NEWS:  January 30, 2009

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

THE MIDDLE EAST: HAWKS AND DOVES IN PERSPECTIVE –   A reader recently directed this request to me: “Could you please help me understand from a Catholic perspective what is going on in the Middle East? Media reports on the topic don’t give the background of what is happening. I’m asking you for assistance on this because I came across two of your articles on the Arabs and Jews - 'Aren’t You Missing Something about Lebanon?' (read it here) and 'Israel: The Beginning of the Religious War' (read it here). They were eye-openers for me, but they don’t deal specifically with the Arab-Israeli political scene. If you could help me, I would be very appreciative. Sincerely, M.C.”

I am pleased that some of my past articles are still doing some good. Here, I will try to meet Mr. M.C.’s expectations, that is, to sketch an overview of both the Israeli and Arab recent history in the Middle East so that he - and perhaps other readers - can follow today’s invasion of the Gaza Strip from what I hope is a Catholic point of view.

International political background

In 1896, Hungarian-Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl, wrote the book The Jewish State, which proposed that the Jews should have their own land to avoid the endemic persecutions they experience wherever they go. Herzl lived in Austria and Germany and became a member of the Burschenschaft [Society of Friends], a known German Masonry linked to international Freemasonry, which supported his ideas. Zionism is the name of movement that was born from those ideas.

As fruit of this book and support, Jews start to migrate to Palestine, purchase land there and establish farms. In 1909 the first kibbutz - a socialist agrarian cell - was founded. At that time, Palestine was under Arab dominion, as it had been for a long time. Then, in 1917 English prime minister Arthur Balfour stated his public support for the foundation of a Jewish State along with an Arab Palestine State. Soon afterward, without the agreement of the Arabs, the League of Nations decreed that Palestine should be administrated by the United Kingdom. Between 1929 and 1936 strong conflicts were already breaking out between the Jews and the Arabs.

Religious political map of Palestine

The 1947 UN partition plan, decided without Arab consent. Below, Israel invaded the Arab territories and has controled them since 1967

The Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation
During World War II, Zionism benefited greatly from the Nazi persecution. A considerable number of Jews from Central Europe fled to Palestine, increasing its population. Then, after WWII, the United Kingdom asked the recently-born United Nations to resolve the constant frictions between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine.

Again without consulting the Arabs, in 1947 the UN decided that Palestine should be divided into two States, one for the Jews, another for the Arabs. The latter rejected this plan. Nonetheless, supported by England and the United States, Israel was established as the Jewish State on May 14, 1948.

So, it was international Freemasonry – working through the UN and the governments of England and US – that made the founding of Israel possible despite unremitting Arab opposition. This invariable support continues to our days.

Four international wars

In 1948, soon after the foundation of the Jewish State, five Arab countries sent troops to prevent it. This first war ended in January 1949 with victory for Israel, armed by the British and American governments. In this war the Jews expelled the Palestinians from their land, and 700,000 refugees fled to the regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Egypt incorporated Gaza into its territory and Jordan did the same with the West Bank.

In 1956, Israel took advantage of a crisis regarding the Suez Canal in which France and England were opposing Egypt. Israel made an alliance with the French and English and attacked Egypt in the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, conquering them and claiming them for Israel. However, under pressure from the USSR, the US obliged Israel to draw back its troops from those territories.

In June 1967, Israel - again heavily armed by the US – made a new attack on her Arab neighbors. During the course of the ensuing Six Day War, Israel captured the Sinai and Gaza Strip from Egypt; the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. It also captured and annexed East Jerusalem, which had belonged to Jordan. At that time, only West Jerusalem was under Jewish control and Tel Aviv was the Jewish capital.

The UN asked Israel to return the conquered territories, but one condition of the resolution was Arab recognition of the Israeli State. The Arabs refused. Therefore, no territory was returned. In 1980 Israel declared the “complete and united” Jerusalem as its capital. Until today the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights (Syria) continue to be Israeli-occupied territories.

In October 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to recuperate their territories but were unsuccessful.

Arab rockets and intifadas; Jewish retaliation

Given the continuous, unlimited supply of military weapons from the US to Israel as well as the Arabs’ general lack of discipline, the Arabs could not win in conventional warfare against the Jews. Therefore, they had recourse to two primary responses to the Jewish usurpation: first, the sporadic launching of rockets from Gaza and south Lebanon against Israeli targets and second, urban guerilla warfare in the conquered territories.

Israel punishes Lebanon

Israel pushes into Lebanon in 2006 to punish Hezbollah and the civilian population
The first response, the launching of rockets from south Lebanon was promoted by the Palestinian Liberation Organization - PLO - whose headquarters was in Beirut. As the number of rockets increased, Israel responded by invading Lebanon in 1982 and by destroying the PLO headquarters in Beirut. PLO moved its headquarters to Tunisia.

In 1985, Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon, although it kept a strip on the southern border to prevent the rocket launchings. A new Palestinian group - Hezbollah (the party of God) - was formed to assault those troops. When Israel finally withdrew from that strip in 2000, Hezbollah - taking the place of the PLO - began to launch rockets from south Lebanon.

In 2006 Israel invaded Lebanon again, this time with aims of destroying Hezbollah and chastising the population for supporting that group. One month before, Israel had done the same in the Gaza Strip to chastise Hamas for its rocket attacks. The recent Israeli offensive on Gaza, undertaken on the same pretext, started in late December 2008 and continued until some days before Obama’s inauguration.

Jewish guard restrains an Arab

A Jewish guard affronts an Arab as Sharon enters Temple Mount
The second response was called intifada (uprising or riot). The first intifada against Israeli rule lasted from 1987 to 1993. Its goal was to sabotage Israeli stability everywhere - but principally in the Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Using riot tactics, the Palestinian population harassed and stoned Israeli troops, making their occupation difficult to maintain. This first intifada varied in intensity, following the ups and downs of the Palestinians in their hopes to establish their own State.

The second infitada was set off in September 2000 when Ariel Sharon, then Israeli prime minister, entered the Temple Mount with troops, asserting Israeli’s claims to the area. Now, the Temple Mount – overseen by the Muslim religious authorities - has two mosques considered sacred by the Arabs, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Hence the Arabs viewed Sharon’s intrusion as a religious affront, which ignited the second intifada, much more violent than the first.

This second intifada moved from rioting to urban guerilla warfare. The Palestinians added new initiatives – terrorist attacks and suicide bombings – to their normal opposition against Jewish domination. These radical acts that continue to this day have been strongly encouraged by the religious muftis.

It is interesting to note that as the years pass, both sides are becoming more radical. Israeli retaliations in Lebanon (2006) and the Gaza Strip (2008-2009) have increasingly harmed the civilian population and public buildings. This sterile escalating violence does nothing but fuel Islamic fury, increase political instability in Israel and promote international Muslim terrorism.

Indirect fruits of this futile policy were the Arab attacks against the Twin Towers in 2001, the Madrid rail station in 2004, the London bomb blasts in 2005, the Paris streets riots in 2006 and the kidnappings in Mumbai, India in 2008.

Internal political chessboard: The doves and the hawks

What are the parameters for the Israeli-Palestine conflict? I believe there are two.

Sheik Ahmed Yassim

Founder and leader of Hamas, sheik Ahmed Yassim also encouraged the suicide bombers
First, unlike most of the Western countries, neither the Arabs nor the Jews take separation of Church and State seriously. Religion is the principal factor in politics.

Second, both races claim to have the full right over the land. To the degree that a Jew believes Israel should have full rights over the territory of the Great Israel conquered by David and ruled by Solomon, he is a hawk and takes a position to the right in politics. To the degree he admits that part of that territory should be shared with the Palestinians, he is a dove and moves to the left. Symmetrically this happens among the Arabs: to the degree they admit the State of Israel, they become doves; insofar as they deny its right of existence, they are hawks.

David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, took the hawk position during his term. His successors in the Labor Party were also hawks for around 20 years. In 1977 the Labor Party was already soft, taking a dove position and thus losing its previous messianic appeal. Then, a political colligation led by the rightist Likud Party (hawks) won the elections.

Under international pressure, Likud in its turn also softened its position. In 1982 Menahem Begin returned Sinai to Egypt and started to decrease the Jewish colonies in the Gaza and West Bank. After various ups and downs, the Labor Party (doves) returned to power in 1992 and Yitzhak Rabin re-entered peace talks with the Arabs.

Arafat when he was a militant

Above, Yasser Arafat was a hawk when he founded Fatah as a terrorist organization to destroy Israel. Below, he became a dove by accepting the Jewish State

Arafat after accepting the Jewish State
In 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed ordering the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Accords also provided for the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which would be the government of the Palestinian State. One year later, Israel and Jordan signed a peace accord. But the hawks rebelled, and in 1995 Rabin was murdered for these territorial concessions.

Since then, on one hand there is the dove Shimon Perez favorable to peace and withdrawal from occupied territories; on the other hand there is the hawk Benjamin Netanyahu - Likud – who defends keeping the territories.

In 2001, the hawks – represented by Ariel Sharon – won the election. Soon Sharon expanded the Jewish colonies in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, increased roadblocks to Arab territories and broke off negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Later, under international pressure – the US, Russia, the European Union - he re-established those relations and agreed to follow the “road plan” for peace. To show good will, he closed Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and a few in the West Bank (2005).

In the meantime, Israeli troops killed Hamas founder sheik Ahmed Yassim and his successor. In August 2004, Arafat died as a dove and another dove - Mahmud Abbas - was elected president of PA.

After he uprooted the Jewish colonies in Gaza, Sharon lost the support of the Likud and the hawks and had to found a new centrist party called Kadima. In 2006 Sharon suffered a stroke and left the political scene. He was replaced by his vice-president Ehud Olmert, who continued negotiations with the president of PA.

In 2005, Shimon Perez, abandoned the Labor Party, entered the centrist Kadima Party and was elected president of Israel. Olmert was chosen prime minister. In November 2007 a new peace conference was convened in the United States – the Annapolis Conference. There the two-state solution was agreed upon for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Israel committed to have the Palestinian State by 2008.

Following these lines, the doves of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey were on the road to a general agreement and the recognition of Israel when the Israeli army invaded Gaza on December 27, 2008, postponing sine die all the arrangements made at Annapolis.

Hawks and doves

The dove plan made at Annapolis was blown up by the hawks on December 27, 2008
New elections in Israel are scheduled for this coming February 2009 and the favorite is Benjamin Netanyahu – from the hawk Likud Party. Some political analysts have argued that the recent Gaza invasion was launched by the centrist Kadima government (Olmert-Perez) in an attempt to take votes from the Likud (The Tablet, January 10, 2009, p. 4). I don’t agree, as I will soon explain.

The only missing pieces on this political chessboard are the Palestinian parties. Here the players are easier to follow. Fatah (“victory”), Arafat’s old terrorist group, accepted the Oslo Accords and took power in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank. However, by accepting the possibility of a Jewish State, the Fatah came to be seen as a dove. For this reason, it lost the 2006 Palestinian elections, and Hamas (“resistance”), the new hawk movement, took power. Hamas has refused to recognize Israel and has never accepted the terms of the Oslo Accords.

This in summary is the political picture.

The present situation: Hawks vs. hawks

I believe that the military invasion of Gaza this past December was a blow made by the Jewish hawks to prevent the Jewish doves from dividing Israel and establishing a Palestinian State. Everything was prepared to go ahead with the mutual concessions made at Annapolis. Then, at the last moment, the hawks kicked the chessboard and the game ended. The hawks repeated the maneuver they had used before when they murdered Rabin to prevent Israel from being divided into two states in agreement with the Oslo Accords.

At the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the dispute of the hawks and the doves – on the side of both the Jews and the Arabs. The doves on both sides strive for mutual concessions to reach a provisory peace. But neither the Arab nor the Israelis hawks will acknowledge the other side’s right to a State.

Behind this intransigence are religious convictions. The Jewish hawks consider the State of Israel as sacred, as part of the fulfillment of their messianic promise. They also intend to reconstruct the Temple of Solomon, which can only be rebuilt after the destruction of the two Arab mosques that stand on Temple Mount where it is supposed to be reconstructed.

I don’t think that the Arab-Israeli conflict will ever have an end until God intervenes and banishes both peoples from the Holy Land. How and when? I do not have an answer to this question. But I am sure that the Holy Land will shine with a new Catholic brilliance and will give due glory to God in the Reign of Mary, predicted in Fatima.


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