Friday, 18 April 2014

An Israeli soldier found Judea-Samarian checkpoints more traumatic than fighting in Lebanon

Elon Perry is an israeli journalist and soldier who gave a lecture at Limmud on 'Jerusalem Burning, 100 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict'. EP's account of his own life was fascinating, but his many historical mistakes means he should leave the history of Zionism and Israel to others who know it better and concentrate on his own wealth of experiences.  
This howler is an example where Perry talks about palestinian arab opposition to zionism:
“They started sending messages to Herzl and others 'don't dare to make aliyah'”
I don't know his sources for this statement, but when Herzl was alive there was no palestinian arab identity, and even arab nationalists were only beginning to form their movements. There was if anything some understanding from arab leaders such as Faisal that arabs could benefit from jewish immigration to Israel. Of course Faisal represented himself and his tribe but there were few other arab representatives for zionists to approach before the British overturned the ruling Ottoman Turkish rulein Syria.
“The masscres in Haifa, Hebron... were messages to Herzl, don't do what you're going to do” (The arab killers who took part in those attacks would have been sending their messages to a man who died 25 years before)
The statement is, apart from the two decade time lag ludicrous as the jews affected were not zionists but those jews who had lived in Pekiin, Hebron,Safed and Jerusalem amongst other places for hundreds if not thousands of years. The jews were attacked on account of their religion as Jews and because the racist arab leadership appointed by the British used their opportunity to foment pogroms. Trying to ascribe a nationalistic motive to these unprovoked attacks on jews is post facto anti-zionist obfuscation of the facts.

Elon's description of Ben Gurion's statesmanship in declaring the State of Israel (in the teeth of opposition by Britain and also the USA whose Defence Secretary Marshall believed/hoped that jewish forces would not last more than 3 weeks) is correct. He didn't however go into the extremely acrimonious relationship that developed between these two giants of zionism. Ben-Gurion in addition to being the outstanding leader of Israel was extraordinarily spiteful. He even forbade Weizmann from signing the Declaration of Israel's Independence.

EP gets interesting when recounting his own experiences:

In the West Bank in those territories I found myself a policeman, a teacher ....... It's crazy we had to make decisions in seconds. The decisions were not to shoot or not to shoot but should I let this person in. This woman crying with her baby,what can you do? We are people, and we have mercy and you have to say yes you can go. And there's 300 in the queue. And some of them exploded.
When I go home I think of how to be better next time, but the media they condemn you, they call you killers...
It was really so difficult, you have a lot of pressure psychologically.
A lot of situations were like if I don't let her in she may die, how will I live with it.
 Elon complained that he had not got any help or training for such situations.
“when I think back on it, those situations were more dangerous than what we faced in Lebanon because in Lebanon you just took cover and could shoot. But here decisions stay with you all day.”

Before the wall (Oops-mostly a fence) we had 700 checkpoints, now less, 50 or 45 i'm not sure (Oops-I read somewhere that there are now just 3 plus mobile checkpoints, which is why there is an epidemic now of stonings and molotov and shooting attacks on israelis throughout Judea and Samaria).
People who complain about the fence, “don't know about the real situation where the wall is protecting Israel.”

“We give them jobs. We expect them to come to Israel, do their job, say thank you and go home. But some of them use terror.

“It's not that they want to use terror. Their leaders, they entice them...either they are offered money or they are blackmailed.”
"I nearly got killed many times at the checkpoint because we have to be up at front. We can't hide. I prefer the war."
 When asked about Britain condemning Israeli "occupation", the response was "what a chutzpah, the nation that occupied the whole of the world.......Jews in Israel will always be blamed, even for the weather."
"We built something from nothing in 70 years, and i travel the world a lot.... i see countries with nothing to compare "
Elon explained about his time in Gaza also published on his website:
“When I was a soldier serving in Gaza, we had been ordered to take shelter in the back of a hospital.
“We saw Palestinian kids covered in blood rushing into the hospital from an ambulance. At the back of the hospital the children took off their T-shirts which had been covered in ketchup.”
 Elon als recalled when his unit surrounded a house with terrorists in it. A child entered it and suddenly they were ordered not to fire at the house. A Hamas sniper there however did not have any such orders, and wounded 4 of his group. Elon had a friend die in his arms.
A general in the background had given express orders not to open fire, because of human rights concerns and fear over the Geneva Convention.
 The Geneva Convention does not apply in such a situation where human shields are deployed to protect combatants firing from a defended position. I challenge anyone to show otherwise, rather than just assert it as fact.

Mr Elon could not understand this point when I put it to him that not firing on the house was madness. Israel's enemies have so changed the situation that Israeli troops are scared of defending their lives, and pay for it.

As one Israeli commander said, 'I prefer my troops in hospital than before a courts martial'.

Israeli commanders need to back their troops if they expect them to do their duty. Covering their backs now will mean much blood spent uselessly in the future. Never in the history of warfare has an army faced such an untenable situation. If the enemy knew that the war crime of using human shields would not help them, the practice would very quickly disappear.

Elon should read the revolt by Begin to understand that Britain was not benign in its occupation of Israel, but often took sides, facilitating arab attacks on jews before the state existed. The Irgun and Lehi made Britain's continued stay in Israel hot enough for Montgomery to complain of Britain having been 'driven' out of Israel. 

Britain was never an honest broker in Israel. And even its present friendliness is hard headed opportunism with regard to Israeli technology and energy security, a hankering after Israel's gas reserves. Britain's dealings with arabs go back a long way and until Israel can offer Britain the lucrative bribes that the Saudis do with their billions of dollars arms contracts the change will be long coming.

Elon Perry has served Israel well and is still doing his best in its defence. But I believe he should avoid imparting wrong history to Jews about Israel and zionism.
He would be better to instead talk about his fascinating experiences fighting in Israel's wars and of highlights of his journalistic career in Israel.
I would have wished to have heard much more from Elon Perry about himself and his own experiences.

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