Just who is General ‘All-out total war’ Eisenberg speaking for?

Some strange comments about “all out total war” and the use of WMD, by IDF Major General Eyal Eisenberg, former commander of the Gaza Division during Operation Cast Lead and newly appointed Home Front Command Chief, seem to be throwing everyone in the Israeli defense establishment into a panic. Although Ynet reports that the remarks in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies were approved by military censors beforehand, the defense establishment is moving quickly to denounce them and demand that the IDF rein in Eisenberg. Defense Minister Ehud Barak caustically dismissed Eisenberg’s assessment, saying that “We don’t see a reason for any of our adversaries to initiate a broad, general campaign against Israel at this time.”

Much of what Eisenberg apparently said is not new and has been expressed before by Israeli officials: the Arab Spring is a catalyst for Israel’s encirclement by hostile Islamists; Egypt is facing total national collapse; Turkey needs to tone done its rhetoric over the flotilla; Hezbollah is further entrenching itself in Lebanon; Hamas and Iran are plotting their next moves against Israel.

There are two new items in the remarks, though, that triggered controversy. One is a bizarre allusion to Hamas possessing new weapons (rockets?): “we discovered a new weapon, and as result of this we instructed the public to hide under two roofs, rather than only one,” Eisenberg said. Eisenberg is being criticized for making this statement because officials claim that knowledge of the weapons is still classified. A more disconcerting remark was this:

“This [all] raises the likelihood of an all-out, total war, with the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used.”

Further quotes from Eisenberg’s speech (via Ynet):

“It looks like the Arab Spring, but it can also be a radical Islamic winter.”

“In Lebanon, Hezbollah is growing stronger within government arms, but it has not lost its desire to harm Israel, and the ties with Turkey aren’t at their best.”

“Iran has not abandoned its nuclear program. The opposite it true; it continues full steam ahead.”

“In Egypt, the army is collapsing under the burden of regular security operations, and this is reflected in the loss of control in the Sinai and the turning of the border with Israel into a terror border, with the possibility that Sinai will fall under the control of an Islamic entity.”

No one has yet advanced any explanation for why Eisenberg’s pre-approved remarks are now being treated as those coming from a loose cannon. Despite a controversial record that includes playing a leading role in Operation Cast Lead — a role that makes him potentially guilty of war crimes — he has continually been entrusted with increasingly significant responsibilities by the IDF.

About Paul Mutter

Paul Mutter is a contributor to Mondoweiss, Foreign Policy in Focus and the Arabist.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, US Politics

{ 32 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. braciole says:

    “No one has yet advanced any explanation for why Eisenberg’s pre-approved remarks are now being treated as those coming from a loose cannon.”

    I can’t say for certain but I would suggest that Eisenberg has been used to reinforce the idea that you should always regard the IOF as crazy enough to do what other more moral armies would not do.

    • LeaNder says:

      that was precisely my impression. It’s elaborate kind of blackmail.

    • annie says:

      this eerily reminds me of a completely bizarre article i read last night on haaretz. at the end..i couldn’t tell if he was serious, really.

      This is part of the same siege, that can be likened to icebergs surrounding a straying ship whose captains are confident of their ability to thread their way through, until it can no longer move. It is natural to develop a siege mentality, a solidarity of the besieged, under such conditions. It’s not the captain who ran the ship into the icebergs who is to blame, it’s the terrible weather. It’s not the closure of the Gaza Strip that’s to blame for destroying relations, it’s the Turks, the Islamists, the pro-Iranians. The Egyptians are also at fault, for revealing their true faces. And, of course, it’s not the occupation that is at fault, it’s the Palestinians who resist living under it.

      And so, what is the only possible response when the entire world rises up against you; when Gaza, in any of its various names, is closing in on you? That’s the time to hold onto the government’s hand, to embrace the army, to consecrate the settlements and begin a new siege-mentality conversation. A conversation that will convince the besieged that the only way is that of the government, a conversation of prestige and condescension, of “We survived Pharaoh, we’ll survive this, too,” of “us against the world.”

      These are precisely the symptoms of the siege. They are the same words used by the leaders of countries under international sanctions. The terrible thing is that one can get used to a siege, at least for long enough to forget what it’s like not to be under siege. But there is nothing like a siege to fortify esprit de corps – look at Gaza, for example. There’s also nothing like a siege to cure a people that has begun to challenge the decisions of its government, to demonstrate or to ask superfluous questions. The siege is good for us.

      • LeaNder says:

        Annie, I’ll read it, not now though. To be quite honest when I appear here more extensively I am in the process to kick hated administrative matters down the road …

        But it always makes sense to check if these guys collected something.

        Sounds familar?

        Tzvi Bar’el
        Zvi Barel

        Zvi Bar’el writes for Ha’aretz.

        In an August 1993 article in the New York Review of Books, Amos Elon described a visit to Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Tunis in which Bar’el, who was at that time a deputy editor of Ha’aretz, participated. According to Elon, at one point in the visit, when Arafat was complaining about the harshness of the Israeli occupation regime, Bar’el interjected to remark that “Yes, but it forges you as a nation”.

      • piotr says:

        Zvi Barel is very clearly attacking the siege mentality, although it is a bit sly job.

        The phrase “Palestinians who resist” is the shiboleth here. Some radical Zionist refuse to use term “Palestinian” but hardly any of them would say “resists” rather than “attacks” or “hates” and it is axiomatic that Gaza are not occupied.

        Actually, he renders this upside-down siege mentality perfectly. This is a GOOD article. Apart from shiboleth terms it is simple to well reasoned to be serious.

      • thetumta says:

        Massada with WMD and 5 Dolphin class undetectable diesel-electrics to deliver them?

    • Miura says:

      Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay:

      Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.

      • seafoid says:


        He was fond of the dog analogies.

        “treat them like dogs, those who want to can leave” was his 1967 response to the question of what to do with the Palestinians of the West Bank.

        Jews were always mobile so the Zionists never understood the connection of a people to their own land. And very few people left.

      • thetumta says:

        Shoot the dog. No problem. His greatest achievements were false flag operations, rope a dope. You never knew who hit you?

  2. Mndwss says:

    Eisenberg is speaking for the Zionists, but probarbly forgot that he was not supposed to tell the world that Zionism = Nazism.

    The Zionazis has not been welcomed by their victims and think this is a “18 February 1943″-moment

    Solution: Totaler Krieg

    Kill the victims or take a bath in the sea…

    If that happens: Remember to bring soap to wash the blood of your hands.

  3. piotr says:

    Israel faces unprecedented threats: population suddenly demands more butter, and some sectors contemplate less guns. Or compromising national security by taking away some military real estate, say, for housing.

    Thus it is vital to educate the ingrates about the immense needs of national defense. Barak was issuing similar warning, the differences are if the threats are, like, tomorrow, or we still have a few years, and if we will not waste them with some “social justice” distractions and if we raise defense budget adequately…

  4. POA says:

    The alarming aspect of all this rhetoric is the FACT that Israel would not dare to take military action, on a large scale, without having a plan that entails including the United States military in any such action.

    Of course, the simplest way for them to do this is with a false flag terrorist attack against American interests, here or abroad.

    Its quite telling that whenever the theory is put forth that Israel may be on the verge of employing such a strategy, (and I firmly believe that is EXACTLY what they will soon do), the Hasbarists avoid the debate.

    Why do they avoid commenting? Well, because they realize that we have ACTUAL HISTORY from which we have deduced Israel’s future actions. They cannot deny that Israel will resort to such tactics, because they cannot deny that Israel has used such tactics in the past.

    We are ripe for another false flag, as the “impact” of 9/11 is wearing thin. The media and Hollywood is foreshadowing such an event carefully, nurturing an underlying societal unease with cinema productions and a constant din about Islamic terrorism on all our so called “news” outlets.

    Yep, we are about to be hit again with another “trifecta”. And it will be just as transparently false flag as the last one was.

  5. Duscany says:

    I wish when generals would toss around terms like Weapons of Mass Distruction, they would specify what weapons they actually mean. When I hear someone say WMD I immediately think of nuclear weapons, but the category also includes, I’m told, everything from chemical to biological to ordinary tear gas. If that’s the case, I can reliably state, I was attacked by a WMD when I was a grad student at Berkeley.

    • piotr says:

      In the time of social unrest, one has to resort to Weapons of Mass Distraction. I mean, both your citizens and the opponents should get awed, baffled, confused.

      FWIW, I suspect that uranium program in Iran is exactly WMD in that sense. The program is useless economically and militarily. It allows to persevere in spite of the pressure from Zionists and their puppets (or imperialists and their puppets). It provokes Mossad to loose assets on assassinations of hapless physicists, while sparing rocket scientists (missile program is absolutely vital for Iran). It can provoke a totally reckless and senseless military action in the style of Jimmy Carter and provide the regime with a valuable victory.

    • Paul Mutter says:

      Some later comments by Ehud Barak suggested Eisenberg had chemical weapons in mind. An article posted up after mine discusses nuclear allusions in a Haaretz piece.

    • Taxi says:

      I believe he’s referencing the Syrian stock of biological and chemical weapons and Iranian nukes versus israeli nukes.

  6. seafoid says:

    There’s going to be an all out total war eventually at the end of which it will be all out of the Middle East for the Zionists. Maybe they’ll create something decent somewhere else.

    • DBG says:

      so the non Jewish zionists will be fine? is that what you are saying seafoid? An all out war would be a nuclear conflict, you know that right? why do you want this so badly, it is disgusting. Do you hate Israel that much that you’d be willing to sacrifice literally millions of your Muslim brothers and sisters?

      Who are the players in this all out ME war? who are the sides? i’d like to hear what you think the teams will be.

      • Taxi says:

        Arab jews have a long history in the middle east – no one is trying to ‘get rid of them’. But for sure zionism is deeply loathed and rejected and will therefore NEVER be accepted in the mideast – and all who supported it had better pack a suitcase when the dust has settled.

      • thetumta says:

        Nothing like an Optimist. I’d be happy if all of the dead are confined to the ME, but the nuclear equipped Dolphins are for other targets. As in 73, it will be blackmail and following that a WMD false-flag, if necessary.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        so the non Jewish zionists will be fine?

        John Hagee, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin? Well they won’t be homeless if that’s what you’re worried about.

  7. Real Jew says:

    All this talk of war and nuclear holocaust is typical horse**** zio propaganda. When all else fails they try to scare Israeli civilians along with the rest of the world with some end of days scenario which will lead to an Islamic takeover. How pathetic can they get.

    If anybody, Israel would be the first country to resort to WMD. As an Israeli diplomat so nonchalantly stated:

    “if Israel’s livelihood is threatened we will take the world with us” (not verbatim)

  8. The Middle East is a dangerous neighbourhood? Why did you have to move in if you don’t like the place? No one forced you.

  9. Citizen says:

    The defensive war began on 9/11 when they attacked the Great Enabler:

    link to independent.co.uk

    The Great Enabler moved into Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeks to bomb Iran.
    Only beneficiary is Israel as Israel.