Of our history, what best demonstrates humanity? Taking into account both the good and the bad without any objectivity. I arrived at one conclusion. But many others may arrive at different conclusions. Do not take any offense if you read through but have your own conclusion.
Henry Near “The six day war began suddenly and ended quickly. What appeared at first to be no more than bluster and verbal provocation turned almost overnight into a threat to our existence…” (Terry, 2007, Voices in Israel). The six day war started on 5th June and ended on 10th June 1967. Before the war, tension was building as the recollections of May 1967 will show.
It all began on the year 1948 when the state of Israel was first founded at the end of the British mandate, which had hoped to create unity. Its dampening failure forced the British officials to hand over authority to the United Nations who proposed the partition of land, one Jewish, one Arab. Based on (Colin, 1983, p 21), 52% was to the Jewish state with 497,000 Arabs and 498,000 Jews the remaining 48% to the Arabs with only 10,000 Jews and 725,000 Arabs. The Arabs were unhappy with this and war ensued right at the end of the British mandate when Dr, Chaim Weizman raised the flag of David and declared the new state of Israel. After the war, the Israelites come out victorious and occupied 77% of the land. That was 1/3 more than what they would have originally got, if only the Arabs had accepted the Partition. The defeat prompted an all out Arab aggression. And many more wars followed this one, with the most influential being the six day war of 1967 June.
The Israel forces stood alone. The forces of the Arabs were Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and almost the whole Arab world. Wars were once a breeding ground for two ends, ultimate success and ultimate defeat, with one force appearing good and another bad. The Israeli war however, has none of them as either good or bad. Because of this, it has the most outstanding individual emotional revelations and significant time-defining moments that only occur when the morale plate is ignored. The Israeli six day war was the best display of humanity because of the power of the enemy, foreign influence and importance of the land of Israel.
THE POWER OF THE ENEMY
April 8th 1967: Syria’s information minister Mahmoud Zubi: “(this battle will be)…followed by more severe battles until Palestine is liberated and the Zionist presence ended.” The co-existence under the British Mandate proved beyond doubt that both nations could not live together. To avoid the needless wars and terrorist acts amongst them, the partition plan was developed. However, to many people’s surprise, it only increased the intensity of wars. Why was there opposition?
May 13th 1967: Anwar Sadat arrives from Moscow with information for Nasser about Israel attack on the Syria expected for May 17th. This information is false along with many others given. As stated by W. Laquer according to (Colin, 1983, p77) however you look at it, he says, the Arabs where not about to allow the immigration of the Jews and have their own people attain a minority status. Any other state in the world would have revolted just as easily. He further says ‘it was not the fault of the Arabs that the Jews were persecuted in Europe…” Therefore it was not a matter of wanton rebellion against those already facing persecution. Emir Faisal son of sheriff Hussein of Mecca who had earlier expressed his support for the Balfour declaration, before the partition, expressed his fears after learning about the partition. He says, ‘I foresee serious dangers and conflicts between them and the other races’ according to (Colin, 1983, pp 51-52). Moshe Shareet a Zionist leader shows how the Arabs of Palestine are harmed by Jewish authority who ‘fed’ themselves a large part of the land. He states, ‘for the Arabs, Palestine is an independent unit that had an Arab face. Now that face is changing. In his eyes, Haifa was an Arab town and now that town is Jewish. His reaction cannot but be resistance’.
