Tag: Six-Day War

REMEMBERING THE SIX-DAY WAR (II): ISRAEL’S DECISIVE VICTORY ESTABLISHED PERMANENCE OF JEWISH STATE

The Burden of the 1967 Victory: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Apr. 5, 2017 — In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, June 5, 2017— Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history.

1967:  The International Media and the Six-Day War: Meron Medzini, Fathom, 2017— In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek.

This Time, the Loser Writes History: Gabriel Glickman, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017— It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known).

 

On Topic Links

 

Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017

 

 

THE BURDEN OF THE 1967 VICTORY

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Apr. 5, 2017

 

In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It achieved a stunning victory in six days. The military skill demonstrated by the Israelis was remarkable – so much so that battles from the Six-Day War continue to be studied at war colleges around the world. Israel’s military achievement had another extremely important effect. It went a long way towards convincing the Arab world that Israel cannot be easily destroyed by military force; Israel is a fact the Arabs must learn to live with. Indeed, ten years later – after Egypt had lost another war to Israel, this one in 1973 – its president, Anwar Sadat, came to Jerusalem (November 1977) to offer peace.

 

The swift and decisive victory of 1967 became the standard to which the IDF aspired – and the kind of victory expected by Israeli society in future engagements. This is problematic, considering the ways Israel’s opponents have changed and the means they now deploy. The unrealistic anticipation that victories on the scale of 1967 should be the end result of any military engagement hampers clear thinking and impedes the adoption of appropriate strategy and tactics. Moreover, it encourages what is often an impossible hope for a quick end to conflict. In the absence of a clear-cut and speedy outcome, Israelis lose confidence in the political as well as the military leadership.

 

Israelis, many of whom have limited military experience, still long for decisive victories in the Gaza and South Lebanon arenas. The wars in which the IDF has participated so far in the twenty-first century, which appeared to end inconclusively, left many Israelis with a sense of unease. They miss the victory photographs of the 1967 war. Slogans of the Israeli right, such as “Let the IDF Win”, reflect this frustration. Similarly, the left claims that Judea and Samaria can be safely ceded to a Palestinian state because these territories can be reconquered, as they were in 1967, if they become a base for hostile actors. The calls for the destruction of Hamas also bear witness to a lack of understanding of the limits of military power.

 

But grand-scale conventional war, in which the IDF faces large armored formations and hundreds of air fighters as it did in 1967, is less likely today. The 1982 Lebanon War was the last to display such encounters. Since 1982, Israel has scarcely fought any state in a conventional war. To a significant extent, the statist dimension in the Arab-Israeli conflict has itself disappeared. Egypt and Jordan are at peace with Israel. Syria and Iraq are torn by domestic conflict and are hardly in a position to challenge Israel militarily. Many other Arab countries, such as the Gulf and Maghreb states, have reached a de facto peace with Israel, an orientation buttressed by the common Iranian threat.

 

For the past three decades, Israel has been challenged primarily by sub-state actors, such as Hamas (a Sunni militia) and Hezbollah (a Shiite militia). Such organizations have a different strategic calculus from that of states. Because of their religious-ideological zeal, they are more difficult to deter than states, and their learning curve is much slower. It took Egypt three military defeats (1948, 1956, and 1973) and a war of attrition (1968-70) within a span of 25 years to give up the goal of destroying Israel. In contrast, Hezbollah has been fighting Israel for a longer period and remains as devoted as ever to its goal of the elimination of the Jewish state. The heavy price inflicted upon Gaza since 2007 by the Israeli military has not changed the strategic calculus of the Hamas leadership, which still aspires to Israel’s demise.

 

Hamas and Hezbollah do not possess arsenals of tanks and air fighters, which would be easy targets for Israel. The decentralized structure of their military organizations does not present points of gravity that can be eliminated by swift and decisive action. Moreover, their use of civilian populations to shield missile launchers and military units – a war crime – makes IDF advances cumbersome and difficult due to slower troop movement in urban areas and the need to reduce collateral damage among civilians. Urbanization among Israel’s neighbors has greatly reduced the empty areas that could have been used for maneuvering and outflanking. The use of the subterranean by Israel’s foes, be it in Gaza or South Lebanon, is another new element that slows advances.

 

It is naïve to believe the IDF can or should win quickly and decisively every time it has to flex its muscles. Yitzhak Rabin warned several times during his long career against the expectation of a “once and for all” victory. The defeat of Israel’s new opponents requires a different strategy: attrition. Israel is engaged in a long war of attrition against religiously motivated enemies who believe both God and history are on their side. All the IDF can do is occasionally weaken their ability to harm Israel and create temporary deterrence. In Israeli parlance, this is called “mowing the grass” – an apt metaphor, as the problem always grows back. The patient, repetitive use of force is not glamorous, but it will eventually do the trick. Unfortunately, many Israelis do not understand the particular circumstances of the great 1967 victory. They have lost patience and do not realize that time is, in fact, on Israel’s side.  

 

Contents                

WHAT IF: FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE SIX-DAY WAR

Daniel Pipes

Washington Times, June 5, 2017

 

Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a death-blow to pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel's place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Focusing on this last point: how did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.

 

First, Israeli leftists and foreign do-gooders wrongly blame Israel's government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. In this, critics ignore rejectionism, the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Its founding figure, Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler and even had a key role in formulating the Final Solution; recent manifestations include the "anti-normalization" and the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movements. Rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.

 

Second, Israel faces a conundrum of geography and demography in the West Bank. While its strategists want to control the highlands, its nationalists want to build towns, and its religious want to possess Jewish holy sites, Israel's continued ultimate rule over a West Bank population of 1.7 million mostly hostile Arabic-speaking, Muslim Palestinians takes an immense toll both domestically and internationally. Various schemes to keep the land and defang an enemy people – by integrating them, buying them off, dividing them, pushing them out, or finding another ruler for them – have all come to naught.

 

Third, the Israelis in 1967 took three unilateral steps in Jerusalem that created future time bombs: vastly expanding the city's borders, annexing it, and offering Israeli citizenship to the city's new Arab residents. In combination, these led to a long-term demographic and housing competition that Palestinians are winning, jeopardizing the Jewish nature of the Jews' historic capital. Worse, 300,000 Arabs could at any time choose to take Israeli citizenship. These problems raise the question: Had Israeli leaders in 1967 foreseen the current problems, what might they have done differently in the West Bank and Jerusalem? They could have:

 

Made the battle against rejectionism their highest priority through unremitting censorship of every aspect of life in the West Bank and Jerusalem, severe punishments for incitement, and an intense effort to imbue a more positive attitude toward Israel; Invited back in the Jordanian authorities, rulers of the West Bank since 1949, to run that area's (but not Jerusalem's) internal affairs, leaving the Israel Defense Forces with only the burden to protect borders and Jewish populations; Extended the borders of Jerusalem only to the Old City and to uninhabited areas; Thought through the full ramifications of building Jewish towns on the West Bank.

 

And today, what can Israelis do? The Jerusalem issue is relatively easy, as most Arab residents have not yet taken out Israeli citizenship, so Israel's government can still stop this process by reducing the size of Jerusalem's 1967 borders and terminating the offer of Israeli citizenship to all the city residents. Though it may lead to unrest, cracking down on illegal housing sites is imperative.

 

The West Bank is tougher. So long as Palestinian rejectionism prevails, Israel is stuck with overseeing an intensely hostile population that it dare not release ultimate control of. This situation generates a vicious, impassioned debate among Israelis (recall the Rabin assassination) and harms the country's international standing (think of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334). But returning to 1949's "Auschwitz lines" and abandoning 400,000 Israeli residents of the West Bank to the Palestinians' tender mercies is obviously not a solution.

 

Instead, Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. Israel can achieve these goals by making victory its goal, by showing Palestinians that continued rejectionism brings them only repression and failure. The U.S. government can help by green lighting the path to an Israel victory. Only through victory can the astonishing triumph of those six days in 1967 be translated into the lasting solution of Palestinians accepting the permanence of the Jewish state.

 

                                                                       

 

Contents   

                       

1967:  THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA AND THE SIX-DAY WAR

Meron Medzini

Fathom, 2017

 

In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek. Many of these bureaus had Israeli assistants, and they were also aided by the Government Press Office (GPO) which translated material. Each member of the foreign correspondents had a cubby hole in the GPO offices and we saw them virtually every day.

