Saturday, July 15, 2006

TODAYonline: Stalemate in the Gaza

Still in a holiday mood so I'm not going to comment on the article per se. But what really caught my eye was the little timeline on bottom right of the page (see link above) entitled "Timeline of the Mideast Conflict" and something really struck me when I was reading it.

Go ahead and see if you can figure out what it was.

*Twiddle thumb*

Hint: Something happened between the Six Day War in 1967 and the invasion of Southern Lebanon in 1978.

Another hint: It occured in 1973.

Last hint: It occured on a Jewish holy day.

Yup, there's no mention of the Yom Kippur War, or what preceeded its outbreak and the constant security threats Israel was facing in that intervening time.

The only reason I picked it up was because I was Assistant Director to the Historical Security Council of the Model United Nations that NTU organised this year. The introductory paper that I wrote (mostly cribbed from Wikipedia) can be found here

But the relevance of the Yom Kippur War is that it effectively destroyed any lingering notion of getting rid of Israel as a state. As can be read above, a surprise and unprovoked attack on that day nearly destroyed the state with Syria getting very close to the pre-1967 borders of Israel. Well how unprovoked it is, considering it is the Middle East with very long histories and memories, is up to you to decide, but I should mention that the 6 Day War was preceeding by Egypt closing the Suez Canal which Israel had already stated would constitute an act of war.

The massively successful counter attack brought Israel more land in which it used to barter for peace, something it arguably should not have to do since it was recognised as a state by the UN. At the same time, the orginal success of the Egyptian and Syrian forces gave it sufficient political capital to take up the land-for-peace offer and was at the same time acceptable to their people. Well, more so for Egypt than Syria which continued to launch terrorist attacks on Israel through Lebannon (effectively a Syrian proxy till this year). This had in fact long before the 6 Day War, continued after it despite Resolution 242 and was in fact one of the reasons why Israel refused to give up any of its post 1967 land to them.

The refusal to recognise Israel and to continue to deny their existance by seeking an end to it almost meant that giving up those lands would have been suicidal for it would have given Syria control over the majority of the Israeli water supply and the Golam Heights would have provided an incredible launching pad for any future attacks (take a look at the picturs and its relation to how close it is to Israel proper)

I personally find the timeline very scanty and simplistic, which perhaps can be explained by the limited space due to its very nature, but to be honest I didn't find it very objective. In the sense that it cherrypicks events and does not reflect on continuing events like acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens (and vice versa, I find that the country has a very disturbing notion of collateral damage). Or how this is a reflection of the general siege mentality created by attacks as far back as the 1920s. Or what feeds the intifada or what are the major sticking points in all attempted peace processes since (including the Saudi backed peace process) or what happened to Palestine under the rule of the PA dominated by Fatah.

Thus in conclusion, I don't think this timeline can be saved even by specific reference to the nations involved as it simutaneously manages to say both too little and too much.


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