They Say, We Say: "If the Arabs hadn't attacked Israel in 1967…"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Why Should Israel have to give up land?

They Say:

If the Arabs hadn't attacked Israel in 1967, Israel wouldn't have been forced to fight for its survival, in the process taking over the land the Arabs now demand. It's absurd to argue that Israel should now be forced to give back this same land in order to buy "peace" with these same enemies.

We Say:

The argument that Israel shouldn't have to give up land for peace misses the point. Israel must trade land for peace not to placate its enemies or "reward" them for something but to serve its own interests: in order to survive as a Jewish state and a democracy, with real security and recognized borders.

Today, 11 million people live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Jews comprise about half that number, and Israeli experts predict that by the year 2020, Arabs will outnumber Jews by 20%. In this reality, if Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, it can continue to be a Jewish state only by continuing to disenfranchise the Palestinians. But this is not a realistic option, both because it conflicts with Jewish values and because the international community will not tolerate forever a situation in which such a large population - eventually the majority of the population of the area - is disenfranchised. While we all find comparisons to Apartheid-era South Africa distasteful, there is no doubt that such comparisons will increase if things continue as they are.

There is another significant difference between the Middle East of 1967 and today's Middle East. Following the Six-Day War, the Arab League - a coalition of all Arab states - passed a resolution stating that there would be "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." These "three no's of Khartoum" made clear that the Arab world was united in dogmatic rhetoric and enmity toward Israel.

In the decades since then, the Arab world has become much more pragmatic in its approach to Israel. This has been evidenced in Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, Israeli relations with other Arab states (which have improved at times when there has been a credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process), and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), under which Arab League members unanimously offered Israel peace and normalized relations, subject to a two-state solution that, among other things, subjected the Palestinian "right of return" to Israeli consent. The Arab League has since re-affirmed its proposal repeatedly. It would be foolhardy to ignore these changes.