 

The only major events in Israel covered by the international press in the years before 1967 were the 1961 Eichmann trial and execution, and the visit of the Pope in January 1964. In the mid-1960s Israel was suffering from a major economic recession with unemployment at 10 per cent, and morale so low that people joked that the last person to leave the airport should please turn out the lights. The ruling party Mapai was taking a beating in opinion polls, especially from a new breakaway part called Rafi, which was headed by Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan. In general, though, Israel simply did not feature in the international news.

 

Early in 1967, there was little sense that something was about to erupt. In April, the IDF intelligence branch assessed that the earliest war was possible was in 1970-71. Clifton Daniels, who was one of the editors of the New York Times and who came to Israel to cover the 1967 Independence Day celebrations on 15 May, didn’t think there was any reason to extend his stay and returned to America.

 

The ceasefire following the 1956 Sinai campaign had three components to help maintain quiet – the demilitarisation of the Sinai Peninsula, the installation of a UN emergency force (UNEF), and the guarantee that the Straits of Tiran would remain open.

 

The first component of this agreement was undermined during Independence Day 1967 when word reached the Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that Egyptian troops were moving into the Sinai with armour and artillery in broad daylight. This was followed by the UNEF withdrawal on 18 May. I accompanied a group of foreign correspondents to Kilometre 95, the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip to witness the Indian General, Indar Jit Rikhye search for a senior Israeli official in order to announce that his UN for ces were leaving. The Israeli commander at the gate – an unkempt, unshaven sergeant on reserve duty – was somewhat confused as to how to respond to the smart salute given to him by the departing Indian general.

 

Driven by the threats against Israel and the fiery slogans emanating from the Arab world, increasing numbers of foreign correspondents began to arrive. Two well-known journalists, Patrick O’Donoven and Jimmy Cameron, from the Sunday Times and the Observer asked us what Israel planned to do, but we didn’t know. The cabinet sat in virtually non-stop sessions but its response was indecisive.

 

Giving the foreign press a clear picture was challenging. No government officials were willing to speak to the foreign press. Prime Minister and Defence Minister Levi Eshkol refused to give interviews, as did Mapai Secretary General Golda Meir, former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and leader of the opposition Menachem Begin. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was willing to speak on background as was the Head of Military Intelligence, Aharon Yariv, who knew many foreign correspondents from his time as the IDF military attaché in Washington. On 23 May, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the re-imposition of the blockade on the Straits of Tiran, which the Prime Minister’s Chief of Bureau told me caused Eshkol to say “kinderlach, (children), this is war”. More foreign correspondents arrived, including top journalists such as Flora Lewis from the New York Times, Robert Toth from the LA Times, Arthur Vesey from the Chicago Tribune, Al Friendly from the Washington Post.

 

Censorship regulations were relaxed and the GPO gave foreign correspondents access to areas where reservists were concentrated and to the many volunteers, young and old, who had replaced reservists in hospitals, schools and kindergartens. Essentially, our goal was to show that Israel was not finished. Many correspondents personally knew reservists and were thus able to report on the daily routine of many families. Some even interviewed reservists at their bases. Many wrote about individual personal stories of average Israelis, many of whom were Holocaust survivors or veterans of the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign. The overall picture was of a state under siege whose citizens feared for the fate of their families and country in light of the treachery of the world and the weakness of their leaders. Others wrote about how no human being in his right mind could fail to support the Israelis; that 22 years after the Holocaust, the [great] powers were once again impotent. One journalist, however, told me that he had ‘come for the wake’.

 

What the military censor did not allow to be shared were the preparations for mass temporary graves for tens of thousands of victims in Tel Aviv parks. The censor also banned reports that the Chief of Staff had experienced a breakdown and was incapacitated for two days. Rabin, who was receiving no guidance from the political echelon, had visited Ben Gurion – who criticised him for going to war without the support of a superpower and told him he would be responsible for the destruction of the ‘third temple’ – and Golda Meir – who had asked him what he was waiting for and wanted the IDF to strike as soon as possible.

 

The journalists realised that the IDF’s mobilisation could not continue indefinitely without the economy collapsing. Others, who were primarily fed by the government’s political rivals Rafi, reported on the clamour for the creation of a government of national unity, which eventually led to the appointment of Dayan as defence minister. Yet, with the public worried and the government hesitant, the military was confident and was busy perfecting its operation to destroy the enemy’s airfields and air forces. Haim Bar-Lev, the Deputy Chief of Staff, coined a phrase that Israel was ‘going to screw them hard, fast and elegantly’.

 

On the weekend before the war began, the newly appointed Defence Minister Dayan ordered leave for many reservists and the beaches were full of people. He also organised a press conference in Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv, which was the first briefing to foreign press since the crisis began. His aim, according to his memoirs, was to trick the Egyptians and give the impression that things were quiet, and that despite the new unity government being formed, Israel was still searching for a political resolution. Foreign correspondents thus reported that Israel was not about to go to war. Both Randolph Churchill – who Dayan had personally briefed – and his son Winston, actually returned to England, only to come back four days later angry at Dayan for making them miss the start of the war…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

Contents                                                                                                        

THIS TIME, THE LOSER WRITES HISTORY

Gabriel Glickman

Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017

 

It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known). No sooner had the dust settled on the battlefield than the Arabs and their Western partisans began rewriting the conflict's narrative with aggressors turned into hapless victims and defenders turned into aggressors. Jerusalem's weeks-long attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities in the face of a rapidly tightening Arab noose is completely ignored or dismissed as a disingenuous ploy; by contrast, the extensive Arab war preparations with the explicit aim of destroying the Jewish state is whitewashed as a demonstrative show of force to deter an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. It has even been suggested that Jerusalem lured the Arab states into war in order to expand its territory at their expense. So successful has this historiographical rewriting been that, fifty years after the war, these "alternative facts" have effectively become the received dogma, echoed by some of the most widely used college textbooks about the Middle East.

 

The first step to absolving the Arab leaders of culpability for the conflict—especially Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who set in motion the course of events that led to war—was to present them as victims of their fully understandable, if highly unfortunate, overreaction to a Soviet warning of an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. Taking at face value Nasser's postwar denial of any intention to attack Israel, educated Westerners—intellectuals, Middle East experts, and journalists—excused his dogged drive to war as an inescapable grandstanding aimed at shoring up his position in the face of relentless criticism by the conservative Arab states and the more militant elements within his administration.

 

"President Nasser had to take spectacular action in order to avert defeat in the struggle for leadership of the Arabs," argued American historian Ernest Dawn shortly after the war. "If Egypt had not acted, the 'conservatives' would have wasted no time in pointing to the hero's feet of clay." This claim was amplified by Charles Yost, U.S. president Lyndon Johnson's special envoy to the Middle East at the time of the crisis, as well as a string of early popular books on the war. Nasser had no intention of taking on Israel, they argued. The massive deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai, in flagrant violation of the peninsula's demilitarization since the 1956 war; the expulsion of the U.N. observers deployed on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel; the closure of the Tiran Strait to Israeli navigation; and the rapid formation of an all-Arab war coalition for what he pledged would be the final battle for Israel's destruction were just posturing moves geared to deterring an Israeli attack on Syria and enhancing Nasser's pan-Arab prestige. Unfortunately, goes the narrative, Jerusalem overreacted to these measures, if not exploited them to its self-serving ends, by attacking its peaceable Arab neighbors.

 

While this thesis clearly does not hold water—Nasser realized within less than a day that no Israeli attack on Syria was in the offing yet continued his reckless escalation—it has quickly become a common historiographical axiom regarding the war's origin. Thus, as ideologically divergent commentators as British journalist David Hirst and American military commentator Trevor Dupuy agreed on this view in the late 1970s. According to Dupuy, "it is very clear in retrospect that President Nasser did not in fact have any intention of precipitating war against Israel at that time." Hirst took this argument a step further: "Not only did Nasser lack the means to take on Israel, he did not have the intention either." This assertion was reiterated almost verbatim in the coming decades by countless Middle East observers. Thus, for example, we have British journalist Patrick Seale claiming that "Nasser's strategy was to attempt to frighten Israel into prudence, while making it clear that he would not attack first," and Princeton professor L. Carl Brown arguing that "Nasser surely had not intended to seek a showdown with Israel in 1967."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017—A fascinating documentary by Ilan Ziv about the Israeli-arab Six days war in 1967.

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017—On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017—When you mention history, it can trigger a roll of the eyes. Add the Middle East to the equation, and folks might start running for the hills, unwilling to get caught up in the seemingly bottomless pit of details and disputes.

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017—Knowing the ins and outs of a historic battle requires far more than analyzing the tactical plans and circumstances surrounding the event. A deep, intimate account of the major players are really required to properly understand the event in question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING THE SIX-DAY WAR (I): ARAB STATES PREPARE TO “WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP”

The Jewish Return Into History: Reflections in the Age of Auschwitz and a New Jerusalem: Emil L. Fackenheim, Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108— In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed.

The Six-Day War: An Inevitable Conflict: Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, May 19, 2017 — The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows…

Recalling the Menace of May 1967: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017— As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War.

Preparing For War: Jerusalem, 1967: Abraham Rabinovich, Jewish Press, May 19, 2017 — As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017

 

 

 

THE JEWISH RETURN INTO HISTORY:

REFLECTIONS IN THE AGE OF AUSCHWITZ AND A NEW JERUSALEM

Emil L. Fackenheim

Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108

 

In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed. Jewish students dropped their studies and rushed to Israel. Elderly gentlemen of modest means mortgaged their homes. Tactful Jewish spokesmen abandoned their tact and screamed, at the risk of alienating Christian friends. Faced with the fact that the state of Israel was in mortal danger, the worldwide Jewish community became, for a moment, wholly united in its defense. More precisely, time-honored division—between Orthodox and liberal, Zionist and non-Zionist, religious and secularist—lost for a time their significance, to be replaced by a new division between Jews willing to stand up and be counted, and Jews who (whatever their reasons, excuses, or ideologies) stood aside.

 

What caused this unexpected and unprecedented response to an unexpected and unprecedented situation? Not “nationalism”; among those standing up to be counted were non-Zionists and even anti-Zionists. Not “religious sentiment”; the response transcended all religious-secularist distinctions. Not “humanism”; not a few Jewish humanists stood aside when Jewish—rather than Arab or Vietnamese—children were in danger. The true cause cannot be in doubt. For a whole generation Jews had lived with the Nazi Holocaust, racked by grief and true or imagined guilt. For a whole generation they had not known how to live with the fact that Jews had been singled out for murder by one part of the world and that the other part had done little to stop it. When in May 1967 the same words issued for Cairo and Damascus that had once issued from Berlin, Jews were divided not into Orthodox and liberal, religious and secularist, Zionist and non-Zionist, but into those who fled (and were revealed as having fled all along) with a resolve that there must be no second Holocaust.                                                            

 

Contents                

THE SIX-DAY WAR: AN INEVITABLE CONFLICT

Prof. Efraim Karsh

BESA, May 19, 2017

 

The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows: Had Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser not fallen for a false Soviet warning of Israeli troop concentrations along the Syrian border and deployed his forces in the Sinai Peninsula, the slippery slope to war would have been averted altogether. Had Israel not misconstrued Egyptian grandstanding for a mortal threat to its national security, if not its very survival, it would have foregone the preemptive strike that started the war. In short, it was a largely accidental and unnecessary war born of mutual miscalculations and misunderstandings.

 

This view could not be further from the truth. If wars are much like road accidents, as the British historian A.J.P. Taylor famously quipped, having a general cause and particular causes at the same time, then the June 1967 war was anything but accidental. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood, starkly demonstrated by the concerted attempt to destroy the state of Israel at birth and the unwavering determination to rectify this “unfinished business”—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.

 

No sooner had the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of “a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history…. behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states” come to dominate inter-Arab politics at the end of World War I than anti-Zionism became its most effective rallying cry: not from concern for the wellbeing of the Palestinian Arabs but from the desire to fend off a supposed foreign encroachment on the perceived pan-Arab patrimony. As Abdel Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, told Zionist officials in September 1947: “For me, you may be a fact, but for [the Arab masses], you are not a fact at all—you are a temporary phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Crusaders established themselves in our midst against our will, and in 200 years, we ejected them. This was because we never made the mistake of accepting them as a fact.”

 

On rare occasions, this outright rejectionism was manifested in quiet attempts to persuade the Zionist leaders to forego their quest for statehood and acquiesce in subject status within a regional pan-Arab empire. Nuri Said, a long-time Iraqi prime minister, made this suggestion at a 1936 meeting with Chaim Weizmann while Transjordan’s King Abdullah of the Hashemite family secretly extended an offer to Golda Meir (in November 1947 and May 1948) to incorporate Palestine’s Jewish community into the “Greater Syrian” empire he was striving to create at the time. For most of the time, however, the Arabs’ primary instrument for opposing Jewish national aspirations was violence, and what determined their politics and diplomacy was the relative success or failure of that instrument in any given period. As early as April 1920, pan-Arab nationalists sought to rally support for incorporating Palestine into the short-lived Syrian kingdom headed by Abdullah’s brother, Faisal, by carrying out a pogrom in Jerusalem in which five Jews were murdered and 211 wounded. The following year, Arab riots claimed a far higher toll: some 90 dead and hundreds wounded. In the summer of 1929, another wave of violence resulted in the death of 133 Jews and the wounding of hundreds more.

 

For quite some time, this violent approach seemed to work. It was especially effective in influencing the British, who had been appointed the mandatory power in Palestine by the League of Nations. Though their explicit purpose was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, the British authorities repeatedly gave in to Arab violence aimed at averting that purpose and to the demands that followed upon it. In two White Papers, issued in 1922 and 1930 respectively, London severely compromised the prospective Jewish national home by imposing harsh restrictions on immigration and land sales to Jews.

 

In July 1937, Arab violence reaped its greatest reward when a British commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Peel, recommended repudiating the terms of the mandate altogether in favor of partitioning Palestine into two states: a large Arab state, united with Transjordan, that would occupy some 90 percent of the mandate territory, and a Jewish state in what was left. This was followed in May 1939 by another White Paper that imposed even more draconian restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases, closing the door to Palestine for Jews desperate to flee Nazi Europe and threatening the survival of the Jewish national project. Agitating for more, the Arabs dismissed both plans as insufficient.

 

They did the same in November 1947 when, in the face of the imminent expiration of the British mandate, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine. Rejecting this solution, the Arab nations resolved instead to destroy the state of Israel at birth and gain the whole for themselves. This time, however, Arab violence backfired spectacularly. In the 1948-49 war, not only did Israel confirm its sovereign independence and assert control over somewhat wider territories than those assigned to it by the U.N. partition resolution, but the Palestinian Arab community was profoundly shattered with about half of its population fleeing to other parts of Palestine and to neighboring Arab states.

 

For the next two decades, inter-Arab politics would be driven by the determination to undo the consequences of the 1948 defeat, duly dubbed “al-Nakba,” the catastrophe, and to bring about Israel’s demise. Only now, it was Cairo rather than the two Hashemite kings that spearheaded the pan-Arab campaign following Nasser’s rise to power in 1954 and his embarkation on an aggressive pan-Arab policy.

 

The Egyptian president had nothing but contempt for most members of the “Arab Nation” he sought to unify: “Iraqis are savage, the Lebanese venal and morally degenerate, the Saudis dirty, the Yemenis hopelessly backward and stupid, and the Syrians irresponsible, unreliable and treacherous,” he told one of his confidants. Neither did he have a genuine interest in the Palestinian problem—pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause: “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” he told a Western journalist in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!” Yet having recognized the immense value of this cause for his grandiose ambitions, he endorsed it with a vengeance, especially after the early 1960s when his pan-Arab dreams were in tatters as Syria acrimoniously seceded from its bilateral union with Egypt (1958-61) and the Egyptian army bogged down in an unwinnable civil war in Yemen. “Arab unity or the unity of the Arab action or the unity of the Arab goal is our way to the restoration of Palestine and the restoration of the rights of the people of Palestine,” Nasser argued. “Our path to Palestine will not be covered with a red carpet or with yellow sand. Our path to Palestine will be covered with blood.”

