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The shame of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war
Fifty years have passed since Israel launched its war against the Arab World on June 5, 1967, claiming that it was “forced” to attack Egypt, then Syria and later Jordan, occupying the remaining portions of Palestine that it failed to take nearly two decades earlier. Although Israel has officially maintained it would be willing to return the occupied lands for peace, it’s conduct since says otherwise. That conduct is reflected in an ongoing campaign of lies, distortions and propaganda spin that sits well in America, but not in the court of honesty
By Ray Hanania
I was just a kid in 1967 when Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser was screaming about Israel which was established only 19 years earlier and vowing to “push the Jews into the sea.”
Nasser’s words were twisted into a reflection of what pro-Israeli propagandists have asserted was “anti-Semitism,” the truth is that Israel called itself the “Jewish State” and the state was carved out of a division between “Jews” and “non-Jews.”
The Israeli assertion of anti-Semitism wasn’t the worst part. It was the worst lie Israel ever told or would tell, just one of many that helped spin pro-Israel support and suppress the truth so that the American public could remain in an Israeli information headlock.
The truth was that Jewish immigrants to Palestine accepted a United Nations Partition that was pushed by its supporters in the wake of the Nazi-driven Holocaust, the extermination of some 6 million Jews in gas chambers and horrific medical experiments and a brutality that was so horrendous that no human being could not sympathize with that suffering.
But it was those who survived the Holocaust, not those who died, who went to Palestine and then used that suffering of their people to win over world sympathies to justify the destruction of another people’s aspirations. Non-Jews, Palestinians, who made up 66 percent of the population of Palestine, were told by the United Nations where they had little representation, that they would have to give more than half their state to the Holocaust survivors.
Who could say no to that one-sided logic? The Holocaust was the most inhumane atrocity committed against human beings, an unprecedented mass slaughter by the Nazis during Worlds War II that is so reprehensible it’s impossible to even fathom.
In contrast, the world knew little about the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims who have lived on the land since the time of Christ. Their roots go back to Biblical days and many Palestinian Christians and Muslims trace their heritage to the original Hebrews, whom the Jews claim as their own. Apparently, conversions from Judaism to Christianity and then Islam don’t count in the court of modernday public opinion.
Pushed by Britain and the United States, which had strong pro-Jewish lobbies, the United Nations imposed the partition of Palestine into 7 zones, including one international zone for the Holy City of Jerusalem, and six zones that overlapped like a checkerboard that would make up the “Jewish State” and the “Arab State.”
Once approved, the incomprehensible overlapping maps were made to result in a war and war it was internally through the end of 1947 and the beginning of 1948, until Israel declared its independence, not just within it’s borders but also in the borders of part of the Arab State, too. In fact, even before Israel declared its statehood, it’s militias attacked and occupied a dozen cities inside the so-called Arab State and massacred the Arab populations in several cities, like at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, to create fear among the non-Jewish populations.
Since then, Israel propaganda has called the Deir Yassin massacre and the theft of Christian and Muslim lands “a myth” in their powerful propaganda that has been unchallenged in America by truth and embraced by uneducated, ignorant Americans as if it were truth.
How do you beat that?
And in the early morning hours of June 5, 1967, Israel implemented an invasion it had been contemplating for years, to capture the Old City of Jerusalem (Arab East Jerusalem) and the West Bank of the Jordan River to fulfill its land needs and land growth and its vision of Eretz Israel, or Greater Israel.
Americans went along. Israel said it was about to be attacked by Nasser, a myth that Nasser made believable by his pompous and bombastic rhetoric. Egypt’s army was poorly trained and poorly equipped by the Russians, another reason why the Americans believed Israel and turned a blind eye to truth. Israel had been supplied by the United States and by then had even manufactured a nuclear bomb.
The Israeli armies rushed into Egypt, then Syria and eventually Jordan in a mechanized blitzkrieg of tanks and military personal, covered by one of the most powerful air forces in the world. The Israelis destroyed the Arab Armies in a sweep that lasted only a few days and in the process, even managed to nearly destroy an American communications ship that was clearly flying the American flag.
But Israel intentionally attacked the U.S.S. Liberty Naval Communications ship on June 8, 1967, killing 34 American crew members and seriously injuring 174 other American servicemen. Unprepared for an assault by their “ally,” the crew of the Liberty barely managed to fight back.
Why did Israel attack the Liberty? The Israelis feared that the U.S. Communications vessel (some called a spy ship) may have intercepted Israeli communications which exposed Israel’s lie that it was forced to attack the Arab countries. The communications would have disclosed that Israel was planning to invade East Jerusalem to take control of the city that is holy to three religions in order to control the Jewish holy sites, such as the temple mount under the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall.
Nearly 800,000 Palestinian civilians were forced at gunpoint to leave Palestine in 1948 when Israel took control of 56 percent of the land. And hundreds of thousands more Palestinian civilians were forced out at gunpoint in 1967.
I was just a kid at the time. Tarzan was one of the top programs on American television, a series about a White Man who defeats evil by evil-doers (usually dark skinned people, including Arabs). Andy of Mayberry was also another popular TV series, which featured in one episode two little old white haired White women who were selling hootch to drunks, including one man who was a Muslim Arab who couldn’t speak but the women noted, “They really love their hootch.”
There was a lot of racism on television. Amos and Andy was still popular, two bumbling black people that White people celebrated in TV enjoyment. Racism dominated America. (You can read my book about White Flight from 1969 by clicking here.)
Teachers in my school made me carry a canister to help raise money for the Jewish United Fund to support Israel. You didn’t have a choice. The “stamp out Nasser” campaign was officially embraced not only by the Chicago Public Schools but also by the City of Chicago. The Arabs were compared to the Nazis and Israeli propaganda asserting that the Arabs planned a new “Holocaust” was very believable.
The kids surrounded me and demanded to know “Whose side are you on?” I was an American, I tried to respond as they wanted to know “What are you?” But that didn’t matter to anyone.
Meanwhile, Richard Speck had been sentenced to death that very day for killing eight student nurses a year ago about 8 blocks south of where I lived. And the following year both Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., would be assassinated — Kennedy by a Palestinian immigrated in Los Angeles on the one year anniversary of the June 5, 1967 war, dying shortly after midnight on June 6. The Assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, reportedly was angry with Kennedy’s support of Israel and the loss of his family’s land and homes during the 1967 war a year earlier.
Israelis were masters of propaganda, exploiting everything to their advantage and twisting into ugliness the rights and suffering of the Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
How could Christians so turn their backs on their people in Palestine, my mother, who was born in the Holy City of Bethlehem, would often wonder aloud? American Christians didn’t care that Christians were being killed by Israelis because the mainstream American news media didn’t report on it that way. Palestinians killed by Israel were described by Israel as “Arab terrorists” and the American people just accepted it. In fact, in the late 1950s, Israel commissioned Leon Uris to write the fictional novel “Exodus” to help “frame” the Israel narrative of its birth and the terrorism of the Arabs who hated Jews.
The most nauseating aspect of the movie is the injection of Nazis into the Exodus plot suggesting that the Arabs were a part and cause of the Holocaust. The Arabs, according to Uris, wanted to murder children. The “Jews” who fled Nazi persecution during the Holocaust wanted to build a land that the Arabs “didn’t want.”
The book and the subsequent film featuring Paul Newman is obnoxious and nauseating to the point of being reprehensible and disgustingly filled with lies.
Meanwhile, the Arabs had no effective propaganda of their own. They lacked any communications skills. They were angry and over the years, their anger festered into uncontrollable emotions that always seemed to explode during debates.
Israeli violence was justified as being a part of a war. Arab violence was denounced as “anti-semitic” acts of “terrorism.”
The real tragedy of the 1967 war is not the war itself but the fact that 50 years later, nothing has changed.
Arabs blame Israel, and they certainly deserve much of the blame refusing to make peace and doing everything possible to make the Two-State Solution compromise an impossibility by building Jewish-only settlements int he very areas that supposedly would be a part of the proposed “Palestine State.”
But the Arabs deserve credit for their suffering, too. Incapable of controlling their emotions, they allowed their cause to be trampled by Israeli propaganda and lies. Kicked to the curb by hypocrisy, fiction and anti-Arab racism.
They did nothing to confront Israel’s lies. They only did what Nasser did. Yelled. Screamed. Stomped their feet. And gave Israel every opportunity to take everything. The Arabs embraced a losing strategy, demanding “All or nothing” and they refused to acknowledge their failures because it would be embarrassing. And shameful.
Arabs can live with shame, apparently, as long as they can blame it all on someone else and not have to work to change it.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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