[News] A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 6 12:58:58 EDT 2017


  A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie

Mehdi Hasan - June 5, 2017

_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 
<https://worldview.carnegiecouncil.org/archive/worldview/1973/09/2214.html/_res/id=File1/> 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 
<http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/09/24/jewish-terrorists/> 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 <http://www.btselem.org/freedom_of_movement/curfew>; 
of checkpoints 
walls <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48236#.WTEbABPyv-Y>, 
and permits 

Fifty years of bombings 
and blockades 
of air raids <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7800985.stm> and 
night raids 
of “targeted killings” 
<http://articles.latimes.com/2001/feb/22/news/mn-28553> and “human 
shields” <http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.530993>; of 
tortured Palestinian kids 

Fifty years of racial discrimination 
and ethnic prejudice 
<http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1947883.html>; of a 
“separate but unequal” 
two-tier justice system for Palestinians and Israelis; of military 
courts <http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.779748> 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 
<https://history.state.gov/milestones/1989-1992/madrid-conference>, Oslo 
<https://history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/oslo>, Wye River 
Camp David 
Red Sea 
Annapolis <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/nov/27/israel.usa1>. 
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 
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 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/apr/26/comment>, 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 
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 
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.”

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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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