Is­rael’s bur­den

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

JONATHAN FREED­LAND’S mus­ings on Is­rael 40 years af­ter the post-1967 eu­pho­ria paint a gloomy pic­ture of Is­rael. Born in 1967, he can­not be ex­pected to re­mem­ber the de­pressed at­mos­phere in Is­rael and the Jewish di­as­pora in the months lead­ing up to June 1967. Un­der threat from Nasser, and with the UN peace­keep­ers pulling out of Si­nai, with the Suez Canal closed and Red Sea ac­cess to Ei­lat block­aded, Is­rael seemed in dan­ger of ex­tinc­tion.

The usu­ally elo­quent Abba Eban scut­tled around the world wav­ing the guar­an­tees given af­ter the 1956 Suez cri­sis in the in­dif­fer­ent faces of West­ern lead­ers. Pre­mier Levi Eshkol’s voice broke as he broad­cast a mes­sage to the na­tion, all seemed lost. On a wave of pub­lic sup­port, Moshe Dayan was ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Defence and barely a week later Is­rael’s vic­tory be­came an in­stant leg­end.

The bur­den of Freed­land’s ar­ti­cle is that the con­se­quences are all down to Is­rael. That is the pop­u­lar view of many so-called left-wing fel­low trav­ellers, but it is false. Yes Is­rael has made far too many mis­takes, but when­ever there has been a glim­mer of hope, Is­rael has al­ways been ready to risk its neck for peace.

So Is­rael con­tin­ues — as Freed­land says, sad­dled with this curse — and new ir­ri­ta­tions are con­stantly added by both sides be­cause, with­out peace, that is in­evitable. It is wrong to de­mand yet an­other uni­lat­eral so­lu­tion from Is­rael — Freed­land should di­rect his pleas to the other side too. Nor should he fear for Is­rael in 10 or 20 or 40 years’ time. What is amaz­ing is the progress in Is­rael over th­ese past 40 years, de­spite the ter­ror­ism and bel­liger­ent an­tics of the Arab world. Enough trou­bles loom from Iran to Beirut, to keep writ­ers like Jonathan Freed­land busy — but hope­fully in fu­ture he will in­clude the Arab world in his prog­noses. Ger­ald Baron Co­hen Lon­don NW11

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