Report says Israel planned atomic detonation in Sinai if Six Day War went wrong
One the eve of the Six Day War, with the country surrounded by enemies and unsure of its future, Israel developed a “doomsday” plan to detonate an atomic bomb in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a warning to the Arabs, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The report was based on an interview conducted by leading Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen with retired IDF brigadier general Itzhak Yaakov, who reportedly oversaw the plan.
“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” Cohen told the paper.
The full interview is set to be published Monday, as the region marks the 50th anniversary of the war in which Israel defeated the combined Arab armies in just six days.
According to Yaakov, who oversaw weapons development for the Israel military and gave details of the plan to Cohen in 1999 and 2000 interviews, Israel was deeply fearful ahead of the war.
“Look, it was so natural,” Yaakov said, according to the Times, which quoted a transcription of a taped interview. “You’ve got an enemy, and he says he’s going to throw you to the sea. You believe him.”
“How can you stop him?” Yaakov asked. “You scare him. If you’ve got something you can scare him with, you scare him.”
Yaakov, who died in 2013 at age 87, detailed in the interview with Cohen how Israel developed a plan code-named “Shimshon,” or Samson, to have helicopters and commandos fly an atomic device to a mountain top site about 12 miles from an Egyptian military complex at Abu Ageila.
“The plan, if activated by order of the prime minister and military chief of staff, was to send a small paratrooper force to divert the Egyptian Army in the desert area so that a team could lay preparations for the atomic blast,” the report said.
“Two large helicopters were to land, deliver the nuclear device and then create a command post in a mountain creek or canyon. If the order came to detonate, the blinding flash and mushroom cloud would have been seen throughout the Sinai and Negev deserts, and perhaps as far away as Cairo.”
Israel has never acknowledged having nuclear weapons, maintaining a policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, neither publicly confirming nor denying the existence of an atomic arsenal. However, several top US officials have seemed to confirm it, most recently former secretary of state Colin Powell who wrote in a leaked private email that he believed Israel has some 200 nuclear weapons.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the report or on Yaakov’s role, The New York Times said.
If Israel had detonated a device, it would have been the first use of a nuclear weapon in a war situation since the US dropped the two bombs on Japan to end World War II.
On Monday, the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington — where Cohen is a fellow — is releasing on a special website a series of documents related to the Israeli atomic plan.
In the transcripts, Yaakov describes a helicopter flight he made to the site with Israel Dostrovsky, the first director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission that had to be aborted after the Egyptians scrambled fighter jets.
“We got very close,” Yaakov reportedly said. “We saw the mountain, and we saw that there is a place to hide there, in some canyon.”
As it turned out, Israel’s victory was swift and decisive and there was no need for any doomsday plan, but Yaakov still believed Israel should have gone ahead with it and openly declared its nuclear prowess.
“I still think to this day that we should have done it,” he told Cohen, who is the author of “Israel and the Bomb” and “The Worst-Kept Secret.”
In 2001, some 2 years after his conversations with Cohen, Yaakov was arrested in Israel and charged with passing secret information with intent to harm state security. The charges related to memoirs he wrote, the Haaretz daily reported in its obituary of Yaakov in 2013.
Yaakov was acquitted of the main charge but found guilty of the unauthorized handing over of secret information, Haaretz said, noting that he received a two-year suspended sentence.
The obituary hinted at the exploits in the Sinai Desert, saying that “Yaakov was one of Israel’s leading officers in the field of weapons development during the build-up to the Six Day War and afterwards. During the war he was appointed to command a complex and unprecedented operation in the Sinai Peninsula, where he was to command both IAF pilots and a special ops unit. The IDF’s rapid success in defeating the Egyptian army made the operation redundant and it was cancelled.”
According to Cohen, he promised Yaakov he would find the right time to publish the information and now, on the 50th anniversary, he believed the time was ripe. (the Times of Israel)
Israel ‘disappointed’ with Trump for not moving embassy to Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he was “disappointed” with US President Donald Trump’s decision not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for now, saying that despite Trump’s declared peace-making intentions, delaying the relocation “drives peace further away.”
