Shimon Peres doubts Israel can win Permanent war or Survive Annexation of West Bank

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres, 92, gave an interview with the Associated Press Monday in which he spoke bluntly about the mistakes of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, without naming him.

Of the Greater Israel project of the country’s right wing, which aims at annexing the Palestinian West Bank while keeping the people there stateless, he said,

“Better to have a Jewish state on part of the land than have the whole land without the Jewish state,” he said. “Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake because if we should lose our majority, and today we are almost equal, we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state . . . That’s the main issue, and to my regret they (the government) do the opposite.”

That is, Peres thinks that the Likud Party and its partners are living in a fool’s paradise if they believe they can annex the whole of Palestinian territory without getting the Palestinians as Israeli citizens eventually. And then, Peres says, no more Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu is willing to live by the sword more or less permanently in order to accomplish his annexation of the Palestinian West Bank. Peres thinks this approach foolish and dangerous.

“The alternative to two states is a continued war and nobody can maintain a war forever. If you say we should live on our sword don’t forget that there are other swords as well . . .

Peres called bullshit on Netanyahu’s constant refrain that he is ready for peace talks, noting that he never has actually concluded any peace agreements. It is all talk, he said.

“A politician and a government should be judged by one way only, on the record of what you do or did, not on what you say . . .”

Peres remains convinced that assassinated Israeli labor leader Yitzhak Rabin, killed by an Israeli rightwinger, would have made peace with the Palestinians and that his killing was a turning point in Israel’s history.

This is Juan speaking: I went to visit the tomb of Yitzhak Rabin the last time I was in Tel Aviv. I was disappointed that it seemed small and hard to find. He seemed to me to deserve something grander. Maybe what’s left of the Israeli left wing can do something about this.

The big difference between Peres and Netanyahu is that Peres is a realistic Zionist. He has his eyes open about the likely consequences of the annexation of the Palestinian West Bank. The world is turning against Israel because no one likes Apartheid practices or creeping ethnic cleansing. That Israel can usurp the land without absorbing the people seems a remote possibility to Peres.

Another point of realism is that Peres understands that the Arabs and other pro-Palestinian powers won’t be weak and supine forever. Already the Gulf states are building highly sophisticated militaries. Turkey, which under President Tayyip Erdogan is pro-Palestinian, is a member of NATO and has actually had Israel disinvited from some NATO activities. Israel’s nuclear arsenal of several hundred bombs forestalls any conventional invasion. But we increasingly live in an era of micro-wars, in the fight against which Israel has proved vulnerable.

Netanyahu thinks he can fight a forever war, and that he can grab up the Palestinian West Bank while successfully excluding the Palestinians from the rights of citizenship in a state.

Peres is sure he cannot do either.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AFP from last year: “Former Israeli president Peres calls for Palestinian state”

23 Responses

  1. Do not do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.

    Real peace comes from spiritual awakening, when those in positions of power and control rise in their levels of consciousness to reflect the universal attribute of Peace, regardless of their religious or non-religious paths, when they reflect the other higher qualities, such as forgiveness, love, justice, lack of desire for power, control, land and resources, selflessness, generosity, humility, etc.

    • Unfortunately for everyone involved, Netanyahu adheres to the Bully’s golden rule “Do unto others before they become strong enough to do unto you“.

  2. Given the growing entrenchment and ideological polarisation in Israeli society, it remains unlikely a self-turnaround will occur. It may take another generation of grassroot movements – from the international community – for Israel’s South Africa moment…but it maybe “too late”.

  3. Even a “quick and dirty” look at the last 50,000 years of human history on this rock will show that exactly ZERO belligerent groups have avoided eventually suffering total, humiliating DEFEAT and the IDF will NOT do any better, so Peres has a very, very valid point. Either Israel gives up lots of land, water, cash for compensation and apologies for Israeli behavior over the last 100 years or Israel will be defeated either militarily or culturally. In either case, Israel as a “Jewish nation” will cease to exist.

    From a military point of view, Israel has no advantage over its opponents. The world is awash in weapons equal to or better than anything Israel has or will ever have and most of the weapons that Israel’s opponents have are much, much more cost effective (more “bang for the buck”), so Israel can not afford as many “war toys.”

    The myth of the Israeli “super warriors” is entirely a myth. The IDF has no better leadership, nor better soldiers.

    As for the mythical “magic weapons” the “super brainy” Israelis supposedly have – they DO NOT EXIST because they violate the basic laws of physics, thermodynamics and chemistry.

    The bottom line is, if Israel keeps relying on the sword, it will die by the sword because it can not sustain their belligerence forever – they will run out of money, war toys and cannon fodder long before their opponents.

