While Israel celebrates 40 years of a reunited Jerusalem and what many still see as a miraculous victory that reversed Nasser's threat to "push the Jews into the sea", the Palestinians are celebrating 40 years of "occupation" slogans.
This rhetoric has provided them with a political victory that has significantly offset the defeat of the Arab armies on the battlefield. And by erasing everything that came before the 1967 war, including the years of warfare, terror following the violent Arab rejection of the 1947 UN partition resolution, Israel's enemies have managed to rewrite history.
This "victory" on the battlefront of narratives and public relations that fuels the various boycott campaigns that are being conducted, particularly by British trade unions. The obsessive anti-Israel and often anti-semitic leaders of this movement would have no doubt found other reasons to wave war against Israel, even if there were no occupation. But the distorted images of myths have also convinced uninformed journalists, academics, diplomats, etc. that Israel is to blame. And this is where the real damage is done.
The myth that the "occupation" is the cause of the conflict, rather than a symptom and consequence, is also spread by powerful political organizations that exploit the rhetoric of humanitarian assistance and human rights. As documented by NGO Monitor, the radicals that control Christian Aid, War on Want, Human Rights Watch, etc., have worked closely with their Palestinian counterparts to promote the false claim that the "occupation" is the cause of the conflict, rather than a symptom.
Just last week, Amnesty International issued its annual report covering 2006, in which the biased and often false claims regarding Israel were repeated. Despite the rocket attacks from Gaza, the continuing terror, and the warfare between Hamas and Fatah, Palestinians are patronizingly portrayed as victims of Israel.
Furthermore, this political warfare is often justified through use of a small group of Israeli who also promote the myth that "if only we were better to the Palestinians, and ended the occupation, we would have peace". Funded generously by European taxpayers and churches, various political and quasi-academic non-governmental groups are sponsoring one-sided conferences and symposia on these topics.
But for the vast majority of Israeli, the era of simplistic slogans and wishful thinking ended with the catastrophic collapse to the "Oslo peace process", and the terror campaign in which over 1000 people were murdered. Until the Palestinians and the world accept Israel as a Jewish state, with the "secure and recognized borders" pledged in UN Resolution 242 that followed the 1967 war, the options are limited.
- Professor Steinberg is Executive Director, NGO Monitor.