Are the 1967 borders of Israel "indefensible" according to Jewish military experts?
by Michael R. Burch, an editor of Holocaust
and Nakba poetry
Christians may want to consider the ethical questions
What does the Bible say?
What would Jesus do?
If you are unfamiliar with the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict,
or have been told that Israel is "only defending itself," please read
what the great Jewish intellectuals Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud wrote
about the conflict in Palestine, in the links at the bottom of this page.
I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
—Michael R. Burch, "Epitaph for a Palestinian
Are Israel's 1967 borders "indefensible"? The debate was rekindled by President Barack Obama’s suggestion
on May 19, 2011 that the basis for a
peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is to return to the “1967 lines” with mutually agreed-upon land swaps. Since the 1967
lines (also known as the "1949 armistice lines") are the internationally-recognized borders of Israel, that seems
reasonable. And while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu
insisted that the 1967 borders are “indefensible,” he was refuted by the man most responsible for defending
Israel's borders: his own Defense Minister, Ehud Barak. In an interview with Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times,
Barak pointed out that Israel has the most powerful military within a 1,000-mile
radius of Jerusalem and thus has no reason to feel insecure. And as we will see,
other Jewish military experts agree that Bibi is bluffing. But first, let's take a look at maps that shed
considerable light on the matter
at hand ...
Map #1 of 1946 Palestine, showing more than 90% of the land belonging to
Map #2 of 1947 U.N. partition plan of Israel and Palestine; please
note that the U.N. did not "give" any land to anyone; Israeli Jews took
the white areas by force
Map #3 of 1967 borders of Israel and Palestine showing the "1967 lines"
aka the "1949 armistice lines" with Israeli Jews now "owning" most of Palestine,
again by force
Map #4 of 2000 borders showing how Israel keeps acquiring land outside its borders, creating discontiguous
Critics of President Obama should keep in mind that
his position was also the position of past administrations, including those of
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan, the most
admired Republican president of recent times, also called for a freeze to new
Jewish settlements in the West Bank, knowing they were and are obstacles to peace. The
question from the U.S. standpoint has never been whether Israel should exchange
land for peace and recognition by the Arab world (since the land occupied by
Israel outside its legal borders must be returned, according to international
law), but has always been a question of a pragmatic solution acceptable to both
sides. If both Israel and the Palestinians agree to land swaps, then land swaps
make perfect sense. If both sides do not agree to land swaps, then according to
international law, Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land, just as it
would be illegal for the U.S. to permanently hold Iraqi land just because it won
a war with Iraq.
Why has Israel to date refused to return land to Palestinians in return for
peace? Please click here to read the stunning results of a poll published by the
Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which 74% of Israelis
support racially segregated roads in Occupied Palestine, and 69%
want to deny Palestinians the right to vote if their land is annexed by Israel:
Most Israeli Jews would support an apartheid
regime in Israel.
The fourth map clearly reveals that it is not Israel's borders that are "indefensible," but the fledgling Palestinian state's,
should it be formed per the status quo. How can a discontiguous state be either viable or defensible? And the massive transfer of land from
Palestinian to Jewish hands, without just compensation (or any compensation to
speak of), explains why Arabs and other Muslims are so furious with Israel and the U.S. That
fury led directly to 9-11 and two decade-long retaliatory wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. How
would Americans feel if American farm families were being constantly robbed of
their land—and thus their ability to feed, house and clothe themselves—by
Jewish robber barons armed with tanks and machine guns? Obviously, American men
would soon be raining down missiles on Tel Aviv, and those missiles would be
much more accurate and deadly than those of Hamas. So it is very hypocritical
for Americans to expect Palestinians to submit to a process of dehumanization they would never
accept for their own loved ones. But in any case, getting back to the question
of whether Israel can afford to give back just a fraction of the land it
stole from Palestinians, here are the opinions of Jewish military
experts who know that Bibi is bluffing, and can explain why he makes little or
Yael Dayan, the daughter of Israel's most famous general and Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan (he of the famous black eyepatch) and herself an Israeli army
officer, a member of the Knesset and the current chair of the Tel Aviv city council,
immediately refuted the strange notion that Israel cannot defend
its borders. In an article published by The Tennessean on May 24, 2011, she pointed out that Israel is in a "position of strength,
from our military superiority, to our alliance with the U.S., to the Arab League's offer of comprehensive peace not once, but twice."
Danny Yatom, a
former head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, and a signer of the
document creating the Israel Peace Initiative recently said: “We feel
this initiative can bring along many members of the public.” The Israel Peace
Initiative calls for a Palestinian state on nearly all the West Bank and Gaza,
with a capital in East Jerusalem, an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights,
and a set of regional security mechanisms and economic cooperation projects. Mr.
Yatom also said that a related goal was “to signal to moderate Palestinians and
Syrians that there is a new horizon and light at the end of the tunnel.”
Another member of the Israel Peace Initiative, Yaakov Perry, a former head of Shin Bet,
Israel's internal security agency, said: “We are isolated internationally and
seen to be against peace ... I hope this
[peace initiative] will make a small contribution to pushing our prime minister forward. It is
about time that Israel initiates something on peace.”
The Israel Peace Initiative also includes former army chief Amnon
Lipkin-Shahak and the son
and daughter of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a
right-wing Jewish radical in 1995 after seeking a peaceful compromise to the
Israeli-Arab conflict. The initiative acknowledges “the suffering of the Palestinian
refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees from the Arab
countries.” It agrees with the statement of the Arab Peace Initiative “that a
military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for
the parties.” The two-state solution envisioned for Israel and Palestine
resembles the Clinton parameters of 2000. Palestine would be a nation-state for the Palestinians,
and Israel “a nation-state for the Jews (in which the Arab minority will have
equal and full civil rights as articulated in Israel’s Declaration
of Independence).” The document calls for the 1967 lines to be a basis for
borders, with agreed modifications based on swaps that would not exceed 7
percent of the West Bank.
Two previous Israeli prime ministers — Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert — offered the
Palestinians peace treaties that would have included an Israeli withdrawal close
to the 1967 borders. A third, Ariel Sharon, considered the line "a reference
point," according to his top aide, Dov Weisglass. So
obviously many knowledgeable Israeli Jews who long for peace would not buy
Bibi's bluff. Nor would a number of respected Jewish military experts ...
Israeli lawmaker Isaac Ben-Israel, a former Israeli air force general, said the
question of Israel's security is less about military
considerations than policy and neighborly relations. He noted that Holland and
Belgium have "indefensible borders" and in the past have been susceptible to
invasion, but "that doesn't matter now because they have no external enemy." He
said that Netanyahu's approach to the borders conveys a pessimistic outlook that
peace will not necessarily translate into a cessation of hostilities.
Martin Levi Van Creveld, a Jewish author of seventeen books on military history and strategy,
has pointed out that Israel managed to defend the "indefensible" 1967 lines
during the Six Day War, asking rhetorically: "When everything is said and done, how important is the West Bank to
Israel’s defense? To answer the question, our best starting point is the
situation before the 1967 war. At that time, the Arab armed forces surrounding
Israel outnumbered the Jewish state’s army by a ratio of 3-to-1. Not only was
the high ground in Judea and Samaria in Jordanian hands, but Israel’s capital in
West Jerusalem was bordered on three sides by hostile territory. Arab armies
even stood within 14 miles of Tel Aviv. Still, nobody back then engaged in the
sort of fretting we hear today about “defensible borders,” let alone Abba Eban’s
famous formulation, “Auschwitz borders.” When the time came, it took the Israel
Defense Forces just six days to crush all its enemies combined." Van Crevald's
conclusion is that "Israel can perfectly defend itself."
We should also keep in mind that in 1967 Israel launched preemptive military
attacks against Egypt, destroying 338 planes and killing 100 Egyptians, after
which Israel was attacked in retaliation. And of course Israel is much more
powerful today than it was in 1967, thanks to hundreds of billions of dollars in
cash, advanced weapons and military technology donated to Israel by American
taxpayers through the U.S. government, so if it was merely posturing in 1967 to
justify taking more land, it seems self-evident that today we are hearing "more
of the same" with far less validity.
Israel later preemptively invaded Lebanon twice, destroying much of Beirut and
killing thousands of civilians, and also attacked Iraq's nuclear reactor,
killing 11 people who never lifted a finger against Israel. Israel has nuclear
reactors and hundreds of nukes, so killing Iraqis over a reactor when Iraq
didn't have nukes seems arrogant, hypocritical and horribly unjust. (The U.S.
can be accused of the same sins for its invasion of Iraq.) Two days after
Christmas, in 2008, Israel launched "Operation Cast Lead"
against Gaza; the ludicrously one-sided attacks
resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinian deaths, with only 13 Israeli deaths
(4 from friendly fire). According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem,
more than 1,000 of the Palestinians killed were civilians or noncombatants,
including 320 children, 109 women and 248 police officers, most of whom were
killed in aerial bombings of police stations on the first day of the operation.
These are not the actions of a nation cowering with fear, but those of a nation
drunk on military power and hubris.
Israel has also repeatedly either attacked or boarded humanitarian ships
carrying peace activists and items like teddy bears, coloring books and crayons
to Gaza, which remains under a military blockade. These attacks took place in
international waters. In the worst incident, Israeli commandos killed nine peace
activists, one of them a U.S. citizen. A Jewish peace activist, Dr. Norman
Finkelstein, recently called Israel a "lunatic state" for murdering civilians
and peace activists. The last time I counted, there were more than 200 Jewish
peace and humanitarian organizations that oppose the policies and actions of the
government of Israel. So it seems obvious that Jews know and understand what
escapes so many Americans: that Israel is practicing overt racism against
Palestinians, including apartheid, ethnic cleansing and slow genocide.
Van Creveld has also pointed out the Bibi is bluffing about the "danger" of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, because Iran can't use
them without being annihilated by Israel: "We Israelis have what it takes to deter an Iranian attack. We are in no danger at
all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us ... thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany."
Shlomo Ben Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, also strongly refuted the idea that the 1967 lines are indefensible, writing: "Netanyahu's
furious rejection of US President Barack Obama's proposal to use the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian dispute — frontiers that he called 'utterly indefensible' — reflects not only the Israeli prime minister's poor
statesmanship, but also his antiquated military philosophy. In an era of ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, and in
which the planned Palestinian state is supposed to be demilitarised, why is it so vital for Israel to see its army 'sit along the Jordan River'?
If such a tripwire is really necessary, why shouldn't a reliable international force carry out that task? And how can hundreds of isolated
colonies spread amidst a hostile Palestinian population ever be considered a strategic asset? Netanyahu should, perhaps, have studied the
lessons of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war before denouncing Obama's idea. When the war started, the first thing the Israeli army command
sought was the evacuation of the area's colonies, which Israel's generals knew would quickly become an impossible burden, and an obstacle to
manoeuvres, for their troops. Indeed, the last war that Israel won 'elegantly' — in the way that Netanyahu imagines that wars should be
won — began from the supposedly 'indefensible' 1967 lines ... For borders to be defensible, they need first to be legitimate and
internationally recognised. But Netanyahu does not really trust 'the gentiles' to supply that type of international recognition of Israel's
borders, not even when America is behind him, and not even when Israel today has the most powerful military capabilities in the Middle
Ben Ami's conclusion is this: "Not until occupation ends, Israel lives within internationally recognised borders, and the
Palestinians recover their dignity as a nation will the Jewish state's existence be finally secured."
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz in an editorial said that "Netanyahu's
decision to have Israel clash with Obama is not only a dead end, it could remove
the only protective wall Israel has left and sacrifice the country's future on
the altar of hollow ideology and unbridled nationalism." The same editorial
continued, "Netanyahu is lying to the Israeli public and leading the U.S.
administration astray ... Borders themselves do not guarantee security. But
borders that are recognized by the international community give a country the
legitimacy to defend its sovereignty. Israel has no such borders, and more and
more countries are finding it difficult to defend Israel's position, which seeks
to persuade others that occupation is a means of defense. The real danger for
Israel is not only the crisis in relations with the United States and most of
Europe, it's the deception Israel is trying to market to the Israeli public.
According to that deception, a strong stand based only on nationalist slogans
can replace a diplomatic solution; all that's needed to survive Obama's term
with the current borders are well-crafted speeches and the right amount of
manipulation. This strategy turns Netanyahu into a real threat to Israel's
security and future."
The Haaretz editorial makes the point that Israel is the only modern
"democracy" with undefined, fluid borders that are based strictly on racial
prejudice, without a thought for equality and justice. The rest of the world
cannot understand why Jewish babies are born with infinitely superior rights to
Palestinian babies, or why only Jewish security matters, and not Palestinian
security as well. In other words, the greatest danger Israel faces is the world
deciding that Israel is a racist state with a fascist mentality, and slapping it
with economic sanctions and/or embargoes. If Israel wants to be a member of the
free world, it needs to act like a modern, civilized democracy.
As reported by Avi Yesawich and Daniel Nisman, two
independent journalists who are both reservists in the IDF, "On April 14th, 2011
a group of senior political, security and intelligence officials introduced the
Israel Peace Initiative, calling for negotiations with the Palestinians based on
the 1967 borders and minor land swaps. It is difficult to imagine that these
individuals, so intimately knowledgeable of the complex security and political
situation on the ground, would actively postulate such a plan if its outcomes
were to be so gravely detrimental for Israel. Furthermore, Gershon Baskin,
Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, reinforced
this approach through his experience with scores of US military officials, NATO
officers, IDF generals and intelligence experts in the Mossad and Shin Bet; all
emphasized that a lack of a comprehensive peace is infinitely more threatening
to the Jewish State’s existence than withdrawal from the West Bank." Yesawich
and Nisman echoed the Haaretz editorial with their observation that
"What many [Israeli Jews] fail to understand is that our retention of the West
Bank has become the primary weapon against us in a war of de-legitimization: An
arsenal of legal, political, economic and moral weapons more powerful than
anything that is currently stockpiled in Gaza or Lebanon." They concluded:
Michael Neumann points out that "Israel is the country of 'The Samson Option,' a phrase attributed to several Israeli prime ministers. In
its moderate form, it calls for massive nuclear retaliation against any attack which threatens Israel's existence. Its less moderate version
is articulated by ... Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and
a sometime lecturer at the
U.S. Naval War College. Van Creveld tells us that 'We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will
happen before Israel goes under.' Now the world, as I understand it, contains quite a few unarmed (not to mention underage) civilians whose
nations are big buddies of Israel, not to mention all such persons in 'states that formally were signatories to peace treaties'. Israel has,
again and again, almost joyously asserted its iron-clad determination to stop at nothing in the exercise of its very generously conceived
right of self-defense. The chances that it would let its cities burn and its citizens die in the streets out of scruples about signatures
on a peace treaty are ... nil. What's more, Israel's whole strategy of deterrence depends on suggesting that, as Moshe Dayan famously declared,
'Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.'" [If any other nation threatened to use nukes to destroy the rest of the world
rather than return blatantly stolen land to its rightful owners, that would raise eyebrows, to say the least, but Israel always gets a free pass, no matter how
insanely its leaders rant and rave. But the bottom line is that no nation on earth can invade, much less conquer, Israel, because if Israel
was in danger of losing a war, it would not only nuke its enemies, but its "friends" as well. Why? Because to the racist leaders of
Israel the only people who matter in the least are Israeli Jews.]br>
Obviously, Israelis “in the know” are fully aware that Bibi is bluffing, as is "the smartest man in the room," since over
the years the U.S. has supplied Israel with hundreds of billions of dollars in financial aid, advanced weapons and shared military technology.
President Obama knows the power of Israel, and of course he knows that Israel has hundreds of nukes and other WMDs, meaning that no nation on
earth can possibly hope to invade, much less conquer, Israel. So why aren’t American politicians calling Bibi's bluff? Why did Congress
greet Bibi with 29 standing ovations when he stood before them, offering a gooey concoction of half-truths, evasions and outright lies?
