June 05, 2007

No Pyrrhic Victory

From No Pyrrhic Victory:

It is often said today that the Six-Day War humiliated the Arabs and propelled the region into future rounds of fighting. Yet only a few days before the outbreak of the war, Iraq's then-President Abdul Rahman Aref saw it as "our opportunity...to wipe Israel off the map," describing the war as the Arabs' chance "to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948."

It is said that the Palestinian movement was born from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet the Palestine Liberation Organization was already in its third year of operations when the war began [having been established with the singular intent to destroy Israel as early as 1964].

To read some recent accounts, a more sagacious Israel could have followed up its historic victory with peace overtures. In fact, the Israeli cabinet agreed on June 19, 1967, to offer the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace deals. In Khartoum that September, the Arab League declared "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it."

On June 5, 1967, Israel was a poor, desperately vulnerable country, which threw the dice on its own survival in the most audacious military strike of the 20th century. It is infinitely richer and more powerful today, and sure in its alliance with the U.S. If these are the fruits of Israel's "Pyrrhic victory," it needs more such of them.