Haaretz’s Chief Misrepresented Moshe Dayan’s Prescient Warning – ZOA’s Berney/Klein JNS Op-Ed
News Op-Ed
February 20, 2024

By Morton A. Klein and Elizabeth A. Berney, Esq.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
Elizabeth Berney, Esq. is the director of research and special projects at the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

(FEBRUARY 15, 2024 / JNS) Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of the far-left Israeli daily Haaretz, published an article in Foreign Policy on Feb. 7 titled “Israel’s Self-Destruction.” The article used distortions, misquotes and falsehoods to justify and promote appeasing Palestinian Arab terrorism. In fact, history demonstrates that such appeasement causes the murder of more innocent Jews.

Benn began his article by quoting legendary Israeli general and politician Moshe Dayan out of context to reverse the meaning of Dayan’s eulogy at the funeral of Roi Rotberg in 1956. Gazan Arab terrorists had ambushed, mutilated and murdered Roi, who was a resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz—the same kibbutz where Hamas and accompanying Gazan civilians massacred, tortured and kidnapped residents on Oct. 7.

Dayan’s actual message was that Israelis must remain strong and vigilant; provide more support for Israeli citizens living near the border; and never be lulled into complacency or forget the Arabs’ hatred and genocidal plans for the Jewish people. Benn misleadingly left out these key portions of Dayan’s eulogy.

Benn omitted Dayan’s warning that the Arabs are “awaiting the day when serenity will dull our path, for the day when we will heed the ambassadors of malevolent hypocrisy who call upon us to lay down our arms.” Benn likewise omitted Dayan’s advice:

Let us not be deterred from seeing the loathing that is inflaming and filling the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who live around us. Let us not avert our eyes lest our arms weaken. This is the fate of our generation. This is our life’s choice: To be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down. The young Roi who left Tel Aviv to build his home at the gates of Gaza to be a wall for us was blinded by the light in his heart and he did not see the flash of the sword. The yearning for peace deafened his ears and he did not hear the voice of murder waiting in ambush.

The Oct. 7 horrors should be a clear reminder that we must heed Dayan’s message to remain ever-vigilant and armed against genocidal Palestinian Arab murderers.

But Benn twisted and reversed Dayan’s message. Benn falsely claimed that Dayan’s eulogy referred to an alleged nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) in which Arabs were “driven into exile by Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence” and “forcibly relocated to Gaza”—and that those alleged events created the “enmity that produced the Oct. 7 attack.”

In fact, Dayan did not mention or reference any “nakba,” because there wasn’t one. Multiple contemporaneous sources thoroughly documented that the Arab League and Arab leaders, including Hitler-collaborator Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, exhorted local Arabs to leave Israel in 1947-1948 to clear a path for six Arab nations to invade and “obliterate” the Jews from every corner of Israel. By contrast, Israel encouraged local Arabs to remain and live together in peace. (See numerous sources collected in Samuel Katz’s Battleground, Fact & Fantasy in Palestine and Robert Spencer’s The Palestine Delusion.)

A speech Dayan gave in 1969 further confirmed that he did not blame Arab enmity on alleged “forcible dispossession.” Dayan explained: “We purchased the land from Arabs and set up Jewish villages where there had once been Arab villages.”

Ironically, Haaretz printed a transcript of Dayan’s speech in 1969. But anti-Israel propagandists omitted Dayan’s statement that Jews purchased the land in order to falsely claim that Dayan supported the “forcible dispossession” myth.

Arab flight from a war zone between 1947 and 1948 at the behest of their invading leaders did not create the “enmity that produced the Oct. 7 attack.” If they had, then why did Arabs slaughter, mutilate and rape Jews in the horrific 1920 Tel Hai and Nebi Musa massacres, 1921 Jaffa massacre, 1929 Hebron and Safed massacres, and 1936-1939 slaughters and terrorism against Jews throughout pre-state Israel? All of this was well before 1947.

The “enmity that produced the Oct. 7 attack” is also not driven by the desire for a peaceful Palestinian state on part of Israel’s land (which the Arabs have repeatedly turned down) or to “just” recover a little plot in Ashkelon that an Arab great-grandparent or absentee Turkish landlord sold to Jews at exorbitant prices 100 years ago.

For even real forcible expulsions do not produce people willing to torture, rape, mutilate and murder innocent civilians. The real forcible expulsions of close to one million Jews from Arab lands did not create even a single Jew who perpetrated atrocities against the citizens of the Arab nations that pogromed the Jews, stole billions of dollars of Jewish land and businesses, and drove the Jews out.

The truth is that the “enmity that produced the Oct. 7 attack” is ages-old, irrational, antisemitic Jew-hatred and the genocidal desire to decapitate every Jew and annihilate the Jewish state.

This murderous hate is heightened by the stream of lies and incitement that Palestinian Arabs are fed in their terror-preaching mosques and terror-teaching UNRWA schools; by Hamas leaders who call for beheading and tearing out Jews’ livers and hearts; and by Palestinian Authority leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, who call for spilling Jewish blood and who pay Arabs huge financial rewards to murder Jews.

This enmity can never be resolved by appeasement. It can only be countered by Israel remaining prepared and strong, and perhaps by multi-generational deradicalization.

Sadly, the “enmity that produced the Oct. 7 attack” is also fueled by the falsehoods repeated in Benn’s article. For example, Benn falsely accused Israeli Jews of “continu[ing] to occupy Palestinian lands” and “Judaizing the occupied territories.” In fact, all of Israel “from the river to the sea” is historic and lawful Jewish land, guaranteed to the Jewish people under binding international law, including the League of Nations Covenant, the San Remo Resolution, the Mandate for Palestine, the Anglo-American Convention and the U.N. Charter (which continued all rights granted to the Jewish people under the Mandate following the Mandate’s expiration).

Benn also wrote of pre-Oct.7 “periodic [Israeli] military raids on [Hamas’s] fighters and infrastructure,” as if those raids occurred in a vacuum. Benn left unmentioned Hamas’s decades of relentless pre-October 7 terrorism; murders; kidnappings; incendiary kite and balloon attacks that destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli land and burnt to death helpless farm animals; terror tunnel incursions; previous mass attempts to breach the border; and thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians. Instead, Benn minimized the enormous destruction wreaked by Hamas before Oct. 7 as merely “periodic rocket fire from Gaza that was usually intercepted”—as if Hamas’s tens of thousands of rockets and other attacks presented no threat.

Benn also inaccurately claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “withstood U.S. President Barack Obama’s pressure to revive the two-state solution and freeze Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in part by forging an alliance with Republicans.”

Unfortunately, Netanyahu partially caved in to Obama’s ruthless, immoral pressure by agreeing to a 10-month freeze on settlement construction. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the freeze “unprecedented.” Netanyahu agreed to this unprecedented freeze in an attempt to restart negotiations with the P.A. Yet the P.A., which repeatedly turned down generous Israeli offers that would have given the Palestinian Arabs a state on lawful Israeli land, still refused to negotiate.

In addition, after the 10-month declared freeze expired, Netanyahu imposed a de facto freeze—only on construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Meanwhile, Arabs have built over 80,000 illegal structures in areas of Judea and Samaria that the Oslo Accords explicitly placed under full Israeli control.

Benn also claimed that anti-Jewish terrorism “fell to new lows.” In fact, Arab terror attacks skyrocketed again commencing in 2015. The wave of Arab terror from 2015 to the present has included multiple knifings, shootings, Molotov cocktails, car-rammings and other terror attacks every day.

Benn falsely accused Israelis of provoking major outbreaks of Palestinian Arab violence. For example, Benn falsely claimed that “the second Palestinian intifada in 2000 was … sparked by a visit to the Temple Mount by [then-Likud leader Ariel] Sharon.”

In fact, the Palestinian Arab leadership planned and prepared the deadly, five-year Second Intifada long before Sharon’s 34-minute visit to the Temple Mount (Judaism’s holiest site) during tourist visiting hours on Sept. 28, 2000. In the spring of 2000, then-P.A. President Yasser Arafat held meetings promoting the Second Intifada. In July 2000, Arafat made the final decision to launch the Second Intifada and made preparations for it. In August 2000, Arafat published articles inciting the intifada’s anticipated outbreak.

Moreover, Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub gave advance approval to Sharon’s visit and assured Sharon that there would be no problems so long as Sharon did not enter the mosques at the site. Sharon accordingly did not enter the mosques. Yet Arafat then incited violence with broadcasts calling on Arabs to stop the defilement of the mosques. Thousands of Arabs promptly pelted bricks and huge rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall for Rosh Hashanah. Arab terrorists’ ensuing shooting and suicide bombing attacks murdered over 1,100 Jews and severely injured many thousands more.

Similarly, Benn falsely claimed that an Israeli raid during a Palestinian Arab “demonstration” on the Temple Mount compound sparked the Israeli Arab antisemitic violence and Hamas rocket attacks (4,500 rockets in 10 days) in May 2021. In fact, the “demonstration” involved Arabs throwing rocks and boulders at Jews, and barricading themselves in the mosques with fireworks, stones and rods ahead of planned Jewish visits to the complex on the eve of Passover.

The Haaretz chief also misleadingly wrote that fighting between Arabs and Jews then “quickly spread to ethnically mixed towns across Israel”—as if Israeli-Arabs’ barbarous attacks on their fellow Jewish townsfolk in May 2021 was some kind of mutual brawl.

In fact, while Hamas was pelting Israel with thousands of rockets, mobs of Arab residents in Lod and other mixed cities physically attacked their Jewish neighbors; invaded and destroyed Jewish homes and businesses; and burned synagogues and Jewish-owned cars.

Jews were shocked that the Arab neighbors who they viewed as friends turned on them so viciously. The Arabs who committed these hate crimes were descendants of those Arabs who had agreed to the Jews’ requests to remain in Israel in 1948. So, what was their excuse for assailing their Jewish neighbors?

Benn also wrongly attacked Israel’s judicial reform efforts as a “judicial coup.” Their reforms aimed to make the Israeli Supreme Court more democratic and law-abiding.

Benn further complained that “Netanyahu has equated the P.A. with Hamas and … has rejected American proposals to make it the post-war ruler of Gaza.” Benn also lamented that “after Oct. 7, most Jewish Israelis agree that any further relinquishment of territory will give militants a launching pad for the next massacre.”

Netanyahu and the Jewish Israeli public are absolutely correct to reject P.A. rule and reject relinquishing territory to a Palestinian Arab state. Indeed, in a video publicized on the day of the Oct. 7 massacre, members of the P.A.’s ruling party Fatah were seen participating in and bragging about killing Jews and stepping on Jews’ heads during the slaughter. The P.A. also continues to incite and pay terrorists to murder Jews. P.A. rule over Gaza would merely exchange one terror regime for another.

It’s a pity that Haaretz chief Benn resorted to misrepresentations and falsehoods. As Dayan put it in the very speech that Benn misstated, “The yearning for peace deafened his ears and he did not hear the voice of murder waiting in ambush.”  

We all need to heed Moshe Dayan’s prescient words: “This is our life’s choice: To be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down.”

This op-ed was originally published in JNS and can be viewed here.

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