The Halifax Herald. Sept. 16,2005


War of words


Regarding the Sept. 13 letters by Glenn McEachern, A. Mark David, Jane MacDonald and Bob MacLaughlin: The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are not part of Israel and are under illegal Israeli occupation, as affirmed by all international bodies. Contrary to the claim made by Mr. David and Ms. MacDonald, this illegal occupation came, in June 1967, as a result of a war started by Israel, not by president Nasser of Egypt, as often claimed by Israel's apologists.

Yitzhak Rabin, chief of staff of the Israeli army at the time, 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. " (Le Monde, Feb. 28, 1968)

Prime minister Levi Eshkol stated: "The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military buildup 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 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 ourselves. We decided to attack him." (The N.Y. Times, Aug. 21, 1982)

It is time Israel's apologists heeded Mr. Begin's advice to be honest with themselves.

As for Mr. MacLaughlin's personal comments, when I was invited 33 years ago to come and teach at Dalhousie Medical School, I was not told that I would not be allowed to express my views about world events, including Israeli policies and war crimes committed in the occupied territories, let alone the demolition, in June 1967, of my own village, Beit Nuba, and neighbouring villages of Yalu and biblical town of Emmaus.

As for who initiated terrorism in the Middle East, the historic record shows Israel's primary role in committing numerous acts of terrorism against Palestinians, British and Americans as well as Jews.

The biblical claim stated by Mr. MacLaughlin has no standing in international law and no relevance in the 21st century.

Mr. David refers to the Security Council Resolution 242. The preamble to this resolution affirms: "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." The Arab countries have offered Israel recognition and full security if it complies with international law and withdraws to the June 4, 1967, borders. This offer still stands. Israel refuses to accept it.

Ismail Zayid, MD, lives in Halifax.