 

By way of transforming this militant rhetoric into concrete plans, in January 1964, the Egyptian president convened the first all-Arab summit in Cairo to discuss ways and means to confront the “Israeli threat.” A prominent item on the agenda was the adoption of a joint strategy to prevent Israel from using the Jordan River waters to irrigate the barren Negev desert in the south of the country. A no less important decision was to “lay the proper foundations for organizing the Palestinian people and enabling it to fulfill its role in the liberation of its homeland and its self-determination.” Four months later, a gathering of 422 Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem, then under Jordanian rule, established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and approved its two founding documents: the organization’s basic constitution and the Palestinian National Covenant…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

Contents   

                       

RECALLING THE MENACE OF MAY 1967

Michael Freund

Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017

 

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War. After 1,900 years of yearning, the Jewish people were at last reunited with the heart of our ancestral homeland, when Divine providence granted Israel a resounding victory over our adversaries.

 

For the first time since the Roman legions under Titus set Jerusalem aflame, holy places such as the Temple Mount, Shiloh and Hebron were once again under full Jewish sovereignty and control. It was a victory for the ages, a turning point in history that reshaped Jewish destiny, as the dreams of our ancestors were transformed into reality, and Jews could once again live and play, worship and work, in the hills of Judea, the vineyards of Samaria and the stone-paved alleyways of Jerusalem.

 

But amid the festivities, it is no less important to recall the events of May 1967, when the menace of destruction hung heavily over the nation as our neighbors vowed to finish off the youthful Jewish state. Particularly now, when the Palestinians and their supporters have succeeded in poisoning historical truth with fantasy and falsehood, a glimpse back at what took place prior to the war will serve to undercut the false narrative now being put forth by our foes.

 

For starters, bear in mind that in May 1967, there was no Israeli “occupation,” no Jewish “settlements” and no “Judaization” of Jerusalem. Nonetheless, there was plenty of Arab animosity, as the airwaves filled with chilling threats to throw the Jews into the sea. On May 8, 1967, Syria’s information minister, Mahmoud Zuabi, openly declared that his country would soon wage “more severe battles until Palestine is liberated and the Zionist presence is ended.” Eight days later, on May 16, Cairo radio chimed in, announcing that, “The existence of Israel has continued too long… We welcome the battle we have long awaited. The peak hour has come. The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” In case anyone had failed to understand their message, the following day Cairo radio was even more blunt: “All Egypt is now prepared to plunge into total war which will put an end to Israel.”

 

Amid these threats, Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser took concrete steps to prepare for genocide against the Jewish state, doubling the number of Egyptian troops in Sinai and deploying hundreds of tanks near Israel’s southern border. Nasser then demanded that the 3,400-man United Nations Emergency Force, which had been deployed in Gaza and the Sinai for a decade to prevent conflict, be immediately withdrawn. Less than a week later, on May 22, the UN did just that, cowardly abandoning its posts, thereby setting the stage for an Egyptian invasion. Egypt’s Voice of the Arabs radio broadcast gleefully celebrated the UN’s retreat, announcing that, “There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land. As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel… The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”

 

With the departure of the UN, Nasser proceeded to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an act that 10 years previously, in 1957, US president Dwight D. Eisenhower had said would be considered an act of war. On May 25, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia moved troops to Israel’s borders, encircling the Jewish state like vultures preparing to swoop down on their prey. Six days later, Iraqi president Abdel-Rahman Aref minced no words in explaining why his country was sending soldiers to the area, asserting that, “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”

 

Meanwhile, the PLO, which was founded in 1964, was also gearing up for war. Asked in an interview what would happen to Israel’s Jews in case of war, PLO founder Ahmed Shukairy glibly stated on June 1 that, “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.” Four days later, war broke out and the rest is history.

 

Or is it? Despite the circumstances, which clearly demonstrate that Israel was engaged in an existential war of self-defense in the Six Day War, much of the international community today falsely portrays the Jewish state’s acquisition of territory in 1967 as an act of aggression or “occupation.” Worse yet, they play along with the Palestinian fairy tale that the Arab-Israeli conflict is all about Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, when in fact, as the events of May 1967 show, the real underlying cause is the refusal of the Arabs to accept a permanent Jewish presence in the region.

 

So as we rejoice in remembering Israel’s glorious victory five decades ago, let us redouble our efforts to remind the world of the simple truth that many do not wish to see. The prelude to the 1967 war is a critical part of the story, one that lends some much-needed clarity and context to the events that would follow. Simply put, the Jewish state owes no one an apology for facing down its foes and taking the territory which those very same enemies used as a platform from which to seek our destruction. Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is historically just, morally fitting, biblically mandated and militarily necessary to ensure our survival. And we shall remain in these areas until the end of time, whether the world likes it or not.

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                        

PREPARING FOR WAR: JERUSALEM, 1967

Abraham Rabinovich

Jewish Press, May 19, 2017

 

As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given. Unspoken but widely envisioned was the image of the Warsaw Ghetto; buildings turned to rubble from which the battle would continue. The municipality began to bulldoze a hillside near Mount Herzl to prepare gravesites. The slope chosen was out of sight of the Jordanian lines to prevent a repetition of 1948 when, at funerals of people killed by shelling, the mourners themselves came under fire.

 

Some officials expected 2,000 dead in Jerusalem. These were the optimists who assumed the Jordanians would not attempt aerial bombardment because of the proximity of Arab neighborhoods. The pessimists, those who believed the Arabs would bomb anyway, estimated 6,000 dead and several times that number in wounded in Jerusalem alone. Events had taken on a momentum of their own beyond either side’s calculation. In the Arab world, rhetoric was whipping passions into white heat. “If you want war,” declared Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in a public challenge, “we are ready for you.”

 

Israel did not want war. The likely price even for victory was grim. Six thousand Israelis, one in every 100, had died in the victorious War of Independence, a conflict that had seen little air action. When Israel had next gone to war, in the 1956 Sinai campaign, it had been on only one front and in collusion with two powers, England and France. Even so, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had insisted that France station air squadrons in Israel to protect its cities from air strikes.

 

Now, in 1967, Israel stood alone against what was beginning to look like a broad Arab coalition with three times as many tanks and warplanes as Israel. Moshe Dayan, on the eve of being named defense minister, estimated that there could be tens of thousands dead. “An entire generation of paratroopers and tank crews will be lost,” he told the general heading Israel’s Southern Command, “but you will win.” Despite this dire casualty estimate, the general, Yeshayahu Gavish, found solace in the remarks because Dayan at least predicted victory. Not all national leaders were sure of that. Even IDF chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin was pushed to the edge of nervous collapse by the responsibility that had fallen on him.

 

In search of reassurance, Rabin called on Ben-Gurion, now retired, for an informal chat. It turned out to be the most traumatic meeting of Rabin’s life. Ben-Gurion was as decisive as Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was hesitant, but his decisiveness lay in warning against going to war without the support of a foreign power. Otherwise, it would be an adventure that risked national disaster, he said, and the responsibility would be Rabin’s. The chief of staff had made a grave mistake, said Ben-Gurion, in ordering mobilization and thereby accelerating the war momentum. Rabin was shaken by Ben-Gurion’s remarks. His air force commanders were promising dramatic results if Israel struck the first blow. The army commanders likewise expressed confidence in victory. Rabin was not sure the government would permit a first strike, but even if it did he could not be certain that the generals’ predictions would prove realistic when put to the test.

 

Against this uncertainty, Ben-Gurion’s powerful “thou shalt not” was a warning Rabin could not shrug off. Ben-Gurion had proved prophetic in the past. If he was correct now, Rabin could be leading the nation to another Holocaust. On May 22, Egypt announced the Straits of Tiran would be closed to Israeli shipping from the following day. The closure was a clear casus belli. To let it pass without a military response would be a devastating sign of weakness. Eshkol told a ministerial meeting the following day that Washington had asked Israel not to attempt to send a ship through the straits while the U.S. attempted to resolve the matter by diplomatic means. In the mood of indecision that prevailed, the American request offered a welcome respite.

 

Rabin was subdued during the meeting with the ministers. He chain-smoked and his face was taut. In the evening, he asked General Ezer Weizman, head of operations on the general staff, to come to his home. Speaking candidly of the strain he was under, Rabin asked Weizman whether he believed that he, Rabin, should resign. Weizman, a former air force commander, persuaded Rabin that he needed only a brief rest. Mrs. Rabin, concerned at her husband’s distress, called the IDF’s chief medical officer who diagnosed “acute anxiety.” The doctor sedated him and Rabin slept until the next afternoon. Word was put out that Rabin had been temporarily incapacitated by nicotine poisoning. When he returned to his headquarters, he was calm and knew what had to be done. There was no way out but war.

