Israel’s Leading Anti-British Independence Fighter Saw Palestinians as Brothers in Arms

Israel’s Leading Anti-British Independence Fighter Saw Palestinians as Brothers in Arms

By Joshua Tartakovsky, 2 May 2017 (ו’ באייר ה’תשע”ז, יום העצמאות) I just finished reading “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel: People, Ideas, Deeds” by Nathan Yellin Mor. Yellin Mor, was born as Natan Friedman in Grodno (Belarus) in 1913. He was one of the trio leading the Stern Gang also known as the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lehi). After World War II broke out, Yellin Mor managed to escape via Soviet-occupied Poland, then Istanbul, and then Syria and Lebanon, all the way to British-mandate Palestine. Yellin Mor became a close colleague and disciple of Avraham Stern (Yair) who was born in Poland. Yair believed that British imperialism in Palestine was the biggest threat to Jewish sovereignty and independence and therefore must be opposed by all means. His dream was preparing a Jewish army to overthrow the British and to this end he received much needed support and training from Polish army officers. Yair believed that while Nazi Germany was an enemy, the British were occupiers, preventing even the possibility of independence or minimal sovereignty. And without minimal independence, how can one be anything but a subject, a slave, a colony? How can one save others elsewhere (Jews in Europe, for example), if one is not even free? (Yellin Mor’s book cover) Nathan Yellin Mor [picture from the book’s cover]. While the mainstream Haganah and even the Irgun, opposed terrorism against the British Mandate in Palestine and sought close collaboration with the British, drafting in large numbers to the British Army to face the fascist enemy in Europe, Lehi saw its goal and destiny in opposing British colonialism at...
Why Israel Supports Rebels in Syria

Why Israel Supports Rebels in Syria

[Image via Fox News, All Rights Reserved Fox News 2013 (C)] By Joshua Tartakovsky, April 15, 2017 I have written in the past on Israel’s support for rebels in Syria. In light of the recent intensification in Syria, perhaps it is time to explain why. It is not a pleasant sight to see Israel aiding bearded fanatics who seek to topple the secular and brutal regime of Assad, especially when Israel battles the same Islamic radicals in Gaza or the West Bank. But for Israel support for rebels is a matter of survival and is qualitatively different from the interests of the United States, Russia or Turkey. Syrian President Assad has been the main supplier of weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite guerrilla organization in South Lebanon, which has been battling ISIS in Syria. Hezbollah was founded after Israel’s invasion of South Lebanon which was itself proceeded by PLO’s firing of missiles into northern Israel. In an attempt to establish security for the residents in northern Israel, it engaged in an 18 years long occupation of a buffer zone in South Lebanon, and thereby sought to push off terrorists who were launching missiles into civilian populations further away. But while Israeli soldiers in 1982 were initially greeted as saviors by Lebanese Shiites, over time Hezbollah, an organization supported by Iran and led by Shiite clerics, developed as a response to Israel’s occupation of the region and engaged in very effective guerrilla operations against the Israeli army that eventually forced the latter’s withdrawal in 24 May 2000. Now Hezbollah contains a vast missile arsenal which has a potential to hit as far as southern...
The Lieberman Appointment: Is Israel Turning the Tables on the West?

The Lieberman Appointment: Is Israel Turning the Tables on the West?

By Joshua Tartakovsky, May 26, 2016 Despite the current impasse in negotiations between the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party (Israel is Our Home, a party supported largely by émigrés from the former Soviet Union) Avigdor Lieberman, an agreement is likely to be reached and Lieberman is likely to become Israel’s next minister of defense. In a speech in January in a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies, hawkish defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who just resigned after the news was made of the new appointment, expressed his opinion on who poses the greatest threat to Israel: Iran or ISIS. “There are voices who say otherwise, that it’s now ISIS. But if I had to choose between Iran and ISIS – I would prefer ISIS. ISIS does not possess Iran’s capabilities,” Ya’alon explained. He justified his position by claiming that Iran possesses greater capabilities while overlooking the fact that Iran is a country where a large Jewish community exists peacefully even as the latter has a checkered human rights record while ISIS is a non-state actor that has been targeting minorities through the use of brutal methods. In the past, Ya’alon met with rebels fighting against the secular regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who received treatment in Israeli hospitals and admitted that Israel is helping rebels in Syria. A former researcher at the neocon Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ya’alon advocated removing Assad from power, was skeptical of Russia’s ability to fight terrorism in Syria, and placed his bets on closer ties between the US and Israel. Ya’alon has also...
RUSSIA OUTSMARTS ISRAEL IN SYRIA

RUSSIA OUTSMARTS ISRAEL IN SYRIA

Photo: AP By Joshua Tartakovsky, February 26, 2016 It seems that Israel is slowly shifting away from the West by and large and gradually and incrementally turning to Russia. It is not doing so because it wants to.  Israel has been spoiled by very generous US aid for decades. Traditionally, Israel has been tied to and subservient to the West, but enjoyed its constant support, while also having its ready ear when it comes to Iraq and Iran. But recently the US has been becoming less and less reliable. Not only have there been clashes between Obama and Netanyahu, but US ambassador to Israel spoke openly against the country, US has been decreasing its defense aid, Israeli F-16s now have trouble upgrading to their latest versions, and Russia is proving itself to be a power to be reckoned with in Syria.This is not to say that Israel’s dangerous policy of supporting jihadist groups in Syria is not continuing. It is. And Israel is also keen on weakening the Islamic Republic of Iran since it fears it more – despite the fact that Iran is not just a country but a great civilization – and therefore the former is supporting terrorists in Syria. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon put it in a crude way typical to his close-minded, narrow thinking, personality: ISIS is less dangerous than Iran.  Netanyahu made similar statements in the past. Only ignorant people fail to realize that ISIS is demolishing historical remnants of our common history while Iran is preserving them. But Ya’alon belongs to the old-school pro-US camp, did his time in Washington’s think-tanks, and is obsessed about Iran. Moreover, Israel’s liberal paper Haaretz said Israel should call for Western intervention in Syria in support of “moderate rebels.” That’s a call...
WHEN IT COMES TO HEZBOLLAH, ISRAEL HAS RUSSIA’S EAR

WHEN IT COMES TO HEZBOLLAH, ISRAEL HAS RUSSIA’S EAR

Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky © November 2015. All Rights Reserved. By Joshua Tartakovsky, 9 March 2016 It appears then that while Iran and Russia have a tight alliance in Syria, they also have their major disagreements and contradicting interests, more than what meets the eye The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation have been working more closely than ever in Syria against various Islamist terrorist groups. Indeed, the massive Russian military operation against terrorism in Syria, following a formal request for help by the lawful Government of Syria, took place after a visit to Moscow by Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. It is widely believed that Soleimani, whom many consider a brilliant military strategist, took a central part in planning the Russian operation in Syria. The Syrian Arab Army, Russian forces, Iranian forces and Hezbollah have been working closely on theater. From the very beginning since plans of a Russian war on terrorism in Syria became known, Israel has been very worried about the possibility that advanced Russian missiles will reach Hezbollah and will be used against Israel in a future confrontation between the two. Israeli civilians suffered from shelling by Hezbollah in past confrontations as the city of Haifa has been targeted. It is fair to assume that at the time Netanyahu rushed to meet Putin, the deal probably was that Israel will share intelligence on various terror groups in Syria, and in return, Russia will guarantee that advanced military equipment will not reach Hezbollah who would then like to transfer it into Lebanon. But according to the Jerusalem Post on March 3, following a report from the Kuwaiti Al Jarida, Hezbollah recently managed to transfer...