|President Obama's Much-Needed Walk Down Memory Lane|
by Gerald A. HonigmanAs many have already noted, June 5th through 10th of this year marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the Six Day War. Up until then, Arabs had refused to accept an Israel that was a mere 9-15 miles wide via the 1949 armistice lines. For some perspective, many people travel farther just to go to work or for a visit to the shopping mall. Indeed, President George W. Bush stated that Texas had driveways larger than that.
Israel is the problem--not its size. As I like to suggest, find it on a world globe without a magnifying glass…I dare you.
Armistice lines are not borders. They merely mark where fighting officially stops in wars. Those in question here designated where fighting ceased after the invasion of Israel by a half dozen Arab nations in 1948. The U.N. did nothing to halt that blatant aggression, but jumped in only after Jews turned the tide to limit Arab losses.
Recall that from 1949 to 1967, Arabs controlled Gaza and the West Bank, and no one demanded a second Arab state in the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine’s territory at that time. Jordan was created in 1922 from almost 80 percent of the area, a gift from British imperialist shenanigans. So much for the Arab claim that Jews got most of Palestine.
Having been (once again) blockaded by Egypt at the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba (a casus belli); witnessing over 100,000 Egyptian troops, tanks, and so forth amassed on the armistice line after Egypt ordered the U.N. peacekeeping force out of the area; and subjected to other hostile acts as well, a beleaguered Israel desperately struck out to cancel Arab plans for another Holocaust. In six days in June 1967, it was over…at least temporarily. I have a large cooler filled with original newspaper articles from those frightening days--pictures of tens of thousands of Arabs calling for Israel's destruction, the massacre of Jews, and so forth.
In this current analysis, however, my intent is not to rehash this amazing story of survival. There's plenty of great material--including videos--available on the Internet and elsewhere. At the time, however, no one knew how things would turn out.
What I am going to try to do is provide you, dear readers, with perhaps the most important outcome of that war…the determination of what Israel's final, real political borders will be. And, after all, that's what the settlements and building freeze issues and the Obama White House and State Department tizzy fits are largely all about. Let's get started…
President Obama and his crew constantly declare that his approach to Jews living beyond those suicidal '49 armistice lines referred to above (where most of Israel's population and infrastructure are concentrated)--the so-called "settlements issue"-- is the same policy as that of the American leaders who preceded him.
There is no nice way of responding to that assertion. The cost of allowing this to go unabashedly unchallenged is potentially too great.
Simply put, the President is either deliberately telling a falsehood or is accepting the falsehoods of advisers--from his many Arab friends, the forever hostile towards Israel State Department (and its allies in petro-dollar-addicted industries), and/or elsewhere.
Truth be told, what President Obama demands of Israel amid the daily turmoil, massacres, and uncertainty coming out of the despotic neighborhood in which it lives is exactly what the architects of the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242--the main guideline for post-'67 peacemaking between Arab and Jew in the region--sought to avoid.
Furthermore, contrary to Obama's claims, American leaders such as Johnson, Reagan, Schultz, and others understood this as well…as did the very leader who immediately preceded Obama in office, President George W. Bush.
While it's true that Obama can point to the pressure exerted by his now good buddy, Bill Clinton, on Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak back in 2000 at Camp David and Taba to cave in to Arafat on several key issues (including abandoning the reasonable territorial compromise envisioned by 242 and counter to the earlier statements of American leaders), Arafat turned down that offer--so Israel was/is under no obligation to stick by it. Besides the more honest Hamasniks, Mahmoud Abbas and his latter day Arafatians in suits reject peace for similar reasons. Like their deceased leader, the "peace" they seek also involves the destruction of the sole state of the Jews..
Ehud Barak, now Israel's Defense Minister, comes from the far Left in Israeli politics, and like others of his ilk such as Shimon Perez, still believes that if only Israel will keep on baring the necks of its kids further and further to those who won't accept it anyway, the Jews will finally gain peace. He's right--the peace of the grave.
Clinton got him to play ball in 2000--and that precedent now haunts Israel today with Obama's claims. While Israel would have retained a very small portion of the actual territory which a reasonable compromise, providing for more secure, defensible borders (a la 242), envisioned, Barak's concession was dangerously foolish--no matter how much his arm may have been twisted (and in his case, probably not much). An abandonment of some 96% of the territories in Judea and Samaria does not an effective compromise make.
By the way, in addition to providing Obama with an earlier lesson in how to get Jews to forsake the justice (in the form of real, more secure borders) finally promised to them via UNSC Resolution 242, among other things, Clinton had hosted Arafat to his White House numerous times. Scores of millions of dollars soon came to Clinton after he left the White House via grateful Arabs in support of his presidential library, foundation, and so forth. It pays handsomely to shaft the Jews. But, I've jumped ahead--so let's backtrack a bit…
Soon after the '67 War, the architects of the final draft of 242 studied the conflict very studiously and arrived at (for a frequently hostile and duplicitous UN dealing with Israel, that is) a rare, balanced decision.
While Israel was not simply granted the right to annex the conquered territories from which it had been repeatedly attacked (other nations--including America--had indeed acquired lands that way or for even less compelling reasons), it was also not expected to return to the absurd status quo ante either.
Furthermore, as has been repeatedly discussed, not only was Israel not expected to withdraw from all or the territories, but it would not have to withdraw from any territories at all until real treaties of peace--not hudna ceasefires-- were signed.
Obama pretends that none of this matters. Nor does the fact that all the hard, tangible, territorial, and other concessions Israel made for the few peace treaties it does have are now in grave danger as a result of the ascendancy of folks like the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the so-called "Arab Spring."
Now, please state aloud the following words very slowly and carefully…
There will be no peace if Israel is forced to return to the indefensible Auschwitz/armistice lines which only invited renewed aggression in the past. The latter simply invited an extremely exposed Israel to be bisected at its mid section. 242's envisioned territorial compromise is therefore a must--yet that is precisely what President Obama now insists that Israel forsake for his updated 1938 Chamberlain and Munich vision of "peace for our time."
This issue is so paramount that a bit more detail and substance is in order…
Most of the remaining territories in question (Israel has already completely returned Sinai and Gaza) are in Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank" only since 20th century British imperialism renamed them to distinguish the area from Transjordan, created on the east bank of the Jordan River). They were non-apportioned territories where all the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine’s people--not just Arabs (most of whom were newcomers themselves)--were allowed to live. That Arabs claim otherwise is no shock. Despite the presence of scores of millions of various subjugated non-Arab peoples, Arabs simply refer to the entire region as "purely Arab patrimony."
The land Israel took in a defensive war in Judea and Samaria, after first being shelled by Jordan in its collaboration with Egypt and Syria in 1967, had been itself illegally occupied by (Trans)Jordan in its assault against a newly-reborn Israel in 1948. The paragraph above and this fact nullify any claims that Jews are simply "illegal occupiers." Judea was never supposed to be Judenrein. And Jews owned land and lived there until they were massacred by Arabs in the early 20th century.
Furthermore, for a Brit fighting a war 8,000 miles from home in the name of sovereignty of islands off the Argentine coast; for America staking claims in American Samoa, Guam, and elsewhere; for Russians conquering Chechnya and numerous other lands in the name of its national interests; etc. and so forth, the mere thought of these same would-be sources of ethical enlightenment demanding that Jews remain in their 9-15 mile-wide, '49 armistice line sardine can of a state and refrain from living in adjacent areas (including East Jerusalem, where the Western Wall and Temple Mount sit) to which history has tied them for thousands of years would be funny if not so grotesquely unfair. (What a run-on sentence that was…sorry!)
With signs that some Jewish support may be slipping (he got 78% last time around), President Obama has increased the pace of his claims that his policies towards Israel are not new.
One earlier article back on May 23, 2011 was titled, "Obama: Mideast Policy Not New."
But, as we've already seen, 242--the main guide for peacemaking since 1967--calls for Israel to finally receive real, more secure borders to replace those very armistice lines Obama insists Israel return to.
Recall that all the architects of 242 realized that Israel could never return to the way things were--which had only invited repeated attacks.
While some of us have written of these things often in the past, President Obama and those supporting his positions are relentless in repeating them again and again. Those who disagree are thus forced to revisit the issue themselves as well. So, please forgive me…
Here’s Britain’s Lord Caradon, the chief architect of the final, accepted draft of 242:
It would have been wrong to demand Israel return to positions of June 4, 1967 … those positions were … artificial … just places where soldiers of each side happened to be on the day fighting stopped in 1948 … just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand Israelis return to them...
Contrary to Obama’s claims regarding his intense pressure on Israel, earlier American leaders supported Lord Caradon's position and the need for Israel to get a meaningful territorial compromise as a result of any peacemaking deals with Arabs who repeatedly sought its destruction..
Here’s President Lyndon Johnson on June 19, 1967, soon after the war ended…
A return to the situation on June 4 (the day before hostilities) was not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities….Johnson then called for "new recognized boundaries that would provide security against terror, destruction, and war."
President Ronald Reagan stated this on Sept. 1, 1982…
In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10-miles wide... the bulk of Israel’s population within artillery range of hostile armies. I’m not about to ask Israel to live that way again.
And more recently, President George W. Bush, gave Israel an official letter upon its withdrawal from Gaza which also promised that it would not be expected to return to the 1949 armistice lines (and he called them just that--not borders).
Now, the State Department opposed Israel’s rebirth from the get-go and has since mostly fought against it becoming anything more than the ghetto of a state that it was left as via the 1949 lines--which the President says Israel must return to. While Obama later added the possibility of some possible trade-offs, Israel would still be left with extremely vulnerable borders. 242 did not speak of such land swaps. Its authors knew, given the perpetual hostility of its neighbors, that Israel could not return to its former existence as a mere zipper of a state.
Despite some word games now being played by both the President and his defenders, Obama is simply wrong to imply that his demand that Israel once again become an indefensible, sub-rump state so that a 22nd Arab nation--and second, not first, in the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine-- can arise does not represent a significant change in American policy. He fools only those who allow themselves to be fooled.