May 15th 1967: “Israel wants to make it clear to the government of Egypt that it has no aggressive intentions whatsoever against any Arab state at all.” The Arabs felt that their rights were violated, after this partition. Before the partition, the Jews lived with them but were not part, they paid excessive taxes and faced uncertainties and gained more land mostly because the Arabs themselves sold the land to the Jews. But before all this, the Arabs also had rights to the land. They had allowed the co-existence under the mandate but drew a line on the Partition. They were deceived, not once but twice. According to (Colin, 1983, p 62) During the First World War, in order to gain the support of the Arabs, Britain made them promises. Afterwards the Arabs believed that their intentions was to settle a number of unfortunate people, when their true intentions was discovered, Europe had already gained enough power to force them to accept the immigrations. It becomes even more ironic since one of the promises made to the Arabs was their independence. What independence? They were still ruled by foreign forces. Yet before they could nurse their disappointments, the second deceit was after the Second World War. As expected, Arab cooperation was sought against Germany and its allies only to then have the partition. First the immigration of aliens into their land then next the division of their state and turning them into aliens in their own land. They opposed the settlement by stating the following key factors according to (Walter & Barry, 1984, p 94). Firstly, the Jewish claim on the land was outdated while the Arabs of Palestine are descendants of the indigenous inhabitants of the country and have been in occupation of the land for a long period. Secondly, the Arabs would end up the minority and have no claim to the democratic right of the majority to make decisions. Thirdly, the immigration has diverted the whole course of their national development since Arabs are indigenous with their culture and traditions linking them to the other Arab countries. The Jewish claim resulted in them being cut off by the other Arab countries and subjecting them to a regime, administrative, legal system different from their sister nations. Fourthly, the control of the worship places to the Moslems and Christians would be under the ‘dreaded’ Jewish control.
May 16th 1967: Cairo Radio “the existence of Israel has continued too long. We welcome the Israeli aggression…the battle has come, in which we shall destroy Israel.” The Arab world was changing and to them it was a hopeless situation of anguish and misfortune. But this situation also resulted into the unity of the Arab nations. The right to defend and liberate a nation that not only shares the same interests as yours but also the same language, beliefs and religion, and is greatly loved and cherished is one that cannot and should not be hindered. It is not an act of aggression but a show of the strength in human unity. The Jews also had support, from Britain, America and United Nations which frustrated the Arabs to no end. The frustration of the Arabs is brought out in Nasser’s, Egypt’s president at the time, speech from (Walter & Barry, 1984, p173) “Today US senators, members of the House of Representatives, the press and the entire world speak in favor of Israel, of the Jews. Nothing is said in the Arab’s favor. The UN resolutions which favor Arabs have not been implemented. What does this mean? No one is speaking in the Arabs favor. How does the UN stand with regard to the Palestinian people?…talk of peace is heard only when Israel is in danger. But when the Arab rights and the rights of the Palestinian people are lost, no one speaks about peace, rights or anything like this.” This speech was on May 25th 1967, mere days before the six day war.
May 18th 1967: Egyptian ambassador informs U Thant, UN secretary general, “Egypt has decided to terminate the presence of the United Nations Emergency Force from the territory of the United Arab Republic and Gaza strip. Therefore I request the necessary steps be taken for the withdrawal of the Force as soon as possible.” the same forces that had maintained peace in the area for ten years. Why so much support for the new neighbors. According to (Colin, 1983, p63) the reason for all the support for Israel was due to the Holocaust that had millions and millions of Jews murdered unjustly. Secondly the Israelite Zionism movement made full contribution in the war that allowed them a seat in the general assembly and the acceptance of other countries. ‘To the outside world, this state was open to immigration and ready to cooperate with the United Nations’, given by (Walter & Barry, 1984, pp56-58). Nasser himself says so in his speech on the 26th “the Israelites are seen as favorites but they cannot be allowed to stay due to their religion.” Two bulls cannot be left in the same shed, especially if their stalls are facing each other. Religion is one of mans most sensitive aspects. Also the Jews had an uncanny way of seeming apart from and different in whatever they did. ‘Their presence would always interfere with the Arab religion’.
May 20th 1967: Hafez Assad, Syrian defense minister soon to be Syria’s president. “our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse any aggression, but to initiate the act ourselves…I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.” Ever since 1948 to 1967 there have been constant clashes between the Jews and Arabs. The Jews stand out as a large canopy tree in the heart of the desert. The question we must ask is who threw the first blow? A lot of people in the world believe it is the Arabs in refusing the partition, but this is not true. The Israelite’s did, (Colin, 1983, p66) tells us exactly how, Manachem Begin a leader of the Irgun, Jewish underground, shows that they already had a strategy to gain control of the land, first with Jerusalem, then Jaffa and other towns still in Arab rule. Denysa Bally confirms this as in (Colin, 1983, p65) he says that the Jews were prepared long before the partition, “their preparations were better organized, thorough and more efficient…” The Arabs may, after all, been sitting hoping to be treated fairly as they deserved but end up realizing themselves neglected on all fronts. These conflicts took a darker side. David Hirst gives a vivid, dreary recollection of what befell an Arab village, Deir Yassin, on the night of 9th April 1948, from (Colin, 1983, p66). It was a peaceful village that lived in a ‘sort of agreement’ with Jews in the area. They never complained to the Arabs about Jewish treatment and would occasionally assist the Jews were necessary. One night, the village went to sleep as usual comforted in the knowledge that they were the least likely of Jewish targets. They did however hire guards whose job so far was to shoot rabbits and creating excitement in weddings. The only people that saw what befell the village that night was the perpetrators and the survivors. The perpetrators saying they saw no offense since they had earlier given fair warning on loud speakers and allowed the old, women and children to surrender and be taken to nearby Arab. However the survivors tell a different story. 12 year old Fahmi Zidan survivor of the first mass killings tells how the Jews came, asked them to line up against a wall and started shooting. He survived because he hid behind his parents. The rest of his family however, died his parents, his siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts and their children. Jacques De Reigner a Swiss official of the Red Cross the next day after the attack gives his recollection, (Colin, 1983, p68). He relays how the commander of Irgun was not willing to accept him and when he did; there was a peculiar glint in his eyes, cold and cruel. The man was young, perfect and said to Jacques how on loud speakers they had asked the ‘miserable villagers’ to leave, those who refused received their deserved end and that there was no point exaggerating the issue since very few were dead and will be buried as soon as the ‘cleanup crew’ does their job. The cleanup crew was made of young adolescents armed to the teeth with guns and grenades, their job, to blow the bodies to bits for the burials. He says, “Everywhere it was the same horrible sight…there had been 400 people in this village, about fifty of them had escaped with their lives. All the rest had been deliberately massacred in cold blood, for as I observed myself this gang was admirably disciplined and only acted under orders.” The Arabs till now had no one on their side but themselves.
May 23rd 1967: Egypt closed the straits of Tira (Gulf of Apaba) to Israeli shipping, thereby cutting off Israel’s only supply route with Asia…By international law, this was an act of war. Themselves as the opposition forces included almost all the Arab states, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and many more. Gamel Abdel Nasser was the main leader of this massive force, in a speech on May 28th he says, “the existence of Israel is in itself an aggression…we will not accept any…coexistence with Israel…the war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”
May 24th 1967: Abba Eban met with Britain prime minister in England and expressed that Britain would join forces to stop the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba. Abba noted in his diary after returning to his hotel that evening that, “the British radio and television, which I turned on briefly before retiring, were full of sympathy for Israel, but they had a distinctly funereal air.” In a war, do those who fight initiate it or not. In this case, the Arabs and Jews may not necessarily be the ones who initiated the war. Those who seemed to support or interfere may have caused it. Britain is one of the forces. From the beginning Britain appeared to have the interest of the Jews in mind by allowing immigration during their mandate.
The Balfour declaration was the most important document in the history of the Jewish state. It first and foremost allowed the immigration of the Jews and expressed their commitment to resolve it their problem. Based on (Walter & Barry, 1984, p18) it was written by Arthur James Lord Balfour who declares it with ‘great pleasure’. At the end of the letter, he writes, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist federation.” It was apparently accepted by both the Jews, who assisted the British, and Arabs who at that point were under the Mandate. It gained Britain the following benefits, firstly to gain allies of the Jews in America, Russia and Germany. Secondly a Jewish homeland established in Palestine with the support of Britain ensured the protection the Suez Canal safeguarding British interests in India and the Middle East. Thirdly and most important at the moment was to avoid a large influx of Jewish refugees into Britain. Lord Balfour expressed this in the Aliens act stating “…it would not be to the advantage of the civilization of the country that there should be an immense body of persons who, however patriotic, able and industrious…still by their own actions remained a people apart.” Its breach comes as a major blow to the Jews. The white paper, (Walter & Barry, 1984, p64) in agreement with Arab demands limited the immigration of the Jews to only 15,000 in the next five years. This was in 1939. The Jews saw it as a harsh rule that caused even more deaths of the Jews in exile. According to the Jewish Agency (Walter & Barry, 1984, p77) says, “it is in the darkest moment of Jewish History (holocaust) that the British Government…deprive the Jews of their last hope…”
British promises to Palestine as stated in letters by Sir Henry McMahon British High commissioner in Egypt to Sherif Hussein of Mecca according to (Colin, 1983, pp 55-56), include. First, they are prepared to recognize and uphold the independence of the Arabs in all regions mentioned in all the frontiers pointed out by Sherif Hussein. Second, Great Britain will guarantee the holy places against aggression and recognize the obligation of conserving them from aggression. Thirdly, when circumstances permit, Great Britain will help the Arabs with their advice and assist them in establishment of governments in these diverse regions. To this he added, “I am confident that this declaration will convince you, beyond all doubts of Great Britain’s sympathy with the aspirations of her friends the Arabs.” This Declaration did garner for Britain the support they needed for both the world wars. Later Sir Edward Grey admitted to inconsistencies between the promises made to the Jews and Arabs, (Colin, 1983, pp57-58).
From the beginning the Americans come forward as the Jews great defenders and almost single handedly brought about the acceptance of the partition plan. According to (Colin, 1983, p60) when the nations were voting over the formation of the Israeli state, America had egged a lot of the unsure nations to vote in favor of the Jews. President Truman warned that he would demand a full explanation if nations which normally lined up with America did not do so on this matter. But was it all to the benefit of the Jews? (Colin, 1983, p61) gives a different account on which Truman acted as he did not only on pure human compassion for another people but admitted to Jewish Zionist pressure. He says, “I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
IMPORTANCE OF THE LAND TO ISREAL
May 26th 1967: Egypt daily paper carried an article by Mohamed Heikal (a close friend of Nasser’s) “closing of the Straits of Tiran had put Israel in a situation where it had to attack… It has to deal a blow a…then it will be our turn to deal a second blow…let Israel begin! Let our second blow be ready! Let it be a knockout!” It was a tragedy to be Jewish people without a home. They were a people apart, a thread of its own that could never disappear into the system of even the oldest civilization. Yet once again, armies stood around them ready to fire. According to (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War) all of Israel had 264,000 troops in general, while all the armies of the Arabs come together into 547,000 troops. Worse still, the nation faced the closure of the gulf that caused their economy to slowly digress. However as stated by Hassanain Haykal in his report on the eventual armed clash, (Walter & Barry, 1984, p179) the economic situation is not the factor that would lead the Israelites to attack. According to him, they can choose to ignore it. The psychological factor was what would lead them to attack. This is the need for security and survival in itself, entitled to all men.
