The Psychological Dimensions Of The Arab-Israeli Confrontation
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
Two thousand years of pogroms and persecutions culminating in the Nazi holocaust contributed immeasurably to Jewish thinking and behavior after World War II. A generation motivated not only by long held religious ideals but also by a newly reasserted national pride directed its energies toward building a Jewish state that would finally put an end to the persecution of Jews.
In the eyes of the younger, post-Zionist generation, the holocaust has thus come to confirm the basic tenets of classical nineteenth century Zionism: without a country of your own, you are the scum of the earth, the inevitable prey of beasts. * The Israeli perspective is provided in the following excerpts from the State of Israel's Proclamation of Independence (published by the Provisional State Council in May 14, 1948), which explicitly asserts the psychological motivation behind the creation of Israel. In the first place, the Proclamation speaks of the relationship between Eretz YIsrael (Palestine) and the Jews: The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. The Proclamation then deals with the Jewish people who occupied that land and with their fate – a destiny that bound them psychologically and emotionally to the land. Exiled from the land of Israel, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom. Impelled by this historic association, Jews strove throughout the centuries to go back to the land of their fathers and regain their statehood. In recent decades they returned in masses. They reclaimed the wilderness, revived their language, built cities and villages, and established a vigorous and ever-growing community with its own economic and cultural life . . . and looked forward to sovereign independence.
After establishing this historical relationship between the land and the people, the Proclamation of Independence reasserted the right of the Jews to a home in Palestine by pointing out the moral obligation of Britain, which was then politically responsible for most of the Middle East region.
In the year 1897, the first Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl's vision of the Jewish state, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own-country. This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and reaffirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home . . . The recent holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the need to solve the problem of the homelessness and lack of independence by means of re-establishment of the Jewish state which would open the gates to all Jews and endow the Jewish people with equality of status among the family of nations. Finally, the Proclamation set the tone for the future: The state of Israel will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion, will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants, will be based on the principles of liberty, justice, and peace and conceived by the prophets of Israel, will uphold full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of religion, conscience, education, and culture, will safeguard the holy places of all religions and will loyally uphold the principles of the UN charter. . . We extend our hand in peace and neighbourliness to the neighbouring states and their people, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The state of Israel is prepared to make its contribution to the progress of the Middle East as a whole. The creation of Israel was thus based on several fundamental principles that Israelis deemed non-negotiable. Palestinian territory
alone could provide a site that would be historically, culturally, and religiously meaningful to the Jews. Palestine, or Zion, was the source, the birthplace of Jewish culture and faith, the land where God first appeared to the Jews, the land where the first and second temples were erected.* No other land, it was felt, could offer them the same kind of haven from harassment and the recovery of a lost heritage. Although the Arabs do not deny in principle the historical, cultural, and religious relationship between the Jews and Palestine, they maintain nonetheless that the founding of Israel was based on the Western guilt feeling for the persecuted Jews, especially after the Nazi experience, and The Western Powers' desire to implant an "imperialistic tool" in the midst of the Arab nations for long-run political expediency. Whether it was a guilt feeling on the part of the Western countries or a Jewish "historical right," or otherwise, the existence of a growing, thriving J ewish community in Palestine could not be denied. Observers wrote:
We know of no country to which the great majority can go in the immediate future other than Palestine. Furthermore, that is where almost all of them want to go. There they are sure that they will receive a welcome denied them elsewhere. * * During the last two or three generations, the Jews have recreated in Palestine a community, now numbering 80,000 . . . This community with its town and country population, its political, religious, and social organization, its own language, its own customs, its own life, has in fact "national" characteristics. When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish national home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of the Jews in other parts of the world in order that it may become a center, which the Jewish people as a whole may take on grounds of religion and race and interest and pride. *
Since 1948, when the state of Israel was born, Israelis, natives as well as immigrants, have felt themselves living in a state of political and geographical isolation. During this period, Israel has been mobilized as if for a permanent state of war. The heavy loss of lives and resources as a result of the four wars (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973) and other intermittent military operations, deepened the psychological and socio-economic gap between Israel and the Arab states that surround her to the point where Israel's sense of isolation became deeply rooted. Against the background of the Nazi holocaust, this sense of isolation intensified and gave rise to a pessimistic solitary philosophy which is a chief characteristic of the Israeli mind set.** When the images cast upon the dark mirrors of the mind at a very crucial early stage were those of a veritable Dantean hell, it was a hell that included extermination of one-third of the Jewish people. The Nazi holocaust caused the destruction of the very same Eastern European world against which the early pioneers had staged their original rebellion, but to which, nevertheless, Israel became both outpost and heir. There is a latent hysteria in Israeli life that stems directly from this source. It accounts for the prevailing sense of loneliness, a main characteristic of the Israeli temper since independence. It explains the obsessive suspicions, the towering urge for disaster to happen. It explains the fears and prejudices, passion, pain and pride that spin the plot of public life and will likely affect the nation for a long time to come. ***
These psychological and emotional factors gave a tenacity to Israel's stand in its more than a quarter-century of confrontation with the Arab nations. "How can we be expected to negotiate away our past?" the Israeli leaders inquired. Our future cannot be envisioned from a vacuum; our entire existence began in Palestine and proceeded from there; then there can be no future for Jewish life without the past which is the foundation of our religious and cultural heritage. This concept was expressed long before the establishment of the state of Israel. Ahad Ha-am, one of the most influential philosopher-writers advocating the return of the Jews to Palestine, in one of his philosophical essays, observed:
What one means when one says "I" is not hair orfingernails that might be here today and end up in the trash tomorrow. "I" is the unification of one's memories with his wants; in other words, the combination of one's past with his future… The concept "I" is a spirit blended with inner strength and unified in some mysterious way with the memories and the impressions of the past. * Jewish nationalism, then, is based on the fulfillment of religious, psychological and emotional needs. The creation of the state of Israel was the concrete political expression of that nationalism. Most of the Arab leaders, on the other hand, seemed unable to comprehend or accept the emergence of this Jewish nationalism. Until the early 1920's, the Arabs had generally treated the Jews kindly and tolerated their religious differences. As to the Jews in Palestine, however, most Arabs tended to view them as an inferior racial minority with no political thrust or ambition. For close to fourteen hundred years, the Middle East has been preeminently the spiritual center of the Islamic world, the birthplace of the Muslim faith where the civilization of Islam reached its classical formulation. Although the political and administrative unity of the Arab empire was destroyed over the centuries through repeated invasions and internal dissent, the religious and cultural unity of the Arab world has been maintained. The Arab domination of the Middle East has, in effect, never ceased, and Arabs as well as Jews can and do claim historical, moral, and legal rights to Palestine. As early as 1908, the Arabs were voicing their objection to a Jewish home in Palestine. The following excerpts from evidence submitted by the Arab Office in Jerusalem to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in March 1946, concisely presented the Arab side: The Arabs of Palestine are descendants of the indigenous inhabitants of the country, who have been in occupation of it since the beginning of history. They form the majority of the population; as such, they cannot submit to a policy of immigration which, if pursued for long, will turn them from a majority into a minority in an alien state . . . Geographically, Palestine is part of Syria; its indigenous inhabitants belong to the Syrian branch of the Arab family of nations; all their culture and tradition link them to the other Arab people …. It is demoralizing to the population [i.e., Palestinians] to live under a government which has no basis in their consent and to which they can feel no attachment or loyalty …. The chasm between the administrative system and the institutions of Palestine and those of the neighboring countries is growing and her traditional Arab character is being weakened. The entry of incessant waves of immigrants prevents normal economic and social development. … It [influx of Jews] is bound, moreover, to arouse continuous political unrest and prevent the establishment of the political stability on which the prosperity and wealth of the country depend …. The superior capital resources at the disposal of the Jews, their greater experience of modern economic technique, and the existence of a deliberate policy of expansion and domination have already gone far toward giving them the economic mastery of Palestine . … It should not be forgotten, too, that Palestine contains places holy to Moslems 'and Christians, and neither Arab Moslems nor Arab Christians would willingly see such places subjected to the ultimate control of a Jewish government. Sharing similar Semitic origins, Jews and Arabs have by and large existed side by side for generations. Indeed, when the idea of
building a Jewish home in Palestine was first seriously contemplated, neither the Jews nor the Arabs envisioned any violent confrontation. The Jews living in the Arab states have undoubtedly experienced occasional anti-Jewish outbursts. For example, the rise of Rashid Ali, who was pro-Nazi, in Baghdad during World War II, gave impetus to the anti-Jewish movement, culminating hi 1941 in a massive pogrom against the Jewish community. In that one outbreak, over 150 Jews were killed and many scores injured, while Jewish property was looted or destroyed. Yet despite such sporadic anti-Jewish violence, many Jews who lived in Arab countries viewed the entire Middle East as one Islamic entity, as did the Arabs, and therefore believed that they had the right to live in the place of their choice within the region. They naturally chose the birthplace of their ancestors which is Palestine.
Unlike the Jews, the Arabs were not homeless and landless, and they had not been systematically and methodically persecuted over the centuries as an outcast minority. The Jews had come to the bitter realization that until they had a country of their own, they would always be considered strangers and beggars in their respective host countries. They had neither name nor right nor acceptance as equals among the community of nations. To be blunt, they were the ' 'bastards of humanity." Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940), a leader of the Zionist-Revisionists, stated the case quite clearly in a statement made in the British House of Lords, February 11,1937:
The Arabs' claims confronted with Jewish claims; I fully understand that any minority would prefer to be a majority; it is quite understandable that the Arabs of Palestine would also prefer Palestine to be the Arab state number 4t number 5 or number 6 – that I quite understand. But when the Arab claim is confronted with our Jewish demands to be saved, it is like the claim of appetite versus the claim of starvation. No tribunal has ever had the luck of trying a case where all the justice was oh the side of one party and the other party had no case whatsoever. Usually in human affairs, any tribunal, including this tribunal, in trying two cases, has to concede that both sides have a case on their side, and in order to do justice, they must take into consideration what should constitute the basic justification of all human demands, individual or mass demands – the decisive terrible balance of need. I think it is clear. * Working hi an atmosphere of national fanaticism, the Zionist organization did, in fact, promote a Jewish revolution leading to a national home, but did not contemplate that the fulfillment of the Jewish national aspiration would have to be, at least in part, at the expense of other nationals. Hindsight may make this sound unbelievable today. The fact is that Arab nationalism was clandestine before 1908; it came to the surface only after the Young Turks' revolution. Before 1908, a few of the settlers and none of the Zionist leaders in Palestine and abroad ever contemplated the possibility that Arabs and Jews one day would clash in a bloody battle over the stretch of soil, as the Germans and French over Alsace or the Turks and Greeks over Thrace.**
Showing lack of foresight, the Zionist leadership, headed by Theodor Herzl, ignored what it considered to be the "Arab problem." Zionist leaders were certain that the indigenous Arabs would receive the Jews with open arms. After all, they assumed, Jewish settlement in Palestine could only benefit the Arabs, and that harmony and cooperation would prevail.
Zionism was as much a product of the new age of nationalism as was its Arab protagonist. The clash in Palestine was not between native and colonialist in the ordinary sense, but between two nationalist movements. Both were in their own way "right" and "natural." The fault, if there was one, toy less with the men directly involved on both sides than with the new world of ferociously hostile nation-states in which they lived. If men had higher aims, there would have been no Palestine conflict, nor, probably, "Jews"and "Arabs."***
Yet the national aspirations of both the Arabs and the Israelis were slowly taking shape; for the Jews, the goal was a national home in Palestine; for the Arabs, the goal was national independence over the same land. Clashes between the growing Jewish settlement and the native Arab community were inevitable. Minor clashes between the Jews and the Arabs erupted as early as 1910. Violence against Jews in Palestine intensified greatly after the Balfour Declaration in 1917. In April, 1920 in Jerusalem, and in May, 1921 in Jaffa, Jews were murdered in outbreaks of violence. At that time, it became obvious that attempting to fulfill the nationalist demands of both groups would be at the least very difficult and at the most extremely costly, bloody, and painful.
