June 04, 2007

William Buckley writes this week in his syndicated column about the ghosts of Vietnam watching us in Iraq. They sure are. Everyone in Europe seems to be writing about the 1967 Six-Day War, where Israel wiped out the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies in six quick days of mayhem. Only a brave few, on the other hand, have mentioned the U.S.S. Liberty, the American spy ship that was rocketed and strafed by the Israelis while it was in neutral waters, with great loss of American lives. LBJ quashed all inquiries following the unprovoked attack, and the Israeli lobby took care of the rest.

Incidentally, did you know that a retired serviceman’s widow does not receive a penny of his pension after he dies? A Mrs. Dermody, whose four sons are serving Uncle Sam, just lost her marine husband, who served from 1954 to 1974, and she informs me that his pension stopped the day he passed away. Is this some kind of joke? Is this the way we treat the families of those who do the fighting for the Kagans, the Podhoretzes and the Kristols? And the Clintons and Giulianis, while I’m at it. But back to the Six Day War.

Israel had been rumored to be about to attack the Arabs by early spring 1967. A landmine had killed three Israeli soldiers and a retaliatory strike against Jordan saw a school, a hospital, a post office, a library and more than one hundred houses blown up. Moshe Dayan headed the hawks who wanted a pre-emptive strike against Nasser. He had his way when, on June 5, Israeli fighter jets launched a strike which caught the Egyptian air force on the ground, effectively destroying it. Exploiting its dominance of the skies, Israel won its greatest victory. One thing is for sure: The Arabs had done their worst as usual to provoke the Israelis, but there was never the slightest chance that they would have attacked Israel. Nasser had closed the Straits of Tiran in an act of folly and brinkmanship, but he was as likely to attack the Jewish state as Saddam Hussein was ready to launch his WMDs on New York city.

This was 40 long years ago. The Pyrrhic consequences of the occupation of Arab lands are obvious. There are now thousands of illegal settlements, there is terrorism and intensification of Palestinian nationalism, and an ever-deepening hatred between Jews and Palestinians. Only distrust prevails. A quarter of a million Israelis are squatting on Palestinian land,  while terrible privations have been imposed on the local population. Was any of this worth it? Personally, I do not think so. The occupation has changed the Jewish character for the worse, and has made Israel and its principal backer, the United States, the two most hated countries in the world. As the saying goes, no one has ever cried more bitter tears than the one who had their prayers answered.


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