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June 06, 2005

Beilin's Longings

An earlier Snapshots entry today notes a major error in Yossi Beilin's June 5 Ha'aretz column.

Aside from that factual error, there is also grave error of omission in the column. In all Beilin's descriptions of (a romanticized version of) June 1967 Israel, he only briefly hints at one important point: "Those six days, on the eve of my 19th birthday, were the most heroic days of my life. Those were days when existential fears gave way to victory albums," Beilin wrote of the 1967 war.

That is, the Israel to which Beilin longs to return was a country plagued with existential fears, even fears of a new Holocaust. And these fears were not merely a product of paranoia.

As noted by Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post, the word reaching Israelis from neighboring states during Beilin's supposed "quietest and most beautiful decade" was hardly something a sober Israeli would long to recreate:

On May 20, 1967, Hafez Assad, who was then serving as Syria's defense minister, said, "Our forces are now entirely ready to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation." On May 26, Egyptian president Nasser declared in a speech to his nation, "Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel." At a press conference the following day, PLO founder Ahmad Shukeiry said, "D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation." On May 30, Cairo Radio was even more explicit: "Israel has two choices, both of which are drenched with Israel's blood: Either it will be strangled by the Arab military and economic siege, or it will be killed by the bullets of the Arab armies surrounding it from the south, from the north and from the east."

It should also be noted that after the 1967 war, Israel offered to return much of the land they gained, but the neighboring countries, standing by their "basic aim" to destroy Israel, responded with the three "no"s — no recognition, no negotiation and no peace — issued in August 1967 at an Arab summit in Khartoum.

Posted by GI at June 6, 2005 09:38 AM