Six days that shook the middle east

June 3, 2007 at 12:35 am (Jim D, liberation)

Pyrrhic /pirik/adj. (of a victory) won at too great a cost to be of use to the victor. [PYRRHUS]

-Oxford English Reference Dictionary.

Forty years ago Israel won a famous victory, smashing its Arab (primarily Egypt and Syria) opponents even before they could start to make good their threats to destroy her. Nasser (the Egyptian “pan-Arab” president)  had been making belligerent noises about destroying Israel for some time: in 1967 Egypt blockaded the important Israeli port of Eliat and expelled the UN peacekeeping force from Sinai, where it had been since the end of the Suez war in 1956. Whether or not Egypt and the other Arab states were serious about starting a war to destroy Israel (like the “Yom Kippur” war they launched in 1973) cannot be known for sure.  But Nasser was probably bluffing, and believed that the US would restrain Israel from attacking, so that he could score a tactical victory without fighting. 

If so, he was mistaken: Israel struck first, destroying the Egyptian and Syrian air forces on the ground before they could even take off and, within six days, occupying the West Bank , East Jerusalem, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights. Between 200,000 and 300,000 West Bank Arabs became refugees, fleeing from the Israeli advance into Jordan.

Yes, it was brutal: but remember, Israel was dealing with states who were on record as seeking her total destruction. After her victory, Israel offered the Arab governments “land for peace” – withdrawal from the occupied territories in return for recognition (of her right to exist)  from the Arab states. The Arab rulers would not agree to that and continued to proclaim that their goal was the total destruction of Israel.

Israel eventually handed back the sparsely populated Sinai, in return for recognition by Egypt, but its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza became long-term. Over time, it acquired a settler-colonial dimension. Jewish settlements were established, implying a move towards permanent Israeli annexation of at least part of the territories. (NB: this  description of events draws heavily upon the AWL pamphlet “Two nations Two states“).

The BBC’s former Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen describes the aftermath: “The Six-Day war swept up a generation of Israelis and Arabs whose children still cannot live peacefully in the world the war created. Israelis deserve peaceful, safe lives. Palestinians who were dispossessed and exiled if they became refugees, humiliated and abused if they stayed, deserve justice. Israel’s overwhelming victory turned into a curse. It has never been able to digest the land swallowed in 1967. It has poured money into colonising the Occupied Territories, defying international law and splitting its own people. Thirty-six years (Bowen was writing in 2003) after the fighting with Jordan, Egypt and Syria, after thousands more deaths and the failure of six years of negotiations, Israelis and Palestinians are fighting again over the future of the West Bank and Gaza. It is still a low-intensity war. But if another full-blown Middle East war breaks out, its roots will lie in those six days in 1967. The Middle East will have no peace until Israelis and Palestinians, as equal partners, settle the future of the land that was captured in 1967 and unwind the consequences of the war”. 

Jeremy Bowen’s evaluation of the Six Day War can be heard on BBC Radio 4, this Monday (4 June) at 12.42 pm. I also recommend his book, Six Days, published by Pocket Books at £7.99. Some people think Bowen is too pro-Palestinian… judge for yourself…


  1. Renegade Eye said,

    I don’t support the two state solution. I support a secular, socialist Israel. Still it was a very good post.

  2. johng said,

    A good post? I would recommend Avi Shlaim’s ‘The Iron Wall’ for a good account of the 1967 war. Its astonishing to me how Jim simply reproduces standard Israeli accounts of the war with no criticism of that standard line whatsoever (despite a vast critical literature even inside Israel). Its as if a Socialist was simply to celebrate the victory of Britain in the Falklands and reproduce standard……ah. I see.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    John, you self-evidently see very little beyong your own anti-Israeli prejudice: what I have posted ihs te generally-accepted factual account of what happened – plus Bowan’s comments, which I think can be broadly characterised as “critical” of the outcome of the war for both Israelis and Palestininans. I’ve asked you this too many times over the years to be terribly bothered…but *what* exactly is *factually* inaccurate about my account of the Six Day war?

  4. modernityblog said,

    good post Jim,

    whilist I think that Shlaim makes an interesting contribution to the debate, it is probably better to read a specialist work on topic, such as Michael Oren’s Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

  5. johng said,

    Well Oren’s account is indeed well documented (and well reviewed as such by Shlaim) but its also true that its an account which sets itself up to attack re-assessments of the 1967 war which are on-going. He himself describes himself as attacking two ‘myths’. One is an Arab “myth” which suggests the war was unprovoked. This seems something of a straw man as I know of no accounts Arab or otherwise which suggest that Israel’s attack simply came out of the blue. The questions which HAVE been raised are to do with the very tensions that produced the war and how we are to understand them. The second ‘myth’ that he wants to attack is what he describes as an ‘Israeli myth’ that the war was planned in order to take Jerusalem, suggesting that Israeli’s would be ‘surprised’ by this. In fact, if anything, this would be better understood as an Arab myth not an Israeli one. I’m unfamiliar with any Israeli ‘myths’ that the war was a set up to retake Jerusalem. So Oren’s own claims about being ‘unbiased’ (always a claim to be deeply suspicious of) seem to me questionable.

    In the first place Shlaim’s account includes hardly obscure material, well known to most familiar with the subject, which documents Israel’s attempts to draw Syria into a shooting war (Moshe Dayan described with some relish the various provocations he engaged in). It also situates the developing tensions which led to war within a wider time frame, as well as the wider geo-politics of the period. This avoids the fairy tale quality of Jim’s account which explains all conflict in the middle east on the basis of the unaccountable hostility of Arabs to a small Jewish State. Israel had geo-political aims just as the Egyptians did, and its neccessary to understand what these were in order to account not just for political hostility but the timings of actual military conflict. This Shlaim does well in his Iron Wall, and I would recommend it highly.

  6. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    Shlaim’s account

    if you wish to summarise Shlaim’s account then why not point out (page numbers, etc), where he makes the case that you suggest that he does?

  7. johng said,

    Because a) I don’t have the book with me and b) your utterly uninterested in any kind of serious debate.

  8. Jim Denham said,

    1/ If you believe your opponents are “utterly uniterested in any kind of serious debate”, then why paricipate in the discussion in the forst place?
    2/ Your (typically) rambling, verbose but unclear response concerning Oren and Shlaim doesn’t seem to me (unless I’m missing something) to add *anything* to the discussion about whether or not my brief opening account of the Six Day war is factually accurate or not. For about the millionth time I ask you: what have I written that is *factually* incorrect?

  9. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    Because a) I don’t have the book with me and b) your utterly uninterested in any kind of serious debate.

    then surely it might be advantageous if you purchased a copy, and if you have time it might be a good idea to read it,

    it is fairly cheap and there are no end of second hand copies about

    I’m interested in a serious debate but not with people who deliberately misrepresent historical facts, as you seem to have a predilection for

    For the sake of brevity, let’s examine Shlaim’s review of Oren’s book, far from substantiating your criticism of Oren’s work, Shlaim states:

    ” Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, deserves credit for producing the most detailed, the most comprehensive and by far the best-documented history that we have on this short but fateful war. The book includes chapters on the context, the countdown, and the aftermath of the conflict. But the bulk of the book is a day-by day, almost blow-by-blow account of the war itself. The description of military operations on the various fronts is accompanied by accounts of the political crises in the capitals of the belligerents, the role played by the superpowers, and the diplomatic moves to arrange a cease-fire at the United Nations in New York. Throughout the book, Oren uses the full panoply of sources in four European languages, Hebrew and Arabic. He is one of the first writers to take advantage of the thousands of official documents that were recently declassified under the 30-year rule. The products of this prodigious archival research, and of the interviews that Oren conducted with about 60 policy-makers, are used to very good effect. The result is a fast-moving and action-packed narrative that sheds a great deal of new light on all the major participants in the war and on the conflict and cooperation between them.,12084,728941,00.html

  10. johng said,

    Verbose, rambling etc, etc. Your quite right. Your not interested in a serious debate. I have to say I’m not sure why I bother. I would argue that your facts are highly selective. You mention that these regimes talked about the destruction of Israel. You don’t mention a) the invasion of Egypt alongside the old imperial powers in 1956 b) you don’t mention the geo-political arrangements involving attempts to smash Arab Nationalism and restore the old imperial order that this involved, and how this came to mesh with the Cold War politics of the region after the US rebutted British and French attempts to restore their hegenomy and c) You don’t mention well documented attempts to draw Syria into a shooting match all through the previous year (as well as, repeated radio broadcasts from Israel threatening to bomb and attack both Egypt and Syria although this is fairly trivial). Your account simply takes for granted the official narrative about the causes of the Israel/Arab conflict and asks not even minimally critical questions about it. The circumstances were complicated. But I’m very surprised that you should simply regale us with such a one sided account.

  11. johng said,

    Modernity as I said, he gave the book a favourable review (check my post above). Are you actually interested in the topics being discussed Modernity?

  12. johng said,

    Oh and Modernity. I have read it. I said I didnt have a copy. But as I said you are only interested in spreading calmunies about people. The internet has very unfortunately given licence to the kind of people who would probably otherwise have been arrested for malicious harrasment. What an unpleasent and dishonest right wing hack you are.


  13. Jim Denham said,

    I “regale” readers witha “one-sided” account, John? OK: I haven’t discussed certain issues that you would like discussed. Like any other commentator, I have selected and prioritised some issues over others. It’s called using your judgement and having an opinion. You self-evidently do the same. But I repeat (for the million-and-oneth time): what have I actually written that is untrue?

  14. modernityblog said,


    I doubt that JohnG will ever provide a succinct criticism of your article, JohnG seems to hide his poverty of politics behind the stream of vacuous comments and insults,

    Sadly, he’s rather incapable of engaging with political opponents’ points without misrepresenting their arguments time and again

    it has to be said that the Shiraz Socialist blog gives JohnG a commendable amount of latitude and even then he can’t engage with them, if the circumstances were reversed I’ll bet that JohnG or his fellow SWPers would not be as charitable.

    I suspect that JohnG thinks that debating people as equals, at Shiraz Socialist, Dave Osier or other non-SWP controlled environments, it is beneath him

  15. johng said,

    I never said there were any ‘false facts’ Jim. Your not turning into Modernity are you? Very few political arguments are about facts. They’re arguments about which facts are important ones in settling a given question. It therefore matters when a socialist never ever refers to any facts regularly ignored by the dominant power in the conflict.

  16. johng said,

    I have to say I think with modernity its the infuriating quality that draws me again and again. When I think of the efforts I made to engage in a proper argument and debate, and then the incredibly dishonest grandstanding that came back as a response, it is…..infuriating.

