Fifty years af­ter the Six-Day War

Is­rael now, as much as ever, must con­vince Pales­tini­ans that it is a per­ma­nent state

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Daniel Pipes Daniel Pipes ( is pres­i­dent of the Mid­dle East Fo­rum.

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.


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