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Why a false understanding of the ‘Six Day War’ still matters

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Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin

A review of The Six Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War, by John Quigley. Cambridge University Press (2013) 284 pages; $14.89 Kindle ed.

Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651 at the end of the English Civil War.  In the state of nature, he famously quipped, the life of man is nasty, brutish, and short.  We are witnessing it in Syria today as ISIS fighters are pushing into a dysfunctional Iraq; we’ve witnessed it in Afghanistan these past 35 years.  Failed states are not a pretty sight.

Yet, a state of nature among sovereign states can be worse.  The 20th century witnessed vibrant, proud, and civilized nation states cause a conflagration that killed 75 million people with unfathomable barbarity. Countries will flex their muscles as pecking orders change. Take the competing claims over the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea.  How should these claims be resolved?  With China asserting its claim militarily in the face of a standoff with the U.S. Pacific fleet?  Or is it better to submit such disputed ownership of territory to the International Court of Justice for resolution?  The answer is obvious; it’s a chief reason why international law matters.

What Does a Commitment to International Law Require?

International law is comprised of a host of international customs; agreements; treaties; accords; charters; protocols; tribunals; memorandums; and more.  Much of the authority of this law has its basis in the United Nations Charter.  UN member states commit themselves to maintain international peace and security, and to promote fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.  Member states pledge to settle their disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from resorting to violence against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. UN Charter, Chapter I, Articles 2 & 3.  Israel and its neighbors are all signatories to the United Nations charter.  Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria were original signatories in October 1945.  Israel committed itself to its provisions on November 5, 1949, and Jordan joined on December 14, 1955.

Flouting Commitments Made

On June 5, 1967 Israel invaded Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and took possession of the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights.  The accepted orthodoxy of this war, and the occupation that followed, is that it was justified because Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had massed troops “vastly outnumbering Israel” along the border, and that Israel, threatened with its very survival, launched a necessary pre-emptive attack on its neighbors, gaining a great and unexpected victory in just six days.  This is the official position of AIPAC.   Alan Dershowitz argues for this version of events with gusto in his “The Case for Israel” and at every opportunity.  Ari Shavit repeats this story in his book My Promised Land, where it fits well with his “concentric circles of threat” surrounding Israel.

In The Six Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War, John Quigley, a professor of international law at Ohio State University, presents a clear and compelling case that the orthodox story is wrong. Quigley’s book draws on evidence recently declassified by the four main powers involved in the lead up to the war:  France, Britain, Russia, and the United States. He concludes that, contrary to the orthodox story, Israel’s army substantially outnumbered the Arab troops at the borders, and that Israel did not expect an attack. In short, Quigley asserts that Israel’s invasion of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1967 cannot be justified as self-defense; Israel seized upon an opportunity to wage a war of aggression in violation of international law and in violation of the commitment Israel had made by joining the community of nations under the auspices of the UN Charter.

The Lead Up to War—Israel Sees an Opportunity

After the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 the belligerent parties executed armistice agreements, resulting in Israel asserting sovereignty over all areas within the green lines, and Jordan asserting sovereignty over the West Bank. Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank was officially recognized by Great Britain, and generally accepted, if not formally recognized, by the World community.  Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan administered the West Bank peacefully as an integral part of its Kingdom, and Jordan extended full citizenship to Palestinians living in the West Bank.  [See Gerson, Israel the West Bank and International Law, p. 79]

Quigley reviews how, throughout the 1950’s, cross-border violence was a common occurrence as military units of the displaced Palestinians raided Israel from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.  Israel’s defense forces responded with counter-raids.  In 1956, of course, Israel, in conjunction with France and Britain, invaded Sinai.  Both the USSR and the United States denounced this invasion and pressured Israel, Britain, and France to withdraw.  Israel withdrew from Sinai in the spring of 1957 and the United Nations installed multinational military units to monitor the Israel-Egypt cease-fire line.

By 1966, says Quigley, a more assertive Syrian government was providing additional support to the Palestinians for an armed struggle against Israel.  Syria became a base of operations for Fatah, and between early 1965 and June 1967, Fatah launched more than one hundred attacks into Israel, some with fatal consequences.  Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff of the IDF at that time, deemed the raids emanating from Syria as more consequential because he felt they were state-supported, unlike raids originating in Egypt, Jordan, or Lebanon.

On November 11, 1966 a land mine killed three soldiers near the West Bank Jordanian village of Samu. In response, the IDF sent tanks and troops to Samu, and when Jordanian troops attempted to intercept, the IDF forces killed several civilians and about 12 Jordanian soldiers.  Once in control of the village, the IDF spent four hours blowing up one hundred houses in the village of Samu.

During the first four months of 1967 Fatah raids along the Jordanian border intensified, as did cross-border clashes with Syria, some deliberately provoked by Israel.  Quigley quotes Moshe Dayan, soon to become defense minister:  “We would send a tractor to plow the earth in some plot you couldn’t do anything with, in a demilitarized zone, knowing in advance that the Syrians would start shooting…. And then we’d fire back, and later send in the Air Force.”  By mid May, it was the assessment of the American Ambassador in Egypt, Richard Parker, that Israel was threatening to take more aggressive reprisal actions against Syria.

Quigley presents evidence that Nasser increased troop strength in the Sinai in response to Israel’s threats against Syria, and Syria’s request that Egypt do more. In mid-May, however, Nasser assured the Soviet Ambassador that Egypt would move militarily against Israel only if Israel were to invade Syria. Although sympathizing with Israel’s need to stop cross-border raids originating in Syria, Quigley reports that Walter Rostow, Lyndon Johnson’s security adviser, counseled that the United States try to restrain Israel.  Right up until Israel’s surprise attack on June 5, 1967, both the United States and the USSR worked behind the scenes to calm the situation and urged that neither party attack.

Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Michael Hadow, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reported to London that Israel agreed with the British assessment “that Nasser’s new posture posed no real threat.” Nevertheless, Israel responded with additional deployments of its own in the south.

In connection with the increase of its troop strength in Sinai, Egypt asked the UN to withdraw its observer force from the area.  However, says Quigley, Egypt, the UN and the United States all offered to Israel that the observer force could be stationed in the Sinai on Israel’s side of the line.  Israel refused.

On May 21, Egypt briefly sent two Mig-21 jets over Israeli airspace, making a low pass over Israel’s nuclear complex at Dimona in the Negev desert.  The planes departed before Israeli jets could scramble.

As tensions mounted, Jordan’s King Hussein became concerned that Israel might take advantage of the situation to grab the West Bank. Hussein reasoned that “Israel has certain long range military and economic requirements and certain traditional religious and historic aspirations” that “they have not yet satisfied or realized” (per Quigley’s citation to Findley Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan). And, indeed, as Ezer Weizman, then Chief of Operations of the IDF General Staff, later recorded in his memoirs:  the IDF Central Command was discussing the possibility that Israel might find an opportunity to take the West Bank.

Israel anticipated that Egypt might attempt to curb shipping at Sharm el-Sheikh.  Both Rabin and Dayan contemplated that if Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to shipping, Israel would seize the opportunity to attack Egypt.  Their main concern was that the Security Council might call for a cease-fire before they achieved their objectives.  Nasser obliged on May 22, announcing that he would close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli flagged shipping and other vessels carrying strategic goods to Eilat.  However, Quigley indicates that there was also an indication that any vessel accompanied by a warship would be exempted.

Not Justified Self-Defense Under International Law

Quigley concludes that the facts of May-June 1967 did not justify a pre-emptive strike by Israel in accordance with international law.  There was no existential threat as the AIPAC video, above, asserts.  Closing the Straits of Tiran posed no real threat to Israel in the short term, and both Britain and the United States were working diligently to solve the Tiran Straits issue.  Here are just a few of the points reviewed by Quigley that seem sufficient to make the case:

  • In April 1967 Robert McNamara reported to President Johnson that “the present and prospective military balance in the Middle East strongly favors Israel” and that “Israel will be militarily unchallengeable by any combination of Arab states at least during the next five years.” This was clear to everybody.
  • On May 25, General Ariel Sharon, who then commanded Israel’s troops in the south, told Prime Minister Eshkol and Yigal Allon (labor minister) that Israel had a historic opportunity to destroy Egypt’s army, and that Egypt could be attacked under circumstances that appeared defensive.
  • In the vicinity of the borders, Israel’s troops (~280,000) substantially outnumbered the troops of the Arab states (~117,000).  According to a CIA assessment, Egypt had only increased its troops in the Sinai from 30,000 men to 50,000.  This was not sufficient to mount an offensive, and Israel knew it.  In 1968, Yitzhak Rabin gave an interview to Eric Rouleau at Le Monde, stating: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war…. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel.  He knew it and we knew it.”
  • In 1972, Israeli General Mattityahu Peled told an audience at the Zavta political-literary club in Tel Aviv that the idea that Israel was fighting for its existence was “a bluff born and developed only after the war.”  He went on: “All those stories that were put out about the great danger that we faced because of the smallness of our territory, an argument advanced only after the war was over, were never taken into consideration in our calculations before the hostilities.”
  • In 1982 when Menachem Begin was attempting to persuade the country to support his invasion of Lebanon, he explained that the reason Israel needed to invade Lebanon was not an immediate concern about attacks from Lebanon, but a need to ensure against possible attacks in the future.  Begin said that the same aim had led Israel to initiate the 1967 war:  “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us.  We must be honest with ourselves.  We decided to attack him.” Begin had been in the cabinet in 1967, as a minister without portfolio.

Why It Still Matters

As Jerome Slater observed in his review of Shavit’s book:  “It is hard to think of another long-standing conflict in which the irrefutable facts, long well-known to anyone who has seriously studied the issue, seem to matter less than in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Although the true facts about the 1967 war have been known to many from the outset, and have been reported in Le Monde and elsewhere, this has not dampened enthusiasm for the “justified self-defense” story.  The facts propagated by Israel have not been critically examined by the world community.

Having the wrong facts is not helpful.  Critically, from Quigley’s standpoint as a scholar of international law, the erroneously assumed facts have allowed The Six Day War to become a “prime example” of the use of defensive war.  As a result, says Quigley, the law of pre-emptive war has been unduly expanded in a manner that is counterproductive to the goal of preserving peace between nations.  Israel relies on the false example of The Six Day War to assert a right of self-defense in invading Lebanon in 1982.  It is the corrupted example of The Six Day War that makes plausible the case for invading Iraq based on putative “weapons of mass destruction.”  It is the corrupted example of The Six Day War that makes it possible to speak of pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

With respect to Israel’s occupation, the false narrative that Israel faced an existential threat in May and June 1967—because “can this hatred ever be overcome” as Shavit suggests in his book—poisons any hope of ever finding a solution.  It’s important to have the real facts seep into public consciousness because if The Six Day War is more properly seen as a continuation of the War of Independence in 1948-49, it changes the frame of discussion.

