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Friday, June 8, 2007

Separating the Six Day War from the Occupation

This article brings out an important point that seems to be lost in all the absurd articles claiming that the Six Day War was a defeat. The war was a war, and Israel won a brilliant victory. The occupation that mushroomed forth over the years, and the change in the meaning of "Zionism" are a separate issue.
FEATURE-Israelis debate war's results 40 years on
07 Jun 2007 12:19:49 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan
JERUSALEM, June 7 (Reuters) - Though most Israelis feel they won a victory for survival in 1967, a national debate still rages 40 years on over its controversial Jewish settlement drive in war-won land that Palestinians seek for a state.
Israel's once famously noisy internal debates over the Palestinian issue have died down in the past six years, as violence raged and with the rise to power of the Islamist Hamas last year, a group that eschews Israel's right to exist.
But the old questions are surfacing again along with the vintage photographs of Israeli troops capturing Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which provide ready reminders of the fact that the Palestinian conflict is unresolved.
As the anniversary of the war was being marked this week, leftist Israelis have taken to the streets to protest Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank.
Jewish settlers are staging their own demonstrations as well to try to seize the moment and persuade Israel to continue to hold fast to West Bank land they see as a biblical birthright.
Opinion polls indicate Israel as a whole is torn about its perspective on the so-called Six Day War, between being proud of the victory while increasingly uneasy about growing world criticism of Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian land.
A survey published this week found that 63 percent of Israelis from across the political spectrum thought that war was a "huge achievement", pollster Avi Degani said.
Yet more than half -- 53 percent -- felt Israel had lost some moral stature, Degani said, alluding to public misgivings about the decades of ensuing Israeli military rule over more than three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza two years ago, but continues to control its border crossings and to wage battle with Palestinian militants there who fire rockets at southern Israeli towns.
"Israel lost its youth at the age of 19," Ilan Gillon, an Israeli left-wing politician, said in a televised debate this week, criticising the years of Israeli military rule in the West Bank.
From a moral standpoint, Gillon said of Israel, the Jewish state founded as a democracy in 1948, "that same victory was also our swan song. Since then we have been sinking for 40 years".
Israeli leftists say the country's continued expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied territory poses an obstacle to efforts to revive long-stalled peace talks with Palestinians.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was elected a year ago on a pledge to remove isolated Jewish enclaves in the West Bank, but the plan has been on hold since a war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon last year.
Olmert has delayed plans to remove dozens of unauthorised settlement enclaves in the West Bank. He has also permitted the expansion of some settlements to accommodate what he calls "natural growth".
Ron Pundak, a negotiator of a 1993 interim peace deal with Palestinians, says the settlers "risk our (Israel's) very existence".
The lack of a peace settlement "will bring the destruction of Zionism", Pundak said, because the Palestinians would sooner or later become a majority in Israel.
Settlers, who number some 230,000 in the West Bank, accuse Israel of losing its resolve to maintain control over biblical land by slowing the growth of settlements in the past few years.
"Whoever doesn't understand that these aren't just territories but the heart of the homeland, something is wrong with his view of Judaism," said Benny Katsover, a founder of the settler movement.
The debate played out in all its passion this week in the West Bank town of Hebron where the anti-settler "Peace Now" movement held a protest near a tiny Jewish enclave that has been a source of tensions for decades in the mainly Palestinian area.
As demonstrators sang John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" at the Hebron rally, settlers gathered to jeer at them.
An Israeli rightist in Hebron compared the peace protesters to the Nazis who killed six million Jews in World War II Europe.
"You have come to destroy our existence in Israel. You want this area Judenrein," Tsafrir Rinat said, using the German word used by the Nazis for "rid of Jews".

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