Saturday, October 30, 2004 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

Claims contradicted


Mike Forsythe, in his Oct. 27 letter "Belligerent enough?" ascribes the unsubstantiated statement to President Nasser of Egypt that, in June 1967, his "basic objective will be the destruction of Israel." This is clearly contradicted by Israel's own leaders at the time:

Yitzhak Rabin, chief of staff of the Israeli army, stated: "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it" (Le Monde, Feb. 28, 1968).

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol stated: "The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military build-up there testified to a military defensive Egyptian set-up, south of Israel" (Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Oct. 18, 1967).

Modechai Bentov, an Israeli cabinet minister at the time, stated: "All this story about the danger of extermination of Israel in June 1967] has been a complete invention and has been blown up a posteriori to justify the annexation of Arab territory" (Al Hamishmar, April 14, 1972, and quoted in Le Monde, June 3, 1972).

Menachem Begin, a cabinet minister in June 1967, stated, while prime minister, addressing Israel's National Defence College on Aug. 8,1982: "In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with our selves. We decided to attack him" (The New York Times, Aug. 21, 1982).

As for the statement that "Syria had been shelling Israeli villages from the Golan since 1965," implying this was justification for invading the Golan Heights, General Moshe Dayan, Israel's defence minister at the time, stated that he "regretted not having stuck to (his) initial opposition to storming the Golan Heights. There really was no pressing reason to do so, because many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland. . . . I know how at least 80 per cent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 per cent, but let us talk about 80 per cent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow some area, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that is how it was" (The New York Times, May 11, 1997).

This tells you where the belligerence came from.

Ismail Zayid, MD, lives in Halifax.