June 5, 2007, - 10:52 am
By Debbie Schlussel
On the morning of June 5, 1967, the Six Day War began. It is one of the most important battles in anti-Jihadist history and the War on Terrorism (which, here’s a clue, started well before 9/11). Israel’s victory in this war enabled it to reunify Jerusalem and capture Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank (none of which were then “Palestinian”).
Israel had no choice but to go to war, fighting it as a necessary pre-emptive attack on Egypt, whose leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced he was going to attack Israel:
Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.
That was in late May 1967, right after Nasser committed his own first strike on Israel:
On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel’s only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran [DS: that was when Iran was run by the Shah, one of our friends and a relative good guy compared to what replaced him].
In April, just two months before, Syrian soldiers attacked Northern Israel, and a huge contingent of Syrian troops amassed on its border with Israel, signaling–and it’s leaders verbalizing–that it was ready to join Egypt’s war on Israel.
Israel repeatedly tried to negotiate peace with Egypt and its other Arab neighbors, but like today, they simply weren’t interested. As Nasser said, “The Arab people want to fight,” and that is exactly what they got . . . plus their asses handed to them.
Israel did not want to war with any other nations, but it’s neighboring Muslim leaders, like Jordan’s King Hussein, didn’t care. On June 5, Israeli leader Levi Eshkol sent word to King Hussein that he would not attack Jordan if it stayed out of it. But King Hussein chose to attack anyway. He’d just let his feelings be known in a treaty with Egypt:
The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel…to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.
My favorite pictures from the Six Day War are these:
The Six Day War is important for many reasons:
* It resulted in the reunification of Jerusalem (which was re-captured on June 7, 1967–and which I’ll have more about, on Thursday, that 40th anniversary). Finally, Jews and other non-Muslims could pray at the holiest and most important of Jewish religious sites, the “Kotel Ha’Ma’aravi” (the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, which had been abandoned and strewn with garbage under Jordanian/Palestinian occupation). Finally, Jordanian Muslims would stop drilling holes and urinating into Jewish graves that dotted East Jerusalem. Finally, Muslims would stop deliberately building hotels–like the Intercontinental Hotel in East Jerusalem–on top of Jewish graves.
* The Six Day War showed the Muslim world that Israel wasn’t going to take it anymore–the terrorist attacks (which began well before it reclaimed Jerusalem and the so-called “West Bank” in 1967). They defeated Muslims from several countries who supported, enabled, and participated in this war. Egypt was decimated. Israel showed the Jihadists that the West (Israel is “the West” in the Mid-East) would fight back . . . and win. The Islamic world was humbled, the way it should be today, but unfortunately isn’t. Today, Israel is doing self-containment–with Gaza, the West Bank, the fence, the Golan Heights giveaway talk–on behalf of its enemies.
* It was an important victory against anti-Semitism. Jews gained a respect in the world for fighting back and not embodying the wimpy, weak stereotype of bespectacled, limp intellectuals who made an easy punching bag. Israeli generals like Dayan, Rabin, and Sharon were tough . . . in those days. They won, not by giving land to the aggressors in exchange for a meaningless piece of paper and a photo op at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but by taking land back from aggressors who illegitimately occupied, attacked them from, and desecrated holy sites and graves from that land.
* Israel had brilliant military strategies and the will to win. Today, it has the will to lose and to negotiate land away. Israel could have beaten Hezbollah in last year’s war, but it chose a weak and uncreative strategy . . . and lost lives and its already-far-diminished 1967 luster. That’s because, as H.L. Schlussel, M.D. (my father) noted, its current Prime Minister, the incompetent and non-military Ehud Olmert, said,
We are tired of fighting, tired of being courageous, tired of victories, tired of defeating our enemies.
The country and its leader no longer have the will. And that’s the complete battle against Jihad and Islamism.
* It showed us–is still showing us– there is a double standard in operation to this day. The doctrine that “to the winner go the spoils of victory” simply doesn’t apply to the Jews or to Israel. Israel won the war. It defeated its warring, aggressive, Islamist neighbors. Yet, it is giving back the spoils of victory, piece by piece all the time, in exchange for meaningless pieces of paper, or even–as in the case of the absurd Gaza retreat–nothing at all, except Kassem rocket attacks on its people in working class neighborhoods, like Sderot.
Yes, times have changed. On June 8, 1967 Israeli soldiers were posting the Israeli flag over the police station in Jenin (see photo above). Today, they search house-to-house in an attempt to show civility against murderous terrorist thugs.
And unfortunately, the courageous, awesome 1967 victory in the Six Day War is now being decried in stark revisionist “history.” Last night, your tax-funded PBS a/k/a “Palestinian Broadcasting System” had a two-hour propaganda piece, filled with lamentations by has-been Muslim leaders and representatives . . . and a tiny few Israelis, many of them lefties, too.
The “objective” media representative providing commentary was Abdullah Schleifer. But Marc Schleifer–a Marxist Castro supporter and enabler who made many sojourns to Cuba–is an atheist Brooklyn-raised Jew who converted to Islam and edited “Palestine Today” in 1967 from the comfort of East Jerusalem, Jordan. He lives with his Muslim family, today, in Egypt. Yup, that’s PBS’ “objective media observer” for you.
Israel should never have gone to war against its neighbors who were already attacking it. Nope, despite their promises to wipe the country off the map, Israel should have just lied down and enjoyed it, say PBS and the many other Mainstream Media revisionists, today.
Yes, tragically, Israel’s tremendous 1967 victory over Islamists and anti-Semites–and America’s War on Terror–are now being transformed into defeat on the airwaves and beyond. Will we–like Israel did last summer and is doing now in its push to give the Golan Heights to terrorist Syria–continue to lose the war?
Will America be like the strong Israel of June 1967 or the psychologically weak Israel of June 2007? Right now, it’s the latter. Until–and IF–we wake up.
Read a great synopsis of the Six Day War by Mitchell Bard. The authoritative history of the Six Day War was written by the brilliant Michael Oren: “Six Days of War”. It’s good reading.
Of note, Ariel Cohen’s column on “The Lessons of the Six Day War” in today’s Washington Times. And today’s New York Post editorial:
A MIDDLE EAST ANNIVERSARY LESSON
June 5, 2007 — Forty years ago this morning, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike that decimated the Egyptian Air Force, destroying 300 planes and paving the way for the remarkable six-day victory on three fronts against the combined armies of five Arab states.
It was one of the most amazing military campaigns in history and it remade both the map and the political landscape of the Middle East. . . .
Despite the effort of revisionist historians to rewrite the events of that week, one thing is clear: The Jewish State went to war against an enemy openly pledged to its destruction.
Indeed, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had promised his people that “the battle against Israel will be a general one, and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.” Israel could not afford to wait until it was attacked, as both Egypt and Syria had massed troops and tanks along their borders.
Israel’s victory was staggering: It captured the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the entire West Bank and east Jerusalem. . . .
There is no denying that the war solidified Israel’s position, both militarily and politically. As Michael Oren, author of the war’s definitive history, recently wrote: “Israel concluded the war with its own troops in artillery range of every neighboring Arab capital – an achievement that convinced Arab leaders of the impossibility of destroying the Jewish State by conventional means.” [DS: Unfortunately, they’re now justifiably convinced that destruction will be done through empty “peace” treaties, birth rates, terrorism, and psychological warfare in the media.]
Meanwhile, what Israel made clear 40 years ago – and again in 1981, when it destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor – is that pre-emptive warfare is not only justified, but sometimes necessary in the name of self-defense.
That’s a lesson the rest of the world might want to heed these days.
Also, Bret Stephens’ column in today’s Wall Street Journal is such a must-read that I reprint most of it below:
On the morning of June 5, 1967, a fleet of low-flying Israeli jets surprised the Egyptian air force on the ground and destroyed it. This act of military pre-emption helped save Israel from what Iraq’s then-President Abdul Rahman Aref had called, only several days earlier, “our opportunity . . . to wipe Israel off the map.” Yet 40 years later Israel’s victory is widely seen as a Pyrrhic one — “a calamity for the Jewish state no less than for its neighbors,” according to a recent editorial in the Economist.
And the alternative was?
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.
Great events have a way not only of reshaping the outlook for the future but also our understanding of the past, usually in the service of clarity. “Why England Slept” was an apt question to ask of Britain in the mid-1930s, but it made sense only after Sept. 1, 1939. By contrast, the Six Day War laid a thick fog over what came before. Today, the pre-1967 period is remembered (not least by many Israelis) as a time when the country’s conscience was clear and respectable world opinion admired “plucky little Israel.” Yet these were the same years when Israel lived within what Abba Eban, its dovish foreign minister, called “Auschwitz borders,” with only nine miles separating the westernmost part of the West Bank from the Mediterranean Sea.
It is also often said today that the Six Day War humiliated the Arabs and propelled the region into future rounds of fighting. Yet President Aref of Iraq had prefaced his call to destroy Israel by describing the war as the Arabs’ chance “to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948.” It is said that the war inaugurated the era of modern terrorism, as the Arab world switched from a strategy of conventional confrontation with Israel to one of “unconventional” attacks. Yet hundreds of Israelis had already been killed in fedayeen raids in Israel’s first 19 years of existence.
It is said that the Palestinian movement was born from Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet the Palestine Liberation Organization was already in its third year of operations when the war began. It is said that Israel enjoyed international legitimacy so long as it lived behind recognized frontiers. Yet those frontiers were no less provisional before 1967 than they were after. Only after the Six Day War did the Green Line come to be seen as the “real” border.
Fog also surrounds memories of the immediate aftermath of the war. To read some recent accounts, a more sagacious Israel could have followed up its historic victory with peace overtures that would have spared everyone the bloody entanglements of its occupation of the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Or, failing that, it could have resisted the lure of building settlements in the territories in order not to complicate a land-for-peace transaction.
In fact, the Israeli cabinet agreed on June 19 to offer the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace deals. In Khartoum that September, the Arab League declared “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” As for Jewish settlements, hardly any were built for years after the war: In 1972, for instance, only about 800 settlers had moved to the West Bank.
It’s true that the war caused Israel to lose friends abroad. “Le peuple juif, s?ªr de lui meme et dominateur” (“the Jewish people, sure of themselves and domineering”) was Charles de Gaulle’s memorable line in announcing, in November 1967, that France would no longer supply Israel militarily. Such were the Jewish state’s former friends. . . .
Then again, 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.
AMEN. And . . . if only.
**** UPDATE: A great Six Day War compendium site is The Six Day War Project. Check it out!
Tags: A MIDDLE EAST ANNIVERSARY, Abba Eban, Abdul Rahman Aref, Abdullah Schleifer, Algeria, America, Arab League, Ariel Cohen, Asia, author, Bret Stephens, Britain, Charles de Gaulle, Chief Rabbi, compendium site, Cuba, current Prime Minister, Dayan, dovish foreign minister, East, economist, Egypt, Egyptian Air Force, Ehud Olmert, France, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Gaza, Gaza retreat, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, H.L. Schlussel, Hizballah, holiest site, Intercontinental Hotel, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Jenin Police Station, Jerusalem, Jewish Temple, Jordan, Khartoum, King, Kuwait, leader, Lebanon, Levi Eshkol, main supplier, Marc Schleifer, Mediterranean Sea, Michael Oren, Middle East, Mitchell Bard, Morocco, New York Post, objective media observer, oil, Palestine Liberation Organization, President, Rabin, Ram, Saddam Hussein, Sharon, Shlomo Goren Sounds, Sinai, Straits of Tiran, Sudan, Syria, the Green Line, United States, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, West Bank, Western Wall