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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘1967’

Did Netanyahu Blink?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

An Associated Press report on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to negotiate the borders of a Palestinian state based on the 1948 Armistice lines understandably created quite a stir. Mr. Netanyahu’s public confrontation with President Obama over this very issue remains vivid in everyone’s memory, as does the enthusiastic and virtually unanimous bipartisan support for Mr. Netanyahu’s position expressed by Congress.

 

That this “red line” would be so abruptly and unceremoniously abandoned can hardly be deemed a simple matter. Did the AP somehow get the story wrong? Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters certainly hoped so, but then on Monday more news outlets, in Israel and abroad, confirmed that the prime minister had in essence accepted President Obama’s proposal that Israel affect a near total withdrawal from the West Bank.

 

To be sure, by Tuesday the AP was reporting that the Israeli government was “distancing” itself from the initial report, and that government sources insisted Mr. Netanyahu was merely willing to “show some flexibility” on the border issue.

 

When all the platitudes are put on the shelf, the gulf between President Obama and the Netanyahu government has been about whether Israel will be required to concede pre-1967 land as part of any peace agreement with the Palestinians. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, formalizing an end to the 1967 Six-Day War, spoke of Israel’s entitlement to defensible borders with no mention of accompanying land swaps. The notion of land swaps arose only as a way to account for changes on the ground subsequent to the 1967 war involving the growth of Israeli population centers in the West Bank.

 

Thus, when President Obama spoke of “land swaps” with the pre-1967 lines as the starting point, he was extending the notion of an exchange of land to Israel’s minimal entitlement to defensible borders rather than only post-1967 changes in reality on the ground. And this was a monumental shift.

 

In the weeks since the Netanyahu-Obama brouhaha, the administration has, for whatever reasons, been eager to downplay the implications of the president’s initial statement. At the same time, it’s clear from statements made by Mr. Netanyahu that there is a dynamic in play, driven no doubt by the Palestinian Authority’s determination to win UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

              In the run up to the final Palestinian push for that recognition come September, one can only hope that principle will prevail.

Assisted Suicide: A Retreat To The 1967 Borders

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

As reported last week in the Jerusalem Post, “Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel and the U.S. were working on a document saying the parameters for returning to negotiations with the Palestinians would be based on the speech U.S. President Barack Obama gave at AIPAC in May, and spelling out in greater detail what Obama meant by a return to the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed swaps.”

In Netanyahu’s words, “we are interacting with the U.S. to put together a document [for an agreement with the Palestinians] using language from Obama’s [AIPAC] speech.”

Paradoxically, Netanyahu then proceeded to say, “The Israeli goal is direct negotiations with the Palestinians, without preconditions.”

Go figure.

That Netanyahu is considering conceding to Obama’s demand that Israel retreat to the “1967 borders” as a basis for future negotiations with the Palestinians, irrespective of “conditions” or “guarantees” (which, by all accounts, would uniquely comprise the intangible and non-binding Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state), represents the prospective coming of full circle of a man who has historically been labeled “hawkish.”

If the reports are true, however, Netanyahu has effectively metamorphosed into Tzipi Livni.

This transformation – which began in 2009 at Bar Ilan university, when Netanyahu formally endorsed for the first time the creation of “Palestine” – has culminated in the crossing of a “red line” (also known as the 1949 Armistice lines).

To date, Israel’s repeated concessions to the Palestinians, though unconscionable, have for the most part been containable. Gaza, for example, following Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal, has essentially become an Iranian-sponsored jihadist war zone dedicated to Israel’s destruction, but nonetheless one that Israel can subdue militarily.

Furthermore, the effects of Israel’s incessant pandering to world pressure – at the expense of its unequivocal legal and historical rights, as well as its moral authority – which contribute to (some might even say justify) the wretched global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state, have thus far been manageable, primarily offset by a booming economy driven by Israel’s collective creative power.

Yet Israel’s retreat to the 1967 lines, despite “promises” of “land swaps,” is universally considered as a suicidal prospect. (Though what’s bound to happen is that once “1967 borders” becomes accepted “peace process” terminology, the Palestinians will make certain no agreement is reached until such time, perhaps years from now, that the world again reneges on its “commitments” vis-à-vis the Jewish state by forgoing the term “land swaps” altogether).