Unfortunately, Israel has turned the U.S. government into a gigantic cash machine. In go a few million dollars of Jewish campaign contributions
and out pop billions of dollars in financial aid to Israel. As a bonus, Israel virtually controls U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis anything to do
with Israel and the Palestinians. This allows Israeli Jews to break the teeth of Palestinians and steal their ever-dwindling land, while the
Muslim world watches in horror and everything the U.S. says about "human rights" and "democracy" becomes a hollow mockery. But of
course American politicians know where their bread is buttered: on the pro-Israel side. It is political suicide for American politicians to
lose the votes of American Jews and Christians, most of whom support Israel unconditionally (and unthinkingly). What we are seeing is the
Ultimate Shell Game, with any chance for world peace disappearing due to Bibi's sleight of hand ... unless Americans come to their senses
soon, or the rest of the world intervenes.
While it's impossible for me to find humor in the
collective imprisonment and punishment of millions of completely innocent
Palestinian women and children, I can find notes of irony, as when leading
Israeli politicians obviously want to rejoice in Israeli military supremacy
while simultaneously making it seem Israel is doomed so that it can keep
stealing more and more Palestinian land. For instance, Israeli Ambassador
Michael Oren writing in Foreign Policy recently said: “In six days
Israel repelled” its enemies “and established secure boundaries
... It drove the Egyptians from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, and the
Syrians, who had also opened fire, from the Golan Heights. Most significantly,
Israel replaced the indefensible
armistice lines by reuniting Jerusalem and capturing the West Bank from Jordan.”
In other words, the armistice lines were so "indefensible" that it
took only six days to expand them to include the West Bank, Gaza, the
Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. And yet whenever Israel wants to steal
more land from defenseless Palestinian farm families, which happens to be on a
daily basis, suddenly Israel is "weak" and "surrounded by enemies" and left
friendless by the rest of the world, even though the U.S. has endured 9-11 and
fought two horrendous wars largely because Israel refuses to admit that
Palestinians are human beings who deserve equal rights, justice and
If something smells rotten in Denmark, perhaps it's because fishy things are
rapidly decaying. When a military superpower claims to be unable to defend
itself one minute, then brags about how easily it can defeat its enemies the
next, perhaps it's past time to open a window and let in some sunlight and fresh
air, in the form of the truth.
And perhaps it's past time for Israel's leaders to remember what the man who
considered himself to be the father of the modern state of Israel, Abba Eban,
once said: “Israel’s birth is intrinsically and intimately linked with the idea
of sharing territory and sovereignty.”
Einstein on Palestine ... Why did Albert Einstein turn down the presidency of Israel, and what did the great Jewish intellectual, peace activist,
pacifist and humanitarian have to say about the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs?
Einstein denied any superior rights for Jews, calling for "complete equality" for Palestinians, saying: "The most important aspect of our policy must be our ever-present,
manifest desire to institute complete equality for the Arab citizens living in our midst ... The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people."
Only cooperation with Arabs, led by "educated, spiritually alert" Jewish workers, he wrote, "can create a dignified and safe life." He also said, "What saddens me is less the fact that the Jews are not smart enough
to understand this, but rather, that they are not smart enough to want it."
Sigmund Freud on Palestine ... Why did Sigmund Freud, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of all time, reject political Zionism?
I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. ― Sigmund Freud
Mohandas Gandhi on Palestine ... What did Gandhi say about Palestine and the conflict between Jews and Arabs?
What would have had said if he had seen the terrible suffering of the children of Gaza today?
If we are to have real peace in the world,
we will have to begin with the children.
Jimmy Carter ... "Israeli policy is to confiscate Palestinian territory."
Christians may want to consider the ethical questions What does the Bible say? What would Jesus do?
Albert Einstein's 1948 Letter to the New York Times ... In this landmark letter, Albert Einstein and 27 other leading Jewish
intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt and Sidney Hook, explained to Americans and the larger world that
militant Zionist leaders like Menachem Begin (a future prime minister of Israel) were racists, fascists, terrorists and
A scanned image of this letter is available at this link.
There is a path to peace through justice: The Burch-Elberry Peace Initiative
Why Israel is Wrong: Evidence for and the Case against Israel’s Racism, Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing
Does Israel Really Want Peace?
Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists