Six Days and 50 Years of War

(New York Times) Bret Stephens - In June 1967 Arab leaders declared their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, and the Jews decided they wouldn't sit still for it. For the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven. Unforgiven, Israel's milder critics say, because the Six-Day War, even if justified at the time, does not justify 50 years of occupation. They argue, also, that Israel can rely on its own strength as well as international guarantees to take risks for peace.This is ahistoric nonsense. Before we fall prey to the lazy trope of "50 years of occupation," inevitably used to indict Israel, let's note the following: There would have been no occupation, and no settlements, if Egypt and its allies hadn't recklessly provoked a war in 1967. Or if the "international community" hadn't fecklessly abandoned Israel in its desperate hours. Or if Jordan hadn't foolishly ignored Israel's warnings to stay out of it. Or if the Arab League hadn't arrogantly rejected the possibility of peace. A Palestinian state would most likely exist if Arafat hadn't adopted terrorism as the calling card of Palestinian aspirations. Or if he hadn't rejected the offer of a state 17 years ago. Or if he hadn't renounced his renunciation of terror. A Palestinian state would also most likely exist if Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas - now in the 13th year of his elected four-year term - hadn't rejected it again nine years ago, and if Gazans hadn't turned their territory into a terrifying model of Palestinian statehood, and if the United Nations didn't treat Hamas's attacks on Israel as a nuisance but Israel's self-defense as a crime against humanity. Israel needs a Palestinian state to safeguard its democratic future - in the long term. But the character of such a state matters at least as much as its mere existence. The Middle East doesn't need another failed state in its midst. Israel doesn't need another Hamastan on its border. Palestinians in the West Bank don't need it over their heads. 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.

2017-06-05 00:00:00

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