How Six Days in 1967 Ushered in an Era of Historical Illiteracy and False Premises
As its name suggests, The Six Day War in 1967 was one of the most one-sided conflicts in history. Israel devastated the combined Arab Forces on their way to a resounding victory that saw Israel move into the Gaza Strip, the regions of Judea and Samaria — commonly refereed to as the West Bank, the city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.
While Arabs, particularly the Egyptians were utterly embarrassed, Israelis were euphoric. Jews could once again visit their holy sites, which they were not allowed to when they were under Jordanian control and Jerusalem was united. From a geopolitical standpoint, the war had given Israeli strategic depth: it was no longer just nine miles wide at its most narrow point, it had gained the high ground in the form of the Golan Heights, and control of Sinai pushed the launching point for any future Egyptian invasion further west.
Another war, this one in 1973 sparked by a dual Egyptian-Syrian invasion, humbled the country when the government was caught unprepared. By 1979 Israel and Egypt were at peace and the Sinai was back in Egyptian hands. But, while Israel and Egypt have been able to reconcile their differences, a funny thing happened on the way to a final peace.
Today, Israeli victory in 1967 is seen as the main source of problems that still divide the Israelis and the Palestinians. The history of the conflict, from the Balfour Declaration, the Trans-Jordan memorandum of 1922, the violence in Mandatory Palestine in the 20s and 30s, the Grand Mufti siding with Hitler during World War II, the Arab rejection of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and the 1948 Israeli War of Independence and the subsequent occupation of Gaza and the West Bank by Egypt and Jordan respectively were all swept under the rug.
The capturing of Gaza from Egypt and of East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan led to a universal denouncement of Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands. Couple that with a view that is becoming increasingly popular the further we get from 1967, that Israel was not justified in attacking first, despite an amassing hostile army on its border that had previously tried to destroy it and the closure of the Straits of Tiran, we arrive at the conventional narrative was formed that dominates the discourse of the UN, its obsessive “human rights council” and nearly all foreign ministries worldwide: Israeli occupation is the main impediment to a two-state solution.
Thus, while Israel won a great victory in 1967, it has been the victim of an international community that now believes history began on this date, 52 years ago. With treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan, an anti-Iran detente with the rest of the Arab World takes form, and with a hostile regime in Damascus, Israel’s peace efforts are now almost excursively focused on the Palestinian front.
To say that peace efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians are at a bit of stand still is an understatement and Jared Kushner’s peace plan, despite all his hard work and attempts to be think outside the box, are DOA. Why? Again, according to popular opinion, it is because Israel refuses to end the occupation, the 2005 Gaza withdrawal being conveniently ignored.
One result of requiring that the one assume the “occupation” is the reason for a lack of a peace deal has been the infantilization of the Palestinians. They are not held responsible for their own actions. Which has gained more condemnation: the “occupation” or anti-Semitism in Palestinian textbooks? The “occupation” or Hamas rocket attacks? Who has received more condemnation: Benjamin Netanyahu or Mohammad Abbas for subsiding terrorist families and who is currently in the fourteenth year of his four year term? Which is more unreasonable: Israel declaring Jerusalem to be its capital or the PA still insisting on the so-called right of return.
The PA is the child whose parents have never told him that he is wrong and can’t have everything he wants and when someone, in this case the Trump Administration, tries to be that adult, he throws a tantrum and the rest of the world condemns Trump, Mike Pompeo, or Nikki Haley for pointing out the obvious: that there is more to history than six days in 1967.