Sunday, June 3, 2007

How the 1967 War Doomed Israel

By Tony Karon

".......South Africa and Israel became intimate allies in the years that followed the ‘67 war, with unrepentant former Nazis such as Prime Minister B.J. Vorster welcomed to Israel to seal military deals that resulted in collaboration in the development of weapons ranging from aircraft and assault rifles to, allegedly, nuclear weapons. I remember well how some products of South Africa’s Jewish day-school system, where Hebrew was taught as well as the mandatory Afrikaans, finding themselvse with cushy posting during their compulsory military services — as Hebrew-Afrikaans translators for Israeli personnel working with the SADF. And that alliance raised the comfort level of the South African Jewish community in apartheid South Africa — while a handful of Jewish revolutionaries had made up a dominant share of the white ranks of the national liberation movement, they were largely disowned by the mainstream organized Jewish community, which had chosen the path of quiescence and collaboration with the regime. Their posture, and Israel’s, were now in perfect alignment.......

For Jews of my generation who came of age during the anti-apartheid struggle, there was no shaking the nagging sense that what Israel was doing in the West Bank was exactly what the South African regime was doing in the townships. Even as we waged our own intifada against apartheid in South Africa, we saw daily images of young Palestinians facing heavily armed Israeli police in tanks and armored vehicles with nothing more than stones, gasoline bombs and the occasional light weapon; a whole community united behind its children who had decided to cast off the yoke under which their parents suffered.......

Suddenly panicked by the demographic implications of the apartheid order its 1967 conquests have created, Israeli leaders talk of “separating” from the Palestinians, as if they can dispense with the problem by drawing political boundaries and building a wall around self-governing Palestinian enclaves (Ariel Sharon himself used the analogy with South Africa’s apartheid Bantustan policy to describe the idea.) But the Gaza experience has made clear the limits of that option.

For the Palestinian population, and their Arab neighbors, the crisis of 1948 has never been resolved. And the Israelis, for the last 40 years, by colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem, have squandered whatever opportunities their victory of 1967 presented for changing the dynamic — instead, they have sought to cling to elements of the “Greater Israel” they created in that year, and in the vain hope that the Palestinians will some day surrender in exchange for whatever Israel chooses to offer them.

But precisely because they have continued to expand Israel since 1967, they have dimmed the prospects for a new partition creating a viable Palestinian state separate from Israel. Today, more than ever, the fate of the Israelis is inextricably, and intimately linked to the fate of the Palestinians — and vice versa. The lasting legacy of the 1967 war is the bi-national state it created in the old territory of British-Mandate Palestine."

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