David Brummer, Media analyst, writer, and consultant on Middle Eastern affairs recently visited Jerusalem. At his blog BrumSpeak be posted details about his visit.
The highlights include a trip to East Jerusalem with Judy Balint and a visit to NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Brummer introduces some of the little known history of East Jerusalem and the peace process. He sums up saying
"Jerusalem is emblematic of the complexities and competing claims for sacred space. But it is easy to understand why a unified Jerusalem is so significant from a Jewish perspective."
In his meeting with NGO Monitor's Director, Gerald Steinberg, he heard how powerful NGO's exploit the rhetoric of universal human rights and international law to promote ideological and political campaigns, and noted the important work NGO Monitor was doing to highlight this.
At the JCPA he met with Dori Gold and discussed 'Defensible Borders' and 'A United Jerusalem', noting that Jerusalem would run the risk of 'Talibanization' were it to be divided.
The blog post can be read here
Amazingly, reports continue to circulate out of the Western Press (BBC, Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, New Yorker, etc.) that the Six Day War could have been avoided had Israel not acted rashly; that Israel was militarily far superior to its Arab neighbors, that Nasser was only bluffing; about the only argument I haven't heard yet is the post-modern one of 'disproportionate force.' Rest assured that if Israel's stunning victory over three Arab armies had taken place today, accusations of war-crimes and unnecessary force would already have been levied against her. More commentaries below--
The Most Justified War - Yoel Marcus
As Ha'aretz's correspondent in Paris before the 1967 Six-Day War, I was at the Israeli Embassy when half a million people rallied in the streets to show their solidarity with Israel. There was a sense that the Arabs were about to wipe out the Jewish state. On television, people saw Egyptian troops marching into Sinai; they heard Nasser's warmongering speeches. Ahmed Shukeiry, the secretary of the Arab League, declared that the Jews of Israel would be sent back to the countries they came from and native Israelis would be slaughtered. What those now denouncing the 40th anniversary of the "occupation" do not understand is that the Six-Day War was the most justified war Israel ever fought - because it knocked out of the Arabs' heads the idea that Israel could be destroyed by force. (Ha'aretz)
Amid General Amnesia - Hillel Halkin
It's a curious thing: Although the map that was changed by the Six-Day War had been in existence for less than 20 years, starting with Israel's War of Independence in 1948, and more than twice as many years have gone by since then, that map of the Middle East continues to be regarded by the world as the "right" map, while the map that replaced it is considered a temporary aberration that needs to be canceled or reversed. Similarly, the world has forgotten what the pre-1967 map was really like. Far from being demarcated by clear and accepted borders, it showed Israel separated from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon by mere armistice lines, frontiers created by the ceasefire that ended the 1948-1949 war and considered temporary by all Arab countries, not one of which recognized Israel and all of which looked forward openly to its destruction - an easily imaginable eventuality in view of the fact that these frontiers narrowed to a few miles' width along the Mediterranean coastal plain where Israel's population was most concentrated. It is no longer remembered that immediately after the June 1967 war, Israel was ready to return nearly all of the land conquered by it in return for peace and was answered by a monolithic Arab refusal to negotiate, accompanied by a partial recommencement of hostilities by Egypt in the 1968-1970 "War of Attrition." The history of the 1967 war and what came before it has been so successfully written by the losers that the winners' account is scoffed at incredulously today even by supposedly knowledgeable people. (New York Sun)
Urge is Still to Erase the Jewish State
By AMOTZ ASA-EL
The Six Days War, which broke out 40 years ago this week and left the Arab world, the Jewish people and the international community stunned, still boggles the mind.
The fighting -- in which Israel debilitated three armies and conquered the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan and ancient Jerusalem in less than a week -- has made Israel's enemies distort its causes and effects.
Here are the facts, the way I recall them as a third-grader in Jerusalem. As Independence Day ended, news broke out that the Egyptian army had crossed the Sinai Peninsula and camped along the Israeli border. By the weekend, we were besieged, as Egypt blockaded the Red Sea and expelled United Nations peacekeepers from Gaza, while Jordan and Syria deployed along our northern and eastern borders. One hundred million people, armed, trained and inspired by the Soviet Union, were ganging up on a country the size of New Jersey with a population smaller than Tennessee's.
It was a casus belli by any dictionary definition. Yet today Israel's detractors conveniently begin the story from the actual fighting of June 1967, which indeed began when we Israelis extracted ourselves from the shooting range where we were to be sitting targets and pre-empted the marksman aiming his barrel into our collective forehead. Israel initiated but only tactically. The strategic initiative -- the brazen, unprovoked choice to wage war -- was Arab.
No rewritten history will make Israelis forget the course of events as we experienced them. We won't forget the anxiety on the faces of the adults -- mostly Holocaust survivors -- as war approached. We won't forget how every day we learned of another diplomatic failure to undo the siege, how we filled sandbags and placed them on windowsills to the sound of Hebrew broadcasts from Cairo Radio that promised to "throw the Jews into the sea" -- which was meant, and taken, , literally.
Today, the ultimate anti-Israeli slogan shared by British liberals, Russian fascists, Gazan zealots, Iranian Mullahs and Lebanese pseudo-patriots is "end the occupation." Gullible Westerners conclude that Israel's enemies merely want it tamed, that characters such as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Hassan Nassrallah or Haled Mash'al are merely challenging its policies, not its right to live.
But they are. As they themselves concede when asked explicitly enough, to them not only the conquests of '67, but even Tel Aviv is "occupied Palestine," just as to them all U.N. resolutions about the Mideast are binding except the original one, the one that said that not only the Palestinians, but the Jews, too, deserve a state.
Had it not been for the obsessive urge to erase the Jewish state, there would have been no occupation to decry today. For the problem with the Six Days War in the eyes of Israel's enemies is not the occupation that followed it nor, of course, the belligerency that preceded it, but the victory that defined it and constituted one of the swiftest blows liberty ever dealt autocracy.
Had the occupation been their problem with post-1967 Israel, Israel's enemies would have even celebrated its successive election of leaders such as Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert who each sought to end the occupation. Sad to say, all four saw Israel's enemies prove unreconstructed despite them, as the newly unoccupied Gaza's shelling of Israel, within its internationally recognized borders, demonstrates daily.
There's nothing new about this tunnel vision. In 1967 Israel offered a land-for-peace deal, but the Arab states announced they would never make peace, recognize or even just talk with Israel. With that kind of rigidity, the Arab states maneuvered the Palestinians into Israeli occupation. Then as now, they could have chosen peace.
A lot has changed since 1967.
Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, the East Bloc unraveled, and a million Soviet Jews arrived in Israel. However, in Tehran, Beirut, Damascus and Gaza, the blind hatred is alive and well, even if it now cleverly manipulates Western disdain for such terms as "occupation."
Had a passer-by wondered in May 1967, "Why are you filling sandbags?" we would have answered: "We have no choice." Four decades on, when you hear Israel's enemies decry occupation, remember: They have a choice, they can have peace, yet they have war, and the reason they war in 2007 is the same reason they had it in 1967: It's what they want.
Amotz Asa-El, formerly the Jerusalem Post's executive editor, is now its senior columnist; http://www.middleisrael.com/
In a move that will be reminding many Israelis of the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit by Hizbollah (the trigger that forced Israel to tackle Hizbollah head on last summer) Iran (Hizbollah's state funders) yesterday kidnapped 15 British sailors (one a women) who were on an united nations aproved mission looking for smugglers off the coast of Iraq.
Iran has said the kidnapped sailors are being interrogated in Tehran. An Iranian General was quoted as saying the sailors had confessed under interrogation to "aggression into the Islamic Republic of Iran waters". One wonders what sort of "interrogation" this was.
Both the UK and the EU have demanded the sailors immediate release. It is thought Iran may be trying similar moves with the UK (to try tempt their opposition to Iran's nuclear program) as they did with Israel. This did not work with Israel and is very unlikely to work with the UK. If anything the move could strengthen Europes resolve against Iran. The British like to be "impartial" observers, claiming everyone is equally to blame in any situation. Under attack themselves this "impartiality" will not last long.
Hamas Still Seeks Israel's Destruction
Hamas reiterated its committment to Israel's destruction after being criticized by Al-Qaeda's number 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri. He accused Hamas on Sunday of serving U.S. interests by agreeing to respect past Palestinian accords, abandoning their tradition of suicide bombings for political expediency. "They have ditched the movement of martyrdom operations...for a government that plays with words in palace halls," said Zawahri. To reassure him-and the world-that they have not 'sold out' by agreeing to a Saudi-brokered unity government deal with Fatah, Hamas said it continued to be a "movement of resistance, seekers of martyrdom" and that its "principles will never be changed". "We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine," Hamas said in a statement.
Well, at least Hamas is not shy about making public pronouncements about their true goals, unlike the late Yassir Arafat, who was more coy in his duplicitiousness.
Below we provide some comments and quotes from John Sawers, the Political Director at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, given in testimony on the first of February 2007 before the select committee on Europe as part of enquiries into the EU and the Middle East Peace Process. The comments are ours. You can also read the full transcript (proof version).
