Will Ahmadinejad Eventually Suffer Same Fate As Did Nasser On June 5th, 1967?
Not a week passes without Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatening 'to wipe Israel off the map'. His latest diatribe came shortly before the June 5th anniversary of the Six Day War, when the Israel Defense Forces broke the stranglehold of massed Arab armies that threatened to annihilate the Jewish state in 1967. On June 5th forty-one years later, Isracast poses the question - is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad destined to suffer the same fate as Gamal Abdel Nasser?
On Israel's Independence Day of 1967, Egyptian president, Gamal Nasser, starts massing his army in Sinai, again threatening Israel. The charismatic Nasser inflames the Arab world with his fiery rhetoric.
[Nasser in Arabic]Translation: If the Jews want war, welcome. Radio Cairo takes its cue, "Nasser, Nasser, we are behind you. We'll slaughter and burn the Jews." [Singing in Arabic of this statement - then translation in Hebrew]
And so, the Arabs set the stage for how Israel acquires territory. Sinai again, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Israel mobilizes her reserves with call-up codes broadcast on the Voice of Israel. [Codes heard in Hebrew] "Love of Zion"; "Stage-lights"; "Last of the Just", and so on. And while Israel goes on a war footing, Jews around the world rally to defend the Jewish State, once again in danger.
[Crowd heard in background] Jewish Supporters: ".if we are called upon, we are prepared to don uniforms tomorrow. Time was when Jews took upon themselves an oath, they raised their right arms and they said, and you say it with me, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten". Repeat after me, raise your right hands, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning, and may God be with us and with Israel."...All Jews, regardless of movement even if they don't belong, and many Jews that never even thought of Israel, have never had any contact with Yiddishkeit, and they're coming forward. They're volunteering money, they're sending their children, which a month ago would never have had happened, they've given their children the okay to come here. ...I am not frightened. I have sort of taken on some of the feeling of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Nasser ups the ante by closing the Straits of Tiran in violation of international agreements, backed by the UN.
President Lyndon Johnson: The United States considers the Gulf to be an international waterway and feels that a blockade of Israel's shipping is illegal and potentially disastrous to the cause of peace.
That was U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. And then, there was British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson: It is of the view of Her Majesty's government in the United Kingdom that the Straits of Tiran must be regarded as an international waterway through which the vessels of all nations have a rite of passage.
But the international guarantees prove worthless. Israel is left high and dry when it comes to opening the Straits of Tiran. The UN pulls out and the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi armies join the Egyptian forces on Israel's border. But then, newly appointed Defense Minister Moshe Dayan talks about time being out of joint.
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan: It's too late and too early. Too late to react right away on the blockading of the Straits of Eilat (Tiran) and too early to draw any conclusions of the diplomatic management or way of handling the matter.
But enough was enough. The IDF was ordered to break the Arab stranglehold. Here's General Ariel Sharon's orders to his forces in the South to smash the Egyptian tanks and troops which were poised to attack Israel from Sinai.
[Voice of PM Sharon in Hebrew]Translation by David Essing: Forty B, this is Forty. Move forward, move forward at full speed and destroy everything on the way. Over. This is Forty B replying, roger and out.
Syria steps up its shelling of Galilee from the Golan Heights. The Israeli towns and villages below were at the mercy of the Syrian gunners on the Golan plateau, which overlooks much of northern Israel. Meanwhile, Jordanian forces on the West Bank bombard Israeli civilians in Jerusalem. In the famous, or infamous telephone call, Egypt's President Nasser tries to pull a fast one with Jordan's King Hussein.
[V.O. in Arabic] V.O. Translation: By God, I say that I will make an announcement and you will make an announcement and we will see to it that the Syrians will make an announcement that American and British airplanes are taking part against us from aircraft carriers. We will issue an announcement, we will stress the matter and we will drive the point home. V.O.: Good, said King Hussein. V.O.: A thousand thanks. Don't give up. We are with you with all our hearts and we are flying our planes over Israel today. Our planes are striking at Israel's airfields since morning.
However, IDF Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, tells a different story altogether.
Rabin: Tonight we are in Romany, Bir Gafgafa and near the Mitla. Our troops now occupying Sharm el Sheik and the Strait is open. The bulk of the Egyptian army, in the Sinai, is in totally disorder but it doesn't mean that there are not still battles going there. They are attempting to withdraw behind the Canal zone. Practically all the West Bank of Jordan which was once Palestine, is in our hands.
And Palestinians in East Jerusalem had their hopes dashed, according to a foreign correspondent stationed there.
Foreign Correspondent: They were quite happy about everything to begin with, you know, they were jumping around and saying, we're going to be in Tel Aviv by tonight or by tomorrow night, and they were listening to the radio and getting a lot of propaganda over it, and the first night they thought they'd shot down 100 planes, 100 Israeli planes. Anyway, by yesterday afternoon they were looking pretty sad and the people in the hotel where we were, were just on the verge of tears, some of them. Then when the Israeli troops started coming down the streets, and they saw them out of the windows, they gave orders to one of the small boys there to go around all the rooms, the main rooms, taking down the pictures of Hussein and Abdul Nasser. And they took all the. They didn't put anything up in its place, but they took these pictures down and tore them up and then chucked them into the trash can. And then about, oh, about half an hour later the fellow in charge of the hotel came into our room and sort of looked around and he was on the verge of tears again and he said, "All these Arab kings, they're bad."
For the IDF troops who had waited for weeks to face the massed Arab threat, the six-day victory was a tremendous release of tension. [IDF soldiers cheering]
But Chief of Staff Rabin says, despite the Arab threat to throw the Jews into the sea, the IDF had fought the war without hatred.
Rabin: We did not fight as the Arabs did, with a feeling of hatred in our hearts, and a will to destroy indiscriminately. We fought with a positive aim of preserving the existence of this country and its people and with a sincere longing for the ultimate aim: peace in our time.
And at the UN, then as now, things have not changed that much. Foreign Minister, Abba Eban had to make Israel's case for winning the war.
Abba Eban: What Nasser had predicted, what he had worked for with such undeflecting purpose had come to pass, the noose was tightly drawn. And so on the fateful morning of June the fifth, when Egyptian forces moved by air and land against Israel's western coast and southern territory, our country's choice was plain.
The choice was to live, or perish. To defend the national existence or to forfeit it for all time. Neither seeking nor receiving help, our nation rose in self defense. So long as men cherish freedom, so long as small states strive for the dignity of survival, the exploits of Israel's defense forces on that day will be told from one generation to another with the deepest pride.
Today again, the Soviet Union has described our resistance as aggression and has sought to have it condemned. There is no international, there is no accurate foundation for this assertion. We reject it with all our might. Here was armed force employed in a just and righteous defensive cause, as righteous as the defense of freedom at Valley Forge, as just as the expulsion of Hitler's bombers from the British skies, as noble as the protection of Stalingrad against the Nazi hordes. So was the defense of Israel's security and existence against those who sought our nation's extinction.