Op-Ed: Territory or Insanity? On Military Wisdom 40 Years Ago
The US Joint Chiefs were not interested in Jewish patrimony or Biblical history. They were solely concerned with the strategic necessities for Israel's survival in a very bad neighborhood.
Immediately after the June 1967 Six Day War, a secret memorandum was issued by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Their conclusions were that any peace settlement between Israel and the Arab belligerents would only succeed if Israel retained certain territories vital for its continued existence and survival.
The areas the Joint Chiefs declared as the minimum defensible borders for the Jewish state included the Golan Heights, the western half of Samaria (the northwestern part of the West Bank), all of Judea (the southern part of the West Bank), the Gaza Strip and several portions of the eastern Sinai Peninsula.
This, of course, occurred before the world became obsessed with the creation of an Arab terror state within the narrow territory between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan.
Since that report in 1967, the Begin government gave away all of the Sinai. Under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his deputy, Ehud Olmert, Israel gave away the entire Gaza Strip in 2005, with catastrophic consequences for the Jewish state.
Ehud Barak, Israel's present Defense Minister, had years earlier withdrawn from the southern Lebanon security strip, thus allowing the Islamist Hizbullah to fill the vacuum with dire consequences for northern Israel. A conflict broke out - the Second Lebanon War - disastrously mismanaged by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It was launched too late and ended too soon.
After Israel endured over 10,000 incoming missiles from Hamas-occupied Gaza, a war was finally launched by Israel. It too began too late and ended too soon, and the Islamist Hamas continues to pursue its ambition of finally destroying Israel.
Israel is under the greatest pressure in years from an American administration to give away the ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria. President Barack Obama is perceived by many to be a clear and present danger to the very survival of the reconstituted Jewish state.
In the aftermath of the Six Day War, the US Joint Chiefs were not interested in Jewish patrimony or Biblical history. They were solely concerned with the strategic necessities for Israel's survival in a very bad neighborhood. That is why they set out what the bare minimum retention of territory for Israel should be.
Col. Irving Kett (USA, ret.) also prepared an Army War College study on Israel's security needs in 1974. His study was called, "A Proposed Solution to the Arab-Israel Conflict". In it, he strongly suggested that, from a military point of view, Israel's borders should be constituted to make it a compact state with natural boundaries on all sides - the Jordan River to the east, Golan Heights to the northeast, the Litani River in the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the historic boundary with the Sinai Peninsula to the south. As a direct result and consequence of Arab aggression, most of those borders had been attained by Israel at one time or another.
Irving Kett had not been aware that another memorandum had been produced earlier, on June 29, 1967, for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara by General Earle Wheeler, chairman of the JCS, at the direction of President Lyndon Johnson. That study was declassified in 1983 and, as I mentioned earlier, it recommended that Israel keep all of Judea, the western half of Samaria, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and two significant parts of east and south Sinai. The similarity between the memorandums is quite remarkable.
Colonel Kett pointed out what the IDF has always known, but what too many Israeli politicians preferred to ignore; namely, that there is vital strategic value in the mountain range which forms the spine running through Judea and Samaria. The highlands run some 54 miles from Jenin in the north to Hevron in the south and dominate Israel's coastline. The spine is 12 miles wide and Israel simply cannot afford to vacate it.
It was assumed for years by both the Israeli military and politicians that if a Palestinian Arab state came into existence it would have to permit an Israeli defense line on the Jordan River (the Allon Plan), and that such a state would have to be demilitarized.
The answer, of course, would be to have made permanent the suggested boundaries proposed in both Kett's memorandum and the earlier JCS report of some 40 years ago. Events have moved on since then. The Palestinian Authority in the “West Bank” would never agree to this and Hamas in Gaza would scornfully dismiss it out of hand. The Arabs have become even more vicious in their anti-Jewish rhetoric and behavior, and a jihadist Iran has all but encircled the Jewish state through its Islamist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon.
The Arab-Israel conflict is not, and never has been, merely a war over territory. It is, and always has been, a religious war. Islam will never accept a non-Muslim state, whatever size or shape it may be, within lands previously conquered by Muslims in the name of Allah.
The "two-state solution", so beloved of President Obama and President George Bush before him, requires Judea and Samaria to be given away to the Palestinian Arabs. But the Arabs have no intention of making peace, which should be enough for an Israeli government and Prime Minister with intestinal fortitude to defy the world's pressure for the Jewish state to slowly and surely disappear. After all, Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir all said "no" to American presidents in the past and prevailed.
Interestingly, Colonel Kett had also suggested that the Palestinian Arabs be resettled in a state in the Sinai. The other famous suggestion has been that Jordan is Palestine, which is based upon the historical fact of the first "two-state solution" enacted in infamy by Great Britain some 87 years ago.
Even President George W. Bush, when visiting Israel as Governor of Texas, was moved to utter, "The whole of Israel is only about six times the size of the King Ranch near Corpus Christie." Yet even he, after becoming president, called for a "two-state solution" west of the Jordan River.
Pushing Israel back to the "Auschwitz borders", as Abba Eban called them, where the Jewish state is only nine miles wide at its most populous region, is what the "two-state solution" is all about. The dread euphemism "Final Solution" comes to mind.
Hopefully Binyamin Netanyahu stressed the territorial insanity of that fact over and over during his meeting with Obama in the White House.
Copyright © Victor Sharpe 2009