“For the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven”

June 04, 2017

Israeli paratroopers at the Western Wall in June 1967 after it was returned to Jewish control. A few days earlier, Egypt’s Nasser had said “The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of Israel.”

 

CONTENTS

1. “Israel will never again be nine miles wide”
2. “Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter?”
3. Israel was alone
4. “A nation unforgiven”
5. “Arab leaders did plan to eliminate Israel in Six-Day War” (By Ben-Dror Yemini, Yediot Ahronot)
6. “A half-century ago, Israel battled its Arab neighbors; we still feel the ramifications” (By Michael Oren, NY Daily News)
7. “Six Days and 50 Years of War” (By Bret Stephens, New York Times)

 

“ISRAEL WILL NEVER AGAIN BE NINE MILES WIDE”

[Note by Tom Gross]

Tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 Six Day War – a war that some say changed the Middle East. In the run up to the anniversary, there have been a number of attempts at historical revisionism by some academics and journalists, distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor. For example, a new BBC online “backgrounder on the Six Day War” suggests that Egypt’s President Nasser had no intention of fighting Israel.

I attach three articles below which help counter these distortions. The first is by Israeli commentator Ben-Dror Yemini, who points out, citing examples, that Arab leaders announced unequivocally that their plan for Israel was annihilation. For instance Syria’s Hafez Assad declared: “Pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews... We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.” The second piece is by Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington, who writes confidently that “Israel will never again be nine miles wide”. And the third is by Bret Stephens, who recently moved from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times to become their token non-anti-Israeli columnist, who says that “for the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven”. (All three writers are subscribers to this Middle East dispatch list.)

There are extracts first for those who don’t have time to read the articles in full.

***

* There is another dispatch on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War here:

Revealed: “Last Secret” of 1967 War: Israel’s doomsday plan for nuclear weapons display

 

EXTRACTS

“DOES ANYONE THINK THAT THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A MASS SLAUGHTER?”

Ben-Dror Yemini (Yediot Ahronot, Tel Aviv):

There is a mega-narrative that exempts the Arabs from responsibility for the Six-Day War. Yet both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that their plan for Israel was annihilation. Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless massacres – which are still going on – it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves they would also do to Israel.

The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel’s existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn’t established because the leaders of the Arab world didn’t want another state. They wanted Israel. In 1964 the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced: “collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.”

In 1966, then-Syrian defense minister Hafez Assad declared: “Pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews... We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.”

Nine days before the war broke out, Egypt’s Nasser said: “The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Iraqi president Abdul Rahman Arif said: “This is our chance... our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map.”

Two days before the war broke out, PLO leader Ahmad Shukieri said: “Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive.”

Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter?

 

ISRAEL WAS ALONE

Michael Oren (New York Daily News):

What did Israel and the world look like on June 4, 1967? Israel was a nation of a mere 2.7 million, many of them Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands. At its narrowest, the state was nine miles wide with Arab armies on all its borders and its back to the sea. Its cities were within enemy artillery range – Syrian guns regularly shelled the villages of Galilee – and the terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Yasser Arafat’s Fatah nightly struck at civilian targets. Jerusalem was divided and Jews prohibited from visiting their holiest places, above all the Western Wall.

Economically, the country was in crisis, and internationally it was alone. China, India, Soviet Russia and its 12 satellite nations were all hostile. The U.S., though friendly, was not allied militarily with Israel. Most of its arms came from France which, just days before the war, switched sides. With the Soviets lavishly arming Egypt, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the Arabs enjoyed massive superiority over the Israel Defense Forces. Millions of Arabs were clamoring for war...

Egypt’s Nasser expelled UN peacekeeping forces from Sinai in mid-May and paraded his army back into the peninsula. Next, he closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel’s Red Sea route to Asia. Nasser’s Syrian rivals signed a mutual defense pact with him and Jordan’s King Hussein placed his army under Egyptian command.

Thanks to the Six-Day War, Israel will never again be nine miles wide, and Jerusalem will always be open to the followers of all faiths. Thanks to the Six-Day War, the Syrian civil war is raging far from the old border, a mere 10 meters from the Sea of Galilee..

 

“A NATION UNFORGIVEN”

Bret Stephens (New York Times):

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…

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.

