Why History Matters: The 1967 Six-Day War

By David Harris for the Huffington Post (June 3):

  • 49 years ago this month, the Six-Day War broke out. In June 1967, there was no state of Palestine. It didn’t exist and never had. Its creation, proposed by the UN in 1947, was rejected by the Arab world because it also meant the establishment of a Jewish state alongside.
  • The West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were in Jordanian hands. Violating solemn agreements, Jordan denied Jews access to their holiest places in eastern Jerusalem, and they desecrated and destroyed many of those sites.
  • Meanwhile, Gaza was under Egyptian control, with harsh military rule. And the Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria, were regularly used to shell Israeli communities below.
  • The Arab world could have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza any day of the week. They didn’t. There wasn’t even discussion about it. And Arab leaders, who today profess such attachment to eastern Jerusalem, rarely, if ever, visited. It was viewed as an Arab backwater.
  • The 1967 boundary at the time of the war was an armistice line dating back to 1949 – known as the Green Line. That’s after five Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948 with the aim of destroying the Jewish state.
  • In the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War, Egyptian and Syrian leaders repeatedly declared that war was coming and their objective was to wipe Israel off the map. 22 years after the Holocaust, another enemy spoke about the extermination of Jews. The record is well-documented.
  • Today, there are those who wish to rewrite history. They want the world to believe the 1967 war was a bellicose act by Israel. It was an act of self-defense in the face of blood-curdling threats to vanquish the Jewish state, not to mention the maritime blockade of the Straits of Tiran, the abrupt withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces, and the redeployment of Egyptian and Syrian troops. The aggressors have failed to take responsibility for the actions they instigated.

The writer has led the American Jewish Committee since 1990.

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