I have often written about the manipulation of technology to fabricate an ahistorical and counter-factual narrative; for example the replacement geography in Google Earth, and the relocation of East Jerusalem to Palestine in Yahoo Weather. History is a critical part of the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel. Getting it right is important. The current discourse over “67 borders” in the media, blogosphere and social media, presents a narrative so removed from fact that its propagandistic nature can be exposed even by someone with only Google Maps and Wikipedia to guide them. The propaganda has been triggered by discussion over the Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood. More and more people are speaking about Israel’s borders, and in particular the idea of “returning to the 67 borders.” Those with a knowledge of history would know there is no such thing. For a start, they mean pre-1967, not 1967, and to be fully accurate, they mean boundaries or lines not borders. The loss of the “pre” prefix is the most blatant attempt to wipe clear the historical narrative, see for example the recent Washington Post op-ed by Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s Former Ambassador.
Even in Israel there has been a move away from the “green line” to “67 borders,” articles in both Haaretz and Jerusalem Post have used this terminology. This is unsurprising given the use of this terminology by Israeli leaders, the British Prime Minister, and many other. The White House, whatever one thinks of their policy, at least have the terminology right, despite media headlines and reporting to the contrary, at AIPAC, President Obama’s actual words referred to “pre-1967 lines,” a formulation that the White House press office has also used consistently.
The 1949 Armistice Agreement Line shown on Google MapsOn Google Maps the line is clearly and correctly labelled the “1949 Armistice Agreement Line.” In Wikipedia, the article on the Green Line, refers to the boundary as “the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.” The narrative of ’67 borders is a Palestinian one. It obfuscates the fact that a return to these borders would be a return to the unstable position after the war of independence.
The Wikipedia article itself notes this was never an “international or permanent border,” it also notes the position in international law, expressed by the deputy legal advisor to the US Department of State in the American Journal of International Law (1970). He said “…modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful… whether those modifications are…’insubstantial alterations required for mutual security’ or more substantial alterations – such as recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem.” The Palestinian narrative seeks to lock in the minimalist idea of insubstantial changes and make even that look like a serious sacrifice that is almost too much to ask of them.
History is important. Last week was the anniversary of the Six Day war, and the relevance to today was well outlined by David Harris last week. Language and rhetoric are also important. Let’s stop the downwards slide into a Palestinian narrative. Let us begin to speak of the 1949 ceasefire lines, the psychological trauma of insecurity they imposed, the real danger they created in the face of a conventional warfare threat, and why Abba Eban referred to these indefensible borders as Auschwitz borders, meaning they put Jews, at the time many of them Holocaust survivors, again at the mercy of being slaughtered on mass by those who wished them harm. Israel’s recent experience with Hamas in Gaza justifies a continual concern about such dangerous borders. Not only are there the rockets on Sderot, let’s also remember Gilad Shalit kidnapped by terrorists who made the short journey from Gaza almost 5 years ago.
A two state solution is possible, and large parts of the future border may indeed be along the green line, but the negotiation and public discussion must have a basis in history and fact. It cannot be built on the ahistorical changing sands of Palestinian propaganda. In the mean time, all of us, from international leaders and the media to Facebook users, should watch our language and ensure we don’t strengthen a narrative that will lead not to peace but potentially to renewed bloodshed. If, despite all their flaws, Google Maps and Wikipedia can get this right, so can the rest of us.
That’s because the land now known as the West Bank cannot be considered “occupied” in the legal sense of the word as it had not attained recognized sovereignty before Israel’s conquest. Contrary to some beliefs there has never been a Palestinian state, and no other nation has ever established Jerusalem as its capital despite it being under Islamic control for hundreds of years.
The name “West Bank” was first used in 1950 by the Jordanians when they annexed the land to differentiate it from the rest of the country, which is on the east bank of the river Jordan. The boundaries of this territory were set only one year before during the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan that ended the war that began in 1948 when five Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish State. It was at Jordan’s insistence that the 1949 armistice line became not a recognized international border but only a line separating armies. The Armistice Agreement specifically stated: “No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.” (Italics added.) This boundary became the famous “Green Line,” so named because the military officials during the armistice talks used a green pen to draw the line on the map.
After the Six Day War, when once again Arab armies sought to destroy Israel and the Jewish state subsequently captured the West Bank and other territory, the United Nations sought to create an enduring solution to the conflict. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is probably one of the most misunderstood documents in the international arena. While many, especially the Palestinians, push the idea that the document demands that Israel return everything captured over the Green Line, nothing could be further from the truth. The resolution calls for “peace within secure and recognized boundaries,” but nowhere does it mention where those boundaries should be.
It is best to understand the intentions of the drafters of the resolution before considering other interpretations. Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in 1967 and a drafter of the resolution, stated in 1990: “Security Council Resolution 242 and (subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution) 338… rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to “secure and recognized borders,” which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 194.”
Lord Caradon, the British U.N. Ambassador at the time and the resolution’s main drafter who introduced it to the Council, said in 1974 unequivocally that, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.”
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, made the issue even clearer when he stated in 1973 that, “the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.” This would encompass “less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proven to be notably insecure.”
Even the Soviet delegate to the U.N., Vasily Kuznetsov, who fought against the final text, conceded that the resolution gave Israel the right to “withdraw its forces only to those lines it considers appropriate.”
After the war in 1967, when Jews started returning to their historic heartland in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, as the territory had been known around the world for 2,000 years until the Jordanians renamed it, the issue of settlements arose. However, Rostow found no legal impediment to Jewish settlement in these territories. He maintained that the original British Mandate of Palestine still applies to the West Bank. He said “the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors.” There is no internationally binding document pertaining to this territory that has nullified this right of Jewish settlement since.
And yet, there is this perception that Israel is occupying stolen land and that the Palestinians are the only party with national, legal and historic rights to it. Not only is this morally and factually incorrect, but the more this narrative is being accepted, the less likely the Palestinians feel the need to come to the negotiating table. Statements like those of Lady Ashton’s are not only incorrect; they push a negotiated solution further away.
Mr. Ayalon is the deputy foreign minister of Israel.
In 1974 an outrageous Yom Kippur War rumor.Thirty-six years later,in 2010, the rumor was confirmed.Kissinger was always a heartbreak for me learning about growing up. Such a smart guy… too bad he was a self hater. Sometimes I like things he says on T.V., but the elder Kissinger is obviously not the Kissinger of 1974 the year I was born. I’m sure he was more complicated then any of us understand, but there is no doubt in my mind that his Judaism did not come till after he was out of power. I had always hoped that as time went on that good stuff would be revealed about him and Nixon… and there is some things that shed a positive light on him, but his view of his own people is not one of those things.
Recently declassified White House transcripts (featured in an editorial in the Israeli daily Haaretz) show former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger blaming Israel for the problems in the region, accusing Israel of being “deliberately provocative” and attempting “to create maximum commotion in the Middle East. In the newly released documents Kissinger refers to the Golan Heights as “Syrian territory” and the Syrians as “my friends.” He confides to an Algerian diplomat that “a (new Arab-Israeli) war wouldn’t be so bad for us. … We could show (Israel) we are tough.” Us? This strongly suggests Kissinger identified with the Arab side in the Arab-Israel conflict.
While these documents do not cover the period of the 1973 war (they cover the end of the Nixon administration and eighteen months of the subsequent Ford administration), they bear out Shmuel Katz’s devastating assessment of Kissinger’s role during the war as crucial in turning Israel’s military victory into a bitter strategic defeat. Just a year after the Yom Kippur War, in his 1974 pamphlet, “The Crisis of Israel and the West” Katz described Kissinger’s actions and their repercussions.
When Israel had recovered from her initial, nearly disastrous setback, the resourcefulness, and courage and qualitative superiority of her solders so succeeded that – in view of all the responsible military analysts – she was on the brink of achieving the greatest victory in her history. … [T]he Israel army had created an excellent bargaining position for whatever negotiations might ensue after the Cease Fire had been formalized in a resolution by the UN Security Council. It held firmly a wide salient deep into Egyptian territory proper with the road to Cairo open. The Egyptian Third Army, one of the two Egyptian forces that had crossed over the east bank of the Suez Canal, was encircled and its supplies completely cut off. …
But in two further decisive steps the U.S. Secretary of State dictated the conversion of Israel’s advantageous position into a posture of defeat. He insisted on the unconditional lifting of the siege of the Third Army. Brief Israeli resistance (by the Minister of Defense in a telephone conversation) was brusquely rejected….By February 1974 Israel had by diplomatic negotiation lost the Yom Kippur War, and the aggressor had been awarded the beginnings of a retrospective victory in the Six Day War. The Egyptians moreover made no secret of their confidence that this was only the first step to Israel’s being forced out of all of Sinai. The Egyptian President in particular repeatedly gave expression to this confidence, indicating without inhibition that this is what he had been promised by the U.S. Secretary of State whom he trusted absolutely in view of what he had already done for the Arab cause.
