Trolling the Internet these past couple of weeks has served to quash any lingering, hopeful doubts that the post-Zionists have indeed won the battle over how Israel is perceived – by Jews as well as non-Jews, Israelis as well as non-Israelis.
The historical revisionists, whose initial attempts at recasting Israel’s image from David to Goliath were focused on the events surrounding Israel’s creation, have in recent years focused increasingly on the 1967 Six-Day War, which for the first decade or so after its occurrence was widely seen as a case of Israel’s justified response to Arab threats and aggression.
But as Israel in the 1970’s and 1980’s came to lose favor among liberal and leftist academics and journalists, there was a significant shift in the way the Six-Day War was being portrayed – in terms of both cause and effect. The change was already evident well before the term “post-Zionism” was coined, and became even more pronounced as post-Zionism came into its own in the 1990’s.
So it was refreshing to see military historian and New York Post columnist Ralph Peters take on the post-Zionists this week with a free-swinging celebration of Israel’s 1967 victory.
Peters, a retired intelligence officer, castigated “revisionist historians [for] re-inventing the Six-Day War as the source of Israel’s problems.”
Reading the revisionists, he wrote, one would think that “prior to June 1967, Israelis had lived in an Age of Aquarius, eating lotus blossoms amid friendly Bedouin neighbors who tucked them in at night. The critics also imply that, by some unexplained magic, Israel might have avoided war and its consequences.”
Contrary to the doomsayers, “June 1967 announced Israel as a regional great power – less than 20 years after the state’s desperate founding. And the Six-Day War remains more important today for what it achieved than for the Arab failures it left behind….
“The Six-Day War didn’t create the Middle East’s problems, it only changed the math. For Israel, it marked a coming of age. Taken together with the Yom Kippur War six years later – two rounds in a single fight, really – the war of June 1967 meant the end of Israel’s basic struggle for existence and the beginning of its ‘quality of life’ wars.”
“In the real world,” Peters concluded, “outcomes aren’t perfect. There are no wars to end all wars. The proper question is, ‘Are you better off than before the shooting started?’ Judged by that common-sense standard, Israel is vastly better off than it was on the eve of the Six-Day War. Thanks to the heroes of June 1967, Israel survived. Miracle enough.”
Peters’s column brought to mind a piece written two decades ago by the redoubtable George F. Will. A slew of American and Israeli intellectuals were marking the 20th anniversary of the Six-Day War by lamenting Israel’s lopsided victory, which, they sobbed, had transformed Jews into occupiers and oppressors and hardened them to the plight of the Palestinians. (The more things change…)
It remained for Will to cut through the muck of leftists wallowing in misplaced guilt, which he did in a Newsweek column titled “A Just War Remembered.”
“It has been 20 years since those six days that shook the world,” he wrote. “Because of what happened then, a united Jerusalem is capital of Israel, and Israel never again will be 12 miles wide at the waist. Because of the war the West Bank, which Jordan seized militarily and held for 19 years, is rightfully Israel’s to dispose of as it deems prudent.
“And, because of the echoing thunderclap from Israel 20 Junes ago, the security of Israel and hence the spiritual well-being of world Jewry have been enhanced. The Holocaust ended in 1945, but the Holocaust as aspiration was not destroyed until June 1967, when Israel smashed encircling armies that had the inescapably genocidal mission of obliterating the national gathering of Jews.”
Noting the inclination in certain circles to denigrate the idea of history being determined by the actions of individuals, Will wrote that it was “invigorating to revisit in memory the Six-Day War, a clear case of enormous consequences assignable to the decisions of particular people – Nasser, Hussein and some young Israeli pilots and tankers who reminded the world of the good that can come from a just war.”
George Will and Ralph Peters – two non-Jews with more intellectual honesty and moral clarity than all of Israel’s post-Zionists and their American Jewish fellow travelers put together.