“Israel’s consistent position is that the American embassy, like the embassies of all countries with whom we have diplomatic relations, should be in Jerusalem, our eternal capital,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement after Trump backtracked on a key promise he made on the campaign trail throughout 2016 by signing a waiver which pushes off moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for at least another six months.
“Maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem,” the statement said.
However, Netanyahu took pains to temper the criticism of Trump and maintain the close rapport seen during Trump’s visit to Israel last month.
“Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future,” the statement noted.
Announcing that Trump had signed the waiver earlier Thursday, the White House insisted the decision did not represent a weakening of his support for Israel.
“No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House statement said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also expressed his disappointment in a statement, saying, “I regret President Trump’s decision to sign the waiver but am certain that he will keep his word and bring the US embassy to its rightful place – Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. I will continue to provide assistance to the US administration and do all I can to ensure that the relocation happens as soon as possible.”
Other ministers from the governing coalition were more critical.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party said that delaying the embassy move would harm prospects for peace.
“There can be no peace based on the division of Jerusalem,” his spokesman said. “Delaying the US Embassy move will in fact have an opposite effect and damage the prospect of a lasting peace by nurturing false expectations among the Palestinians regarding the division of Jerusalem, which will never happen.”
“Only recognizing a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty will end illusions and pave the way to a sustainable peace with our neighbors,” he said.
Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), in his capacity as minister for Jerusalem affairs, posted on Facebook that he was disappointed that Trump signed the waiver.
“I am disappointed with President Trump’s decision. He promised his voters that he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, but did not fulfill [his promise],”he said.
He called on the US president to announce that he would move the embassy at the next earliest opportunity.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (also Likud) affirmed that “President Trump is a true friend of Israel,” before criticizing the decision to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv.
“Precisely because of this,” Levin said, “there is very great disappointment over him not moving the embassy. This is not the way to make America great again,” he said, quoting Trump’s campaign slogan.
Opposition leaders and liberal US-Jewish groups were more supportive of Trump’s decision.
Opposition head, Isaac Herzog, said that “moving the US embassy, and all other embassies, to Jerusalem, is absolutely necessary.”
“Unfortunately Netanyahu learned today another lesson, that there are no shortcuts and anyone who wants international recognition must first reach a courageous political solution,” he said. “I hope that in another 50 years Netanyahu will also grasp what Trump understood.”
MK Zehava Galon, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, welcomed the development.
“The decision is right at this time. The White House is indicating that the Trump administration is trying to create a process with the Palestinians,” she tweeted. “West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and will be so with or without the embassy. Moving it will not enshrine sovereignty. If anything, it would only push more states to recognize the Palestinian state.”
J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobbying group, also welcomed the decision.
“We are glad that the administration has heeded the advice of veteran officials in the diplomatic and security communities, and decided to maintain the prudent policy of its predecessors on this issue,” the group said in a statement.
The White House said the president still stood by his promise to move the embassy.
“President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when,” it said.
“It’s a question of when, not if,” an official said, adding that Trump “doesn’t think the timing is right, right now.” The official added: “In timing such a move, he will seek to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The president had distanced himself from the pledge since taking office and had been evasive on whether he would go ahead with the move.
He made no public mention of the embassy during his visit last week to Israel. (the Times of Israel)
Pacific island nation Vanuatu recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
The small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The decision follows the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s passing of a pro-Palestinian resolution in October 2016 that denied Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
That resolution led to a harsh Israeli response that sought to send a strong message to the member states that did not oppose the resolution, which began to yield positive results recently. The lower chamber of the Czech parliament passed two pro-Israel resolutions, one calling on the government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the other calling for withholding funds from UNESCO over its anti-Israel stance.
Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale, an evangelical Christian who has a strong connection to the Jewish people and to Israel, recently made a similar move.
During a meeting with Vanuatu’s honorary consul to Israel, the issue of the UNESCO vote came up. Lonsdale said in the meeting he had been sorry to hear how the vote unfolded and his country’s lack of opposition to it.
Lonsdale later signed a document stating that Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital and condemning the UNESCO resolution. He also asked to explore with the Prime Minister’s Office the possibility of visiting Israel, which would be the first by a president of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is an 83-island archipelago situated between Australia and Fiji, with a population of about 300,000. Israel’s ambassador to Vanuatu and to other Pacific island nations, Tibor Shalev Schlosser, works out of the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Vanuatu has an honorary consulate in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Israeli ambassador, Danny Danon, elected Deputy President of UN General Assembly
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon was elected vice president of the 72nd session of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, in a significant triumph by the Israeli mission to the United Nations.
“It is an honor to represent the State of Israel in this leadership position at the United Nations. We have proved once again that Israel is ready and able to serve in significant positions in the U.N. and the attempts to block this progress will not succeed,” Danon said in a statement.
Danon is scheduled to begin his one-year term in September, with the opening of the General Assembly.
The Israeli envoy will serve alongside incoming Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia’s foreign minister, who on Wednesday was elected General Assembly president.
General Assembly vice presidents are elected according to a pattern that ensures equitable geographical representation. Danon was elected to the position as a representative of the “Western European and Others” group. He will chair General Assembly meetings when the president is absent, take part in setting the assembly’s agenda and overseeing rules and decorum during sessions.
Hamas denounced Danon’s election.
Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil on Wednesday tweeted that the move is “a mark of Cain on the U.N.’s forehead.” (Israel Hayom)
Poll: Vast majority of Israelis prefer sovereignty in Jerusalem over peace deal
While it is often reported that most Israelis favor the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, once Jerusalem is added to the equation, an entirely different picture emerges. A survey held this week found that some 67% of Israelis would oppose a peace deal that would grant the Palestinians partial sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, with 33% saying they would support it.
Opposition to a peace deal rose to 84% if it grants the Palestinians full sovereignty over the Old City.
The poll, commissioned by Israel Hayom and conducted by the Maagar Mochot polling and research institute, was conducted after a Channel 2 News survey asserted last week that 47% of Israelis would support a peace deal based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps that preserve the large settlement blocs.
Following that poll some on the Left claimed the government was out of step with the electorate. But it turns out that such talk misses the point because it does not address the biggest issue that could make or break negotiations: the fate of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The term full sovereignty is rather well understood. But the term “partial sovereignty” means that the Old City would be split largely along the so-called Clinton Parameters, placing the Jewish Quarter in Israeli hands, but placing the other quarters or most of their area under Palestinian control. Such plans also mean that sovereignty over the Western Wall would not include sovereignty over the Temple Mount as a whole.
The proponents of Jerusalem’s “division” assume the Palestinians would agree to the idea of partial sovereignty along those lines, but anyone familiar with Palestinian rhetoric knows they find the notion unacceptable. The often-heard phrase “a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital” does not refer only to Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods but also implies — in Palestinian discourse at least — Palestinian sovereignty over the Old City as a whole. In fact, in Palestinian political discourse, sovereignty over the Temple Mount implies sovereignty not just on the upper compound but also over the Western Wall itself and the other walls.
The opposition to a deal granting Palestinian sovereignty over parts or all of the Old City would probably increase if the poll was conducted among Jewish respondents. This is in part because even among the moderate Israeli Left, there is a majority that opposes granting Palestinians full sovereignty over the Old City as part of a peace deal.
Two-thirds of those who said they would agree to Palestinian sovereignty in the Old City as part of a peace deal said they would no longer support a deal if such sovereignty extended to the Western Wall. In total, 95% of the Israeli public — Arab and Jewish — would oppose a peace deal that had the Western Wall and the rest of the Old City under Palestinian sovereignty.
