Saturday, June 10, 2017

And on the Sixth Day...

Today is the 50th anniversary of the last day of the June/ Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel seized control of Syria's Golan Heights, since ANNEXED. This would be Israel's last great LAND GRAB until its OCCUPATION of southern Lebanon in the early 80s.

While its propaganda apparatus hyped a non-existent 'existential threat', the reality was more mundane. Israel's aging brass still fondly remembered its glory days in 1948 when, by fire and sword, they'd GRABBED 78% of Palestine from its native people, whom they'd sent packing. Not to mention the great Sinai LAND GRAB of 1956. They were bored and itching for a bit more biff, snatch and grab.

As Israeli historian Tom Segev put it: "The generals were in their forties, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys or bulls in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed that war was what Israel needed at that moment, not because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 296)

But too much war is never enough for military brass and their political dupes. Why not go for broke on the northern front as well?

"The main pressure to seize [Syria's] Golan [Heights] came from General David Elazar of the Northern Command... In the two years preceding the war he had broached the matter not only with his superiors in the military, but also with {PM] Eshkol and a few ministers, including Allon, with whom he even discussed the possibility of occupying Damascus." (ibid, p 388)

"According to [Defence Minister] Dayan, he had found out early on Friday morning that the Syrian forces were crumbling and would be easy to defeat, although Syria was about to stop fighting, as Egypt had already done... 'Last night I did not think Egypt and Syria... would collapse like this and abandon the rest of the battle,' wrote Dayan to Elazar, 'but if this is the situation, it should be fully exploited'." (ibid, pp 390-91)

"Eshkol went on a tour of the north and met with Dayan. His impression was that the IDF was having great difficulty gaining control of the key town of Kuneitra. At this point, the Golan was a race against time. [Foreign Minister] Eban telephoned Eshkol's house to inform him that the UN Security Council had issued a cease-fire resolution, and so the fighting had to stop immediately. Since Eshkol was in the north, his wife took the call. Later Eshkol phoned her, full of enthusiasm about the view from the Golan, the water, the greenery. She gave him Eban's message and Eshkol shouted, 'Hello? Hello? I can't hear you. There's something wrong with the line, I can't hear you...' He repeated this over and over, until she understood that he did not want to 'hear'. A few hours later Kuneitra fell." (Ibid, p 397)

"Ben-Gurion, who had opposed the incursion into the Golan, now had a change of heart. Following a visit with General Elazar, he described the Golan Heights as critical to [Israel's] security." (Ibid, p 428)

As they say, 'Boys will be boys... and so will a lot of middle-aged men.'

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