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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The correct map

The correct map
By Yehuda Ben Meir

The Knesset Education Committee has decided by a majority vote that the pre-Six-Day-War border, or the Green Line, no longer exists. The decision reminded me of Abba Eban's famous observation that if the Arab countries were to propose canceling the law of gravity in the United Nations, they would have a guaranteed 50 votes in favor of the proposal. And so, even if all 15 members of the Knesset Education Committee vote for the erasure of the Green Line, this will not cancel its existence as a legal, diplomatic and physical reality.
For the sake of due disclosure I would like to state that I belong to the majority of Israeli citizens who believe that we must not, under any conditions, agree to the Green Line becoming the permanent border of the state of Israel (this is also the official position of the United States). This opinion of mine is anchored in security considerations - which I learned from Yitzhak Rabin, who said numerous times that no chief of staff in the future should have to defend the state of Israel in those lines (i.e. the Green Line), from which he had to fight in the Six Day War - and in my belief that the Jewish people have a right to establish a state in the land of Israel. A return to the Green Line, therefore, is neither just nor right nor required.
A map should faithfully reflect the reality on the ground and not political positions or desires or dreams. Is it possible to deny the fact that the Green Line, including united Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, reflects, according to Israel's position, the border of the sovereign state of Israel? Is it possible to deny that Israeli law, justice and the judiciary prevail within the borders of the Green Line but not in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)? Is it possible to ignore the fact that no government in Israel, including those headed by Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, ever even proposed annexing Judea and Samaria or imposing Israeli law there? Is it the role of the education system to teach things as they are or to engage in political indoctrination? The youth must not be presented with an imaginary map divorced from legal, diplomatic and physical reality.
Judea and Samaria are an inalienable part of the land of Israel and a map of the land of Israel must include them. However, at issue is the map of the state of Israel, and the borders of the state are not - and will not - be congruent with the borders of the land of Israel.
That said, I believe with all my heart in the Jewish people's right to the whole land of Israel. But a right is one thing and reality another. Judea and Samaria are effectively under the control of the state of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces and their future will be decided in negotiations. However, today they are not part of the state of Israel. This fact should be taught to the students in Israeli schools, and should appear on the map.
At conferences abroad I meet many Palestinians. The serious ones among them acknowledge in private conversations that the Palestinians' tendency to deny and distort reality and to believe that words can change it is to their detriment and to a large extent responsible for the catastrophes that have befallen them.
The state of Israel cannot be found on Palestinian maps. Instead, "Palestine" appears in large letters. Can these maps somehow undermine Israel's existence or affect it? Even if they disseminate a million copies, will this change the reality in the Middle East? Do we want to learn from the Palestinians and do things their way? The students in the Israeli schools deserve to be shown a correct map.

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