Friday July 25, 2014
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25.07.2014
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Ruthie Blum

Jerusalem: A cautionary tale

Tonight is the eve of Jerusalem Day, which marks the reunification of the Jewish capital in 1967, during the Six-Day War.

Contrary to widespread belief, based on a concerted propaganda campaign, this was not the event that created what has come to be called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, it was precisely the pan-Arab attempt to eliminate the "Zionist entity" that sparked the three-front war in the first place. And it was Israel that liberated Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.

This is something that most Israeli children are not even taught any more, which might explain why it is so easy to persuade them that if Israel would only make sacrifices for peace, the so-called Palestinian people could get about the business of building a state. After all, it is not only the Arabs born in Israel after 1967 who have been brainwashed by with a false narrative; so, too, have Jews been sold a bill of goods.

The difference is that the former are being educated in the art of annihilation, while the latter are being fed formulas for peace. Most cooperation programs funded and initiated by left-wing nongovernmental organizations involve groups of Israelis and Arabs gathering together to blame Israel for constituting an obstacle to Palestinian statehood. Kumbayah.

Anyone who has forgotten the atmosphere prior to and following the Six-Day War need do little more than watch today's news. While the entire Middle East is burning with Islamist fever, Sunni-Shiite enmity, tribal factionalism and a swift shift backward in time, Israel continues to lead the Western world in modernization.

And though the rhetoric and actions of the Arab world remain just as vitriolic against Israel as they were during that period, Israel has not ceased, in word and deed, to attempt outreach and an end to bloodshed. All any Arab leader has ever had to do is lay down his sword and Israel has handed him over not only the plowshares but the land for tilling. The only fertile pursuits that have ensued on such soil, however, have been aimed at killing Jews.

It is only when absolutely necessary for the survival of the country and safety of its citizens that Israel engages in warfare. That has been true since time immemorial, and 1967 was no exception.

A brief review of the days leading up to the war whose outcome we are celebrating this week is in order.

On May 15, the Egyptian army issued a battle order and moved a division through the streets of Cairo. Israel reacted by dispatching troops to the Sinai desert and conveying a message to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser that this was a defensive, not offensive, response. "Israel wants to make it clear to the government of Egypt that it has no aggressive intentions whatsoever against any Arab state at all," said Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

On May 22, Syrian President Dr. Nureddin al-Attasi gave his troops a pep talk in which he said, "We want a full scale, popular war of liberation ... to destroy the Zionist enemy."

On May 23, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, severing Israel's only supply route with Asia and stopping the flow of oil from Iran.

On May 28, Nasser held a press conference, in which he asserted: "We will not accept any ... coexistence with Israel ... The war with Israel has been in effect since 1948."

On May 30, Jordan signed a defense treaty with Egypt -- and by extension, with Syria -- placing Jordanian forces under Egyptian command.

On June 1, Iraqi President Abdel Rahman Aref gave a radio address in which he encouraged the demolition of Israel: "This is the day of the battle to avenge our martyred brethren who fell in 1948 ... We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa."

By June 5, the day that Israel launched a surprise attack on Egypt's air force, there were Egyptian divisions deployed along Israel's southern border, tens of thousands of Jordanian soldiers and Iraqi forces stationed along Israel's eastern border, and tens of thousands of Syrian troops along Israel's northern border. Hundreds of Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi planes were prepped and ready.

Following the attack, Israel sent a message to King Hussein of Jordan, promising not to attack the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) if he would stay out of the conflict. But the king ignored the plea. He was emboldened by false information he had received from Egypt. Rather than admitting that Israel had basically wiped out the Egyptian air force, Nasser boasted that it was he who was emerging victorious.

Buoyed by this lie -- the purpose of which was to save Arab face -- Jordan went on a rampage. It shelled Tel Aviv suburbs and the Ramat David military airfield; attacked Netanya and Kfar Saba from the air; sent mortars flying all over west Jerusalem, hitting targets such as Hadassah Hospital, the Domition Abbey on Mount Zion, the Knesset and the Prime Minister's Office.

It was only then that Israel had no choice but to retaliate, precisely what it had wanted to avoid. In this respect, Israel has King Hussein to thank for the reunification of its capital.

On June 7, Dayan issued the following statement: "This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour -- and with added emphasis at this hour -- our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity."

Though the war wasn't even over yet, Israel's first concern was "extending our hand in peace." And despite incessant declarations of hostility from the Arabs, both in the liberated territories and elsewhere, Israel has kept every word of Dayan's promise about how Jerusalem would be handled.

How shamefully befitting, then, that singer Achinoam Nini (known internationally as Noa) was asked to perform at the official Jerusalem Day ceremony. Nini is not only famous for her voice; she is also a vocal supporter of handing over east Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. Is it any wonder that the Arabs assume it is only a matter of time before Israel relinquishes its legitimate claim to the wholeness of its capital?

Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"

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