‘Comment is Free’ contributor claims 1967 Six Day War was act of Israeli aggression

Raja Shehadeh is a Palestinian Arab who’s the former director of the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, a radical group which has characterized Palestinian terror attacks as legitimate “resistance” and is currently being led by Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist group.


The Guardian posted a video on Oct. 9, 2012 of an interview with Shehadeh in which he casually suggested that Israel’s goal was to ethnically cleans Palestinians, so his latest “analysis” on Palestinians’ views about yesterday’s Israeli election, ‘Israel’s elections mean little to most Palestinians – with good reason‘, ‘Comment is Free’, Jan. 23, should come as no surprise.

Shehadeh didn’t waste any time contextualizing what he characterized as Palestinian indifference to the particular results of the Israeli election by evoking the political parallel of disenfranchised blacks under South African apartheid, and soon pivoted to the following additional fiction:

“Since the beginning of the occupation more than 44 years ago, no Israeli government has indicated willingness to accept that its status is that of an occupier of territory acquired through a belligerent war, and consequently been willing to withdraw from these areas and hand them over either to the surrounding Arab states or to a newly created sovereign, independent Palestinian state.”

The idea that Israel acquired territory in June 1967 though a “belligerent war” is a gross historical lie.

The Six Day War was instigated by Arab leaders who explicitly stated that their aim was nothing less than the annihilation of Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol did everything possible to avoid a military confrontation with the much larger Arab forces.

In the weeks leading up to the war, Egypt’s President Nasser had ejected UN peace keeping forces from Sinai and Gaza, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, and contributed the bulk of forces to a combined Arab army – much of which was amassed along Israel’s porous borders – consisting of 500,000 troops, more than 5,000 tanks, and almost 1,000 fighter planes.  Threatening rhetoric coming from Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad included the following by Nasser on May 27 and 28, 1967:

“Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight . . . The mining of Sharm el Sheikh is a confrontation with Israel. Adopting this measure obligates us to be ready to embark on a general war with Israel.”

“We will not accept any … coexistence with Israel. … Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel …. The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”

Additionally, while the Soviets had begun supplying the Arabs with arms in the build-up to the war, France, Israel’s major arms supplier, had issued a complete ban on weapons sales to the Jewish state.

Israel – which, in 1967, wasn’t in control of one inch of Arab territory – was facing total isolation, and the realistic prospect of complete annihilation, when the IDF launched a successful strike on the Egyptian Air Force on the morning of  June 5, ‘officially’ beginning a war which would result in a swift Israeli victory and the acquisition of Gaza and the Sinai, from Egypt, and the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan.

Further, contrary to the duplicitous claims made by Shehadeh, in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s victory, Arab leaders, much to the surprise of Israeli leaders, maintained their belligerence and refused to enter into direct peace talks with the Jewish state.  Instead, at a meeting of the Arab League in Khartoum in September, they pledged to continue their struggle against Israel, and insisted on no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition.

Israel would subsequently withdraw from the Sinai, in the context of a peace treaty with Egypt, and leave Gaza unilaterally.  

However, Israeli offers to withdraw from nearly all of the remaining territory held since ’67, and offer statehood (within geographically contiguous boundaries) to Palestinian Arabs – who were never offered sovereignty under Egyptian and Jordanian rule – would be rebuffed by Yasser Arafat in 2000.  The Palestinian President responded to the peace offer by initiating a bloody terror war which would last over four years and claim over a thousand Israeli lives.  (Interestingly, in 2002 Shehadeh characterized Arafat as “admirable” for not having “betrayed” his people by accepting the Israeli peace offer.)

Another offer of Palestinian statehood, which included the equivalent (with land swaps) of 100% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, was rejected by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

Palestinians, like Arab leaders in ’67, have continued to say no to peace and recognition of the Jewish state.

While Guardian reporters and ‘CiF’ contributors are free to be as hostile to Israel’s existence as they wish, allowing such pro-Palestinian activists the right to engage in such polemical malice, and egregious misrepresentations of history, by characterizing the Six Day War as a Zionist ‘war of aggression’ more befits a Palestine Solidarity Campaign propaganda flyer than the virtual pages of a “serious” newspaper.

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Guardian interviewee casually suggests Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians

The Guardian posted a video on Oct. 9 of a recent interview with a Palestinian Arab named Raja Shehadeh.  (The video post was edited and produced by the Guardian’s  and ).

Here’s the Guardian’s brief introduction.

“Palestinian writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh talks about his experience of growing up in the West Bank. Shehadeh discusses the day-to-day hardships of living under Israeli occupation and reflects on episodes from his journal Occupation Diaries.”

On video, Shehadeh displays a calm, reserved, and ‘contemplative’ nature.

However, as we learn from a Guardian review of his book on Aug. 4, the placid facade hides a man embittered by “…the Israeli occupation, the illegal settlements that dot his beloved Palestinian landscape… and the failure of Israel‘s allies and donors to prevent the discrimination against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.”

(Shehadeh is also the former director of Al-Haq, a radical Palestinian NGO which characterizes Palestinian terror activities as legitimate “resistance” and is currently led by Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the murderous PFLP terrorist group.)

Most of the Guardian video interview shows Shehadeh lamenting over the wonderful life he, and his fellow Palestinian Arabs, lost after “the Israeli occupation”.  (The author is evidently referring to the period of time prior to June 1967, when the land – named ‘Palestina‘ by the Romans in the year 135 – had been in the hands of Jordan, 1949-1967, the British, 1923-1948, the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, for four hundreds years prior to 1923, etc.)

While most of Shehadeh’s selective history of the region is not noteworthy, at around the 3:00 mark of the video he makes the following claim about Israeli intentions.

“One of the most important objectives of the occupation is to empty the land of Palestinians.”

The charge of “ethnic cleansing” to characterize Israeli policy is nearly a banality at ‘Comment is Free’, but the ubiquitous nature of such a patently false allegation doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.

The facts are actually quite simple: The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1948 to 2.38 million in 2005. In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1948 to 1.37 million during that same period.

Regarding Jerusalem, the Muslim population of the city increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased only by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 t0 480,000.

Shehadeh’s belief that Israel is attempting to “empty the land of Palestinians” – like most political articles of faith – is not based on evidence.

Alternately, it would be fair to cheekily observe that if Israelis have been trying to expel the Arab population from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, they’ve certainly been doing a bloody awful job at it.