How the Israeli Generals Prepared The Conquest Long Before 1967

Two days after the June 1967 war, Levy Eshkol, Labour Prime minister of Israel declared: “Israel’s very existence was hanging by a thread. But the Arab leaders’ hopes of annihilating us have been annihilated.”1 This thesis—that there was a danger that Israel and its people might disappear—was at the origin of the “preventive war” which the Jewish State had just waged against its Arab neighbours. Once Israel’s initial claim that the Egyptians attacked first had gone up in smoke, the thesis of an “existential threat” became Israel’s constant political and diplomatic argument to justify its attack.

And yet, five years later, a series of Israeli generals had vigorously and publicly denounced that claim. The first shot was fired by former assistant chief of staff, Ezer Weitzman: “The hypothesis of extermination was never envisaged in any serious meeting.” (Haaretz, 29 March 1972) Thus spoke a man who was to become president of Israel. Four days later, it…

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