As the United States falls away as a peace broker because it is not politically able to take necessary steps to pressure both sides equally, we could do worse than to refocus everyone on the laudable aspirational goals embodied in the UN Charter.

Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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77 Responses

  1. MHughes976 on June 17, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Just to say what I think Thomas Hobbes’ philosophy implies. He absolutely did not say that human life actually is nasty, brutish and short. He said that it would be like that were we ‘in the state of nature’ – did we not live in civil societies where life is protected by laws.
    Societies themselves do live in the state of nature with each other, he thought, though this situation produces war only sometimes, not always as the universal state of nature would (or did). He remarks (Leviathan ch.13) that ‘the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain but in an inclination thereto of many days together. So the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace.’ At this rate one could say that Israel on the one hand and Egypt and Syria on the other never had any of the normal assurances of immunity from attack, so that any attack of any kind by either or any side would be only one operation within an already existing war. On that view, Israel could say ‘We happened to choose the right moment and to win; it sometimes goes like that’, but would not be entitled to all the moral bombast about pre-emption and justification.
    On the other hand one could say – and I would think that this would be closer to the truth – that the sputtering tensions of the 60s amounted, on Hobbes’ analogy, only to a few rainy days here and there, and that everyone knew that Israel had, but that Egypt and Syria completely lacked, the resources to create a sustained storm. At that rate Israel was acting contrary to what Hobbes called first law of nature, to seek peace as far as there is hope of obtaining it – and if your potential enemies are quite weak, there must be that hope.

  2. W.Jones on June 17, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Another, not dissimilar myth and false understanding is silly and self serving – the way that the nationalists deal with the Nakba. Benny Morris is at least realistic. However, since he is “revisionist”, it means that the “standard” story is not Morris’ – and that there was no Nakba.

    The standard story I heard, particularly from one nationalist advocate, is that the Palestinian population supposedly wanted the Arab armies to destroy Israeli society, and so the Palestinians left because they wanted to get out of the way of the Arab armies’ destruction.

    This is ridiculous and basically picking up and putting the language of the Holocaust’s history onto Palestinians. Even if the Palestinians wanted Israeli society to be destroyed by conquering Arab armies, there would be little need for the Palestinians to leave, since those armies would be perfectly capable of distinguishing Arab villages from Israeli ones. Yet this is the kind of logic used to explain why 80% of Palestinians living on Israeli territory “happened” to all leave that land and their homes in it in a short period of perhaps half a year.

    Since when in history has 80% of a native population gotten up and left voluntarily because they expected a friendly army to take over their territory?

    And yet is this what the propagandists actually believe? Unfortunately there are large numbers of regular Americans who hear those kinds of self-assured claims and don’t know what to think.

    • Woody Tanaka on June 17, 2014, 1:56 pm


      I agree completely. This is one of the worst libels every asserted against anyone in history. Essentially, the people who push this lie assert that the Palestinians were getting out of the way so the Arab armies could push the Jews into the sea. So not only are they falsely accusing the Arabs of being genociders (and thus, the equal to Nazis, which is their real propaganda goal) but also are asserting that people who are running for their lives with Zionist guns aimed at their backs are not simply trying to save the lives of themselves and their children from death, but are, in fact, trying to commit genocide against they are running away from. “Running for your life” in this Zionist retelling, is actually “trying to wipe out the Jews.” Again, this is easy one of the vilest, most evil slanders ever posited about a people, ever.

      • W.Jones on June 17, 2014, 3:52 pm

        I am with you on this bro. It is kind of like the blood libel, isn’t it? You used a good word for it by calling it a libel. It is a made up charge used to victimize and abuse a class of innocent people. In the case of the Palestinian refugees, they were not merely innocent people wrongly accused, but victims who were being wrongly accused. Further, it is obviously and completely nonsensical because it makes no sense that a population needs to leave for another group to be attacked.

        It is like an abusive husband who chases out his wife, beating her with a stick and then says that she left because she wanted her brother could beat him up. Unfortunately, there are apparently people who take this kind of logic seriously.

        Is this the “standard” story?
        Do its promoters actually believe this?
        How many pro-Israelis actually believe this?

        It does not make sense.

      • tokyobk on June 18, 2014, 12:19 am

        Some Palestinians were told to flee and come back. Some believed this. Most did not want a Jewish State. The Arab armies did promise to vanquish the Jewish militias.

        Its like some of the top Wehrmacht and even SS were (knowingly) of Jewish descent. Some Jewish Kapos did sell out other Jews. Some blacks in the US South owned and traded slaves. Some Jews were involved in espionage for Israel against Arab states before the expulsion of Jews from the Arab world.

        What propagandists do is take these truthful aspects and make them the symbol for “…and therefore it wasn’t so bad and/or my side is not culpable.”

        And then you arrive at the “we can never forgive you for making us kill your children” line.

      • Inanna on June 18, 2014, 6:04 am

        tokyobk, the Israeli New Historians have long refuted the assertions you made in your first paragraph concerning Palestinians being told to flee. It was the zionist terrorist groups entering their towns and committing atrocities that led to them fleeing and more than half of the Palestinians refugees fled before the arrival of any Arab army.

        Talk about doing the job of the propagandist. Even Benny Morris is at least truthful about what happened, even if he repugnant views about the morality of it.

      • tokyobk on June 18, 2014, 7:54 am


        I wrote some which is documented and is not completely contested by New Historians or any one else, because in limited cases it happened.

        And if you read what I wrote I am agreeing that not only were the Palestinians cleansed but that a despicable inversion of victimhood has been enshrined, hence the reference to the famous Golda Meir quote.

      • tokyobk on June 18, 2014, 8:17 am

        Two more points, Inanna.

        What the New Historians and others have done is, correctly imo, attacked the use of points of varying degree of factualness to create a narrative of victimhood and justified retaliation in creating and maintaining the primal innocence of the Israeli State. The fact of some orders to and spontaneous fleeing of Palestinians was a particularly useful in sustaining the idea that Palestine passed legitimately into the hands of Israel. I mentioned this because someone asked how anyone can believe that Palestinians fled and wanted to make the distinction between limited cases of fleeing and total justification for cleansing the second being the problem.

        Secondly the difference between a propagandist and historian is the first cares about facts and anything else that can be passed off as fact to the extent that they can tell his or her story whereas the historian is trying to find out to the best of her or his ability (always limited and present driven) what happened.

      • W.Jones on June 18, 2014, 2:21 pm

        Dear Toky,

        You wrote: Some Palestinians were told to flee and come back… I wrote some which is documented…
        I have heard that there were Arabic language broadcasts saying to do this. I also heard that these were faked in order to get them to leave, and that Palestinian families reported hearing them without knowing where they came from.

        two independent studies, which analysed CIA and BBC intercepts of radio broadcasts from the region, concluded that no orders or instructions were given by the Arab Higher Committee [to flee]…. Benny Morris writes:

        Throughout the Haganah made effective use of Arabic language broadcasts and loudspeaker vans. Haganah Radio announced that ‘the day of judgement had arrived’ and called on inhabitants to ‘kick out the foreign criminals’ and to ‘move away from every house and street, from every neighbourhood occupied by foreign criminals’. The Haganah broadcasts called on the populace to ‘evacuate the women, the children and the old immediately, and send them to a safe haven’…

        I have found that many Israeli nationalist claims, like the one you mentioned, are much like today’s claim that Palestinians giving an OK sign are advocating the capture of three soldiers. A person who is unaware of the massive and frequent exaggeration of the nationalists’ misportrayals could easily and mistakenly simply take them at face value.

        Let’s please use critical thinking, everybody! What percent of those 750,000 refugees (80% of the population?) were evacuating their homes in response to actual official Arab army broadcast commands for those 750,000 refugees to do so?

        When else in history has a practically an entire native population fled their homes in expectation of an incoming friendly army’s victory?

    • Hostage on June 17, 2014, 5:15 pm

      Benny Morris is at least realistic.

      No, Morris caved into pressure from Zionist society and academia years ago and became a shameless propagandist. At one point he spouted-off about what a shame it was that the job of carrying out the ethnic cleansing wasn’t properly completed. His subsequent work has mediocre value to anyone interested in objective truth, reality, and reliability versus subjective, Zionist views.

    • LeaNder on June 17, 2014, 6:32 pm

      Our Benny Morris fan is gone by now. Richard liberal Zionist Witty found the argument convincing.

      link pdf.file:“Survival of the Fittest” in the 9 January 2004

      Morris: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

      [Avi Shavit] I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying that Ben-Gurion erred in expelling too few Arabs?

      [Benny Morris:] If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country—the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion—rather than a partial one—he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.

      [Avi Shavit] I find it hard to believe what I am hearing.

      [Benny Morris:] If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself.

      thanks for the Talmud link, Hostage, appreciated.

      • W.Jones on June 18, 2014, 2:38 pm


        Regarding Morris’ claim about Ben Gurion, firstly he would have had trouble cleansing all palestinians from inside the Green Line, because many of them were friendly enough or allied so that other Israelis would have opposed expelling them. Those villages would have resisted harder and it would have been tougher to move them, but it could have been accomplished.

        Outside the Green line it would have been harder. The Israelis would have to have kept fighting past the Green Line in 1948 to conquer the whole land from Jordan, and in fact they had decided on an armistice in 1948. Since in reality they didn’t invade in 1948, their next chance would have been in 1967, when Palestinian were not so nearly willing to be expelled as they were in 1948, because in 1967, unlike 1948, they were not expecting to be allowed to return if they left.

        A full expulsion in 1967 would have been much harder and faced more resistance and been more violent even than the one in 1948. Such an expulsion that basically “cleansed” the whole land would have been much harder to do in terms of the international arena. And with their forces focused on the task of expelling villages, they would have been weaker to defend against a possible Arab counterattack.

    • daniel565 on March 23, 2015, 8:31 am

      “Even if the Palestinians wanted Israeli society to be destroyed by conquering Arab armies, there would be little need for the Palestinians to leave”

      And yet that is precisely what Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, called on Israeli Arabs to do in the 2006 Lebanon war lest they be hit by his awesome rockets.

      “I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa, to your martyrs and to your wounded. I call you to leave this city. I hope you do this. … Please leave so we don’t shed your blood, which is our blood.”

      This is part of the propaganda war. In 1948 Palestinians believed this kind of crap. You find it unbelievable? Take it up with Hassan Nasrallah.

  3. Feathers on June 17, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Pardon me for still hammering at Presbyterian criticisms of Zionism Unsettled.

    Under the core argument that “false understandings matter,” with which I could not agree more, Nikles’ review notes that

    Ari Shavit repeats . . .The accepted orthodoxy of this war, and the occupation that followed, is that it was justified because Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had massed troops “vastly outnumbering Israel” along the border, and that Israel, threatened with its very survival, launched a necessary pre-emptive attack on its neighbors, gaining a great and unexpected victory in just six days. . . . in his book My Promised Land, where it fits well with his “concentric circles of threat” surrounding Israel.”

