Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Six heroic days

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War.

Israel won. Calling it a miracle would be belittling the achievement of the men who saved the country from annihilation and, anyway, disparaging Israel is the role of the BBC: it does it so well.

All this week it’s broadcasting a series of programmes about the war, presented by the then BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen. This is how the first programme started on Monday: ‘The myth of 1967 is that the Israeli David slew the Arab Goliath; it’s more accurate to say that there were two Goliaths in the Middle East in 1967.’

Et voilĂ ! This is how, in one sentence, you give the impression that there was no disproportion between the Israeli forces and those of the Arab countries that were preparing to crush them. But then, as an Arab commentator said yesterday, ‘I’m sure they knew very well that the Arab countries weren’t ready to attack.’

You could have fooled me. Especially since this is what Nasser said, the day after he decided to close the Straits of Tiran (which had provoked a strong reaction from Israel and was in effect the casus belli), ‘The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war.’

I was 19 years old at the time and I followed the events very closely with my parents and all our Jewish friends. We were glued to the television and the radio. We heard the crowds in Cairo and elsewhere in the Arab world shout ‘Death to Israel! Death to the Jews!’(I still have a recording of those blood-curdling cries.) There was no doubt as to their ultimate goal. As Nasser said, ‘Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight. [...] We will not accept any coexistence with Israel. [...] Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. [...] The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.’ The Iraqi president added, ‘Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map.’

The BBC called the series of programmes, ‘Six Days That Changed the Middle East’. A lot of people were hoping that the Middle East would be changed even more drastically by the destruction of Israel. Fortunately for me, and my fellow Jews, it didn’t happen that way.

Slapping the BBC (again)!

Updates (14/07/07): In case you think I’m a lone paranoid voice, please read what the journalist Melanie Phillips wrote three days ago on her website here. You see: even CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) is up in arms about the BBC’s bias against Israel.

(25/06/07): Norman Lebrecht also mentions Jeremy Bowen’s comment in his review of two books about the Six-Day War in today’s Standard.


  1. I keep having this crazy dream. Israel and its gentle neighbours decide to sit round the table and reach agreement.
    Israel gives back the West Bank and a solution is found re Jerusalem that is acceptable for all (I never remember there being any outcry about the fact that the Wailing Wall wasn't accessible to Jews before the 6 Day War).
    The Palestinians decide that they are bored with firing rockets over the border (even though the BBC don't seem to think there's anything wrong in a country having missiles fired at it every day). Everyone lives in comparative peace and harmony and cooperation, the wealthy Arab nations provide funds to develop the Palestinian state - and the President of Iran has a brain transplant.
    Alas, it's only ever a dream.

  2. I admire Israel greatly. I'll happily slap anyone who doesn't.

    I'll slap the BBC for you, but if you had the American television system, you'd change your mind about the BBC.

    (((J))) so sorry about your broken rib!

  3. Sweetie! I join TLP in hoping your rib mends quickly -- and the soreness goes away. My thoughts on Israel are confused ... but I know it must survive. xoxo

  4. Hope you are feeling a bit easier.

    Another thing about the BBC that really angered me was that there was no proper tribute to Ian Richardson.

    They could have scheduled a repeat of The House of Cards - or Private Schulz - or had a programme about him (they managed a tribute to John Inman who died not long after Ian).

    Considering all the wonderful BBC dramas he was in I was appalled at their lack of respect.

  5. This 'wiping Israel off the map' goal, that keeps coming up in the mouths of different Arab world leaders over the decades (including Ahmadinejad again the other day, see, reminds me of the comment by one of the terrorist groups after 7/7 - 'The West can never win, because you want to live and we are happy to die.' How can there ever be peace when only one side wants it? Large or small scale, this is not possible. My elderly mother's sociopath neighbour, whom I have mentioned before, has stated that he will not go to arbitration because he enjoys the conflict, that he is going to win and everyone in the street is going to lose - he is waiting for them - no, actively trying to intimidate them - into moving out, and he dances for joy when they die (I'm not exaggerating - when my father died, in 2003, he came out and said to my mother the day before the funeral 'one down; ten more to go'. It's the same in microcosm, isn't it?

  6. I too am conflicted on some of Isreal's actions. There's blame enough for both sides. And it does seem that the most bitter arguments are amount relatives. But I don't understand people (or countries) that start the argument and then cry when they loose. I don't think Isreal should have given anything back. The last time I looked at a map, California and Texas and Puerto Rico were still part of America. As for the BBC, well that kind of attitude is why Isreal exists in the firt place.

  7. LisaH, indeed no one cared that the Wailing Wall hadn’t been accessible to Jews for nearly 2000 years before the Six-Day War. I have the same dream. I fear it will never come true, though.

    TLP, Thank you for your support. It feels very lonely sometimes.

    The BBC has great programmes. I even work for it. But it has this one blind spot and I feel murderous towards it on a regular basis.

    I’m slowly getting better, thanks. It doesn’t help that I cannot take any painkillers at all. My Advice of the Day: whatever you do, always make sure your towel is within reach when you have a shower or a bath: a couple of inches too beyond it just isn't good enough.

    Thanks, M, ‘soreness’ doesn’t begin to describe what I’ve been experiencing but it’s getting less acute now.

    I cannot afford to be confused about Israel: I have family there and, anyway, I know the history. How is it going to manage to survive when the entire world is against it?

    LisaH, you’re right: there was no proper tribute to Ian R. Four years ago, BBC4 repeated Private Schulz in memory of Michael Elphick, who had recently died. I couldn’t get BBC4 so I was incredibly frustrated. By the way, do you know that there are several clips of Private Schulz available on YouTube? I had forgotten how hilarious it was. Well, I hadn’t, quite. I cannot believe the BBC has never repeated it on its ordinary channels. I’d always thought it was a question of copyright or that the family of Jack Pulman was objecting to it for some reason. No, the official reason is that the BBC felt it would offend Jewish sensibilities. I don’t remember any outcry the first time around anyway. Since when does the BBC care about offending Jews?

    Yes, L, you’ve put your finger on it. ‘How can there ever be peace when only one side wants it?’ Ask most people, though, and they will tell you they believe Israel is the ‘side’ that doesn’t want peace.

    Thanks for your support too, J. Giving back territory didn’t have the expected result. It’s quite obvious to me that there is nothing Israel can do that will bring peace: it will never be enough. We know what the surrounding Arab nations want; they’ve said it so often.

  8. Bela

    Re Private Schulz. Yes, it was a most wonderful series, Ian being especially wonderful as Neuheim and as the uncooth Glaswegian ex-con.
    There is a possibility that it might be coming out on DVD - there's been talk about a company called 2Entertain bringing it out. Again the BBC gave the reason for not releasing it on DVD because Jews would be offended.
    Well, as a Jew I'm offended - by their attitude. In fact I think it's just an excuse to get people to blame us.I've never come across any fellow Jews who didn't find it anything other than a marvellous series.

  9. That is such good news! Neuheim was a wonderful creation (I can't help chuckling at the thought). I too am offended by the BBC's hypocritical attitude. Yes, it is another way of blaming us: 'Look how touchy these people are!' The series was written by a Jew (and not a self-hating one) and if he and we are happy to laugh at the Nazis being represented as inept fools, who's to say we can't?


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