Myths about Israel and the Six Day War
One of my colleagues at NextGenJournal wrote this piece today, arguing that the roots of the current Israeli-Arab conflict lie in Israel’s victory of the 6 Day War. Before reading my post below, read his piece.
Below, I address in bold italics where I think his column is wrong.
Israel was the cause of the 1967 Six Day War
No mention that Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, and Saudi forces were all mobilizing to attack Israel. Israel’s strike against Egyptian air bases was the only way they could gain an advantage in what was an inevitable war. Israel had no incentive to initiate a 1-on-6 war. The Arabs simply wanted to exterminate Israel.
The 2002 invasion of Iraq was as poorly strategized as Israel’s capture of Arab land
There’s no comparison to Iraq. The Six Day War was entirely a self-defensive action aimed at preserving the existence of a country. The war in Iraq was an offensive war designed to a) secure apparently non-existent WMD’s, b) remove a hostile dictator, and c) establish a relatively free democracy in the Arab world. Anyways, the US did have a plan, however faulty, once Hussein fell. How could Israel have had a plan regarding the Golan, Sinai, and West Bank, when the capture of those three areas happened in such a short time span?
The Golan Heights, West Bank, and Sinai were unjustly captured by Israel
Syria: The Golan is a strategically crucial piece of land because Israeli artillery can perch on the mountains, undisturbed by conventional ground forces, making a Syrian invasion incredibly difficult. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that Israel’s capture of the Golan Heights was immoral. It was a geographical necessity for Israel to capture that land once Syria invaded. After witnessing how Bashar Assad treats Syrians who oppose him, imagine what he’d do to Israeli Jews if he controlled the Golan. Israel’s capture of the Golan has in fact resulted in decades of non-war with Syria, because the would-be aggressor has a strategic disadvantage.
Jordan: The West Bank is quite poorly named. It’s really “West Jordan”, but only called the West Bank because it’s on the western part of the Jordan River. When the Six Day War began, Israel told Jordan that if they stayed out of the war, Israel would not attack, but if the Jordanians invaded Israel, the Israeli military would open a new front. King Hussein invaded and was militarily castrated. What moral philosophy demands that Israel return the land of an invading enemy?
Egypt: Gamal Abdel Nasser was the antagonist of the Six Day War, massing military forces near Israel’s southern border in the hopes of finishing off the Jewish state. Israel captured the Sinai and used it to extract a peace treaty from the Egyptians. Israel could have used the Sinai as a massive buffer against future Egyptian invasions, protecting its interior against a first wave of Egyptian bombers.
Instead, Israel valued a peace treaty more than it did a military advantage. Whether that was a wise decision is still unclear, evidenced by the post-Mubarak political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leader is dedicated to destroying its neighbor.
Israel is the main barrier to peace
Were peace with the Jews a goal of the majority of Palestinian society, the Palestinians would have had an autonomous country 64 years ago, when the United Nations put forth a plan, agreed to by Israel, that would have established neighboring Jewish and Palestinian states. The Israelis have consistently negotiated with the Palestinians and offered land. After Arafat rejected Israel’s offer at the 2000 Camp David Accords, he unleashed the second intifada, consisting of Palestinian men and women strapping themselves with explosives, and blowing up Israeli men, women, boys, and girls wherever they could reach them; pizza shops, malls, buses, Passover meals. That the intifada was a result of “growing Palestinian frustration with the occupation” is simply false.
The intifada was a result of Palestinian loathing of Jews and Israel. And following a lull in Palestinian barbarity, Ariel Sharon tore out Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and gave it to the Palestinians, who elected Hamas, which went on fire thousands of missiles at Israeli border towns until Israel invaded Gaza in 2008 to subdue Hamas.
As long as there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank, there can’t be peace
Why not? Arab-Israelis make up 20% (1.5 million) of Israel’s population. They have homes, go to supermarkets, own cars, and have jobs. Yes, there is discrimination in Israel against Arabs. Show me a society without discrimination.
Better yet, imagine if Israeli settlers in Hebron said, “We don’t want to be guarded by Israeli soldiers and we don’t want any fences or walls separating us from the Palestinians. We want to be integrated within Palestinian society in the West Bank.”
Settlements in the West Bank would come to a bloody end. Why is it that Israelis can live with 1.5 million Arabs within its borders, but if 300,000 Jews want to have their own communities in the West Bank, the Palestinians say their land is stolen? Because as a general rule, Israelis can live with the Palestinians but the Palestinians don’t want to live with the Israelis.