I know from some of my email that there are a lot of folks out there with no idea how Israel came to exist in the Middle East. If you don't understand that, it's tough to make sense out of events there now. People tend to view the Israelis as this great military force trampling on the poor Arabs, who only want to live in peace. I remember a big newspaper add during the 1982 operation in which Israel cleaned out the nests of terrorists in Lebanon. It was two pages. On one side, it showed the flags of those countries who "condemned" Israel. On the other side, it showed one flag only ,in support of Israel, and that was the U.S. flag.
Part of that is just plain antisemitism. Or , racism if you prefer. I get a kick out of hearing blacks constantly complaining about racism, when in fact most people bend over backwards to avoid giving that impression. They let minorities literally get away with murder rather than run the risk of being construed as being "racist." But there doesn't seem to be any problem with people saying anything they want to about Israel, and the more outrageous and untrue, the better. If you think I'm exaggerating, look at some Israeli blogs and check out some of the comments from "Ahmed" and "Memhet." Personally, I delete stuff like that from my blog and ignore the ignoramuses that write it.
If you are curious about the history of the Israelis, here are three good books on it.
This is a novel. It was made into a movie starring Paul Neuman. Uris was known for his research into his novels, so though this is fictionalized the basic facts are accurate. It's not hard to read, and if you do go through it you'll learn about how the Jews came to be in the Middle East, and how hard the British among others tried to keep them out.
With very few arms and no army to speak of, the Israelis withstood the attacks and held out until a truce could be arranged. Just how they did that is really fascinating reading, and Kurzman does a good job of avoiding dry history by telling a lot of the story from the perspective of people who were at the actual events.
There's a lot to it , and there were a lot of twists and turns in that particular plot. There were different factions in Israel, including some frankly terrorist groups, and there was fighting between them and the Israeli government. It's not a boring book.
This is a military history book. It's one of mine that I kept when I started giving away my professional library from my Marine Corps career. It can get a little detailed if you are not interested in military history, but on the other hand it gives a good general synopsis of what happened in the region between the declaration of the State of Israel in 1947 and the Yom Kippur War in 1974.
It will explain how Gaza came to be the enclave of Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, and why there has never been any real attempt on the part of any Arab country to make peace with Israel except Egypt. Anwar Sadat, who pioneered that peace, was murdered by the Muslim Brotherhood as a reward for his achievements.
I knew some Israeli Officers at Quantico, and I liked them. They were all Sabras, or native born Israelis, and I liked their straightforward approach to things, and their values. They were professionals. Their army may not be as spic and span as ours, but they know how to fight and they do it well. If they didn't , there wouldn't be any Israelis now because there wouldn't be an Israel.
In 1982 and 1983 I got to see the Israelis in action, in very tough circumstances. Because of the stupidity of the U.S. State Department, and the asinine personal ambitions of the toads it sent to Lebanon during that period, we didn't get to work directly with the IDF. Our political masters didn't want to offend Yassir Arafat or the other Arabs. But I did get to see them work and we liked them. Friction between the IDF and the USMC existed, solely because the State Department forbid us to exchange liason officers, but it was marginal and not deeply rooted. You don't put foreign military forces next to each other without liason officers and expect they won't bump into each other sometimes.
Well, if you've been following events there on the news, any of these books will help make sense out of what is really a fairly complex situation.