Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An anniversary of doom

Today the United States, mostly, ignores the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War in which Israeli seized what are now, in the United Nation's terminology, the "Occupied Palestinian Territories." Maybe George W. was paying a glancing homage to this anniversary when he suggested the other day that Iraq bore some resemblance to Korea and we might occupy it for a similar length of time. He seems to like of creating carnage in other people's countries.

In San Francisco, a small band of pro-Palestinian demonstrators braved the permanent gale in front of the Federal Building to denounce the ongoing occupation and repression of Palestinians.

They were confronted by several thuggish counter demonstrators carrying Israeli flags who probably would describe themselves as "pro-Israel." Viciously anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim would be more accurate. Their idea of counter argument seemed limited to "your God is a fraud" and "go back to Jordan." Back and front view of one the loudest below:


The most accessible writing I've seen about this sad anniversary is by Tony Karon, a Jewish South African whose personal odyssey has led him from the anti-apartheid struggle, to an Israeli kibbutz, and finally, perhaps most improbably, to Time magazine in New York. After sketching his own history and Israel's, he contributes many insights:

How the 1967 War Doomed Israel
Many pro-Israel commentators today lament what they see as a shift in the Palestinian political mindset from the secular nationalism of Fatah to a more implacable Islamist worldview, supposedly infinitely less reasonable because it couches its opposition to Israel in religious terms. Yet, what is often overlooked is how the Israeli victory in 1967 effected a similar shift in Zionist ideology away from the secular nationalism of Ben Gurion’s generation to a far more dangerous religious nationalism.

Tom Segev, my favorite Israeli historian, writes that the 1967 war resulted in many Israelis coming to see the army as an instrument of messianic theology. The knitted yarmulke of the settlers moving to colonize the West Bank in the wake of the 1967 victory came to replace the cloth cap of the socialist kibbutznik as the symbol of Zionist pioneering. Segev quotes from Rav Kook, the founder of the settlement movement: “There is one principal thing: the state. It is entirely holy, and there is no flaw in it… the state is holy in any and every case.”

... The religious Zionists saw the West Bank and holy land to be “redeemed,” or “liberated” by settlement, and with the tacit support of all Israeli governments since then (and the more active support of some) they rushed to build permanent structures and settle a civilian population there, in defiance of international law, in order to preclude the possibility of returning that land to the Palestians as a basis for peace.

... And that is, indeed, what had transpired. Today, the West Bank is carved up by hundreds of Israeli settlements, and roads and land reserved for settlers. And they have no intention of leaving, while no Israeli government for the foreseeable future will muster the political strength to be able to remove them (even if that was their intent).
Karon is not optimistic about the future of either people that claims that bit of land. The tidbits I've pulled here don't begin to do justice to his article. Do read it all.

1 comment:

Jane R said...

The BBC had a good one-hour special which was broadcast on U.S. public radio stations (quite a few, I'm sure, if it was on my little North Carolina one). Did you hear it?

My father covered that war, as a foreign correspondent, from Cairo.

As the BBC piece noted, those were very different days. Israelis see that war differently now from the way they saw it then.

I haven't looked at Jewish Voice for Peace in a while but I'll bet they have some good reflections today.

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