Israelis Are Still Living the Six-Day War Myth

The hunger for more territory was given legal wording: reparations for 'a justified defensive war.'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
In front, from left: Generals Rehavam Ze'evi and Uzi Narkiss, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin near the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
In front, from left: Generals Rehavam Ze'evi and Uzi Narkiss, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin near the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the Six Day War.Credit: IDF archive

“Not so pretty, and certainly not perfect,” was buried in June 1967. It could have been different, had the General Staff not pressured the government and promised the U.S. a swift victory. “Smash Nasser!” roared President Johnson, pounding on his desk. But the myth has been established: we faced an existential threat, the Americans opposed the war, we won, and the security budget and the army immediately grew exponentially. The messiah will be here any minute.

The “trauma” was military manipulation: fortifications and sandbags in the cities, preparing Gan Meir to be a temporary cemetery. The army knew what the real balance of power was between the two sides. Most of the Egyptian army was in central Sinai, not on the border. Even the full reserve call-up could have been resolved. But give up on the chance to expand the borders?

The hunger for more territory was given legal wording: reparations for “a justified defensive war.” But the only country that “attacked” us, or actually violated the demilitarization in Sinai, was Egypt, and all of Egypt’s territory was given back, down to the last grain of sand, at the order of the U.S. Even the few who dared to oppose the arrogant consensus after ’67 couldn’t relish the joy of that withdrawal, because thousands had been buried in 1973, soldiers having fallen victim to the refusal to reach a deal before the war (the Jarring proposal, which Sadat accepted but Golda didn’t.)

And before it was removed like a foreskin, the Zionist left began celebrating. Some encouraged the settlements in order to prevent a future agreement with the Palestinians. Others created the idea of “land as a deposit for peace,” as if Israel had been appointed as a trustee by the UN, and had no interest in the land or water. In the name of the “right to alter borders,” the territories became the largest piece of real estate that Israel refused to give up, developing the mystic divine promise.

A decade after the conquest, Begin’s government was formed, and it moved the army from Sinai to Lebanon, and scattered settlements across the territories. We’ve had no political catastrophe greater than that government. Apartheid entered through the front door. The right flourished in its response to Palestinian opposition. Daily mass arrests, torture, roadblocks, land appropriation, crop destruction and humiliation. A pact between the settlers and the army against the subjects. No justice system.

The government is an extreme right-wing government. Its ministers represent the settlers, the most dangerous political force in the country. The right-wing vision of pulverizing Palestinian nationalism creates provocations, and then come the bloody operations and with them national unity, like now, in light of the boycott, from Zehava Galon via Yair Lapid and Isaac Herzog to Ayelet Shaked, with various doses of self-righteousness. In short, colonialism, fighting opposition to its rule, cannot be a left-wing government. Such a government will only come about when the occupation actually harms the Apartheid citizens, and not just its subjects.

In the meantime, the left has become a human rights group, in the best case scenario, led mostly by organizations that don’t fight the occupations, but monitor it, for the purpose of the generous Western discourse on human rights. That is the left’s “conflict management.” It’s no wonder that this left falls into the trap of Israeli propaganda: “There are worse countries in terms of human rights.” That’s correct, but the occupation is not a “human rights violation,” it is the denial of freedom to the Palestinian people, and there is no response to such denial aside from a struggle against subjugation.

Then some fantasize about “one state for two peoples.” In the best of Zionist tradition, they don’t ask the Palestinians. We didn’t manage to force Israel to withdraw to the ’48 borders, so we’ll force democracy on everyone, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Who will oppose? A Jewish-Arab movement, of course. Alas, 7,500 Jews voted for the “Joint Arab List,” along with 440,000 Arabs. The others, both Ashkenzim and Mizrahim, enjoy their freedom, Facebook, Memorial Day and Jerusalem. United. Definitely united. How could it be otherwise?

Comments