September 23, 2019

The O-Word

I see it here, I see it there;
some days, I seem to see it everywhere:
“Occupation!” so many cry,
never bothering to mention why
or how Israel came to control
certain land and the Western Wall.
Among the critics, too many complain
that all of Israel is occupied terrain.
As if an independent country reigned here in ’48.
As if Arabs didn’t refuse, in ’47, a Palestinian state.
As if, over decades, other offers didn’t come.
As if, all this time, Palestinians have abstained from
terror and incitement, murdering and maiming.
As if Israel deserves all — and I mean all — of the blaming.
But let’s assume that what everyone deplores
concerns only the map post-Six-Day War.
A war Arab provocations forced Israel to begin,
a war the Arab armies never imagined that she’d win.
But win Israel did, and as with elections, it’s true:
Wars have consequences, win or lose.
But recall that with Egypt, and Jordan, Israel’s leaders agreed
to significant concessions in exchange for peace.
Gaza, Israel exited more than a decade ago —
that’s something else many don’t seem to know.
So judge the occupation for particularities or duration,
but please don’t pin everything on the Israeli nation.
It takes more than one to tango and more than one as well
to sustain two states where two peoples can dwell.

Erika Dreifus is a New York-based writer, poet and book publicist. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter at @ErikaDreifus, where she tweets “on matters bookish and/or Jewish.”