    In other words, Shavits works to sustain a falsified narrative of Israel’s history.

    The Zionism Unsettled Study Guide mentions Meier Kahane and Ze’ev Jabotinsky. (It also discusses Ahad Ha’am and Rabbi Judah Magnes.)

    In Feb. 2014 Rev. Chris Leighton, Executive Director of the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies and an ordained Presbyterian minister, published an Open Letter to the Presbyterian Church. Leighton took issue with the Study Guide’s focus on focus on Jabotinsky and Kahane which placed zionism in a negative light, which, Leighton argued, branded All Jews everywhere as “bad zionists.” This, in turn, makes “bigots” of Presbyterians.

    Leighton wrote:

    The study guide correctly notes that there are secular Zionists and religious Zionists. There are Zionists who are militant and support the annexation of lands conquered in 1967. There are also Zionists who are sharp critics of Israel’s settlement policies, who are staunch supporters of a Palestinian State, and who struggle in solidarity with Palestinian activists. Not only are Vladimir Jabotinsky and Meir Kahane Zionists, but so are Abraham Joshua Heschel, Peter Beinhart, and Ari Shavit; so are the supporters of Americans for Peace Now, J Street, and a number of other Jewish organizations with which we might work together. A sweeping indictment of Zionism amounts to blanket condemnation of the vast majority of Jews; it prevents collaborative work between our Church and Jewish peace groups, and it renders us bigots.

    I just thought it was interesting that in his attempt to conflate “good zionists” and “bad zionists” into one lump, then apply it to “all Jews” in order to be able to claim the label “bigots” for Presbyterians, Leighton pointed to Ari Shavit, who, as Nikles and also Jerome Slater have observed, perpetuates a false narrative of Israel’s history:

    As Jerome Slater observed in his review of Shavit’s book: “It is hard to think of another long-standing conflict in which the irrefutable facts, long well-known to anyone who has seriously studied the issue, seem to matter less than in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Although the true facts about the 1967 war have been known to many from the outset, . . . this has not dampened enthusiasm for the “justified self-defense” story. The facts propagated by Israel have not been critically examined by the world community.

    Having the wrong facts is not helpful. Critically, from Quigley’s standpoint as a scholar of international law, the erroneously assumed facts have allowed The Six Day War to become a “prime example” of the use of defensive war.

    One goal of Zionism Unsettled is to challenge the “taboo” against “frank discussion about the ways in which ideology — that is, political and religious doctrine– has been a driving force of the [I/P] conflict.” Arguably, Ari Shavit operates from precisely that political-religious ideological base rather than from a foundation in reality that justice requires.

    Yet Craig Leighton, a strenuous and influential critic of Zionism Unsettled, holds up Ari “facts be damned” Shavit as an exemplar of those who will resolve the conflict.

    Let’s hope reality, not ideology, prevails in Detroit this week.

  4. bryan on June 17, 2014, 1:05 pm


    Presuming that this is a fair summary of Quigley’s work ( a man I respect), then I’m not sure what evidence “recently declassified by the four main powers involved in the lead up to the war: France, Britain, Russia, and the United States” actually adds to the traditional picture (e.g. Avi Shlaim’s ‘Iron Wall’ and Tom Segev’s ‘1967’). Like many of the well-cultivated myths surely no reasonably well-informed person has given any credibility to the hasbara about Israel facing an existential threat in June 1967 and winning another miraculous and God-given victory over its enemies in a war of no choice.

    The concern I’ve always had with the traditional (‘revisionist’) view is Shlaim’s insistent argument that the territories accidentally fell into Israel’s lap during the course of those Six Days as a result of the exigencies of war and the twists and turns of Dayan’s haphazard policies. This doesn’t seem altogether consistent with the long-term apparent aim of building Greater Israel, and completing the regrettably unfinished work of 1948. Does Quigley have any light to cast on this matter?

    • Hostage on June 17, 2014, 5:28 pm

      I’m not sure what evidence “recently declassified by the four main powers involved in the lead up to the war: France, Britain, Russia, and the United States” actually adds to the traditional picture (e.g. Avi Shlaim’s ‘Iron Wall’ and Tom Segev’s ’1967′).

      That’s easy. Here’s one example: in 2000 the Foreign Relations of the United States volume on the 67 war and the negotiations on resolution 242 was published.

      The declassified documents revealed that Walt Rostow’s brother, Eugene, who had served as Under Secretary of State for Policy and UN Ambassador Arthur Goldberg had spent the rest of their lives after the war misleading the public about nearly everything that had happened. They only got away with that because of official secrecy and the fact that the public is largely unaware of the existence of a long delayed official rebuttal to the false Zionist version of events and the related official US policies.

  5. doug on June 17, 2014, 1:16 pm

    I was in college when the ’67 war broke out. Initially there was the story put forth by Israel, and widely believed by all, that Israel was suddenly attacked by Arab states. Then, as Israel was winning, it was said they were winning against all odds. A miracle, it was. Back then I had also swallowed the “Land without People for a People without a Land” pitch.

    As the story eked out days later that “who attacked who” was disputed the narrative was firmly entrenched. Over the years the facts came out but remain widely unknown as I regularly come across people that believe Israel was initially attacked in ’67.

    And, of course, even today most people believe Israel was vastly outnumbered, out armed and only survived by the spirited, plucky, efforts of the IDF.

    • Hostage on June 17, 2014, 5:52 pm

      Initially there was the story put forth by Israel, and widely believed by all, that Israel was suddenly attacked by Arab states.

      Yes, nowadays the verbatim record of the false account is available online from the UN archives:

      4. At 3.10 this morning, the Permanent Representative of
      Israel to the United Nations informed me officially, in my
      capacity as President of the Security Council, as follows:
      “1 have just received reports that Egyptian land and air
      forces have moved against Israel and Israel forces are now
      engaged in repelling the Egyptian forces.”
      5. The Israel Permanent Representative told me that he
      wished to make an urgent communication about this to the
      Security Council when it was convened. He then read the
      following communiqud from the Israel Defense Forces:
      “Since the early hours of this morning fierce fighting
      has broken out between Egyptian air and armoured
      forces, which moved against Israel, and our forces, which
      went into action to contain them.”

      — S/PV.1347 5 June 1967

      Within a matter of days Prime Minister Eshkol was forced to admit during debates in the Knesset that it was all a lie, but by then the story had already taken root in the public’s imagination.

      • Sycamores on June 17, 2014, 11:28 pm

        @ hostage

        off topic

        at 14:30 onwards in the video supply by irmep below back ups what you were saying the other day about the PA filing a statement to the ICC in 2009 saying that it confer juristition of warcrimes commited in the territories of Palestine to the ICC. also mention how the prosecutor wasn’t sure that Palesine was a state in an obvious attempt to not investigate evidence they have already collected.

      • Hostage on March 23, 2015, 2:30 pm

        at 14:30 onwards in the video supply by irmep below back ups what you were saying the other day … also mention how the prosecutor wasn’t sure that Palesine was a state in an obvious attempt to not investigate evidence they have already collected.

        Oddly enough the Prosecutor’s position never had any support from the relevant UN or ICC organs at the time, and it was completely at odds with both the text of the subsequent General Assembly resolution on the Status of Palestine that was finally adopted and the after-action report that the Assembly demanded from the Secretary General on the subject.

        Nonetheless, the Prosecutors have stuck with their lame excuses and claim to be acting in line with the practice of the Secretary General and the General Assembly. No one has called their bluff or uttered so much as a peep in protest about that situation. If anything, the international legal community has supported the Prosecutor’s efforts to employ technical jargon to conceal a blatant political decision to do nothing about the Goldstone report. That decision has been taken in serious breach of their duties under the Statute and the Court’s rules of procedure, i.e. “For the purposes of article 46, paragraph 1 (a), a “serious breach of duty” occurs where a person … “Repeatedly causes unwarranted delay in the initiation, prosecution or trial of cases, or in the exercise of judicial powers.”

  6. Walid on June 17, 2014, 2:26 pm

    Israel was itself built and continues to be maintained under false understandings. In addition to 1967, there was 1948 that started it all. Also the 7 invasions of Lebanon, each under a bogus understanding, the bombing of Osirak, which wasn’t really necessary, as was the bombing of whatever Syria was trying to build in the desert. Israel is a big lie.

    Larry Derfner wrote about the myths of Osirak and Syria in 2012:

    • seafoid on June 17, 2014, 3:39 pm

      “Israel is a big lie.”

      It’s a parallel universe of mendacity.

    • Walker on June 18, 2014, 10:43 am

      It’s not just the truth about the ’67 war or even the Nakba that’s been replaced by a false narrative. It’s the entire history of Zionism in Palestine, starting with the selection of Palestine as the site of the Jewish state.

      It’s depressing how little is understood even compared to the general state of knowledge 25 years ago. We’ve gone backward in that respect. This allows contemporary supporters of Israel get away with statements like “You can’t blame the settlements for anything – look at how the Arabs attacked Jews for nothing prior to 1967”.

  7. Feathers on June 17, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Foxbats Over Dimona: The Soviet’s Nuclear Gamble in the Six Day War

    anxiety about Israel’s imminent nuclear capability and an unwarranted confidence in Arab military strength led Moscow to develop a plot to provoke the Israelis into striking first before being overwhelmed by a devastating riposte, in which Soviet forces would participate. The plan never recovered from the quality of Israel’s first strike, although bits of it were implemented as Israel appeared to be marching on Damascus.


    “Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez have challenge [sic] the widely-accepted idea that the Six Day War happened without anyone wanting it. Instead, they present a theory that the U.S.S.R. instigated the war as a way preemptively to destroy the Israeli nuclear facilities.” — Daniel Pipes,

  8. irmep on June 17, 2014, 3:14 pm

    The Quigley assessment (current as of March 7) from the National Summit to Reassess the U.S. Israel “Special Relationship” may be viewed at:

  9. smithgp on June 17, 2014, 4:06 pm

    Exhaustive list of Israel’s defensive wars:

    1973 Yom Kippur war* (but questionable)

    List of Israel’s major wars of aggression:

    1947-1949 War of Palestinian Expulsion
    1956 Sinai War
    1967 War of Territorial Expansion
    1982 First Lebanon Massacre
    2006 Second Lebanon Massacre
    2008-9 War of Gaza Extermination

  10. just on June 17, 2014, 5:35 pm

    It matters so very much that the false narrative (bs) is dispelled.

    Thank you for this good article. It stands very well along Miko Peled’s good work as well.

    Until and unless the original lies are exposed and laid to rest, real peace and justice cannot happen.

  11. James Canning on June 17, 2014, 7:05 pm

    Important piece. Israel saw its chance to take out Egypt’s air force on the ground, and did so.

    Sadly, Johnson refused to back Britain’s request the US help the UK force Israel out of all territories occupied during the 1967 war.

  12. JustJessetr on June 17, 2014, 7:39 pm

    A false misunderstanding of the Six Day War is necessary because it obscures the facts.

    About that Menachim Begin speech everyone loves to quote: Here’s the quote. ““In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

    Now here’s the quote surrounded by very relevant context. To be blunt, he was speaking ironically.

    “Was it possible to prevent the Second World War? Today, thanks to research and the facts known to us, there is no longer any doubt about that answer. Yes, Indeed it was possible to prevent it…Two French Divisions would have sufficed to capture all the German soldiers that had entered the Rhineland…[Hitler’s] prestige would have crumbled. At that time he did not have an army worthy of the name…Let us turn from the international example to ourselves…Operation Peace for Galilee is not a military operation resulting from the lack of an alternative. The terrorists do not threaten the existence of the State of Israel; they ‘only’ threatened the lives of Israel’s citizens and members of the Jewish people. There are those who find fault with the second part of that sentence…If there was no danger to the existence of the state why did you go to war?…In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasir was really about to attack. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack…The government of national unity then decided unanimously: We will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation. We did not do this from lack of an alternative.”

    That’s generally the part revisionists such as yourself love to quote. You tend to leave out the rest that follows immediately…

    “We could have gone on waiting–we could have sent the army home. Who knows if there would have been an attack against us? There is no proof of it. There are several arguments to the contrary. While it is indeed true that the closing of the Strait’s of Tiran was an act of aggression, a causus belli, there is always room for a great deal of consideration as to whether it is necessary to make a causus into a bellum…As for Operation Peace for Galilee it does not really belong to the category of wars of no alternative. We could have gone on seeing our civilians injured in Nettula or Kiryat Shmona, or Nhariya. We could have gone on counting those killed by explosive charges left in a Jerusalem supermarket, or a Petah Tikvah bus stop…Should we have reconciled ourselves to the ceaseless killing of civilians even after the agreement ending hostilities reached last summer, which the terrorists interpreted as an agreement permitting them to strike at us from every side…? They tried to infiltrate gangs of murderers via Syria and Jordan, and by a miracle we captured them. We also might not have captured them…True such actions were not a threat to the existence of the state. But they did threaten the lives civilians whose number we cannot estimate, day after day, week after week, month after month…The conclusion–both on the basis of the relations between states and on the basis of our national experience–is that there is no divine mandate to go to war only if there is no alternative. There is no moral imperative that a nation must, or is entitled to, fight, only when it’s back is to the sea, or to the abyss. Such a war may avert tragedy for any nation; but it causes it a terrible loss of life.”

    (Enter chorus of how all these Arab attacks didn’t actually happen, or Israel’s was much worse. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.)

    And these are some quotes that have always settled the question of who was threataning who in the run-up to the ’67 war, and why a pre-emptive strike was definitely within Israel’s right to make. The best quotes are from Arab sources.

    The Arab forces intent to invade Israel.

    The October War, Memoirs of Field Marshall el-Gamasy of Egypt. El-Gamasy, Mohamed Abdel Ghani.

    “The crisis had been precipitated by intelligence from Syria, and the USSR, on Israeli troop concentration on Syria’s border. This intel was not accurate, but despite the personal disclaimer by…Fawzi, Egyptian troops were rushed into Sinai for the stated purpose of helping Syria in the event of an Israeli attack.”

    “One might ask if the political leadership was fully aware of the situation when it asked for a pullout of UN forces and closed the Straits, since both actions clearly and inevitably led to war…And if those facts were known, was it right or acceptable for the armed forces to be pushed into a war for which they were unprepared?”

    “With great bitterness, I must admit that Egypt was not at the time ready for war…I see no reason to play down the factors which led to the defeat.”

    “It appears that Field Marshall ‘Amer ignored the report [from Fawzi] and did not take it’s recommendations [against closure of the Straits] into account when, in May 1967, he agreed to the closure of the Straits of Tiran, which led to war.”

    “With great bitterness, I must admit that Egypt was not at the time ready for war. Several senior commanding officers had been seriously concerned about the poor state of the army which by 1967 had become a victim of the difficult conditions and circumstances in which it had to operate. If I admit this quite frankly, it is because I see no reason to play down the factors which led to the defeat.”

    On the Arab governments openly planning and calling for war, and that Israel was surrounded by armies…

    Arab World: Political and Diplomatic History. Menachem Monsoor, May.

    Radio Damascus: “The war of liberation will not end except by Israel’s abolition.”

    Nasser, addressing trade unionists: “If war comes it will be total and the objective will be Israel’s destruction…” (May 24-26, 1967)

    BBC, Daily Report, Middle East, Africa, and Western Europe

    Shuqayri, PLO chairman pledging loyalty to Hussein: “We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and for the survivors—if there are any—the boats are ready to deport them!”

    Hussein: “All of the Arab armies now surround Israel. The UAR, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan, and Kuwait…There is no difference between one Arab people and another.”

    President ‘Aref of Iraq: “Our goal is clear—to wipe Israel off the face of the map. We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.”

    Six Days of War. Michael B. Oren

    ‘Amer, talking with Shuqayri: “…soon we will be able to take the initiative and rid ourselves of Israel once and for all.”

    My comments: Fact is, the Arab armies were unprepared, factionalized and squabbling, yet they went ahead and massed on Israel’s borders (whatever you want to call where they massed. Yeah, yeah…). They openly called for war. They called for it on the radio, that’s as open as it got in those days.

    Israel was surrounded, it’s shipping was cut off, and so they had every right to attack “first”. Superior forces or not. That Egypt lost land, that Jordan lost land, that Syria lost land is something they’ve never been able to accept: Jew-boy knows how to fight. Even with all the armaments the Arab armies were getting from the USSR through Czhecloslavakia, they just couldn’t pull it together. And so what if Israel had superior forces anyway? Armies build superior forces. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Tough luck.

    So actually, the false understanding is on this essayists part.

    Additionally, we see that ARab governments were howling for Israel’s death before the ’67 war, and you can’t blame failure in peace talks on settlements, settlements, settlements. Not that any of you care.

    • Hostage on June 17, 2014, 11:23 pm

      @ JustJessetr The reason no one quotes the rest of Begin’s speech, is because it is legally irrelevant. 19th century customary international law that was reaffirmed by the Nuremberg tribunal requires that the necessity for preemptive self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

      That sure as hell doesn’t describe the documentary record of the discussions in “The Pit” between the Generals and the members of the Israeli national unity Cabinet who decided to go to war. They all dismissed the threat from either the Army in the Sinai or the closure of the Straits of Tiran and talked in terms of the need for regime change in Egypt as a matter of long term strategic deterrence. See Israel’s Decision To Go To War, June 2, 1967, by Col. Ami Gluska General Matti Peled summed-up the threat:

      “We have heard something regarding Tiran, which lost its significance long ago. It was not important to start with and is even less important now.” The entry of an Egyptian force into Sinai was nothing new for the IDF, having been anticipated and planned for in various exercises and war games. The only surprise, he stressed, was Nasser’s audacity, since it was well known that his army was not ready for war.

      Rabin’s biography also said that the situation was nothing new. He said the IDF GHQ Intelligence assessment was that Israel was facing a repetition of Operation Rotem (1960), i.e. the last time that the entire Egyptian Army had been deployed in the Sinai and nothing at all had happened. The IAF Chief of Staff agreed. In 1960 Israel had been caught with its pants down when Egypt deployed the army in the Sinai, but Nasser didn’t attack. Ben Gurion decided not to call up the reserves and kept the public in the dark while deploying a skeleton defensive force. The Egyptians eventually withdrew and returned to their garrisons. See Uri Bar-Joseph, Rotem: The Forgotten Crisis on the Road to the 1967 War, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul., 1996), pp. 547-566 link to

      • LeaNder on June 18, 2014, 8:10 am

        19th century customary international law that was reaffirmed by the Nuremberg tribunal

        Obviously. I just had that in mind.

        Of course we don’t care. …

        Not sure if the victory of the Israeli narrative does not strongly rely on the fact that we do actually care, the problem is we are constantly asked to ignore the other side or reduce them to terrorists.

        When I read Michelle’s book I admittedly did not like the way she merged the image of the “infiltrators” with the image of the Palestinian militant. Remember that passage? Even Morris puts the percentage of militants among the infiltrators at no more than 10% of the incidences. … (10 years work?- A militant who asks the new owners of his tiny hut to hide weapons there?)

        Israel’s Asymmetrical Wars, Samy Cohen

        Ze’ev Drori (Fith “Givrati” Brigade) “Infiltration and acts of violence along the state’s borders were equally regarded as falling within the rubric of armed conflict and terror, calling for a uniform military response.”

        “two periods should be distinguished: the first, which goes from 1948 to the Suez War, is characterized by the fight against infiltrators. It was conducted without much imagination on the part of the political and military establishment. Not only did the IDF not manage to control its borders, but also allowed itself gradually to be drawn into an escalation that would lead to the Suez Crisis. The desire to deter infiltrators was probably not the only motivating factor for the Israeli leadership. Israeli military officials had a secondary objective, which was to use these operations as a test bench, that is, a field of maneuvers enabling Israeli units to gain training in contact and combat. Moshe Dayan was convinced that sooner or later, and given Egypt’s rearmament, a second round that would enable it to weaken Egypt for many more years was inevitable. Dayan’s intention, according to Gideon Rafael, director of the Foreign Affairs Ministry at the time, “was to create a situation of such gravity that it would force the Arab states to take up open battle with Israel.” “These actions had paved the way to war,” Drori would add. By its excessive reactions, the Israeli army drew the other into a spiral of violence that resulted in the 1956 confrontation. The general staff often created the conditions for confrontation to accuse the other of preparing for it. this is typically the phenomenon of a self-fulfilling prophecy that would be repeated time and time again, particularly in the years up to the second Intifada.

        Sounds familiar?

        Already in 1948 he [Ben Gurion] claimed that Israel’s geography required it to observe the following rule: “He who strikes first wins the battle. Otherwise Israel would be overwhelmed.”

    • Hostage on June 17, 2014, 11:43 pm

      Additionally, we see that ARab governments were howling for Israel’s death before the ’67 war, and you can’t blame failure in peace talks on settlements, settlements, settlements. Not that any of you care.

      Of course we don’t care. Israel drove hundreds of thousands of its Arab citizens across the borders into the neighboring Arab countries with nothing but the clothes on their back and what little they could carry and stuck them with a long term humanitarian crisis that violated their territorial integrity and rights. Then it refused to let the victims return and confiscated all of their homes and property.

