News Release

Israel at War: Analysis of Goals


Currently in Haifa, Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of Political Science and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa. He said: “The Israeli army’s main vision for the battlefield is today still that of ‘shock and awe’ rather than chasing snipers, suicide bombers and political activists. The ‘low intensity’ war questions the invincibility of the army and erodes its capability to engage in a ‘real’ war. … In the last week, [Israeli generals] have had a field day. No more random use of one-kilo bombs, battleships, choppers and heavy artillery. The weak and insignificant new minister of defense, Amir Perez, accepted without hesitation the army demand for crushing the Gaza strip and grinding Lebanon to dust. But it may not be enough. It can still deteriorate into a full-scale war with the hapless army of Syria, and [the generals] may even push by provocative actions towards such an eventuality. And, if you believe what you read in the local press here, it may even escalate into a long-distance war with Iran, backed by a supreme American umbrella. … It is not too late to stop the Israeli designs from creating a new and terrible reality on the ground. But the window of opportunity is very narrow and the world needs to take action before it is too late.”

Pappe is author of Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, scheduled for publication this fall.
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Author of the recent book Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, Dreyfuss said: “Israel’s actions in no way can be seen as a legitimate response to the small-scale attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead, what Israel has done has used the pretext of those pin-prick attacks — a couple of border raids and a handful of errant rockets — to launch a strategic attack whose goals are to crush Hamas and the remaining institutions of Palestinian self-rule and decapitate and destroy Hezbollah politically and militarily in Lebanon. Second, it’s clear that Israel would never have launched this war without having made the calculation that it would win the support of the United States. … Third, by invading and bombing Lebanon and acting brutally to crush the Palestinian Authority, Israel has created a unified field theory of the Middle East’s crises, uniting the escalating world showdown with Iran, the unraveling civil war in Iraq, the crisis over Syria’s role in Lebanon, and the Arab-Israeli conflict itself into one big tangle.

“Until last week, before Israel went to war, the neoconservatives were losing across the board. They watched in horror as the war in Iraq faltered, and they were appalled by President Bush’s Condi-led opening to Iran. Indeed, to many it seemed as if the entire post-9/11 project to remake the Middle East and build American hegemony on that cornerstone was in jeopardy. … Now that Israel is at war, they have the chance once again to go on the offensive, against Iran, in Iraq, against Syria and against the mythical Terrorist International that they warn about so regularly.”
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A specialist in Israeli-Iranian relations, Parsi wrote the article “Israel Readies for Iran Showdown by Attacking Lebanon.” He said: “Recalling Hezbollah’s close ties to Iran and Syria, both Washington and Tel Aviv argue that the recent clashes must have the support and blessing of these two states. … Such a conclusion rests on the assumption that Tehran and Hezbollah could have predicted Israel’s reaction to the ambush and kidnaping of two Israeli soldiers. … Israel’s heavy-handed response, which risks embroiling the entire region in a war, is rather unprecedented and unlikely to have been predicted by Hezbollah, despite Israel’s shelling of the Gaza strip after Palestinian fighters took an Israeli soldier prisoner.”

Parsi added: “An overextended United States may embolden Israel’s enemies, who may be tempted to test Israel’s resolve and ability to uphold its tough posture. Through its crushing response and by expanding the conflict, Israel seeks to conceal this potential vulnerability and signal the Arabs to abandon any adventurous ideas that the U.S. difficulties in Iraq may have given them.”

Parsi is the author of Treacherous Triangle — The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States, scheduled for publication next year.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167