    Israelis seem to suffer from double hubris:

    – Very delusionaly vastly over-estimating their ability, and

    – Very delusionaly vastly under-estimating their opponents.

    This can not turn out well unless someone knocks some sense into the Israelis.

    • Strength is transient indeed, but I suspect that the Israeli upper-class knows that, and doesn’t delude itself into believing that eternal dominion by the sword is possible:

      In the final years of French colonial dominion over Algeria, the few thousands of wealthy land and factory owners -the de facto colonial aristocracy- kept telling the million of middle-class Pieds-Noirs that France would beat the Algerian rebels into submission, while liquidating their algerian assets and preparing their golden “exile” in metropolitan France: that, I think, is the template followed by the Israeli upper-class: to keep ruling their narrow strip of land for as long as possible, then leave on the eve of its predictable collapse and abandon their middle and working class compatriots to the next rulers’ wrath.

    • While this may be a bit of nit picking, while I agree with your main point, I disagree that the Israelis have not had better leadership and better soldiers. To date, Israel has had, in general, better generalship, a better trained military, and often better weapons than the Arab armies it has fought. Its integration of tactical air with its army has been especially outstanding and often the difference. Trevor Dupuy has written a good book on this subject. This has often been aided by Arab disunity and cannot last forever..

      • The key word is “PAST.”

        Yes, Israel ** HAD ** better weapons and military leadership in 1967 (The cannon fodder was no better than the opponents).

        BUT . . . .

        That is all in the distant past.

        As I noted, every country in the ME has equivalent weapons and tactics.

        – Personal weapons –

        Every person in the ME (and most of the world for that matter) has an automatic assault weapon. That is, an AK-47 or its local equivalent. Yes, Americans and Israelis have better body amour, BUT that only keeps soldiers somewhat alive enough to cause a huge burden for the others still alive. It can actually be a detriment in a fire fight. As the USA found out in Iraq and Afghanistan, firefights are a toss up as to who loses less (no one “wins:). Israel’s opponents are equal to Israel.

        – Group weapons (aircraft, missiles, cannons, etc) –

        Israel has spent their money on whiz-bang high tech, high complexity (and very high cost) war toys, whereas there opponents have spent their money on lower tech, lower complexity, lower cost and much higher reliability war toys. Because of basic economics and the technical law of complexity = high failure, Israel’s opponents actually have a MAJOR advantage. Per the IDF there are more than 50,000 reasonably accurate missiles pointed at Israel, but Israel only has the capacity to stop less than 1,000 of these. The rest will turn Israel into a rubble heap. Israel has only about 400 active attack aircraft, yet their opponents have thousands of very accurate and reliable anti-aircraft missiles, from MANPADs that can kill planes that are at less than 10,000 feet altitude to BUK and S-300/400 that can kill a B-52 at 50,000 feet altitude.

        When all of the capabilities are taken into account, with the realization that thousands of inexpensive missiles easily trump a few hundred aircraft, it becomes clear that not only is Israel not “superior” but the shift in weapons technology employed by its opponents has actually caused Israel to be less capable.

        As for leadership, Israel again no longer has an edge.

        Partially this is political, because the Israeli political leadership has been ignoring the IDF leadership for years and doing things that will make the problems worse, not better. The military KNOWS that occupying the west bank is counter productive and dangerous, but the political leadership ignores them. The IDF leadership knows that they no longer have a military edge, but the political leadership still rattles sabres and provokes conflict.

        The other change has been caused by communication technology. Now, the opponents know exactly how Israel is vulnerable and what techniques will work. The USA has been training Israel’s opponents for over ten years by invading Iraq and Afghanistan and letting Israel’s opponents discover what works and what does not work. Israel’s opponents are extremely battle-hardened and well trained (thanks to the USA neocons).

        The bottom line is TODAY, Israel has no military advantage and in some ways is at a disadvantage because of their inability to re-think their weapons and strategies.

        Past “glories” are no predictor of future “wins.” Israel’s opponents have taken advantage of the weapons and tactics advancements over the last 30+ years whereas Israel has not. In the next war, it is NOT a “safe bet” to pick Israel as the “winner” (actually the less loser because the war will be terrible for everyone).

  4. re: “Netanyahu thinks he can fight a forever war, and that he can grab up the Palestinian West Bank while successfully excluding the Palestinians from the rights of citizenship in a state.”

    The U.S. had done a lot to make that possible, and appears set to continue that policy, based on what our politicians say.

  5. “A politician and a government should be judged by one way only, on the record of what you do or did, not on what you say . . .”

