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Evelyn Gordon argues in the Jerusalem Post that Israel's image is at an all time low because Israelis admitted that the territories were occupied, and offered to make concessions to the Palestinians. Gordon asks why Israel's image has deteriorated in the last 13 years, and this is her answer:

Among the general public, the growing view of Israel as a pariah would be impossible had Israeli (and international Jewish) leaders not abandoned one simple tenet that all of them maintained prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords: that Israel has a valid claim to the West Bank and Gaza.

This claim does not necessitate Israel's retention of these areas; countries throughout history have occasionally ceded land to secure peace agreements....

If Israel has no claim, it is merely a thief. And no one would admire, much less compensate, a thief for the "painful concession" of returning some, though not all, of his ill-gotten gains...

If we are to have any hope of understanding why Israel's image is in trouble, we have to see others as they see us. That is often unpleasant, but it is necessary. The idea that Israel was viewed as the most dangerous country in the world because we made too many concessions to the Palestinian Arabs is absurd. Concessions to the Palestinian Arabs are not what caused the Independent to publish a cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating babies either. Keeping in mind the absurdity of the premise, we can nonetheless try to examine the merits of its claims within its own logic.

Occupations are legitimate as long as they are temporary and serve the interests of security only. Nobody faulted the allies for occupying Germany and Japan. However, Israeli territorial claims have always been a source of friction with the international community.

The claims that threats to Israeli legitimacy began only in 1993, and that Israel had always claimed all of the West Bank and Gaza, are not in accord with historic fact.

First, let's examine the consistency of Israeli claims to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Alon Plan, drawn up in the summer of 1967, already envisaged Israeli withdrawal from a large part of the West Bank. Therefore, "concessions" of Israeli rights began in 1967, not in 1993. In 1979, the Israel High Court ruled that the settlement of Elon Moreh could not be built on expropriated private land, admitting the applicability of the Geneva convention regarding the territories.

The settlement in Hebron by Rabbi Levinger and his group was not applauded by the world as a great achievement of Zionism. It was done without the consent of the Israeli government and conceded reluctantly as a fait accompli

Whatever Israel's official stance, it is certain that the international community at large never admitted Israeli rights to the West Bank and Gaza strip. The United States has been the least antagonistic in this regard, adhering to the formula that the settlements "are an obstacle to peace." US policy regarding the West Bank has been largely based on the dictum of Harold Saunders, first enunciated in 1975, that the Palestinian problem was the key to the solution of the Middle East conflict. US President Reagan proposed in 1982, that Israel would withdraw from all of the West Bank and Gaza in the framework of a peace treaty. The US government has famously refused to recognize Israeli annexation of Jerusalem in any form, a refusal which has withstood repeated congressional resolutions, and which extends to refusal to record the place of birth of an American citizen as "Jerusalem, Israel."

The UN has been far more explicit about the status of Israeli rights in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Of the many resolutions passed by the UN, we need only note, UN Security Council 252 (1968), which decried Israeli annexation of Jerusalem, and Security Council resolution 446 (1979) which deplores Israeli practices in the "occupied territories" including Jerusalem and Elon Moreh, and specifically objects to the settlement plan of the WZO.

Delegitimization and demonization of Israel and Zionism did not begin with the Oslo accords either. The UN passed the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution in 1975, and it was only repealed in 1991, in return for Israeli agreement to attend the Madrid conference.

The loosening of Israel's hold on the territories, and the beginning of delegitimization of Israel in connection with the occupation, can be traced to the first Intifadah, in which Palestinians, rightly or wrongly, managed to portray the image of the Palestinian "David" versus the Israeli "Goliath."

The current wave of anti-Zionist extremism reflects several factors. The peace treaties concluded with Egypt and Jordan cornered Arab extremists into the "refusal front" and made the delegitimization of Israel an urgent priority for them since the 1980s. The so-called "Second Intifada" had a campaign to delegitimize Israel engineered into it. Extremist groups are threatened by the possibility of peace, which would put them out of business. The surest way to ensure that peace doesn't happen is to insist that Zionism is Racism and Israel is not a legitimate country. They incited violence, and then they used the Israeli suppression of Palestinian violence in the occupied territories very effectively against Israel to show images of occupiers oppressing "innocent" victims.

The images of Israeli soldiers brutalizing Arabs in the territories, real or invented, were engraved in the mind of the world. We cannot have an occupation without those images. That, and not Israeli concessions, is the reason why the Independent drew the cartoon of Sharon eating babies. There is just no way that keeping the territories, or claiming the territories, is going to enhance the image of Israel. However, when Gordon's thesis is projected to its logical conclusion, it becomes even more problematic. The logical outcome of insisting on a claim, is that you can never surrender it, because if you do, you admit you are wrong. If keeping the territories is an integral and inseparable part of Zionism, an inalienable right, then by giving up the territories at any time and for any reason we admit that Zionism is wrong. This is argued quite convincingly by Arieh Eldad -- an issue to be examined separately.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000118.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

The problem arises because Eldad asserts that God decided to give the land to the Jews. In 70 ACE the Jews did not control the territory that God promissed Abraham. We never did. In 70 ACE there was no Jewish sovereignty anywhere. You forgot that detail. So if we take 70 ACE, then Israel has no borders.
Ami I.

Moderator, Friday, June 16th

The problem arrives only because of totally arbitrary time counting.

Why 1967 and not 0070?

zov, Thursday, June 15th

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