Amazingly, reports continue to circulate out of the Western Press (BBC, Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, New Yorker, etc.) that the Six Day War could have been avoided had Israel not acted rashly; that Israel was militarily far superior to its Arab neighbors, that Nasser was only bluffing; about the only argument I haven't heard yet is the post-modern one of 'disproportionate force.' Rest assured that if Israel's stunning victory over three Arab armies had taken place today, accusations of war-crimes and unnecessary force would already have been levied against her. More commentaries below--db
The Most Justified War - Yoel Marcus
As Ha'aretz's correspondent in Paris before the 1967 Six-Day War, I was at the Israeli Embassy when half a million people rallied in the streets to show their solidarity with Israel. There was a sense that the Arabs were about to wipe out the Jewish state. On television, people saw Egyptian troops marching into Sinai; they heard Nasser's warmongering speeches. Ahmed Shukeiry, the secretary of the Arab League, declared that the Jews of Israel would be sent back to the countries they came from and native Israelis would be slaughtered. What those now denouncing the 40th anniversary of the "occupation" do not understand is that the Six-Day War was the most justified war Israel ever fought - because it knocked out of the Arabs' heads the idea that Israel could be destroyed by force. (Ha'aretz)Amid General Amnesia - Hillel Halkin
It's a curious thing: Although the map that was changed by the Six-Day War had been in existence for less than 20 years, starting with Israel's War of Independence in 1948, and more than twice as many years have gone by since then, that map of the Middle East continues to be regarded by the world as the "right" map, while the map that replaced it is considered a temporary aberration that needs to be canceled or reversed. Similarly, the world has forgotten what the pre-1967 map was really like. Far from being demarcated by clear and accepted borders, it showed Israel separated from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon by mere armistice lines, frontiers created by the ceasefire that ended the 1948-1949 war and considered temporary by all Arab countries, not one of which recognized Israel and all of which looked forward openly to its destruction - an easily imaginable eventuality in view of the fact that these frontiers narrowed to a few miles' width along the Mediterranean coastal plain where Israel's population was most concentrated. It is no longer remembered that immediately after the June 1967 war, Israel was ready to return nearly all of the land conquered by it in return for peace and was answered by a monolithic Arab refusal to negotiate, accompanied by a partial recommencement of hostilities by Egypt in the 1968-1970 "War of Attrition." The history of the 1967 war and what came before it has been so successfully written by the losers that the winners' account is scoffed at incredulously today even by supposedly knowledgeable people. (New York Sun)
Urge is Still to Erase the Jewish State
By AMOTZ ASA-EL
The Six Days War, which broke out 40 years ago this week and left the Arab world, the Jewish people and the international community stunned, still boggles the mind.
The fighting -- in which Israel debilitated three armies and conquered the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan and ancient Jerusalem in less than a week -- has made Israel's enemies distort its causes and effects.
Here are the facts, the way I recall them as a third-grader in Jerusalem. As Independence Day ended, news broke out that the Egyptian army had crossed the Sinai Peninsula and camped along the Israeli border. By the weekend, we were besieged, as Egypt blockaded the Red Sea and expelled United Nations peacekeepers from Gaza, while Jordan and Syria deployed along our northern and eastern borders. One hundred million people, armed, trained and inspired by the Soviet Union, were ganging up on a country the size of New Jersey with a population smaller than Tennessee's.
It was a casus belli by any dictionary definition. Yet today Israel's detractors conveniently begin the story from the actual fighting of June 1967, which indeed began when we Israelis extracted ourselves from the shooting range where we were to be sitting targets and pre-empted the marksman aiming his barrel into our collective forehead. Israel initiated but only tactically. The strategic initiative -- the brazen, unprovoked choice to wage war -- was Arab.
No rewritten history will make Israelis forget the course of events as we experienced them. We won't forget the anxiety on the faces of the adults -- mostly Holocaust survivors -- as war approached. We won't forget how every day we learned of another diplomatic failure to undo the siege, how we filled sandbags and placed them on windowsills to the sound of Hebrew broadcasts from Cairo Radio that promised to "throw the Jews into the sea" -- which was meant, and taken, , literally.
Today, the ultimate anti-Israeli slogan shared by British liberals, Russian fascists, Gazan zealots, Iranian Mullahs and Lebanese pseudo-patriots is "end the occupation." Gullible Westerners conclude that Israel's enemies merely want it tamed, that characters such as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Hassan Nassrallah or Haled Mash'al are merely challenging its policies, not its right to live.
But they are. As they themselves concede when asked explicitly enough, to them not only the conquests of '67, but even Tel Aviv is "occupied Palestine," just as to them all U.N. resolutions about the Mideast are binding except the original one, the one that said that not only the Palestinians, but the Jews, too, deserve a state.
Had it not been for the obsessive urge to erase the Jewish state, there would have been no occupation to decry today. For the problem with the Six Days War in the eyes of Israel's enemies is not the occupation that followed it nor, of course, the belligerency that preceded it, but the victory that defined it and constituted one of the swiftest blows liberty ever dealt autocracy.
Had the occupation been their problem with post-1967 Israel, Israel's enemies would have even celebrated its successive election of leaders such as Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert who each sought to end the occupation. Sad to say, all four saw Israel's enemies prove unreconstructed despite them, as the newly unoccupied Gaza's shelling of Israel, within its internationally recognized borders, demonstrates daily.
There's nothing new about this tunnel vision. In 1967 Israel offered a land-for-peace deal, but the Arab states announced they would never make peace, recognize or even just talk with Israel. With that kind of rigidity, the Arab states maneuvered the Palestinians into Israeli occupation. Then as now, they could have chosen peace.
A lot has changed since 1967.
Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, the East Bloc unraveled, and a million Soviet Jews arrived in Israel. However, in Tehran, Beirut, Damascus and Gaza, the blind hatred is alive and well, even if it now cleverly manipulates Western disdain for such terms as "occupation."
Had a passer-by wondered in May 1967, "Why are you filling sandbags?" we would have answered: "We have no choice." Four decades on, when you hear Israel's enemies decry occupation, remember: They have a choice, they can have peace, yet they have war, and the reason they war in 2007 is the same reason they had it in 1967: It's what they want.
Amotz Asa-El, formerly the Jerusalem Post's executive editor, is now its senior columnist; http://www.middleisrael.com/