Yaël Dayan, the daughter of Israel’s most famous general and defense minister, Moshe Dayan, was in Nashville recently and spoke at the Scarritt-Bennett Center. Moshe Dayan was almost as famous for his black eye patch as he was for planning the capture of East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967.
Yaël Dayan is no blushing violet herself, having served as an officer in the Israeli army. She later served as a member of the Knesset (Israel’s main legislative body, similar to Great Britain’s Parliament) and is currently the chair of the Tel Aviv city council.
Yaël Dayan does not agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu that the 1967 borders of Israel are “indefensible.” Nor does the man primarily responsible for defending those borders, Ehud Barak, the current Israeli defense minister. In an interview with Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times, Barak refuted Bibi’s bluff, saying, “Israel is the strongest country for 1,000 miles around Jerusalem, and we should be self-confident enough not to lose sight of what has to be done. What we need is a sense of direction and a readiness to take decisions. We have to do it [trade land for peace].”
Why is the tiny state of Israel with its relatively small population vastly more powerful than any nation south of Russia? Primarily because the United States has poured billions of dollars in financial aid and advanced weapons into Israel over the last half-century. Israel may rank as high as fourth in land-air military power, after the United States, China and Russia. And Israel has a large cache of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, making it impossible for any of its neighbors to “win” a war with Israel, or even attempt an invasion.
In an interview with the Nashville Scene, Yaël Dayan agreed with Ehud Barak that Israel is able to bargain from a position of strength, not weakness, saying, “I would say a high percentage — certainly more than 50, 60, 70 percent [of Israeli Jews] — know that the last few wars were wars of choice. No one can destroy us. We can be destroyed if we don't have the support of the United States and the rest of the free world, but we don't have a survival problem … I think they [hawks like Netanyahu] are abusing the word ‘security.’ I think they are misinforming on purpose. And I think they are really very dangerous for the future of Israel. They are questioning our need for peace and our ability to obtain peace.”
The real danger to Israel is that continuing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their native land will alienate Israel from western nations that believe racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing are crimes against peace and humanity. If the American public ever opens its eyes and stands for its stated ideals of equal rights, justice and democracy for all human beings, Israel will be in deep trouble.
Yaël Dayan also told the Nashville Scene that in Israel “more and more people realize we cannot have peace and occupation or peace and settlements. We have to opt for one or the other … the only possible way to go ahead with the peace plan is the end of occupation and the evacuation of most settlements.”
And it seems Moshe Dayan might well agree with his daughter. For much of his life, he was a hawk, advocating harsh treatment of Arabs who resisted Israel. But he became more moderate later in his career and played an important role in the eventual peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. In 1997, Rami Tal, an Israeli journalist, published conversations he had with Dayan in 1976 in which Dayan confessed that more than 80 percent of the border clashes between Israel and Syria were the result of deliberate Israeli provocations.
“It went this way: We would send a tractor to plough someplace where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was.”
He also added the following:
“I made a mistake in allowing the Israeli conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister, I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.”
Most Nashvillians, like most Americans, have been fed and believed a near-constant stream of pro-Israel war propaganda. Every Palestinian is a “terrorist,” while terroristic actions of the Israeli military are ignored or excused. A thousand Palestinian civilians die, one Israeli soldier is taken hostage, and yet what we hear about is the unfairness of the Israeli soldier being held hostage. Yes, some Palestinian men retaliate with acts of terrorism, but Israel took 93 percent of their land by force, without paying for it. Anywhere else in the world that is called “armed robbery.”
Now there is an offer on the table for Israel to return about 20 percent of the land, which is hardly “just” by any standard of morality. But because the Palestinians have no military and no powerful friend like the United States, they would probably accept this unjust offer in return for a viable state and the end of the current Israeli military occupation. But Jewish hawks like Netanyahu and utterly blind, hypocritical American politicians continue to insist that Israel is “defenseless” and that it is “unfair” for Israel to be required to stop stealing even more Palestinian land, while continuing to ethnically cleanse Palestinians.
My fellow Nashvillians and Americans, that is not the path to peace but the path to World War III and Armageddon.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.