We are now marking the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. It is a war that is still studied in war colleges. Some — myself included — see it as a modern day miracle.
In May 1967, Egyptian president Gamel Nasser ordered the UN peacekeeping forces that had been in place in the Sinai since 1956 to withdraw and began to amass Egyptian troops. He closed the Straits of Tiran, in defiance of international law, blocking Israeli exit from the port of Eilat. On May 28, he said, “The existence of Israel is in itself an aggression…We will not accept any coexistence with Israel…The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”
On June 1, PLO representative Ahmed Shukairy declared, with regard to what would happen to Israelis if there was a war, “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”
By June 5, Egypt, Syria and Jordan had over 300,000 soldiers poised to wipe out Israel, with promised back-up from other Arab nations.
If you are old enough (as I am), you will remember this: the sense of terror for what seemed about to unfold.
Then the IDF did a lightning pre-emptive attack , demolishing the Egyptian airforce on the ground in a matter of hours. Within six days Israel took eastern Jerusalem (“The Temple Mount is in our hands”), Judea and Samaria — the cradle of Jewish heritage, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai.
It should be noted that the IDF wanted to avoid fighting on several fronts at the same time and sent a message to King Hussein of Jordan that if he stayed out of the war, Israel would not attack Jordan. But Nasser misled Hussein into believing the Arabs were winning, and he rushed to join, attacking during the very first day of the war.
Israel , vulnerable, beleaguered, and threatened , overnight became a victor of astounding proportions. Deterrence power had been established, the narrow boundaries within which she had existed so vulnerably had been extended, areas that were traditionally Jewish had been acquired. The celebrating was joyous, the relief and gratitude beyond measure.
But the war wasn’t actually over in six days. It has gone on for 40 years, and continues now. Still we face Arabs who blatantly declare that they wish to destroy us totally. We face, as well, a Palestinian Arab propaganda war that has turned us into aggressors, so that our astounding victory has in many eyes become a negative.
Thus it is that Israel is labeled an “occupier.” A loaded term, and one used inappropriately here. But it sticks, and it makes the Israelis the bad guys — we are the people who make all of those poor innocent Palestinians suffer. Our “occupation is the “cause” of that terrorism, which is a fight for freedom. This, most certainly, is the perspective of the British, for example, who are prepared to boycott our institutions.
The onus is put on us, rather than where it belongs. People forget that we went to war to prevent our destruction, not to acquire territory. People forget that the Palestinians have had multiple opportunities to have a state, but rejected them because destroying us was higher on their list of priorities.
And I say, ENOUGH!
There is no “occupation.” Occupation occurs when one sovereign power moves into the land of another sovereign power. This is not the case in Judea and Samaria. The world needs to be reminded. Jews need to be reminded. The Mandate for Palestine gave this land to us for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. The Mandate has never been superseded in international law.
Why was our homeland not established in the first place from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, if that is what the Mandate gave us? Because the Arabs carried on. And the international community deferred to their protests and suggested dividing Palestine. The notion of dividing Palestine between the river and the sea was actually an outrage, because Palestine had already been divided once. The original Mandate for Palestine included what is today Jordan. Some 70% of the mandated land was lopped off and given by the British to the Hashemites. The Palestinian Arabs had their nation. But — hey! — what did the world care about Jewish rights?
And so — even though the Arabs ultimately declined the offer of half of Palestine between the river and the sea, because they wanted the whole thing — the Jews accepted the proposal of a nation to be established in less than what had been promised. But according to international law, the remainder of the land — Mandate land — was still ours.
When Israel declared independence in 1948, the Arabs states attacked immediately. When the war was over in 1949, Israel had boundaries (truce lines) that extended beyond the boundaries that had been in place at the time of independence. But Israel did not have to annex these areas, she simply had to extend civil law to them. This, of itself, is proof of the fact that the land is ours and was accepted as so. The principle in force then continues to pertain today — nothing has superseded it. When we took Judea and Samaria in 1967, we took our own land.
There is no “occupation” of the Palestinian people, either. (I would like to say that there is no Palestinian people — and historically it’s easy to prove this case — but they have invented themselves so that they believe it and the world believes it, so it’s pointless to go in that direction.) At present, the Palestinians manage their own affairs — schools, press, police, etc. If there are incursions by the IDF into Palestinian cities, it is for security reasons. If there are checkpoints set up by Israel that inhibit the free movement of Palestinians, it is, likewise, for security reasons. If they stopped trying to kill us, they’d be left to do their own thing.
NOWHERE it is written that we must give this Palestinian people a state of their own on a portion of our land. Once they stop trying to kill us, we have an obligation to accord them a variety of civil rights, and it would be possible to do so drawing on one of a variety of different paradigms.
It’s time for us to hold our heads high and know who we are. To stop apologizing for our existence and our need to defend ourselves. It’s time to remind the world that Israel also has rights!
It’s also time to remind the world that — hysterical and manipulative Palestinian propaganda to the contrary — we are the most humane of people. Look at the concern for civilian life exhibited as we take limited actions against the Kassam attacks. Look at the story of an Israeli hospital treating Palestinian children with heart problems, even as the Palestinians shoot at us. Where else does this sort of thing happen?