      That doesn’t even begin to address the persecution of the population that remained. If you drove me and my family out of our home and confiscated our property for the JNF by labeling us “Present absentees” and kept us under a regime of martial law for nearly twenty years, I’d be inclined to take up arms and kill you without so much as batting an eye.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 1:55 pm

        Cancerous growth of illegal colonies in the West Bank is the single biggest problem preventing a deal on Israel-Palestine.

    • Walid on June 18, 2014, 2:02 am

      “On the Arab governments openly planning and calling for war, and that Israel was surrounded by armies…”

      Not totally right but not totally wrong either. The Arabs did not have the capacity to properly attack Israel, but it didn’t stop them from threatening to wipe out the totality of Israelis day in and day out. They relied on PR tactics with the massing of troops, the dramatic pulling out of the UN peacekeepers from the Sinai and the closing of the Straits to spook Israel into making things right with the Palestinians. Half of Egypt’s army had been tied up in Yemen so it wasn’t in any shape to attack anyone, Syria had little capacity to even defend itself, Jordan’s heart was never really in it because of its historic ties to the Zionists and Lebanon had refused to join in the mobilization simply because it had nothing to mobilize with. It was a big bluff and a huge miscalculation on their part. To say that the Arabs were innocent victims in what happened to them in 1967 would be a lie. To say that Israel’s very survival had been at risk and it had no other choice but to preemptively attack would also be a lie. In 1973, the Arabs (with Lebanon again abstaining) proved they could also play the same game.

      • smg on June 18, 2014, 9:40 am


        I agree with your assessment. Although to my knowledge the relevant Egyptian archives remain closed, there is much evidence that Nasser’s goal was political victory. In 1967 Nasser’s central concern was his conflict with the reactionary (Saudi) block in the Arab world. In fact in mid-May 1967 Egyptian planes carried out raids against Saudi border towns. The threats against Israel were meant for Arab consumption. Despite panic among the Israeli population, the Israeli leadership knew that Egypt was not a military threat. Israel attacked on June 5 because it knew that Egyptian vice president Zakaria Mohieddin was due to land in Washington two days later to discuss the Straits of Tiran issue. Israel did not fear war but rather feared a compromise at its expense, despite the economic non-importance of the Straits of Tiran (around 5% of Israeli trade came through Eilat). As you said, it was a miscalculation on Nasser’s part.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 1:25 pm

        Nasser was posturing, and gave Israel an opening to destroy Egyptian air force on the ground. Nasser’s foolish effforts to overhrow the Saudis were of ZERO benefit to the people of Egypt.

      • Walid on June 18, 2014, 2:14 pm

        smg, Nasser was given more credit than was due to him; his economic policies were not the best and he was known to raise his anti-Israel rhetoric when the natives got restless. The cross-border raids happened when half of Egypt’s army had been in Yemen for 5 years fighting on the side of the Shia republicans against the Saudi-backed Sunni monarchy. Problems between Yemen’s Shia and Saudia go back to the early 180os and they’re still ongoing today. Getting back to Nasser, the 70,000 Egyptian troops that got bogged down in Yemen is most probably why Israel beat him so easily in 1967. Nasser made several wrong calls and Yemen was one of them.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 7:52 pm

        Nasser made giant blunder after blunder after blunder. He did much to wreck important civic institutions in Egypt, ignored population explosion, pursued foolish foreign militar adventures, badly damaged the economy, etc etc etc etc.

      • JustJessetr on June 18, 2014, 3:20 pm

        “despite the economic non-importance of the Straits of Tiran (around 5% of Israeli trade came through Eilat)”

        I’ve heard that shop-worn argument too. 5% of anyone’s income is quite a lot to take away. Would you sit quietly if I took five cents out of every dollar you make and threatan you over the airwaves? Of course not. You’d be gravely worried that it will soon shoot past 5% (which is bad enough) if you sit and do nothing, and feel like you’re under imminent physical attack.

        If you have the means to solve a growing problem by going at it before it gets to you, you go for it if you have strategy and balls. Again, the Arab world has never gotten over their anger: Jew-boy knows how to fight.

      • Walid on June 18, 2014, 3:51 pm

        “: Jew-boy knows how to fight.”

        Actually no, at least as far as Lebanon is concerned. Bombing civilian villages from 50,000 feet up is very different from coming face to face with a Hizbullah fighter on the ground.

      • smg on June 18, 2014, 4:18 pm


        Israel would not have lost 5% percent of its imports, since that that 5% could have easily be re-routed to its main port of Haifa (especially temporarily, in the event of arbitration at the World Court). American officials are on the record as saying just that during the crisis. The announced closure did not refer to all shipping but to Israeli vessels (the last of which had entered the waterway 18 months earlier) and strategic materials, a condition that legal experts like Roger Fisher considered reasonable considering Israel’s state of war with Egypt’s ally Syria. Israeli officials acknowledged that Tiran was more symbolic than anything else. Either way, Israel’s right of passage was not absolute and never adjudicated by an international body.

      • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 4:49 pm

        I’ve heard that shop-worn argument too. 5% of anyone’s income is quite a lot to take away. Would you sit quietly if I took five cents out of every dollar you make and threatan you over the airwaves? Of course not.

        50 cents out of every dollar of Israel’s net worth is stolen anyway. So why did Israel violate the terms of the international boundary agreements that preserved the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian fishing and navigation rights on Lakes Huleh and Tiberias, and the Jordan river – plus all of the existing grazing rights on both sides of the new mandate era boundaries? Let’s not forget the millions of dunams of stolen Palestinian land you arrogant Zionist pricks acquired free of charge.

      • goldmarx on June 18, 2014, 9:42 am

        According to international law, closing the Straits of Tiran was an act of war. That happened on May 22, 1967. Four days later, Nasser made his notorious radio broadcast threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea. Fresh in the mind of every Israeli Jew then was the genocide of their people that ended just 22 years earlier.

        So what was Israel expected to do? What does a bull do when you wave a red cloth in front of it?

        I suppose Israel should have been commended for its restraint in not using its nuclear arsenal.

      • smg on June 18, 2014, 10:21 am


        Israel considered the closing of Tiran to be an act of war. The United States and Britain believed that Israeli shipping had the right to access the waterway, but there was no international consensus and this principle was not enshrined in international law. The only reason that Tiran was open to Israel in the first place was its illegal war of aggression against Egypt in 1956. The United Nations never guaranteed the passage of Israeli ships through Tiran. In fact, in his meeting with U Thant on May 24, Nasser expressed willingness to send the case to the World Court for adjudication. Henry Cabot Lodge, among other international diplomats, had taken a similar position during his time as US Ambassador to the UN. In his memoir, U Thant cited the legal opinion of Harvard Law Professor Roger Fisher, who stated that Egypt had a good legal case for restricting Israeli traffic through Tiran: “The U.A.R. would have had a better case if it had announced the closing was temporary and subject to review by the International Court, but taking the facts as they were I, as an international lawyer, would rather defend before the International Court of Justice the legality of the U.A.R.’s action in closing the Strait of Tiran than to argue the other side of the case.” Tiran could have been settled legally without any real damage to Israel, considering only 5% of its trade passed through Eilat.

        As to your other point, Nasser did in fact employ bellicose rhetoric (although he did not say that he would drive the Jews into the sea). But his central concern was a political victory in the Arab world and he told anyone who would listen (including the UN and the US) that he had no interest in attacking Israel. If you read the relevant Foreign Relations of the United States Series declassified documents, you would see that American intelligence communicated to Israel that Nasser’s troop deployments were defensive in character and posed no military threat to Israel. While the Israeli public was panicked, the Israeli military brass came to understand that Egypt would not attack. As I noted above, what Israel feared was not war but rather a political compromise at its expense. It is no accident that Israel attacked on June 5, knowing that the Egyptian vice president would arrive in Washington for talks two days later.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 18, 2014, 10:57 am

        “According to international law, closing the Straits of Tiran was an act of war”

        Nope. The right of innocent passage is not absolute.

        “Four days later, Nasser made his notorious radio broadcast threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea. ”

        So what?

        “So what was Israel expected to do? ”

        Act rationally and not to embark on a war of aggression, as it did.

        “I suppose Israel should have been commended for its restraint in not using its nuclear arsenal.”

        Not really. It had no legal right to do that. “Commending” it for not comitting a genocide, a war crime and a crime against humanity is stupid. In fact, it should damned, boycotted, sanctioned and blockaded by the world’s nations until it divests itself of those weapons.

      • goldmarx on June 18, 2014, 3:24 pm

        “Four days later, Nasser made his notorious radio broadcast threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea. ”

        So what?”

        So threats of genocide are not to be taken seriously by a nation whose government had brought Eichmann to trial only seven years earlier? Maybe if Hitler had been North Korean, then Israel’;s actions would have been more OK?

        “In fact, it should damned, boycotted, sanctioned and blockaded by the world’s nations until it divests itself of those weapons.” Sorry, but the BDS movement has made no demand for Israel to give up nuclear weapons. If you think Omar Barghouti is a sell-out, then you need to say that right here, right now.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 1:26 pm

        Nasser was POSTURING. Israel knew this very very well.

      • goldmarx on June 18, 2014, 3:27 pm

        Did Israel know that very well? Maybe some of their leaders just said that to look cool? It’s not like they’re incapable of lying.

        There were many “wise men’ who asserted in the 1930s that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was also mere posturing. How did that work out?

      • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 7:44 pm

        Israeli leaders indeed were fully aware Nasser was merely posturing. Fully aware.

      • Walid on June 18, 2014, 2:22 pm

        “Four days later, Nasser made his notorious radio broadcast threatening to drive the Jews of Israel into the sea.”

        I read somewhere that Nasser was trying to make peace with Israel all along but that he kept getting the finger. What leaders say for their own public’s consumption and what they talk about directly with their opponents are two different things. Think back to the offer made to Israel in 2002 and that too was answered by the finger. The same offer was re-floated a few years later, and Israel reacted to it with the finger.

        At the signing of their peace treaty, King Hussein and Rabin admitted that they had been great friends for the past 10 years, meeting “en cachette” either at Rabin’s ranch in Israel or in London. BTW, bulls are colour-blind.

      • smg on June 18, 2014, 4:26 pm


        I have also read that about Nasser. According to Muhammad Haykal, Nasser accepted a compromise solution on Palestine based on the UN Partition Plan as early as the 1955 Bandung Conference. Nasser was not as revolutionary as either his supporters or his detractors portray him to be.

      • smg on June 18, 2014, 5:39 pm

        By detractors I meant Zionists, not Nasser’s left-wing critics in the Arab world.

      • eljay on June 18, 2014, 2:26 pm

        >> So what was Israel expected to do? What does a bull do when you wave a red cloth in front of it?

        Israel should have done what Iran has been expected to do for years while Israel and the U.S. have waved red cloths in front of it: Not a damned thing.

      • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 4:07 pm

        According to international law, closing the Straits of Tiran was an act of war.

        No, in 1967 there was no consensus on that subject. That’s why Israel always touts the Aide-memoire from Secretary of State Dulles to Ambassador Eban- 11 February 1957, instead of a UN Security Council determination or an ICJ advisory opinion on the subject. See the memo here

        On the other hand the massive invasion of Jordan mentioned above and the Israeli occupation of the Syrian DMZs and the downing of the Syrian MIG over Damascus were definitely considered acts of war. FYI, The explicit terms of the boundary treaties of 1920, 1923, and 1926 preserved the existing rights of the inhabitants of Syria Lebanon, and Palestine to continue engaging in fishing, navigation, and commerce on the waters of Lakes Huleh, Tiberias and the River Jordan. Can you explain why Israeli closure of those internal international waterways wasn’t considered an act of war?
        *Exchange Of Notes Constituting An Agreement Between The British And French Governments Respecting The Boundary Line Between Syria And Palestine From The Mediterranean To El Hammé. Paris March 7, 1923, pdf page 7; and
        *Agreement between His Majesty’s Government and the French Government respecting the Boundary Line between Syria and Palestine from the Mediterranean to El Hámmé, Treaty Series No. 13 (1923), Cmd. 1910″ link to

        The US was working with the UK on the maritime force but they couldn’t find enough states that agreed, even in principle. Their declassified documents include a Cabinet Conclusion: Minutes and Papers: CAB 128/42, Formerly CC (67) 31 23/05/1967 which said that the real risk was that Israel would be tempted to launch a preventive war.

        Not a single state, including the US, ever supported Israel’s jus ad bellum legal argument. Only the Security Council could decide if an “act of aggression” had actually occurred, and that never happened. The other members did not agree that Egypt’s right of inspection in its own territorial or coastal waters was an act of aggression or even tantamount to a blockade. FYI, after 9/11 the US imposed its right of inspection on all shipping in its shared inland international water ways, like the Great Lakes Seaway. The last I heard the Canadians do not think this is an act of war, since they also insist on their right of inspection too.

        Eilat was seldom if ever used for Israeli-flagged shipping in the first place, and Israel’s other ports were all still open, belying the idea that Nasser was attempting to impose a legally “effective” blockade. The Indian UN delegate and many others supported Egypt’s legal position.

        The Dulles memo was conditional and stipulated that it could be overruled by an International Court of Justice opinion. Egypt demanded to have the case decided by the ICJ. The fact that (i) Israel had only occupied Eilat after it had signed a binding Chapter VII cease fire agreement with Egypt; (ii) had subsequently declared the armistice agreements null and void; and (iii) had threatened and attacked Egypt’s Arab League allies, Syria and Jordan, violated the basis of the Dulles memo, rendering it moot. It also meant that Israel and the US were trying to enforce access to the port of Eilat based upon a “prescriptive right” to the acquisition of territory on which it was situated outside the UN armistice framework, i.e. Abba Eban commented to the Security Council for the record that the Straits were only required to be open if Israel complied with the armistice agreements (that it had subsequently declared null and void).*

        The Dulles agreement was based upon Israeli compliance with the relevant UN resolutions, including those governing the armistice agreements. Restoration of the armistice agreement status quo ante was Nasser’s only condition for lifting the inspections and opening the Straits to Israeli flagged ships. In 1951 and 1956 this same legal question was addressed to the Security Council. The Reportery of Practice of UN Organs, Extracts on Article 25 explains that Abba Eban remarked:

        The resolution of 1 September 1951 had been legally and properly adopted. Its validity could not be denied by reason of certain reservations entered by one party at the time of its adoption. Moreover, that resolution had specifically referred to those reservations and had stated that “neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a “belligerent or requires to exercise the right of visit, search and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defence”;
        (b) The resolution of 1 September 1951 had “been adopted in connexion with the application of the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel. Violation of the armistice agreement involved a danger to peace which was the legitimate concern of the Security Council; and
        (c) Under Article 25, Member States were obligated to respect and implement decisions of the Security Council since it was assigned the function of maintaining international peace and security.

        link to

        By 1967 Israel was flagrant violation of both Article 25 and the Armistice agreements, which triggered the Egyptian right of inspection.

        The navigation channels after the Straits were an inland waterway that passed through Egypt’s territorial waters. Egypt was not a signatory to any international convention that imposed an “international servitude” upon it at that time, and the 1958 convention had not yet obtained customary status. There is a discussion of some of the factors and divided legal opinion of the case in ‘Armed Attack’ and Article 51 of the UN Charter: Evolutions in Customary Law, By Tom Ruys starting on page 276: link to

        The final settlement between Egypt and Israel was based upon the old fashioned (conventional) contract theory of “acceptance”, not upon any changes in customary law.

      • JustJessetr on June 18, 2014, 3:09 pm


        Thank you. Finally somebody here admits that Israel had a perfectly good case to jump in and fight.

        And every nation says their survival is at risk in time of war. Or at least something central to the country: “Our survival”, “Our democracy”, “Our way of life”, etc. For leftists to continue placing that in Israel’s lap as if it’s something particular to them is really stretching it.

    • talknic on June 18, 2014, 5:14 am



      Adopted by the Security Council at its 1311th meeting, by 14 votes to none on 25 November 1966

      The Security Council,

      Having heard the statements of the representatives of Jordan and Israel concerning the grave Israel military action which took place in the southern Hebron area on 13 November 1966

      Having noted the information provided by the Secretary-General concerning this military action in his statement of 16 November and also in his report of 18 November 1966

      Observing that this incident constituted a large-scale and carefully planned military action on the territory of Jordan by the armed forces of Israel,

      Reaffirming the previous resolutions of the Security Council condemning the past incidents of reprisal in breach of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan and of the United Nations Charter,

      Recalling the repeated resolutions of the Security Council asking for the cessation of violent incidents across the demarcation line, and not overlooking past incidents of this nature,

      Reaffirming the necessity for strict adherence to the General Armistice Agreement,

      1. Deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property resulting from the action of the Government of Israel on 13 November 1966;

      2. Censures Israel for this large-scale military action in violation of the United Nations Charter and of the General Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan;

      3. Emphasizes to Israel that actions of military reprisal cannot be tolerated and that, if they are repeated, the Security councils will have to consider further and more effective steps as envisaged in the Charter to ensure against the repetition of such acts;

      Not that you care.

      • JustJessetr on June 18, 2014, 3:11 pm

        You’re right. I don’t, because I don’t trust Wikepedia. I read from hard-copy primary sources that people take the time to think about and send to a publisher and ponder what their legacy will be.

        It doesn’t mean I read all the right books, but if it’s important I go for the hard copy, not a website.

  13. pjdude on June 17, 2014, 8:02 pm

    its nice to see the truth that Israel has fought wars of aggression and wasn’t at the disadvantage they claimed getting traction.

  14. RoHa on June 17, 2014, 11:03 pm

    It seems that the distinction between pre-emptive attack and preventative war is being eroded. (The article seems to suggest this is a result of the Six Day War)

    Law aside, under standard Just War theory, preventative war and preventative attacks (such as the attack on Osirak) are not morally permissible. It is simply aggression.

    If a state of war already exists, and side A is clearly going to attack side B (and not merely posturing and mouthing off) then a pre-emptive attack by side B may be permissible. Even if a state of war officially exists, if there is no fighting going on, and no immediate prospect of fighting, a pre-emptive attack to start the fighting would not be permissible. For example, it would not be permissible for either North Korea or South Korea to mount such an attack. Similarly for Liechtenstein and Prussia.

    Under that (standard) interpretation of Just War theory, Israel had no moral right to attack.

  15. DICKERSON3870 on June 18, 2014, 12:11 am

    RE: “On June 5, 1967 Israel invaded Egypt, Jordan, and Syria… The accepted orthodoxy of this war…is that it was justified because Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had massed troops “vastly outnumbering Israel” along the border, and that Israel, threatened with its very survival, launched a necessary pre-emptive attack on its neighbors . . .” ~ Roland Nikles

    MY COMMENT: One of the reasons I began following developments in the Middle East has to do with the happenstance that I was away from Atlanta visiting my grandfather (with little to do but read) in June, 1967. In that part of Georgia, the television reception with a rotating antenna was much better for the Augusta and Macon stations than it was for the Atlanta stations, but since the programming of the Augusta and Macon stations was not up to Atlanta standards, the television was seldom used. This time though, as luck (or not) would have it, one of the two Augusta stations preempted its daytime programming with the deliberations by the UN General Assembly of proposals that might lessen the likelihood of war. I very much enjoyed watching several days of this, and I was very disappointed when I got up on June 5 and the station had reverted to its customary daytime programming because Israel had bombed the Egyptian air force on the tarmac in Egypt. Needless to say, I did not at all see Israel’s action(s) as defensive.
    All told, this made quite a lasting impression (unfavorable as to Israel) on me !

  16. wondering jew on June 18, 2014, 4:57 am

    I wish I had a photographic memory or the time to study the origins of the war in detail.

    Question: If a country has to call up its reserves and put the country on a war footing, can that country allow that situation to exist without end? If Israeli troops outnumbered Arab countries’ troops only as a result of the call up of the reserves, what is the consequence of such a situation. International law does not allow for practicality it seems, only the law that will cause unending tension of a call up of reserves to continue forever.

    The Soviets were the ones who got into Nasser’s business in the first place. maybe the book by Quigley gets into that. This summary omits it and this seems mendacious. it makes it seem that nasser had to reassure the soviets out of nowhere that he didn’t plan on attacking and his entire posture was in fact a result of being manipulated by the Soviets.

    I assume I will get reactions from people who have read more than me and remember more than me about the facts before the outbreak of the war.

    • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 7:26 am

      Question: If a country has to call up its reserves and put the country on a war footing, can that country allow that situation to exist without end?

      You are describing a self-inflicted problem or a bad faith negotiating tactic. If a war doesn’t materialize you’ve miscalculated and should demobilize the reserves, not use them as an excuse to initiate a war.

      In 1948 Moshe Dayan secretly obtained a settlement from King Abdullah under the guise of an armistice agreement, that everyone recognized as being final. He did that by issuing an ultimatum: either come to terms or Israel would resume hostilities and quickly terminate the war and the drain on its economy by pushing to Jordan. The Jews, the Arab Legion, and the UN observers all agreed that Israel could do that with very little difficulty. See Telegram: The Consul at Jerusalem (Burdett) to the Acting Secretary of State, December 23, 1948, pages 1687 – 1689 in Foreign relations of the United States, 1948. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa

      I’ve commented elsewhere that in 1960 Ben Gurion had decided against mobilizing the reserves when Nasser had deployed the Egyptian army on the Sinai border. Operation Rotem only employed a skeleton force.

      In 1967 everyone agreed that Israel was facing a repeat of Operation Rotem and Rabin admitted that even if the Egyptians refrained from blockading the Straits, Israel’s position would be no less difficult, because he simply couldn’t keep the reserves mobilized. Ben Gurion was furious over the fact that Rabin had mobilized the reserves:

      Yet on May 22, 1967, I nonetheless felt in need of a talk with Ben-Gurion. The Old Man received me warmly, but instead of fortifying my spirits he gave me a dressing down. “We have been forced into a very grave situation,” he warned. “I very much doubt whether Nasser wanted to go to war, and now we are in serious trouble. Unlike in the past, we are totally isolated.” He asked about the military situation and the balance of forces, and I gave him a brief review. It was painful to see him in his present state: totally cut off from any sources of information and, worse, clinging
      staunchly to outmoded concepts. He erred in his assessment of the IDF’s strength. He was convinced that Israel was in an intolerable political situation and doubted that she could extricate herself by starting a war with Egypt.

      As Ben-Gurion proceeded to pour scorn on the cabinet and the prime minister, his words struck me like hammer blows: “The army is all right; the officers are all right; you’re all right. But there’s no one to tell you what to do! The prime minister and the cabinet should take responsibility for deciding whether or not to
      go to war. That’s not a matter for the army to decide. The government is not discharging its proper duties. This is no way to function in an emergency!” Never have I experienced such a profound sense of disappointment and dismay. But Ben-Gurion kept hammering away. “You made a mistake,” he said, referring to our mobilization of the reserves. “I recommended mobilization to make sure we were ready.”
      “ In that case, you, or whoever gave you permission to mobilize so many reservists, made a mistake,” he repeated. “You have led the state into a grave situation. We must not go to war. We are isolated. You bear the responsibility.”

      Having come to Ben-Gurion for encouragement, I left him feeling doubly despondent. I now felt the entire burden was resting on my shoulders. Many days were to pass before his words stopped ringing in my ears: “You have led the state into a grave situation. You bear the responsibility.”

      — Yitzhak Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs, University of California, pages 75-76

      • Justpassingby on June 18, 2014, 9:49 am


        “I’ve responded to all of your questions, it’s not my fault your “elevator doesn’t go to the top floor”.

        Then you could also link to each 1-5 questions that I had.
        Lets see if you have the honesty and guts to do that.

        “I’ve provided you with international law journal articles and ICC Court decisions”

        Thats the issue you dont understand obviously, this isnt about “international law journal articles” this is what ICC say and do itself, on this case. You can post all links you want
        on what the norm should be for the ICC, but not here.
        On this, ICC rejected palestine at the time when they hadnt got their recognition in the UN. You falsely claimed that there is a file there now and palestinans doesnt have
        to do anything more on this. That claim is as I have showed is contray to what the ICC themselves say.

        You seems to believe that you know more about ICC than ICC themselves. Time to step down from that horse.

      • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 12:56 pm

        Thats the issue you dont understand obviously, this isnt about “international law journal articles” this is what ICC say and do itself, on this case. You can post all links you want on what the norm should be for the ICC, but not here.

        LOL! All you’ve linked to are unofficial accounts from newspaper articles. I’ve already pointed out that Prosecutors do not speak for the Court when it comes to judicial determinations regarding disputes over material facts that can affect the outcome of a case or the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction.

        One of those articles you rely upon is admittedly based upon a doctored recording of “off the record” comments made by a layman, Erekat, with no legal training or experience. Even he claims that his remarks were edited and misleading when taken out of context. You are likewise relying on unofficial newspaper accounts of the deal struck by Abbas with the US State Department and Israel in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. But the details of the actual letters of assurance that were exchanged between the parties have never been published.

        On a number of occasions Abbas has stated through the official WAFA news Agency that he would immediately refer the situation in the E1 corridor to the ICC if any construction was undertaken there. He had also stated that the issue of getting Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails would be a top priority with the ICC. But it would take the Court years to even hear any such case. So attempting to obtain their release during the talks was reasonable and could not preclude the prosecution of any new offenses in any event. The clear implication has always been that “going to the ICC” meant membership, but not referrals of new illegal situations arising during the talks. It was also clear that he would immediately resume unilateral actions if Israel reneged on the prisoner release agreement or any of the undisclosed quid pro quos.

        I’ve supplied you with the final judgment of the ICC Appeals Chamber in the Laurent Gbagbo case. It dealt with the attempt of President Gbagbo to withdraw his own country’s Article 12(3) declaration in order to stay proceedings by challenging the Court’s right to continue exercising its jurisdiction. He also mounted a legal challenge to the retroactive applicability of an Article 12(3) declaration to his particular case, claiming that it had only been supplied in connection with an unrelated situation. He lost on both points. The ruling reflects the Court’s official interpretation of the Statute regarding attempts to “freeze” or stay proceedings once the Registrar has a declaration in hand; attempts to retroactively terminate a declaration; and/or attempts by a state to restrict the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction to specific cases. The judgment makes it abundantly clear that none of those things can ever be done in any case.

        The details of the supposed pledge supplied by Abbas were never published. But they only applied to new unilateral actions, not multilateral ones or actions already initiated by others or underway. For example, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry had already issued a call for international legal action on construction of highway 9:

        Road 9 Will Destroy Two-State Solution, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs
        RAMALLAH, July 22, 2013 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday said that the establishment of ‘Road 9’ will destroy the two-state solution and prevent the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.
        The ministry condemned, in a press release, the new Israeli plan to build a road network which will connect illegal settlements in the West Bank with Israel.
        The ministry considered such decision to be a declaration on the Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and a confiscation of thousands of dunums that belong to Palestinians.
        It held the Israeli government responsible for the repercussions of such plan especially its effects on the resumption of negotiations.
        The Ministry called on all countries to immediately intervene and stop this project, take measures to ensure not implementing it and provide legal assistance to review these crimes at the specialized courts.

        link to

      • Justpassingby on June 18, 2014, 1:18 pm


        You sound like a fact denying Holocaust-denier now so its no point going on with this discussion.

        1. First you deny (That NGO’s, Erakat, ICC urge Abbas to go to the ICC, that Abbas didnt freeze)
        2. Then you are proven wrong (Theres no file by Palestinians at the ICC, that ICC didnt accept palestinian claim)
        3. Then you smear (me, Erakat, ICC, Prosecutors)
        4. On top of that refuse to respond to my questions


      • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 6:00 pm

        Hostage You sound like a fact denying Holocaust-denier now so its no point going on with this discussion.

        We aren’t having a discussion, I’m just deconstructions your nonsensical claims and explaining why you’re clueless. You haven’t cited a “fact” yet. You keep repeating the same ignorant and irrelevant nonsense about “freezing going to the court” and “triggering an investigation” and you can’t even explain what either of those are supposed to mean or how Palestine or any member state can ever “trigger” anything besides the Court’s jurisdiction.

        Then you spout obvious falsehoods and claim that Palestine hasn’t already accepted ICC jurisdiction or filed a criminal complaint yet – even though I’ve provided readers with links to official Court documents which say that it has.

        We get it, you don’t like Abbas, and are proud of the bang-up job Ocampo and Bensouda have done, despite all of the imaginary obstacles those corrupt Palestinians have put in their way. Fortunately, even if we accept everything the Prosecutor has said and read it in a light most favorable to Israel, everyone agrees that Abbas can still grant the Court jurisdiction “retroactively” for any crime committed during the talks. As Judge Kai Ambos has pointed out, states only have the capacity to trigger the Court’s jurisdiction, not investigations or prosecutions. You can’t blame Abbas for the continued failure of the Prosecutors to do their jobs. FYI, I didn’t limit my citations to law journal articles, I cited official submissions to the Prosecutors from the foremost experts in the field, including former Chairmen of the International Law Commission, former ICJ and ICC Justices, and Special Rapporteurs who authored the Rome Statute in the first place who advised that Palestine could already be considered a state for the purposes Article 12(3) in January of 2009.

      • Hostage on June 18, 2014, 2:29 pm

        You falsely claimed that there is a file there now and palestinans doesnt have to do anything more on this. That claim is as I have showed is contray to what the ICC themselves say.

        You are a nut case with a fringe theory. The only ICC officials you have quoted are the ones who reported to the UN in writing that they have no statutory power to make any determination on the question of statehood. Even at that, the bottom line of their official reports to the UN stated:

        The Office could in the future consider allegations of crimes committed in Palestine, should competent organs of the United Nations or eventually the Assembly of States Parties resolve the legal issue relevant to an assessment of article 12 or should the Security Council, in accordance with article 13(b), make a referral providing jurisdiction.

        Please note the subject of the assessment is Article 12 of the Rome Statute, not Palestine’s declaration. The General Assembly responded by adopting yet another of many resolutions on Palestine’s status in the UN which acknowledged the 1988 unilateral “Declaration of the State of Palestine” in line with resolution 181(II) and the exercise of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It noted that the PLO Executive had served since then as the “Provisional Government of the State of Palestine”. In addition it noted once again that Palestine had been admitted as a full member state of a half dozen international intergovernmental organizations. In most cases, Palestine had been a member of the organizations long before the ICC was ever established. It observed that the State of Palestine had been recognized over the years by the overwhelming majority of UN member states. Long story short, if words used in context have any meaning, the General Assembly has been referring to Palestine as a state in its resolutions, since 1988 and the Secretary General has been accepting deposits of treaty instruments from Palestine ever since 2003 for agreements that are only open to accession by states. See A/RES/67/19

        The Prosecutor admitted that his office has no authority to adopt a different method to define the term state for the purposes of Article 12(3) than the one employed for Article 12(1). But none of the other state parties to the Rome Statute, including the Cook Islands, have ever been required to submit proof of UN membership or their “current UN non-member observer state status”. In fact, the Cook Islands has never been a member of the UN or an UN observer state. The Prosecutor noted that in “doubtful cases”, like that one, the Secretary General consults the practice of the UN General Assembly and its resolutions on the subject to see if it considers an entity to be a state or treats it like one. In the case of the Cook Islands, the Secretary accepted A/Res/2064 (XX) as proof, despite the fact that it doesn’t mention the term “state” at all and concludes with paragraphs regarding the responsibility of the UN to “assist the people of the Cook Islands in achieving full independence at a future date, if they wish.”

        I would hope all of that illustrates and illuminates the ludicrous machinations of the Prosecutors to create grey areas where none should exist.

        Likewise your efforts to deny that Palestine has filed an actionable complaint are nonsense. In addition to the joint press reports about the complaint filed with the Hague over the illegal use of white phosphorus munitions, the Office of the Prosecutor submitted detailed periodic status reports to the UN about the various contacts, meetings, and fact finding reports that were supplied by Palestine and the Arab League fact finding mission it co-sponsored.

