Moshe Dayan, war and arabs

I've been reading "...Or Did I Dream a Dream?" (1973) by Ruth Dayan , Moshe Dayan's first wife. I'll add to this blog post from time to time as I read through the book. I've also begun Deborah Dayan's autobiography 'Pioneer'. When I get time I shall add notes from this book.

The Moshe Dayan who emerges is the opposite of the arab hating fiend supposedly committed to killing and ethnically cleansing arabs, a story beloved of anti-zionist propagandists. What instead emerges is a reluctant warrior best at home on the moshav farm and its life, who had many arab friends and who hated war. But of course anyone who is not blinded by visceral anti-semitism or indoctrinated by Israel hating professors at any western university you care to name, knows that the history of the arab - israeli conflict has always been one of Israel defending itself against genocidal arab hatred of jews and the jewish state.

And if you read contemporary books written by the pioneers of Israel they are replete with unprovoked attacks on their communities by their arab neighbours. This is so different to the distortions of history put out nowadays by a veritable wave of 'academic' works of propaganda by distorters of history such as Pappe and Shlaim which try to paint the jewish community in Palestine and jewish farmers as initiating the violence, of a wish on the part of the jews to ethnically cleanse the arabs living in Palestine. Nothing is further from the truth.

In the 1930's arabs incited by their racist and anti-semitic leader Haj Amin El Husseini, otherwise known as the Mufti of Jerusalem stepped up attacks on jews and British government representatives whose tasks were setting up of schools and helping arabs modernise their agriculture with taxes raised from the jewish population.

The Haganah from 1936 found it had to develop the means of defending jewish farms and towns as British forces would rarely intervene to stop arab aggression against them. The sympathies of the majority of British forces were with the arab attackers until arabs turned their attentions to killing British soldiers.

Moshe Dayan was very actively involved in the Haganah, going on many actions with the Haganah and Orde Wingate's Special Night Squads. Orde Wingate a fervent christian was  a very rare zionist in the British army, and he made many enemies because of his dedication to zionism and the indigenous jewish people's right to live in their own Land of Israel.

Despite like many others having to fight arabs for most of his life, Dayan never fell into the trap of hating arabs. He had many beduin and other friends and spoke perfect arabic having grown up amongst arabs.

Quotes from the book:

"And for us, trained attack dogs were often the difference between life and death: Laba once saved Moshe during a Bedouin ambush." (p57)

"When will there be peace? All I want is quieet, and all there is is terror, terror which we must fight. What will be the end? It's better not to think about that. Whatever happens, the main thing is to love one another. How awful it is when we fight!"(p60)

"Moshe was now a fighter, but he continued to long for solitude and peace: "Every night I go  out on duty, and I don't understand it Why is all this necessary? Will it always be like this?"(p63)

"Nahman (close friend of Ruth's) sent brotherly notes from Shimron: "We're working on the forest and wondering when we'll be hearing from the Arabs, who have terrorized the whole neighborhood. We hear shots but from the hills; they haven't got to us yet....." (p65)

"We are starting to sow corn......There is talk about a possible Arab attack nearby...... (p67)

"I wrote a gay note describing a "close escape from death" when my father and mother and Reumah came to Shimron to drive me to Jerusalem. Arab attacks in 1938 were frequent and dangerous, and we had a wild ride, including pursuit by an armed Arab on a motorcycle who tried to force us to the side of the road where more armed Arabs stood. My description tells more about my mother than about our earlier relationship: "Mother wanted to stop and talk to the Arabs," I wrote, "but the rest of us insisted on driving on as quickly as we could" (p67)
Moshe Dayan and 42 other Haganah members were caught by the British out training with weapons. They received long prison sentences in Acre prison, a medieval fortress.
During the course of the trial I began to see the British in a different and terribly changed light. I had always liked them, and of course loved London. But now I began to hear soldiers-who did  not know I understood English-talking about "those bloody jews."(p80)
One evening that winter I received a phone call.....It was from an Arab who was working in a match factory in Acre. "Regards from your husband," the srtanger's voice told me in English, "and don't worry."  I had no idea what he was talking about and did not learn till later. Moshe had been caught with a prohibited tin of bully-beef, one of the food items we used to smuggle in, and his punishment was several days in solitary confinement.(p83)
On one visit I brought Yael, who at eighteen months was already walking. She managed to squeeze through the entanglements of barbed wire and throw her arms around her father. As they held each other through the wire, the child in a fluttering white dress and the kneeling man in a bronwn prison uniform, I heard the campt sergeant shout, "If you don't take that kid out I'll shoot!". The scene haunted me for months.(p86)

There were also Arab prisoners, detained fro illegal political activity, and relations between them and the Jewish prisoners were generally excellent. for the Feast of Ramadan that year the Jews ate in the Arab mess, and when some Bedouin prisoners from a tribe near Nahalal were also arrested, Moshe wrote with concern asking what had happened to those he knew. (p87)
In WWII after an indiscriminate Italian bombing of Tel-Aviv that had killed 99 people and injured hundreds. Haifa was attacked killing and injuring mostly arabs:

It was not the first time I had seen dead and wounded, for all through the thirties people had been killed in ambushes and attacks.

Italian planes struck Haifa once more. This time, in addition to the bombs, they dropped leaflets in Arabic claiming to be "Defenders of Islam." What they hit was a mosque and a poor Arab residential section, and in this raid all victims were Arabs-32 killed and 68 wounded.
The arab sector had no tradition of public service or of receiving anything from governments prior to the British administration. Representatives of the Ottoman government which ruled Palestine until 1917 would turn up in a village only to tax and arrest, just as is the case in many third world countries today. Needless to say this did not inspire respect for authority or a civic conscience in arab society. Little has changed in arab society up until now with taxation and public service ethos being notably absent in arab towns in Yehudah and Shomron, just as it is absent throughout the world. This identity with the tribe rather than the wider community was a major reason for the collapse of arab society once Israel in May 1948 went from defending its settlements to counter-attacking the sources of terror amongst the arabs who since the 1960's like to describe themselves as 'palestinian.' Villages which had pillaged jewish towns and farms at will found that when israeli forces went over to the attack, neighbouring villages were usually loathe to intervene in another village's dispute. They expected arab armies to fight the battles for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment