Right About the Golan Heights

golan heights

Credit:flickr/IDF

Last week’s declaration by Donald Trump of the United States’ recognition of Israeli sovereignty was, as expected, derisively disputed and dismissed by Israel’s many international detractors. But, writing for the Gatestone Institute, the ever-judicious Alan Dershowitz says that Trump was right about the Golan Heights, as no country in history has given back to its enemies such essential territory gained during a defensive war:

No reasonable person would ask the Israelis to give the Golan Heights to the Syrian mass murderer Assad. It would be suicidal to hand the high ground overlooking Israeli towns and villages to a madman who would use it to target Israelis civilians with chemical barrel bombs, as Assad has done to his own citizens. No country has ever returned a battleship captured in a defensive war to an enemy sworn to its destruction. In addition, the Golan Heights is a big battleship that would be used to attack Israel.

The Golan Heights is not like the West Bank, which has a large population of civilians who regard themselves as occupied or displaced. The civilians who lived in the Golan Heights before Israel entered it on the last day of the Six-Day War were largely Druze. Whoever remained there are far better off living in Israel than in Syria. Since Assad began his campaign of murder, many Golan Druze have already become Israeli citizens. As one of the 25,000 Arab Druze stated in a recent LA Times article, “No doubt that Druze and Israelis in the Golan enjoy a level of safety and security that can’t be compared to life on the other side… Each night at dinner, he says he reminds his children that while they are well fed, there are children in Syria with nothing to eat.”

So, Israel’s control of the Golan Heights is not about people; it is largely about military advantage. No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war.

The issue is not whether Israel should give back the Golan Heights now. Virtually everyone agrees it should not. Moreover, it will not. No Prime Minister of Israel, no matter how far to the left, would ever think of ceding the Golan Heights to Assad. The area is high ground that the Syrians used to shoot down onto the Israeli farmers laboring in the valley: it was a shooting gallery.

Israel will remain in control of the Golan Heights for the foreseeable future. The only issue is whether Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights should be recognized by the United States and other countries. It should, for several important reasons…

Tags: Israel Trump US-Israel Relations

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