This week marks the 50th Anniversary of the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, fought from 5-10 June 1967. Israel’s decisive victory included the capture of east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories – the West Bank and Gaza – as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai. The end of the war marked the beginning of what has become a 50-year military occupation of the West Bank. In Ten Myths About Israel, Ilan Pappe describes ‘The June 1967 War Was a War of “No Choice”’ as a core myth of Israel.
“The legal recognition of the 1948 Nakbah as an act of ethnic cleansing would pave the way for some form of restitutive justice.”
To commemorate Nakba Day on May 15, we present an excerpt from Ilan Pappe’s new book Ten Myths About Israel. Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the radical Israeli historian examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel, including the myth that the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948.
I have been a political activist for most of my adult life. In all these years, I have believed deeply that the unbearable and unacceptable reality of Israel and Palestine could only be changed from within. This is why I have been ceaselessly devoted to persuading Jewish society—to which I belong and into which I was born—that its basic policy in the land was wrong and disastrous. As for so many others, the options for me were clear: I could either join politics from above, or counter it from below.
I began by joining the Labor Party in the 1980s, and then the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), when I declined an offer to join the Knesset. At the same time, I focused my energies on working alongside others within educational and peace NGOs, even chairing two such institutions: the left Zionist Institute for Peace Studies in Givat Haviva, and the non-Zionist Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies. In both circles, veteran and younger colleagues alike sought to create constructive dialogue with our compatriots, in the hope of influencing present policy for future reconciliation. It was mainly a campaign of information about crimes and atrocities committed by Israel since 1948, and a plea for a future based on equal human and civil rights.