The consequences of Israel’s territorial gains from the Six Day War for peace with Egypt

My essay is finished. The link is here:

My contention is that the formerly Egyptian territory Israel gained in the Six Day War was the key motivation in Egypt’s signing of the Camp David Accord with Israel, the hardest negotiated concession Israel made and as such, was the principal factor for peace between the two countries. This essay seeks to understand the role Israel’s territorial gains of the Sinai Peninsula and the waterways around it played in securing its peace with Egypt. It will examine Israeli and Egyptian leadership, their decisions, the external influences on their decisions, and the importance of territory in peace negotiations and the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt. It will focus on the time between the end of the war and the signing of peace treaties, and does not consider ancient Arab and Jewish territorial claims.

I would love to hear feedback, either here or at Scribd.

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Research Paper Proposal–Israel’s territorial gains from the Six Day War and their consequences for peace with Egypt and Jordan

After consulting with my professor, I have decided that the previous topic was too broad. I went through literally a dozen other research questions and have decided on the following proposal. Again, if my readers can give any feedback, I would really appreciate it.

For my research paper, I will attempt to ascertain how Israel’s territorial gains in the Six Day War led to the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace accords.

Middle East scholars agree that the Six Day War was a momentous occasion for the region, with ramifications far beyond the capture of territory. Perceptions of threats to security in the Middle East, including to Israel’s very existence, have been radically altered. A lasting peace seems to have been attained between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan. Another way of framing this question is, how did perceptions of Israel’s territorial acquisitions from the Six Day War affect peace negotiations? The conclusions of this paper will help us understand how Israel’s two major peace agreements were reached and may help us understand the territorial dimensions of similar, future accords.

To answer this question, I will need to determine the consequences of the acquisitions of the Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. In other words, what did Israel’s gains lead to and not lead to? I will also need to look at peace proposals related to territory (“land for peace”) and compare them to the treaties that were eventually signed. This paper will focus almost entirely on the time between the end of the war and the signing of peace treaties, and will not delve into ancient Arab and Jewish territorial claims, except insofar as they affected the parties’ decisions. Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian official positions and perspectives will be an important factor in understanding the extent to which territorial concessions played a role in achieving peace.

Secondary questions therefore include, did Israel’s acquisition of the Sinai lead to its peace accord with Egypt, and if so, how? How were the decisions of leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat and Hussein bin Talal to go to the negotiating table affected by territorial considerations? How important was the captured territory to Israeli leaders? Were they anxious to give it up in return for peace? Did outside actors such as Jimmy Carter, the UN Security Council and the USSR push for territorial bargaining?

In order to understand the influence of Israel’s captured territories on peace, I will divide my essay into the following sections (which may change before the essay is complete):

1)      An introduction to Israel’s territorial acquisitions from the Six Day War and why they are important for answering this question.

2)      A timeline of relevant events between June 10, 1967 and the signing of the peace accords (though this will probably be consigned to an appendix).

3)      Leadership. How did the perspectives of leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin on the territorial consequences of the war bring them to the negotiating table? How important was the territory to the leaders? This and the following section could be broken into the subsections of Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

4)      Peace. How are land clauses in proposals for peace similar to those of the treaties eventually signed? What happened during the negotiations focused on land and how were they resolved?

Research Paper Proposal–the Six Day War’s consequences for official relations between its combatants

The reason I have not been posting for the past two weeks is that I have begun a class at the University of Victoria on the politics of the Middle East. I would like to ask my readers’ opinions on my research paper proposal. This is part of my mark and it is due on Monday, July 20th. I am asking for advice on the structure of the proposal, the proposed structure of the essay, the questions I am asking and any sources you can think of that may give me interesting perspectives on the subject. And if you can’t help with any of those, what do you suggest as a good title? Here is my proposal.

For my research paper, I will attempt to ascertain to what extent the Six Day War has shaped Israel’s official relations with Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the United States.

Middle East scholars agree that the Six Day War was a momentous occasion for the region, with ramifications far beyond the capture of territory. Perceptions of threats to security in the Middle East, including to Israel’s very existence, have been radically altered. Another way of framing this research question might be, what has happened since June 10, 1967, that has affected relations between Israel and its once most belligerent neighbours, and its now most loyal ally?

To answer this question, I will need first to determine the direct consequences of the Six Day War and then draw conclusions about what they have lead to. For the purpose of this paper, the term “official relations” means Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian and American government and military positions, decisions and actions that have influenced Israel, and vice versa. Some events that will feature prominently in this paper are the Yom Kippur War, the Camp David summit and peace accords, the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, perceptions of threats and border issues.

Secondary questions therefore include, did Israel’s acquisition of the Sinai lead to its peace accord with Egypt? How have leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat, Hafez al-Assad and Hussein bin Talal affected official relations? How has official blame for losing the war soured Israeli-Arab contacts and negotiations? How have pride and shame at the Six Day War’s outcome affected prospects for peace?

Though Saudi Arabia and Iraq played roles in the conflict, they were not humiliated in the way Egypt, Syria and Jordan were. My assumption is that their relations with Israel have been less affected than those of the countries on Israel’s periphery, and as a result will not be delving deeply into their relations with Israel. This paper will address the USSR’s influence in the region after the Six Day War but, as a defunct entity, Israel no longer has relations with it, and it is not central to this paper. The United States, on the other hand, has increased its strategic presence in the Middle East and its relations with Israel have affected its prospects for peace with its neighbours, for better or worse.

Finally, I will not be addressing terrorism, Jewish settlers or Palestinian refugees to any great extent, because they concern nonstate actors and thus are not directly related to the question I wish to answer.

In order to understand the Six Day War’s influence on Israel’s international relations, I will divide my essay into the following sections (which may change before the essay is complete:

1)      The direct consequences of the war. This is the essential first step to knowing what this paper should be analysing. I will introduce perspectives on the war’s results.

2)      Pride and shame. Pride among Israelis and shame in Egypt, Syria and Jordan have had consequences for official relations in the Middle East. This section may touch on public sentiment (including American Jewish influence on Israel) but will focus on interpreting Israeli and Arab leaders’ decisions since the war.

3)      War. Interstate conflicts of various types involving Israel and its neighbours have arisen since 1967. How much did the outcomes of the Six Day War lead to such conflicts?

4)      Peace. How effective have Security Council resolutions, the land for peace proposal and high level negotiations been in reducing the risk of war between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan? Has the United States’s relationship with Israel reduced or increased the risk?

Conflict and the search for meaning

We all seek meaning in life. Meaning has various sources, but we must be careful to find our meaning and not that of others. The search for meaning is at the center of the world’s conflicts.

A major source of meaning is hunting, as I discussed in my last post on human nature. Modern hunting takes many forms. Some people participate in unfulfilling hedonism such as sexual escapades or gathering possessions. Some engage in the struggles of their ancestors, seeking revenge for ancient injustices. Aside from hunting, we have other pursuits that seem larger than ourselves. Many people feel that religion is a great source of meaning, though it also leads to conflict when it is combined with the hunt. The guards in the concentration camps who believed in what they were doing had meaning in their lives.

A lack of meaning in one’s life can be dangerous to our health. Some people seek new meaning, but if one does not look for and pursue it all the time, one can become depressed, neurotic and suicidal. Viktor Frankl had meaning. He was writing his magnum opus while interned in concentration camps in the 1940s. His subject: man’s search for meaning.

Those reading this may know of Abraham Maslow and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He says that meaning, while important, is the small part of the pyramid. Frankl turns the pyramid on its head, saying that, without meaning, the other things can only take us so far. A mind with a purpose can carry its person through anything, but one without can shrivel and die. Frankl found that, in the concentration camp, the people who had given up their reason for living were the ones who died. He, on the other hand, would steal scraps of paper on which to write his life’s work, and he is certain that this is what kept his brain, and his body, alive through the most bitter conditions humans have known. And it is this struggle for one’s life’s meaning that is at the heart of the world’s darkest conflicts.

At some point in our lives, people offer us meaning. This meaning is comes in the form of nationalism, religion, ideology and so on. Sometimes we do what others are doing, which is conformism, and sometimes we do what others want or force us to do, or totalitarianism. But external meaning, that is, meaning offered by others, is false meaning. It acts like a drug: it feels good but lets you down because there is nothing there to satisfy you as an individual. Taking on someone else’s meaning leaves you with a feeling of emptiness.

What we need is striving for goals, tension between meaning to be fulfilled and the man who wants to fulfill it. Far from being an afterthought en route to food, work and a house, the search for meaning is the primary motivation in life. So the individual must seek his own, specific mission in life. We are filled with internal conflict, which is the hardest conflict to solve. Internal conflict is the tough questions in life: Am I happy? Do I make others happy? What is my purpose or mission? Why am I doing what I am doing? How can I make my life better? How can I make the world better? Internal conflict cannot be solved with guns and bombs. It cannot be delegated to another person, no matter how wise. Because it is so difficult to resolve our internal conflict, many people give up on it. They take on external meaning instead and pay with their lives.