    But also wierdly surreal. Is he perhaps smiling sardonically as he types?

  17. modernityblog said,

    I hope we can move on from JohnG’s rather disruptive contributions and returned to the issue of 1967.

    it certainly would have been better if Israel had managed to disentangle herself from the occupied territories, but I suspect that Palestinian nationalism and the quality of leaders had not developed sufficiently by then, combined with a bitter resentment from the elites in neighbouring states, for that to happen

    it would be far better to have comprehensive agreements with neighbouring states and the creation of a viable Palestinian state, possibly with land taken from adjoining States (and Israel), to allow a continuous whole, although I suspect they won’t be too amenable to giving the Palestinians any sliver of land

    I think all in all the political leaders in Israel would be prepared to give up most of the occupied territories and come to deal with the rest of the land swap, my bet is that a final resolution might follow the Geneva accords, although I think it really does need to be comprehensive and involve all neighbouring states for it to be meaningful, and getting all parties together is hard in itself, let alone their competing agendas

  18. johng said,

    This interview with Shlaim in what has to be considered (grotesquely) as the happier times of the late 1990’s concerns the conflict between left and right in this historiography. I have always been bewildered by Jim’s refusal to engage with any of this critical historiography. That modernity’s transparent attempts to exclude all Palestinian perspectives as illegitimate are treated as somehow legitimate here perhaps reflects this. Avi Shlaim incidently is best described as a liberal.

  19. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    That modernity’s transparent attempts to exclude all Palestinian perspectives as illegitimate are treated as somehow legitimate here perhaps reflects this


    I think that the Palestinians deserve more, they deserve more from their leaders, they deserve more from the corrupt officials that steal their Aid money, Palestinians deserve more than a diet of bullets and nihilism and certainly they deserve more than being treated as political footballs by consecutive rulers in the Arab world

    most of all the Palestinians deserve more than some of their Western “supporters” want for them, to be grotesque victims for their political machinations

    In the end, Israelis will have to compromise on many of their views, equally I think that Palestinian leaders will have to care more about Palestinians as people, flesh and blood humans, and not as cannon fodder before there will be a resolution

    I think it is criminal than vast sums of money are wasted on bullets, when it very clear it brings nothing but suffering to the Palestinians

    also just to clarify I think that Israel’s conduct in the occupied territory is often little short of criminal but the perpetual blame game will not bring peace, not that I suspect all of the Palestinian “supporters” in the West really care about that

  20. Jim Denham said,

    Sonow, at last, we’ve got there John: my alleged “reproduction” of the “standard Israeli account of the war with no criticism of that standard line whatsoever” *isn’t* a matter of wrong facts: no, it’s a matter of not giving those fact a particular twist that John G would like to see. So much foe Mr G’s academic training. Still an’ all: he is an admirer of Foucault, who believed that objective facts are not very important.

  21. johng said,

    er no Jim we have’nt got there at all. What I was questioning was why you just reproduce standard Israeli nationalist propaganda without even a hint of left perspectives. Palestinians as a post-modern ‘twist’. Its an interesting way of describing a whole nation.

    Modernity’s grotesquely patronising and chauvinist reading of the conflict (it would be regarded as racist if it was said in the context of any other conflict) presumably is what is regarded as ‘moderate’ by the so-called socialists here. It is incredible how low you guys have sunk. You should be ashamed. As you will be when you are forced to confront actual Palestinian trade unionists. It would be interesting to see a Jim Denham attempting to explain himself to them. You could perhaps explain your ‘facts’ to them Jim, and explain how their perspective is ‘post-modern’. If it was’nt so pathetic it would be tragic. Have you no sense of shame?

    I always think of George Orwell’s statement about the Spanish Civil War. Whenever I read anything written by Jim Denham I always just see the face of a single dead child.

  22. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    Modernity’s grotesquely patronising and chauvinist reading of the conflict (it would be regarded as racist if it was said in the context of any other conflict) presumably is what is regarded as ‘moderate’ by the so-called socialists here.

    just stop,

    you have a nasty habit of calling people “racists” or implying that they indulge in Holocaust revisionism, when your back’s to the wall

    whereas the truth is you will gladly defend, contextualise, obfuscate the utterances and actions of various antisemites, allies of fascism and racists, as shown by your willingness to defend:

    Gilad Atzmon
    Hassan Nasrallah
    Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
    Michael Neumann

    you’re nothing more than a thick-skinned hypocrite and a rather dense one at that

    you really have no shame, do you?

  23. Jim Denham said,

    John G is a grovelling, lying anti-semite. That’s the truth. And as for facing trades unionist from *anywhere*: I’m happy to do so – even if I don’t agree with them. At least I am an active trade unionist, in a real union. Not some pseudo -intellectual academic bought up on being guilt-tripped and appeasing Islamic bigots and anti-semites at SOAS. Game has still not justified his filthgy slur against me as consorting with fascists. Until he does, I will treat him as the lying, racist piece of shit he appears to be. The only excuse for him may be that he is mentally ill or on drugs.

  24. modernityblog said,

    I am slightly surprised that JohnG hasn’t been banned from numerous socialist blogs because of his appalling behaviour, spam, lies and “contextualising” of antisemitism

  25. lazzhar said,

    I’m sorry but it’s absurd to call anybody that criticizes the state of isreal an ally of anti-semitic. I know I will get the honor of carrying this title too but Hassan Nasrallah is just someone defending his own country and people against an invader. If this makes him a racist I think that racism is something great to be proud of.

  26. Simon B said,

    “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli.”

    Hassan Nasrallah

  27. Will said,

    Islamism (JohnG’s ideology) is the metaphysic of dunces, fools and the out and out evil and deluded. Anti-materialist and anti-humanist, it is a disease that needs combating. With force of arms if need be, or if and when the opportunity so arises. Remember, killing fascists is no crime.

    There exists anti-semitic (not just anti-Zionist) propaganda in Arab and other Muslim countries, including reprints of Protocols of Elders of Zion, TV shows, ‘Mein Kampf’ sales per capita exceeding all other regions of the world etc etc. The most vile racist filth is spewed forth on a daily basis in these backward, rentier state, medieval societies. John Game is a friend of the enemies of science, progress and human fraternity. He opposes the forces of secularism. Indeed he is on record as calling these forces within such societies as “quislings” ripe for murder by his fascistic friends. In short – the head choppers and woman killers he very much likes and admires.

    Modern anti-Semitism draws on all previous history–so there are layers and layers, innovations as well as traditional libels. Gameboy whole-heartedly carries on within this tradition. The main point is that the advancement of modern forms of life merely alter the functions that anti-semitic thought blames the ‘Jews’ for: democratization, loss of traditional authority & order, capitalist economics, disenchantment with the modern world generally — all of this can be attributed to Jewish conspiracy, power and finance capital (Jewish again).

    While the use of propaganda like the forged Protocols is certainly not in evidence as far as the SWP is concerned, these partisans of the ‘left’ who portray Israeli soldiers as Nazis and refer obliquely to Jewish dominance of the media and the strength of Jewish lobbying groups are only a hyperlink away from the openly antisemitic right, Islamic fundamentalists, and assorted crackpots like Atzmon, out and out nazis etc. Indeed they actively seek out alliances with the most backward, ignorant, occultist elements (we are all hezbollah now).

    It is high-time that the labour movement and its constituent elements disowned this ‘tendency’, ‘clique’, bunch of charlatans, cranks and wankers from within its ranks. It is now time that they are not only disowned but actively confronted on the streets and told where to go.

    John Game. What a Cunt.

  28. modernityblog said,

    I must say that Will has a way with words! I wish I had said that 😉

  29. voltaires_priest said,

    I’m sorry but it’s absurd to call anybody that criticizes the state of isreal an ally of anti-semitic.

    Just as well nobody’s doing that, then.

    The point is this: people who criticise the state of Israel’s actions are obviously not necessarily anti-semitic, any more than everybody who criticises Robert Mugabe is racist against Black African people. Equally though, some of the critics in both cases are either anti-semitic or racist. In the case of criticising Israel, David Duke is an obvious case in point.

    The question is how to identify them from those critics who are not racist, and one way in which to do that is to discuss the political basis of criticisms of Israel. Which is what this thread is about.

  30. Will said,

  31. voltaires_priest said,

    It’s the third of those points which is particularly crucial, methinks.

  32. johng said,

    Its amazing the level of lying and duplicity that goes on here (its really extreme).

  33. modernityblog said,

    here’s an interesting article:

    “Michael Oren: Reflections on the 6 Day War 40 years later”

  34. Will said,

    Gameboy is up to his usual tricks I see.

    A Dissembler.

    A Drivel merchant.

    A Thick as pigshit student twat.

  35. modernityblog said,

    Bitter Lemons provides four alternative views on 1967:

  36. Andy Newman said,

    Jim: Nasser (the Egyptian “pan-Arab” president) had been making belligerent noises about destroying Israel for some time: in 1967 Egypt blockaded the important Israeli port of Eliat and expelled the UN peacekeeping force from Sinai, where it had been since the end of the Suez war in 1956

    This is a bizarrely one sided account of what happened.

    Remember it was Nasser who first offered the olive branch of peace and recognition to Israel when Prime MInister Moshe Sharrat was in power in 1953, and it was Israeli military intelligence that responded by bombings against American and British targets in Cairo (a now undisputed fact, and two years ago the Israeli government gave lteers of thanks to those who carried out the bombings). And in 1956 Israel carried out an unprovoked military attack on Egypt.

    And through the period from 1956 to 1967 Nasser was opposed to gueriila actions against Israel, which is why the UN force was on the border in the first place(all inside Egypt by the way). Indeed the sponsorship of Fattah to carry out raids on Israel during this period by Saudi Arabia was part of their campaign to undsrrmine Nasser.

    So Nasser’s “beligerant noises” were for the gallery, and everyine in Israel at the time knew it.

    In 1967, Nasser was informed by Russian military interlligecne that Israel was planning to invade Syria. This is now known to have been false intelligence, but fearing such a war would draw Egypt in, as a precaution he asked the UN to remove its buffer force, so that the Egyptian army could defend its own border.

    And, when you justify Israel by saying that Nasser had been making belligerent noises, you omit to mention that just before the war stated Moshe Dayan, who had been openly arguing for war against Egypt to secure “regime change” – the removal of Nasser – joined the Israeli cabinet.

    Even the cause of war you give was not of nasser’s making. The blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba was forced upon Nasser, who had asked the UN to remove their forces from the border across the Sinai, but UN General Secretary U Thant unilaterally decided to withdraw them from Sharm al_Sheikh as well. Surprised by this move, Nasser delayed for three days before moving Egyptina troops into an Egyptian town, but once there they had to deny Israeli shipping for their own security.

    Nasser was out-maouevered into war in 1967, by an israel determined for war.

    And rememebr the first thing the Israelis did after the war was to utterly level the Moroccan quarter in East Jerusalem that had been there a thousand years, making thousands homeless.

  37. Will said,


    I was going to say that Gamboy has finally accomplished his true aim in life. The one-person circle-jerk. But then Newman has turned up.


    A two-person circle jerk so it is then.

  38. Will said,

    Yawn of course. T and Y are right next to each other.

    Just like Gameboy and the Islamist loonies. Funny that.

  39. modernityblog said,


    for the benefit of us not so familiar with 1967, please could you tell us where you garnered your account of Nasser and the blockade from?

    is there a particular book that has this account or is it an amalgamation of several?

    I would welcome the titles

  40. Will said,

    Match Point
    by Alan Dershowitz & Noam Chomsky
    Only at TNR Online | Post date 06.01.07
    Discuss this article (60)
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    Noam Chomsky:

    It is always intriguing to see just how far Alan Dershowitz will go in his efforts to conceal the fact that Norman Finkelstein exposed him as a vulgar and fraudulent apologist for Israeli human rights violations–carefully, judiciously, with extensive documentation (“Taking the Bait,”, May 21). Knowing that he cannot respond, Dershowitz is reduced to a torrent of slanders and deceit about Finkelstein’s alleged misdeeds–which would, transparently, be irrelevant if there were a particle of truth to his easily-refuted charges. The latest chapter in Dershowitz’s efforts at self-protection is a campaign to undermine Finkelstein’s tenure appointment, actions that are utterly without precedent, even reaching to an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. In an attempt to obscure what he is up to, along with other little fibs that I’ll ignore, Dershowitz has now invented a new fairy tale: that he is following my course when I “led [my] own jihad” to deny Kissinger a faculty position at Columbia.

    As reported in such exotic sources as the national press (e.g., The Washington Post, May 27, 1977), when Henry Kissinger left the government, the Columbia administration created a special endowed chair for him, apparently without faculty consultation or normal review procedures. That elicited widespread opposition on campus, including a front-page denunciation in the student newspaper, protests signed by hundreds of faculty and students, and much more. My role in this was precisely zero, as Dershowitz knows, with one exception: I was invited by Columbia faculty members to speak at one of the events they organized. So much for the precedent Dershowitz invents to try to defend his disgraceful efforts to block Finkelstein’s tenure.


    Why does he drag me into this? For the same reasons as his Finkelstein rampage. I have been the target of a deluge of Dershowitz deceit and inventions since 1973, when I responded to his slanders about the Israeli League of Human Rights, even gross falsification of Israeli court records as he sought to defend serious violations of elementary civil rights that the court barred–exactly contrary to his claims (The Boston Globe, April 29, May 17, May 25, June 5, 1973, available online). As always when his performances are exposed, Dershowitz knows he cannot respond, and makes no effort to do so, instead resorting to the device that comes naturally to him: a torrent of vilification and deceit, of which his “Cambridge Diarist” submission is the most recent. As of today.

    Noam Chomsky
    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Alan Dershowitz responds:

    It is not surprising that Noam Chomsky would leap to the defense of his ideological soul mate Norman Finkelstein. He always supports the academic freedom of those with whom he agrees, never those with whom he disagrees. But even Chomsky cannot actually cite any scholarly contributions that Finkelstein–who admits that he has never had an article published in a peer-reviewed journal–has made. What passes for Finkelstein-scholarship is charging me, and virtually every other pro-Israel writer, with plagiarism for citing material to their original rather than secondary sources. Anti-Israel as well as pro-Israel scholars use the same citation method because it is the one preferred by the Chicago Manual of Style and other authoritative sources. For example, Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer repeatedly cite primary sources for material they found in secondary sources. I proved this and challenged Finkelstein to level the same charge against these anti-Israel writers as he did against pro-Israel writers. He refused, because his is not scholarship; it is propaganda.

    Finkelstein’s other claim to scholarship is to cite the conclusions of anti-Israel human rights organizations as proof that I and other pro-Israel writers must be wrong when we come to independently researched conclusions that are different. He never provides independent research and when asked why not, he replied: “Why should I interview people?”

    Finkelstein’s only contribution to public discourse is to coarsen the level of debate about the Middle East. In a recent speech, Finkelstein called for all “monsters and freaks in the White House and their collaborators in Tel Aviv” to “drop dead.” When Irshad Manji, the Canadian Muslim dissident, was subject to death threats, Finkelstein supported those threats and wrote to a website that was collecting petitions against the death threat the following: “Is there a petition supporting the death threats?” He has also supported, he claims in jest, my assassination. Some of his followers did not understand his humor and have made threatening phone calls to me. He has called me a moral pervert, a Nazi and commissioned a cartoon showing me masturbating in ecstatic joy to dead Lebanese civilians.

    That is what passes for scholarship on Planet Chomsky. I challenge Chomsky to cite specific pages of Finkelstein’s writings that warrant the grant of tenure. Since Finkelstein writes only for popular audiences and never for scholarly ones, his work can easily be evaluated by lay readers. The pages please!

    Chomsky characterizes my input into the Finkelstein debate as “disgraceful.” Yet he admits that he, as an MIT professor, spoke at a rally against Columbia University granting an academic position to Henry Kissinger. He claims that he was invited to speak by Columbia faculty members. I too was invited to write about Finkelstein by a DePaul faculty member. Moreover, my comments about Finkelstein have mostly been responsive to attacks by him against me. Would Chomsky deny me my freedom of speech when attacked? Has Chomsky ever remained silent in the face of criticism?

    In addition to distorting the record with regard to Finkelstein’s scholarship Chomsky distorts the history of my criticism of him. It began when he endorsed a notorious neo-Nazi Holocaust denier named Robert Faurisson by writing an introduction to his book. He also legitimated his falsification of history by characterizing Faurisson’s fabrications–he claimed that Hitler’s gas chambers never existed and that the Holocaust “never took place”–as having been based on “extensive historical research”. Chomsky also legitimated Holocaust denial by writing that he saw “no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the Holocaust.” Chomsky once told a group of people that he himself was “agnostic” on whether the Holocaust occurred. When professor Robert Nozick, who was part of the group, confronted Chomsky with this outrageous statement following a debate at Harvard Medical School, Chomsky shoved Nozick, saying, “How dare you quote an off-the-record remark I made to a small group at Princeton.” He did not deny making the statement.

    Chomsky then championed another anti-Semite, this time a Jewish one named Israel Shahak who has written that Jews worship the devil and that Israel is comparable to Nazi Germany. Shahak, like Chomsky, was a phony civil libertarian who believed in defending only the rights of the left, tried to hijack an Israeli human rights group.

    Now Chomsky is once again championing an anti-Semite who has made a career out of rewriting the history of the Holocaust and denying the reality of Holocaust survivors. Chomsky and Finkelstein deserve each other. The DePaul community deserves better.

    Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard and author of Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways. Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at MIT and author, most recently of Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.
    Print this article. Printer friendly

  41. Will said,

  42. Andy Newman said,


    I am largely relying upon: Said K Abruish’s “Nasser, the last Arab”.

    With regard to the Zionist bombings in Cairo in 1954, the so-called Lavon affaire, or “operation Suzannah”, the three surviving bombers Marcelle Ninio, Robert Dassa and Meir Zafran were given letters of thanks by President Moshe Katsav in April 2005, and similar letters were given to the families of those already dead. This was reported in Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post at the time, as well as Al Ahram.

    Nasser’s offer to recognise Israel in 1953 was completely serious, and led to a break down of relations with Egypt and the Mufti of Jerusalem (The Arrafat of his day), who regarded it as treachery.

    I know it is uncomfortable for those who buy into the “little country surrounded by enemies” narrative to consider that peace was on offer in 1953 and 1954 and was delibertately scupppered by David Ben Gurion and Pinhas Lavon, but neverthless that is the case.

    I believe that had Prime Minister Moshe Sharratt been allowed to continue the secret negotiations without being destablised by his own security forces then peace was at that time acheivable based upon the 1948 borders. The negotiations took place in Paris, and nasser had the support of Egypt’s Revolutionary Command Council, it seems that Egypt was preapred to recognise Israel and lift the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and let shiops for Israel through the canal, and in return Israel accepted the principle of refugees returning and being compensated. the seriousness of the negotiations rather than posturing can be shown by the fact that Egypt was prepared to accept a rather moderate return of refugees.

  43. Andy Newman said,

    Another relevent book would be Abruish’s “The Brutal Friendship”, which details the appalling story of the Arab states, and their sorry relationships with imperialism.

  44. Pickled Politics » Peace in the Middle East said,

    […] also the 40th anniversary of the 6 Day War. The Guardian’s Ian Black has this report. Jim at Shiraz Socialist calls its a pyrrhic victory. Please do not regurgitate the same old arguments in the comments. […]

  45. modernityblog said,


    Thanks for those titles.

    you make a strong case, that Nasser is essentially blameless in these events, but if you were being objective, is that really the case in the immediate events which precede 1967?

  46. Will said,

  47. Andy Newman said,

    Modernity, I think that in 1967 Israel wanted a war, and manouvred Egypt in particular into it. Egypt presented a big strategic threat to Israel because Nasser was looking away from military solutions (where israel had an advantage) and towards diplomatic ones, and using the economic power of the Arabs (where Israel could be at a disadvantage) – and altough his government survived the al naxa war, Nasser was a brooken reed, so Israel won what they wanted.

    Within Egypt, head of the armed forces Amer, recommended a first strike against Israel, but Nasser refused because knew that he didn’t have enough pilots, the reserves were not trained, his army officers were incompetant, and a new joint military command of Egypt Syria and Jordan was uncoordinated. He also knew he could not win without the backing of thre USSR, and Russia was offereing nothing.

    His switch immediately before the attack for opposing war, to suddently saying it was inevitable was an attempt to play the 1956 card again, hoping that the USA would intervene to prevent a war. He was seeking to play up public opinion to force the Smericans to relaise how disastrous a war could be (The difficulty by 1967 was that popular Arab feeling against Israel had reached a point where openly talking about peace was impossible For example, in 1965 Tunisian president Bourguiba proposed peace on the basis of the 1948 borders, and there were huge demonstrations against him throughout the Arab world. Taking this in mind, then a lot of Arab rhetoric is aimed at the souk and not intended to be taken seriously. )

    BTW Nasser never lost his faith in America. It is one of those dramatic tragedies that one of the most pro-American of all Arabs should be forced into an alliance with the USSR by fate. :o)

  48. Andy Newman said,


    By what bizarre logic was the fact that East Jerusalem was part of Jordan in 1967 illegal? The very fact that the Israeli courts today accept the validity of legal documents from the Jordanian period suggests that they accept that sovereinty doesn’t it? Indeed the Israeli courts do not accept land deeds from the British mandate period for Jeruslaem but only from the JOrdanian period.

    A legal opinion given by some Zionists now is that becasue Jordan has subsequently relinquished its claim to Jerusalem then the city is no longer occupied, but this is not accepted by any state in the world, even the USA. So the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem today is not recognised by anyone in the world except the Israelis themsleves. Adn even these Zionist jurists do not predate their legal claim to Jerusalem to before the Jordanisans relinquished sovereignty.

    So can you justify the claim that Jerusalem was illegally occupied? Or was it only “illegal” in your view because Arabs lived there and Zionists wanted it? That in truth is the logic of your position.

    Jerusalem is still divided legally, and in practical terms as well. You only have to walk from the Jewish quarter to the Muslim quarter to see that shops, who pay the same taxes, have much more money spent on the public infrastructure in the Jewish quarter.

  49. Andy Newman said,

    And in a very practical way it is utterly hypocritcal for a Zionist to complain about the division of Jerusalem in 1967, when they have just built an enormous wall cutting off the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Diss from the main city,.

    How divided is that?

  50. modernityblog said,

    Andy Newman wrote:

    Modernity, I think that in 1967 Israel wanted a war, and manouvred Egypt in particular into it.

    we are getting a little bit away from Nasser, and I really wanted to discuss the issues from the Egyptian perspective, but let’s to take up the issue, because whilst most of the historical archives in Arab countries are closed, the ones in Israel are open and we can a probably get a better understanding, according.

    what evidence, on balance, is there to suggest that the Israeli rulers wanted a war with Egypt, prior to 1967??

  51. Clive said,

    I’ve hesitated to chip in here because it’s a long time since I paid much attention to the details around the 67 war and I’m pretty rusty. But –

    I used to argue much along the lines that Andy Newman does – Nasser was only grandstanding, Israel new this, etc. But this feels much less convincing to me now.

    For sure part of Nasserite policy either actually was the destruction of Israel – ie, if they could – or there was so much grandstanding, both to the Egyptian public and to other Arab states (especially Syria) that it was, in practice indistinguishable from a real policy. For sure he didn’t want war in June 1967. But all that amounts to saying is that Israel seized its moment – ie, decided to attack Nasser when he was weak to make sure he wouldn’t be able to, later, when he was stronger.

    I’m not saying – at all! – that therefore socialists should have suported, or should retrospectively support – Israel in 1967. Israel’s war was – or anyway turned out to be, at least – one of conquest.

    But I don’t think what amounts to an apology for Nasser is a very good basis on which to oppose it.

  52. modernityblog said,


    not wishing to be pedantic

    however, before socialists decide what they are going to support or not, wouldn’t it be a better idea to establish the historical facts, with the minimum of ideological interference and without the benefit of hindsight?

    I say this, because, the picture we have in the Middle East is often obstructed and partial because the archives and government papers of Arab nations are, by and large, closed to historians and researchers

    the two exceptions are Israel, which has extensive archives and they are freely open, and Jordan, although it’s not quite clear how comprehensive they are or if they include most Jordanian government papers on these events

    so I think it very useful to get the perspective from the Egyptian point of view, Syria, etc

  53. Andy Newman said,

    Clive: “For sure part of Nasserite policy either actually was the destruction of Israel – ie, if they could – or there was so much grandstanding, both to the Egyptian public and to other Arab states (especially Syria) that it was, in practice indistinguishable from a real policy.”

    Well many governments have objectives that are unacheivable,. and they know they are. For example, the Irish constitution until very recently laid calim to the six counties, and several Hungarian political parties lay claim to all territories lost by the treaty of Triannon.

    It seems eccentic to cast Nasser as someone seeking to destroy Israel, when Israel attacked Egypt twice under his rule, but he never even made basic military preparations to attack Israel – yet he was no pacifist and was involved with a long running war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen. NOt only did Nasser offer peace to Israel, but sought to restrain guerilla attacks against Israel, as being contrary to Egypt’s (and pan-Araby’s) national interest.

    Modernity. I am not aquainted with israelli sources. Accroding to Nutting’s book “Nasser” 1972, the Israeli army threatened a coup against Levi Eshkol unless there was a war against Egypt, and just before the war Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan were appointed ministr of defence and minister of state, both associated with public statemenats advocating an attack on Egypt.

    The New York Times, 5th June 1967 carried an article that Israel and the United States had connived in creating a war, and that the USA had provided Israel with satelite photos showing the deployment of Egyptian air and ground forces. This was later confirmed in a book by CIA agent Wilbur Eveland “Ropes of Sand” 1980.

  54. modernityblog said,

    andy newman wrote:

    Nutting’s book “Nasser” 1972, the Israeli army threatened a coup against Levi Eshkol unless there was a war against Egypt,

    I am a little surprised by the assertion that the IDF had, according to Anthony Nutting, planned a coup against the elected prime minister in Israel

    what was Anthony Nutting is evidence of this? a government paper? some tangible information or just speculation?

    if I sound a bit sceptical it is because,on the surface of things, it seems unlikely (altho not impossible) and I notice there is a story in the Torygraph on the theme,

    I would be sceptical about Sharon’s recollection and the significance of this, the light of other factors

  55. Richard said,

    I was having a discussion with an Al Jazeera senior corrspondent a while back. He said Nasser’s biggest mistake was that before the 67 war he could have made peace with Israel.. He had the respect of the whole of the Arab world and had the authority and ability to reach a peace settlement with Israel. That he didn’t was his biggest mistake. This guy was a fatah loyalist and no friend of Israel – just a bit more honest and less of a propagandist than most of the left today. He was brave enough to own up to the fact that not all the mistakes and wrongs were by the israelis.

  56. Charles Barton said,

    There are numerous myths about the six day war here. The first myth is that Arabs have no will of their own, and that they are simpletons who are easily tricked and manipulated by others. This myth is manifested in several assertions made in this debate:

    1. The Soviets tricked the Arabs into believing that Israel was about to attack Syria. This myth assumes that Egypt and Syria lacked independent intelligence on Israeli intentions in 1967. Until it is shown that the Arabs were truly in the dark about Israeli intentions, it must be assumed that during the run up to the 1967 Arab governments were in control of their own actions.

    2. The second Myth is that “Israel wanted a war, and manouvred Egypt in particular into it.” Here again we see another form “the Arabs are not their own master” myth. The simpleton Arabs are the victims or sinister Israeli plots. In fact between May 15 and June 4, we see Nasser taking action after action, making numerous provocative speeches speeches, and directing his military to take steps that were clear acts of war. It should be noted that Nasser continued to blockade Israeli shipping in the Straits of Tiran, itself a clear act of war. It is inconceivable that Nasser believed that he could continue to do so without risking of war. Now how did the Israelis get Nasser to do all these things?

    Myth 3 (And I believed this myth till this morning) Nasser was grandstanding.) The creditability of this myth collapses when we look at “operation dawn” episode. The Egyptian air force and army did plan to attack Israel on May 27, with Nasser’s blessing. Lyndon Johnson intervened with the Soviets, who in tern told Nasser to call off “Operation Dawn.” Nasser called off Operation Dawn, but continued to prepare for war, enlisting Jordan in a May 30 alliance against Israel, which turned command of the Jordanian Army to the Egyptian Army.

  57. modernityblog said,


    very interesting point about Operation Dawn, I don’t remember the details of it, but Oren argues that ‘Amer pressurised Nasser into the conflict (along with other factors)

    this exchange is informative:

  58. Will said,

    This is quick Newman — just noticed your comment. More the morra if I get the chance (by the way — I much preferred it when you lectured Lenny the Loon on Dialectics, Materialism and Hegel — that made for a better read than your apologetics for the destruction of Israel). Pity you don’t apply your knowledge to the real world…

    Re ” “Jordan would still be illegally occupying East Jerusalem”.

    I can’t be totally sure being as I’m not a mind reader but I’d guess that what Ami refers to is the period after the 48 war when Jordan occupied the West Bank and also East Jerusalem. It did so up to 1967. All the jews were forced to leave , the Jewish religious sites were desecrated by
    the Jordanians. In all this time Jordan never tried to establish a Palestinian state on the West Bank obviously.

  59. modernityblog said,

    here’s some topical cartoons:

    the first one is none too subtle,


    [Tip: Bob in Brockley]

  60. Andy Newman said,


    Was the Jordanian administration of east Jerusalam and what is now called the West Bank “illegal”. That is the issue in dispute.

    You posted a quote from Ami that it was illegal and I inferred therefore that you agreed with it.

    As regards the real world, I consider the “destruction” of Israel unacheivable, as indeed to the vast majority of Palestinians, including many who refuse to formally recognise Israel. (BUt after all Fianna Fail have only accepted the six counties in the last decade.).

    But the food for thought is that Twin States is also unacheivable, if the Palestinian state is not economically and politically viable. And to be viable would mean dismantling settlements with 500000 colonists, and israel giving up East Jerusalem. the wall would also need to be dismantled.

    As it seems completely inconceivable that any foreseeable Israeli government will agree to such measures then the reall issue is not a hypothetical destruction on Israel, but the very real and actually happening destruction of Palestine.

    BTW – I don’t think Lenny is prepared to argue with me any more.

  61. Will said,


    Something up with your comments facility again Shiraz peoples? Tried posting earlier but disappeared into ether.

  62. voltairespriest said,

    Not as far as I can see Will – it’s not gummed up in the “held for moderation” queue or anything.

  63. Jim Denham said,

    The discussion about whether Nasser really meant his threats to destroy Isreal strikes me as entirely academic. Indeed, if people are arguing that the threats were self-evidently empty, and so Israel should have simply ignored them,,,well, that extraordinary argument only makes sense if you hold a racist view of Arabs: that their words are not to be taken seriously.
    Amongst the many similar staements from Nasser is this from 27 May 1967 (ie: immediately before the Six Day war):
    “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight”.
    Source: BBC “On This Day”

  64. Will said,

    “Not as far as I can see Will – it’s not gummed up in the “held for moderation” queue or anything.”

    As I said – disappeared into the ether.

    Never mind – only took twenty minutes of my life to answer Newman…

    He’ll pay for it in another comment thread. honest.

  65. JimW said,

    “I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State,with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain…”
    – Albert Einstein

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