Joined: 25 Jul 2005
Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:22 am Post subject: 5th June 1967 - Six Day War started with a lie
|A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie
Mehdi Hasan June 5 2017, 2:07 p.m.
FIFTY YEARS AGO, between June 5 and June 10, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War, as it would later be dubbed, saw the Jewish David inflict a humiliating defeat on the Arab Goliath, personified perhaps by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt.
“The existence of the Israeli state hung by a thread,” the country’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, claimed two days after the war was over, “but the hopes of the Arab leaders to annihilate Israel were dashed.” Genocide, went the argument, had been prevented; another Holocaust of the Jews averted.
There is, however, a problem with this argument: It is complete fiction, a self-serving fantasy constructed after the event to justify a war of aggression and conquest. Don’t take my word for it: “The thesis according to which the danger of genocide hung over us in June 1967, and according to which Israel was fighting for her very physical survival, was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war,” declared Gen. Matituahu Peled, chief of logistical command during the war and one of 12 members of Israel’s General Staff, in March 1972.
A year earlier, Mordechai Bentov, a member of the wartime government and one of 37 people to sign Israel’s Declaration of Independence, had made a similar admission. “This whole story about the threat of extermination was totally contrived, and then elaborated upon, a posteriori, to justify the annexation of new Arab territories,” he said in April 1971.
Even Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, former terrorist and darling of the Israeli far right, conceded in a speech in August 1982 that “in June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
The reverberations of that attack are still being felt in the Middle East today. Few modern conflicts have had as deep and long-lasting an impact as the Six-Day War. As U.S. academic and activist Thomas Reifer has observed, it sounded the “death knell of pan-Arab nationalism, the rise of political Islam … a more independent Palestinian nationalism” and “Israel’s emergence as a U.S. strategic asset, with the United States sending billions of dollars … in a strategic partnership unequalled in world history.”
Above all else, the war, welcomed by the London Daily Telegraph in 1967 as “the triumph of the civilized,” forced another 300,000 Palestinians from their homes and ushered in a brutal military occupation for the million-odd Palestinians left behind.
The conflict itself may have lasted only six days, but the occupation that followed is now entering its sixth decade the longest military occupation in the world. Apologists for Israel often deny that it is an occupation and say the Occupied Territories are merely “disputed,” a disingenuous claim belied by Israel’s own Supreme Court, which ruled in 2005 that the West Bank is “held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation.”
Fifty long years of occupation; of dispossession and ethnic cleansing; of house demolitions and night curfews; of checkpoints, walls, and permits.
Fifty years of bombings and blockades; of air raids and night raids; of “targeted killings” and “human shields”; of tortured Palestinian kids.
Fifty years of racial discrimination and ethnic prejudice; of a “separate but unequal” two-tier justice system for Palestinians and Israelis; of military courts and “administrative detention.”
Fifty years of humiliation and subjugation; of pregnant Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints; of Palestinian cancer patients denied access to radiation therapy; of Palestinian footballers prevented from reaching their matches.
Fifty years of pointless negotiations and failed peace plans: Allon, Rogers, Fahd, Fez, Reagan, Madrid, Oslo, Wye River, Camp David, Taba, Red Sea, Annapolis. What did they deliver for the occupied Palestinians? Aside from settlements, settlements, and more settlements? Consider: In 1992, a year before the Oslo peace process began, West Bank settlements covered 77 kilometers and housed 248,000 Israeli settlers. By 2016, those settlements covered 197 kilometers and the number of settlers living in them had more than tripled to 763,000.
These settlements have rendered the much-discussed “two-state solution” almost impossible. The occupied West Bank has been carved up into a series of bantustans, cut off from each other and the wider world. The settlers are not going anywhere, anytime soon. They are Israel’s “facts on the ground.” To ignore them is to ignore perhaps the biggest obstacle to ending the occupation. “It’s like you and I are negotiating over a piece of pizza,” the Palestinian-American lawyer and former adviser to the PLO, Michael Tarazi, explained in 2004. “How much of the pizza do I get? And how much do you get? And while we are negotiating it, you are eating it.”
It wasn’t just the 1967 war that was launched on a lie; so too was the occupation that began after it. It was never supposed to be temporary, nor were the Palestinians ever supposed to get their land back. If Israel had planned to withdraw from the Occupied Territories, as some of its supporters suggest, then why was the first settlement in the West Bank, Kfar Etzion, established less than four months after the Six-Day War, in defiance of “top-secret” advice from the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser that “civilian settlement” in the territories would contravene “the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention”? Why has it revoked the residency rights of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank over the past 50 years? Why has the Jewish state spent the past five decades exploiting the charade of a “peace process” to gobble up more Palestinian land and build more illegal settlements? The truth is that the Jewish state, from the very beginning, “used negotiations as a smokescreen to advance its colonial project,” to borrow a line from imprisoned Palestinian militant and activist Marwan Barghouti. Fifty years on, it is time for both the Palestinian leadership and the international community to stop pretending otherwise.
