Raanan Shaked explains the real reason for Israel’s refusal to withdraw to 1967 borders.
by Raanan Shaked
To be honest, I don’t want to return to the 1967 borders. It’s too damn crowded here as it is.
I realize that this is a crappy reason for giving up on comprehensive regional peace, but I’m almost willing to bet that this is the reason why most Israelis, including professional peace fans such as myself, do not really want to return to the 1967 lines.
It appears to us that we have a very small state as it is. Indeed, as it is, everyone around here steps on each other’s foot. As it is, a residential tower is being constructed under my sink. As it is, the feeling around here on Shabbat is that there’s nowhere else to run – the cement, the dirt, the tin signs, and mostly... these Israelis – they’re everywhere! And we’re out of space.
Am I joking here? Well, not entirely. The notion of a “Jewish State” to be established on land roughly 10% of Idaho’s size was a bad joke to begin with. This is a simple calculation error: If you take into account the fact that there are some 14 million Jews in the world who are all supposed to live here eventually, and if you take into account the fact that the State of Israel’s size is what is known as “George’s farm” in Texas, you immediately understand that a “home for the Jewish people” in fact meant “slums for the Jewish people.”
I realize that the “it’s too crowded here” argument doesn’t sound impressive, yet nonetheless, it is the only reason why Israelis don’t really want to hear about the “1967 borders.” It’s not that we are actually using most of this extra territory, yet when we are being asked to crowd a little more, we feel they went a little too far.
This is the kind of psyche that Americans are unfamiliar with: For them, there is no such thing as “crowded.” They can always disappear in the endless spaces of South Dakota or in the deserts of Nevada. Space is not a problem. There’s space, and right next to it there’s more space.
In Israel we’re out of space. Not only don’t we have another state, the existing state it too small for us by two sizes. Our beloved Obama, how about you get stuck in the holiday traffic jams for an hour and a half in an attempt to make it to your vacation at the Bed & Breakfast, where 15 Israeli families with their vocal children are already waiting for you?
This Bed & Breakfast, by the way, is on the Golan Heights – territory that the 1967 lines also seek to deprive from us, and now of all times, when the Cross-Israel Highway makes the drive so much shorter! The Golan Heights – apparently the only Tuscany we shall ever be able to reach without flying there – is Israel’s only ventilation outlet and escape route these days. How did we ever manage to live without it before 1967? Well, there used to be fewer than three million people here back then and we had a whole state at our disposal, including some nature. Since then, we used all of it. Twice.
I realize that “it’s really crowded here, and besides, haven’t you been to the Golan Heights? Isn’t it lovely? Wouldn’t it be a shame to give it up?” doesn’t quite sound like the kind of argument we can present in Washington: It will melt on the plane. Yet nonetheless, at least for Israelis my age and younger – those who were born in the extended version of the State of Israel – The “1967 borders” sound a little like “go back to your room and stay there.”
It’s childish, it’s retarded, and it’s completely inadmissible. Yet still, this is what all of us think to ourselves when we are told “1967 lines” – we don’t feel like it. So at least let’s be honest with ourselves: This is not about “defensible borders” or any kind of similar security nonsense; we refuse to return to the 1967 borders simply because it seems too crowded and depressing. Besides, you can’t relocate the Golan Heights Winery to the Negev without changing the brand name.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -