preceded the establishment of this Knesset. I never took it upon guarantee the voters peace, but I said...that if my party were elected to office we would aspire towards peace....I do not know what MK Begin promised in that election campaign. I must confess that I did not interest myself in his speeches. But whether he called for war or merely negated peace, the election results indicated something. The party which I have the honor of representing and which is a partner in the Government has 48 representatives in the Knesset, being 3.5 as many as Mr. Begin's party. This policy is no mere party matter, it is agreed by all the participants in the Government....There are historical reasons for the fact that this alliance of parties received the majority of votes in the elections...and is united in adhering to a certain policy.
This policy led to the establishment of the state, and sustains it still today, despite the immense difficulties. If we have been asked from this podium: "Who authorized you?" Our reply is: The nation! First and foremost, the Jewish nation, which approved the path its representatives had taken in attaining a Jewish state in our time, if not in the whole country then at least in part of it, in as large a part as possible, and as quickly as possible....
MK Begin was guilty of another distortion when he said that the last Zionist Congress forbade us to agree to partition. Quite the contrary. An attempt was made by parties and persons to pass such a resolution, but it failed....The Zionist Executive agreed by a large majority to a policy of compromise in order to assent to the establishment of a Jewish state in part of Palestine. The entire nation endorsed this policy...and worked together to achieve it....The gates of heaven opened and the moment came when we could attain what generations had dreamt of and died for. The entire nation endorsed our achievement unconditionally, celebrating our great victory of 29 November 1947...both those who had supported our policy and those who had opposed it....
...And what would have happened if...the Arab country which was supposed to be established in the rest of Palestine, linked to Israel by economic ties, had been created...and had then allied itself with one of the neighboring Arab states...or with one of the Powers, against Israel's will? We are confronted by a problem of that kind today, but our position is far better, since we have control of 80 percent of our territory, the ports of Haifa and Jaffa, roads, railways and Lod airport, and our sovereign-ty is no longer threatened by the economic alliance with the Arab coun-try...although 20 percent of our territory has been annexed by the neigh-boring Arab country....
We have said that we are ready to make peace with all our neighbors, preferring separate negotiations with each one of them, and that we accept the armistice lines as a basis for peace and a final territorial settlement. We adhere to this policy, always having been ready to consider mutual border adjustments.
MK Begin has asked why we are so hasty in our pursuit of peace, and with Transjordan of all countries. I do not know whether peace with Transjordan will be first, or whether there will be peace at all, or when. We are not competing in prophecy. Our task is to determine policy, i.e., not to guess what will be but to assess what we should do, and what will happen tomorrow and the day after....What I do know is that we are surrounded by enemies today, and that we can bear this situation, and have no need to break out of it at all costs....If we are attacked we will be able to fight back, and our successes in the second round of fighting may even be greater than they were in the first....But our prime concern is to avoid a confrontation of that kind. We are interested in peace and stability, for we have historic tasks to fulfill and we must invest all our efforts in them....Even if peace is attained tomorrow...we will continue to be on our guard, but we will know that there has been a change. If we can only breach the ring of enemies around us we must do so.
Why do you mock the armistice agreements as mere pieces of paper?...Do those signatures have any value or not?
Y. Bader (Herut): Abdullah's signature has no value.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: You don't know what you're talking about. And that is not the only subject on which you talk nonsense....Anyone who says such things is undermining of Israel.
M. Begin (Herut): They're threatening another round despite the is the Chief of Staff....
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: Am I proposing that we disband the army? We must make every effort to breach the wall surrounding us, but that does not mean that we should disarm ourselves. If this were all pointless would there be such a fuss in the Arab camp about whether to make peace with Israel or not, separately or together?
MK Begin took a sentence out of its context in a Foreign Ministry memorandum, and accused us of relinquishing all territorial claims on Transjordan. We have said that we accept the armistice lines as a basis for a settlement and do not demand territory, but if MK Begin tries to represent this as our abandonment of our rights to our holy places, this is nonsense. We have never abandoned them, and we have said as much, and no side doubts that we adhere to our claim to our share and our rights in the Old City of Jerusalem. If MK Begin wishes to go out into the streets with the demand for the Temple Mount, he is welcome to do so. Many people are strolling through the streets this afternoon, and he can harangue them to his heart's content. I suggest that my colleagues and the other members of the House rely on the man in the street.
Mr. Sapir claimed that the Foreign Ministry failed once again to foresee what would happen.
J. Sapir (General Zionists): I only said that it had erred in assessing the forces involved.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: Well, you said that it had failed to foresee what would happen by erring in its assessment of the forces involved. He said that we failed to envisage the internationalization of Jerusalem, and now we have failed again, and this is a surprise. I don't know if it is a surprise.
E. Raziel-Na'or (Herut): That means that it was agreed in advance.
The Foreign Minister, M. Sharett: I'm coming to that. I said that we had announced our readiness to reach an agreement on the basis of the armistice lines. I also said that as long as there is no agreement the question is open...and the other side must be aware of that....
MK Sapir recommends that we conduct an information campaign on this matter at the U.N. He has presumably thought about what he said and his proposal is undoubtedly based on a perceptive assessment of future developments. MK Bar-Yehuda accused us of...having brought the British Empire back...and MK Begin correctly pointed out that the British-Jordanian treaty includes a clause whereby each side can invite the other into its territory....The treaty was signed on 15 March 1948, namely, two years and two months ago, and we have been living under that threat all this time....The neighboring country could have invited the British forces into its territory, but it did not....We have been informed that it has no intention of doing so. But its right still exists....The British government also issued a statement to the effect that it would not hasten to place troops here....
I do not see why some people have seen fit to treat this matter as if the end of the world were approaching....We are certainly not happy about it....Despite the assurances we have received on the subject from the British government, it requires us to be on our guard, as does that government's policy about the supply of arms to certain Middle Eastern countries and its attitude to...separate peace agreements. Some of our recent contacts with the British government have been of a positive nature. This is the case with the agreement to settle outstanding economic differences...and the "de jure" recognition of Israel....We have drawn the attention of our public and the world to aspects of policy which cause us concern...and which we regard as being detrimental to peace and stability in the Middle East, and to say that we acquiesced willingly is a stupid distortion....
Our policy remains what it was, namely, to do what we can to breach the wall surrounding us and to set the Middle East on a path of peace rather than war. There is no guarantee that this will be attained, nor will we attempt to guess when this will come about. Till then we will have to remain fully on our guard. All our enemies and opponents should be aware of this, but it must be evident what our policy is. We must decide what our aim is and go towards it with open eyes.
N. Yellin-Mor (Fighters): Distinguished Knesset, Those who oppose Abdullah's act of plunder on the basis of the principle of the integrity of the homeland...can be accused by those who acquiesce in it of making a great deal of fuss over...a lost cause.
I admit that there is some logic in that, but I would like to make it clear here...that a new generation is growing up in Israel for which the River Jordan is not the eastern border of the homeland, and for which Abdullah's temporary conquests are meaningless....That generation foresees a future homeland in its expanded, natural borders. There, and there alone, will the millions of scattered Jews be gathered together and enabled to flourish spiritually and materially, culturally and economically. Any fact which opposes this view will not last long.
Thus, this debate is not about whether Abdullah, who was expelled from the Arabian desert by Ibn-Saud, is entitled to rule over more or less of our homeland. There is no place for a debate of that kind on historical grounds or on principle. All Abdullah's territory, on both the east and the west banks of the Jordan, is plundered.
The debate is, essentially, only about the attitude of the Government of Israel to Abdullah's rule...and its refusal to work for the liberation of the homeland....The annexation did not come as a surprise. Everyone knew that Abdullah wanted it...including Israel's leaders, who were suffering from their customary myopia. The function of any foreign policy is to prevent neighbors from expanding territorially...and threatening one's own country.
It could, therefore, have been supposed that the Government of Israel, being aware of Abdullah's intentions, would have issued a warning, or warnings, saying that any attempt at annexation would be regarded as a hostile act....But our Foreign Ministry did nothing!...And it is obvious that Abdullah knew that no reaction would be forthcoming from Israel....
The inaction of our leaders at this time is comparable to that of those who went to Munich....The only possible explanation must lie in the ongoing love affair between the erstwhile, British-protected Emir and the Jewish Agency, even though the adoration of the latter does not seem to be reciprocated....There can be no other reason for the incessant pursuit of Abdullah, since it is known that peace with him of necessity involves foregoing peace with our other neighbors, with whom peace is more valuable, as well as abandoning our claim to most of our homeland....His entire kingdom has been obtained by plunder....
The Foreign Ministry has tried to auction off "peace with Israel," but there are no buyers....I doubt whether those who fell so that the state might be established wanted their blood to be sold thus....
...The Foreign Ministry's response was a shameful one...and constitutes acceptance of daylight well as tacit legitimization of the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan"...determining as its price negotiations and a peace treaty....The religious parties appear to have subscribed to this too....
The haste to make peace with Abdullah seems to have caused the Government to take leave of its senses...but peace of this kind brings us ever nearer to disaster....Abdullah has said that he intends to use Israel as a means of getting to Damascus....There is no truth in the rumor that Israel's assent to the situation is merely temporary, and that those areas will eventually be redeemed. The Britain-Abdullah treaty enables British military bases to be established there, and they will crush any attempt to liberate our lost territory. Our experience of the past must teach us that Britain's assurance not to establish bases there in peacetime will be abandoned at the appropriate moment....But what is more significant is the implication that bases will be established there in wartime.
...The danger cannot be exaggerated. Our country is at a focal point for British imperialism, constituting a strategic area for delaying the advance of the Soviet army in case of war. Britain would be interested in making it a front then...and the entire country would become a battlefield....Accepting the annexation is a big step in that direction. In these circumstances there can be no alternative for the Government than to tell the Minister of Defense to instruct the General Staff to complete the interrupted War of Independence.
I know that this resolution will not be passed here today, but the situation will oblige us to follow that path eventually, whatever the composition of the government. I pray that it will not be too late.
The Speaker, J. Sprinzak: I will allow resolutions to be submitted.
J. Kusoy (Mapai): I submit the following resolution: "The Knesset notes the Government's statement regarding the annexation, with its attendant reservations."
H. Rubin (Mapam): On behalf of the Mapam faction I submit the following resolution:
A. The Knesset regards the annexation of the territories on the West Bank as detrimental to:
  1. The historical aspiration of the Jewish people to restore the integrity of the country.
  2. The right of the Arab population in that part of the country annexed by Transjordan to political independence within the framework of economic unity with Israel.
  3. The terms of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Transjordan. It also constitutes a threat to Israel's security and independence by extending the application of the British-Transjordanian treaty to the West Bank.
B. The Knesset declares that the state of Israel will not recognize or accept the annexation, and asks the Government to submit a complaint to the Security Council:
  1. Against the illegal act of annexation.
  2. Against the arbitrary extension of the British-Transjordanian treaty to part of Palestine.
C. The Knesset approves the Government's refusal to resume the negotiations for a peace treaty with Transjordan if the annexation is not annulled.
J. Meridor (Herut): Distinguished Knesset, the faction to which I have the honor of belonging does not think that the subject of this evening's debate, the socalled annexation of part of our homeland by Abdullah, is one on which a vote should be taken. We will not participate in the voting, therefore.
On behalf of the Herut Movement founded by the IZL, I declare:
In aspiring towards a political-territorial agreement with the area indirectly conquered by Britain in eastern Palestine known as the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" the Government has brought about the relinquishing of part of our homeland, the annexation of parts of western Palestine, effective recognition of Britain's right to establish and maintain military bases in our country on both banks of the Jordan and the total isolation of Israel in the international arena.
We do not, and never will, recognize the plunder of part of our homeland by an enemy and an oppressor. The entire Land of Israel is ours. The Government's recognition of the illegal conquest, whe-ther through signing a peace treaty with the conquerors or in any other way, does not and will not commit the Jewish people and its youth.
M. Wilner (Maki): Maki's resolution is as follows:
  1. The Knesset resolves not to recognize and to oppose the annexation of the Arab parts of Palestine by the Transjordanian kingdom;
  2. The Knesset resolves to ask the Security Council to take steps against Britain and Transjordan for the illegal annexation of part of Palestine by Transjordan, constituting a British base;
  3. The Knesset resolves to support the struggle of the Arab masses in the rest of Palestine to establish a democratic, peace-loving, independent state which is friendly to Israel.
Furthermore, I would like this proposal to be put to the vote, while at the same time our faction will vote for Mapam's proposal since it contains two principles we share: opposition to the annexation and agreement in principle to an independent Arab state.
J. Sapir (General Zionists): I would like to state, though not to put to the vote, our refusal to recognize the annexation. We authorize the Government to refrain from recognizing it.
The Speaker, J. Sprinzak: We will now vote on the proposals.

The Vote

Those in favor of MK J. Kusoy's proposal 53
Those in favor of MK H. Rubin's proposal 16
Those in favor of MK M. Wilner's proposal 2
MK Kusoy's proposal: "The Knesset notes the Government's statement regarding the annexation, with its attendant reservations," is adopted.
The Knesset has heard and placed on record the Herut faction's statement that it will not participate in the vote. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The BBC on the Altalena Incident

Raising Israel's Altalena ship 'a lesson for the future'

By Matthew Bell

(the full broadcast is here)

PRI's The World  The Altalena Affair was a painful moment in the early history of the modern state of Israel 

A project to raise a sunken ship in Israel, the Altalena, is stirring up painful memories of a violent confrontation between the army of the newborn state and the Irgun Jewish paramilitary group, reports PRI The World's Matthew Bell.Schoolchildren in Israel this year are studying two former prime ministers - David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. Next year 2013 will be the 100th anniversary of Begin's birth, and 40 years since Ben Gurion's death.All these years later, Israeli authorities believe there is a great deal to learn from the two national icons.The truth is, Ben-Gurion and Begin did not like each other very much. Eventually, they reconciled. But in the first few weeks after the state of Israel was founded in 1948, these two leaders were on a dangerous collision course. The low-point came with the sinking of a cargo ship in June of that year. On the boardwalk in central Tel Aviv, across the street from McDonald's and next to a beachfront bar called Mike's Place, there is a stone memorial to 16 Jewish men.They were members of the Irgun militia, killed during the events leading up to the sinking of their ship, the Altalena. A memorial to the Irgun members killed in the Altalena affair stands by the beach in Tel Aviv Just a month after the State of Israel declared independence, it was still fighting hostile Arab armies and the boat was bringing in badly-needed weapons. The commander of the Irgun at the time was Menachem Begin. The man who gave the order to attack the Altalena was David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister.He saw Begin's militia as a threat to the new Israeli government and was willing to spill Jewish blood to establish his authority.'Jews killing Jews'"People were very angry," says Shlomo Nakdimon, a retired Israeli journalist. Aged 12 years old at the time, he came to the beach to see the smouldering hulk of the Altalena with his own eyes. He remembers how he felt about the newly-founded Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killing Jewish militiamen of the Irgun."I was angry like the other people," Mr Nakdimon says as he looks out to the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv was a hotbed of support for the Irgun and people felt the new Israeli government could have resolved its dispute with the militia group, "without shooting, without Jews killing Jews."Jews killing Jews. That is what makes the Altalena affair such a painful one for Israelis.Yehiel Kadishai was one of a number of Irgun fighters among some 900 passengers on the cargo ship. Most onboard were Jewish refugees from Europe. Irgun leader Menachem Begin went on to become prime minister He said the mood on the ship was one of indescribable joy. These were Jewish survivors of World War II, leaving Europe for an independent Jewish state."I was very happy, together with all of us," Mr Kadishai says. "We were singing the anthem, the Hatikva."Mr Kadishai had grown up in Tel Aviv and served with Jewish volunteers in the British army during the war. He said he taught some of his fellow passengers Hebrew. There were political lectures and for those who had never held a rifle, lessons on the deck about how to shoot.When the Altalena dropped anchor north of Tel Aviv at a place called Kfar Vitkin, the refugees went ashore and were sent off on buses to begin their new lives. Under fireThe Irgun men remained on the beach. Their job was to unload a huge stockpile of weapons from the Altalena. Menachem Begin was there and Mr Kadishai said he called for everyone's attention."Begin started to speak and to say that there were some differences of opinion between the government and the Irgun," he recalls. "He said two or three sentences and all of a sudden, bullets came at us from two sides."In the confusion, Kadishai and the rest of the men on the beach took cover. Some grabbed weapons. Mr Kadishai started firing back, but he had no idea who - or where - he was firing at."I was lying there. Next to me, one boy whom I knew from Italy was shot in his thigh and the blood was flowing from him. I couldn't move and I didn't know what to do," he says.The injured boy next to Kadishai eventually bled to death on the beach that night.Over the next day or so, the violence continued. Begin got back on the Altalena and it moved south, near the Tel Aviv beach. That is where the IDF shelled the ship and scored a direct hit. One of the Israeli commanders directing fire at the Irgun men was Yitzhak Rabin, who would later go on to become Israel's prime minister.When the shooting finally stopped, 16 Irgun men were dead along with three IDF troops. The ship was in flames, much of its cargo lost. Mr Kadishai says the idea that Irgun men would be shot at by members of the IDF was unthinkable. It is still difficult to talk about."Now I can smile and laugh because 65 years [has] almost past," he says. "Until the last day of my life, I'll be angry."Yehiel Kadishai went on to become Begin's personal secretary.Raising the shipDirector of the Begin Center in Jerusalem, Herzl Makov, believes it was Menachem Begin who pulled Israel back from the brink of civil war."Begin decided not to fight back," Mr Makov says. "Begin realised it was a strategic issue: 'if we, the Jewish people were going to have among ourselves now a war, there was no chance to get independence.' So, he ordered, 'don't shoot back,'" he says.Mr Makov wants to highlight this lesson of history by raising the Altalena, or at least part of it, from the bottom of the sea and building a new monument. He is currently looking for funding for the project.But there is an enduring dispute over the ship. Not everyone sees Begin as the hero of the story. Some would say that Ben-Gurion's decision, as difficult as it might have been, to strike against the Irgun's weapons ship was a key moment for the Jewish state. The sinking of the Altalena continues to be marked years later The sinking of the Altalena, this line of thinking goes, is when Israel became a truly sovereign state."Everything was still in the making, so in this situation the determination of Ben-Gurion was absolutely necessary," says Anita Shapira, a historian with the Israel Democracy Institute, who is working on a new biography of Ben-Gurion."The idea that small minorities are entitled to use force to change the course of history was a basic tenet of all Jewish underground [movements]," Ms Shapira said. "Ben-Gurion wouldn't have any of it."The Altalena affair is burned into Israel's collective memory. People have continued to draw historical analogies to the incident.During negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, there were calls for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to create his own "Altalena moment" by reining in militia groups by force. Then there are the comparisons with the Jewish settlements scattered across the West Bank. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.As with the Irgun militia, Jewish settlers are viewed by some Israelis and their supporters as the vanguard of the Zionist movement. Others see the settlement project as endangering Israel's future.In any case, Herzl Makov at the Begin Center says learning from history is important - and a lesson which raising the Altalena could provide.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Begin and the Sinai Bedouin

Found here:

When Menachem Begin returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt in 1982, Israel thought it was getting not only peace but, in exchange, a buffer zone that would protect it from a hitherto intractable foe. The northern coastal plain connecting Africa to Asia was too scrubby to sustain much life. Its largest town and provincial capital was called El Arish, Arabic for palm huts. Arid inhospitable mountains dominated the center and south. And the Camp David Accords that Egypt and Israel signed in 1978 required Egypt to keep its soldiers and tanks away from the Sinai; the eastern half was turned into a demilitarized zone monitored by a US-dominated multinational force.

All that is changing as new forces pile in. Egypt has a new ruling party that sees Israel more as a threat than an ally...

... rapid population growth has turned Sinai’s indigenous population of Bedouin people into a power to contend with, particularly in the corner of North Sinai where Egypt, Israel, and Gaza meet.

The Bedouin people are descendants of the nomads who crossed the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. They consider themselves Egypt’s only real Arabs, and view other Egyptians as Arabized Africans. Their numbers have grown eightfold in forty years; today, several of their twenty tribes are tens of thousands strong. And though many are moving to new sprawling cities like El Arish, the tribes have established separate suburbs and have yet to settle down...

...Ostracized by the Mubarak regime, which viewed them as a potential fifth column and denied them a share of the tourism industry on Sinai’s coast, Sinai’s Bedouin tapped other sources of finance and support. To the north, they found a ready partner in Hamas, which was under siege by Israel and anxious to find alternative supplies of food, fuel, and sometimes arms. Together, Sinai’s Bedouin and Hamas dug—sometimes with Egyptian government collusion—hundreds of tunnels under their common border. Their cross-border clan networks, intimate knowledge of the terrain—“I can tell a man’s tribe from his footprint,” a Bedu told me—and contempt for twenty-first-century controls make the Bedouin expert traffickers. Fancy villas, with roofs fashioned as pagodas and garages for Lexuses, in North Sinai’s once dirt-poor villages testify to the extent of their success...

Incidentally, Caroline Glick emphasized that development at the February 2011book launch of Peace in the Making:

Over the past 20 years or so, the power of Egypt's central authority in its hinterlands has weakened. The strength of the Bedouin has grown. And over the past decade or so, the Bedouin of Sinai, like the Bedouin from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to Israel have become aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and its al Qaida and Hamas spinoffs.

The Bedouin attacks on Egyptian police and border guard installations in al Arish and Suez over the past three weeks are an indication that the fear of a strong state, which was so central to Israel's thinking in during the peace process with Egypt, is no longer Israel's most urgent concern. Transnational jihadists in the Sinai are much more immediately threatening than the Egyptian military is. But the peace treaty - signed with a military dictator -- provides neither Israel nor Egypt with tools to deal with this threat.

AS ISRAEL moves into the uncharted territory of managing its relations with the post-Mubarak Egypt, it is imperative that our leaders understand the lessons of the past.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Background to the Saison Period

From this article

The Haganah and SOE: Allies and EnemiesIrregular Warfare & Politics in Mandatory Palestine
Jacob A Stoil

Moshe Dayan, an officer during the Saison, explained the Haganah in 1944-45 was continuing to cooperate with the British in the fight against Nazi Germany. The Haganah was therefore anxious to stop the independent actions of the dissident paramilitary organizations such as the Irgun Zvai Le’ummi and the Lehi (Stern Group).’91 The Palestine Government employed the Haganah in this role as the Security Service found it extremely difficult to obtain information on the Irgun Zvai Le’ummi (IZL) and LEHI and the Palestine Police ‘singly failed to penetrate these two organizations.’92 The Haganah provided some of its best forces to the efforts of the Saison, including those who formerly made up some of the special units trained by the SOE.93 Some veterans of the special units began working in the Saison soon after the dissolution of their units.94 Some began as bodyguards for senior Haganah figures while others put their skills in infiltration, covert operations, and attacking high value targets directly to use. The primary skills employed by SOE- trained personnel during the Saison were those required for following and ambushing a high value target and then disappearing again into the general population.95 In these activities, the SOE-trained personnel were most certainly successful. Polish intelligence verified that much of the lull in militant activities during the Saison was due to the Haganah ‘seizing (it is said with the tacit approval of British authorities) the more active members of the terrorist group, and banishing them for a convenient period of time from the arena of political life.’96 It was not just the British and Poles who believed that the Haganah units were effective. According to former members of the IZL, the Haganah was effective and a greater threat than the British, primarily because of its ability to act covertly, swiftly and decisively. These were the very skills that SOE training had emphasized.97


91 Dayan, Moshe (1976) p. 57

92 Extract from Summary Middle East No. 2 by S.I.M.E. Cairo – 5.12.1941 In KV5/29, Extract from Mr. A.J. Kellar’s Report on his visit to the Mid-East in KV5/29
93 Interview with Avigdor Cohen

94 Interview with Hayim Miller

95 Interview with Hayim Miller 2, Interview with Avigdor Cohen

96 Report from Polish Security, Middle East, 17.4.45 In KV5/29

97 Interview with Eli Shitrit, Interview with Yehuda Lapidot  


November 26, 1948 - Menachem Begin in New York's City Hall

From the Radio WNYC site:-

1948: Israeli Menachem Begin, leader of the Irgun, is honored by Mayor William O’Dwyer at City Hall. The Police Glee Club sings the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva. Begin is greeted with a standing ovation. O’Dwyer jokes about Begin’s reputation with the police and the fact that the British have a price on his head. Begin thanks the United States for support. O’Dwyer also introduces a young man named Samuel Tamir, a survivor of several concentration camps and the commander of the Irgun’s Jerusalem troops. The program ends with the Police Glee Club singing Marching Along Together.

and from this book:


Thursday, October 25, 2012

But Is Herut There? Or Begin?

Excerpts from a book review of

Orit Rozin's The Rise of the Individual in 1950s Israel: A Challenge to Collectivism. Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2011. xxi + 254 pp. 

by Adi Gordon, University of Cincinnati, October, 2012.

The book revisits Early Israeli Collectivism in the Age of Privatization.

The transition from Zionist Yishuv to a Jewish state, Rozin shows, was also a shift from voluntary collectivism (embodied by the halutz [the pioneer]) to centralized collectivism (“personified by David Ben Gurion,” p. xvi). This later type of collectivism, however, was collectivism from above, made possible by the establishment of the state and arguably rendered necessary by the immense challenges of mass immigration. Israel’s austerity program, for example, though intended to achieve concrete, practical economic goals rather than ideological ones, could be seen by the uncritical eye as a natural continuation of the Yishuv’s collectivist ethos, especially due to what Israelis initially made of it once it was put into practice: “According to the rhetoric of the political Left and part of the Right, austerity was a way not only of lowering the cost of living but also of constructing the collective identity based on the principle that the strong should sacrifice some of their pleasure to help the weak” (p. 6).

...this is probably the book’s main argument--the seminal moment of the early Israeli “individualization process” was in response to such paternalistic policies: a reaction to this type of state-centralized collectivism in Ben Gurion’s Israel, with its ostensible disregard for the individual Israeli citizen and his or her rights. Increasingly, both ordinary Israeli citizens and the political opposition spoke in defense of individual civil rights of Israelis. Rozin understands this trend as part of Israel’s embrace of Western liberal values (p. 197). Interestingly, however, she does not locate this transformation in the distinctive worldviews and political traditions of the newcomers, but rather she focuses on the changes in the veteran society. And even when examining veteran Israeli society Rozin does not look for these new trends primarily among the “bourgeois” and conservative opposition. Indeed, she stresses that “[t]he most important of these [trends], the weakening of voluntary collectivism and the strengthening of individualism, took place within the labor movement” (p. 194). Even though the book’s drama is clearly set in early statehood, I wish it made greater effort to locate the discourses of collectivism and of individual rights (and even the discourse of hygiene) also in Jewish history beyond 1950s Israel.

The Rise of the Individual in 1950s Israel is a work of a cultural, social, and to an extent, political history...[in] Part 2, “In the City Square,” explores the cracks in Israel’s collectivist ethos as further manifested in two election campaigns: the municipal elections of 1950 and the second general (Knesset) elections of 1951. Though Mapai’s hegemony was confirmed, these elections--with the remarkable success of the General Zionists, who almost tripled the numbers of seats in parliament and became Israel’s second-largest party--must be understood in the context the opposition’s “well-planned … campaign, which played off citizens’ anger, frustration, and resentment at the austerity regime” (p. 119). Indeed, in Ben Gurion’s age of Mamlachtiut (statism), the General Zionist platform stood out for its foremost commitment to individual civil rights (“We view individual freedom as a fundamental condition for the development and prosperity of nations” [p. 101]). The shift, then, was not only in voting patterns, but in generating “a discourse of rights” which transcended party lines, and as result “Mapai had to change in order to adjust to the harsh state of the economy, as well as to the demands of … the middle class” (p. 130). Rozin concludes that “In the face of the difficulties of daily life at the time [Israeli] citizens felt that they were not free to live their lives as they wished...” (p. 135).