Six Day War: Unfinished Business

The Left’s Hate Affair with Israel

By Robert Liebman

This is a slightly modified version of an article that originally appeared in, June 10, 2015.

June 10, 1967 marked the end of the Six Day War and the beginning of the radical left’s hate affair with the Jewish State.

Although Israel neither welcomed nor wanted this conflict, the Left declared that Israel, not the invading Arabs, had been ‘militaristic,’ ‘colonialistic,’ and ‘fascistic.’

Was Israel really that bad, or was the Left biased, twisting or ignoring inconvenient facts to fit a prepackaged verdict – and has been biased ever since?

By 1967, Vietnam-war, civil-rights, and feminist protestors joined with hippies, yippies, flower-power pacifists, and not so pacifistic Hells Angels to form a vast anti-Establishment counterculture. The 1960s had become the Sixties. It was not the most rational of times.

Amorphous, anarchic, and contradictory, the movement nevertheless enjoyed basic principles and a single voice: America was Amerika. Revolution was imminent. Frantz Fanon’s Marxist anti-colonial Wretched of the Earth was the radicals’ book of the month.

Facts—such as who actually started the war, and why—were irrelevant. The left was Manichean, pitting the evil West against the good Third World. Israel—a western nation and ally of America—was on the wrong side. It was guilty on all counts.

Westerm Wall 1967

The iconic photograph of Israeli soldiers gazing at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, for the first time in their lives, after entering the city as Israel beat the invading Arab armies in 1967. Photo: Israel Knesse

But international conflict is not a team sport, using crooked umpires is not cricket, and these dodgy methods would result in the Palestinians being not winners but losers over the long term.

Militarism? If Egypt’s President Nasser had not blockaded the Straits of Tiran, replaced UN peacekeepers with his own troops, and allied with several Arab countries, the Six Day War would not have occurred. In 1967, Egypt was guilty of  militarism. The left pinned the rap on the wrong side.

Colonialism? After the 1948 war of independence, Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan occupied and then annexed the West Bank, denying Israeli Jews access to Jerusalem’s holy sites. The left accepted these racist and illegal occupations. Colonialism can be committed only by Israel.

Anti-Semitic? You decide

In the same month as the Six Day War, a Black Panther magazine waxed poetic: “We’re gonna piss on the Wailing Wall/…That will be ecstasy, killing every Jew we see in jewland.”

Radical leaders and the majority of the rank and file membership did not – dared not – censure the Panthers. These radicals similarly failed to criticize Arab threats to drive the Jews into the sea.

The Left seemingly did not care—may not have even noticed—that in its tacit acceptance of militarism, racism, and worse, it was subscribing to values it normally derided as repulsive.  The movement was progressive in name only. Had it looked in the mirror, it would have labelled itself “fascistic.”

Fast forward to the Camp David peace talks in 2000, which failed, according to the Left, because Israel was ungenerous. This was plausible, initially; the talks had not been minuted and details were lacking. But the left stuck to this position even after numerous first-hand accounts highlighted Yasser Arafat’s astonishing one-word vocabulary: “No.”

At Camp David Arafat “committed a crime against his own people.” A high-ranking Arab diplomat said that. The radical left refused to be so honest and frank.

In last summer’s Gaza fighting, Hamas fired thousands of rockets into civilian areas in Israel and, in the ensuing ground fighting, used human shields and positioned weapons in schools and hospitals. The Left—in a repeat of 1967—put only Israel in the dock.

Pro-Palestinian but…

Gaza pales compared with Yarmouk, where Syrian soldiers and ISIS decapitators inflicted unspeakable horrors on Palestinian refugees – to no outcry from the Left. Israel was not involved in this catastrophe. If it had been, her critics would have gone ballistic.

This post-1967 anti-Israel left is propelled less by compassion than by anger – hatred of America and western capitalism in the Sixties, which was then redirected to Israel after the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s.

Despite the movement’s blatant moral and intellectual shortcomings, it admittedly enjoys considerable success. It has a large and loyal following, and in castigating Israel, it has been unified and consistent, a signal achievement considering that leftist movements are generally fractious and fragile.

And the Palestinians? They are still stateless, stuck in a hole they dug for themselves by their own obstinacy. But the left helped them dig it, encouraging the Palestinians in their demand for all of mandatory Palestine.

Israel is not going to disappear, or be disappeared.

Chaos now envelops the larger Middle East, with no end in sight. A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is more remote, more elusive, than ever before.

The radical left is hardly alone in failing to foresee the Arab Spring and its horrendous consequences. But it is accountable for providing vacuous and dishonest cheerleading when the Palestinians needed wise and honest counsel. Now, with the broader Middle East in turmoil, it might be too late.

For nearly fifty years, the anti-Israel left has been committing crimes not just against Israel but against the Palestinians—and the entire peace process.

Robert Liebman is an American freelance journalist who lives in London, England.

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