I received a very weird phone call from a prominent Jewish-American investigative journalist the other night. He kept muttering about bias against Sharon and how the Israeli security wall is no different from the wall near the Rio Grande (which isn’t true: did the US annex Mexican land to build that?)
I guess Juan’s never heard of the Mexican-American War.
Of course, there are pertinent differences: the U.S. action against Mexico was an agressive action taken against a sovereign state and largely motivated by “Slave Power” interests. By contrast, in 1967 Egypt had engaged in acts of war against Israel (closing the
Suez Canal the Gulf of Aqaba, and sending U.N peacekeepers in Sinai packing) and boldly threatened to annihilate Israel, and hence was preemptively attacked by Israel, resulting in Israel’s occupation of Gaza. Israel achieved control of the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria because Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, after Israel specifically invited Jordan to state out of the war.
To say these are “Palestinian lands,” as I hear so often, is thus something of a misnomer, equivalent to saying that the lands that the U.S. conquered in the Mexican-American war were “Indian lands.” When Israel went to war in 1967, the “Occupied Territories” belonged to Egypt and Jordan, respectively, neither of which showed any inclination to treat these territories as the home of a future Palestinian state. Jordan, in particular, had grave conflicts with Yasser Arafat and the emerging Palestinian leadership, resulting in the Black September War of 1970, and didn’t give up its claim to the West Bank areas until the 1980s. Israel made a grave mistake in not reaching a deal with the relatively reasonable Jordanians, and found themselves instead having to deal with the incredibly corrupt and mendacious Arafat instead.
In any event, Israel won these lands in a war of self-defense, and certainly has no moral obligation to do anything in particular with them, unless it serves Israel’s own interests, as a stable peace deal certainly would. But commentators like Cole, who distort Israeli history as easily as they remain ignorant of American history, hardly shed any light on the subject.