Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Synopsis

This timely and polemical new book demolishes the received wisdom on the Israel-Palestine conflict. It provides an up-to- the-minute chronicle on Middle Eastern events, from the Intifada to the massacre in Hebron, and assesses the prospects for peace.

Excerpt

So on the fateful morning of 5 June, 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.

Abba Eban, United Nations General Assembly

Propaganda is the art of persuading others of what you do not necessarily believe yourself.

Abba Eban, in Contemporary Aphorisms

The June 1967 war marked a decisive crossroads in the history of the modern Middle East. It redefined the contours of the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the terms of its settlement. Yet, for all the importance rightly attached to the June war, it has come to be viewed as a remarkably uncomplicated affair -- indeed, as the locus classicus of a virtuous David prevailing, against all odds, over an odious Goliath.

In this essay, I want to consider the main premises that underpin the standard depiction of the June war. To do so, I will use as my foil the copious body of commentary produced by Abba Eban. Eban is Israel's most authoritative and eloquent voice on foreign affairs. in his varied capacities -- ambassador to the United States, un permanent representative, minister of foreign affairs, memoirist, lecturer, professor, elder statesman, documentarian -- Eban more than any other single individual has shaped American perceptions of the Middle East conflict.

Eban's soaring rhetoric in the spring of 1967 was arguably his finest -- or, at any rate, most influential -- hour. I will juxtapose Eban's rendering of the war's origins and aftermath against what the documentary record and scholarship reveal. My purpose is not per se to expose Eban as a liar and fraud -- an interesting but not very significant revelation, especially . . .

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