No apolo­gies for self-de­fense

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

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

San Fran­cisco

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