At the Western Wall during the Six Day War, Israeli soldiers hold two Arabs for questioning.
(photo credit: BAMAHANE/IDF WEEKLY JUNE 12 1967 ISSUE)
Too many Israelis lament our victory in the Six Day War. There are also people who say that we should have withdrawn from all the territories immediately after the war. To the former, let it be said that if the Arabs had won the war, questions regarding the morality and humanity of their governing of the Jews would never have arisen, simply because the only Jews who would still be alive around here are those who could breathe underwater.
The latter should be reminded of conditions before the war: a State of Israel with a border just beyond the suburbs of Tel Aviv, no more than 15 km. wide in the region of Netanya; a narrow corridor to Jerusalem with no alternative access and no Latrun; constant firing on Kibbutz Tel Katzir in the north, on the fishermen in the Sea of Galilee, and on the communities in the Hula Valley; Palestinian terrorism that couldn’t yet rely on the excuse of the “occupation” to justify itself. “The last one to leave has to turn out the light,” was a common phrase.
Is there anyone who wants to return to that situation? All our current problems notwithstanding, we are a thousand times better off now than we were then.
Precisely who prevented the Palestinians from establishing their own state in the 19 years between the War of Independence and the Six Day War? Even earlier, who prevented them from accepting the Partition Plan? Thousands of lives could have been saved and a Palestinian state would have been born the same year as Israel.
There wouldn’t be a single Palestinian refugee, and all the territory they are demanding now – and more – would already be theirs. But they never even considered that option. Why not? Because they weren’t interested in a state of their own, only in destroying ours.
Let’s say we withdrew from the territories after the war. What would have happened? Would the Arab hostility toward us have faded into thin air? No. We would have had to go back to risking our lives along borders that didn’t allow an inch of breathing space, while they continued to declare their arrogant goal of annihilating the “Zionist entity.” What conclusion would they have drawn? That launching a war against us is a viable option, with no downside. If they win, they throw the Jews into the sea; if they lose, there’s no price to pay.
Nevertheless, the question remains: what do we do now? We still need a glimmer of hope. The good news is that although we don’t have a lot of wiggle room, there is something we can do, as long as we stay true to two principles. The first is that we’re not going to return to the 1967 borders.
That isn’t an option. The second is that the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria will not become Israeli citizens. That would be the end of the country. Aside from that, it doesn’t matter if the solution involves the Palestinian state that already exists in Jordan or some sort of arrangement in Areas A and B. But one thing has to be clear: the future of Area C will not be the same as the future of Areas A and B, nor will the civil definition of the Palestinians in them. We simply have no other choice.
Don’t beat yourselves up over our victory in the Six Day War. On the contrary, savor it. The alternative would have been much worse.Translated from Hebrew by Sara Kitai, skitai@ kardis.co.il.