Amid the deluge of op-eds about this anniversary of the Six Day War, and the occupation, I recommend Gershom Gorenberg in WaPo.
Back to 1967: One day that summer, French philosopher and journalist Raymond Aron interviewed Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. I found a transcript, or part of one, in Eshkol’s office files. Eshkol said that if Israel couldn’t reach a peace agreement on its conditions with Jordan, “We’ll stay where we are.” Aron asked if he didn’t fear a popular uprising. “No,” Eshkol replied, “This isn’t Algeria.”
Eshkol’s answer showed he knew his interviewer. A decade before, Aron had scandalized his conservative political colleagues with his essay, “The Algerian Tragedy.” He’d argued that for France’s own sake, it had to give up its colony. Holding Algeria by force violated liberal values, he wrote, whereas, “The ‘loss’ of Algeria is not the end of France.”
In sundry ways, the West Bank isn’t Algeria. Still, Eshkol was mistaken, and Aron’s point holds true for Israel and the occupation. The “loss” of the occupied territories won’t be the end of Israel. Holding on to them might be.