In August 1929, 133 Jews were killed and 339 injured in the religious centers of Hebron and Safad. In the 1930's, Arabs, encouraged by the Higher Arab Committee, raided Jewish settlements. About 80 Jews were killed and 396 wounded in 1936. Jewish retaliation was limited in the beginning to self-defense, and to trying to achieve coexistence by peaceful means. However, by 1936 Arab attacks were followed by Jewish retaliation. The report published in July, 1937 by the Palestine Commission of Inquiry under Earl Peel clearly stated that the underlying causes of the continuing Arab-Israeli disturbances (most recently the Arab revolt of 1936) were (1) the desire of the Arabs for national independence and (2) their hatred and fear of the establishment of the Jewish national home. The commission found that Arab and Jewish interests could not be reconciled under the British Mandate. The Peel Report suggested, therefore, that Palestine be partitioned. In his Memoirs, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, stated the Jewish case to George Antonius, an historian and leading theoretician of Arabism, on the eve of the Arab rebellion in 1936:
After the Arab revolt in 1936, both the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs decided to pursue their mutually exclusive objectives by adopting social and economic measures and countermeasures as well as military ones. Thus deepened the conflicting aims of Arabs and Jews and placed the entire Middle East in bloody and constant turbulence that continues right up to today.
Arab hostility toward the Jews, intensified after the early 1920's, prompted the latter to concentrate more and more on their own economic and social welfare. The better-educated and the better-skilled Jews put their knowledge into practice; within a few years the old traditional saying from the Diaspora "We have come to Zion to build and be built" – became a reality. The Zionist leadership emphasized what was termed "Hebrew labor, " which, ipso facto, excluded Arab labor from all Jewish enterprises. There is deep and tragic irony in the fact that the policy of Avoda Ivrit [Hebrew labor} was in its time seen as a means to avoid or allay conflict between the two nations. In some ways it made the conflict worse. It might have given Jewish colonialists a sense of moral superiority over colonial settlers elsewhere; at the same time, it compounded the future tragedy by causing the deliberate exclusion of the native from the new society. It prevented the establishment of a joint basis upon which, perhaps, in the fullness of time, a bi-national policy opens to all might have been tried. * For at least four decades prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the Arabs in Palestine, and those Arabs who surrounded Palestine, consistently refused to acknowledge or accept the Jewish right to exist as a separate political entity in Palestine. In response to this uncompromising stance, the Jews began to solidify their position by slowly separating themselves from the Arab community. Educational and social exclusion followed economic exclusion, each of which gave impetus to greater hostility and a deeper sense of distrust between the two communities.
THE PARTITION AND THE REFUGEES
By 1947, the decades of intensified hostilities had reached a decisive point. The United Nations' decision of November 29, 1947 to partition Palestine, which included most of the Negev, a narrow stretch along the Mediterranean coast, and a number of parcels of land on the northeast along the border of Syria and Jordan, as had been recommended in principle by the Peel Commission ten years earlier, was immediately rejected by the Arabs. The Arab rejection of the partition plan was based primarily on political, nationalistic, and territorial reasons. Psychologically, the partition symbolized another Jewish victory over the Arab "might." Here again, one important factor must be emphasized: the mere idea of creating a Jewish state in Palestine was unacceptable to the Arab leaders. The resulting atmosphere of psychological incomprehension, shock, and disbelief gave rise to the bloodiest confrontation between the Arabs and Jews up to that point.
Despite cease-fires in June and July, 1948, fighting continued until February 24, 1949, when Israel and Egypt signed armistice agreements, and similar pacts were signed with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The War of Independence left thousands dead on both sides. However, the events that followed were to overshadow the immediate bloodshed. A new tragedy with far-reaching consequences was beginning to unfold. Within weeks of the beginning of the war, more than 600,000 Arab refugees fled to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in much smaller numbers to other Arab countries, adding a new and important dimension to the Arab-Israeli crisis. Whether the mass departure of the Arab Palestinians was prompted by the Jews in order to obtain more territory or secure borders, or whether it was encouraged by the Arabs in order to promote a world reaction, these questions remain without a definitive answer. Nevertheless, the refugee problem added another complication to the Arab psychological posture toward Israel.
As far as Israel was concerned, the mass exodus was a direct result of the Arab states' invasion, without which no refugee problem would have been created. Thus Israel felt morally and legally exempt from any obligation toward the Palestinian refugees.
For the Arabs the refugees were a mark of disgrace and infamy which gave impetus to their consistent refusal to assume any responsibility for the refugees' fate. The refugee problem was to plague all sides in the Middle East maelstrom, providing the momentum for the three wars that followed, and eventually giving birth to the Palestinians' resistance movement (Fedayeen).
The humiliating defeat in 1948 of the combined Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan shattered any hope of a psychological reconciliation and understanding between the two camps. Arab suspicion, hatred, and fear of the Israelis were now buttressed by matters of pride, honor, and national dignity. The emergence of Israel in 1948 – or rather the failure of the Arab armies to prevent it – was a climactic event in the history of the Middle East, comparable in many ways to the landing of the Greeks in Izmir in 1917. It was bad enough to be dominated by the Franks, but they were after all the invincible masters of the world, who on both occasions, had just defeated their enemies in a great war. It was a very different matter and an intolerable humiliation, to submit to the Greeks or Jews – to local Dhimmis whom the Muslims had long been accustomed to despise as inferiors. The Franks, moreover, would sooner or later go back where they came from. The Greek great idea – MEGALEIDEA – of a revived Byzantine empire and the Zionist idea of a revived Jewish state were clearly intended to be permanent. The military defeat in Palestine at the hands of the despised Jews was a terrible shock. * The Arab attaches much importance to his pride and honor. Arab proverbs express this explicity: "Better die with honor than live with humiliation," and, "The head that has no pride deserves to be cut. " Arab pride, of course, is not just individualistic, but extends to the glory of his past and the Arab contribution to civilization as well.
Just as the Arabs failed to understand the psychological motivation behind Jewish nationalism, especially prior to 1948, Israel also failed to appreciate Arab psychological needs, particularly after 1949. Diplomatic efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement between the Arabs and the Israelis through the UN between 1948-1956 were all in vain. The Israelis were clearly unwilling to modify their position in any way through negotiation or otherwise, and the Arabs were similarly unwilling to compromise their pride. That is not to say that the question of pride was the only problem between the Arabs and the Israelis. Political and territorial differences were the main issues, yet at that point in time they were given secondary importance. The crushing defeat in 1948 made questions of pride, national dignity, and honor assume such a formidable role that nothing else seemed to matter to the Arabs.
The internal rivalries, political instability, and turmoil that engulfed the Arab, states in the years following 1948 only contributed to their psychological hysteria in regard to Israel. No Arab nation was willing to assume the responsibility for what was termed a "national calamity." The blame and the responsibility for their military defeat and for the creation of the state of Israel altogether were shifted to the Western Powers, mainly Britain and France. Meanwhile the Arab masses were told to prepare themselves for the "day of judgment" when the Israeli state would be liquidated.
Britain and France were cast as the imperialistic powers'that had the mandate over most of the Middle Eastern states. England was blamed for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, with France as an accomplice. The immediate recognition of the state of Israel by Britain and France was taken by the Arabs as supporting evidence that Israel was just a tool in the hands of the imperialists. The Soviet Union's immediate recognition of the state of Israel was not viewed by the Arab states as having any special significance because Britain and France were playing the main roles at the time in Middle Eastern political affairs.
The Israelis were jubilant about the outcome of the War of Independence. The keeping of additional territories captured beyond the United Nations partition lines was justified by pointing out that Vit was the Arab states who declared war in the first place. And the Israelis were unwilling to assume any moral or legal obligations toward the Arab Palestinian refugees.
MASS INDOCTRINATION The Arabs' national pride compelled a rationalization and justification for the setbacks in terms which would not reflect poorly on the Arab leaders' judgments, policies, and military weakness. Massive propaganda campaigns in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and other Arab countries employed two themes. One discredited Israel's military victory in the war of 1948 and called for its liquidation. The other stimulated Arab nationalism, socialism, and unity.
Both themes required the spreading of false information, which was justified on the grounds of national interest. As S.M. Swemer observed "If a lie is the only way to reach a good result, it is halal (allowable). A lie is lawful when truth leads to unpleasant results; tell the truth only when it leads to good results."* And indeed, lies were common in the official media. The truth was distorted in the "national interest," i.e., to protect the incumbent leaders' reputations, honor, and high political positions. With regard to the first theme, Israel was labeled as the im-/ perialist tool by which the Western Powers intended to exploit the Arabs. Israel was blamed for all Arab misfortune and disunity. Israel was painted as a monstrous creature that, unless exterminated, would contaminate the Arab world and slowly destroy it from within.
The establishment of Israel in 1948 is commonly referred to by the Arabs as a calamity so great that it reflects not only upon their military prowess, but injures in an almost metaphysical sense, the whole human order or being. Israel is an abominable crime; it is a "cancerous growth;" an injection of unspeakable evil. ** The only solution to the Israeli problem according to Arab thinking at the time, was therefore to excise the "cancerous Wowth," until which time the Arabs were resolved not to rest. This desire to eliminate the newly-born Jewish state supplied the
thrust for an intensive and unprecedented (by Arab standards) "propaganda campaign geared against the sworn enemy.
The winds of propaganda blow day in and day out, and after a time, they are deafening. The manipulation of mass feeling, the shrill discourses of Cairo Radio and the lectures of the controlled press are wearing on the spirit of those who have to take them for long. The world seen at a cockeyed angle through the narrow lens of the political propagandist is a depressing and claustrophobic place. *
With the guidance of East and West German experts, Egypt in particular engaged every conceivable communication medium – newspapers, television, radio, bumper stickers, sign-posts, textbooks, and mass leaflets – and used the most sophisticated equipment available to build a new pan- Arab image and give a new direction to the Arab people. Children born after 1948 heard on the radio, saw on television, and read in the newspapers and school textbooks that their destiny, welfare, dignity, and national pride depended on only one thing – the total destruction of Israel.
However, the psychological warfare and threats of future annihilation, intended to generate momentum among the Arab population, developed among the Israelis greater efforts to achieve unity and solidarity. Whatever small good will and common ground for understanding had existed previously appeared to evaporate at this point. It should be emphasized that the Arab leaders, particularly the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, believed that the elimination of Israel was inevitable, and on that premise Nasser himself, followed by the other Arab leaders, intensified his propaganda campaigns through the years 1952-1968.
The anti-Israel campaign was only one side of the coin. Slogans such as "Democratic-socialist-cooperative society," and "Republicanism, nationalism, and socialism" were the other side, emphasizing unity and cooperation among Arabs, and neutralism toward others.
This theme resulted in an intensified propaganda campaign against the Western powers. They too, with Israel, shared the brunt of the Arabs' antagonism and hatred. The Arab propaganda that was waged vigorously against Israel and the West became a way of life for the average Arab. The propaganda reinforced not only the Arab misapprehension of the Israelis, but also the prejudice Israelis felt toward the Arabs.