 

With moblization, the largest source of manpower remaining in Jerusalem were yeshiva students exempt from the draft. Of the 2,000 volunteers who turned out each day for trench-digging in areas without shelters, 500 were yeshiva students. On the Sabbath after the closing by Egypt of the Tiran Straits passageway to Eilat, the civil defense commander in the Katamon quarter was amazed to see a group of yeshiva students being marched to a digging site by two bearded rabbis. The prohibition against working on the Sabbath is one of the strictest injunctions of Judaism, but the rabbinate had declared the crisis one of pikuach nefesh (life or death) in which vital work is not only permissible on the Sabbath but mandatory. The two rabbis took off their jackets and joined the students in the trenches with shovels…                                            

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017—Israel’s 1967 battles to rescue Jerusalem from Jordanian assault, and the ensuing reunification of Jerusalem.

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017—The Washington Post published a series on the anniversary of the Six Day War, with a special emphasis on "the occupation" and security checkpoints.

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017—On the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, June 1-2, 1941 (5701 on the Hebrew calendar), the Muslim residents of Baghdad carried out a savage pogrom against their Jewish compatriots. In this pogrom, known by its Arabic name al-Farhoud, about 200 Jews were murdered and thousands wounded. Jewish property was plundered and many homes set ablaze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“MY FEAR IS THAT WE MAY BE A BIT FURTHER AWAY”… [FROM PEACE]—ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, MAY 20, 2011

 

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA, THE ‘WINDS OF CHANGE,’
AND MIDDLE EAST PEACE
Robert Satloff

Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 19, 2011

 

President Obama…sketch[ed] out a new paradigm for U.S. engagement with the Middle East in his State Department “winds of change” speech this afternoon, in which he raised the goal of reform and democracy to a top-tier U.S. interest. Nevertheless, after critiquing Arab regimes that have used the Arab-Israeli conflict to distract their peoples from the important business of reform, he undermined the potency and effect of his own message by unveiling a new—and controversial—set of principles guiding U.S. efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Specifically, the peace process principles he articulated constitute a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy. Not only did President Obama’s statement make no mention of the democracy-based benchmarks injected into this process by President Bush in his June 2002 Rose Garden speech (which might have been appropriate, given the overall theme of his speech), he even included significant departures from the “Clinton Parameters” presented to the parties by the then president in December 2000:

  • President Obama is the first sitting president to say that the final borders should be “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” (The Clinton Parameters—which, it is important to note, President Clinton officially withdrew before he left office—did not mention the 1967 borders, but did mention “swaps and other territorial arrangements.”) The Obama formulation concretizes a move away from four decades of U.S. policy based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, which has always interpreted calls for an Israeli withdrawal to a “secure and recognized” border as not synonymous with the pre-1967 boundaries The idea of land swaps, which may very well be a solution that the parties themselves choose to pursue, sounds very different when endorsed by the president of the United States. In effect, it means that the U.S. view is that resolution of the territorial aspect of the conflict can only be achieved if Israel cedes territory it held even before the 1967 war.
  • Regarding IDF deployment, President Obama said that the Palestinian state should have borders with Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, and referred to the “full and phased” withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces. This statement implies categorical American opposition to any open-ended Israeli presence inside the future Palestinian state. This differs from the Clinton Parameters, which envisioned three Israeli “facilities” inside the West Bank, with no time limit on their presence.
  • Although the president noted that he was endorsing a borders-and-security-first approach, leaving the subjects of refugees and Jerusalem for future negotiations, this is an odd reading of the relevance of those two issues. For Palestinians, the refugee issue may be powerfully emotive, going to the core of Palestinian identity; for Israelis, however, it is as much an issue of security as ideology. For the president not to repeat previous U.S. government statements—e.g., that Palestinians will never see their right of return implemented through a return to Israel—is to raise expectations and inject doubt into a settled topic.

Perhaps more than anything else, the most surprising aspect of the president’s peace process statement was that it moved substantially toward the Palestinian position just days after the Palestinian Authority decided to seek unity and reconciliation with Hamas. Indeed, the president seemed nonplussed that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has opted for unity with Hamas, a group the United States views as a terrorist organization. This reconciliation with Hamas “raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel,” the president noted—but evidently not questions so profound and troubling to the United States that they would impede a shift in U.S. policy that advantages the Palestinians.

Also odd was the fact that the president offered no implementation mechanism to translate these ideas into real negotiations. He named no high-level successor to Sen. George Mitchell, the peace process envoy who just resigned, nor did he specifically call for the immediate renewal of negotiations.

Despite this absence of a new mechanism, the likely next step is for Palestinians to take up the president’s call, ask for renewal of negotiations on precisely the terms the president outlined—borders that are “based on the 1967 lines with mutual swaps,” with no reference to refugees or other issues on which the Palestinians would make major compromises—and wait for Israel to say no.

Now en route to Washington, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has already issued a statement objecting to the president’s focus on the 1967 borders. The two leaders may find a way to blur their differences over the principles outlined today, given their partnership on strategic issues and mutual interest in political cooperation and amity. But the approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace enunciated today has within it the seeds of deepening tension and perhaps even rift between the two sides—the very distraction from the focus on democratic reform the president said he wanted to avoid.

(Robert Satloff is The Washington Institute’s executive director
and Howard P. Berkowitz chair in U.S. Middle East policy.
)

 

UNDERSTANDING OBAMA’S SHIFT ON ISRAEL AND THE ‘1967 LINES’
Glenn Kessler

Washington Post, May 20, 2011

 

“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”—President Obama, May 19, 2011

This sentence in President Obama’s much-anticipated speech on the Middle East caused much consternation Thursday among supporters of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will meet with Obama on Friday, adamantly rejected it.

For people not trained in the nuances of Middle East diplomacy, the sentence might appear unremarkable. However, many experts say it represents a significant shift in U.S. policy, and it is certainly a change for the Obama administration.

As is often the case with diplomacy, the context and the speaker are nearly as important as the words. Ever since the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it has been clear that peace with the Palestinians would be achieved through some exchange of land for security. Indeed, Israelis and Palestinians have held several intensive negotiations that involved swapping lands along the Arab-Israeli dividing line that existed before the 1967 war—technically known as the Green Line, or the boundaries established by the 1949 Armistice agreements.

So, in many ways, it is not news that the eventual borders of a Palestinian state would be based on land swaps from the 1967 dividing line. But it makes a difference when the president of the United States says it, particularly in a carefully staged speech at the State Department. This then is not an off-the-cuff remark, but a carefully considered statement of U.S. policy.

Here is a tour through the diplomatic thicket, and how U.S. language on this issue has evolved over the years.

The Facts

The pre-1967 lines are important to both sides for setting the stage for eventual negotiations, but for vastly different reasons.

From an Israeli perspective, the de facto borders that existed before 1967 were not really borders, but an unsatisfactory, indefensible and temporary arrangement that even Arabs had not accepted. So Israeli officials do not want to be bound by those lines in any talks. From a Palestinian perspective, the pre-1967 division was a border between Israel and neighboring states and thus must be the starting point for negotiations involving land swaps. This way, they believe, the size of a future Palestinian state would end up to be—to the square foot—the exact size of the non-Israeli territories before the 1967 conflict. Palestinians would argue that even this is a major concession, since they believe all of the current state of Israel should belong to the Palestinians.

After the Six-Day War, the United Nations set the stage for decades of fitful peacemaking by issuing Resolution 242, which said that “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” should include the following principles:

1. Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

2. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Since the resolution did not say “the territories,” it has become a full-time employment act for generations of diplomats. Nevertheless, until Obama on Thursday, U.S. presidents generally have steered clear of saying the negotiations should start on the 1967 lines. Here is a sampling of comments by presidents or their secretaries of state, with some explanation or commentary.

“It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders.”—President Lyndon Johnson, September 1968

“In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”—President Ronald Reagan, September 1, 1982

“Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders.”—Secretary of State George Shultz, September 1988

Starting with President Lyndon Johnson, right after the Six-Day War, U.S. presidents often have shown great sympathy for Israel’s contention that the pre-1967 dividing line did not provide security.

“I think there can be no genuine resolution to the conflict without a sovereign, viable, Palestinian state that accommodates Israeli’s security requirements and the demographic realities. That suggests Palestinian sovereignty over Gaza, the vast majority of the West Bank, the incorporation into Israel of settlement blocks.… To make the agreement durable, I think there will have to be some territorial swaps and other arrangements.”—President Bill Clinton, January 7, 2001

In his waning weeks in office, Clinton laid out what are now known as the “Clinton parameters,” an attempt to sketch out a negotiating solution to create two states. His description of the parameters is very detailed, but he shied away from mentioning the 1967 lines even as he spoke of “territorial swaps.”

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”—Bush, letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004

When Sharon agreed to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, Bush smoothed the deal by exchanging letters that supported the Israeli position that the 1967 lines were not a useful starting point. The letter infuriated Arabs, but it helped Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. Interestingly, despite Israeli pleas, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the letter as binding on U.S. policy.

“We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nov. 25, 2009

When the Israeli government announced a partial settlement freeze, Clinton responded with a statement that specifically mentioned a state based on 1967 lines, but as a “Palestinian goal.” This was balanced with a description of an “Israeli goal.”

Originally, the Obama administration had hoped both sides would have agreed to acknowledge such goals as a starting point for negotiations—known in the diplomatic trade as “terms of reference.” When that effort failed, Clinton issued the concept in her own name. She would repeat the same sentence, almost word for word, many times over the next 1½ years.

The Bottom Line

In the context of this history, Obama’s statement Thursday represented a major shift. He did not articulate the 1967 boundaries as a “Palestinian goal” but as U.S. policy. He also dropped any reference to “realities on the ground”—code for Israeli settlements—that both Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton had used. He further suggested that Israel’s military would need to agree to leave the West Bank.

Obama did not go all the way and try to define what his statement meant for the disputed city of Jerusalem, or attempt to address the issue of Palestinians who want to return to lands now in the state of Israel. He said those issues would need to be addressed after borders and security are settled. But, for a U.S. president, the explicit reference to the 1967 lines represented crossing the Rubicon.

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S MISTAKE
Alan M. Dershowitz
Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2011

 

President Barack Obama should be commended for his emphasis on Israel’s security and his concern about Hamas joining the Palestinian Authority without renouncing its violent charter. But he made one serious mistake that tilts the balance against Israel in any future negotiations. Without insisting that the Palestinians give up their absurd claim to have millions of supposed refugees “return” to Israel as a matter of right, he insisted that Israel must surrender all of the areas captured in its defensive war of 1967, subject only to land swaps.

This formulation undercuts Security Council Resolution 242 (which I played a very small role in helping to draft). Resolution 242, passed unanimously by the Security Council in the wake of Israel’s 1967 victory, contemplated some territorial adjustments necessary to assure Israel’s security against future attacks. It also contemplated that Israel would hold onto the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the access roads to Hebrew University, without the need for any land swaps. Land swaps would only be required to make up for any areas beyond those contemplated by Resolution 242. The Obama formulation would seem to require land swaps even for the Western Wall.

Any proposed peace agreement will require the Palestinians to give up the so-called right of return, which is designed not for family reunification, but rather to turn Israel into another Palestinian state with an Arab majority. As all reasonable people know, the right of return is a non-starter. It is used as a “card” by the Palestinian leadership who fully understand that they will have to give it up if they want real peace.… Obama’s mistake was to insist that Israel give up its card without demanding that the Palestinians give up theirs.

Obama’s mistake is a continuation of a serious mistake he made early in his administration. That first mistake was to demand that Israel freeze all settlements. The Palestinian Authority had not demanded that as a condition to negotiations. But once the President of the United States issued such a demand, the Palestinian leadership could not be seen by its followers as being less Palestinian than the President. In other words, President Obama made it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable. Most objective observers now recognize Obama’s serious mistake in this regard. What is shocking is that he has done it again. By demanding that Israel surrender all the territories it captured in the 1967 war (subject only to land swaps) without insisting that the Palestinians surrender their right of return, the President has gone further than Palestinian negotiators had during various prior negotiations. This makes it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable in their negotiations with the Israelis.

It is not too late for the President to “clarify” his remarks so that all sides understand that there must be quid for quo—that the Palestinians must surrender any right to return if the Israelis are expected to seriously consider going back to the 1967 lines (which Abba Eban called “the Auschwitz lines” because they denied Israel real security).

If President Obama is to play a positive role in bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiating table, he should insist that there be no preconditions to negotiation. This would mean the Palestinians no longer insisting on a settlement freeze before they will even sit down to try to negotiate realistic borders. The President did not even ask the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Nor did he ask them to drop the condition that he, in effect, made them adopt when he earlier insisted on the freeze.

The President missed an important opportunity in delivering his highly anticipated speech. We are no closer to negotiations now than we were before the speech. My fear is that we may be a bit further away as a result of the President’s one-sided insistence that Israel surrender territories without the Palestinians giving up the right of return. I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington may increase the chances of meaningful negotiations. I wish I could be more optimistic but the President’s speech gave no cause for optimism.…

 

WHAT SHOULD NETANYAHU SAY?
Jerold S. Auerbach
American Thinker, May 20, 2011

 

Next Tuesday, four days after he meets with President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu will address Congress. With Israel now confronting a triple-security threat that leaves the country more vulnerable than at any time since the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it is imperative for the Israeli leader to stand firm.

Netanyahu’s planned “peace initiative” has been undermined by recent events. With its peace treaty with Egypt fraying since Mubarak’s forced departure, Gaza will surely become a Hamas arsenal. Reconciliation between Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, and the Palestinian Authority, too weak to resist, will trap Israel between Palestinian pincers in Gaza and the West Bank. Looming in September is United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood, another step in that organization’s persistent delegitimization of Israel.

Pressure continues to mount, from the international community and from the Obama administration, for Israel to relinquish the West Bank for a Palestinian state—and, presumably, “peace.” That is a delusion.

It is time for Netanyahu, in his address to Congress, to decisively reject the seductive but menacing mantra of “land for peace.” His recent declaration that the Palestinian Authority can have peace with Israel or with Hamas, but not both, was reassuring. His conditions for peace, recently outlined to the Knesset, sounded firm: Palestinian recognition of Israel; its refugee problem to be solved outside Israel’s borders; settlement blocs to remain part of Israel, with Jerusalem as its united capital. But they are insufficient.

The West Bank mountain ridge forms the major land barrier against an attack from the east that could decimate the coastal plain (including Tel Aviv), where 70 percent of Israelis live. The widely despised Jewish settlements located there are not the primary obstacle to peace; enduring Arab hostility to a Jewish state is. Between 1948 and 1967, there were no settlements—and still no peace.

The prime minister might use his opportunity to remind the world that the West Bank, biblical Judea and Samaria, is the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Two thousand years of ancient Jewish history unfolded there. If there is Jewish land anywhere in the world, it is there.

Until after the Six-Day War, however, this land was Judenrein. Only then, following yet another failed Arab attempt to annihilate the Jewish state, could Jews return to live in their historical homeland. More than 300,000 Israelis have done so. Surrounding settlements with a Palestinian state will destroy them and undermine Israeli security. The alternative—Israeli expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews who live outside the settlement blocs—is no better.

Finally, given relentless international efforts to delegitimize Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu might remind critics that Jewish settlement, protected by international guarantees ever since 1922, is fully consistent with international law.

The League of Nations Mandate then cited “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the legitimacy of grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” After Great Britain lopped off three-quarters of Palestine for Trans-Jordan (the first Palestinian state), Jews were assured the right of “close settlement” in the remaining land west of the Jordan River. That right has never been rescinded.

Article 80 of the United Nations Charter explicitly protected the rights of “any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.” Drafted in 1945 by Jewish legal representatives (including Ben-Zion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s father), it preserved the rights of the Jewish people to settle in all the land west of the Jordan River.

Settlement critics often cite Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949 in the shadow of the Holocaust, as a restriction on settlement. They are mistaken. Drafted to prevent a repetition of the forced Nazi and Soviet deportations of civilian populations, it declared that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

This provision has no applicability to Jewish settlements. Neither during nor since the Six-Day War did Israel “deport” Palestinians from the West Bank or “transfer” Israelis there. Settlers acted on their own volition to restore a Jewish presence in the Jewish homeland—precisely as Zionist kibbutzniks had earlier done in the Galilee and Negev.…

Prime Minister Netayahu’s speech should be framed with reminders of these international guarantees, the historic Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel, and the menacing security situation that Israel will confront should its ancient homeland be abandoned. The consequences for Israel of surrendering its legitimate security and its historic and internationally guaranteed land claims would be dire, if not fatal.…

Netanyahu’s willingness to [compromise] Jewish land, first demonstrated when he capitulated to Clinton administration demands under the Oslo II Accords, is a disturbing harbinger. Last year he acceded to President Obama’s insistence on a ten-month freeze on settlement construction—in return for nothing. Even after the freeze expired, with no discernible Palestinian willingness to resume peace negotiations, Netanyahu tacitly acquiesced to its continuation.

Appeasement paved the way for one horrific Jewish tragedy. It is imperative for Israel’s Prime Minister to state, clearly and unequivocally, that the Jewish state will not become another Czechoslovakia, sacrificed by “friends” to please its enemies. Clinging to the fantasy of land for peace can only deepen Israel’s alarming vulnerability.

(Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena.)

ISRAEL HAS BEEN PROMISED “DEFENSIBLE BORDERS”!— WILL THE WORLD FULFILL ITS COMMITMENT?

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S REQUIREMENTS FOR DEFENSIBLE BORDERS
IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING MIDDLE EAST
Dore Gold
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, April 5, 2011

 

Prepared Statement before the Foreign Affairs Committee
of the U.S. House of Representatives

 

Israel is entering an extremely dangerous period in the year ahead. It is not facing an imminent military attack, but rather is confronting a new diplomatic assault that could well strip it of the territorial defenses in the West Bank that have provided for its security for over forty years. This applies particularly to its formidable eastern barrier in the Jordan Valley, which, if lost, would leave Israel eight or nine miles wide and in a very precarious position against the threats that are likely to emerge to its east, in the years ahead.

Traditional U.S. policy indeed recognized that Israel is not expected to withdraw from all the territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. This was enshrined in the language of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was the basis of successive peace treaties between Israel and the Arab states. This key element of Resolution 242 also appeared in repeated letters of assurance to Israel by U.S. secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher. In 1988, Secretary of State George Shultz reiterated: “Israel will never negotiate from, or return to the lines of partition or to the 1967 borders.”

More recently, the April 14, 2004, presidential letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also spoke explicitly about Israel’s right to “defensible borders” and to the need of it being able to defend itself by itself. The latter point implicitly acknowledged Israel’s doctrine of self-reliance, by which the Israel Defense Forces were to guarantee Israel’s survival and not international troops or even NATO. Two months later, that letter was confirmed by massive bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Significantly, it also ruled out the notion that Israel would be expected to withdraw in the West Bank to the 1967 lines, which were only armistice lines, and not internationally recognized borders.…

Yet today, Britain, France, and Germany are lobbying for a radically new Middle Eastern initiative with the UN Secretariat and the European Union, which, along with the U.S. and Russia, are members of the Middle East Quartet. What they are proposing is that the Quartet detail already the outlines of an Israeli-Palestinian treaty with the hope that international endorsement of key Palestinian demands, like borders, will prompt Mahmoud Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel. The Quartet will have to make a decision about this proposal, perhaps as early as April 15.

But Britain, France, and Germany are not just acting as facilitators, for they are insisting that Israel must accept an agreement on borders based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War. This was confirmed in public by British Foreign Secretary William Hague last week during an address at Chatham House in London, where he reiterated these terms. In Washington, there have been both public and private efforts underway to press President Barack Obama to join the Europeans and issue his own blueprint for Israel’s future borders, based on the same territorial parameters. It is only known that the Obama administration has neither embraced nor renounced the 2004 U.S. letter to Israel concerning its right to “defensible borders.”

Amazingly, these new demands of Israel, which would be problematic in any event, are being proposed at the worst possible time, that is, precisely when the entire Middle East looks like it is engulfed in flames. Rebellions against central governments have been spreading from Yemen to Syria, as well as from Egypt to Bahrain. This will hopefully lead in the long-term to accountable and democratic governments. But in the short- and medium-term, the results could be highly destabilizing and bring to power far more radical forces that could seek renewed conflict.

In fact, on March 22, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted in an interview in the Washington Post: “I think we should be alert to the fact that outcomes are not predetermined and that it’s not necessarily the case that everything has a happy ending.…We are in dark territory and nobody knows what the outcome will be.”

What this means is that just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty with regard to the future of the Middle East, it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk. This is clearly misguided advice.

First, how can Israel be expected to sign agreements, predicated on it withdrawing from strategic territories, like the Jordan Valley, when it cannot be certain if the governments it negotiated with will even be there in the future?

Look what is happening in Egypt after the fall of President Mubarak, where senior political figures are already saying that they will have to re-examine the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace. No one can provide a guarantee to Israel that the regimes ruling today in Syria, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia will not be overthrown. In the West Bank, the regime of Mahmoud Abbas remains in power largely due to the deployment of the Israel Defense Forces throughout the area and their counter-terrorist operations against Hamas and its allies. Were Israel to pull out of the West Bank, under present circumstances, it could not depend on Abbas remaining, regardless of what is happening to Arab regimes today across the region. In short, the degree of strategic uncertainty for Israel, given current political trends around it, has increased sharply.…

The pressures Israel faces at this time to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank and to acquiesce to the loss of defensible borders pose unacceptable risks for the Jewish state. It also stands in contradiction to the international commitments that were given to Israel in the past. These recognized that Israel did not have to agree to a full withdrawal from this territory. Additionally, the 1993 Oslo Agreements envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Borders were to be decided by the parties themselves and not be imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts.

In fact, those commitments to a negotiated solution of the conflict appeared explicitly in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. Notably, that agreement bears the signatures of President Bill Clinton, and officials from the European Union and Russia, who acted as formal witnesses. What is clear today is that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas has no interest in a negotiated solution to its conflict with Israel. It prefers to see the international community impose territorial terms that are to its advantage without having to formally declare an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and without having to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to a nation-state of their own.

The idea that the Quartet would dictate to Israel the 1967 lines and set the stage for an imposed solution serves this Palestinian interest, but not the interest of achieving real peace. European support for such initiatives would contravene the very peace agreements they signed in the past as witnesses. It would set the stage for further Palestinian unilateralist initiatives at the UN in September and deal a virtually fatal blow to any negotiations.

Finally, it must be added that the people of Israel have undergone a traumatic decade and a half. For the most part, they passionately embraced the promise of the 1993 Oslo Agreements and yet, instead of peace, they saw their cities attacked repeatedly by waves of suicide bombers that left over 1,000 Israelis dead. They still considered taking further risks and supported unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, only to find that there was a five-fold increase in rocket fire against Israeli population centers in the year that followed. Longer-range rockets poured into Hamas-controlled Gaza, as Iran exploited the vacuum created by Israel’s withdrawal.

The people of Israel have an inalienable right to security and to certainty that the mistakes of the last seventeen years will not be repeated. The full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip must not be attempted again in the West Bank, especially given what is happening today across the Middle East region. For those reasons, Israel must not be asked to concede its right to defensible borders.

 

WILL THE U.S., THE U.N., AND THE PALESTINIANS
RENEGE ON PRIOR AGREEMENTS?
Jennifer Rubin

Washington Post, April 5, 2011

 

Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and adviser to multiple prime ministers, held a two-hour on-the-record lunch with journalists, former U.S. government officials and think-tank scholars. Gold previewed his testimony today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and emphasized some key, if underreported, facts.

He began by debunking the mantra that at Camp David “we were never so close to peace” (or its other incarnation—“everyone knows what the final deal will be”). Former Clinton officials and a cottage industry of peace processors seemed determined to propagate the idea that if only Bill Clinton had hung in there a few more weeks, we’d have had peace. This is false. Gold said that at a December 2000 cabinet meeting under Ehud Barak, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said the deal would be “a threat to the vital interests of Israel.” Moreover, the Palestinians never gave up the right of return or the cessation of war against Israel.

Gold also hammered home the point that settlements and “land swaps” are entirely beside the point. The public debate, he said, has boiled down to “how many settlers can I fit on the head of a pin”—in other words , how to maximize the number of settlers in the smallest space. This is wrong and misguided, Gold said.

The real issue is whether the United States, its Quartet partners, the United Nations and Russia will live up to the commitment made in U.N. Resolution 242 (which provided for “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and theirright to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”) and by presidents of both parties to ensure that Israel has defensible borders. The U.N. commitment to secure borders was reiterated by the Clinton administration in a January 1997 letter from then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher to the Israeli prime minister:

“Mr. Prime Minister, you can be assured that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad and constitutes the fundamental cornerstone of our special relationship. The key element in our approach to peace…has always been a recognition of Israel’s security requirements.… Finally, I would like to reiterate our position that Israel is entitled to secure and defensible borders, which should be directly negotiated and agreed with its neighbors.”

That promise was repeated in an April 14, 2004, letter from President George W. Bush to the Israeli prime minister: “…The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.… As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.…”

These commitments were made as part of the U.S. inducement to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to put forth the Gaza disengagement plan and to agree to withdraw some military installations and settlements in the West Bank. It was acommitment by the U.S. government that was in keeping with bipartisan U.S. policy. Moreover, Gold pointed out that this arrangement was endorsed by both houses of Congress. The House voted 407-9. In the Senate the vote was 95-3. Voting to back the April 14 letter were, among others, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to indicate whether it is repudiating or standing by that commitment.…

So the issue remains: Will the United States insist that all parties live up to their commitments or will the United States publicly or privately push for concessions that violate U.N. resolutions, Palestinian commitments and U.S. obligations?…

It goes without saying that the Obama presidency has been a disaster for Israel. But it is not too late for Israel and friends of Israel to push back and insist that the United States not violate international law.

 

RICHARD GOLDSTONE AND PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD
Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2011

 

Richard Goldstone’s repudiation of the eponymous blood libel he authored in 2009 provides a number of lessons about the nature of the political war against the Jewish state and how we must act if we are to defeat it. Learning these lessons is an urgent task as we approach the next phase of the war to delegitimize us.

By all accounts, that phase will culminate in September at the UN General Assembly’s annual conclave in New York. As America marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 jihadist attacks, the Palestinian Authority’s well-publicized plan to achieve UN recognition of a Palestinian state in all of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem will reach its denouement.…

Over the past year or so since this new Palestinian plan to delegitimize Israel began coming into view, a swelling chorus of doom and gloomers has warned that if the General Assembly recognizes “Palestine”…it will be a disaster. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called it a “diplomatic-political tsunami.” The New York Times claimed Sunday that it “could place Israel into a diplomatic vise” as “Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member.…”

Certainly it is true that we will not benefit from such a UN action. But the fears being sown by the likes of Barak and Haaretz columnists are overwrought. The fact is that while acceptance of “Palestine” as a UN member state will be a blow, it will mark an escalation not a qualitative departure from the basic challenges we have been facing for years.…

As we approach the September deadline, the question we need to consider is what the concrete consequences of Palestinian membership in the UN would be? What new anti-Israel activities will international organizations and states engage in following such a move? And how can we meet those challenges? In general, the acceptance of “Palestine” will present us with new threats from three different actors: the International Criminal Court, the EU and the US.

If “Palestine” is accepted as a UN member nation, we have been warned, it will join the International Criminal Court and file war crimes complaints against us. While this is probably true, the fact is that even without the prerequisite UN membership, the Palestinians have already filed war crimes complaints against us at the ICC. Although “Palestine” must already be a state for the ICC to entertain the complaints, it has not rejected them.

But two can play this game. Say “Palestine” joins the ICC. Even if Israel remains outside the treaty, it can use its membership against it. Both Fatah and Hamas have committed innumerable war crimes. Every terrorist murder and attempted murder, every missile, mortar shell and rocket fired is a separate war crime. And every terror victim has the right to file war crimes complaints against “Palestine” with the ICC prosecutor.

As to the Europeans, the fact is that they have already joined the Arab onslaught on the international diplomatic stage and they have already imposed limited economic sanctions. They have set aside negotiations on upgrading the EU-Israel Economic Association Agreement. Several EU member states have unofficially enacted trade boycotts. Britain, for instance, implemented an unofficial arms embargo several years ago.

Looking ahead, we need to consider how they may escalate their hostile behavior and develop plans to minimize the damage Europeans can cause the economy.… As the 18 years since Oslo have shown, begging Europeans for mercy on the basis of concessions to the Palestinians is a losing strategy. Europe is not interested in displaying mercy toward the Jewish state, and it does not view any concessions as sufficient. But Europe does respond to power politics. With India now producing cars and Israel developing its own natural gas and shale oil fields, it is the job of the government and business leaders to make the Europeans think long and hard about how willing they will be to alienate our consumers and businesses.

This brings us to the US. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s greatest fear is that President Barack Obama will fail to veto a Security Council resolution recommending General Assembly approval of Palestinian membership in the UN. The gloom and doomers advise the premier the only way to avert this prospect is to render such a resolution superfluous by preemptively capitulating to all of Obama’s demands.

Obama has let it be known that he expects Netanyahu to announce his surrender in an address before both Houses of Congress in May. And this makes sense from his perspective. If Netanyahu gives a speech before Congress in which he effectively embraces Obama’s anti-Israel positions as his own, he would make it practically impossible for Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates to criticize those policies.…

Netanyahu’s best bet [then] is not to ask Obama for favors. Since the General Assembly will likely approve Palestinian membership even if the US does veto a Security Council resolution, Obama’s ability to prevent the gambit is limited. And the price he wants to exact for a veto is prohibitive.

And this brings us back to Richard Goldstone. His repudiation of his own report did not happen in a vacuum. Goldstone’s admission Friday that his report’s central conclusion—that Israel committed war crimes in its campaign against Hamas in Gaza—was wrong is a case study in how we must contend with difficult political challenges if we are to emerge victorious in the political war. The fate of Goldstone and his report hold several vital lessons for our leaders.

The first lesson then is never to surrender or give any quarter to lies. We greeted Goldstone’s mendacious report on Operation Cast Lead with justified indignation and furor and never backed down. In the face of the massive international pressure that followed his presentation of his lies, we stood our ground. Our behavior denied Goldstone and his cronies the ability to portray his mendacious report as the unvarnished truth. Because of this reaction, from the beginning it was clear that its findings were at best dubious.

The second lesson is that the government must hold firm. In the Internet age when everyone can have a say, the most important commodity a person can have is legitimacy. The government confers legitimacy on its defenders and so empowers them to take action. If the government had capitulated to Goldstone, half the voices attacking his blood libel would probably have never spoken out or been heard.

The third lesson from the Goldstone experience is that people make up governments and people make policies. Since people are social animals, the social sphere is a critical one in foreign affairs. Our diplomats and leaders tend to act as though the only possible goal of their personal relations with other diplomats and leaders is to make the foreigners love them. The Goldstone case study shows us that as Machiavelli taught, it is just as good if not better to be feared.

When Goldstone issued his tendentious report, he no doubt assumed he would suffer no personal consequences for claiming IDF soldiers and commanders are war criminals and that Israeli Jews are neurotic. After all, everyone libels Israel and gets away with it. But rather than get a pass for his behavior, Goldstone got ostracized. Following the government’s lead, Jewish activists throughout the world attacked him for his lies. Everywhere he went he was challenged. Obviously, these attacks had an effect on him that attempts to appease him would not have had.

The final lesson of the Goldstone experience is found in the fact that the publication of malicious slander did not paralyze the country. The IDF continued to strike Hamas targets. Fear of more lies from Goldstone and his Israel-bashing associates did not convince the government to stop defending the country. The lesson is that we must not allow the misdeeds of others to deny us our rights. Rather, we must assert them in the face of condemnation and wait until the condemners realize they cannot defeat us.

Israel is being challenged by a political war that escalates every day. But we are not powerless in this fight. As we prepare for the Palestinians’ UN gambit, we must keep in mind the lessons from Goldstone. If the government remains faithful to the truth and to our rights, it will empower our supporters throughout the world to rally to our side. If we are good to our friends and bad to our enemies, we will know how to reward our friends and punish our enemies. And if we boldly assert our rights even in the face of international condemnation, we will see that in the fullness of time, the rightness of our position will carry the day.