The 40th anniversary of the Six Day War on the Western calendar's is today, June 5, marking the conflict in which Israel defeated the combined Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian armies (and other Arab/Moslem countries who sent troops) who had all amassed to finally destroy and "drive Israel to the sea." Retrospectives on the war are popping up in the media. (Israel, which follows the lunar Jewish calendar, ceremoniously remembered its dead and held other commemorations relating to that war about three weeks ago which was the Jewish date.)
Most of these are dirges blaming Israel for winning; faulting Israel, and Israel alone, for the continuing hostilities and still not being as palsy-walsy with the Arabs as oh, say France and Germany 40 years after their last major war. These sentiments are typical of the many so called 40 years analyses; more of the same are sure to come.
For Palestinians, the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War represents 40 years of freedom denied. For Israelis, it is a reminder that security and regional acceptance remain elusive after nearly six decades of statehood.
While euphoric Israelis dreamed of leveraging their historic victory to ensure their security and perhaps craft an elusive peace, it instead led to a grinding occupation that today divides them and challenges their sense of who they are as a nation.
Yep, all Israel's fault; the Arab countries are/were just so peaceful but Israel fought them anyway; the Arabs/Moslems are completely guiltless, their hatred against Jews and Israel natural and understandable. Blaming the Jews fills a too long historical and psychological need; mourning Jews, once they are safely dead as after World War ll, is fine; Jews who refuse to co-operate in their death, who fight back and somehow, gasp (!), against all odds, survive, upsets the natural order. Therefore they must be condemned. Why this is so is beyond me; greater minds than mine have tried--and failed--to answer this puzzle.
This same attitude prevailed 40 years ago when, after Israel's miraculous success, Europe fumed and the UN castigated Israel. Talk about deja vu all over again now. Indeed, by July of 1967, a satirical Hebrew song, "Excuse us for winning" was popular in Israel, reflecting their amazement--and bitterness--at the world's negative reaction to their amazing triumph.
Countering the deceptive history, Charles Krauthammer recalls the 1967 situation and, as usual, places it in proper perspective.
On May 16, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser ordered the evacuation from the Sinai Peninsula of the U.N. buffer force that had kept Israel and Egypt at peace for 10 years. The United Nations complied, at which point Nasser imposed a naval blockade of Israel's only outlet to the south, the port of Eilat -- an open act of war.
How Egypt came to this reckless provocation is a complicated tale (chronicled in Michael Oren's magisterial "Six Days of War") of aggressive intent compounded with miscommunication and, most fatefully, disinformation. The Soviet Union had reported urgently and falsely to its Middle East clients, Syria and Egypt, that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian border for an attack. Israel desperately tried to disprove this charge by three times inviting the Soviet ambassador in Israel to visit the front. He refused. The Soviet warnings led to a cascade of intra-Arab maneuvers that in turn led Nasser, the champion of pan-Arabism, to mortally confront Israel with a remilitarized Sinai and a southern blockade.
Why is this still important? Because that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel's 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of that war -- the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza -- in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez war, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.
All this disappeared with a wave of Nasser's hand. During those three interminable weeks, President Lyndon Johnson did try to rustle up an armada of countries to run the blockade and open Israel's south. The effort failed dismally.
It is hard to exaggerate what it was like for Israel in those three weeks. Egypt, already in an alliance with Syria, formed an emergency military pact with Jordan. Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began sending forces to join the coming fight. With troops and armor massing on Israel's every frontier, jubilant broadcasts in every Arab capital hailed the imminent final war for the extermination of Israel. "We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri, "and as for the survivors -- if there are any -- the boats are ready to deport them."
For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating. Israel's citizen army had to be mobilized. As its soldiers waited on the various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from its peril, Israeli society ground to a halt and its economy began bleeding to death. Army Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the life of his country in the balance, knowing that waiting too long would allow the armies of 100 million Arabs to strike first his country of 3 million. (Italics added. ECF)
Got that? Three large countries with a combined population of 100 million surrounding Israel, a country tinier than New Jersey, which then had a mere 3 million population. And Israel had the gall not to fail but to survive!
Gearing for the inevitable other distorted retrospectives about the Six Day War that are sure to flood in, here, here, here, here, here, and here are some good, factual sites about that time and its aftermath. Not, sadly, that facts can overcome the visceral hatred of Jews, of Israel or of America poisoning so many of course. And for sheer uplifting emotion listen to the broadcast in Hebrew, and/or follow the English translation of the Israeli liberation of Jerusalem, paving the way for the first time in thousands of years that the religious rights and sites of all religions were respected by the government and accessible to all.
And, when there is the usual mindless prattle that for peace Israel should return to the June, 1967 borders, remember what Golda Meir, of blessed memory, emphatically stated, " We had those borders in June, 1967. We were there in June, 1967." But still they attacked.
Thomas Lifson adds: