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.