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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Two articles from Australia

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The 40-year war

Bren Carlill, June 5, 2007, Herald Sun

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21848459-5000117,00.html

TODAY marks 40 years since the start of the Six Day War. We are told constantly that Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank is the reason there is no Arab-Israeli peace.

But this prompts an important question: If Israeli occupation is the cause of Middle East warfare, how come there was Middle East warfare before Israeli occupation?

On May 16, 1967, Egypt evicted a UN buffer force separating it from Israel and put troops on the Israeli border.

On May 22, it placed a blockade on Israeli shipping in international waters.

This act of war was accompanied by public declarations about driving the Jews into the sea. Syria began lobbing artillery rounds from the Golan Heights into Israeli villages.

For three weeks, Israel waited for the international community to intervene.

Empty words aside, they did nothing.

On June 5, Israel finally acted, striking Egypt and Syria. Despite Israeli pleas not to become involved, Jordan did just that, firing hundreds of artillery rounds from the West Bank into Jerusalem's Jewish suburbs.

Six days later, Israel controlled the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem, containing Judaism's holiest site. Jordan had barred Jews from the Old City since 1948.

Immediately after the war, Israel offered the captured land, minus Jerusalem, in exchange for peace.

The Arab League rejection was definitive. No peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel, it declared.

SO, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, which called for the same thing, land for peace.

Lord Caradon, who drafted Resolution 242, was clear as to whether Israel should withdraw from all, or only part, of the territories.

"Knowing the unsatisfactory nature of the 1967 line," he said, he was not prepared to use wording in the resolution that would have made that line permanent.

So, what has happened over the past 40 years?

Israel has done its part by withdrawing from more than 90 per cent of the land it won in 1967 and offered more than 95 per cent of the remainder.

Israel's immediate neighbours have abandoned trying to destroy the Jewish state by conventional means, but some aid terrorist groups that are still attempting to do so.

The Palestinians, not even mentioned in Resolution 242, were given numerous chances to develop a state, but instead inculcated a generation with a love of violence.

Glorified in schools and on television, most recently by a Mickey Mouse look-alike, who can be surprised at today's internal bloodshed in Gaza?

Forty years ago, the Arab world rose against Israel in the spirit of secular Arab nationalism.

Today, Israel's enemies unite under the banner of Islamism. This is the thread binding Sunni Hamas, Shiite Hezbollah and non-Arab, Shiite Iran.

Iran is developing nukes and promising to wipe out Israel.

Intoxicated by Iran's violent rhetoric and the West's lack of will in the face of it, there is a growing view in Middle East thinking that perhaps Israel can be destroyed.

Such thinking will only lead to more violence.

This anniversary of the 1967 war follows an Israeli report criticising successive governments for failures in last year's war with Hezbollah.

The report highlights Israel's weaknesses and suggests ways to fix them.

Israel is not about to be overrun, as many thought would happen in June 1967.

B UT Israel has well-funded, well-armed and well-trained enemies who believe in an inevitable, divine victory and a religious obligation to fight.

It is impossible to deter religious zealots so convinced of their divine purpose that they are willing to blow themselves up on a bus full of children.

Peace in the Middle East will only come when Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah respect the rights of others to live in peace and security, as demanded by the United Nations 40 years ago.

It was not Israeli occupation that caused Arab countries to attack in 1967.

Rather, it was their attack that caused the occupation.

The same refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist is the reason for the lack of peace today.

BREN CARLILL is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The long and winding war

Bren Carlill, June 5, 2007, Courier-Mail

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,21845803-27197,00.html

FORTY years ago, three Arab states provoked war with Israel, determined, in the words of the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, to throw the Jews into the sea.

The world anticipated Israel's annihilation. Not only did Israel survive, in six days it won – and had captured the land from which its enemies had launched the attack.

In the three-week period leading up to June 5, 1967, Egypt evicted United Nations truce observers, massed troops on Israel's borders and blockaded Israeli shipping (an act of war). Syria fired artillery rounds into Israeli villages and Jordan, when it entered the war, did the same into Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem.

Fast-forward 39 years. Hezbollah has spent six years firing rockets across the Israeli border, occasionally sending fighters across, too. Thirty-five Israelis were killed in these attacks. Then, on July 12 last year – after eight soldiers were killed, two abducted and yet more towns hit by rockets – Israel responded. But in 34 days, Israel couldn't destroy Hezbollah or regain its soldiers. What had changed?

After the unexpected loss of the Six Day War, the Arab states had one more crack at destroying Israel: The 1973 Yom Kippur War. It took longer, but Israel walloped them in that one, too. And then, calm, of a sort.

Since the bloodshed of 1948, '56, '67 and '73, the world hasn't witnessed a single state-level Arab-Israeli war. Realising they couldn't destroy Israel, the Arab states were forced to abandon conventional warfare, bringing relative stability to the region.

Unfortunately, their support of terrorist organisations didn't change. Syria, in particular, increased its training of, and aid to, terrorist groups after 1973.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation, formed three years before the Six Day War, stepped up its activities in the 1970s. In 1982, Israel went to war against the PLO, which was attacking from southern Lebanon.

A result of Palestinian self-rule, established after the 1993 peace agreement, was a series of suicide terrorist attacks by Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and others.

Hezbollah calls itself a resistance organisation, defending Lebanon from Israel. When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah lost its raison d'etre, but none of its bloodlust.

Fighting these organisations differs from state-to-state warfare. Diplomatic, military and economic pressures can be applied to government and armies. But paramilitaries embed their infrastructure among the civilian population. They'll usually dress like civilians, too. Attack terrorists and civilians almost always die in the crossfire. Add to this the mindset of the Hezbollah and Hamas leadership which repeatedly glorifies death for Allah and considers civilian death to be martyrdom.

Thus, in the past 12 months and, to a lesser extent, the past seven years, Israel has been faced with a choice. Does it allow terrorist atrocities to be visited on its people or does it take warfare to its enemies?

One solution might seem to be an Israeli withdrawal from the territories. Israel attempted this through negotiations, but Palestinian intransigence foiled them every time.

Consequently, Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in September 2005. Unfortunately, Palestinians haven't taken advantage of the lack of Israeli occupation there to build something – anything – positive.

Instead, they've cast the withdrawal as a military victory.

More violence, Palestinian leaders have said, and Israel will withdraw from the West Bank, then Jerusalem – and then Tel Aviv. Which is why rockets from Gaza increased.

Forty years ago, the Arab world united under the banner of secular Arab nationalism.

Now, Israel's enemies are Islamists. Therefore, non-Arab, Shi'ite Iran is funding Shi'ite Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas to fight Israel with rockets and terrorism.

Iran is marching towards nuclear weaponry. The world is once again witnessing a Middle Eastern leader declaring his intention to wipe Israel off the map.

Israel has handed back 90 per cent of the land it won in 1967, and has offered more than 95 per cent of the remainder. And, yet, some claim Israel's control of the West Bank is the impediment to peace. But this ignores two wars plus countless state-sponsored terrorist raids against Israel before 1967, not to mention the Six Day War itself.

The obstacle to Arab-Israeli peace isn't Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but the same Arab rejectionism that led to the occupation in the first place.

Bren Carlill is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

 

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