Mr Sawers: "The international community is not going to be able to cooperate and work with a Palestinian government that is not committed to renouncing violence, recognising Israel and upholding previous commitments, including the road map commitments."
It is good to see this position being held firm.
Mr Sawers: "On the borders there will have to be some compensation between the two sides if land which was Palestinian before 1967 is incorporated into the state of Israel"
As an expert it's quite disappointing that Mr Sawers would make a blunder like that. As he's well aware the 1967 border is about a border between Israel and Jordan. Before 1967 the land was Occupied by Jordan. At no point was there Palestinian land. Mr Sawer is advsised to check any library, or indeed his own department's records on this fact.
On a historic note, the Zionists bought land from private land holders during the Otterman Empire's rule. They bought more during the British Mandate. Public lands became part of Israel when passed to them by the UN as the Mandate expired. This is how the 1948 land was aquired by Israel. Jordan (along with other Arab countries) invaded Israel just as it was created and sought to wipe it off the map (something the Iran President also has high on his "top ten things to do when I'm bored" list), after the war Jordan ended up occupying Jerusalem, the Gaza strip and other areas of the former British Mandate. Jews were nto allowed to visit their holy sites. The Jordanians did not create a Palestinian state, and no one complained. When they tried again to destroy Israel in 1967, Israel rather than them captured territory. The land which last (in an unoccupied state) belonged to the British (though they also conquered it in war - so perhaps it was occupied) is yet to be formally allocated and have definitive borders drawn across it. More on this at Wikipedia.
Mr Sawers: "What we want is for Hamas to recognise the reality of the state of Israel and to remove from its lexicon its commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel, and that strikes me as a reasonable thing to ask of a negotiating partner."
You must love the British sense of balance. Imagine a sheep and a wolf negotiating how they will live as good neighbours. The sheep asks not to be eaten, the British reply is that this is a reasonable thing to ask fo a partner, now... what does the wolf want? The only problem with this analogy is that Israel not ready to disarm itself to being in the position of that sheep. The British must realise this. Agreeing to Israel's right to exist is not the concession made to Israel in negotiation... it is the pre-negotiation starting point. The international community at the moment has this right.
Lord Anderson of Swansea: "We learned, for example, from the IMF in 2003 that $900 million passed into the 25 private coffers of the Palestinian leadership... have the lessons been learned in relation to the total misuse of EU taxpayers’ money over the earlier period?"
Mr Sawers: "...I think there is a very strong feeling within the EU that funds in the past have either been abused and wasted or have occasionally have been
used, for example, to fund projects which have later been destroyed by the Israelis."
One would have thought that $900 million stole by Palestinian officials would have been the signifiance point, or the money used for terrorist infrastructure, but no it all comes back to those Israel. Note the lack of mention of what was destroyed or why.
Mr Sawers: "as we saw last summer in the conflict in the Lebanon, an Iranian armed group in the Arab world can set back the prospects for peace and for stability very severely."
Mr Sawers: "When you visit Israel or, indeed, the Arab world, one
of the greatest concerns – possibly in Israel the greatest concern – is not Palestinian, Syria or the Arab world generally, it is Iran. The activities of Iran in supporting extremist groups in Arab countries – in the Lebanon, in Iraq, as we have seen – has raised the level of concern about Iranian activities and certainly has raised the impact of the nuclear file and the implications for the Arab world and the Middle East as a whole should Iran succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons technology or, worse still, nuclear weapons themselves. The rhetoric of President Ahmandinejad is one thing: we cannot ignore it; is it very damaging; and it certainly would be wrong to assume that it is does not carry some meaning. I think it has raised again the concern that Israel’s very existence could be brought into question by enemies in the region – a prospect which really has not been there for much of the last 35 years but was very much there in the early years of Israel’s existence."
I wonder what effect the Iranian threat is having on British Foreign policy? It's good that it is recognise, but where is the seperate report into this threat?
Mr Sawers: "What we face now is an Iran which is posing an increasing threat to the security of the region and which is causing particular security concerns for the State of Israel because of its support for terrorist groups and because of its aspirations, as we see them, to develop nuclear weapons."
Iran is suporting terrorism - in black and white. So what is being done about it?
Mr Sawers: "Obviously it would be much better if we had an Iranian leadership which was committed to a two-State solution, which was committed to countering terrorist groups and was not causing instability in the region, but that is not what we have got, and we have to deal with the Iran which presents itself."
I think we call that British Diplomacy.
Mean time the committee stopped recieving written submissions on the 5th of March. Apparently many Palestinian NGOs put in submissions, and supports of Israel all heard about the deadline after it closed. At least that's what we've heard. We'll see what the final report looks like before making any judgement.