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Brokaw chats about special on Israel 20 years after Six-Day War

By Arthur Unger / June 30, 1987



New York

Six Days Plus 20 Years: A Dream is Dying NBC, tomorrow, 10-11 p.m. Host: Tom Brokaw. Correspondents: Martin Fletcher, Peter Kent, Lucky Severson. Executive producer: Paul W. Greenberg. Senior producer: Joan Carrigan. Did Israel win the Six-Day War but lose the peace?

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The most troublesome legacy of that country's stunning victory in its 1967 Six-Day War with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan has been the tumultuous military occupation of the West Bank. Now, on the 20th anniversary of that war, this NBC News report surveys Israel's role as ``keeper of the occupation'' and the corroding effect that role is having on the moral fiber of the country.

According to host Tom Brokaw, Israel has begun to realize that the high birthrate of the 800,000 Palestinians on the West Bank and of those in the rest of the country will, within 20 years, turn the Jews into a minority in their own country. It is ``an ominous future,'' Brokaw says.

Much of this documentary was shot in Jerusalem and Hebron. According to Brokaw, there are two sets of laws in Hebron - one for Jews under civil jurisprudence and the other for Arabs under military rule. He reports that, not only is there continuing resistance among young Palestinians to their separate and unequal status but that a growing segment of Israeli society resents what has become Israel's world image.

``Six Days Plus 20 Years'' attempts the impossible: walking a dangerous tightrope, balancing the Arab and the Israeli points of view, and putting into perspective the historical claims as well as current attitudes. It comes close to succeeding.

But while a wide spectrum of Israeli viewpoints is surveyed, little attention is given to non-PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) viewpoints among the Arabs. And while the commentary calls for Israel to bargain with the PLO, it plays down the fact that the PLO refuses to recognize the state of Israel as a legitimate bargainer.

In the final segment, Brokaw raises the question of what the future holds with fascinating, if untypical, representatives of each side - Rabbi David Hartman, a liberal Jewish philosopher who believes in keeping Jerusalem under humane Jewish control; and Oxford-educated Sari Nusseibah, scion of a prominent Palestinian family, who disagrees and believes that it is the Arab political limbo that creates pressure for violence. Both agree that there is an urgent need for recognition by both sides of ``two peoples' right to self-determination'' in an officially articulated policy.

Says Mr. Hartman to Mr. Nusseibah: ``I am not at home until ... the Palestinian people feel at home in this country,...until I've found a way in which your dignity is not in violation of my own creativity.''

``Six Days'' doesn't break any new ground in resolving the Palestinian/Israeli differences, but it does put the moral, as well as the physical, conflict into rational perspective. Perhaps its major importance is the uplifting conclusion, once again presented in the final dialogue: the reaffirmation that it is possible for reasonable men to sit quietly, discuss the problem, and come to some agreement that is perhaps a basis for further discussion.