Deep Seated Ignorance

by Brien Jackson

These sorts of things burn me up:

Americans may gravitate toward war – we’ve developed a grand mythos to justify our own past actions – but we despise pointless war.  We’ve developed a story for these senseless wars, too, which counterbalances against the “noble war” tradition, and in a sense further gild that tradition; which is why Vietnam is seen as the polar opposite to WWII, and can be held up as a contrast to other “good” wars.  This is also why the war of 1967 resonates with Americans.   It was a war that pitted Israel against almost overwhelming odds – it was a fight for the young nation’s very survival.  It was a good war.

Emphasis mine. I can appreciate that Kain largely seems to agree with me on the efficacy of the Gaza fighting and the broader Israeli strategy, or lack thereof, in regards to the Palestinian question, but let’s get one thing straight; there was nothing good about the Six Day War. Kain’s interpretation is certainly prevelant, but it’s also very ignorant. Israel was not fighting for its survival in 1967, it was fighting to expand its territory. Period.

The American misconception of this seems to stem from the bizarre idea that the sole impetus of the conflict was Egypt’s closing the Straights of Tiran to Israeli passage and amassing a military presence on their border. I suppose this makes some sense if you just hear those two factoids, but doesn’t anyone ever wonder what caused Egypt’s actions? Crudely speaking, the run up to the Six Day War started, at least, when Israel began construction of their National Water Carrier, diverting some water away from the Jordan River before it could get into the then-Jordanian West Bank. In response, the Arab nations began constructing their own, smaller, equivalent to the NWC, the Headwater Diversion Plan, designed to siphon off a smaller quantity of water before it could get to Israeli territory, to which Israel responded by sending the IDF into Syria to attack HDP facilities.

Think about that for a second, the Arab countries basically parroted what Israel was doing at the time, and as a result Israel sent their armed forces into the territory of another sovereign country to launch attacks against a large infrastructure program in that country. If the roles here were flipped, and Syria had attacked the Israeli project, not only would Israel have responded with a massive military retaliation, the United States would likely be overtly aiding the effort. And not without some merit I might add. But since it was Israel doing the attacking, 45 years later almost no one even remembers it happened. But the event is very important to keep in mind, especially when you ponder Egypt’s militar buildup in 1967. Conventional wisdom holds that the mobilization was proof Egypt was readying an attack on Israel, and as such the Israeli attack was just a pre-emptive, defensive, move. In reality, the mobilization was designed to deter the Israelis from launching some sort of similar attack in an attempt to break the Egyptian blockade. It didn’t work, obviously, but it would be nice if more people were more aware of this stuff. And while it’s nice that the worm is turning a bit in elite opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, that these remaining, inaccurate, premises still present a real barrier to the idea of the United States re-emerging as a serious arbitrater in the matter.