An amazing set of two articles, written by the journalist Burak Bekdil in the Turkish daily Hurriyet, has come to my attention. I consider them amazing because they are published in a Turkish paper, Turkey not being one of Israel’s greatest friends at the moment. It should be noted that Burak Bekdil has a history of being outspokenly neutral, in the positive sense of the word, and definitely not anti-Israel, when writing about Middle East events and politics.
Mr. Bekdil has bravely tackled the thorny issues of the legal status of Israel’s possession of Jerusalem, the Mavi Marmara and Turkey’s international relations with a clear eye and an honest mind.
His first article appeared last week, entitled A tale of two cities: Istanbul vs. Jerusalem (Part I). Here he provides a chronological backdrop to the onset of the Six Day War and explains how Jerusalem ended up in Israel’s hands. He shows no mercy to Arab hypocrisy and pretensions, which is such a refreshing change to see in the media in general, and in a Turkish newspaper in particular.
Here is an extract but I recommend you read it all in order to make any sense of the events of 1967:
– Cairo orders four divisions to the Sinai border. It also calls thousands of reserve soldiers. Finally, 40,000 soldiers, more than 300 Soviet-made tanks, artillery and personnel carriers cross into the Sinai. Arab nations cheerfully support the Egyptian build-up on the border.
– On May 22, Nasser closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, virtually a declaration of war. The move electrifies the Arab world, especially the Palestinians in East Jerusalem who had been displaced in 1948. Nasser talks about a return to the pre-1948 borders, meaning no Israel.
– U.N. Secretary General U Thant arrives in Cairo but fails to convince Nasser who tells him privately that he is afraid of a coup or assassination. The Egyptian generals want war, Nasser says.
– Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban goes to Washington, but fails to secure United States help as President Lyndon Johnson does not commit the U.S. to help if Israel is attacked.
– There is excitement and support in the Arab world for the coming war. Kuwait pledges its army to the United Command along with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal joins the coalition, and says, “We want to see the extermination of Israel.”
– On May 30 Jordan’s King Hussein flies to Cairo to sign a defense pact with Nasser. The Jordanian army will now be commanded by an Egyptian general.
– CIA tells Israel’s chief spy, Meir Amit, “We don’t plan to do anything if Israel is attacked.”
– At 7:50 a.m. on June 5, the Israeli Air Force takes off to hit every air base in Egypt simultaneously. In three hours, the Egyptian air force is totally destroyed, having lost 280 modern fighters and bombers. It takes two more hours to destroy the Syrian Air Force and minutes to destroy Jordan’s.
– Arabs dance on the streets as Radio Cairo broadcasts great victories against Israel. Israel orders total radio silence. Since Israel has destroyed Jordan’s communications lines, Jordan gets war news from Radio Cairo. In a telephone conversation, Nasser tells King Hussein that Egyptian planes are over Israeli skies. Encouraged with the (fake) news Jordan shells Israeli cities.
– The Battle for Jerusalem begins. Israel sends paratroopers to Jerusalem. In five hours, Jordanian resistance is broken.
And now comes Mr. Bekdil’s refreshingly honest viewpoint:
Let’s try to rid ourselves from the chains of religious ideology or just ideology and try to be fair. The return to the 1967 borders means a no-loss bet, an oxymoron. It’s tantamount to betting money on a game, losing it and making a scene at the bet shop to take back the money. In warfare terms, this would be similar to Greeks proposing Turkey a return to the pre-1923 borders: They attacked, they lost, and they, unlike the Arabs, have no intention to capture central Anatolia in the 21st century.
Here, the question is simple: Would the United Arabia today agree to return to the 1967 borders if their glorious eight-nation united force had succeeded to annihilate Israel four decades ago? The Arabs should be able to understand that they can always enjoy lunch in Tel Aviv, like Israel’s peaceful Arab citizens do, once they overcome their religious and ideological hatred of the “Jooos” and make peace with them.
My only question is why cannot the rest of the world see things as clearly as Mr. Bekdil? It really is not complicated, as he has shown. His viewpoint tallies with Israel’s account of these events, which are all recorded historical facts, not “optional narrative”, “hasbara” propaganda or public relations.
Part II to follow tomorrow. Stay tuned.