Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Yesterday evening was a time of reflection and remembrance for many who lived through those difficult times forty years ago when the existence of the State of Israel was threatened by Arab armies whose leaders openly declared their intentions of wiping Israel off the map. I remember 5 June 1967 with its early winter mist and the dense fog that enveloped Melbourne as the news came in that the fighting had begun.

That evening, the most incredible reports were being aired on local television and radio. Coming from the various Arab media outlets were claims that Tel Aviv and Haifa were burning, that Arab armies and airforces were wreaking havoc on Israeli villages, cities and towns in the early hours of the fighting. It was only later that we learned these reports were mere fantasy on the part of Arab propagandists aimed at denting the morale of the Israeli people and their armed forces.

Part of the fog of war.

When the truth came out that the Israelis were not only winning the war but they were in the process of wiping out the Egyptian airforce and were advancing on several fronts, the humiliation for the Arab world was even greater than it would have been but for the boasting and the lies.

Forty years later, attempts are being made to revise the history of the conflict to suit the old narrative of the rejection of the rights of Israel and its people. The lies, distortions and the obfuscation persist among the Arabs, their supporters and even some of those who believe in Israel's cause. If one reads certain media reports of the events as they were supposed to have unfolded, it's hard to not to imagine that what we lived through forty years ago was part of an elaborate but crude science fiction plot.

The same can be said of many of the consequences of the Six Day War and the burdens they created for all of the people of the region. Again, if we were to believe some modern day commentators, the dividing line between reality and truth is contained in some bizarre universe outside this solar system - a place where existential threats against the Jews coming from Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas are to be ignored as if they were make believe.

Bret Stephens looks at this phenonomenon in the Wall Street Journal and concludes that most of the conventional wisdom being put around about the Six Day War is wrong.

"The Six Day War is supposed to be the great pivot on which the modern history of the Middle East hinges, the moment the Palestinian question came into focus and Israel went from being the David to the Goliath of the conflict. It's a reading of history that has the convenience of offering a political prescription: Rewind to the status quo ante June 5, arrange a peace deal, and the problems that have arisen since more or less go away. Or so the thinking goes.

"Yet the striking fact is that all of Israel's peace agreements - with Egypt in 1979, with the Palestinians in 1993, with Jordan and Morocco in 1994 - were achieved in the wake of the war. The Jewish state had gained territory; the Arab states wanted it back. Whatever else might be said for the land-for-peace formula, it's odd that the people who are its strongest advocates are usually the same ones who bemoan the apparent completeness of Israel's victory in 1967."

Stephens navigates through the fog of this war and concludes as follows:-

"... when the sun rose on June 5, 1967, Israel was a poor, desperately vulnerable country, which threw the dice on its own survival in the most audacious military strike of the 20th century. It is infinitely richer and more powerful today, sure in its alliance with the U.S. and capable of making concessions inconceivable 40 years ago. If these are the fruits of Israel's 'Pyrrhic victory,' it needs more such of them."

Israel is not only capable of making "concessions inconceivable 40 years ago" but is also willing to do so - if only the fog that has addled the minds of some of its old enemies would ever lift long enough!

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