The poll, therefore, highlights one key point: Jerusalem is not just a symbol but must be front and center. It cannot be left as an afterthought, despite what some people in Israel may suggest.
Asked if there was a chance of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority in the near future, 75% said no, 25% said yes. The most fascinating part of the poll involves the views of centrist Israelis. The conventional wisdom is that the Israeli center is an extension of the Left, but the poll shows that the political center has shifted to the Right. This means the media should possibly rethink its natural tendency to lump the center with the Left when it tries to come up with various coalition scenarios during elections and various political crises.
A breakdown of the respondents’ ideological views revealed an updated socio-political landscape. Some 7% called themselves very right-wing; 38% defined themselves as right-wing; 34% said they were part of the political center; 13% said they were left-wing; 3% said they were “very left-wing”; and 5% gave other answers.
Respondents who said they opposed a deal were also asked whether they would still oppose a deal if they knew that peace would never arrive without giving up sovereignty in the Old City. The response: 87% said they would not change their minds. In other words, 73% of the public would choose Jerusalem over a deal. This overwhelming majority becomes even greater when Jewish respondents are asked separately.
Zion is another name for Jerusalem. It is no coincidence that Zionism is based on that name, and without Jerusalem being interwoven with Zionism, the transformation from Diaspora to statehood would have never taken place. The poll may vindicate those on the Right who say that the two-state solution actually means the relinquishing sovereignty of the entire Old City or part of it.
The poll surveyed a sample of 502 Israeli adults from the Arab and Jewish sectors and has a margin of error of 4.3%. (Israel Hayom)
EU Parliament votes in favor of adopting antisemitism definition
The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, drawing praise from Jewish groups.
The resolution calls on EU Member States and the EU institutions and agencies to adopt and apply the working definition of antisemitism. The text urges members to: protect their Jewish citizens and Jewish institutions from hate crime and hate speech; support law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute antisemitic attacks; appoint national coordinators on combating antisemitism; systematically and publicly condemn antisemitic statements; to promote education about the Holocaust in schools; and to review school textbooks to ensure that content about Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life stay clear of antisemitism.
“This is a monumental day for the fight against hate and the protection of the rights of European Jews,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “For too long, Jews were deemed unique, with hate defined by the perpetrators and not by the victims.”
“The only people who will be dismayed by this decision are those who wish to continue the culture of antisemitic impunity and who believe that Jews should not be afforded protection under the law.”
The AJC Transatlantic Institute also lauded the result of the vote.
“The European Parliament must be applauded for taking this significant step toward fighting all forms of anti-Jewish hatred, including the variety that tries to hide its ugly face behind a false veneer of respectability– so-called legitimate criticism of Israel that in reality questions the very legitimacy of the Jewish state,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.
“Those who falsely claim the working definition limits freedom of expression are demanding the freedom to deny the Jewish people the right granted to every other people, the right to self-determination–in other words they claim the freedom to engage in anti-Semitism. Parliament has told these people today loud and clearly that this house will not tolerate anti-Semitism, whether in the open or in disguise.”
The IHRA formulated the definition last May amid concerns of rising antisemitism, in an effort to clamp down on discriminatory or prejudicial behavior that might fall between the cracks due to unclear or differing definitions of antisemitism.
The definition adopted by the group’s 31 member countries reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
So far, the UK, Austria, Romania and Israel have adopted the definition. (Jerusalem Post)
UN secretary-general: ‘Denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitism’
“Denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitism,” declared United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a meeting with senior officials of the Simon Weisenthal Center (SWC).
The meeting took place at the UN headquarters in New York, according to an SWC press release sent out on Tuesday.
The topics discussed with Guterres included countering growing antisemitism in Europe, blocks hampering the Middle East peace process, and ending the demonization of Israel by certain UN agencies.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Guterres that Hamas and their continuing terrorist activities are the major roadblocks to peace rather than settlements. Guterres is against Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank.
Guterres said that he is strongly committed “to not allowing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to be instrumentalized” in the future by Hamas, acknowledging the group’s use of the UN presence in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
Criticizing campaigns to delegitimize the historic connections between the land of Israel and the Jewish people like UNESCO’s decision in May which disavowed Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Guterres said that “history must be respected. Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions.”
Guterres is seen as friendly toward Israel. He visited Israel in 1993 as secretary-general of the Portuguese Socialist Party and leader of Portugal’s opposition.
Guterres’ interpreter when he came, Avraham “Moshka” Hatzamri, was one of the heads of the Labor Party’s international department at the time.
He said Guterres had a good sense of humor and always spoke favorably of the Jewish state.
“He proved to be a true friend of Israel, and we always received his support on the Middle East Committee of the Socialist International,” Hatzamri wrote in his memoirs.
He met with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and then-industry and trade minister Micha Harish.
Following the visit, Guterres remained in close contact with Peres and former prime minister Ehud Barak, who both served under him in top posts in the Socialist International. Peres and Barak paid official visits to him in Portugal during their respective terms as prime minister, while he served as Portuguese prime minister. (Jerusalem Post)
Trump’s embassy waiver is another key policy disagreement with Israel
White House says the decision will ‘maximize the chances’ of reaching a deal with the Palestinians; Netanyahu says it will just push peace further away
By Raphael Ahren The Times of Israel
In 1972, then-congressman Gerald Ford called for moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two years later, Ford — now president — was asked by Israel’s ambassador in Washington at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, about the embassy’s relocation.
“In the Oval Office you view things differently than from the House of Representatives,” Rabin quoted Ford as replying.
Twenty years after this episode, Congress passed a law stipulating the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, but allowing presidents to delay the relocation every six months.
Giving credence to Ford, on Thursday, Donald Trump became the fourth US president to sign a presidential waiver ordering the delay, just as his predecessors have done 36 times since the late 1990s.
Disappointing Jewish and Evangelical supporters in Israel and the US, but not really surprising anyone, Trump set his signature underneath the exact same “presidential determination” that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama made before him.
It states that it is “necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months” the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act.
In doing so, Trump, seen just a few months ago by many on the Israeli right as a potential dream president, once again publicly disagreed with the Israeli government.
The president has already publicly urged a most unhappy Netanyahu to rein in settlements, and openly differed with him over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s readiness for peace.
The White House, aware that Trump’s reneging on his campaign pledge to relocate the embassy would be harshly criticized in many quarters, issued a press release saying that the promise has not been broken, just delayed.
Signing the presidential waiver should not be viewed as “a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the statement read.
But the next sentence, ostensibly formulated in the hope of assuaging criticism of the move, instead emphasized the sharp difference in how the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem view the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests,” the press release stated. “But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
In other words: Not moving the embassy will help the US broker a permanent status peace agreement, the administration reasons.
The Israeli government has persistently argued the exact opposite.
“Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process. On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting a historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel,” Netanyahu’s office declared on May 14.
The next day, the PMO in an unusual moved released segments from the protocol of Netanyahu’s February 14 meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, which showed that the prime minister told the president that moving the embassy to Jerusalem “would not lead to bloodshed in the region, as some were trying to intimidate [Trump] into believing.”
Netanyahu’s office also published a summary of a meeting between Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and then-National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn on January 16.
“[Dermer] explained why moving the embassy would help advance peace and not the opposite,” states the summary, taken by Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Nagel. “This would send the message that we are in Jerusalem to stay. Moving the embassy would force the other side to contend with the lie they’ve constructed — that Israel has no connection to Jerusalem — and will cause them to understand that Israel will be here forever with Jerusalem as its capital.”
On Thursday, minutes after the White House announced that Trump had signed the waiver, Netanyahu doubled down on his argument, going as far as saying that keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv “drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem.”
While the Prime Minister’s Office said it appreciates Trump’s “friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future,” the PMO’s statement about peace being more difficult to achieve highlighted a fundamental policy disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington when it comes to the best way to achieve that goal.
It is unclear what exactly led to Trump’s decision to sign the waiver. Maybe it came at the behest of the so-called “realist” camp within the US administration, which warned him he would no longer be considered an honest broker if he moved the goalposts so far in Israel’s favor. Or perhaps he was influenced by the many Arab leaders he met over the last few months, all of whom told him he could bury his hope of reaching the ultimate deal if he started off by tacitly recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
‘I have always wanted to move our embassy to west Jerusalem,’ Bill Clinton said in a 2000 interview
But according to the White House’s explanation, Trump’s decision to sign the waiver is in line with the traditional thinking behind every president’s decision to delay the embassy’s move. Many were genuinely inclined to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem but refrained from doing so because they believed it would further complicate efforts to reach peace.
“I have always wanted to move our embassy to west Jerusalem,” Bill Clinton said in a 2000 interview, months before the end of his second term in the White House. “I have not done so because I didn’t want to do anything to undermine our ability to help to broker a secure and fair and lasting peace for Israelis and for Palestinians.”
Relocating the embassy is a question of when and not if, the White House said Thursday, and many Israeli officials on Thursday expressed the belief that Trump will eventually keep his promise. Indeed, it is not unthinkable that the president, after his bid to rapidly reach Israeli-Palestinian peace inevitably fails, will eventually agree to have the embassy transferred to Jerusalem.
On the other hand, Trump, as unorthodox as he may be in other areas, has so far mostly played by the book when it comes to Israel/Palestine. Thursday’s waiver was certainly part of the familiar US presidential routine.
Refighting the Six-Day War
Fifty years later, Arabs nurture a fantasy of avenging their loss
By Herbert London The Washington Times
In the beginning of June half a century ago, the Six-Day War exploded on the Middle East stage. Prior to the war, but as precipitate, relentless attacks against Israel were conducted by Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian forces. By May 1967 President Gamal Abdel Nasser had mobilized Egyptian troops in the Sinai and closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, thus effectively cutting off all trade to the port city of Eilat. On May 30, King Hussein of Jordan arrived in Cairo to sign a mutual defense pact with Egypt.
In response to this mobilization and the fear of being overrun, Israel staged a pre-emptive air assault on June 5 that destroyed more than 90 percent of Egypt’s air force. A similar attack devastated Syrian air capability. Without air cover, the Egyptian army was vulnerable to attack and defeat. In three days the Israeli Defense Force captured the Gaza Strip, all of the Sinai peninsula up to the east bank of the Suez Canal, and drove Jordanian forces out of east Jerusalem and most of the West Bank.
The lopsidedness of the defeat demoralized the Arab public and political elites. By contrast, in Israel there was euphoria as films of Israeli troops taking control of the old city of Jerusalem and soldiers praying at the Western Wall proved to be the war’s iconic image. But the Six-Day war also marked the beginning of a new phase in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The conflict created hundreds of thousands of refugees and placed more than 1 million Palestinians (formerly Jordanians) under Israeli rule. While this was a moment of rejoicing for Jews worldwide, it was also a time bomb released within Israel itself. As a result of occupation and the Arabs under Israeli authority, this war would be fought again and again since 1967. Surely the battleground is not the same, but the humiliation the Arabs felt in defeat was manifest in hostility at the councils of state, in legal parlance and in the United Nations. This became the war that would not end.
Cries for the destruction of Israel became more shrill over the decades following the war. From the Arab side, resistance set in. Despite accords like the Oslo Agreement, there is an unwillingness to recognize formally the state of Israel. In fact, diplomacy has become an extension of war for Palestinian leaders.
Israel was from the outset a geographic splinter, a long shot to survive. But this ragtag population mercilessly oppressed by the Holocaust has been transformed from underdog to top dog. The psychological overhaul is not easy for the Arabs to appreciate. Nor is it easy for Jews, who assume based on historical antecedents, that they will be at the bottom looking up. It is not coincidental that prior to the ‘67 war, secular Jews in the United States were uniformly in favor of Israel. By the 1990s, this support was unraveling. In fact, in surveys conducted by the Israeli Consul General’s office in New York, less than half of those who responded positively to Israel before 1967 felt the same way a decade later.
A Jewish commitment to left-wing politics placed the Palestinian question in a unique “box.” The liberal Jew could be the outlier defying his political orientation or he could embrace the newly emerging view that Israel, as an occupying entity, had exploited Palestinians through denial of their rights and territory. This latter position was reinforced at international meetings, the mainstream press and even Jewish organizations like J-Street.
It is alarming that Fatah and Hamas goals are mutually compatible on Israel, despite their leadership disputes. Their stance is belief in a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, in other words, a land that excludes a Jewish state. All of the verbal conjuring does not change that proposition. In a sense, it means the ‘67 war will be refought with a different ending.
When the United States abstained at a recent Security Council vote recognizing the post ‘67 territory as “illegal,” the stage was set for a Palestinian state. The Obama-Kerry position was designed to legalize the Green Line as the Israeli boundary and to do so without negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis. The ghosts of ‘67 live in the minds of some American diplomats who still view the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War with the jaundiced eye of the Arabist angry at Jewish success.
It is often said that history is written by the victors in war. From June 1967 to the present, we have witnessed a relentless underdressing of events. In this case, the Palestinians have dominated the narrative. The bearers of anti-Zionism present their bigotry as social justice. But the question remains: whose justice? If Zionist thought is the original sin, only dismantling the Jewish state can redress it. Many anti-Zionists claim they don’t oppose Judaism, only the state of Israel as presently constituted. Yet the main guarantor of Jewish security since the end of World War II has been the sovereign state of Israel, the state that secured the territory in the Six-Day War that has allowed it to prosper. Israel wasn’t born on the ashes of the Holocaust, as President Obama once noted, but it is the last fortress against its re-enactment, a point sometimes lost in the memory hole of Jews across the globe.
As Long as the Arab World Views Israel as a Temporary Aberration to Be Conquered, Israel Will Stand Fast – Einat Wilf (Fathom-BICOM)
The prevailing Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view is that Zionism is a historical aberration that will not – and must not – last. Any Israeli effort to end the military occupation in the West Bank in a manner that would bring it peace and security thus clashes with the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view that no place for compromise and agreement exists that would grant legitimacy to Zionism and the State of Israel and that would accept its permanence.
Zionism was always going to challenge human imagination – the story of an oppressed and persecuted people, living among hostile host nations, who found the will to rise up, liberate themselves, and rebuild a sovereign nation in their ancient homeland.
It is unsurprising that to the Muslims and Arabs who occupied the land since their conquest of it in the seventh century, the story appeared insane. The Jews represented a people whom the Muslim Arabs have, over centuries, come to view as their inferiors. The idea of Jews as the equals of Muslim Arabs could not be allowed to stand.
In the negotiations following the 1948 war, the Arabs not only refused to meet with representatives of the State of Israel, but took great pains to emphasize that the armistice lines were not to be borders. Borders implied permanence. These were cease-fire lines only, because the war was not over and sooner or later there would be another war that would erase that humiliating eyesore from the Arab region.
In 2000 and 2008, the Arab Palestinians refused to say “yes” to Israeli proposals that would have ended the military occupation of the West Bank. For most Israelis, the repeated Palestinian failures to say “yes” reinforced the view that more than they wanted a state for themselves, they wanted to deny a state to the Jewish people.
It is necessary to demonstrate to the Muslim-Arab world that their view of history is wrong, and that rather than constituting a second Crusader state, Israel is the sovereign state of an indigenous people who have come home. This can only be achieved through Jewish power and persistence over time. And it can only be achieved if those who truly seek peace send the message to the Arab world that the Jewish people are here to stay.
The writer, a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute, is a former Knesset member.