Some excellent pieces in the latest Fathom:
On its 50th anniversary, this special issue of Fathom maps the causes, courses and consequences of a watershed event in Middle East History: the Six-Day War of June 1967.
Jeffrey Herf: 1967 | The Global Left and the Six-Day War.
One very serious problem that Israel’s victory posed for the West German and West European Left was that the Jewish state had won a war decisively. While post-war West Germans disdained the hard power of states which they associated with Nazi Germany, the lessons learned by Jews and citizens of Israel from the Holocaust were precisely the opposite, namely that those without a state and its hard power are at the mercy of those who may wish to murder them. Israel’s victory in 1967 did not fit into the leftist categories of ‘imperialism’ and ‘anti-imperialism’ yet, as those were the categories available to the radical leftists of those years, the radicalising New Left used them to misplace the outcome of the war into that inappropriate paradigm: Israel was now ‘imperialist’.
Matthias Kuntzel: 1967 | Nasser’s Antisemitic War Against Israel.
It was neither Israel nor Zionism that provoked the 1967 war but the latent anti-Zionism and antisemitism in the Arab world. Nasser was at one with this mood: he was gripped by the same destructive sentiments that he whipped up in the masses. It is not Israel and Zionism that have created the exceptional state of affairs we have become accustomed to calling the Middle East conflict: There are many national movements in the world and dozens of new states have joined the United Nations. The exceptional thing that places the Jewish state in an exceptional situation is the 70-year old anti-Zionist and Islamist call to destroy it. No other state in the world is confronted with this kind of call.
The violent Muslim Arab rejection of Jewish sovereignty in their midst reached a pinnacle with the war against partition. Initiated and waged by the Arabs, the war to prevent the nascent State of Israel coming into existence was the most organised and comprehensive attempt (at the time) by the Arab world to restore ‘justice’ and ‘order’ as they conceived it. Even after they subsequently lost the war, they refused to concede defeat and accept the Jewish state. A battle might have been lost, but the war had to go on.
In the negotiations following the war, the Arab negotiation teams not only refused to meet with representatives of the State of Israel, but took great pains to emphasise that the armistice lines separating the newly independent State from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were not to be borders. Borders implied permanence. These were cease-fire lines only, because the war was not over. The message was clear: the Jewish people might have declared independence in the State of Israel, but sooner or later there would be another war that would erase that humiliating eyesore from the Arab region.
In the wake of the Arab defeat, the commitment to restore the proper Arab and Muslim ‘order’ meant a blanket Arab refusal to absorb the Arab refugees from the war, keeping them and generations of their descendants under the temporary status of ‘refugees’ for decades, so that one day they could ‘return’ and bring an end to Zionism. The concept that third and fourth generation Arabs, born in an Arab country, can be classed as temporary ‘refugees’ from another land was completely acceptable, since Israel itself was temporary, and an Arab Palestinian ‘return’ to the days when the State no longer existed was a tangible possibility....
This Arab rejectionist position also manifested itself in the vicious expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Jewish communities – almost all predating Islam and the Arab conquests of the region – from the Arab world. Jews – who were internalising the idea that they could win wars over Arabs and establish sovereign states where they had no masters – could no longer be trusted to stay in Arab lands and ‘know their place’.
And much more.
Intro from editor Alan Johnson here.