Arabs blame problems on 1967 war defeat
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD Associated Press Writer
Article Last Updated: 06/05/2007 11:01:58 AM MDT
Arab league's representatives pay a minute of silence Tuesday, June 5, 2007,... (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
CAIRO, EgyptForty years after Israel's stunning victory over three Arab armies, the defeat still lingers in the Arab worldso much so, some blame it for everything from a lack of democracy in the region to the rise of religious extremism.
On June 5, 1967, Israeli warplanes destroyed 400 aircraft belonging to Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraqmost of them sitting on airport tarmacs. Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, Syria gave up the Golan Heights, and Jordan relinquished the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Trying to minimize the defeat, Arabs have long called the Six Day War the "naksa," or "setback," but its impact remains a deep wound.
Egyptian columnist Wael Abdel Fattah wrote in the independent weekly Al-Fagr newspaper that Arabs blame the defeat for "everything"from "price hikes, dictatorship, religious extremism, sectarian strife, even sexual impotence."
"A military defeat, that could have been limited, has been transformed to an overall defeat, represented by regimes ... and societies that fear change," Syrian writer Bakr Sedqi said in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.
Jordanian columnist Faisal al Ref'ou said the defeat has fueled a cycle of violence all over the region.
"Our Arab nation didn't learn from the history lesson," he wrote in Al Rai, Jordan's largest newspaper. "We're still at square one. We still have the spear in our abdomen in Gaza, Baghdad, Darfur, and Mogadishu. And our executioners are the samethey hand us the knives and we stab ourselves."
Many stress that nothing has been resolved for the Palestinians.
"The Palestinian circumstances ... are the worst since the Israeli planes attacked Arab airports," Palestinian columnist Rasem al-Madhoun wrote recently in Al-Hayat.
There have been small steps between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979. Jordan signed a treaty in 1994.
More recently, Saudi Arabia has reintroduced a land-for-peace plan. While Israel has welcomed the plan as a good starting point, it objects to key provisions such as pulling back to the pre-1967 borders and taking in millions of Palestinian refugees.
Yet, with or without peace treaties, the majority of Arabs still consider Israel as the arch enemy, and protests against Israel regularly draw huge crowds in Arab and Muslim nations.
"The 1967 war didn't bring just occupation and misery to the Palestinians, but it also brought insecurity to Israelis," wrote Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. "Israel will never be secure or comfortable because it is an occupation state."