As such, if Netanyahu accepts the “Obama principles,” Israel essentially will be agreeing to ingest a fatal poison (1967 borders) whose lone antidote (land swaps) will be in the hands of the Palestinians. And the sole “voice” encouraging the Palestinians to administer said medicine will be Obama.

Moreover, should Netanyahu comply with Obama, he also would effectively be acceding to dividing Jerusalem (the Western Wall, for example, the Jewish people’s holiest site, resides outside of the 1967 boundaries), notwithstanding repeated glorious assertions to the contrary.

Despite all this, there is still hope.

This past May, Netanyahu gave Israel – along with all those in the Diaspora who passionately advocate for the platform of Israel’s Likud prime minister and his party – the first real glimmer of hope for reconciliation with the Palestinians since the Oslo process collapsed under the weight of the first Intifada.

What Netanyahu provided was unbridled leadership; that is, he did not bend or break to popular demand, but rather stared down the most powerful man in the world and rebuked Obama’s May 19 “Arab Spring” speech – the prelude to his watered-down (damage control) speech to AIPAC three days later – as detrimental to Israel’s wellbeing.

Netanyahu affirmed: “For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines – because these lines are indefensible. Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive.”

The continued infusion of truth into the public discourse by strong, principled Jewish leaders, who place Israel’s ongoing security above all else, is the only chance Israel has to ever forge lasting agreements with its neighbors.

The Right Not To Be Thrown Into The Sea

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

This month marks the 44th anniversary of one of the most momentous miracles of modern times, when Israel, facing annihilation at the hands of its enemies, emerged triumphant in the 1967 Six-Day War.
 
Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.
 
Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean, were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.
 
The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people.
 
After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
 
And yet it seems, more than four decades later, that many Jews and Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.
 
In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six-Day War, grumble about Israel’s success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.
 
Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense to the Palestinians, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.
 
How could so many forget so much in so short a time?
 
It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and world Jewry are clearly suffering from what I refer to as “Battered Nation Syndrome.”
 
Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there.
 
Naturally, this distorted worldview results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel’s perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.
 
Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel’s policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good old-fashioned self-inflicted guilt trip.
 
But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.
 
To begin with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown into the sea.
 
What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.
 
They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet “occupy” the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
 
Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.
 
Pointing out that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war.
 
Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.
 
All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region.”
 
But Israel’s offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.
 
Fortunately, with God’s help we were able to defeat them, depriving our enemies of the territorial platform from which they had sought our destruction.
 
Instead of grumbling about the result, we should be rejoicing in it.
 
The fact is that Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did.
 
We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.
 

They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.

 

 

Michael Freund is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that assists lost tribes and “hidden Jewish communities” to return to the Jewish people. He can be contacted at michael@shavei.org. His column appears the third week of each month.

