Applying the Six-Day War to Iran

Exclusive: America’s neocons continue to beat the drums for war with Iran, brushing aside warnings even from Israeli intelligence veterans. Another part of the propaganda is to merge a future war against Iran with the heroic memories of the Six-Day War nearly 45 years ago, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

With the 45th anniversary of the Six-Day War of June 1967 coming early next month, pro-Israel pundits like syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer are again promoting Israel’s faux-narrative on the reasons behind Israel’s decision to attack its neighbors.

The Krauthammers of our domesticated, corporate media seem bent on waging pre-emptive war against an accurate historical rendering of the actual objectives behind that Israeli offensive that overwhelmed Arab armies and seized large swaths of Arab territory, land that hard-line Zionists refer to as “Greater Israel,” i.e. rightly theirs.

Israeli Gen. Moshe Dayan (center) and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin (right) walking through Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. (Israeli archival photo)

With its surprise attacks on June 5, 1967, Israel rapidly defeated the armies of its Arab neighbors. It gained control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

The Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979 as a result of the Camp David peace accord, a land-for-peace swap that U.S. President Jimmy Carter demanded and that then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin deeply resented.

Jewish settlement has proceeded apace on other territories conquered in the Six-Day War, particularly in the Palestinian West Bank, which Israel’s ruling Likud Party refers to by its Biblical names Judea and Samaria.

Likud’s charter declares that “the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

In other words, in the Six-Day War, Israel seized land that hard-line Zionists consider to be part of their ancestral legacy. The surprise attack in 1967 was the means to that end. The Likud Party emerged several years later with the explicit intent of consolidating that control through a settlement policy called “changing the facts on the ground.”

Time to Worry

Yet, despite Israel’s continued expansion into those Palestinian lands, pro-Israel pundits are in a defensive mood these days, and with good reason. They see a particular need this year to whitewash Israel’s surprise attack on its Arab neighbors 45 years ago not only because the anniversary is likely to draw more than the usual attention but also because Israel’s strategic position has deteriorated markedly in the past year.

For instance, the 80 million-plus Egyptians are no longer neutered by the joint Mubarak-Israel-U.S. effort to repress them and co-opt them into passivity vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Serious contenders in the upcoming Egyptian election have said they would reconsider the Egypt-Israel Treaty of 1979.

Some leading Egyptian politicians have added that they would fling wide open Egypt’s border with Gaza, where about 1.5 million Palestinians live in what amounts to an open-air prison. These Egyptians also are saying strongly sympathetic things about the widespread suffering in Gaza and the West Bank.

Equally important, Egypt’s present government has already nullified the sweetheart arrangement under which Egypt was providing natural gas to Israel at bargain basement prices.  (That alone is a very big deal.)

And, in sad contrast to the deafening silence of senior American officials regarding Israel’s reckless killing of U.S. citizens, such as Rachel Corrie in 2003, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to demand an apology for Israel’s killing of Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010.

The result of that dispute is a sharp diminution in what used to be very close military ties between Turkey and Israel, not to mention a lot of ill will, which can be very corrosive over the longer run.

Misinformed Americans

Regarding the events of 1967, America’s pro-Israel pundit class knows only too well that Egyptians, Turks, Syrians, Jordanians and other audiences in the Middle East will not buy Israel’s faux-history of the Six-Day War, many having been on the receiving end of it.

Thus, it is abundantly clear that the primary targets of the disinformation are Americans like those who subscribe to the neoconservative Washington Post, whose editors in recent decades have been careful to keep their readers malnourished on the thin gruel of watered-down (or unreliable) facts about the Middle East (think, Iraq’s WMDs).

So, it would be simply too much to acknowledge, as former Israeli Prime Minister Begin did 30 years ago, in an uncommon burst of hubris-tinged honesty, that Israel’s attack on its neighbors in 1967 was in no way a defensive war, or even a “pre-emptive” war (there being no really dangerous Egyptian or other threat to pre-empt).

While Prime Minister in 1982, Begin declared: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Such real history would lift the veil now shrouding Israel’s version that plays up the “threat” posed by Egypt and disguises the grand enterprise to expand Israel’s borders and, in double-contravention of international law, to colonize the occupied territories.

To bolster Israel’s heroic rendition of the Six-Day War and to apply its supposed lessons to Israel’s current plans to bomb Iran Krauthammer reprised that triumphal version of Israel masterfully defending itself against imminent destruction by the Arabs.

“On June 5 (1967), Israel launched a preemptive strike on the Egyptian air force, then proceeded to lightning victories on three fronts,” Krauthammer wrote, cooing: “The Six-Day War is legend.”

He then overlaid that gauzy history onto today’s confrontation with Iran: “Israelis today face the greatest threat to their existence, nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation, since May ’67. The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for a way out. But if such a way is not found, as in ’67, Israelis know that they will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves.”

Noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent coalition with the rival Kadima Party, Krauthammer also mocked the importance of former Israeli intelligence chiefs cautioning against a rush to war with Iran.

He wrote: “So much for the recent media hype about some great domestic resistance to Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran. Two notable retired intelligence figures were widely covered here for coming out against him. Little noted was that one had been passed over by Netanyahu to be the head of Mossad, while the other had been fired by Netanyahu as Mossad chief (hence the job opening).

“The [new] wall-to-wall coalition demonstrates Israel’s political readiness to attack, if necessary. (Its military readiness is not in doubt.) Those counseling Israeli submission, resignation or just endless patience can no longer dismiss Israel’s tough stance as the work of irredeemable right-wingers.”

After reading this Krauthammer op-ed in the May 10 Washington Post, I decided, against my better judgment, to invest a half-hour writing a letter to the editor, trying to make it as factual as possible. Several days after its submission, I have given up any meager hope I may have harbored that the Post would actually print it.

Perhaps that half-hour investment will not have been a complete waste of time if I can share the result with you:

Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, May 13, 2012

In his May 10 op-ed column, “Echoes of ’67: Israel unites,” Charles Krauthammer refers to May 1967 as “Israel’s most fearful, desperate month” and compares it to today, claiming that Iran poses “the greatest threat” to Israel’s existence.

It ain’t necessarily so. In August 1982, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin admitted publicly: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Today’s “threat” from Iran is equally ephemeral. Krauthammer, though, warns ominously about “nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation.”

The allusion is to an illusion, the alleged threat by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map.”  But he never said that, an inconvenient reality reluctantly acknowledged by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor early last month. And in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Israeli counterpart both publicly affirmed the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.

Who, then, is being apocalyptic? Krauthammer’s agenda is so transparent that a rigorous Fact Check should be de rigueur.

Ray McGovern, Arlington

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served for 30 years as an Army and CIA intelligence analyst, and in January 2003 co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).


14 comments for “Applying the Six-Day War to Iran

  1. Marc Schlee
    May 21, 2012 at 04:07


    Jesus, you mean Chuck Krautpacker is still ALIVE?




  2. Hillary
    May 19, 2012 at 20:53

    “Saddam survived, rearmed, defeated the inspections regime and is now back in the business of building weapons of mass destruction.

    …Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us.”

    -Charles Krauthammer 4/19/02.

    Charles Krauthammer spent almost an entire year using his MSM columns to lie to the American people and cheer-lead the largest mistake America has made since Vietnam.

    Krauthammer a neocon Zionist was raised in Montreal, Canada where he attended the super Hebrew Herzliah High School .

    Like many Zionists Krouthammer heard the call to support Zionism and became a “journalist” winning the neocon Irving Kristol Award
    when the neocons were setting out their plan to benefit from 9/11 with the war on Terror or as they called it the promotion of democracy in the Middle East.

    The US “War” is against Islam and was successfully promoted by noecons who support Right Wing Jewish Israeli aggression against Muslims in their agenda to have Israel totally dominate the Middle East.

    And how many Muslims are to be sacrificed in an illegal wars ?

    Since the invasion of Iraq over “1,455,590” Iraqis have been murdered , over 2,000,000 displaced and 4,000,000 orphans created.

    Today WMD’s known as Depleted Uranium is all over Iraq as are Cluster Bombs and the appalling death and destruction has caused as intended by the PNAC agenda Iraq to become “a failed state”.

    All the above was planned before 9/11 as part of the PNAC “Project for a New American Century ” by the Jewish Zionist American cabal led by
    Irving Kristol , Richard Perle , Paul Wolfowitz , Lewis “Scooter” Libby ,Elliott Abrams ,Eliot Cohen , Douglas Feith et al.

    The neocons were helped by 9/11 which helped start the war on Terror or as they called it the promotion of democracy in the Middle East with the first step being the Invasion of Iraq.

    Secret Jewish European Parliament Established In Brussels FEB, 2012

  3. Kenny Fowler
    May 19, 2012 at 09:43

    Krauthammer is the chief neocon propaganda tool/cheerleader for war on Iran. They’ll continue to push this hard as it appears to be the last chance to continue the neocon middle east campaign. I’m sure we’ll here from Kristol soon with more pro war propaganda. The best thing we can do is call out these toads when they start croaking from their lily pad perches in the neocon swamp. Expose them as the neocon propaganda tools they are.

  4. rosemerry
    May 19, 2012 at 02:42

    “nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation”
    The over the top language combined with bleeding Palestine to death goes with the replacement of the words “aggression” or “preemptive war” by “anticipatory self-defence”.

  5. Hillary
    May 18, 2012 at 18:15

    The Menachem Begin quote “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

    Ben Gurion accepting Lord Peel’s Commission recommending, in 1936, that Palestine be partitioned stated

    “Erect a Jewish State at once, even if it is not in the whole of the land [of Palestine]. The rest will come in the course of time. It must come.”

    Ariel Sharon to Winston Churchill III in 1973

    “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”

    The supremacy of Zionist Jews has become for many their new religion of dispossession and oppression of another people.

    Today’s belligerent Judaism is a curse not only for Jews and Palestinians but for the world which well may fall victim to Israeli hubris with Israeli politicians and military openly stating that if Israel goes they will take the world with them – including the United States.

    Perhaps that was/is the main reason that U.S. Administrations bow and scrape to this racist state of Israel.

    For Jews who make up 0.2% of the world’s population to act as God’s chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime of racism against humanity.

    History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of our present time is the bending of American interests to fit Israel’s strategic objectives while good people remain silent.

  6. Dr. Don
    May 18, 2012 at 17:35

    Not mentioned in this article is the crucial role of Christian Zionism in shaping public opinion in the USA. We know Netanyahu exploits it cynically but it has many fundagelicals caught up in a grand supernatural scenario they believe, yea hope, will bring Armageddon in our lifetimes. They may get their wish for a world war, but if it comes it will be at the expense of millions of innocents who have never, or ever would, believe in the vengeful g-d of hate these so-called Christians say is in control of the world. War and hate cannot be the will of believing Christians whose Christ was above all a man of peace and love, healing and feeding. For that matter as a Jewish rabbi Jesus had a lot to say about the Jewish Law and the Prophets, whose teaching he summarized as loving God with all your heart and mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself.

  7. May 18, 2012 at 14:48

    “The sovereigns of the world,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in elaboration of this theme, “must conclude a binding treaty, and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world, and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race… All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to insure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant… The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government.”

    (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 192)

  8. May 18, 2012 at 14:47

    “The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity (Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. x)

  9. incontinent reader
    May 17, 2012 at 23:09

    Charles Krauthammer is phony baloney, who doesn’t deserve a pass just because he practices wheelchair, rather than armchair, militarism and military history. No serious professional who has studied the 1967 War thinks it was anything other than provoked by Israel to break the Arabs and expand Israel’s territorial hegemony, or that what the Israelis did to the Liberty ship was anything other than a duplicitous and murderous Act of War. That it was covered up by President Johnson, Secretary McNamara and Admiral John Sidley McCain, Jr.- Senator John McCain’s pompous and hypocritical father- and by the Israeli government, who even issued a gag order on IAF pilots who later wanted to testify, was a betrayal by Israel of our trust, and a betrayal of our Government’s and the Navy’s obligation to the shipmen who were fired upon and killed or wounded in that tragedy. That a kangaroo inquest was held and justice denied, was an outrage and disgrace committed by the governments of Israel and the United States, and the U.S. Navy, and an indelible stain on the reputation of all those individually responsible, and it remains so to this day.

    • BillB
      May 18, 2012 at 12:03

      And, if there were another USS Liberty-type incident we can safely bet President Obama, secretary of war Panetta, and Senator McCain would sell the crew down the Mediterranean just as President Johnson, War Secratary McNamara and Admiral McCain did in 1967.

      • rosemerry
        May 19, 2012 at 02:38

        Don’t forget also the murder by the Israelis of captured Egyptians under cover of the attack on the Liberty.

  10. F. G. Sanford
    May 17, 2012 at 22:10

    AP News Jerusalem: Dan Shapiro, U. S. envoy to Israel told the Israel Bar Association the U.S. hopes it will not have to resort to military force. “But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available. Not just available, but it’s ready,” he said. “The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”

    Shades of Molotov and Ribbentrop, if you ask me. Sudetan Germans in peril! “Existential threats”. Indians (Palestinians) threaten “Little House on the Prairie”(illegal settlements). “Settlers” (imported Russian immigrants) threatened by “heathen” redskins…in this case, brown skinned Semites threatened by Eastern Europeans masquerading as ancestral Israelites and having the gall to call real Semites “antisemites”.

    Israel has no intention of ever making peace on the Palestinian issue. Neither did Hitler ever have any intention of making peace with Poland, Czechoslovakia or Russia.
    There’s an old “rule of thumb” about war-making. It goes something like this: “Once the logistical requirements have been met, war is inevitable”. For the U.S. To even make an official statement to the effect that war is a consideration is a violation of international law. Israel, a nuclear rogue state in violation of countless U.N. Resolutions and a non-signatory to NNPT is as intransigent as Nazi Germany was in 1939. And the whole world except for the United States and its client puppet states recognize that.

    Our way of life depends on cheap energy. There is no “green alternative” when it comes to smelting steel, air travel or international shipping. Throwing our hat in the ring with Israel is fundamentally a strategy, though flawed, to retain control over a dwindling supply of that energy. We have willingly and hypocritically abandoned the rule of law, our democratic principles and our basic sense of human decency in order to pursue that strategy. And if we can’t have that energy, we want to insure that our “enemies” can’t either.

    It took total annihilation to stop Germany. And it will take total annihilation to stop Iran, Israel or the Palestinians. If we win, victory will be transient, because we are fundamentally competing with Russia and China for the same strategic requirements. Afghanistan is a lost cause, because the real battlefield is Kashmir. Pakistan supports the Taliban because they buffer India in the Kashmir dispute. India and Pakistan both already have nuclear weapons. India is more energy-starved than China, and she relies on Iranian oil.

    Japan’s beef with U.S.A. was also the result of a strategy to deny oil resources. It took total annihilation to stop them too. Controlling oil resources or denying them to our enemies is an old story. How suicidal can we get in order to pursue this strategy? Perhaps a review of “Operation Tidal Wave” might help to recall.

    Military intervention against Iran may cripple or annihilate Iran. But all the rivalries, animosities and strategic realities will remain intact with or without a viable Iran. The strain on the American economy may once and for all curb our superpower escapades, spelling eventual annihilation for Israel. The reality is that Israel is pursuing a suicidal strategy based on religious mythology. We can let them go it alone, or jump over the cliff with them. With two aircraft carriers poised in theater, NATO resources at the ready and willing puppet states encircling Iran, the logistical requirements have been met. War seems inevitable.

    If you stuck two pegs in Charles Krauthammer’s neck, he’d look just like Frankenstein. Ask yourself. Is that the kind of guy I’d like to follow in the direction of a cliff?

    • incontinent reader
      May 17, 2012 at 23:11


    • lexy
      May 18, 2012 at 05:10

      If you believe American policy makers have a choice in matter you must be a latter day ‘Rip Van Winkle’. American Policy makers from the President on down the chain of command; all understand that you oppose Israel at your “unlimited peril”….including yes..assassination.

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