Vandalism redefined: the Lavon Affair

I was flipping through a book I bought after attending a talk by an Israeli ex-diplomat (wait, don't arrest me yet, hear it out, will you? I am enemy of the state only as an anarchist not an Israeli agent), Michael Oren. The book is authored by the same, and is titled Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. The talk was interesting in so far as classical right-wing Zionist talks organized by racist Zionist groups can be considered "interesting." And here I must add, I felt rather odd going in, not because I felt intimidated by a bunch of nutcases, but because the talk itself was never intended to – and the organizers made no secret of this – be an open talk/discussion/debate on the issue (well, the topic was the six-day war). Those who had come to hear the talk seemed interested only in hearing what they wanted to hear. Well, the whole thing was intended to be an occasion to brainstorm and organize pro-Israel activism. Sheets were passed around, and at this point I had to add my special touch. My name: Homeless Refugee. My e-mail: FreePalestine at … dot com. The e-mail was fake of course, as was my desire to be "enlisted" in the Zionist ranks for the "defense" of Israel… Back to the talk… the speaker was rather charismatic I must say, an eloquent speaker unlike I would argue Chomsky; but the material he presented, his take on it at least, was too simplistic. His thesis on the six-day war was that it was a timing thing. What on earth does that mean? Well, he argued that the Americans' failure to convey a formal apology by Hussein to the Israelis prompted the latter to launch an attack on a Palestinian village, and this of course had a domino effect, which eventually led to an all-out war…

Let me give him the benefit of the doubt (as I usually generously do with Zionist authors, if only to avoid being accused of anti-Semitism – although at the end of the day it won't matter because unless I support the Zionists I will be considered an anti-Semite) for simplifying this issue, and let's say this cause-and-effect analysis is accurate. Fair enough. Let us take a look at one point in his writing, on page 9 of his book (emphasis mine):

[I]n an ill-conceived scheme to thwart Britain's evacuation from the Canal, Israeli agents attempted to foment chaos in Egypt by vandalizing public institutions. Eleven Egyptians, Jews, were arrested and charged with treason.

Vandalizing public institutions. This is the code name for what is usually referred to as the "Lavon Affair." Let us see what Avi Shlaim, another Israeli author, has to say about this. The quote is taken from page 111 of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World:

A Jewish espionage ring, organized and directed by military intelligence, carried out a series of acts of sabotage inside Egypt in July 1954… On 2 July incendiary devices were planted in mailboxes in Alexandria, causing very little damage. The same tactic was used against American libraries and information offices in Cairo and Alexandria on 14 July, again with little effect. On 23 July … members of the ring set out to detonate their bombs in a number of cinemas showing British and American films and in a post office.

Detonating bombs in Egyptian cinemas (by no means empty of civilians) is now considered, by this ex-member of the Israeli delegation to the UN, "vandalism", but detonating bombs in Israeli cinemas and on buses is of course, terrorism, a terrible crime committed by a people (a people? I thought they considered the Palestinians cockroaches and two-legged beasts for the longest time – still do???) apparently genetically predisposed to terrorism and thirst for Jewish blood. In his supposedly great book this supposedly great historian/author/defender of Israel (this already makes one a great historian /author) does not deem it worthwhile to mention Lavon or to refer to, in passing, the term that is commonly used to refer to this "vandalism".

I wonder what ingenious term will Mr. Oren come up with to refer to the King David Hotel bombing, which killed 91 people… "An act of desperation in the Jewish quest for self-determination"?

Edit: Some corrections made.

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3 responses to “Vandalism redefined: the Lavon Affair

  1. Whatever Michael Oren says, he clearly does not approach his historical writing as a detached observer. In the right-wing Israeli journal Azure, Oren announced his intention to pre-empt the New Historians’ interpretation of the 1967 war. Not that there’s anything wrong with having an agenda, most historians do, but readers should be aware of that.

    Norman Finkelstein has an excellent review of Oren’s book. There’s also an article about the Six-Day War in the current issue of the
    Middle East Journal by Roland Popp that is unfortunately not available online. In the article, Popp, looking at newly available American, Israeli and Soviet documents (some of
    which Oren had access to but chose to selectively quote or ignore) shows that, contrary to Oren:
    -the military balance between Israel and Egypt in 1967 vastly favored Israel,
    -that this military balance made any notion of an Egyptian first strike preposterous
    -that Nasser’s military deployment in the Sinai was actually very limited (in contrast to his unmistakably bellicose rhetoric)
    -that Israel’s leaders, while concerned about the situation, were fully convinced they would
    be victorious in any war even if Egypt attacked first
    -that the United States, while unsure about Nasser’s ulterior motives, believed that Nasser
    was ultimately committed to a political solution, and were also convinced of Israel’s military superiority. LBJ told Abba Eban on May 26, 1967 that “our best judgment is that no military attack in Israel is imminent, and, moreover, if Israel is attacked our judgment is that the Israelis would lick them.” (again, although Oren had access to the minutes of this meeting and selectively quotes portions of it, he chose to omit most of the comments by LBJ to Eban to
    create a different impression of it.)

    Popp argues that Israel launched a strike against

  2. (Sorry, my last post got cut off…)

    Whatever Michael Oren says, he clearly does not approach his historical writing as a detached observer. In the right-wing Israeli journal Azure, Oren announced his intention to pre-empt the New Historians’ interpretation of the 1967 war. Not that there’s anything wrong with having an agenda, most historians do, but readers should be aware of that.

    Norman Finkelstein has an excellent review of Oren’s book. There’s also an article about the Six-Day War in the current issue of the Middle East Journal by Roland Popp that is unfortunately not available online. In the article, Popp, looking at newly available American, Israeli and Soviet documents (some of which Oren had access to but chose to selectively quote or ignore) shows that, contrary to Oren:
    -the military balance between Israel and Egypt in 1967 vastly favored Israel,
    -that this military balance made any notion of an Egyptian first strike preposterous
    -that Nasser’s military deployment in the Sinai was actually very limited (in contrast to his unmistakably bellicose rhetoric)
    -that Israel’s leaders, while concerned about the situation, were fully convinced they would be victorious in any war even if Egypt attacked first
    -that the United States, while unsure about Nasser’s ulterior motives, believed that Nasser was ultimately committed to a political solution, and were also convinced of Israel’s military superiority. LBJ told Abba Eban on May 26, 1967 that “our best judgment is that no military attack in Israel is imminent, and, moreover, if Israel is attacked our judgment is that the Israelis would lick them.” (again, although Oren had access to the minutes of this meeting and selectively quotes portions of it, he chose to omit most of the comments by LBJ to Eban to
    create a different impression of it.)

    Popp argues that Israel launched a strike because a diplomatic situation of the Sinai crisis would have been disadvantageous for Israel, and had nothing to do with military necessity.

  3. Pingback: sonitus.org » Blog Archive » Vandalism redefined: the Lavon Affair

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