    • Walid on June 18, 2014, 2:51 pm

      “I assume I will get reactions from people who have read more than me and remember more than me about the facts before the outbreak of the war.”

      At times, you must feel like John the Baptist.

      • wondering jew on June 18, 2014, 3:09 pm

        Walid. I feel like the Riddler. Riddle me this, Walid. How did you get to be an expert on Pius XII? Is your knowledge of history that extensive that this just happened to fall under your eye? Or do you have an animus towards something or someone that spurred your study of the pope in question?

      • Walid on June 18, 2014, 4:37 pm

        The guy actually gave me the creeps, especially the part about the nun that was with him for 40 years (!!!) that was known as the “Popessa” because she was considered the Vatican’s sort of “grey eminence”; she actually dressed in black. I’m a history nut especially church history, which is not always edifying but always colourful and dramatic. No animus, simple curiosity.

      • MHughes976 on June 18, 2014, 5:45 pm

        There was surely something rather gothic about Pius, a human version of a medieval cathedral – stern, angular, mysterious, with hidden depths and a sense of ulterior purpose, in this case the defeat of the false god of the commies. That purpose was avowed but its intensity and proneness to extremism was not. There’s a certain charm, again rather gothic and full of pain, about the two devoted lovers, in a sense an old married couple who had been through a lot together, having to pretend that they were celibate in order to keep the demons at bay. I’ve mentioned before that I do not think of him as a Nazi or an anti-Semite but as someone caught up in a tragedy who made several grave mistakes.

      • Walid on June 19, 2014, 2:21 am

        MHughes, it was his stern “gothicness” that I found creepy. You may remember that before Pope Francis’ visit to Israel, I commented that surely one of the issues to be addressed was the stalled beatification process involving Pius XII that was being delayed by Jewish lobbying. Nothing was made public of any such discussion during Pope Francis’ visit but from a WSJ article of last week, he discussed this very issue with a Spanish newspaper on the papal plane returning from Israel, so it looks like it was discussed and he came back empty handed. He also told the newspaper that Pius saved many Jews with 40 Jewish children having been born in Pius XII’s own bed at Castel Gondolfo. From the WSJ:

        Pope Francis defended the record of one of his predecessors, Pius XII, in helping Jews escape Nazi Germany persecution, although admitting that the World War II-era pontiff made mistakes.

        June 13, 2014

        He is concerned about “everything which has been thrown at poor Pius XII,” Pope Francis told Spanish daily newspaper La Vanguardia in an interview published Friday

        “I sometimes get an existential rash when I see everybody taking it out against the Church and Pius XII,” the pope said.

        The question whether Pius XII, who become pope the year WWII started in 1939, should have done more to publicly condemn the Holocaust has been a sore issue in gradually improving Catholic-Jewish relations.

        Critics of Pius XII are still passionate over the pontiff’s lack of public defense of Jews from Nazism during WWII and strong condemnation of Nazi persecution, in which millions were murdered.

        On the other hand, defenders of Pius XII claim that he did all he could behind the scenes to saves Jews, hiding many in Catholic Church properties, monasteries and convents. They say that had Pope Pius XII spoken out more strongly it would have put the Jews the church was hiding in danger.

        “Was it better for him not to speak so that more Jews wouldn’t be killed or for him to speak?” asked Pope Francis, according to the interview.

        “He [Pius XII] hid many in convents in Rome and in other Italian cities, and in the [summer] residence of Castel Gandolfo,” said Pope Francis.

        The Argentine-born pontiff told the newspaper that 42 children of Jews and others hiding from Nazi troops were born in the pope’s own bed in Castel Gandolfo, on the outskirts of Rome.

        He drew attention to other decisions taken during the war that are still controversial. Pope Francis asked why the Allies didn’t bomb the Nazi rail network used to bring the Jews to concentration and extermination camps across Europe as they had photographs showing this was happening.

        “It would be nice if we spoke a little bit about everything,” said Pope Francis.

        The Vatican is working to open up its wartime archives on the Holocaust. “This will shed a lot of light,” said Pope Francis in the interview, without giving a precise time frame.

        Pope Francis told reporters on board the papal plane in May that he will wait for the archives to be opened before deciding on whether to propose Pius XII for sainthood, which is effectively putting him on a slow track in that process.

  17. Hostage on June 18, 2014, 6:50 pm

    On November 11, 1966 a land mine killed three soldiers near the West Bank Jordanian village of Samu. In response, the IDF sent tanks and troops to Samu, and when Jordanian troops attempted to intercept, the IDF forces killed several civilians and about 12 Jordanian soldiers. Once in control of the village, the IDF spent four hours blowing up one hundred houses in the village of Samu.

    Everything you ever needed to know about the Samu raid, but were afraid to ask:

    333. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

    Washington, November 15, 1966.

    Israel-Jordan Clash at Today’s Lunch

    I’m concerned that we haven’t reacted strongly enough against Israel’s massive raid into Jordan.2 I suggest discussing this with Secretary Rusk at lunch.3

    I’m not suggesting our usual admonition against retaliation. We’ll maintain that posture, but I can sympathize with the Israelis’ answer that they can’t ignore increasing cross-border raids of Arab terrorists which generate strong pressures on the Israeli government to defend its border citizens. The coalition government can’t stand up indefinitely to these pressures.

    But retaliation is not the point in this case. This 3000-man raid with tanks and planes was out of all proportion to the provocation and was aimed at the wrong target.

    In hitting Jordan so hard, the Israelis have done a great deal of damage to our interests and to their own:

    —They’ve wrecked a good system of tacit cooperation between Hussein and the Israelis. We had his tacit agreement to keep his armor off the west bank of the Jordan, and he had made an honest effort to round up terrorists in Jordan. Continuing this kind of cooperation will be all but impossible now.

    —They’ve undercut Hussein. We’ve spent $500 million to shore him up as a stabilizing factor on Israel’s longest border and vis-a-vis Syria and Iraq. Israel’s attack increases the pressure on him to counter attack not only from the more radical Arab governments and from the Palestinians in Jordan but also from the Army, which is his main source of support and may now press for a chance to recoup its Sunday losses.

    —They’ve set back progress toward a long term accommodation with the Arabs. It makes even the moderate Arabs feel fatalistically that there is nothing they can do to get along with the Israelis no matter how hard they try. It puts a premium on extreme Arab chauvinism.

    —They may have persuaded the Syrians, who are the main troublemakers, that Israel didn’t dare attack Soviet-protected Syria but could attack US-backed Jordan with impunity.

    It’s important that we strengthen the hand of those within the Israeli Government who feel this is not the proper way to handle the problem. Even members of the Israeli military now doubt that retaliation will stop the cross-border raids, though they see no better solution.

    We’ve already laid the groundwork for a sharp reaction, but this by itself doesn’t go far enough. Ambassador Goldberg issued a statement in New York deploring the attack.4 We refused to pass an Israeli message to King Hussein justifying the raid. We will probably support Jordan if it goes to the UN (though we’ll also have to deplore the Jordan-based road-mining incident that killed three Israelis and provoked this attack). Ray Hare gave Ambassador Harman a pretty hard time this afternoon.5 (Harman was more embarrassed than defensive.)

    To stimulate discussion, you may want to raise the following possibilities with Secretary Rusk:

    —You could send a message to Eshkol restating our interests and making clear that Israel has undercut those interests as well as its own.

    —We could leak the main points of such a message to the press or in UN corridors to rebalance our image with the moderate Arabs.

    —We could slow down military deliveries to Israeli inconspicuously but just enough to make our point. Vietnam priorities could be an overt excuse.

    —We might begin putting out the line with our Jewish friends here that the US can’t go on supporting Israel’s interests in the Middle East unless the Israelis themselves show some intent over the long run to reach an accommodation with the Arabs. This, after all, is what we are trying to do with the Indians and Pakistanis.

    —The most constructive thing we could do looking to the future would be to offer help either through the UN or bilaterally to make available the latest techniques in border security. Many new simple devices have been successful in Vietnam and have been available on the open market.

    This is delicate business, but you’ve put a high priority on finding new ways to get at the Arab-Israeli stalemate. This kind of Israeli move makes progress impossible. We’ve felt that, with Eban’s appointment, the winds in Israel might begin to shift away from the old timers’ idea of “fortress Israel” to the younger men’s hopes for some kind of break in the impasse. We ought to come down on the side of accommodation where we can. If we don’t this time, no one will ever believe we care.

    W. W. Rostow

    Here is our usual admonishment:

    336. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Komer) to President Johnson1

    Washington, November 16, 1966.

    Warning the Israelis. I promptly called Abe Feinberg to pass the blunt word that Israel was “going too far” in striking Jordan and had better lay off. Feinberg was quite receptive, and said he’d just had a meeting with Jack Herzog of PM Eshkol’s office, who admitted that the strike had proven “unexpectedly violent;” the original plan was just “to blow 40 houses.” I replied that they should have thought of such risks before they acted, not after.

    Feinberg asked if he should call Harman. I told him I’d do that myself, but that you hoped he as a special friend would get the word direct to Eshkol through his own channels. He agreed to do so.

    I gave Ambassador Harman the same pitch this morning, stressing that I was speaking privately and unofficially. I added that, while I was no longer up on Arab-Israeli affairs, it seemed to me that Israel’s ill-considered and grossly excessive strike might have utterly disproportionate repercussions in Jordan. Moreover, how could we supply tanks to Israel if it was going to use such armor against Jordan, and after we’d asked the Jordanians at Israel’s request to keep their armor out of the frontier zone Israel had now struck. I told Harman that in the event of any more such strikes we were determined to “reexamine” our supply of arms of Israel, regardless of whether contracts had been signed or not. The Israelis had put in jeopardy our whole policy of promoting Arab-Israel stability by subsidizing an independent Jordan.

    I asked Harman not to give me the standard reply, as I was no longer in the business. But he did ask me to convey privately to you that Eshkol was under heavy pressure “from his own conscience,” because as PM and Defense Minister he couldn’t even assure his own people that they could travel safely in their own country or sleep safely in their own homes at night. If Israel didn’t strike back when repeatedly provoked, other Arabs besides those in Hebron might conclude that it was “a sitting duck.”

    I told Harman that you fully understood Israel’s problems, but that use of force was dubious at best and use of such disproportionate force—against Jordan to boot—was folly indeed. It undermined the whole US effort to maintain Jordanian stability, which was so much in Israel’s own interest that Israel’s action was almost incomprehensible.

    R. W. Komer

    • just on June 18, 2014, 7:06 pm


      So Israel has a long history of violent aggression and use of disproportionate force, and we have a long history of letting them get away with it– even when it is contrary to our interests and our own national security.

      sweet deal, if you can get it.

    • James Canning on June 18, 2014, 7:41 pm

      Israeli violence hurt American interests and Israel itself. What a surprise.

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