By ISMAIL ZAYID
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
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.
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.