Israel’s Failed Dream of the “Iron Wall”


Ralph Peters, a columnist of the New York Post (“Israel’s New Wars,” 17 July 2006), takes note of the fact that Israel, preferring to stick to air strikes, has not decisively sent its ground troops into Lebanon and frets that “Israel is signaling its enemies that it’s afraid to risk its soldiers’ lives.”  Besides, “IDF jets won’t defeat Hezbollah — an organization with genuine popular support — by blowing holes in runways in Beirut and humiliating the Lebanese people.  But that’s about all that air power acting alone can do.”

Well, Mr. Peters’ worries are rational, methinks.

To disarm Hizb-u-Allah, one has either to get them to lay down their arms of their own will, or one has to do house-to-house searches for their weapons, which are not stored in a few central warehouses, to take them away by force.

Israel has taken the whole Lebanese nation hostage and is asking the Lebanese government to wage a brutal civil war against Hizb-u-Allah to crush the strongest political party of the country.  I hope everyone has heard Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman harangue Lebanese Special Envoy Nouhad Mahmoud at the Security Council’s emergency session, asserting how much the Lebanese envoy himself would love to get rid of Hizb-u-Allah: “You know deep in your heart that if you could, you would be sitting here right next to me right now because you know that we are doing the right thing and that if we succeed, Lebanon would be the beneficiary.”

But it seems that the other Lebanese parties do not dare take Hizb-u-Allah head on.  They might want to do it if they had the support of the Syrian forces, but they have chased the Syrians out of the country last year already.  So, what now?

Here, Israel repeats its game with the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah: it was and is constantly asking them to act as its deputy, to disarm all militant Palestinian forces and to orchestrate the submission of the Palestinians to Israeli rule.

This, of course, is the admission of the failure of the Zionist settlers’ dream, i.e., the dream that they could force the Palestinian surrender with their own “Iron Wall” — an iron wall of either “Jewish bayonets” or “British bayonets,” as Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky declared already in the 1920s — without relying on an agreement of the Arabs.

That Zionist dream was broken by the (first) Intifada, which showed the Israeli occupation forces that they could not rule with brute force alone.

What now?

Israel is at an impasse.  The Israelis do not dare, as in 1982, do the job themselves (OK, with some help from Lebanese fascists, as in the massacre of Sabra and Shatila) but try to force their would-be proxies among the Arabs to wage a fratricidal war against those who still resist the empire.  But the proxies, weaker than Israel, would be even less effective than a direct Israeli occupation with bloody house-to-house searches.

What then?  Will Israel end the bombing campaign in a few weeks, admitting failure and weakness?  Will it extend it to Syria?  Will an international imperialist force — the “peace plan” of the G8 putting Israel’s war plan into practice  — be able to do what the Israelis don’t dare do themselves?

But whatever Israel does, all its actions will more and more identify the word “Israel” with murder, destruction, and bloody repression, and will make it sound very much like “Apartheid.”

Lüko Willms lives in Frankfurt, Germany.