Trending Topics:

Former Israel commander says Israel’s ‘unjust’ war in Palestine fuels ‘anti-Semitism around the world’

on 23 Comments

Last week a former Israeli security official urged American Jews to restrain Israel’s “unjust” war in Palestine because it fuels anti-Semitism around the world. The statement is remarkable because that view is generally seen as anathema: saying that Israel’s actions have any role in the growth of anti-Semitism.

Ami Ayalon, a Navy commander and former head of the Shin Bet, spoke at J Street last week and said that Israelis believe they are fighting a just war of defense for their existence, and that the world refuses to acknowledge that. But in fact Israel’s existence is established, and American Jews can see that Israel is engaged in an unjust war. (Emphasis mine)

What you see from the outside is us fighting two separate, totally different wars. The first is indeed a just war, a war to establish Israel within the 1967 borders based on international resolutions. You correctly say that we have won that war….

We continue to fight a second war, a war in order to expand our border to the east, to build more settlements, and to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state next door. That second war is not a just war. It denies the Palestinians the right to self determination, which was recognized by the international community. As a former commander of the Navy and director of the Shin Bet, as a person who fought in too many wars, as someone who represents the views of a vast majority of the IDF top command, past and present, I tell you today that the second war, the unjust one, cannot be won with force alone. There is no military decision in this war. That is why unless we choose a totally different approach, this war will continue for generations to come, it will lead to more violence and terror. After we beat Hamas and Islamic Jihad, we will face ISIS. And after that, who knows what will come.


But I can assure you it will definitely be more extremist. This second war to expand our borders will isolate Israel even more and increase anti-Semitism around the world, but the most important thing, the most dangerous thing, is that this war will be the end of Israel as the founding fathers of Zionism envisioned it. I’m here to tell you that the question of which war we are sending our young men into is tearing Israeli society apart…

You see that reality. We in Israel refuse to see it. We cannot see it. We are too close to the events, we are in too much pain to see clearly. We still use the language of guilt, not of responsibility. We need you by our side on this long and hard road. We need you to tell us the truth the way you see it. So when we say [Hebrew phrase] which means, All Israel are responsible for each other, we are in a way saying, You have the right, and in times of crisis, like today when you see the writing on the wall and we do not or cannot, you also have the duty to stand up and tell us your truth. This is the real meaning of mutual responsibility.

Ayalon’s comments are similar to those of the former Episcopal chaplain at Yale, Bruce Shipman, for which he lost his job five years ago. In the wake of the 2014 Gaza slaughter, Shipman wrote to the New York Times and said there was a “relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.”

[Growing anti-Semitism] parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

Shipman was lambasted for blaming the victim and making Jews responsible for Israel’s actions. “If, according to Rev. Shipman’s view, the antidote for anti-Semitism is a solution to the Palestinian question, then he should share with us the antidote for the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of Eastern Europe, and Hitler’s Germany,” Yale graduate Michael Katz wrote to the school paper. While Mark Oppenheimer wrote in Tablet that Shipman was blaming American Jews in a bigoted way. “Next time an innocent Jewish man or woman is shot in Brussels, rather than complain about anti-Semites, I will ring up Prime Minister Netanyahu and complain about his war policy. And next time 1,400 children are abducted, beaten, raped, and sex-trafficked in England, rather than decry sex-trafficking and child-rape, I will demand that you [Shipman] ring up the Queen.”

Ayalon said just that: that in the spirit of one Jewish people, American Jews should tell Israel to stop making wars.

H/t Adam Horowitz and James North.

Disclosure: The Rev. Shipman has been a contributor to our website.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

23 Responses

  1. echinococcus on November 5, 2019, 10:52 am

    Thanks for picking up this powerful statement by a top Zionist general.

    One objection:

    “… that in the spirit of one Jewish people, American Jews should tell Israel to stop making wars”

    The above is not a quote from Ayalon or any of the persons cited in the above paper; it seems to be the personal conviction of Mr Weiss “(H/t Adam Horowitz and James North)”.

    “American Jews” (both those who are so by religion and those who wrongly believe that religion is transmitted biologically), have standing to do that by virtue of:

    -being overwhelmingly supporters and financers of the colonial Zionist entity –while a few of them are the owners of it;

    -being part of the people who vote and pay for the imperial predator government that keeps the Zionist entity alive.

    He should, in other words, be told to stop making up a “one Jewish people” when the only discernible people he might mean is the utterly Americanized heirs of the East-European Ashkenazi ethny. Supporting the “one people” concept is feeding murderous Zionist propaganda and recruitment. Censorship instead of discussion does not make the problem disappear.

  2. eljay on November 5, 2019, 12:11 pm

    Last week a former Israeli security official urged American Jews to restrain Israel’s “unjust” war in Palestine …

    Mr. Ayalon should have urged all Zionists to disavow Zionism and to embrace justice, accountability and equality in I-P.

    But he is a Zionist, so instead he merely urged Jewish Americans to support kinder, gentler Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism (incl. “necessary evil”).

    To a Zionist, that is “the real meaning of mutual responsibility”.

  3. echinococcus on November 5, 2019, 12:13 pm

    “That second war is not a just war. It denies the Palestinians the right to self determination, which was recognized by the international community”

    Says the general and spymaster.

    He had just said, though: “two separate, totally different wars. The first is indeed a just war, a war to establish Israel within the 1967 borders based on international resolutions”

    Well, well. Establishing his shitty Crusader kingdom within any borders, and the “international resolutions” that are used as a pretext, deny “the Palestinians the right to self determination, which was recognized by the international community”, a right that had firmly been established prior to that (that in fact is the basis of simple human decency and fairness even if there were no treaties.) So it’s very simple; it’s all pure and simple invasion and genocide.

    But of course, to recognize that he dedicated all his life to committing a high crime against humanity, in fact directing and managing that single, endless, “unjust” war of aggression against the helpless owners of the land he invaded might be too much to ask from the much-decorated General…

  4. seancbreathnach on November 5, 2019, 4:56 pm

    Anyone who thinks that Israel’s brutal illegal occupation of the Palestinians for over 70 years, doesn’t increase anti-Semitism around the world is living in cloud cuckoo land.

    “But the key stain on Israel’s reputation is its brutal treatment of the Palestinians and the fact that it has become an apartheid state. Until recently Israel and its supporters were able to maintain the fiction that there would eventually be a legitimate Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, but it is now clear that there is virtually no chance that will happen and Greater Israel is here to stay. That Greater Israel, as Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley make clear in an important new UN study, is already an apartheid state. Israel and its defenders vehemently deny that fact, but even among Israelis it’s not unusual to hear Israel described as an apartheid state. For example – two former Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have said that if there is no two-state solution, Israel will – to quote Olmert – face a South African style of struggle. Well, there is no two-state solution. Because of time constraints, I will focus exclusively on the first of those operations – Cast Lead – which took place in the weeks before President Obama was inaugurated in 2009. Israeli forces killed about 1,400 Palestinians of whom roughly 1,200 were civilians; 350 of those civilians were children. In contrast, 13 Israelis were killed. The ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in that operation is 108:1. That’s not a war in my lexicon. That’s a massacre. I might add that 6,300 Palestinian homes were destroyed contributing to the 600,000 tons of rubble that littered Gaza when the shooting ended.”
    John Mearsheimer.

  5. Joshua Laskin on November 6, 2019, 9:49 am

    The Zionist idea, to welcome all Jews into the Jewish state, regardless of what kind of state they wanted it to become; meant, inherently, that the state, eventually, would become precisely what the founders didn’t want. Zionism originally included some progressive, socialist and democratic ideals; and maybe could’ve figured out some way to fairly incorporate the Arab community; but there’s nothing inherently democratic about ethnic, tribal Judaism. The Jewish state isn’t really a Zionist state. Zionism today is primarily a Diasporic ideology; it’s about world-Jews supporting the Jewish state, for their own status and identity. Ayalon is a classic old Zionist, who has some democratic ideals, along with political realism. But his kind are on the way out; their time has past. Yes, he’s telling us the obvious: Israeli injustice is generating a worldwide growth in (Left) antisemitism. But, in case anyone hasn’t yet grasped another obviousness: Israelis don’t care, about generating worldwide antisemitism. They need more warm Jewish bodies to occupy as-yet-unannexed territories; so, the more antisemitism on the streets of the world, the better. Our struggle isn’t really with Israelis, as they’re simply acting in their own interest, as they see it; however limited may be the timeline of their vision. You know, one more ‘scumbag country,’ as our genius leader could say. No, our true fight is with Zionists of the Diaspora, who love sending our tax-money in support of the crippling of children. It’s those heartless Americans, whom we should be boycotting.

  6. Misterioso on November 6, 2019, 10:37 am

    It is now obvious that a worldwide shift in public opinion is under way and as a result, “Israel’s” leaders and Zionists in general are feeling the heat and beginning to panic. “Israel’s” image is in free fall, increasing numbers of Jewish youth are abandoning Zionism and the “Jewish state” is losing favor in main street America.

    Ayalon’s assertion that “This second war to expand our borders will isolate Israel even more and increase anti-Semitism around the world” is old news and brings to mind the wise words of the late Uri Avnery, a renowned journalist and former member of the Knesset:

    “Many good people, who feel no hatred at all towards the Jews, but who detest the persecution of the Palestinians, are now called anti-Semites. Thus the sting is taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability… Not only does Israel not protect Jews from anti-Semitism, but quite to the contrary – Israel manufactures and exports [anti-Semitism] around the world.” (Manufacturing Anti-Semites, Counterpunch, 2 October

  7. genesto on November 6, 2019, 12:44 pm

    Jews of conscience and all of their non Zionist and anti Zionists compatriots say, “NONE of the wars against the Palestinian people was justified! Zionism is the basic problem, which must end before justice can be realized for all people involved in the problem”.

    Liberal Zionists, like Mr. Ayalon, say, “All of the problems with I-P are relatively new, since 1967, when Zionism started to go awry. The solution is to protect and maintain the Zionist state, but treat Palestinians under its control more humanely (i.e. better prison conditions for the prisoners)”.

    Hard core Zionists say, “So, we’ve murdered thousands of Palestinians, stole their land and continue to engage in ethnic cleansing. And we aren’t really a democracy, but so what? It’s all been necessary to protect the Jewish people from annihilation”.

    And WE get labeled as dangerous anti Semites who must be destroyed!

  8. nsater on November 6, 2019, 1:32 pm

    It is ironic that all of them speak their minds after they leave the office. It would be a lot more effective and ethical if they do so while they are in service. Better yet speak and resign.

    • genesto on November 6, 2019, 6:41 pm

      Yeah, each of them seems to get a ‘conscience’ after he, or she, is out of office.

      Seems like they speak out as a way to alleviate the guilt, born of their evil deeds, that they are forced to live with the rest of their lives.

  9. Nathan on November 6, 2019, 2:47 pm

    It should be noted that even having been the commander of the navy or having been the director of the shin-bet (or generally being a very intelligent person) does not necessarily mean that you understand the phenomenon of antisemitism. A good indication that one is totally ignorant in this regard is when it is claimed that there is some logic or even some justification for the outburst of antisemitism. The claim of Mr Ayalon that the “unjust war” is fueling antisemitism around the world is really total nonsense. Antisemitism is an irrational hatred, and the actions of Jews or Israelis make no difference. In Hebrew (i.e within the debate taking place in Israeli society), the above claim is not made. So, perhaps, Mr Ayalon has brought up this silly argument because he’s talking in English to American Jews. In other words, he wants to motivate his listeners to action by claiming that they will be facing the dangers. It’s really too bad that no one in the audience (let’s say an expert in the field of antisemitism) had the inspiration to interrupt the speech with a biting question: “Mr Ayalon, now that you have found the explanation for today’s antisemitism, perhaps you could also give us some insight regarding the mystery surrounding the murderous outburst of antisemitism just eighty years ago”.

    • eljay on November 6, 2019, 3:24 pm

      || Nathan: … Antisemitism is an irrational hatred … ||

      Right, so rational hatred of Jewish / “Jewish State” colonialism, (war) crimes and supremacism isn’t anti-Semitism.

      • genesto on November 6, 2019, 6:36 pm

        Nice ‘Gotcha’, eljay! Nathan walked right into that one! :-{)

    • Mooser on November 6, 2019, 6:11 pm

      Shorter “Nathan”: ‘Since anti-semites have accused Jews, singly or in concert, of almost every conceivable crime, the weight of their spurious accusations has earned an ‘absolute immunity’ for the Zionist enterprise’.

      That’s just the way history works, “Nathan”. You can count on it.

  10. James Canning on November 6, 2019, 4:36 pm

    Relentless oppression of non-Jews in the occupied West Bank, by Jews acting wholly illegally under international law, is inevitably going to foster anti-Jewish feeling.

  11. Mayhem on November 7, 2019, 7:47 am

    Anti-Semitism causes hostility to Israel, and that hostility to Israel feeds back to increase anti-Semitism. There is a symbiotic connection between antisemitism and hostility toward Israel.
    Following the establishment of Israel, anti-Semitism increased dramatically in the Middle East. The more Israel does to assert itself the more that fuels anti-Semitism as anti-Semitism is keen to find excuses to justify itself.
    To believe as this article seems to suggest that if Israel behaved “nicely” anti-semitism would diminish is to forget that German Jews showing support for the Nazi regime discovered pretty quickly that that didn’t help them to save themselves.
    Anti-semites won’t be satisfied by Israel doing the “right’ things; anti-semites will only get some short-lived satisfaction if they succeed in getting rid of Israel completely.

    • eljay on November 7, 2019, 8:46 am

      || Mayhem: … There is a symbiotic connection between antisemitism and hostility toward Israel. … ||

      There’s a symbiotic connection between Zionism and the evil Israel has done and continues to do:
      – deliberately and with impunity; and
      – anti-Semitically in the name of all Jews.

      || … Following the establishment of Israel … ||

      And – just like that! – decades’ worth (and counting) of Zionist evil (terrorism, ethnic cleansing, theft, military occupation, colonialism, oppression, torture and murder) vanishes. Impressive.

      || … Anti-semites won’t be satisfied by Israel doing the “right’ things … ||

      So what? Justice, accountability and equality should be done everywhere and always because they are the right things to do. They should not be done only when and where anti-Semites approve of them.

    • Mooser on November 7, 2019, 7:46 pm

      “anti-semites will only get some short-lived satisfaction if they succeed in getting rid of Israel completely.”“Nathan”

      Good to know that the future of the Jewish people is in no way connected with the success or failure of the Zionist project.

    • RoHa on November 7, 2019, 11:00 pm

      “Anti-Semitism causes hostility to Israel, “

      There probably are some anti-Semites whose attitude causes them to be hostile to Israel. I have heard that there are also anti-Semites who support Israel because they want the Jews in their own countries to go to Israel.

      But most of the hostility to Israel seems to be caused by Israel’s brutal actions.

    • RoHa on November 8, 2019, 12:14 am

      “But most of the hostility to Israel seems to be caused by Israel’s brutal actions. “

      And you can fairly ask why I think this, so I will give my reasoning.

      It is a well-established principle of human nature that, if A acts unjustly towards B, this is likely to result in B becoming hostile towards A.
      It is also well-established that if C has normal human feelings, and C sees A’s injustice towards B, this is likely to result in C also becoming hostile towards A.

      Israel acts unjustly towards the Palestinians. People see this. Hostility towards Israel is the result.

      I do not need to invoke any putative anti-Semitism to explain the hostility, so I take a tip from William of Ockham and leave it out.

  12. CHUCKMAN on November 8, 2019, 1:20 am

    A very fine statement by Mr Avalon. And, I have to believe, it is so very true.

    The same words coming from someone who was not Jewish likely would be fiercely termed “anti-Semitic.”

    That’s how crazed the discussion of the topic is.

    Mr Avalon terms it a “second war.”

    I tend to think of it as the continuing legacy of General Dayan who said after the 1967 War that it would necessary to make the Palestinians miserable so they would want to leave the captured territories .

    And, to my mind, that’s just what Israel has done for half a century, try to make the Palestinians miserable.

    Why wouldn’t any well-intentioned observer object to such a cruel practice?

  13. Vera Gottlieb on November 10, 2019, 10:56 am

    Couldn’t agree more with him! And now he is being crucified?

  14. John D on December 14, 2019, 7:44 am

    While Ami Ayalon is clearly an experienced and intelligent military individual, his grasp of political ideology clearly needs further development and refinement.
    From Theodore Herzl onwards, all Zionists have welcomed and promoted antisemitism.
    They do so in order to encourage Aliyah or Jewish migration into Occupied Palestine.
    Zionists include not only Jews but also non-Jews, such as fundamentalist Christians in the US.
    Ayalon’s political masters will not withdraw from oppressing the Palestinians.
    The only time they might – might – stop is when the last one leaves Palestine.

Leave a Reply