What Obama Didn’t Say About Jerusalem

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
President Obama’s recent remarks on Israel and the 1967 lines garnered wide attention both for what he said – most notably, that Israel must remain the same size it was before 1967 – and for what he should have said, but did not – that the Palestinian refugees are an Arab problem, not Israel’s.
Regarding the Eternal Capital of the Jewish People, he said barely a word – but even that word was cause for concern.
In his speech to AIPAC, he did not mention Jerusalem even once, and in his public remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu a few days before he said only that Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees are the two “wrenching and emotional issues” that should remain for future negotiations.
Earlier in his speech, Obama said any future Israel-PA agreement must be “based” on the pre-’67 lines “with mutually-agreed land swaps.” Does he really think the PA will ever agree to “swap” the Old City of Jerusalem – and the 250,000 Jews who live there and in other eastern Jerusalem areas – for some arid square kilometers in the Negev??
             By coming down so heavily on Israel regarding borders, and by leaving “wrenching and emotional” Jerusalem for the future instead of declaring now that it is a Jewish heirloom, Obama has made it obvious we cannot count on him to support the timeless symbiosis of Jews and Jerusalem.
True, negotiations with the PA appear far off, and we thus have some breathing room on Jerusalem for an unspecified amount of years or months. But clearly we must redouble our efforts to reinforce our historic, national, geographic, security and spiritual bonds with our Holy City – for therein lies our strength in ensuring that it remains Jewish forever. As is often explained on the first Rashi in the Torah, it is nice for non-Jews to know that God gave the Holy Land to the Jews – but it is even more important that we know it.
Netanyahu, for his part, did a nice job regarding Jerusalem when he spoke to Congress. First he emphasized to the world that only Israel has ever enabled universal access to all holy sites, and then received a standing ovation when he thundered, “Jerusalem must never again be divided! Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel!”
He did make one puzzling statement, however: “I know this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe [that] with creativity and goodwill, a solution can be found.” What type of solution could satisfy the Arab demand for a capital in the city he just said was to remain Israel’s united capital?
“For Jerusalem’s sake,” therefore, let us review some basic facts that bear repeating and emphasizing. Glenn Beck expressed one of them very well recently on his Fox News show: If the PLO gains control of Jerusalem, he said, Jewish visitors will no longer be able to visit the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, or the Mt. of Olives, and Christians won’t be able to get in to see their holy sites.
He did not mention that there are many other places, as well, that the PA expects to receive together with Jerusalem: Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot, French Hill, and even parts of Sanhedria and Talpiot, to name a few. The PA does not even consider these areas part of Jewish Jerusalem, and from the Arab standpoint, it is no big deal for us to cede them.
Yes, many important areas will remain Israeli under Obama’s plan – but actually visiting them will entail risking being shot at by Hamas/Hizbullah snipers just across the border. These include the new Mamilla Mall, parts of the Light Rail System route, City Hall, the King David and Citadel Hotels, Sultan’s Pool and several entire neighborhoods.
Some will argue that the PA state is to be demilitarized and under international supervision. The impotence of this claim has been proven so many times in recent history – in Lebanon, Somalia, Kosovo, and elsewhere – that we can quickly move on to the next point.
What about world Jewry? We cannot avoid contemplating the following important consequence of dividing Jerusalem: If the Six-Day War brought pride and dignity to Jews around the world, even those who had all but forgotten their nationality and religion, what will happen if we give the Old City away? How will Jews ever be able to lift their heads after having stood aside and agreed to the dismemberment of their precious birthright?
Israeli and Jewish morale and security will suffer a severe blow; suddenly, Jews around the world will “see themselves as grasshoppers – and be seen the same way as well” (based on Numbers 13:33) – boding quite ill for Jewish safety in many countries.
Demographically, as the Arab minority in the Holy City is growing even now, what will it be like when Jews, Heaven forbid, begin leaving in droves because of the deteriorating living conditions and security threats from across the border just yards away? And how emboldened will the Arabs become when they receive, on a silver platter, the pinnacle of their dreams – the Holy City of the Jews?
Thus, from no standpoint at all can the Jewish people entertain the possibility of dividing our Jerusalem. Let us, first of all, remind ourselves of this simple truth – and then our neighbors, newspaper editors, elected representatives, and anyone else with whom we come in contact.
In short: What did you do today to secure Jerusalem?
            For more information on how to participate in keeping Jerusalem Jewish, via updates, bus tours of critical parts of Jerusalem, and more, send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund.He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is the senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7 and an author. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.

Their column appears every other week.

What The President Got Wrong

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

When President Obama spoke last week of the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring, he got a lot right. His calling out of the Arab states was long overdue and dead on.

But he got some big things wrong.

Why the 1967 borders didn’t work in 1967: When the president said Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, he missed an opportunity to put the issue of borders in an important historical context for the world.

The borders of Israel changed because then, like today, the Jewish state came under attack from all sides.

The Arabs rejected the 1967 borders with Israel by waging war. Egypt cut off Israel’s only supply route to Asia and amassed troops on its borders with the Sinai. Syria attacked from the Golan Heights. Jordan started shelling Jerusalem. Before the outbreak of war, Arab terrorism had grown more frequent, with 37 attacks in just the first four months of 1967.

For anyone to discuss the ’67 borders without mentioning this is like discussing our war with Japan without mentioning Pearl Harbor.

A U.S. “plan” becomes a Palestinian demand: We saw how the ill-fated U.S. demand for a total “settlement” freeze wound up grinding peace talks to a halt when the Palestinians then demanded nothing less before they would even sit at the bargaining table.

The call for a 100 percent stop to all building activity did not take into account ongoing construction of buildings in naturally growing areas, as well as several areas like Gilo that are certainly not “settlements.” Soon even Israel’s capital was called a “settlement.”

The administration eventually withdrew this condition, but not before the damage was done. The Palestinians have refused to even start talking unless this impossible and unreasonable condition is met. The president has now repeated the mistake by giving the Palestinians yet another American-created precondition: 1967 borders.

We will now certainly hear a new refrain from them – that they won’t talk about any “swaps” until the ’67 borders are returned.

