On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.
The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse.
Against the State: An ... Best Price: $4.73 Buy New $9.35 (as of 11:10 EDT - Details) Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.
But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.
For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.
The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even Wartime: Understanding... Best Price: $0.99 Buy New $8.90 (as of 04:20 EDT - Details) think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.”
Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.”
One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”
In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense, even though Israel invariably attacks first, and kills overwhelming numbers of Palestinians – mostly civilians. Each time, many fewer Israelis are killed by Palestinian rockets.
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