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A Second Front

June 28, 2007 By:
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Now that the dust has settled on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War -- and all the hubbub in the media has quieted -- it's easier to assess some of the more prominent responses to the event. The bulk of the commentary was incessantly critical of Israel, though predictable in that regard. But none was more relentless in its pursuit than the series of articles that appeared in Britain's Economist magazine, dated May 26-June 1.

The cover showed the famous photo of Israeli soldiers looking wistfully at the Western Wall, but the headline read "Israel's Wasted Victory." The picture was then repeated on the contents page with a small paragraph added to introduce the package of articles.

"Six days of war followed by 40 years of misery. How can it ever end? [Editorial, p]age 13. A story of squandered opportunities and deepening divisions among Israelis and Palestinians alike, pages 43-46. Violence in the refugee camps in Lebanon, page 47. The conflict between elderly politicians and youthful generals in 1967, page 97." The tone in all of them was generally the same, and the editorial was perhaps representative of the lot.

At least the unidentified editorialist admitted right off the bat that, although the Six-Day War looks now like one of "history's Pyrrhic victories," it was not an unnecessary conflict. The machinations of Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nassar were described in detail. But then the blame game began, and the editorial writer didn't give Israel an inch.

"Part of the trouble was the completeness of the triumph. Its speed and scope led many Israelis to see a divine hand in their victory. This changed Israel itself, giving birth to an irredentist religious-nationalist movement intent on permanent colonisation of the occupied lands (see pages 43-46)."

At this point, there is no mention of the fact that the ailing Ariel Sharon brought Israelis out of the Gaza Strip two years ago, without even a hitch or a show of violence, which all the world seemed to have expected. So much for colonizing all of the territories. Then, in the next long paragraph, the subject of the evacuation of Gaza was addressed, and still the editorialist asked, "So what?" The Palestinians will not make peace, it was stated correctly, unless they have the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem, as the magazine insisted on calling East Jerusalem.

But with what's been happening in Gaza these days -- to say nothing of directly after the evacuation -- why should any Israeli wish to give back strategic points in the West Bank? Will Kassams come careening into the Jewish state from there as well?

"Israelis were intoxicated by victory and the Arabs paralysed by humiliation." Is that why they've refused every offer of land for peace since 1967, especially former Prime Minister Ehud Barack's offer of nearly the entire farm? You won't see these points made in any of the Economist articles, of course, because that would spoil the overall thesis. 

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