Tony Greenstein | 09 January 2018 | Post Views:

Levi Eshkol

A myth has
grown up that the Israeli Labour Party provides a real political alternative to
Netanyahu and Likud.  In part this is
wishful thinking.  The belief that
nothing can be as bad as the present far-Right coalition government.   But it is also ahistorical.  There
is nothing that Likud have done that the Israeli Labour Party hasn’t done
before it.

As its new
leader Avi Gabbay is quickly demonstrating, historically the Israeli Labour
Party was as racist as its Revisionist opponents. The following article, which is
taken from Ha’aretz, shows that Israeli leaders were contemplating genocide in
1967.  Levi Eshkol, who was always
considered a liberal Zionist, suggested stopping water supplies to
the Gazans in order to ‘encourage’ them to leave.
That is why
it is so outrageous that the Jewish Labour Movement, the British branch of the Israeli Labour Party, is an affiliated ‘socialist’ society of the British Labour
Party.  The Labour Party was every bit as
much a party of Empire as the Tories, even if they dressed it up in the
language of trusteeship and benevolence. 
The alliance with the Zionist settlers was an integral part of Labour’s
support for Empire. 
Today Israel
is an integral part of the alliance with America.  Israel is the United State’s racist rottweiler
in the Middle East.  Israel is a symbol
of support for the American alliance, something that the Labour Right hold very dear. Pampering master’s dog is a way of paying
homage to the NATO alliance.  That is why
the Labour Right is so enthusiastic about Israel.  It is the lynchpin of the US presence in the Middle
East and our role as very much a junior supporting one.
Those who
are not serious about breaking with support for US imperialism will not be
serious about breaking with Labour Zionism and disaffiliating the Jewish Labour
Movement.  That is why the detestable racist, Emily Thornberry has said that those who don’t support Israel’s right to exist (as a racist state) should be expelled.

There are some people, the latest being Socialist Fight, who believe that American foreign policy on Israel owes something to a Jewish lobby.  For them and others I remind them of what Alexander Haig, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan said:

Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.’

Isaac Herzog and Avi Gabbay – past and present leaders of the Israeli Labour Party – both vehemently anti-Arab
Jonathan Ofir on November 17, 2017

Levi Eshkol,
prime minister of Israel in the 1960s.
 “Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a
choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither.”
That is what Israeli Prime
Minster Levi Eshkol said in 1967 about Gaza, as revealed in newly declassified
documents from the time. Ofer Aderet of Haaretz reported about this today.
Avi Gabbay – Israeli Labour’s new leader served in Netanyahu’s cabinet
As I have already written, Eshkol, the leftist
‘liberal Zionist,’ was very willing to send Palestinians to the moon:
“I want them all to go,
even if they go to the moon”,
he said. 
As is widely known, the
standard UN definition of Genocide includes
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

These newly declassified
documents reveal that the genocidal policy was indeed there already in 1967.
This is important, because it sheds light on later policies, such as Israel’s siege of Gaza, which is part of an
‘incremental genocide,’ as historian Ilan Pappe has been calling it since 2006,
and it puts the notion of a “huge concentration camp”, the term Haaretz
journalist Amira Hass has used for Gaza, in historical perspective.  
Indeed, Eshkol was aware in
the months after the 1967 war of the “suffocation and imprisonment” in Gaza in
1967, as the declassified documents reveal. And he was quite clear about this
being an instrument to effect Israeli strategy:
“precisely because of the
suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza
he said.
Eshkol was also
paraphrasing Herzl, when Eshkol told the cabinet he was “working on the
establishment of a unit or office that will engage in encouraging Arab
He noted that