[In 2000, and later, Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinians a state…]

There would have been no occupation, and no settlements, if Egypt and its allies hadn’t recklessly provoked a war. 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…

 

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia


ARTICLES

‘OUR GOAL IS CLEAR: TO WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP’

Arab leaders did plan to eliminate Israel in Six-Day War

During the 1967 war, Israel seized Egyptian and Jordanian operational documents with clear orders to annihilate the civil population. Nevertheless, different academics are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor. Here’s the real story.

By Ben-Dror Yemini
Yediot Ahronot
May 29, 2017

More than anything else, the Six-Day War has turned into a rewritten war. A sea of publications deal with what happened at the time. Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt, the revisionists assert, had no ability to fight Israel, and anyway, he had no intention to do so.

It’s true that he made threats. It’s true that he sent more and more divisions to Sinai. It’s true that he expelled the United Nations observers. It’s true that he incited the masses in Arab countries. It’s true that the Arab regimes rattled their sabers and prepared for war. It’s true that he closed the Straits of Tiran. It’s true that Israel was besieged from its southern side. It’s true that this was a serious violation of international law. It’s true that it was a “casus belli” (a case of war).

All that doesn’t matter, however, because there is a mega-narrative that obligates the forces of progress to exempt the Arabs from responsibility and point the accusing finger at Israel. And when there is a narrative, who needs facts? After all, according to the mega-narrative, Israel had expansionist plans, so it seized the opportunity. Different scholars are distorting the facts in a bid to turn the Arabs into victims and Israel into an aggressor.

I was a child, an elementary school student. I remember fear, a lot of fear. There were no shelters in the house I lived in. It was clear that there would be bombings, so we dug pits in the yard.

Occasionally, we are reminded of the sound of thunder from Cairo to remind us of the annihilation threats. But in fact, they were much more serious. Both the Arab League and the leaders of all neighboring states announced in an unequivocal manner that the plan was annihilation. I repeat: Annihilation. Arrogant talk? Considering the fact that the Arab and Muslim world was engaged in endless self and mutual massacres, it was pretty clear that what they were doing to themselves – and it’s still going on – they would also do to Israel.

We must remember one thing, therefore: The alternative to victory was annihilation. So excuse us for winning. Because an occupation without an annihilation is preferable to an annihilation without an occupation.

The Arab states never accepted the State of Israel’s existence, not for a moment. There was no occupation from 1949 to 1967, but a Palestinian state wasn’t established, because the leaders of the Arab world didn’t want another state. They wanted Israel. They didn’t hide their intentions for a minute.

The new stage began in 1964. On the backdrop of a conflict over the water sources, the Arab League convened in Cairo and announced: “... collective Arab military preparations, when they are completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.”

Two years went by, and then-defense minister Hafez Assad, who went on to become Syria’s president, declared: “Strike the enemy’s settlements, turn them into dust, pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews.” And to erase any doubt, he added: “We are determined to saturate this earth with your (Israeli) blood, to throw you into the sea.”

Nine days before the war broke out, Nasser said: “The Arab people want to fight. Our basic aim is the destruction of the State of Israel.” Two more days passed before Iraq’s president, Abdul Rahman Arif, joined the threats: “This is our chance…our goal is clear: To wipe Israel off the map.”

Two days before the war broke out, PLO founder and leader Ahmad Shukieri said: “Whoever survives will stay in Palestine, but in my opinion, no one will remain alive.” Yes, that was the atmosphere. Does anyone still seriously think that those were just declarations? Does anyone think that their intention was an enlightened occupation? Does anyone think that there would not have been a mass slaughter like the one Egypt carried out in Yemen and later on in Biafra?

In order to understand that these were not false statements, it should be noted that in a meeting held after the war between Israel’s Ambassador to London Aharon Remez and British Foreign Secretary George Brown, Remez said that Israel had seized documents of the Jordanian army on operational orders, from May 25 and 26, about two weeks before the war’s outbreak, which included orders to exterminate the civil population in the communities that were planned to be occupied as well. They believed at the time that it was indeed going to happen.

It isn’t clear, Remez said at the time, whether Hussein was aware of these orders, but they were very similar to the annihilation orders issued by the Egyptian army. This appears both in Michael Oren’s book about the Six-Day war and in Miriam Joyce’s book about Hussein’s relations with the United States and Britain, as well as in Dr. Moshe Elad’s book (“Core Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”). At first, Hussein rejected the claims about the annihilation orders out of hand, but later added: “As far as I know.”

The days passed. The threats increased. More and more forces were sent to Sinai. More Arab countries joined the war coalition. It’s unclear whether Nasser really wanted a war, Oren wrote in his book. But he and the Arab countries did everything in their power to deteriorate the situation. Nasser’s appetite kept growing, and immediately after blocking the straits, he declared: “If we managed to restore the conditions that existed before 1956 (the Straits of Tiran are blocked), God will surely help us and urge us to restore the situation that existed in 1948.”

The late Yitzhak Rabin, who served as IDF chief of staff at the time, told the government that “it will be a difficult war… There will be many losses.” He estimated that 50,000 people would be killed. And Oren, who had read almost every document that had been declassified, concluded: “The documentation shows that Israel wanted to prevent a war with all its might, and that up to the eve of the battles it tried to stop the war in every possible way – even at a heavy strategic and economic cost for the state.” These are the facts. But those who rewrite history are winning.

The political debate over the Israeli control of the territories has led to a situation in which political opinions disrupt the factual research. The political debate is important. It’s certainly legitimate. But there is no need to rewrite history to justify a political stance. It should be the other way around: Facts should influence political views. And the facts are clear and simple: The Arab states’ leaders did not only settle for declarations on an expected annihilation, they even prepared operational orders.

 

THE WAR THAT MADE THE MIDEAST

The war that made the Mideast: A half-century ago, Israel battled its Arab neighbors; we still feel the ramifications
By Michael Oren
New York Daily News
May 28, 2017

At midnight, June 11, 1967, a battle-blackened Israeli soldier stood on Mount Hermon and looked out across an unrecognizably altered Middle East.

Around him, the Golan Heights, once a Syrian redoubt, was entirely in Israeli hands, as was the formerly-Jordanian West Bank further south. From Egypt, the entire Sinai Peninsula had been seized along with the Gaza Strip. Other Israeli soldiers were swimming in the Suez Canal and, for the first time in millennia, raising the Star of David over a united Jerusalem. Most astonishingly, these transformations took place over a mere six days, marking one of history’s most brilliant – and controversial – campaigns.

All wars in history inevitably become wars of history. No sooner do the guns grow silent then the debate begins over whether the war was justified and its outcome positive. The arguments surrounding the Civil War, for example, or even World War II, fill volumes.

But few wars in history have proved as contentious as the Six-Day War. On American campuses, students and faculty members still lock horns on the question of Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria – the West Bank’s biblical names – and the Palestinians’ demand for statehood in those areas. U.S. policy-makers, meanwhile, devote countless hours to resolving the war’s consequences diplomatically. Obsessively, it seems, the media focuses on the realities created by those six fateful days.

And never have the disputes surrounding the Six-Day War been bitterer than now, on its 50th anniversary. The battle lines are clearly drawn. On the one side are those who insist that the Arabs never threatened Israel seriously enough to provoke her territorial expansion. The war resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the building of Israeli settlements. Rather than a victory, the war transformed Israel into colonial, apartheid state.

The other interpretation maintains that Israel had no choice but to fight and that this defensive war provided the state with secure borders, vital alliances, peace treaties and a renewed sense of purpose.

To decide this war of history, one has to return to the eve of the Six-Day War, to June 4, 1967. What did Israel look like then, and how did the region – and the world – appear to its leaders? What were the circumstances leading up the struggle and what was the value, if any, of its results?

Israel in 1967 was a nation of a mere 2.7 million, many of them Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands. At its narrowest, the state was nine miles wide with Arab armies on all its borders and its back to the sea.

Its cities were within enemy artillery range – Syrian guns regularly shelled the villages of Galilee – and the terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Yasser Arafat’s al-Fatah nightly struck at civilian targets.

Jerusalem was divided and Jews prohibited from visiting their holiest places, above all the Western Wall.

Economically, the country was in crisis, and internationally it was alone. China, India, Soviet Russia and its 12 satellite nations were all hostile. The United States, though friendly, was not allied militarily with Israel. Most of its arms came from France which, just days before the war, switched sides.

The Arabs, by contrast, were jubilant. With the Soviets lavishly arming Egypt, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia, they enjoyed massive superiority over the Israel Defense Forces.

Under the leadership of Egypt’s charismatic president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Arabs rallied around a sense of national – as opposed to religious – identity, the centerpiece of which was rejection of Israel. The humiliating failure to prevent Israel’s emergence 19 years earlier and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem sent millions of Arabs clamoring for war.

Though Nasser almost certainly did not want bloodshed, he nevertheless saw an opportunity to bolster his power. In mid-May, he expelled UN peacekeeping forces from Sinai and paraded his army back into the peninsula. Next, he closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel’s Red Sea route to Asia.

These moves further incited Arab opinion to the point where Nasser’s Syrian rivals signed a mutual defense pact with him and even his arch-enemy, Jordan’s King Hussein, placed his army under Egyptian command. PLO Chairman Ahmad Shuqayri predicted Israel’s “complete destruction.” Cairo Radio welcomed “Israel’s death and annihilation.”

Isolated, surrounded, Israelis believed they faced an existential threat. Many remembered the 1948 War of Independence in which Arab forces besieged Jerusalem and nearly conquered Tel Aviv, killing 1% of the population.

Consequently, the government distributed gas masks and dug some 10,000 graves but assumed they would not suffice. The army called up reserves, paralyzing the country’s economy.

“The people of Israel are ready to wage a just war,” General Ariel Sharon berated Prime Minster Levi Eshkol. “The question is . . . the existence of Israel.” Still, agonizingly, Israelis waited, hoping for help from overseas.

None came. U.S. President Lyndon Johnson suggested sending an international flotilla to break the Tiran blockade, but no country would volunteer ships and even Congress opposed the idea. Through back channels, Israeli leaders secretly urged Arab rulers not to begin a war that nobody wanted. Their appeals went unanswered.

So the decision was made to pre-emptively strike. Even then, the goals were limited: neutralize Egypt’s air force and the first of three offensive lines in Sinai. No sooner did Israeli warplanes begin destroying Egyptian jets on the ground, though, then Jordanian troops advanced toward West (Jewish) Jerusalem and their artillery pounded the city as well as the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

The Syrians rained thousands of shells onto the Galilee. In response, Israeli forces entered the West Bank and mounted the Golan Heights.

Still, at every stage in the fighting, Israeli leaders hesitated.

On the morning of June 7, as IDF paratroopers prepared to enter Jerusalem’s Old City, Eshkol wrote to King Hussein offering to forgo liberating the Western Wall if Jordan agreed to peace talks. Again, the answer was silence.

A month after the war, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem, but it also offered to return almost all of land captured from Syria and Egypt in exchange for peace.

The Arabs responded with “the three noes”: no negotiations, no recognition, no peace. Nevertheless, that November, the United Nations passed Resolution 242, affirming the right of all Middle Eastern states to “secure and recognized borders” and establishing the principle of “territory-for-peace.”

That concept served as the basis for Israel’s 1979 peace agreement with Egypt which, in turn, enabled the Israel-Jordan treaty of 1994. The peace process, as it came to be known, is a product of the Six-Day War.

So, too, is the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance. The war awakened the White House to the existence of a democratic, pro-American, Middle Eastern powerhouse that had just defeated several Soviet-backed armies. Today, America’s military and intelligence relationship with Israel is deeper and more multi-faceted than with any other foreign state.

The war also galvanized Jewish identity. The reuniting of the State of Israel with the Land of Israel – Haifa is not in the Bible, but Hebron, Jericho and Bethlehem are – made the country much more Jewish. The war also enabled American Jews “to walk with our backs straight,” and their organizations became proudly pro-Israel.

For Soviet Jews, especially, who could be sentenced to prison merely for studying Hebrew, the war served as a source of inspiration and courage. After playing a key role in bringing down the USSR, nearly a million of these Jews would immigrate to Israel and help transform it into the world’s most innovative nation.

Thanks to the Six-Day War, Israel will never again be nine miles wide, and Jerusalem will always be open to the followers of all faiths. Thanks to the Six-Day War, the Syrian civil war is raging far from the old border, a mere 10 meters from the Sea of Galilee.

Due in part to its display of strength in 1967, Israel today has flourishing ties with China, India and the former Soviet Bloc countries. Though unthinkable a half-century ago, the Sunni Arab states now view Israel not as an enemy but as an ally in the struggle against ISIS and Iran.

But what about the occupation of Palestinians? What about the settlements and the damage they inflict on Israel’s image?

“I am deeply pained by the occupation,” said Minneapolis Rabbi Michael Adam Latz. “It’s a moral wound to the Jewish people.”

Writing in Haaretz, Steven Klein lamented, “The Six Day War shifted ... Israel from the unapologetic David to being Israel the apologetic Goliath.”

For the Palestinians who consider the war al-Naksa – the Setback – 1967 inaugurated a period of profound humiliation and a sense of abandonment.

There can no gainsaying the erosion of Israel’s standing, particularly among liberal groups, resulting from the lack of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The settlement policy frequently draws fire.

But the Palestinians have been offered a state – in 2000 and 2008 – only to turn it down, and all of the settlements account for only 2% of the West Bank. Paradoxical as it might sound, and without diminishing their trauma, the Palestinians were fundamentally transformed by the Six-Day War.

Before the war, with Jordan in possession of the West Bank and Egypt occupying Gaza, nobody spoke about a Palestinian state or even about the Palestinians at all. But then, for the first time since 1948, the three major centers of Palestinian population – in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel – were brought together under a single country’s governance (Israel’s).

The result was a tremendous reinforcement of the Palestinians’ identity, rooted in the realization that they could no longer look to Nasser or any other Arab leader to fight for their cause.

Not accidentally, shortly after 1967, the PLO merged with al-Fatah under Arafat and launched high-profile terrorist attacks. Seven years later, that same Arafat received a standing ovation in the UN General Assembly. The Six-Day War put the Palestinian issue on the international political map.

For Israelis, though, the ultimate legacy of the Six-Day War is the belief that the “swift sword” with which they defeated their enemies could someday be beaten into plowshares. Wars in history do indeed become wars of history, but they can also result in reconciliation. Gazing from Mount Hermon 50 years ago, the Israeli soldier could glimpse a scorched and still-dangerous landscape, but one that nevertheless held the possibility of peace.

 

“AHISTORIC NONSENSE”

Six Days and 50 Years of War
By Bret Stephens
New York Times
June 2, 2017

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.

On June 4, 1967, the day before the war, Israel faced the fact that United Nations peacekeepers in Sinai, intended as a buffer with Egypt, had been withdrawn at Cairo’s insistence; that France, hitherto Israel’s ally, had imposed an arms embargo on it; and that Lyndon Johnson had failed to deliver on previous American assurances to break any Egyptian blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat.

On June 5, the first day of the war, the Israeli government used three separate diplomatic channels to warn Jordan – then occupying the West Bank – not to initiate hostilities. The Jordanians ignored the warning and opened fire with planes and artillery. Some 6,000 shells landed on the western side of Jerusalem alone.

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. Only after the Soviet Union’s collapse and Arafat’s disastrous support for Saddam Hussein in the gulf war did the P.L.O. finally seem to get serious. It led to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and further Israeli withdrawals.

In 2000, at Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state. He rejected it. “I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring that nation” – Palestine – “into being,” was Bill Clinton’s bitter verdict on the summit’s outcome. Within two years Arafat was calling on a million “martyrs” to march on Jerusalem.

In 2005, another right-wing Israeli government removed its soldiers, settlers and settlements from the Gaza Strip. Two years later Hamas seized control of the territory and used it to start three wars in seven years.

In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a Palestinian state in Gaza and 93 percent of the West Bank. The Palestinians rejected the proposal out of hand.

This is a truncated history. Israel is not a nation of saints and has made its mistakes. The most serious of those is proliferation of West Bank settlements beyond those in historically recognized blocs.

But 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. 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.

The cover of a recent issue of The Economist purports to answer the question “Why Israel Needs a Palestinian State.” The argument isn’t wrong. It just isn’t wise.

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.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.