Interview with Ahron Bregman: Israel, Syria, and the Elusive Peace | Global Comment
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Sign up to the Penguin newsletter For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. Please enter an email. Yehoshua Ben-Arieh , a historical geographer at Hebrew University. Many early Zionists were secular European socialists, motivated more by concerns about nationalism, self-determination and escape from persecution than by religious visions.
There was a reordering of their society. The local Palestinian aristocracy, the big families of Jerusalem, emerged as leaders of the Palestinian national movement, which was suddenly being confronted by Jewish migration. Opposition to that migration fueled several deadly riots by Palestinians, while Jews chafed at British rule and at immigration restrictions imposed in — restrictions that blocked many Jews fleeing the Holocaust from entering.
The Arabs rejected the partition plan, and a day after Israel proclaimed its independence in , the Arab countries attacked the new state. They were defeated. Amid violence by militias and mobs on both sides, huge numbers of Jews and Arabs were displaced. As the lake provides Israel with some per cent of her fresh water needs, the Israelis insist on a strip of land, particularly along the north-east section of the Sea of Galilee to remain under their sovereignty which will effectively mean no Syrian access to the precious water.
Of course there are other issues to be discussed between Syria and Israel, notably the latter demand that Syria cuts off her links with Iran; but the issue of the border and access to the water is still the most important one. For such a breakthrough both sides will need strong and determined leaders.
At the moment, however, on the Israeli side, we have a Prime Minister who is up to his eyes with problems — mainly allegations of apparent corruption.
He is thus in no position to take big decisions. Peace with Syria will have to wait. Jonathan: Shaul Mofaz, the current Israeli Minister of Transportation, warned against the possible strike against Iran.
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He further warned that the attack would be inevitable. Do you agree that his views represent general positions senior IDF officials have taken, considering that Mofaz once served Minister of Defense? As for an Israeli military strike on Iran — giving his domestic problems, it will be very difficult indeed for Prime Minister Olmert to take such a momentous decision. Jonathan: If Israel decides to launch attacks, in your estimation, can the Jewish state stand the retaliation from Iran?