A little while ago, I stumbled across what has to be the umpteenth reference to the “illegal” Israeli occupation the West Bank (and, formerly, the Gaza Strip). This, much like so many tired old sayings, is patently wrong, but its proponents hope it will gain strength through repetition. So, here are a few rebuttals to that tired old fraud.
1) Every single war Israel has fought has been started by the other side. With two exceptions, Israel’s enemies fired the first shot.
2) The first exception was the 6-Day War, when Israel struck first, just before the Arabs were ready to attack. In that case, Egypt had declared and was enforcing a blockade of Eilat, Israel’s only Red Sea port. Blockades are universally recognized as acts of war.
But they need not be taken as such. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, we imposed a blockade on Cuba. The Kennedy administration fully knew this could have triggered a real war, and played it as a “calculated risk” — and it worked. In Egypt’s case, it was not intended to head off a war, but as a prelude to one.
3) Israel’s invasion of Lebanon was preceded by years of attacks across the border. The Lebanese government lacked the will and wherewithal to curb Hizbollah, so Israel took matters into her own hands.
4) Under international law, captured lands are to be returned upon the signing of a formal peace agreement. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt after the signing of the Camp David Accords.
5) For the 20 years prior to the 1967 war, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were in the possession of Egypt and Jordan respectively. During those times, those nations took not a single step towards granting the Palestinians any self-rule, independence, or any sort of accomodation. In fact, they did just the opposite — they kept them in squalor and penned up in refugee camps to maintain their status as victims for propaganda purposes.
6) After the war, neither Egypt nor Jordan expressed any interest in re-acquiring the Palestinian territories they lost. Even had Israel been willing to give them back, they simply didn’t want them.
7) There IS NO historical “Palestine” that could reclaim their land and heritage, as Israel did in 1948. Go look it up — find a single evidence of a “Palestinian” state that could re-emerge from history. Cite a few rulers of ancient Palestine. Tell me about a few historical events. Discuss their relations with their neighbors. Hell, tell me what they called their currency. The current “Palestine” is a hodge-podge of Jordanians, Egyptians, and other nationalities, created out of whole cloth simply to give the Arab world an additional club to beat the Israelis with — especially since they’ve failed so miserably at defeating them militarily.
8) Israel did NOT “hand over” the Gaza Strip — it simply abandoned it, walked away and left the residents to fend for themselves. And despite the best efforts of many well-meaning folks, the residents promptly started asserting their self-destructive tendencies. They started by destroying the greenhouses the Jewish settlers had built. The settlers had intended on dismantling them as they left, but a group of mostly Jewish folks raised money and bought them to give to the Palestinians — who promptly wrecked them.
The whole “illegal occupation” is the simple, legal, and eminently predictable result of a faction starting and losing a war, then refusing to accept their defeat. Jordan could reclaim the West Bank at any time, but they aren’t interested in taking back the West Bank. Syria could make the return of the Golan Heights (from where they repeatedly rained down missiles, bombs, and artillery shells on Israel for years and years) a condition of a peace agreement, but have refused to even discuss it.
When, like Israel, you’re surrounded by people who openly want to destroy you, it’s kind of hard to feel magnanimous. “Give us what we lost right now, or we’ll destroy you!” “But you say you’re going to destroy us anyway, so why should we?” seems to sum it up pretty well.