Negotiated settlement? OK, but with whom? The president expressed many important sentiments in the speech that reflect our values as a nation. For example, he rightly called Hamas a terrorist organization. But how is that fact compatible with the demand that Israel make concessions?

The sad truth is that it is no longer possible to pretend that there is a “good” and “bad” Palestinian entity. As Hamas and Fatah move closer to formalizing their reconciliation through a power-sharing agreement, the more moderate elements in Fatah are being pushed out.

Further, Hamas has yet to make any progress in moving away from its militant stand against Israel. Even the European Union calls Hamas a terrorist entity, and United States law makes this clear. The merger of Hamas and Fatah must put an end to the myth that the Palestinian Authority seeks peace in the region.

A “negotiated settlement” is what we all want, but it’s unrealistic and unfair to demand it of Israel until Hamas is gone.

I honor the president for his desire for peace. The Israelis have demonstrated they share the same aspiration. But taking a correct approach to history and being realistic in our description of today’s realities are vital to that goal.

Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, represents New York’s 9thCongressional district (parts of South Brooklyn and South Central Queens) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Struggle: Obama, Abbas And Netanyahu

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It is a compelling story: a thirteen-year-old boy, whose family was forced from home as wartime refugees, still yearning more than six decades later to return.

It is also a familiar story: exile and the yearning for return, after all, are embedded in the memory of the Jewish people. Precisely that yearning framed Zionism and the birth of Israel. Indeed, Jewish history and geography are so compelling that Palestinians enthusiastically embrace them.

The thirteen-year-old boy was Mahmoud Abbas. Writing in The New York Times (May 17), the Palestinian Authority president claimed Palestine as “our homeland.” But he neglected to say why “our Palestinian state remains a promise unfulfilled.” It is because Palestinian leaders have persistently rejected every proposal for a two-state solution since 1922 and have repeatedly gone to war to prevent it.

Abbas reiterated familiar Palestinian tropes with a new twist. Following the UN partition recommendation of 1947, he asserted, “Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future State of Israel, and Arab armies intervened.”

That is exactly backward.

It was the Arab invasion (“intervention”?) not “Zionist forces,” which triggered the war in 1948 that impelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee from their homes. Indeed, thirty-five years ago Abbas himself acknowledged (in the official PLO journal) that invading “Arab armies,” entering Palestine, “forced [his family] to emigrate and to leave their homeland.”

The day before Abbas’s op-ed appeared, Prime Minister Netanyahu reminded the Knesset that the “root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. [It] is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu firmly stated Israeli peace terms: the Palestinian Authority (with its recently restored partner Hamas) must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation. The Palestinian refugee problem, manipulated to bludgeon Israel for sixty-three years, must be solved outside Israel’s borders. Any peace treaty must safeguard Israel’s security, with Jerusalem as its united capital.

Natanyahu did not itemize the “painful concessions” required of Israel, but they were immediately evident. He insisted that (unidentified) “settlement blocs” must remain part of Israel, but that would leave 120,000 Jewish settlers living outside the “blocs” to face expulsion from their homes.

Implicit in their removal would be Israel’s relinquishment – forever – of all but a tiny sliver of Judea and Samaria. That aligns Netanyahu with the Israeli secular left, which has insisted that all claims to the biblical homeland be ceded to the Palestinians.

Among the Israelis implicitly slated for expulsion by Netanyahu’s exemption are the residents of Elon Moreh, where God promised Abraham, “To your descendants I will give this land.” Their exodus would be shared by the inhabitants of nearby Shilo, site of the sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant, brought from Sinai after the exodus from Egypt; residents of Beit El, where Jacob dreamed of the angels; and the Jews of Hebron, the oldest Jewish city in the land of Israel, where the tombs of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs are located.

Netanyahu’s right-wing Knesset critics responded furiously to his settlement “bloc” statement. National Union party chairman Ya’akov Katz decried the prospect of the prime minister “drawing up a list of who will be expelled and who will not.” Likud leader Danny Danon suggested that Israel consider extending its jurisdiction over all Jewish settlements and uninhabited land in the West Bank.

MK Tzipi Hotovely reminded Netanyahu that a return to 1967 borders would also mean the repartitioning of Jerusalem, without the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, or the Old City remaining inside Israel. Left unsaid was that any attempt to forcibly evacuate 120,000 Jews would provoke a violent, perhaps irreparable, rupture.

But it was President Obama’s May 19 speech that blew the lid off the land-for-peace pot. “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state,” he warned – echoing the mantra of Jeremy Ben-Ami’s J Street – “cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” Then came the clincher: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

Red Lines, Not Green Line

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Next month marks the 43rd anniversary of the June 1967 Six-Day War, when the Jewish state went from the brink of extinction to breathtaking victory.
 
Few times in the modern era has the guiding hand of Divine providence been as plain and clear for all to see as it was during that heady period, when our Arab neighbors threatened to annihilate Israel and cast its citizenry into the waters of the Mediterranean.
 
But the Jewish people turned the tables on our foes, and in less than a week, with God’s help, we managed to reclaim the cradle of our civilization in the form of places such as Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
 
It was an emotional reunion, one that had taken more than 19 centuries to occur. But the love and the longing of the Jewish people for their God-given land could not, and would not, be denied.
 
Sadly, however, with the passage of time, memories tend to dim and emotions often fade. And so instead of celebrating this miracle on its anniversary with all the verve and joy it deserves, many on Israel’s left descend into a state of semi-mourning.
 
In columns and editorials they regularly bemoan the outcome of the war, grieving over the “occupation” of the territories and fantasizing about how good life would be without them.
 
Indeed, it almost seems many would have preferred Israel to have lost the battle rather than emerging victorious with the blue-and-white flag flying over Hebron and Jerusalem.
 
But what they conveniently ignore is everything that preceded the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terrorism, a large Arab military buildup, and the brazen threats by Arab leaders to exterminate the Jewish state.
 
In effect, left-wing Israeli proponents of withdrawal have cast a fog over history, shifting the focus away from the “whys” of the 1967 war, and replacing them instead with “why us?”
 
Most people forget, but two years prior to 1967, back when Israel was narrow
and tiny and did not yet “occupy” anyone else’s land, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol unveiled a peace plan that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
 
Speaking in the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol proposed to open direct negotiations with the Arab states with the aim of turning the 1949 armistice agreements into full-fledged peace treaties.
 
Pointing out that Israel’s four Arab neighbors – Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon – together had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, Eshkol suggested that the pursuit of war by the Arabs was a needless waste of human and material resources.
 
Instead, he laid out a vision of peace that would have included open borders, freedom of transit and communications, bilateral trade and economic cooperation, as well as access to the holy sites of all religions.
 
All he asked from the Arabs, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region.” It was a simple, yet compelling deal: peace for peace, with no strings attached.
 
But Israel’s offer was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and vowed to destroy the
Jewish state.
 
Here is just a sampling of some of the Arab rhetoric at that time:
 
On May 20, 1967, Hafez Assad, who was then serving as Syria’s defense minister, said, “Our forces are now entirely ready to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
 
On May 26, Egyptian president Nasser declared in a speech to his nation, “Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel.”
 
At a press conference the following day, PLO founder Ahmad Shukeiry said, “D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation.”
 
And on May 30, Cairo Radio was even more explicit: “Israel has two choices, both of which are drenched with Israel’s blood: Either it will be strangled by the Arab military and economic siege, or it will be killed by the bullets of the Arab armies surrounding it from the south, from the north and from the east.”
 
A week later, the war began.
 
And a week after that it was over, with Israel in control of Jerusalem, along with Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights.
 
Ever since, the world has been pressing Israel to go back to the pre-1967 frontiers and to give its foes the territory from which they sought to launch its destruction.
 
As a matter of fact, Washington is now laying heavy pressure on Israel to retreat to the “Green Line” and create a Palestinian entity alongside its borders, as though Israel’s acquisition of these territories was somehow illicit from the start.
 
But nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Israel did not occupy Judea and Samaria – it won them fair and square in an act of self-defense, and it should have no regrets for doing so.
 
The war of 1967 was one that Israel neither asked for nor initiated. And the time has come for us to stop apologizing for winning it. Instead, let’s embrace the great gift God has given us by settling the land and filling it with Jews.
 
Our ancestors walked these areas centuries before the advent of Islam, and thousands of years before the establishment of the PLO, and we need not apologize for returning to the heartland of our proud and ancient heritage.
 
It is time for Israel to stand firm and be strong, and declare once and for all that the “Green Line” has forever been replaced.
 

In its stead we now have Red Lines, and chief among them is this: we will never, ever give up territory again.

 

 

Michael Freund, whose Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month, served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.

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