Let us say I have a cause: liberation for my homeland. Where did I get that cause from? Everyone else who looks like me and talks like me is doing it. They are my family. I have been told that my whole life. And I have also been told that family is destiny, and family is the only source of meaning. These people are my family, so I must fight for them. I will dedicate my whole life to this cause. I have become a willing slave.

And there are millions of these slaves in the world. They are the suicide bombers, the unquestioning soldiers, the members of death squads, the monomaniacal liberationists and ideologues, who are no more than tools of their cause. We see this problem played out all over the world: nationalists in Palestine, Kosovo, Xinjiang, Chechnya, Tamil Eelam, Kashmir, Basque, Kurdistan, and everybody fighting against them, are engaged in existential struggles because they have accepted another’s meaning. Not only do such people cause some of the worst violence in the world, they are blind to the truth. When the enemy kills, it is a horrible act of war; when we kill, it is for our noble cause. They have chosen not to resolve their inner struggles and have accepted the false meaning of a cause they will never benefit from.

An alternative to being a footsoldier is to be a general. Similar in result to the pursuit of goals of one’s group is the pursuit of power for oneself. Power is very tempting. I think I have the answer, and power is what I need to put my solution into effect. (Frankl calls the pursuit of money the more “primitive” version of the pursuit of power.) The result of this temptation is (national or corporate) empire building. People will lie, steal, kill, or send others to die, anything in the scramble to the top of the ladder. When they are there, they do everything they can to hold on to power. Mass graves are testimony to this fact. And they build their empires with no concern for others. In other words, people who are not searching for a meaning that is greater than themselves will not only lead empty lives: they will lead destructive ones.

Relentlessly pursuing something is not realising your life’s meaning. Frankl says we should do three things to find meaning: achieve, experience and adopt the right attitude. Achieving means creating something that is good for the world, such as a book or a work of art. Experiencing is experiencing nature, culture, truth, beauty and love. Our attitude is how we react to suffering. Since suffering is an inevitable part of life, we must learn to handle it. Again, Frankl spent almost three years in a concentration camp. He says that when we are challenged by suffering, through a potentially fatal disease, for example, how we strive to turn tragedy into triumph, to regain hope, is part of our search for meaning.

People need to find meaning, and many people need help finding it. Education is one answer: schools that give opportunities to express oneself and find one’s passions give the best education. Education should not be about getting a job. If it is, the society it creates could break down into depression (internal conflict) or war (external conflict). At the same time, meaningful work is a great way to find meaning in life. It can lead us to preserve stability in society in order to keep our opportunities for meaning and give others the same chances. Lack of meaning is a major cause and symptom of the world’s most violent conflicts. Helping others to find meaning should be a high priority of those involved in conflict resolution.

Africa is losing the battle for justice

That meddlesome International Criminal Court (ICC) is at it again. Whenever an African dictator turns around, there is Luis Moreno Ocampo with a warrant for his arrest. But there is good news for dictators. The African Union has pledged to protect the worst human rights abusers from the ICC’s claws.

In a statement, the African Union said that they would not cooperate with the ICC on Omar al-Bashir’s arrest. The reasons are simple: Africa has a lot of dictators who have few qualms about violating human rights, and letting one of them go to the Hague would set a precedent. Meanwhile, in Darfur, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, all containing people the ICC wants to nab, atrocities continue apace. This is a victory for the dictators and a finger in the face of the victims.

Many African leaders see the ICC as a way for the West to interfere in the affairs of their respective states. The assumptions behind this talk is criminal. It is such an easy excuse for anything. Human rights are not “Western”, they are universal. Are Africans somehow inferior to Westerners? They do not deserve the same rights? And yet, this is what their leaders are telling them. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, said Martin Luther King, Jr. To disallow the ICC from doing its work in Africa is to doom the continent’s basket cases to more of the same killing it has been suffering from for as long as anyone can remember.

The real question, however, is is the ICC doing the right? The African Union behaved predictably. If you could go to jail because you let someone else go to jail, you would be rational to protect him. What are the alternatives to international institutions?

One system of justice that has been tried in Rwanda takes a more transitional approach. Transitional justice is the kind conducted in the aftermath of a war or something similar, intended to promote not winner’s justice but reconciliation, healing and moving on. (Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are of this idea.) Rwanda’s method is widely studied as a possible alternative to more formal criminal trials. It has its flaws but could be applicable in some situations. If it helps in ways the ICC cannot, it is worth attempting.

Rwanda’s is just one of many possible approaches to justice. However, none of them are being employed in Sudan at the moment. We will need to wait much longer to know the extent of the damage in Darfur and if Omar al-Bashir will ever face trial, or if the only justice he experiences is death.