“We should deal with this
issue quietly, calmly and covertly, and we should work on finding a way from
them to emigrate to other countries and not just over the Jordan [River].”
This is a near quote of
Herzl’s 1895 diary entry:
“We shall try to spirit the
penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the
transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property
owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the
removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly
”, Herzl wrote.
Defense Minister Moshe
Dayan was approving of Eshkol’s (and Herzl’s) ideas. He said, 
“By allowing these Arabs to
seek and find work in foreign countries, there’s a greater chance that they’ll
want to migrate to those countries later.”
Dayan raised the idea of
giving the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza permits to work abroad, in
the hope that some would prefer to stay there.
Eshkol was rather obsessed
with the ethnic cleansing of Gaza as a prime issue:
“We are interested in
emptying out Gaza first”,
he said.
This shows that the notion
of the complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza is not limited to right-wing
politicians such as Moshe Feiglin, who as Likud Knesset co-speaker in July 2014,
provided a 7-point plan to Netanyahu, to do just
Eshkol also provides for
other more apocalyptic options:
“Perhaps we can expect
another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of
‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”
This ‘luxury’ (for
Zionists, that is), is quite precisely what the ‘leftist’ Israeli historian
Benny Morris was speaking about when he told Ari Shavit in 2004:
“But I am ready to tell you
that in other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized
in five or ten years, I can see expulsions”.  
Dayan, by the way, was a
bit more ‘generous’ than Eshkol, and suggested that out of the 400,000 Gazans,
the 100,000 whom he considered ‘not refugees’ would be allowed to stay. 
Dayan also seems to suggest
the ‘Bantustan’ blueprint, which is the idea that has informed Israeli policy
in the West Bank, even within the ‘peace-process’ of the last few decades, even
when Israel was supposedly being ‘generous’:  
“No soldier will have any
interest in interfering in the lives of the inhabitants. I have no interest in
the army sitting precisely in Nablus. It can sit on a hill outside Nablus”,
Dayan said.
In the same way, Israel
does not need to be IN Gaza, or only occasionally. It’s much easier to just
control the prison from outside, from a nearby hill…
In 1967, Israel was
experiencing the duality of exhilarated joy at the ‘liberation’ of the new
territories (as even ‘leftist hero’ Ehud Barak puts it), and the ‘trouble’ of the
Palestinian presence. This is embodied in Eshkol’s words:
“I suggest that we don’t
come to a vote or a decision today; there’s time to deal with this joy, or
better put, there’s time to deal with this trouble”.
The ‘trouble’ was of course
the Palestinian ‘demographic problem’, which has been looming upon Israel from
its very beginning.
“I cannot imagine it — how
we will organize life in this country when we have 1.4 million Arabs and we are
2.4 million, with 400,000 Arabs already in the country?”
, Eshkol said.
These words are very
interesting to scrutinize. When Eshkol says “we are 2.4 million”, he is
actually not including the Palestinian citizens of Israel (known in
Israel as ‘Israeli Arabs’). This is clear, because in 1967, the total population of Israel was nearly 2.8
million. The last time the population was 2.4 million was early 1963. The prime
minister couldn’t possibly be making a numerical error of that magnitude. No;
Eshkol is clearly excluding the Palestinian population from the count, and
treating it as a population to be regarded as a fifth column, an alien
population, of ‘Arabs already in the country’ – just like the 1.4 million Arabs
who have just come under Israel’s control. Let it be noted, that in late 1966,
Israel relinquished its 19-year military regime over Palestinian citizens
in Israel. Eshkol’s words demonstrate that whilst the relinquishing of this
regime happened technically, and for ‘moral’ reasons, the establishment’s
overall perception of Palestinian citizens was still as ‘others’.
The concern with the
‘demographic problem’ in the minutes is all-consuming. Education Minister
Zalman Aranne was emphatic about the ‘demographic threat’:
“The way I know the Jewish
people in Israel and the Diaspora, after all the heroism, miracles and wonders,
a Jewish state in which there are 40 percent Arabs, is not a Jewish state. It
is a fifth column that will destroy the Jewish state. It will be the kiss of
death after a generation or a generation and a half”.
Adding vitriolic spices of
‘Arab hatred’ and the ‘high birth rate’ of Arabs, Aranne continued:
“I see the two million Jews
before me differently when there will be 1.3 million Arabs — 1.3 million Arabs,
with their high birth rate and their permanent pent-up hatred. … We can
overcome 60,000 Arabs, but not 600,000 and not a million”.
Finally, there is an
interesting part about Jewish settlement in Al-Khalil (Hebron). Eshkol showed
the ministers a letter he received in November 1967 from associates of the dean
of Hebron Yeshiva — which had relocated to Jerusalem after the 1929 Hebron
Massacre — asking the government to “make appropriate arrangements to let
dozens of the yeshiva’s students, teachers and supervisors return and set up a
branch in Hebron
.” Labour Minister Yigal Allon (author of the famous Allon
Plan to annex large swaths of the West Bank) was all for it: “There is a
benefit in finding the first nucleus of people willing to settle there. The
desire of these yeshiva students is a great thing. There aren’t always
candidates willing to go to such a difficult place
”, he said.
So much for rogue religious
rightwing settlers twisting Israel’s arm.  
Those who have followed the
Zionist historical trace may not be surprised by these statements, nor that
they are uttered by ‘liberal-Zionists’, by ‘leftists’.
The logic here is, after
all, Zionism 101. Nonetheless, they can still be shocking to read, and they
should be. These are statements that convey clear intention of ethnic
cleansing, and even Genocide. Emptying out, suffocation, deprivation of
water till orchards wither.
These words are not uttered by rightist Zionist
leaders, but by leftist ones. No wonder Israel keeps these archives hidden for
50 years and more

H/T Ian Berman for bringing
the recent Haaretz article to my attention.

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Tony Greenstein

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