No apologies for self-defense
Before one asks what Israel might have done differently in 1967, it is important to remember why the Six Day War occurred and what efforts Israel has made to achieve peace. To be clear, the war was forced on Israel by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In May 1967, Nasser, emboldened by Yasser Arafat’s terror attacks against Israel from 1965 to 1967, demanded that U.N. peacekeepers withdraw from Egypt’s Israeli border. The United Nations shamefully complied. Nasser then massed 900 tanks and 130,000 troops along its Israeli border, while another 100,000 troops from a dozen more Arab countries massed along Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria, completing the siege. Egypt also blockaded Israel’s port of Eilat — an act of war under international law. On May 26, Nasser boasted: “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.”
As the war began, Israel begged Jordan to stay out. Instead, Jordan attacked — firing 6,000 shells into Israel, killing 20 Israelis, wounding 1,000 and striking Israel’s Knesset building and Hadassah Hospital. Only then did Israel respond in self-defense, capturing the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall, from which Jordan had barred all Jews since 1948. David Rubinger’s photo of Israeli paratroopers Tzion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat and Chaim Oshi standing by the Western Wall, gazing up in awe at the ancient stones, became the war’s iconic image.
Immediately after the war, Israel sought peace, but its offers were spurned. Despite incessant Palestinian terrorism and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel ultimately traded land three times its size for peace with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). Israel also offered the Palestinians a state during talks in 2000, 2001 and 2008, but the Palestinians rejected peace and responded with more terror.
Israel owes no apology for defending itself from annihilation in 1967, and the Palestinians have only themselves to blame for their failure to obtain a state.
STEPHEN A. SILVER