Jun 20,2017 -JORDAN TIMES –
In June 1967 I was in the midst of my final weeks in college when the war broke out.
At the time, I knew little about the Middle East, since I was more engaged in the anti-war and civil rights movements.
And so, as I watched the UN Security Council debates that preceded and followed the war, I saw what was unfolding through the prism of those struggles with which I was more familiar — the one in opposition to the war in Vietnam and the other for civil rights and justice in America.
As a result, I was sceptical both about the US and Israel’s justifications for the war and the reporting and political commentary that followed.
The story, as it was being told, was too simple and, therefore, it just did not ring true. I knew there had to be more.
The war started and ended quickly and in the US, the media and political establishment were quick to celebrate the Israeli victory.
It was, we were told, “clean and quick” and “miraculous”.
There were two haunting photos from that period that were intended to capture the essence of the war.
One featured handsome and hopeful young Israeli soldiers standing next to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. It was meant to convey their joyous victory and their conquest of Jerusalem.
The other was a more ominous picture of shoes in the Sinai desert sand. We were told that they had been left by fleeing Egyptian soldiers, clearly intending to portray Israel’s enemies as vanquished cowards.
I knew enough about the “fog of war” to know that we did not know the whole story, but it was not until years later that the bloody horrors that accompanied these pictures became known, establishing that this war had been neither “clean” nor “miraculous”.
In September 1995, The New York Times ran a story under the headline “Egypt says Israelis killed POWs in the ‘67 war”.
The story reported on the discovery of mass graves in the Sinai desert containing the bodies of Egyptian soldiers, together with eyewitness accounts of the killings.
One former Egyptian soldier reported: “I saw a line of prisoners, civilian and military, and they [the Israelis] opened fire at them all at once. When they we’re dead, they told us to bury them.”