The legendary Israeli general and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who was one of the architects of Israel’s victory in 1967 and was adamant that the country should hold onto the territories it had seized, best summed up the cynical attitude of Israeli governments of both right and left over the past five decades. “The only peace negotiations,” pronounced Dayan, when asked about the possibility of a peace deal with the Palestinians in November 1970, “are those where we settle the land and we build, and we settle, and from time to time we go to war.”
Top photo: Israeli soldiers search Jordanian prisoners during mopping up operations in the old city of Jerusalem on June 8, 1967, as the city came under Jewish control during the Six-Day War.
|TonyGosling wrote: |
|The Six Day War has endured for 50 years
This conflict has caused untold misery for those living its consequences.
Tony Walker - Show comments
A week today the world will note the 50th anniversary of the start of the most enduring conflict of the modern era, and one which has caused untold misery for those living with the consequences.
On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against surrounding Arab states in retaliation for an Egyptian blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.
In a matter of hours, Israel had destroyed 90 per cent of Egypt's Soviet-supplied air force, and over succeeding days, in what became known as the Six Day War, it seized the Sinai Desert and Gaza Strip from the Egyptians, Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Overnight, the Jewish state trebled the size of territory under its control.
Moshe Dayan, Israeli Minister of Defence during the Six Day War.
Moshe Dayan, Israeli Minister of Defence during the Six Day War. Photo: Fairfax Media
By any standards this was an extraordinary military achievement, but the question a half century later is whether Israel, as an occupier of several million Palestinians, has been cursed by that success.
Might it not have been desirable for the country's leaders to declare victory and pull back to defensible boundaries, and thus avoid the opprobrium that inevitably accompanies occupation?
I can tell you, having observed it in various parts of the Middle East over many years, that occupation is as corrosive for the occupiers as it is for the occupied.
Anticipating criticism in the letters pages, let's assert that Israel was a victim of aggression by the Arabs led by Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, that it had every right to defend itself to the best of its ability and, in the process, make use of territory gained in the conflict to negotiate a just peace.
What a smashing victory in 1967 did not entitle Israel to was to be a permanent occupier of territory and its people and settlers of land seized in war in defiance of international law.
Much will be published in the next several days hailing a stunning victory, but significantly less attention will be paid to voices in Israel who have sought to question that triumphalist perspective.
We should heed these voices since they represent, in many cases, fine Jewish traditions of moral courage and intellectual curiosity.
The distinguished Israeli writer, Amos Oz, had this to say in the aftermath of the 1967 war: "We are condemned now to rule people who do not want to be ruled by us. I have fears about the kind of seeds we will sow in the near future in the hearts of the occupied. Even more, I have fears about the seeds that will be planted in the hearts of the occupiers."
Some might describe Oz as a prophet without honour in his own country.
Or Benny Morris, the historian, quoted in The Guardian who said of the great paradox of the Six Day War victory:
"On the one hand, it contributed to peace because it was so decisive that it persuaded the Arab regimes that Israel couldn't be beaten militarily … On the other hand, it gave rise in Israel to a messianic right-wing expansionism and ideology that had not really existed before 1967."
Or Tom Segev, author of the definitive work on the 1967 war, 1967: Israel, the War and Year that Transformed the Middle East, who observed in 2007 on the 40th anniversary:
"Forty years of oppression and Palestinian terrorism, both extremely cruel, have undermined Israel's Jewish and democratic foundations."
It is interesting to compare Australia's cautious responses to Israel's 1967 war victory with alignments of today in which conservative politicians fall over themselves to identify with Israeli right-wing nationalists wedded to settlements on Palestinian land.
The recent visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a case in point. Hardly a word was heard from government ministers about Israel's continued settlement expansion.
This brings us to the arrival in the White House of a man who has described peace between Israel and the Palestinians as the "ultimate deal".
On his visit to the Middle East this month, including time in Saudi Arabia, in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories Donald Trump evinced what seemed like a naive faith in his ability to bring about a resolution of arguably the world's most vexed conflict.
But if there is reason for the slightest optimism it may well lie in Trump's unpredictability, and one other important ingredient best summed up by the Arab saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Thus, Israel and the Sunni Arab world led these days by Saudi Arabia – in lieu of an impoverished Egypt – might find common ground in their fear and loathing of the Islamic Republic of Iran whose shadow is lengthening across the entire Middle East.
Trump left the region without making any concrete suggestions about a way forward, and may well prove to be a false god, but at least in his public statements he did no harm. Fifty years after the Six Day War remade the contours of the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians deserve a fresh start.
Tony Walker is the co-author of Arafat: The Biography and a former Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times.
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung