Throughout human history, conflicts only ended when one side wins and the other side loses. The seemingly endless Arab-Israeli conflict continues because the international community systematically undermines Israel’s defensive victory over the militarily losing Arab aggressors.
Much of the international community predictably condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israel’s Golan Heights. The office of Federica Mogherini, foreign-policy chief of the European Union, rejected the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategic heights:
“The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed. In line with the international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.”
Critics have stressed the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” mentioned in the U.N. Security Council resolution 242. The rationale behind this idea is the prevent countries from expanding their territories through illegal wars of aggression. However, it does not apply to the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel won a legitimate war of self-defense against a pan-Arab illegal aggression. Syria lost the Golan Heights because of its failed systematic aggression against Israel. During the period 1948-1967, Syrian forces on the Golan Heights regularly shelled peaceful Israeli border communities, while most of the international community looked the other way.
While many Israel critics often refer to the U.N. Resolution 242, few are familiar with its content. This key resolution demands an end of aggression against Israel as a prerequisite for any withdrawal by Israel from some but not necessary all disputed territories. Ironically, there is no mention of the word “Palestinian” in the text. This is not a coincidence. In 1967, the PLO openly prioritized the Arab aggression against Israel’s existence. The propaganda myth of an “oppressed and occupied people” fighting against a “Goliath” Israel would only gain strength later.
By demanding that Israel “returns” the Golan Heights to Syria, the E.U. and other Israel critics advocate rewarding Arab aggression. The European criticism of Israel is rooted in an Orwellian hypocrisy detached from reality, both past and present. For a start, the aggression against Israel has not ended. Iranian and Hezbollah forces are openly threatening Israel from Lebanon and Syria. Damascus is today a vassal state divided between Russian and Iranian rival imperial interests. Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian Assad regime are implacable lethal enemies that oppose the existence of the Jewish state within any borders.
The E.U.’s opposition to Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights also ignores the fact that most borders worldwide are results of armed conflicts. This is particularly true in the case of Europe. The borders of European countries have shifted dramatically over time. The formerly Danish provinces Scania, Halland and Blekinge became Swedish after Denmark lost a war against Sweden in 1658. The European Parliament is located in Strasbourg in the French Alsace region. Like the neighboring Lorraine region, these disputed territories have changed hands several times between France and Germany. After France lost the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the Germans ruled Alsace and Lorraine until the end of the First World War. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany occupied the areas, which returned to French rule in 1945.
After the World War II, Poland lost parts of its eastern territories to Soviet Russia but gained former German territories in the west. There is an ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over the contested Kashmir region. The borders of countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Brazil are results of armed conflicts where the victors imposed their will on the losing side. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British and French imposed artificial borders across the Middle East. Israel’s legal and historic rights to the Golan Heights are no less compelling than France’s right to Alsace, Sweden’s right to Scania or Poland’s right to Silesia.
The famous ABBA song “The Winner Takes It All” summarizes much of human history. However, in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, critics deny Israel the right to translate its military victory into a diplomatic victory that ends the conflict. Instead, much of the international community hypocritically demand that the Arabs are rewarded for their failed aggression against Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized Israel’s unique position: “This is an incredibly unique situation. Israel was fighting a defensive battle to save its nation [when it conquered the plateau in 1967], and it cannot be the case that a U.N. resolution is a suicide pact.”
Unlike former European and current Iranian ayatollah imperialists, Israel has always been a tiny state without any imperial pretensions. Lacking strategic depth while facing implacable enemies, Israel’s survival was only secured by an offensive defense doctrine. By recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, President Trump simply recognized reality.
The conflict between Arabs and Jews is not a result of a Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria or in the Golan Heights. It is a result of the Arab side using these disputed territories as front bases for their flagrant aggression against the existence of a Jewish nation-state within any borders. No country has ever given up strategically essential territory that it gained in a legitimate defensive war against an enemy bent on its destruction.
As long as the international community undermines an Israeli political victory and exempts the losing Arab side for paying the customary price of failed aggression, Arab-Israeli peace will remain a pipe dream.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst and a Fellow at the Haym Salomon Center. You can find more in-depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il.
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