◆ A War for Survival
Fifty years ago this week, Israel, with its survival at stake, overcame daunting odds to defeat its Arab adversaries in the Six Day War.
The consequences of that epic victory can be found in Israel’s continuing control of the West Bank with its largely Palestinian population.
Getting It Wrong
For the MSM, it’s all about the “Occupation”
In the process, they gloss over the reasons why, after half a century, it has been impossible to achieve a peaceful end to the conflict.
These news outlets–and many more–consistently portray Israel as the dominant and more intransigent partner.
Although the Palestinians are not held blameless, the analyses pin the blame mainly on Israel, particularly its settlements. The Jewish State, they say, is the primary obstacle to peace.
Their proposed solution follows from that perspective.
To break this impasse Israel, as the stronger party, must make far-sighted concessions to achieve peace.
Getting It Right
Valuable Essays by Bret Stephens and Michael Mandelbaum
◆ The most fitting corrective to this reductive treatment can be found in concise, instructive essays by Bret Stephens and Michael Mandelbaum.
Stephens, writing in the New York Times, criticizes widespread “ahistoric nonsense” and fittingly summarizes the record of Arab intransigence which in the Palestinian case has no end in sight.
On June 19, 1967 — nine days after the end of the war — the Israeli cabinet decided it would offer the return of territories conquered from Egypt and Syria in exchange for peace, security and recognition. The Arab League categorically rejected peace with Israel at its summit in Khartoum later that year.
In 1973 Egypt and Syria unleashed a devastating surprise attack on Israel, puncturing the myth of Israeli invulnerability.
It took a decade after 1967 for the Egyptian government of Anwar Sadat finally to accept Israel’s legitimacy. When he did he recovered every inch of Sinai — from Menachem Begin, Israel’s right-wing prime minister. Syria remains unreconciled.
It took another decade for Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization to recognize Israel and formally forswear terrorism. But its pledges were insincere. –Bret Stephens, column in the New York Times
Stephens’ concludes the essay powerfully, with a reference to a true peacemaker, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat:
In 1967 Israel was forced into a war against enemies who then begrudged it the peace. Egypt, at least, found its Sadat. The drama of the Six-Day War will close when Palestinians find theirs. –Bret Stephens
Mandelbaum, writing in Commentary, offers an equally insightful analysis:. The whole article is worth reading, but he summarizes his analysis in a single, astute sentence,
In fact, each side has wanted the conflict to end, but in radically different and indeed incompatible ways that have made a settlement impossible: The Israelis have wanted peace; the Palestinians have wanted the destruction of Israel. –Michael Mandelbaum
PHOTOGRAPHS: Before and After the Six Day War
Captions by Charles Lipson
UPDATE: The article has been updated to correct the publication where Michael Mandelbaum’s analysis and quote appear. His article is in Commentary. magazine, not The American Interest, where he published an article on a related topic. The link has been updated to reflect the change.
Robert Lieber, a professor at Georgetown, is one of the country’s leading analysts of US foreign policy, with special interests in the Middle East, Europe, and energy.
His most recent book is Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order (Cambridge University Press).