The Happy Arab News Service

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Horse

Exhausted after enduring a decade-long siege, the people of Troy surveyed the immense wooden horse that the Greeks had left outside their city's thick walls in what the Trojans, as planned, mistook for their invaders' long-awaited flight.

All Trojans at hand favored pulling the structure into their newly liberated city - all, that is, except one, Laocoon the priest, who said: "I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts." Yet Laocoon had hardly finished uttering his warning when two serpents emerged from the sea, killed him along with his two sons - and vanished.

Now the Trojans could no longer doubt their course of action. "Bring the carven image in," they cried, as they dragged into their city, with their own hands, the beast whose bowels contained the key to their imminent slaughter. That night, the one in which Troy's men celebrated "believing the war ended" before going to sleep in their houses "in peace as they had not for 10 years," was also their last.

Forty years after our own walled community saw its own enemy flee the battlefield, where it too had congregated uninvited and laid siege unprovoked, all of us appear to agree that by June 11, 1967, we too were stranded with a Trojan horse.

. . .

Writes Amotz Asa-El from the Jerusalem Post. He then proceeds to explain why everything was not that bad with taking the bite.

YES, THE Six Day War's spoils have had some harsh results. They created daily friction between Israelis and Palestinians that only provoked more hatred and bloodshed. They unleashed a messianic movement that fractured Israeli society, and they gave Israel-bashers the hypocritical slogan of "Stop the occupation," by which they pretend to decry Israel's size rather than its existence.

Yet the Six Day War also empowered the Israeli people, fueled American Jewry, inspired Soviet

Jewry humiliated the East Bloc and, most importantly, made pro-Israeli skeptics and anti-Israeli warmongers realize we are here to stay, because we are prepared to fight for our lives.

In fact, considering that the war was largely a Soviet concoction, it is mind-boggling to think that four decades later the Jewish state lives on, while the Soviet Union is gone. Not only are we still here, since reopening the Straits of Tiran we have more than doubled in number. Soviet Jewry is long freed, and ours is the world's largest Jewish community - a status this land last enjoyed in the times of Jeremiah.

Moreover, ours has become one of the world's most vibrant economies. And, most tellingly, our main enemy in '67 - Egypt - is now at peace with us, as is Jordan. None of these would have happened but for the Six Day War.

True, we misjudged that Trojan Horse back in '67. But our enemies, from Cairo to Moscow, misjudged us sevenfold.


While Amotz has a point, the analogy of the Trojan Horse is more complex than it appears. There is no argument that back at 1967 the Palestinians were a Trojan Horse, yet at that time it was not immediately clear who has smuggled whom the poor animal.

It's very telling that the debate around the war of 1967 and its aftermath has turned for almost all analysts into an exercise in dialectic thinking with some pointing out how the brilliant military victory turned into the cause of Israel's greatest weakness. Yet in 1967 Israel had in its hands something that could have possibly served as a tool for undermining the very Arab regimes Israel was confronting during and after the war.

The territorial conquests of 1967 are almost never interpreted the other way round - that though the Arabs did smuggle into Israel hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Israel in its turn had got control over a part of the Arab world, even if that part was a tiny bit. And what's even more important, at the time the Palestinians were at the state of total disarray, deeply demoralized by the crushing defeat the IDF inflicted on the Arab world.

No sane person would dare to predict what could have happened if Israel would have tried to fight back in this battle of Trojan Horses by making development and rapid industrialization of the territories a national priority. My personal bet is 70/30 that such a project would have failed to achieve its goal. Yet the stakes were incredibly high, as the properly economically and politically developed West bank and Gaza could have produced a powerful domino effect spreading from Israel borders in all directions and deep into the very heart of the Arab world. This is what the US was trying to achieve in Iraq. The stakes were so high that the whole thing was definitely worth trying.

In 1967 Israel got access to and means to change the very structure of the world around it. At the time the Palestinians, stunned by the massive defeat the Arabs suffered at the hands of the IDF, would have probably accepted most radical changes imposed from above without resistance. What was missing is audacity and vision. Here Israel was once again hit by this characteristic lack of vision and long term planning. In fact, anything long term seems to be permanently out of reach for most Israelis, whether they are politicians or ordinary citizens. The Israeli genius seems to be that of creative improvisation and rapid adaptation, though lately this country seems to be losing that one too.

What followed was the erratic policy of resettling of the West Bank/Gaza which has quickly ran out of control with settlers moving into places they had to be never allowed to from the beginning. It's very telling of how well planned the settlement policy was that eventually Israel has ended with 20,000 something of settlers in Gaza while all those years the Arab share of the population of Jerusalem was steadily increasing (though maybe it's for our own good).

Now what should be the lesson of the war of 1967 ? I think it's important to define what it's not. It's not that occupations are necessarily bad as the post war Germany and Japan have convincingly demonstrated. And it's not that the dialectics rule our world in the sense that any victory is bound to become the cause of our undoing. What happened is that in 1967 the conflict moved into the stage of trading Trojan Horses and Israel lost it for the lack of clear strategic thinking.

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