Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Sheer Netanyahu Idiocy:
Valley Under Israeli Control to Defend Against ISIS!
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 7, 2014
The Watch on the Jordan
THE ARAB world
is in turmoil. Syria and Iraq are breaking apart, the thousand-year old
conflict between Muslim Sunnis and Muslim Shiites is reaching a new climax.
A historic drama is unfolding around us.
And what is the reaction of
Binyamin Netanyahu put it succinctly: “We must
defend Israel on the Jordan River, before they reach Tel Aviv.”
Simple, concise, idiotic.
DEFEND ISRAEL against whom? Against
ISIS, of course.
ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham – a new
force in the Arab world. Sham is Greater Syria – the traditional Arab name
for the territory that comprises the present countries of Syria, Lebanon,
Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Together with Iraq, it forms what
historians call the Fertile Crescent, the green region around the top of the
desolate Arab desert.
For most of history, the Fertile Crescent was
one country, part of successive empires. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians,
Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans and many others kept them
united, until two foreign gentlemen, Sir Mark Sykes and M. Francois Georges-
Picot, set about cutting them up according to their own imperial interests.
This happened during World War I, which was set in motion by an
assassination that happened 100 years ago last week.
With sublime disregard for the peoples, ethnic origins and
religious identities, Sykes and Picot created national states where no
nations existed. They and their successors, notably Gertrude Bell, T.E.
Lawrence and Winston Churchill, put together three quite different
communities and created “Iraq”, importing a foreign king from Mecca.
“Syria” was allotted to the French. An imperial commissioner took a map and
a pencil and drew a border in the middle of the desert between Damascus and
Baghdad. The French then cut Syria up into several small statelets for the
Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Maronites etc.. Later they created Greater Lebanon,
where they set up a system that installed Maronite Christians on top of the
The Kurds, a real nation, were cut up into four parts,
each of which was allotted to a different country. In Palestine, a Zionist
“national home” was planned in the middle of a hostile Arab population. The
country beyond the Jordan was cut off to provide a principality for another
Emir from Mecca.
This is the world in which we grew up, and which is
WHAT ISIS is trying to do now is simply to eradicate
all these borders. In the process, they are laying bare the basic
Sunni-Shiite divide. They want to create a unified Sunni-Muslim Caliphate.
They are up against huge entrenched interests, and will probably
fail. But they are sowing something much more lasting: an idea that may take
hold in the minds of many millions. It may come to fruition in 25, 50 or a
hundred years. It may be the wave of the future.
Seeing this picture
developing, what should we do?
For me, the answer is quite clear:
make peace, quickly, as long as the Arab world is as it is now.
“Peace” means not only peace with the Palestinian people, but with the
entire Arab world. The Arab peace initiative – based on the initiative of
the Saudi (then) Crown Prince – is still lying on the table. It offers full
and unconditional peace with the State of Israel in return for the end of
the occupation and the creation of the independent State of Palestine. Hamas
has officially agreed to this, provided it is ratified by a Palestinian
It will not be easy. A lot of obstacles will have to be
overcome. But it is possible. And it is sheer lunacy not to try.
THE RESPONSE of our leadership is the exact opposite.
The historic events and their background interest them “like the skin of the
garlic”, as we say in Hebrew.
Their interest is totally focused on
the effort to keep hold of the West Bank, which means to prevent the
creation of a Palestinian state. Which means to prevent peace.
surest way to do so is to hold on to the Jordan valley. No Palestinian
negotiator will ever agree to the loss of the Jordan valley – either by
direct annexation to Israel or by the “temporary” stationing of Israeli
troops in the valley for any length of time.
This would mean not
only the loss of 25% of the West Bank (which altogether constitutes 22% of
historical Palestine) and its most fertile part but also the cutting-off of
the putative Palestinian state from the rest of the world. The State of
Palestine would become an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by
Israeli-held territory. Much like the South African Bantustans.
When Ehud Barak proposed this at the Camp David conference, the negotiations
broke down. The most Palestinians could agree to was the temporary
stationing of UN or American troops there.
suddenly, the Jordan Valley demand popped up again. The picture was simple.
ISIS is storming south from its Syrian-Iraqi base. It will overrun all of
Iraq. From there, it will invade Jordan and pop up on the other side of the
As Netanyahu said: if they are not stopped by the
permanent Israeli garrison there, they will appear at the gates of Tel Aviv
(except that Tel Aviv has no gates).
Inescapable? Utter nonsense!
Militarily, ISIS is a negligible
force. It has no air force, tanks or artillery. They are opposed by Iran and
the US. Compared to them, even the Iraqi army is still a potent force. Next,
the Jordanian army is far from a pushover.
Moreover, if ISIS came
even near to threatening the Jordanian kingdom, the Israeli army would not
wait for them on the Jordan River. They would be requested by the Jordanians
to come to the rescue – as happened during the Black September of 1970, when
Golda Meir, acting under the orders of Henry Kissinger, warned an
approaching Syrian army column that Israel would invade to forestall
them. That was enough.
The very idea of Israeli soldiers manning the
ramparts in the Jordan valley to defend Israel from ISIS (or anyone else) is
sheer idiocy. Even more idiotic than the famous Bar Lev line, which was
supposed to stop the Egyptians along the Suez Canal in 1973. It fell within
hours. Yet the Bar Lev “line” – reminiscent of the (futile) French Maginot
Line and the (futile) German Siegfried Line of World War II – was far away
from the center of Israel.
The Israel army has missiles, drones and
other weapons that would stop an enemy in his tracks long, long before he
could possibly reach the Jordan. The bulk of the Israeli army could move
from the sea shore and cross the river within a few hours.
whole way of thinking shows that our Right (right-wing) politicians – like
most of their persuasion around the world, I suspect – still live in the
19th century. If I were in a less charitable mood, I would say in the Middle
Ages. They might as well be equipped with bows and arrows.
whole thing reminds me, somehow, of a 19th century German army song: “To the
Rhine! To the Rhine! To the German Rhine! / Who wants to be the watchman of
the River! / Dear Fatherland, don’t worry / Steady and true stands the watch
on the Rhine! / The German youngster, pious and strong / Protects the German
BACK TO the future.
established their kingdom in Palestine when the Arab world was splintered.
Their great adversary, the Kurd Salah-al-Din al-Ayubi (Saladin), devoted
decades to unifying the Arab world around them before vanquishing them on
the battlefield of Hittin.
Today, the Arab world seems more
splintered than ever. But a new Arab world is taking shape, the contours of
which can be conceived only dimly.
Our place is within the new
reality, not outside, looking on.
Alas, our leaders are quite unable
to see that. They are still living in the world of Sykes and Picot, a world
of foreign potentates (now American). For them, the turmoil around us is –
well, just turmoil.
The founder of modern Zionism wrote 118 years
ago that we shall serve in Palestine as pioneers of European culture and
constitute “a wall against Asiatic barbarism.”
Our leaders still
live in this imagined reality, re-phrased as “a villa in the jungle”.
So what to do when the predators in the jungle are approaching and roaring?
Build higher walls, of course.