Monday, October 29, 2007

Occupation is NOT the reason ...

by Rachel Neuwirth

May 1967 A Forward Looking Retrospective ( June 5, 2007, will mark forty years since the Six-Day War. As we approach that anniversary, we can expect Israel's critics, enemies and alleged friends to intensify their demands for Israel to relinquish and evacuate the "occupied territories", and help establish a Palestinian Arab State instead. That demand often comes with a promise of recognition and peace with Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal.

A constant drumbeat of voices, including on the Jewish Left and some in the US Administration, insist that it is the "Israeli occupation" that is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Critics claim that continued ‘occupation' is causing Palestinian anger and despair, which fuels their violence, because they have no other option to reclaiming their "occupied" lands.

A full withdrawal would require the uprooting of at least 250,000 Jews, causing major financial and human trauma to the tiny country of Israel. But to achieve a full and permanent peace, might such a huge sacrifice be a price worth paying?

If Israel could be absolutely certain of full and permanent peace in exchange for a total withdrawal, many Israelis might be tempted to pay that painfully high price to finally end the bitter and costly conflict. But how could Israel know in advance if it is absolutely safe to first withdraw and then trust the Arabs to make a true peace? Who would guarantee the results? America? Europe? The United Nations? Do nations, including the US government, ever break their promises? In response to a previous promise of the US coming to Israel's assistance in case of attack, the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, "By the time you Americans get here, we won't be here."

How can that vision be tested in advance? The deal requires that Israel alone would be betting her survival on everyone else keeping their promises. The deal-breaker is that Israel cannot be certain, in advance, that she would not be walking into a death trap.

That proposal can be tested right now, and risk free.

Recall May of 1967. All of the conditions now demanded for a full peace with the Arabs were present then. No "occupation" whatsoever. The Golan Heights, Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria), were all in Arab hands, and entirely devoid of Jews. All of the bloody wars that had transpired after June 1967 had not yet happened to exacerbate Israeli-Arab relations.

Before the Six-Day War
In 1964, the Arab League established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The name itself suggests "liberating" Arab land from the Jews. But before June 1967, there were no "occupied lands" to be "liberated" - unless there was something sinister afoot.

There was.

The PLO Covenant of 1965 declared the existence of Israel null and void, along with the PLO's intention to exterminate the Jewish State, with no offer of peace under any conditions. Faced with a terror organization announcing its intention to destroy the State of Israel, a member of the UN, the US administration remained neutral in thought, word and deed.

The Golan was entirely in Syrian hands, but Syrian guns regularly shelled Israeli farmers in the valley below, causing Jews to hide in bomb shelters. Gaza was entirely controlled by Egypt, but Arab killers often crossed into Israel from both Gaza and Egypt to kill Jews. Judea and Samaria, plus eastern Jerusalem, were in Jordanian hands, but Arab killers often crossed from Jordan into Israel to kill Jews.

Jerusalem received "special" treatment. The Old City, containing Judaism's holiest shrines, was in the hands of Jordan, an American client. Jordan denied access to Jews wanting to pray at Jewish holy sites. Jordan destroyed Jerusalem's synagogues, uprooted Jewish burial sites and used the tombstones for latrine covers. During this time, the US maintained an American Consulate-General in eastern Jerusalem, where its personnel could easily observe Jordanians destroying Jewish holy sites. There was no US consulate in the Israeli part of Jerusalem, thus showing a one-sided preference for Arab domination of that city. (Even today, the US Consulate in Jerusalem provides all of its services for Arabs and not for Jews. It recently celebrated Ramadan while ignoring Simchat Torah, along with the two-thirds of Jerusalem's population that is Jewish.)

There was no US opposition to Jordan's destruction and desecration of Jewish holy sites. How could this have happened, when we are told that the "occupation" is the sole cause of the conflict, and that America gives total and uncritical support to Israel?

We are constantly told that the PLO-Palestinian Authority only seeks to eliminate the "occupation" and establish a Palestinian Arab State in the vacated territories. In 1965, there was no "occupation," yet the PLO's Covenant still called for Israel's destruction. We are told that the Palestinian Arabs only want a state of their own in the territories. Before 1967, the PLO never moved to establish a Palestinian Arab State in those territories. From 1949 until 1967, Arabs controlled all of the territories in question. Why was there never even a call for creating a "Palestinian" Arab state during those years? The only calls were for Israel's destruction.

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