Benny Morris

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Israel’s Security Depends on Rafah

Unfortunately, Benjamin Netanyahu is right — “unfortunately”, I say, because he is the most incompetent, corrupt and divisive Israeli prime minister ever, as many in Israel believe. But he is right that it’s crucial for Israel to conquer Rafah and destroy the Hamas battalions ensconced in that city at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, protected by a human shield of some 1.4 million residents and refugees from the north.

If this does not happen, Hamas will survive to fight and murder and rape another day — and its leader, Yahya Sinwar, will emerge from his hiding place declaring victory.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Iron Dome air-defense system fires to intercept a rocket over the city of Ashdod in Israel. (Ilia Yefimovich / Getty Images)

Strategically speaking, the Iron Dome antimissile shield, precisely because of its effectiveness, has been disastrous for Israel: It has saved Hamas from destruction and it has helped to seriously undermine Israel's image as a civilized state in the eyes of many in the West.

During the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Iron Dome has efficiently protected Israel from massive damage and casualties. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip had launched 2,648 rockets against Israel, and that was before a temporary cease-fire was broken Tuesday. Most fell in empty fields. The 600-odd rockets that had accurately targeted towns and villages were almost all successfully intercepted by Iron Dome's Tamir missiles — a nearly 90% success rate, according to the Israel Defense Forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Half a century ago, relations between Israel and Britain were friendly. More than friendly. They were characterised by admiration. And nowhere in Britain was sympathy and admiration stronger than on the Left and among the young. The Left admired Israel’s social democracy, energy and pioneering spirit – Israel was one of the few states that emerged after the Second World War, and the only one in the Middle East, that became a success story.

There was huge admiration, too, for the kibbutz movement, with its three hundred-odd collective settlements, in which thousands of young Britons spent months, and even years, as volunteers, enjoying the egalitarian spirit, agricultural labour and sex.…  Seguir leyendo »

Most people in the Arab world, according to opinion polls, believe that the Holocaust never happened, that it's a Jewish invention and trick to win the world's sympathy and support. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is similarly minded; he has said so countless times.

In the West, speaking of the Holocaust, most leaders and commentators concede that it did, indeed, occur. But, privately and sometimes publicly, some tell the Israelis: "Get over it." They mean that the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II should not dominate, or perhaps even strongly influence,Israel's policies today.

But is this reasonable or even moral?…  Seguir leyendo »

The story goes like this: ­before 1948, the Zionists/Israelis were saintly; in more recent times, they have grown brutal (or inefficient). This version of history, as implied by Max Hastings in his essay in the Guardian last Saturday, might accurately reflect the radical mood swings of a disenchanted admirer. Whether it serves up historical truth is another matter.

The simple truth is that since before its inception, the Arab world has laid siege to the Zionist enterprise and tried to destroy or badly weaken it, in war after war and terrorist campaign after terrorist campaign, by continuous political delegitimisation, assault and boycott.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muchos israelíes tienen la sensación de que el mundo (y la historia) se les viene encima en un Estado nacido hace apenas 60 años, al igual que ocurriera a comienzos de junio de 1967, justo antes de que Israel se embarcara en la Guerra de los Seis Días y destruyera los ejércitos egipcio, jordano y sirio en el Sinaí, Cisjordania y los Altos del Golán.

Hace más de 40 años, los egipcios expulsaron a las fuerzas de paz de Naciones Unidas de su frontera en el Sinaí, cerraron el estrecho de Tirán al tráfico marítimo y aéreo israelí, y desplegaron el equivalente a siete divisiones acorazadas y de infantería a las puertas del Estado judío.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many Israelis feel that the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state, much as they felt in early June 1967, just before Israel launched the Six-Day War and destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies in Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

More than 40 years ago, the Egyptians had driven a United Nations peacekeeping force from the Sinai-Israel border, had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and air traffic and had deployed the equivalent of seven armored and infantry divisions on Israel’s doorstep. Egypt had signed a series of military pacts with Syria and Jordan and placed troops in the West Bank.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.

It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear strike, or that both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beholding Israel today, Theodor Herzl - Zionism's fin-de-siecle prophet and founding organiser - would have alternatively beamed and frowned. Beamed because the Jewish state, with all its flaws, is a major success story among post-1945 states. It is a vibrant, liberal democracy, governed by the rule of law and attentive to the civil and human rights of its citizenry. Its Arab minority, for all its complaints, enjoys social benefits (Israel's Jews in effect finance, through child benefits, the demographic growth that threatens Jewish dominance), prosperity and freedoms - including the freedom to lambast the Jewish state and support its mortal enemies - that can only be dreamt of in Arab states.…  Seguir leyendo »