May 31st 1967: “the existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified…our goal is clear-to wipe Israel off the map” President Aref of Iraq. No matter what the threat, the people of Israel are ready to die for their nation, their home. The one place that any Jew out in the unforgiving world would be welcome. They lay their claim through; firstly they date back their ownership of the land to Abraham and the formed Israel nation after its return from Egyptian exile. This, to them was a return from exile to the land of their forefathers. Secondly, they renewed the land. According to a speech state of Israel Proclamation of Independence, (Walter & Barry, 1984, p125-127) ‘They reclaimed the wilderness, revived their language, built cities and villages…they brought a blessing of progress to the inhabitants of the land.’ Thirdly, they lay their claim on the land more strongly on the land after the disasters of the holocaust. If there was a Jewish home before the Holocaust, there would have been no holocaust according to (Aaron, 1996, p137). It was not only a home but also a promise from God. In Isaiah 49:8 (Good news, 1991) it is written “I will keep you and make you to be a covenant people, to restore the land and reassign its desolate inheritance, to say to the captive, ‘come out’…” Jehovah’s hand had engineered the events as stated in the bible. Also in most ways it was a promise from foreign governments. Edward w. Said brings out this factor clearly according to (Colin, 1983, p63) he says, “For indeed it was the world that made the success of Zionism possible, and it was the Zionism’s sense of the world as supporters and audience that played a considerable practical role in the struggle for Palestine.” However it is ironic that this was the fact according to Erskin Childers (Colin, 1983, pp64-65) that once in the distance history, the Arabs had arrived on the doors of Jerusalem and were allowed in after signing a treaty guaranteeing they and Jews alike would live together. Centuries later the crusaders entered Jerusalem by pretense and as they laid the streets red with blood, they put the Jews into the synagogue and burned them alive. Then the first wave of anti-Semitism carried out the largest incineration of the Jews thousands of years before Hitler in Palestine. The descendants of the crusaders are the ones that now decided that the Arab-occupied Palestine should be taken from the Arabs and given to the Jewish settlement movement to pay for the latest crimes in Europe. Centuries upon centuries of Jewish massacre but through the years they have remained faithful, unchanging in the world. Golde Meyer recalls according to (Colin, 1983, p75) how when Ben Gurion spoke the worlds, ‘The State of Israel’ on May 14th 1948, “my eyes filled with tears and my hands shook. We have done it…the long exile is over. Too late to save those who had perished…but not too late for the generations to come.”
Military Strategies of the Israelites were organized and effective. The defense of their people and the need to prove to the world that Israel was a state that would come to the defense of all Jews in the world encouraged them to preserver. One of the factors of their military strategy that caused them to have a lot of conflict was the refugee problem. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s prime minister according to (Colin, 1983,p63) 1948 said, “it is clear England Belongs to the English, Egypt to the Egyptians and Judea to the Jews. We will say to the Arabs. ‘Move over’, if they resist, we will push them by force.” It benefited them in the following areas. First it gave the Arabs nations a vast refugee program to cope with which their economy and administration system could not handle. Second, it ensured the Jews were never attacked from the inside. Joseph Weitz a Jewish government official states according to (Colin, 1983, p49), “ if the Arabs leave the country, it will be broad and wide for us, if they stay, the country will remain narrow and miserable.” This was even more unjust to the Palestinians who despite having the same language and religion where still outsiders in the other Arab nations. Attack First was another defense strategy. When surrounded by opposing Nations all, attacking last may prove their doom. In the month of May alone, the Arab forces had massed in the millions against Israel, closed the Gulf of Aqaba and for some convinced the emergency forces of the UN that had stood on the border for the last ten years to leave. In a speech by Abba Eban on May 18th says how “it is often said that United Nations procedures are painfully slow. This decision was disastrously swift.”
A recollection of by Charles Krauthammer Washington post Friday may 18th 2007 from(Terry, 2007) ‘For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating…As its soldiers waited on various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from peril… Army chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the life of his country in the balance, knowing that waiting too long would allow the armies of 100 million Arabs to strike first his country of 3 million’
June 16th 1967: Abba Eban addresses UN Security Council, “I have just come from Jerusalem to tell the Security Council that Israel, by its independent effort and sacrifice, has passed form serious danger to successful resistance.” Israel stood victorious and this was an even larger conflict for the Arabs to bear. As is our human element to cling to success, it resulted in most of the world assembling again to Israel’s side. Who is right? Who is wrong? Was it a tragedy or a display of mans true core. The promise of hope can turn conquest into enslavement and worse still the hope of freedom can turn unity into cruelty. Mostly we learn man can never be discouraged to encourage but they can be encouraged to discourage. Israeli war was the best display of Humanity.