Twenty seven years later, in 2001, in a column “In Politics: No Friendships, Only Interests” Shmuel Katz returned to the theme of Kissinger’s 1973 game plan, this time with Kissinger’s own memoirs as evidence. Kissinger was determined, Katz wrote “on a diplomacy that would result in Egypt’s moving over from the Soviet orbit to the American. The price, as became evident, was to be a sacrifice of Israel….That is why the Egyptians to this day celebrate what they claim was a military victory over Israel. That is why, in Israel, the Yom Kippur War is remembered and felt as a bitter defeat. The harm done to Israel was and remains incalculable, not least in that sense of having been defeated.”
Moreover, Kissinger accomplished his goals through deception. As Katz details in “The Man with A Plan” (Oct. 23, 2003), with Israel facing a “dangerous shortage of materiel” Kissinger held up the arms shipments to Israel, claiming falsely it was Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger’s doing. Kissinger then used Israel’s predicament to pressure American Jewish leaders to abandon their efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry in return for his support in expediting the delivery of the sorely needed materiel – arms and supplies which he was responsible for holding up in the first place.
Kissinger also hinted to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan of a Soviet atomic threat if Israel didn’t comply with his demands. Katz says this was a bald-faced lie. The Soviets had made no such threat. Katz writes: “Dayan later realized that he had been hoodwinked, and indeed, on examination of Kissinger’s blow-by-blow negotiations with the Russians, there is not a smidgen of a hint of an atomic threat by the Russians. In a public lecture in May 1974, Dayan declared:
‘The Americans denied us the fruits of victory. It was an ultimatum. Had the US not pressed us, the Third Army and Suez City would have had to surrender. We would have captured 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers and Sadat would have had to admit it to his people. We might have held them only for a day and let them walk out without their arms, but it would have changed the whole Egyptian attitude about whether they won the war or not.’”
It is painful to think that someone who fled Nazi persecution as a young boy in 1938 should do so much damage to the Jewish State. Yet, a closer look shows that Kissinger has, at best, a tenuous connection with his Judaism. Rabbi Norman Lamm, former chancellor of Yeshiva University, spotted this early. In his article “Kissinger and the Jews” (Dec. 20, 1975), a devastating critique, he writes, “Dr. Kissinger is an illustration of how high an assimilated Jew can rise in the United States, and how low he can fall in the esteem of his fellow Jews.”
Lamm referred to a recent visit by Henry Kissinger and his parents to Furth, their hometown in Bavaria which they escaped before the war. They had only kind words for their native city, “but nary a word about the Holocaust, not a word about the Nazis who drove them out of that city!” On top of this, Lamm reveals that Kissinger didn’t want to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, during his first trip to Israel, and had to be “persuaded.” He “accepted only when he was told that every other foreign minister visiting Israel had done so.”
This hasn’t stopped Kissinger from portraying himself as one with the Jewish community, accepting awards from the Anti-Defamation League and bestowing awards on behalf of Jewish organizations like the United Jewish Appeal.
Kissinger’s guilt runs deep. Whether or not he feels it is another matter. Zionist writer William Mehlman offers a remarkable footnote involving Kissinger and Katz sometime after the Yom Kippur War. Kissinger got wind of a rumor – unfounded – that Shmuel had taken out a contract on his life (a fantasy Kissinger apparently believed based on the allegations about his role in delaying the resupply of munitions to Israel during the war).
“Shmuel, informed of what had transpired and anxious to put the rumor to rest, arranged a face-to-face meeting with Kissinger at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. ‘From the moment I entered his suite until I left three minutes later,’ Katz related to a small circle of friends in Tel Aviv, ‘he did not stop shouting at me. He never gave me a chance to refute the rumor. In fact I never got a chance to say a word. Finally, I just turned around and walked out.’”
Mehlman writes, “Whatever debt Henry Kissinger may or may not have felt he owed his conscience, he must surely have learned by now that it wasn’t Shmuel Katz who had come to collect.”
Kissinger is 87. It doesn’t look as if he will make amends in this world. Perhaps in the next.
This entry was posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 1:37 am and is filed under Shmuel Katz.
the truth is the Republican party has had some Conservative Jews in there that have to make amends with G-d.