Sunday, May 27, 2007

And Now Comes "Six Days War Revisionism"

Like this opening?

Nowhere has revisionist history played a more crucial role in the political and moral consciousness of a nation than in Israel. The state came into being in 1948, and, almost immediately, its prehistory––the origins of Zionist ideology, the behavior of the British during the Mandate period, and, critically, the relationship with the Other, the Palestinian Arabs—became matter for schoolbooks, journalism, military indoctrination, scholarship, and public rhetoric. The founding generation that had come to Palestine and then fought what it called its war of independence against Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and other hostile neighbors was now in charge of its own story. To the victor goes the narrative. As in any fledgling state, that narrative tended to be set down in the most glorious terms—history as if written by a Hebrew-speaking Parson Weems. For a while, it was as if even the most basic facts could be wished out of existence. An entire group could be made invisible. “There was no such thing as Palestinians,” Golda Meir said in 1969.

It was not until the nineteen-eighties, after the opening of various state archives and the coming of age of a generation more disillusioned and less beholden to the old myths than the founders, that Israeli scholars began to confront some inconvenient facts.

It gets "better". It was Israel's fault:-

Michael Oren, who spent more time studying the Arab memoirs and available literature than Segev, places greater emphasis in his book on Nasser’s malevolent intentions, arguing that a full-scale invasion plan, Operation Dawn, was cancelled only at the last moment. He quotes this from Salah al-Hadidi, the chief justice in the trials that Egypt convened for officers held accountable for the defeat: “I can state that Egypt’s political leadership called Israel to war. It clearly provoked Israel and forced it into a confrontation.” Segev is less sympathetic toward Israel’s decision to attack first. While Eshkol was withstanding the pressure from his generals, Segev writes, he emerged as a “statesman with nerves of steel.” But, unlike Ben-Gurion, he did not have the stature to resist. “His weakness ate away at him,” Segev concludes. “He wanted to be remembered as a patriot, and at this point the public equated patriotism with war.”

The Israeli leadership ultimately justified a preĆ«mptive attack as the only way to end an unbearable threat and, if war must come, to prevent huge casualties. Eshkol, who had for weeks resisted the pleas and imprecations of his generals and ministers, now asked, “Must we allow ourselves to be worn down and killed bit by bit, if not destroyed in a future all-out war, as promised by Nasser? Must we wait for Hannah Arendt to write articles about our failure to resist?”

But what really bothers Remnick is:-

Forty years later, a quarter of a million Israelis live in a hundred and twenty officially recognized settlements; an additional hundred and eighty thousand live in annexed areas of East Jerusalem, and sixteen thousand in the Golan. In the years before Israel was established, settlers argued that the more land they bought or seized, the greater their security. The settlers of “Greater Israel” and their supporters, who regarded the old borders as “Auschwitz frontiers,” refused to see the peril in their policy. The worst consequence of occupation, of course, has been the terrible privations, physical isolation, and psychological disfigurement that it has imposed upon the Palestinians. For the Israelis, occupation has been, as Gorenberg describes, a grave security hazard and source of moral corrosion.

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