    Oh really … well let’s judge Mr Peres on what he did;

    “He ordered innocent victims slaughtered on his watch. He’s a serial killer multiple times over. He bears direct responsibility for crimes too grave to be ignored. 

    link to

    And of Ovadia Yosef who once stated that “goyim are like donkeys … born to serve the people of Israel” Peres said;

    “The hand that was still warm and I kissed his forehead which to me looked more noble than ever. When I squeezed his hand, I felt that I was squeezing the hand of history and when I kissed his forehead, I thought that I was kissing the majesty of Israel,” he said.

    Peres like Netanyahu should be in the dock for war crimes and our politicians should be ostracising him for his blatant racism.

  6. Nitwityahoo and his subscribers are the absolute paramount threat to the survival of the state of Israel. He is a fool complete.

  7. Nukes won’t prevent a civil war. Right now it’s just knives. If Israel’s elite had any sense they’d hurry to find a way towards peace. Peres is entirely right that they cannot win this in the long run.

    • Nukes are pretty much totally useless. Any country that uses nukes, especially Israel, will essentially be committing suicide. Realistically Israel can not nuke Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine or the Sinai without contaminating themselves and their food supplies. While they could nuke further out, they will be either counter-nuked (Saudi Arabia) or will contaminate other nations down-wind of the destruction that have nuclear capability and the means to counter-nuke Israel (China, Pakistan, India and in the near future Japan). Note that NONE of the nations that may counter-nuke Israel has any fear of the USA. That is there is nothing the USA could do to prevent a counter-nuke. All the USA could do is yell at the counter-nuker after the fact, who will simply tell the USA to go f*** itself.

      So as you noted, nukes will NOT protect Israel from internal conflict nor from external attack.

  8. Whether the decline and fall of Israel is inevitable or wishful thinking remains to be seen, but it is a safe bet that things will get much worse for the Palestinians before they improve. It also looks like a safe bet that politicians in the White House and Congress will continue to be complicit in this immoral and illegal tragedy. And that is regardless of who becomes the next president.

  9. A two sate solution will without doubt be most of the good land, and sources of water diverted to Israel and the bad land, sectioned and disconnected from other Palestinian areas given to Palestine.
    Maybe the only hope for Palestinians is to live in a democratic one state for all.

  10. I’m surprised that Juan does not challenge the statement that ” if we should lose our majority…we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state.” Setting aside comparison to neighboring undemocratic states, the current “Jewish state” has many undemocratic qualities. And there is nothing inherent or inescapable about a single state vision that precludes democracy.

  11. Frankly I don’t think the world would care that much about their Jewish state or how they behave in it if they were to confine themselves within their own borders where they would be just like so many other countries with practices contrary to broad moral norms. What is increasingly unacceptable is the continued occupation of Palestinian land and their treatment of the peoples there, not so much because of any widespread love for Palestinians but because Israel’s behaviour runs firmly counter to accepted moral aspirations, aspirations for the kind of world we would like to see. The Western world, for all its adoption of Hebrew mythopoeia, is more deeply rooted in Homeric, Platonic, and Roman traditions and values.

  12. What is missing from Peres’ account of events is that Israel always planned for ethnic cleansing; he just now realizes that it can’t be done without consequences, which the Likud ignores. Terminating democracy and creating an apartheid state is a perfectly acceptable fallback for the Likud in case its plans fail.

  13. Israel is an apartheid state, and has been for decades. This is fact. Historical justice, however, is a subjective desire, not something inevitable. The Arab world is rapidly going down in flames; they are too busy saving themselves to back up the Palestinians.

  14. Juan, isn’t it interesting (or sad) that the graves (monuments) to Meir Kahane and Baruch Goldstein in Hebron–which are illegal under Israeli law–are bigger than Rabin’s grave?

  15. What are the Israelis going to do when the Palestinians finally understand that their “half” of a two-state solution is not viable and decide to demand Israeli citizenship within a one-state solution? Palestinian leadership hasn’t talked about that option much, but recent polls would seem to indicate that somebody within the Palestinian population is starting to drift in that direction. Even tougher to answer is how does a US administration respond to such a Palestinian request.

  16. What exactly does Peres have in mind when he advocates for a two-state solution? In 2008, he was reported to have “told members of the British Parliament … that Israel would have difficulty dismantling West Bank settlements without causing a civil war in Israel.” [link given below]

    The only two-state solution that Palestinians would accept, and the one which the world expects, would require the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Yet, Peres thinks this could lead to a civil war in Israel. Perhaps what he really has mind is something much less that a genuine Palestinian state, but rather an arrangement that allows Israel to keep its settlements in place, while giving limited autonomy to Palestinians. This would not be a more realistic approach than Netanyahu’s present course.

    link to

Comments are closed.