Arabs often do seem to believe their own propaganda about Israelis, and the Israelis in turn often view the Arab as a simple-minded person who must be treated like either a child, or a wild fanatic who should be handled like a mad dog. The stories one hears about Arabs, of course, are very similar to the tales one hears in America's deep South concerning the Negro. *
Why did the Arab populace so thoroughly accept the propaganda? Sania Hamady gives us a clue in Temperament and Character of the Arabs:
The Arab is characterized by an inflated personality. He shows overt self-confidence, challenges and menaces anyone who accuses him of fear, and demonstrates daring and courage. His apparent strength, however, is not commensurate with his real power. Yet his self-praise and strength are, interestingly, sincere. There is no discrepancy between the show of courage and his feelings. Not conscious of any role-playing, the Arab does not know that he is hiding some weakness behind this facade. He believes in himself and is not aware of the internal weakness that may be driving him into such bombastic behavior. * *
MYTH, REALITY, AND DISILLUSIONMENT
The secret arms negotiations between Nasser and the Soviets which culminated in Egypt's purchase of weapons from Czechoslovakia became known on September 27, 1955. This agreement gave Nasser the weapons he needed for the ongoing confrontation with Israel and offered Russia a diplomatic and military foothold in the Middle East. Both parts of the bargain were to have far-reaching political consequences. The arms deal was followed by another slap in the face of the West, namely, the nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. When Anglo-French negotiations with the Egyptians over the operation of the Suez Canal broke down, the military invasion of Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel resulted.
The Sinai Campaign of 1956 was another humiliating shock to the Arabs, especially to Egypt. Continued Israeli military superiority demonstrated the futility of attempting to solve the dispute with Israel by force. Although the Egyptian army was crushed, Egypt did not concede defeat, particularly after Israel, Britain, and France received an ultimatum from the United States and the Soviet Union to immediately cease all military operations. On November 6, 1956 the Sinai War ended, only eight days after it began. For all practical purposes, Egypt emerged triumphantly, for Israel was warned by the U.S. to evacuate the Sinai or face economic sanctions, while Britain and France agreed to abdicate their rights in the Suez Canal. Nasser was thus, in effect, handed a political victory by the U.S. State Department.
The natural Arab reaction in the wake of a military defeat that they had not acknowledged, and of the political victory that was handed to them was to guard and promote national pride more fiercely than ever. More specifically, the propaganda against the Western Powers and Israel was intensified, coupled with accelerated military preparedness.
The cease-fire between Israel and Egypt soon proved its fragility. Although UN troops guarded the truce, Israel continued to exchange fire with the Egyptians in the south, the Jordanians in the east, and the Syrians in the north. Israel's retaliations deep into Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were causing heavy Arab casualties, yet Nasser was still determined ultimately to wipe Israel off the map. The period from 1956 to 1967 were years of psychological warfare accompanied by Arab and Israeli attack? and counterattacks. Both sides, feeling the constant danger, built and trained bigger, better and more sophisticated armies. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, apart from the other Arab states, tripled their military manpower and arsenals.
To a large extent, the Arab and the Israeli economies tended to be "military economies." Billions of dollars were invested in the military buildup, often at the expense of urgently needed social welfare programs. The immediate parties to the conflict, namely, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, were not and are still not independent economically; economic aid in terms of hard currency and food supplies were always sought from outside sources. Arab and Israeli political leaders were forced to justify the exorbitant expenditures on the military, and felt it necessary to prove to their respective populations that their military preparedness was not in vain. Thus, military indoctrination of the civilian populace came to prevail in both societies.
After the 1956 Sinai campaign, Israel agreed to return the Sinai And the Gaza Strip to Egypt in return for a U.S. guarantee that international waterways such as the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea would be opened to her. Although Nasser adamantly refused to allow any Israeli ships to pass through the Suez Canal, Israel took some consolation from the fact that her ships from Elath were passing through the Strait of Tiran, east of the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, providing access to the Arabian Sea and the Far East, This was a factor with inescapable psychological and economic implications. As long as this status quo was maintained, Israel was willing to accept it and to make every ejfort not to alter the situation by provoking the Arabs, particularly Nasser.
In May of 1967, Nasser found himself challenged by the Syrians and some militant factions within his own country. Syrian leaders told him that the Arab cause was being severely damaged by maintaining a status quo, and that unless new measures were taken to offset the '-relative coexistence" with Israel, the right of the Arabs rto regain their "homeland" would be in danger of being forgotten.
Nasser, in order to assert his leadership, accepted the Syrian challenge by attempting to show the Arab world that he was not hiding behind the UN truce force. At this juncture events accelerated. On May 16,1967, Nasser demanded the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from the Sinai, and his request was immediately granted. Then, not satisfied with this political victory, Nasser eight days later dispatched his troops to close the Gulf of Aqaba to all ships heading to or from Israel.
In his speech at the United Arab Republic Advanced Air Headquarters, May 25,1967, Nasser declared on Radio Cairo, "The armed forces yesterday occupied Sharm el-Sheik. What does this mean? It is affirmation of our right arid our sovereignty over the Gulf of Aqaba. Under no circumstances will we allow the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba. Our armed forces and our people are ready for war." Indeed, the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba, taken by Israel as an act of war, was fated to change the course of history in the Middle East, psychologically as well as politically.
While Israel criticized the UN decision which accepted Nasser's ultimatum to withdraw the United Nations Emergency Force from the Sinai, Nasser moved rapidly, unimpeded by any international pressure, mobilizing his civilian and military resources to advance and station themselves in the area. All of these measures were taken with the consideration and knowlege that it was now up to Israel to make the move. It appeared to be a clear and open challenge for war.
Whether or not Nasser meant to go to war remains uncertain. One thing, however, is pertinent: the Soviet Union played an important role in the involvement of Nasser in the soon-to-come Six-Day War. The Russians feared the collapse of the Syrian government, which was under growing internal pressure to act in the face of Israeli retaliation. Thus, the Soviets tried to create certain strategic and political conditions which would persuade Nasser to redeploy his army to the Sinai and hence to divert Israel's attention to the danger on its southern border. However, Russia miscalculated, for Israel's and Egypt's actions were contrary to the Soviet's expectations. Nasser was overwhelmed by his own rhetoric and protestations of war and victory, and made a serious mistake by closing the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel, overwhelmed by her sense of danger and isolation, moved swiftly to destroy the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Egypt and Russia soon lost control of the swiftly developing events. Russia's expectation of cashing in on a political victory through political shrewdness and military maneuvering ended with a new Arab disaster.
Winston Burdett, in his book, Encounter with the Middle East, analyzed the situation in a similar fashion: opportunity was to parlay a difficult situation into a major political victory. The man who held the key was Nasser, if he could be induced to ensure the survival of the Syrian regime with a dramatic demonstration of his readiness to act. . . They [the Russians] decided to place in his hands [Nasser] the initiative for a diversion. He would demand and secure the withdrawal of the UNEF . . . The purpose of the diversion was to shift the locale and transform the nature of the crisis. The Egyptian mobilization would oblige Israel to concentrate the main body of her forces on the Sinai frontier; it would deter her from any bold retaliatory action elsewhere, and it would save the Syrians . . . Both Nasser and the Russians could expect a handsome political reward, he as the saviour of the Syrians, and they as the sponsors of resounding political victory for the Arab revolutionary states."*
On May 26, 1967 Hassanein Haykal, who acted as spokesman for the Egyptian regime, wrote in his weekly column in the semi-official newspaper AlAhram:
I believe an armed clash between the United Arab Republic and Israel is inevitable. This armed clash could occur at any moment . . o To Israel this is the most dangerous aspect of the current situation. It is not a matter of the Gulf of Aqaba but of something bigger. It is the whole philosophy on which Israeli existence has pivoted since its birth and on which it will pivot in the future. For many reasons, chiefly psychological, Israel cannot accept or remain indifferent to what has taken place. This means that the next move is up to Israel. Israel has to reply now; it has to deal a blow. It is in the light of the compelling psychological factor that the needs of security or survival itself make acceptance of the challenge of war inevitable. * * Thus Israel was challenged by threats and actions: a psychological challenge with sensitive and overwhelming implications, and an
economic one whose implications far exceeded the importance of free navigation and amounted to both an economic siege and an act of war that Israel could not accept under any circumstances. The war itself was stunning, swift, and surprising by any military standards. Israel demonstrated a capability that amazed military observers all over the world, and shocked and humiliated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. In less than a week, Israel's military captured territory three times larger than Israel itself. They took thousands of prisoners of war, hundreds of pieces of heavy military equipment, and above all, the Gulf of Aqaba fell under Israeli control. The high point of the war in the view of many Israelis was the "recapturing" of the city of Old Jerusalem.
General George Marshall, U.S. military historian, called the Six-Day War "The Four-Hours War."Tndeed, four hours after the outbreak of the war, the outcome became clear to^n7TnTlitary*observer who had access to inside information on the overall military operations. By that time, the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq were practically demolished. Their air fields were destroyed and their ground troops were left at the mercy of the Israeli air force. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Israeli army – a defeat that they publicly acknowledged. For the first time, after twenty years of Arab-Israeli hostilities, the Arab leadership – Nasser and Jordan's King Hussein – assumed the responsibility for this military setback. Egypt lost the entire Sinai Peninsula as well as her control over the Gaza Strip. Jordan lost the West Bank with the City of Old Jerusalem, and Syria lost the strategic stretch of land, the Golan Heights. Apart from the territorial losses and gains, the Six-Day War had very far-reaching psychological ramifications for both sides.
The Sinai Campaign of 1956 taught Israel that battlefield victories are meaningless if followed by political surrender. The Arab leadership, particularly President Nasser and King Hussein, learned that the Arab-Israeli conflict could not be solved by military means alone. It was this humiliation of the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian armies by the Israelis in 1967 that signified, in my view, that a political and military shift in the policies of all concerned would have to take place.
The propaganda campaign gradually shifted after 1967; Arab statements threatening liquidation or annihilation of Israel, so common before the Six-Day War, were replaced by statements that coexistence with Israel would be acceptable if Israel returned all territories captured during the Six-Day War and permitted Arab Palestinians either to return to their homeland or receive proper compensation.
In January, 1975, former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban revealed that he had met on several occasions after the Six-Day War with King Hussein of Jordan, to explore ways of finding an amicable solution to the Jordanian-Israeli crisis. Although the new Arab political posture was not widely circulated, it had now become psychologically possible for the Egyptian and the Jordanian leadership to speak about making some accommodations with Israel. Arab intellectuals generally responded favorably to this new approach. At the same time, in order to retain some flexibility in its options, the Arab leadership continued mouthing its hawkish attitude toward Israel. Cecil Hourani, for ten years an adviser to President Bourguiba of Tunisia, in an article in the daily El-Naher, Beirut, in November, 1967 observed:
At this moment -when the destiny of the Arab nation is being decided, it is the duty of every Arab thinker to witness the truth as he sees it without fear and without dissimulation. For too long has the field of publicity and expression been left in the hands of professional demagogues, blackmailers, and semi-educated fanatics. Our silence, on the one hand, their vociferation on the other hand, has led the Arab nation not merely to disaster but to the brink of disintegration. Our first effort must surely be to win a victory over ourselves: over defeatism on the one hand, extremism on the other. These two dangers are in fact intimately linked together. The real defeatists are not those who look facts in the face, accept them, and try to remedy the situation which brought them about, but those who refuse to do this, who deny fact, and who are thus preparing for new defeats.
Two years later, Hassanein Haykal echoed this theme in Al Ahram:
The Arab world suffers a crisis of deafness, because the Arabs do not know the truth, and a crisis of suspicion because they do not believe the truth when they hear it. There is a crisis of conscience between the governments and the people: how can we activate the crisis, this is the big problem, * For his part, the Arab soldier was once again humiliated. He became more determined to meet the future better prepared militarily, for now he would be fighting for his own honor, not for an abstract cause such as unity or Arab socialism.
