Gary Yeritsian: Doomed to Repeat – The Arab Israeli War of 1967
Posted by uscsjp on April 20, 2007
In July and August of 2006, the Israeli military carried out an extensive bombardment of Lebanon, under the pretext that it was responding to cross-border attacks by the Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah. Israel’s apologists insisted that the state was simply “defending itself” against Hezbollah, whom they simplistically labeled as a “terrorist organization” which had carried out an “unprovoked attack.” In fact, though the initial Hezbollah raid that triggered the crisis could legitimately be condemned as a violation of international law, it was hardly unprovoked. As Laurie Brand, the Director of USC’s School of International Relations noted at the time, “Despite [Israel’s] May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon … Its air force regularly violated sovereign Lebanese airspace, and its soldiers regularly violated the land border. It has kidnapped and killed Lebanese civilians.” Furthermore, the nature of Israel’s “retaliation” was criminal, both in a legal and moral sense. The Israeli military was responsible for the widespread and wanton destruction of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure, and carried out indiscriminate attacks that took the lives of well over 1,000 Lebanese, the vast majority of them civilians—as compared to a total of forty-three Israeli civilian deaths resulting from Hezbollah strikes (which were themselves a response to the initial Israeli bombardment). 1
Pro-Israel ideologues have attempted to downplay or discredit the perspectives of respected sources, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, which found that Israel committed egregious violations of international law in Lebanon. For instance, top U.N. humanitarian official Jan Egeland called the Israeli bombardment a “violation of international humanitarian law,” and referred to Israel’s use of indiscriminate cluster munitions as “completely immoral.” Furthermore, an Amnesty International report identified many Israeli actions as “war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.”2 In sum, the Israeli assault on Lebanon was an act of illegitimate international aggression, one which bears striking similarities to Israel’s actions in its earlier wars against the Arab states, and in its treatment of the Palestinians.
Official propagandists and unofficial apologists for Israel contend that every war fought by the state since its inception has been a result of the aggression and intransigence of its Arab neighbors. In their view, Israel has on multiple occasions, encountered circumstances that have presented an “existential threat” to the country, and its military actions have constituted defensive and measured responses to these threats. For instance, in a recent reply to an article critical of Israel, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz charges that “the authors mention the wars of 1948, 1967, and 1973 to cite evidence of Israeli military superiority, but they never mention why the wars were fought in the first place . . . on all three occasions, Arab countries attacked Israel in order, according to their own well-known formulation, to ‘drive the Jews into the Sea.’ ” (full link)