By Alan Hart
As I explained on a lecture tour of South Africa (Goldstone Land) from which I have just returned, the answer is in what happened behind closed doors at the Security Council in New York in the weeks and months following the 1967 war. But complete understanding requires knowledge of the fact that it was a war of Israeli aggression and not, as Zionism’s spin doctors continue to assert, self-defense.
More than four decades on, most people everywhere still believe that Israel went to war either because the Arabs attacked (that was Israel’s first claim), or because the Arabs were intending to attack (thus requiring Israel to launch a pre-emptive strike). The truth about that war only begins with the statement that the Arabs did not attack and were not intending to attack. The complete truth, documented in detail in Volume Three of the American edition of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews (www.claritypress.com), includes the following facts.
Israel’s prime minister of the time, the much maligned Levi Eshkol who was also defense minister, did not want to take his country to war. And nor did his chief of staff, Yitzhak Rabin. They wanted only very limited military action, an operation far short of war, to put pressure on the international community to cause Eygpt’s President Nasser to re-open the Straits of Tiran.
Israel went to war because its military and political hawks wanted war and insisted that the Arabs were about to attack. They, Israel’s hawks, knew that was nonsense, but they promoted it to undermine Eshkol by portraying him to the country as weak. The climax to the campaign to rubbish Eshkol was a demand by the hawks that he surrender the defense portfolio and give it to Moshe Dayan, Zionism’s one-eyed warlord and master of deception. Four days after Dayan got the portfolio he wanted, and the hawks had secured the green light from the Johnson administration to smash Eygpt’s air and ground forces, Israel went to war.
What actually happened in Israel in the final countdown to that war was something very close to a military coup, executed quietly behind closed doors without a shot being fired. For Israel’s hawks the war of 1967 was the unfinished business of 1948/49 – to create a Greater Israel with all of Jerusalem its capital. (In reality Israel’s hawks set a trap for Nasser by threatening Syria and, for reasons of face, he was daft enough to walk, eyes open, into the trap). On the second day of the war, General Chaim Herzog, one of the founding fathers of Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, said to me in private: “If Nasser had not been stupid enough to give us a pretext for war, we would have created one in a year to 18 months.”
As I say in my book, if the statement that the Arabs were not intending to attack and that Israel’s existence was not in any danger was only that of a goy, me, it could be dismissed by Zionists and other supporters of Israel right or wrong as anti-Semitic conjecture. In fact the truth has been admitted, confessed, by a number of Israeli leaders. Here are just three of many examples.
In an interview published in Le Monde on 28 February 1968, Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin said this: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
On 14 April 1971, a report in the Israeli newspaper Al-Hamishmar containined the following statement by Mordecai Bentov, a member of the wartime national government. “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”
In an unguarded public moment in 1982, Prime Minister Begin said this: “In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
The single most catastrophic happening of 1967 was not however the war itself and the creation of a Greater Israel. At America’s insistence, and with the eventual complicity of the Soviet Union, it (the single most catastrophic happening) was the refusal of the Security Council of the United Nations to condemn Israel as the aggressor. If it had done so, the history of the region and the world might well have taken a very different course. (There might well have been a negotiated end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and a comprehensive peace within a year or two. To those who think that’s a far-fetched notion of what could have been, I say read my book, which includes a chapter headed Goodbye to the Security Council’s Integrity)
Question: Why, really, was it so important from Zionism’s point of view that Israel not be branded the aggressor when actually it was? The short answer of it comes down to this.
Aggressors are not allowed to keep the territory they take in war, they have to withdraw from it unconditionally. This is the requirement of international law and, also, a fundamental principle which the UN is committed to uphold, as it did, for example, when President Eisenhower read the riot act to Israel after it invaded Eygpt in collusion with Britain and France in 1956. That is on the one hand.
On the other is the generally accepted view that when a state is attacked, is the victim of aggression, and then goes to war in genuine self-defense and ends up occupying some (or even all) of the aggressor’s territory, the occupier has the right, in negotiations, to attach conditions to its withdrawal.
In summary it can be said that although Security Council Resolution 242 of 23 November 1967 did pay lip-service to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, it effectively put Zionism in the diplomatic driving seat. By giving Israel the scope to attach conditions to its withdrawal, Resolution 242 effectively gave Israel’s leaders and the Zionist lobby in America a veto over any peace process.
In 1957 President Eisenhower said that if a nation which attacked and occupied foreign territory was allowed to impose conditions on its withdrawal, “this would be tantamount to turning back the clock of international order.” That’s what happened in 1967. President Johnson, pre-occupied with the war in Vietnam, and mainly on the advice of those in his inner circle who were hardcore Zionists, turned back the clock of international order. And that effectively created two sets of rules for the behaviour of nations – one set for all the nations of the world excluding only Israel, which were expected to behave in accordance with international law and their obligations of members of the United Nations; and one set for Israel, which was not expected to behave, and would not be required to behave, as a normal nation.
At the Johnson administration’s Zionist-driven insistence, the refusal of the Security Council to brand Israel as the aggressor was the birth of the double-standard in the interpretation and enforcement of the rules for judging and if necessary punishing the behaviour of nations. This double-standard is the reason why from 1967 to the present a real peace process has not been possible.
In my view there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of a real peace process unless the double-standard is abandoned. Unless, in other words, the governments of the major powers, led by America, say something like the following to Israel: “Enough is enough. It is now in all of our interests that you end your defiance of international law. If you don’t we will be obliged to brand you as a rogue state and subject you to boycott, divestment and sanctions.”