Dutch-Israeli Military Historian -
'We Are Destroying Ourselves'
From: Ingrid Rimland

The ZGram reader who sent me this interview prefaced it as follows:
"The following interview of the Jewish military historian Martin van Crefeld by the Dutch magazine Elsevier was discovered on Indymedia by one of our readers. The views and opinions revealed here expose Israeli policy with a frankness only possible for a Jew. (...) We recommend that our readers give careful study to this interview.
"The prominent Dutch magazine Elsevier has published a conversation with Dutch-Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld. The following has been translated from the Dutch [and then from the German]":
"We are destroying ourselves."
"In Israel a scenario of doom is taking shape."
Interview with the much reviled Dutch-Israeli Military Historian Martin van Creveld
Professor Martin van Creveld, an internationally known and controversial professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, foresees only extreme developments for the appreciable future. The methods by which Israel is currently combating the Intifada are doomed to failure. The chances for peace and the founding of a Palestinian state are visibly diminishing. A conversation with a pessimist, who, as he himself says, is reviled in his own country.
Interviewer: Your specialty is war. Is what's going on here war at all?
Creveld: Certainly, although the Palestinians have no government, no army, and no [nationality]. Everything is in chaos. That's why we won't win the war, either. If we could identify and eliminate every terrorist, we'd win this struggle within forty-eight hours. The Palestinian administration has the same difficulties. Even in Arafat decided to comply with our conditions and surrender tomorrow, it's virtually certain that the Intifada would continue.
Interviewer: Are there any similarities on the Israeli side?
Creveld: If the dispute lasts much longer, the Israeli government will lose control of its people. For people will say: "If government can't protect us, what on earth can they do for us? If the government can't guarantee that we'll be alive tomorrow, what good are they? We'll defend ourselves."
Interviewer: So Israel is beaten in advance?
Creveld: On that I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing." That certainly applies here. I regard a total Israeli defeat as unavoidable. That will mean the collapse of the Israeli state and society. We'll destroy ourselves.
Interviewer: Is there any point to the recent Israeli military offensive?
Creveld: This offensive is totally useless; it's only further enraging the Palestinians. Perhaps there will be a short-lived calm, but in the end there will even more suicide attackers.
Interviewer: Is there any hope?
Creveld: If I were Arafat, I wouldn't stop either. I'd only cease in exchange for a very far-reaching political accord. And it seems as if we have a government [under Sharon-tr.] that won't make Arafat such an offer. If elections were held today, the Left would be thoroughly beaten.
Interviewer: Some maintain that it is Israel's foreign enemies that keep the country unified.
Creveld: That's right. I only wish that there were foreign enemies, but that isn't the case. We've fought our external enemies for so many years. Each time there was a war, we took a mighty hammer to our foes, and after being defeated a few times, they left us alone. The problem with the Palestinian revolt is that it doesn't come from without, but rather from within. Therefore we can't avail ourselves of the hammer.
Interviewer: Is the solution, then, to keep the Palestinians outside the borders?
Creveld: Exactly, and right now there's nearly unanimous agreement on that. We ought to build a wall "so high, that not even a bird can fly over it." The only problem is: where to put the border? Since we can't decide whether the territories conquered in 1967 should be included, for the time being we improvise a little. We're building a series of little walls, which are much more difficult to defend. From a military standpoint this is very stupid. Every supermarket has gradually acquired its own living wall of security guards. Half the Israeli population is guarding the other half-unbelievable. Aside from the fantastic waste, it's almost totally useless.
Interviewer: Does that mean that the Palestinians stay within the borders?
Creveld: No, it means that they all get deported. The people who strive for this are waiting only for the right man and the right time. Two years ago only 7 or 8 percent of Israelis were of the opinion that this would be the best solution, two months ago it was 33 percent and now, according to a Gallup poll, the figure is 44 percent.
Interviewer: Will that ever be possible?
Creveld: Sure, since desperate times give rise to desperate measures. Today there's a fifty-fifty split on where the border should run. Two years ago 90 percent wanted the wall built along the old border. That has completely changed now, and if things continue, if the terror doesn't stop, in another two years perhaps 90 percent will want to build the wall along the Jordan. The Palestinians talk of "summutt," meaning hang tough, cling to the ground and the soil. I have enormous respect for the Palestinians. They fight heroically. But if we in fact want to strike across the Jordan, we would need only a few brigades. If the Syrians or the Egyptians were to try to stop us, we'd wipe them out. Ariel Sharon is leader. He never improvises: he always has a plan.
Interviewer: A plan to deport the Palestinians?
Creveld: I think it's quite possible that he wants to do that. He wants to escalate the conflict. He knows that nothing else we do will succeed.
Interviewer: Do you think that the world will allow that kind of ethnic cleansing?
Creveld: That depends on who does it and how quickly it happens. We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force.
Interviewer: Wouldn't Israel then become a rogue state?
Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.
Interviewer: This isn't your own position, is it?
Creveld: Of course not. You asked me what might happen and I've laid it out. The only question is whether it is already too late for the other solution, which I support, and whether Israeli public opinion can still be convinced. I think it's too late. With each passing day the expulsion of the Palestinians grows more probable. The alternative would be the total annihilation and disintegration of Israel. What do you expect from us?
This interview was conducted by Ferry Biedermann in Jerusalem.
Source: rg/2003/01/39170.shtml



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