The effects of the Six-Day War on Israel were not all salutary, either. From a purely psychological point of view, the victory did not serve Israel well in the events that followed. Despite the occupation of new territory for the avowed purpose of creating more secure boundaries and of providing Israel with an even stronger bargaining position, the 1967 "victory" became merely the prelude to another war six years later. This is not to say that if Israel had not captured more territory, the Yom Kippur War (October, 1973) would not have taken place. It is the psychological repercussions that concern us here. The Israeli soldier started to believe that there must be a special myth about himself, and that he truly might be invincible as well as "invisible" now that the Israeli military had proved its superiority so dramatically.
The civilian leadership, too, was affected, as Yuval Elizur and Eliahu Salpeter discuss in Who Rules Israel?: There has been a considerable increase in the prestige and influence of the military elite in Israelipublic life since 1967. In part, this is due to their role in the Six-Day War. But it is also due to the role they played in the days before the war when it became evident that the country's civilian heads depended to a 'great extent on the military elite for their strategic thinking. **
From 1948 until 1967, Israel openly sought to negotiate a peacefu resolution of Arab-Israeli differences. However, the Arabs refused t< enter into any meaningful negotiations because until 1967, mos Arab nations still believed that the liquidation of the state of Israe was possible and inevitable. The outcome of the 1967 war, however made President Nasser reconsider his position toward Israel, and forced King Hussein of Jordan to declare that the ultimate solution must be found through peaceful negotiations. After his defeat, Nasser declared himself ready for the first time to negotiate for peace. For Nasser to use the word "negotiate" directly or indirectly in reference to Israel was in itself a major concession. Having gone this far, he refused, however, to make any additional moves that might be interpreted as evidence of weakness and that could jeopardize his own political security.
The war of attrition initiated by Egypt early in 1969 was designed to aggravate the Israeli forces on the east bank of the Suez Canal, rather than as a long-range policy aimed at the final destruction of Israel. Nasser accepted U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers' truce agreement late in 1970, partly because of the heavy damages inflicted by Israel's artillery and air force and partly (probably mainly) because of his growing conviction that a military solution could not resolve the conflict with Israel. Therefore, coexistence became a new option.
Nasser's belief that Israel did not desire a peaceful solution justified any act of belligerency on his part if only for the sake of national prestige. A few months before his sudden death in September, 1970, Nasser confided to some close aides that he wanted to create a fait accompli by landing an Egyptian military force on the east bank of the Suez Canal and establishing a solid position there, at whatever cost, in a desperate effort to salvage national pride.
Israel, on the other hand, emerging overwhelmingly victorious in the Six-Day War, did not feel compelled to make any substantive moves toward a peaceful settlement. Although the late Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared immediately after the war that Israel was ready to negotiate with the Arab states as equals, Israel would, in fact, be negotiating from a position of strength and on her own terms. The Arabs could not consent to Israel's proposal for negotiations, for by doing so would have meant de facto recognition of Israel, and that in itself was not politically acceptable. The paradox following the Six-Day War was that while the Arabs refused either to accept Israel between 1948 and 1967 or to accede to any meaningful negotiations during the same period, Israel, after the 1967 war, fely strong enough politically militarily and economically not to rush into any negotiations that were not predominantly in her favor. Ironically, although the territorial and the political disparity between the Arab states and Israel became greater in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, both sides came to recognize that coexistence had become a viable solution. Still, the psychological acceptance of each other was not enough to overcome the new emotional and political difficulties that the Arab states were faced with in the wake of the Israeli military victory. This development, however, was not at the time fully appreciated by either side.
Ignoring the Arabs' sensitivity in matters of honor and pride. Israel sought to capitalize on their humiliation in 1967. Once the Israeli military had achieved battlefield victory, it perhaps would have been wise for the Israeli government to translate military success into useful and practical diplomacy. The Israeli leaders failed to see that in order for the Arabs to negotiate, a degree of strength in their negotiating position also was an absolute necessity.
In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, for example, diplomacy supported by the threat of military force compelled Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw the Soviet offensive missiles from Cuba. President John F. Kennedy did not capitalize on the Russian backdown. In order not to humiliate its rival, the U.S. government made no victory statements. In this instance, a policy of quiet diplomacy avoided what might have developed into a nuclear confrontation and World War III.
The stalemate in the Middle East that prevailed between 1967 and 1973 was not working in favor of the Arabs. (Dissension among university students in Egypt was on the rise, and the frustrations of young Egyptian army officers was increasing.) The national stigma of successive defeats had to be removed, Arab leaders felt, if they were to remain in power.
Meanwhile, Israel enjoyed unprecedented economic growth and prosperity during the post-1967 period. But she paid comparatively little attention to the overall explosive Arab situation and displayed little understanding of the precarious Arab position. The failure of the Egyptians and the Israelis to reach an interim settlement sponsored by U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers in mid-1970* merely cleared the way for resorting once more to the use offeree.
Thus the stage was set for the October war of 1973. Although Israel emerged victorious by military standards, her victory was not total, and the Arabs-dtff'not suffer total defeat. To the Israelis, partial victory was frustrating, and to a point, humiliating; the Arabs, on the other hand, could survey their own display of initiative and resistance as positive gains, a kind of victory over their previous military record. The Israeli military setback at the outset of the hostilities and her political concessions to the Arabs after the ceasefire with Egypt and Syria provided exactly the psychological boost the Arabs needed to enter into negotiations from what they felt to be a position of strength. The Arab armies, especially Egypt's, had improved noticeably since 1967 as a result of better training and new equipment. Since the Arabs did not expect to win a total war, they started their offensive with limited objectives, namely, to show some military prowess, an ability to coordinate their armies and to recapture some lost territory – especially the east bank of the Suez Canal. Even if their armies were heavily battered, they could still claim a partial victory by virture of the heavy damage inflicted on Israel. As Dr. Hassanein Haykal observed in Al Ahram (March 27, 1969):
In any future battle, the Israeli army would face Arab armies with different standards offirepower and its use, different command structures benefiting from past experience, and a higher morale, as the Arab forces would be aware of fighting for the heart of their homeland and not only for its borders.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR NEGOTIATION
Israel in the last 27 years, and particularly between 1967-1973, has progressed rapidly in her scientific and technological achievements, especially in the areas of economics, defense and education. Everything seemed to be thriving at an accelerated rate.
As Jews world-wide advanced themselves in science, medicine, and the arts, Israel became the natural recipient of their knowledge and experience, in addition to money and military equipment. Consequently, Israeli culture and industry have developed significantly in a relatively short time.
The social, economic, and military steps in the occupied territories were geared to provide better conditions for the Arab Palestinians. By doing so, Israel hoped to reduce the Fedayeen influence as well as demonstrate her willingness to work hand in hand with the Arabs. Coexistence could be shown to be possible.
In addition, the development of good working relations at the personal, business, and governmental levels between Israelis and Arabs on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip made the Arab leaders, particularly President Anwar el Sadat of Egypt, apprehensive of Israel's "true" objectives in those territories. They suspected that Israel's temporary occupation of the areas gained in the 1967 war might lead to permanent annexation. Israel has never before exercised military dominance in an area where a conflict of interests between the United States and the Soviet Union existed and where its survival directly depended on those powers. Israel's own military strength has guaranteed its success in all four rounds of war between 1948 and 1973 and as a result its military establishment has been able to increase its influence over Israel's policy-making. Thus, especially toward her adversaries, Israeli policies have become flavored by its military so Israel has come to be recognized as a military power that even the U.S. and the Soviet Union must take into consideration in formulating their Middle East policies. Israel, with little experience in exercising military power, failed to make better use of its military strength, especially in the wake of the Six-Day War. It failed to demonstrate a capacity for diplomatic achievement equivalent to its capacity for military action. In other words, Israel pursued a military policy rather than a political policy that was supported by military power.
But the most important influence by far of the defense establishment on the country's civilian authorities is exerted by the head of the Intelligence branch of the defense establishment. His evaluation and reports are a basic element in the government's assessment of possible and probable reactions of the enemy to any proposed course of action . . . On the political level, the defense concepts developed by the military elite are translated directly into government policy, such as the policy of retaliation of the 1950's or the 1968 concept of static defense along the Suez Canal, and thereby have impact on Israel's international relations. * In order to bring the conflicting parties together; either Israel would have had to suffer some military humiliation by the Arabs, or to have made major territorial and political concessions to them. Either occurrence might have discouraged future hostilities for the sake of national pride, if not for the purpose of recapturing lost territories. This was precisely what the October war of 1973 provided; the national prestige of Egypt and Syria was at least in part salvaged.
Another outcome of the October war was to force Israel to realize that the ultimate guarantee of her national survival is a durable peace with the Arab states. Big power assurances could only be an added measure to her security, not a substitute for peace. Continual warfare would be self-defeating for the Israelis from both an economic and manpower perspective. Israeli troops could never hope to occupy Cairo, Damascus, Amman or Baghdad for any length of time, so a policy of total Israeli military victory would be costly and fruitless.
The Arabs themselves also awoke to a new reality after the last war. While the Six-Day War ostensibly widened the gap between the national aspirations of the Arabs and the Israelis, it also shattered any hope on the Arabs' part of bringing about the liquidation of Israel. The psychological adjustment of the Arab states to the realization that Israel could not be erased from the map was a vital step forward in the eventual acceptance of peace negotiations with Israel. The Arabs decided to_go to war in October, 1973 not to reverse the principle of accepting Israel's de facto existence, but to salvage a degree of national pride and prestige without which the Arabs could not have taken the second step, namely, to speak overtly about peace with Israel, while at the same time attempting to gain maximum territorial and political concessions.
Those who criticized Henry A. Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State, for calling for cessation of hostilities in October, 1973 when Israel was on the verge of consolidating its victory, did not appreciate that only under such circumstances (i.e., when Israel could not have a total victory and Egypt could claim partial victory) would Egyptian President Sadat be able to negotiate as an equal, and the Israelis be able to accede to certain concessions because of no other choice (meaning American diplomatic pressure). Total Israeli victory would likely have made disengagement impossible and would have only produced another round of fierce fighting.
A most important aspect of the Middle East dispute that has not received adequate attention by either Arabs or Israelis has been each side's lack of understanding of the other's emotional and psychological needs. The political and territorial disputes that have characterized the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948 resulted in part from basic psychological differences. Each side's misapprehensions of the other's motives and actions have prolonged the hostility, impaired diplomatic efforts and made the dispute appear irreconcilable. To begin to understand the respective psychological make up of the Israelis and Arabs it is necessary to study how each developed historically. This will help provide an explanation as to why the two opponents have not been able to "reconcile" or "satisfy" their psychological needs. Hence, the events that have largely contributed to the continuing conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East must be examined, particularly those that occurred before and during the Six-Day War of 1967. Since that time, a greater awareness on the part of each antagonist of the other's psychological needs has begun to develop. And the period from 1967 to 1973 must be carefully analyzed to understand why some of the mutual psychological misapprehensions that are crucial stumbling blocks to negotiating a settlement, let alone real peace, have been partially removed.
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
Two thousand years of pogroms and persecutions culminating in the Nazi holocaust contributed immeasurably to Jewish thinking and behavior after World War II. A generation motivated not only by long held religious ideals but also by a newly reasserted national pride directed its energies toward building a Jewish state that would finally put an end to the persecution of Jews.
In the eyes of the younger, post-Zionist generation, the holocaust has thus come to confirm the basic tenets of classical nineteenth century Zionism: without a country of your own, you are the scum of the earth, the inevitable prey of beasts. * The Israeli perspective is provided in the following excerpts from the State of Israel's Proclamation of Independence (published by the Provisional State Council in May 14, 1948), which explicitly asserts the psychological motivation behind the creation of Israel. In the first place, the Proclamation speaks of the relationship between Eretz YIsrael (Palestine) and the Jews: The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. The Proclamation then deals with the Jewish people who occupied that land and with their fate – a destiny that bound them psychologically and emotionally to the land. Exiled from the land of Israel, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing