“In June 1967 Arab leaders declared their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, and the Jews decided they wouldn’t sit still for it. For the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven.Unforgiven, Israel’s milder critics say, because the Six-Day War, even if justified at the time, does not justify 50 years of occupation. They argue, also, that Israel can rely on its own strength as well as international guarantees to take risks for peace. This is a historic nonsense.”
Here again, the comments make one smarter. Stevens seems to make good points, until someone pokes holes in them. I found this top comment more informative than the op-ed itself.
Stephens repeats many of the tired cliches used to justify Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land. Most notable is the assertion that Yasser Arafat rejected a reasonable offer for a Palestinian state at Camp David. There is ample evidence that the offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David could not have been accepted by Arafat — the West Bank was cut up into a patchwork of bantustans by settlement blocs, bypass roads and zones of “temporary Israeli control”. Israel would have controlled all border crossings. The Israeli offer was improved considerably at Taba later in 2000, but by that time Barak had lost the election; time ran out. Then there’s the cliche that Israel turned Gaza over to the Palestinians, who ungratefully responded with attacks against Israel. But the people of Gaza have never been free from Israeli control; Israel has tight control over everything entering and leaving the strip (including building material needed to rebuild after Israeli bombs reduce much of Gaza to rubble).
The greatest problem in Stephens’ piece is his confusion of cause and effect. He admits that settlement growth outside the historically recognized blocs was a “mistake” made by Israel, but doesn’t seem to see the connection between this ubiquitous — and growing — symbol of domination and the Palestinian resistance. He certainly doesn’t explain how any Palestinian behavior necessitates the continual construction of more Israeli settlements.