In November 1969, Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban gave an interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel. In the piece, Eban made a statement that has gone down in history. Reduced to a sexy sound byte, however, his actual words have long been forgotten. According to friend and foe alike, Eban ostensibly referred to the 1967 lines (from within which Israel was forced to fight for its survival in the Six Day War) as the “borders of Auschwitz.”
The Right regularly refers to this phrase to illustrate that even someone as dovish as Eban understood the importance of maintaining control over the territory acquired by Israel following its victory in the war to annihilate the Jewish state. The Left accuses the Right of enlisting the late statesman for a cynical purpose: to bolster its political opposition to territorial withdrawals. And the Arabs claim that the intention of any Israeli invoking Eban is to call the Palestinians Nazis.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us review what Eban actually told his German interviewer nearly 45 years ago: “We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967,” he said. “For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountain and we in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”
Eban was not equating Israel’s Arab enemies with the Nazis (though the historic bond between them would have warranted it). Rather, he was stressing the genuine peril that would have befallen Israel in the event of victory on the part of those whose express goal was to “push the Jews into the sea.”
Decades later, this objective is still the same.
The only difference now is that terrorism against civilians – coupled with a concerted campaign to enlist fellow travelers and useful idiots in the West to delegitimize the entire Zionist enterprise – has replaced the conventional battlefield. And a key sponsor of this activity is a nuclearizing Islamic Republic of Iran.
This situation has had a dire effect on the world. It has muddied the distinction between victory and defeat; it has obscured the line between truth and deceit; and it has dimmed the division between good and evil. It has also blurred the vision of many seemingly sighted people.
These are the fantasists who have been persuaded that the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines is both the path to peace and the only way to guarantee Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
There is little doubt that if Eban were alive today, he would be among these dreamers.
His nephew, Labor party and Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, certainly is.
On Thursday, when Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet voted to suspend negotiations with the Palestinian Authority due to its impending unity agreement with Hamas, Herzog responded, “Today I ask the prime minister: Do you think your decisions help to strengthen Israel’s security? Because if we close the book on a peace agreement, you have to present an alternative for how to prevent a binational state.”
It is not clear which “book” Herzog thinks Israel is closing, since no peace deal, other than possibly between the PA and Hamas, is on the table. But there are two documents he would do well to read before drifting off to la-la land and dragging any additional patsies with him. One is the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, the charter forged and followed by Hamas. The other is the Palestinian National Covenant, the charter adhered to by the PA, which – commitments and claims to the contrary – was never amended.
Here is a taste of the former: “Israel will exist... until Islam will obliterate it....” (Preamble)
“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’” (Article 7)
“...[S]o-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement....” (Article 13)
The latter, too, has choice morsels:
“...It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country.... He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.” (Article 7)
“Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine....” (Article 9)
“Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution....” (Article 10)
“Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives....” (Article 13)
“...Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence...the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them... to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.” (Article 22)
“The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement [and] to outlaw its existence....” (Article 23)
Herein is the root of the Holocaust parallels. In a declared war against the Jewish state, the imperative is killing Jews, not living peacefully alongside them. For Israel to survive the current assault, it must stop participating in the myth of a border dispute.
One need not misquote Abba Eban for this purpose. The Palestinians articulate their aims quite incontrovertibly.
The writer is the author of ‘To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’