Gerald M. Steinberg: The Myths of 1967 and Today’s Realities

Roundup: Talking About History

Gerald M. Steinberg is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

The 1967 Six Day War was the result of the renewed Arab effort to "wipe Israel off the map" – a renewal of the 1948 war that ended in a temporary cease-fire, with no interest among most Arab leaders in a long-term peace agreement with Israel. This is the reason that there were never any pre-1967 borders between Israel and the west bank of the Jordan River – one of many myths that distort the international perception of the conflict.

Another myth is the belief that in this war, Israel occupied the "Palestinian east Jerusalem and the West Bank." In fact, this territory had been occupied by Jordan in the 1948 war, and from these positions, Israel was repeatedly attacked. Sacred and historic Jewish Jerusalem was systematically closed off and desecrated during this period – and in 1967, the Jewish presence was restored. And while the Israeli government adopted a policy of trading land for a long-awaited peace, the Arab League, meeting in Khartoum, slammed the door in the face of any negotiations or agreements, forever. This was the unplanned and impromptu beginning of settlements, built on the foundation of Arab rejectionism.

But that was then, and now, 45 years later, the myths are firmly entrenched in university campuses around the world (not exactly seats of knowledge on the Middle East), among foreign journalists, diplomats, political leaders and even many Israelis...

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