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The Six-Day War Didn’t Change Israel—At Least, Not in the Way the Israeli Left Claims It Did

At the war’s 50th anniversary, many in Israel and abroad have commented on how it transformed the country. For those on the left in particular, this was the moment when the Jewish state became “the occupier of another people” and—in this interpretation—inaugurated the era of Israel’s decline. Yoaz Hendel will have none of it:

Three wars shaped the state of Israel—the most important war was in 1948. The big “occupation” starts there. The Six-Day War only changed the borders, not the essence of the battle [between Israel and its Arab neighbors]. . . . Finally, in 1973, came the big victory of the Yom Kippur War (yes, I know that people usually look at this war from its starting points rather than through the great achievements of its ending). . . . These three wars turned Israel into a regional power with greater economic and military strength than any other country in the region. . . .

Whoever claims today that the Six-Day War changed us is talking out of wishful thinking, out of a childish dream in which we could have existed within the borders of small Israel and made peace with everyone around us. If only we had won and pulled out, according to this dream, everything would have been fine. The years before 1967 were painfully beautiful, [goes the refrain]. The most beautiful songs, the most beautiful outfits, the most beautiful girls, the most silent rabbis. . . .

And the best clichés. . . . [In fact,] Israel lived under the danger of extinction for nineteen years before the Six-Day War. Its laws were emergency laws. Its democracy was shaky. David Ben-Gurion, the man without whom we wouldn’t have a state, spied on opposition members. Israeli Arabs lived under tough military rule and Shin Bet supervision. The government Judaized the Negev and the Galilee without thinking twice. . . . The only restrictions on corruption were internal ethics and the values of the [Zionist] youth movements.

Our situation [now] is much better than in those nineteen years—not just from a security and economic perspective but also by the criteria of those who are lamenting [the supposed collapse of Israeli] democracy. Israel, contrary to their claims, is not marching toward a binational state; it is marching toward a separation from the Palestinians as much as it can. In Gaza, we have completely separated from them (we still pay for the electricity and water), and in Judea and Samaria there is a demilitarized semi-state with a political separation, but with no military separation.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Palestinians, Six-Day War

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen