Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967

On the Character of the War
the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left

By Yossi Schwartz
Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)
July 2013

Preface of the Editorial Board: The following document by comrade Yossi Schwartz analyzes the character and background of the 1967 Israeli warin. He elaborates the approach of Marxists who ought to have stood for the defeat of Israel and military victory for the Arab States without, at the same time, giving any political support to the Arab regimes. In an appendix, Schwartz critically examines the position of the Israeli Socialist Organization (ISO), better known as Matzpen, regarding the Six-Day War of 1967.

This document is the author’s second contribution in a series of articles by him on the Marxist position towards Israel’s numerous wars during the course of its history. The first article of this series dealt with Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, and was published in the RCIT’s journal Revolutionary Communism in a special issue on Palestine released in June 2013. (1)

Yossi Schwartz, is an Israeli-Jewish Trotskyist and Anti-Zionist. He has been politically active since the 1960s and has always supported the Palestinian liberation struggle. He is a long-time leader of the International Socialist League which joined the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency in spring 2013, becoming it’s the RCIT’s section in Occupied Palestine/Israel.

Comrade Schwartz is particularly qualified to write the present document, not only because of his deep knowledge of Israel’s history, as well as the Marxist Weltanschauung, but also because he participated in the 1967 war as a military medic, and around the same time he became a member of Matzpen – the only existing socialist organization in Israel during the 1960s. For all these reasons, we consider the following document to be an important contribution to understand the reactionary history of Israel, and to learn from it lessons for the working class liberations struggle today. We hope that this document will lead to a discussion amongst serious revolutionary forces both in Occupied Palestine/Israel as well as internationally.

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Following the first world-wide imperialist war, the Middle East came under the rule of French and British imperialism. A generation later, at the end of WWII, while the British and French were among the formal victors, in reality they lost their empires. The real winners, US imperialism and the Soviet Union, henceforth competed in the region over spheres of influence.

For the United States, the importance of the Middle East was a question of controlling its vast oil resources, super-exploiting its Arab workers, and as a cornerstone in the overall US strategy to control the world. For the Stalinists in power in the degenerated workers’ state, influence in the region was mainly a question defending the Soviet Union by relying on local capitalist states friendly to the USSR, rather than on the working class of these states. At the same time, the Stalinist regime sought to demonstrate to the Western imperialism that its existence – as a force that blocked socialist revolutions – was in fact in the interest of the West. The Soviet bureaucracy and the local Stalinist parties in the states of the Middle East used their influence to make the working class and the peasants subservient to the friendly local bourgeoisie and to prevent any serious attempt by the workers to overthrow the existing capitalist states. This policy, known as “peaceful co-existence,” in reality only sabotaged the defense of the Soviet Union and allowed the imperialists to ultimately win the global conflict. To actually save the deformed workers’ state and undermine imperialist control in the region, a political revolution was necessary to remove the counter-revolutionary Stalinists in the USSR, Eastern Europe, China, and Cuba, thereby opening the road to authentic socialism and a true revolutionary struggle in the Middle East. As this did not happen, capitalism was eventually restored in Russia, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, and China. Today, Russia and China are themselves imperialist states.

The 1956 war (the Suez crisis) was launched by French and British imperialism, assisted by Israel, with the goal of forcibly toppling Nasser’s regime in Egypt, after the latter nationalized the Suez Canal. After the fighting, Britain, France, and Israel were forced to withdraw from Egyptian territory by the United States and the Soviet Union. Thus, this “swan’s song” of Anglo-Franco imperialism in the Middle East in fact led to the liquidation of any remnant of British and French hegemony in the region. Israel, for its part, was forced to bury Ben-Gurion’s reactionary dream of the Third Jewish Kingdom. This may have deluded the Stalinists and their followers into believing that their own policy regarding the Middle East was successful, but then came the war of 1967.

Forty six years ago, in June 1967, Israel launched attacks against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The war began on June 5 and ended by June 10, and was thus subsequently referred to by Israel and its friends as the “Six Day War.” This relatively brief conflagration, a watershed event in modern Middle Eastern history, would shape the relations between Israel and the Arab semi-colonies for years to come.

At the time, the war brought close to an additional million Palestinians, residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, under Israel’s brutal rule. Since 1967, the Palestinian population of the West Bank has grown by nearly 400% to over 2.7 million, while that of the Gaza Strip has more than quintupled (!) to over 1.7 million, meaning that together, 4.4 million Palestinians today live in the territories occupied by Israel during the 67 war. Add another 1.6 million Palestinians within Israel’s pre-67 borders, and the total Palestinian population living within what was once Mandatory Palestine is approximately 6 million, compared to 6 million Israeli Jews. Of course, this number of Palestinians does not include the additional nearly 6 million Palestinians living “around the edges” of the country, in Jordan, in Syria, and in Lebanon, refugees and their descendents from both the wars of 1948 and 1967, nor those living further afield both in the Middle East and overseas. To control the territory in which Palestinians will soon reach parity with Israeli Jews, if they have not already done so (Israeli official statistics are notorious for counting among its population Jewish Israelis who live abroad, and who have done so for years, even decades), Israel has established an apartheid regime that effectively gives total hegemony to the Zionist state, in all the territory from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea.

The 1967 war also changed the balance of power between American imperialism and the then Soviet Union, still a deformed workers’ state. Within a relatively short period after the war, the US became the sole power controlling the entire Middle East.

With her victory in the 1967 war, Israel reached the peak of her power in the region. By contrast, the years since 1967 have been years of horror and repression for the Palestinians, the Lebanese, and the Arab masses in general, manifesting itself in additional all-out wars and more limited military operations. This goes hand in hand with Israel’s need to terrorize the Arabs masses in order to deter them – workers and peasants (fellahin), the lower middle class and poor – from rising up against the imperialist super-exploitation of the region and the local pro-imperialist dictators.

Paradoxically, but only on the surface, these wars are also a means of Israel’s retaining the loyalty of its Jewish population, a loyalty based on chauvinistic ties of blood (purportedly at least), occupation and the relative privileges given to the Jewish masses in the Zionist colonial project. Israel will continue its military offensives until it is either overthrown by a socialist revolution led by the Palestinian workers, at the head of the masses as part of a regional socialist revolution, or until it is decisively defeated in a regional war. This may be sooner than the Zionist ruling class thinks. In the other barbaric wars launched by Israel following the 1967 war, she has failed. The defeat of the Israeli war machine in Gaza in 2008/09 and 2012, the hasty, middle-of-the-night retreat from Lebanon in 2000 (after 18 years of occupation), and her defeat in the 2006 war against Hezbollah (what Israelis refer to as the “Second Lebanese War”), have utterly changed the image of Israel formed in 1967. This change has been an important factor in the revolutionary Arab struggle that began in 2011.

Today, not only is Israel weaker, but American imperialism is also declining. In the Kosovo war in 1999, the United States, the sole remaining imperialist super-power led a war against the Serbians. But its occupations of Iraq ended as a defeat for US imperialism, as is soon to be the case in Afghanistan. During the military intervention in Libya in 2011, the European imperialists were subcontracted by the Americans to lead the western military intervention. Today, two-and-a-half years after the first outbreak of the Arab revolutions, the US and the European imperialists remain very reluctant to intervene militarily in Syria. It does not appear likely that they will intervene with full force any time in the near future.

The high degree of military tension between Israel and Syria in the past few weeks and months is more like the barking of sick dogs than a fight between two tigers. This tension assists Israel’s bourgeois regime in silencing the local protest movement; it also serves internally-embattled Syrian president Assad who can pretend that he is ready to go to a war against Israel to whom which he attributes the Syrian uprising.

The War of 1967

On the eve of the 1967 war, 50 left-wing bourgeois intellectuals led by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir – so popular among the centrist SWP in Britain and other middle class intellectuals (2) – declared that Israel’s actions demonstrated to the world that she only wanted peace. (3) After Israel’s victory, acting on the advice and with the full support of the USSR, these same intellectuals parroted the Zionists’ lie that they had to fight to save their state from annihilation by the Arab states. (By the way, it was this same Sartre who, during Stalin’s lifetime, would cover up the crimes of the Soviet dictator. However, being a particularly astute intellectual, Sartre was one of the first rats to abandon the sinking Soviet ship and switch masters.)

The official Israeli line maintained that Damascus forced Cairo to stand by its side when Syria provoked Israel, and it was this that led Nasser to send two divisions into Sinai in the middle of May, 1967. Two days later, Nasser demanded the withdrawal of the UN observer force (UNEF) which had been stationed in Gaza and Sharm-el-Sheikh from the end of 1956. The final straw, the casus belli, according to this Israeli version of the events, was the closing of the Straits of Tiran, a life-line, purported by Israel to be vital for her economic survival. Nasser declared that Egypt would not allow ships sailing under the Israeli flag to reach the Gulf of Aqaba, the entrance to which is via these straits and at the northern end of which lies the Israeli port of Eilat. For Israel this unilateral step by Egypt merely justified retrospectively why she so reluctantly withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, after yielding to severe threats from Washington and Moscow, in the wake of the 1956 war waged by herself and her imperialistic British and French allies against Nasser’s Egypt.

In 1965 and 1966, Nasser’s rhetoric had become increasingly anti-imperialistic, for example: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand,” he declared on March 8, 1965, “we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.” (4) As it prepared to strike, Israel used such statements to her benefit, presenting them to the world as evidence that the Arab states intended to destroy her.

When the war began, Moshe Dayan, the new Minister of Defense, told the Israeli soldiers: “We do not want to conquer, but only to prevent the Arabs from conquering us. The Arabs are many and strong, but we are a stubborn, small nation ready to fight to save ourselves.”

Israel’s Leaders Spoke the Truth – but Only after the War

What the Israeli government and the official propaganda machine did not tell the public, but admitted only after the war, was that she had provoked Syria time and again, and had decided to launch a war with the knowledge that she would be victorious within a few days.

After the war, Yitzak Rabin, the army chief of staff, said: “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew this and we knew it.” (5)
General Ezer Weitzman, commander of the Israel Air Force at the time of the war, and who would eventually become President of Israel, stated that there was actually no threat of destruction from Israel’s neighbors, but that war with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria was justified so that Israel could ”exist according the scale, spirit, and quality that she now embodies.” (6)

Menachem Begin later stated: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” (7)

One of the better-known Israeli historians, Tom Segev, has written: “Six months prior to the Six-Day War, the heads of the Mossad, Military Intelligence, and the Foreign Ministry explored the possibility of Israel occupying the West Bank. Various scenarios that might lead to such an outcome were discussed, such as the fall of King Hussein’s regime in Jordan, an Iraqi invasion of Jordan or a Palestinian uprising. At the end of the deliberations, all were in accord that the occupation of the West Bank would be contrary to Israel’s national interest. They concluded that Israel would reap nothing good from ruling over the Palestinians, only bad – including an erosion of the country’s Jewish majority and a violent uprising against the occupation… But what was dictated by sound thinking six months prior to the war was quickly forgotten that morning.” (8)

Certainly, even if Egypt and Syria had fired the first shots, the duty of working class revolutionaries would still have been to stand together with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan on the military front, while at the same time giving no political support to the rulers of these states. Revolutionaries do not judge wars by criteria of who starts them or by the political character of the regimes involved in the conflict, but rather by the class character of these states.

For the very same reason, revolutionaries would have had to stand alongside the Palestinians and the Arab states on the military front in 1948, without giving them any political support. Inasmuch as revolutionaries can put no faith in the bourgeois and petty bourgeois forces to win the struggle against imperialism, we give them no political support, nor do we call for an end to the struggle against these regimes in times of war. During a revolutionary struggle in which a local dictator is mowing down the masses with bullets, if an imperialist power were to attack this semi-colonial regime, we would argue for the revolutionary position: the masses must fight on dual military fronts, one against the imperialists the other against the regime. (9)

Why the 1967 War?

Israel’s contention that the closing of the Straits of Tiran to its shipping constituted a legitimate casus belli was no more than a red herring. The straits are located inside the territorial waters of Egypt. Inasmuch as, in 1967, Egypt and Israel were still officially in a state of war, according to international law Egypt was not obliged to allow Israel, or any other enemy for that matter, to pass through its territory.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, the Israeli government was divided about when to launch the strike. On one side, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and the National Religious Party (NRP) wanted to attack, but only after the US would commit itself to aid Israel, or at least to give it the green light. The other side in the government, supported by the IDF general staff, wanted to launch the war immediately. On the question of the Straits of Tiran, the Israeli historian Tom Segev has written that the leader of the NRP, Moshe Shapira, was opposed to initiating hostilities because of the closing of the straits to Israeli shipping. Rabin tried to persuade Shapira to change his mind. “You explain to me,” he said to Rabin, “until 1956 the straits were closed. Did this threaten the existence of Israel? No, it did not.” (10)

The immediate causes of the friction between Israel and Syria were the result of a number of factors: disputes about fishing rights in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias); Israeli incursions into the post-1948 demilitarized zone; Fatah guerrilla attacks against Israeli targets launched from Syria; and the Israel’s development of a project that diverted waters from the Jordan River. However, the long-term causes of the enmity were rooted in the very nature of the Zionist apartheid state which cannot survive without wars and expansion. Thus, the most fundamental reasons for the outbreak of the war in June, 1967 were: Israel’s decision to achieve hegemony over the entire region; her need to divert growing class tensions in Israeli society into a chauvinist war against a “common enemy”; and her goal of expanding the territory under her control which would give her access to additional markets and cheap sources of labor. Israel’s initiative in planning and winning this war is one of the keys to understanding how she became an imperialistic state.

Israel’s Zionist ruling class understands the efficacy of beating on the war drums. When the government gives the signal, most Israelis patriotically jump into uniform in a mad rush to defend the Zionist state. For it is this state that is the protector of their relative privileges compared to their Arab neighbors, and particularly when compared to the Palestinian refugees that Israel banished from their lands in 1948 and after, on which Israelis have lived ever since. Such is the nature of this settler colonialist state. Due to this inherent nature, Zionism is still able to bribe most Israelis into upholding the status quo. For this reason, the Israeli working class cannot possibly ever become the vanguard of the socialist revolution. The only way for the Israeli working class to develop an authentic, class-based political struggle is to break with Zionism and join the Palestinian revolutionary struggle. The pro-Zionist left, like the Woods-led IMT and the CWI, the latter having a local section in the Israeli Maavak Socialisti (Socialistic Struggle) movement, shamelessly tail the Jewish workers’ aristocracy. As such, they live in a world of pure fantasy when they believe that, because Israel is more economically developed than her Arab neighbors, the Israeli working class in fact constitutes the vanguard of the socialist revolution in the Middle East. (11)

In 1966, Israel entered a recession, but initially this was obscured by elections late in the year. One of the main causes of this economic downturn was West Germany’s decision, two years earlier, to reduce payments made to Israel as compensation for the crimes of the Nazi regime against Jews. Subsequently, the Israeli government, which until 1966 had undertaken much large-scale development, in part funded by these payments, stopped coming up with new projects. By 1967, the recession was visible for all to see. Not surprisingly, it began in Israel’s large construction industry, where many businesses soon went bankrupt. There was a 30% decline in investment in construction while industrial investments fell by 20%. Sharp rises in prices together with a money shortage among the working class caused the recession to deepen. An often-heard attempt at black humor was “Will the last one to leave please turn off the lights?”

During this period, the Israeli workers organized many strikes and mass demonstrations. The government, in turn, denounced workers who demanded rises in pay, while it praised a group of “patriotic” university professors who agreed to accept lower wages.

Facing a class struggle based on economic demands, the rulers of Israel decided to use the age old trick of rulers – always very successful in Israel – to prevent its exacerbation and possible transformation into a political struggle: they diverted the class struggle into a military struggle against common external enemies. Israel’s leaders also understood that winning this war would transform Israel into a major regional power, making it the most important strategic asset of the US in the Middle East. As its proponents envisioned, war would also provide Israel with other benefits: its borders would be expanded and consequently bring under Israeli control new sources of cheap labor and new markets. In fact, for twenty years following the 1967 war, until the outbreak of the first Intifada in December, of 1987, Israel constituted the workplace for large numbers of super-exploited Palestinian residents of the occupied territories. However, when the Intifada unexpectedly erupted with the participation of Palestinian workers, the Zionist capitalists switched gears and began importing into to the country migrant workers from Eastern Europe and the Far East, to replace the vast majority of Palestinian workers.

Alone in the War?

Israel wanted to go to war, but not alone. US president Lyndon B. Johnson had already moved the US Sixth Fleet into the eastern Mediterranean. On May 23, while declaring an embargo on the shipment of arms to the area, Johnson secretly authorized the air shipment of important spare parts, ammunition, bomb fuses, and armored personnel carriers to Israel. (12) The first major US arms agreement with Israel was signed in 1966. It involved A-4 Skyhawk fighter jets and Sherman tanks, and was worth more than all other US arms supplied to Israel since 1948.

The Eshkol government also tried to secure France’s support. On May 24, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Aba Eban, arrived at the Elysee Palace where he was received by President Charles de Gaulle who told Eban: ”Ne faites pas la guerre!” (Do not go to war!), and warned him that Israel must not be the first side to shoot. On that same day, at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Prime Minister Harold Wilson invited Eban to attend a cabinet meeting. The position of the British government was that it would be prepared to act to open the Straits if there were an agreement with other nations to do so, but advised Israel not to act alone.

Eban’s next stop was Washington on May 27. He had a telegram with him from Prime Minister Eshkol informing the US government that the Arab states intended to attack Israel immediately. The information Dean Rusk had from US intelligence sources was that there were no signs that the Arab states wanted to launch an offensive. In the meeting with Johnson, the US President, who did not want to be involved in two wars at the same time, in Vietnam and in the Middle East, told Eban “Israel should get the other maritime powers on its side. Any participation of the USA will need the approval of Congress. We do not believe that the Arabs are about to attack Israel, and if they do you will win within seven days. You are not in danger.” After Eban left, Johnson turned to advisor Walt Rostow and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and told them, “I have failed. They are going to go to war.”

In the report of his recent trips, Eban told the Israeli cabinet that President Johnson had promised that the US would take all the necessary measures to open the Straits of Tiran. This however, was not true. Prime Minister Eshkol even sent a letter of gratitude to Johnson for this promise. Washington replied that the US government had made no such promise. Eshkol hesitated. Even Ben-Gurion advised him not to launch a war without the support of the imperialist powers.

“Ben-Gurion thought that the crisis with Egypt was the result of the erroneous, even unbalanced judgment on the part of Eshkol. In November 1966, Eshkol ordered the attack on Samoa, a village in Jordan, in retaliation for an incursion by guerillas who entered Israel from this village. Ben-Gurion was very critical of the escalation with Syria after Israel sent 80 warplanes to sonic-boom Damascus.” (13)

Ben-Gurion was even angry with General Rabin and lashed out at him saying: ”You have brought the state to a most dangerous situation, and you are to be blamed for it.”

Rabin, as is known, later had a nervous breakdown because he knew that Ben-Gurion may have been right. However, some of Israel’s generals, including Ariel Sharon, who was for launching the war without delay, were planning a military coup to replace Eshkol, whose hesitation grew after he received a message from Kosygin, the President of the USSR, who urged him not to go to war. Clearly, the President of the Soviet Union was trying to prevent the war at the last minute, once it had become clear that Israel intended to go to war.

On May 30, Meir Amit, the head of Mossad, visited McNamara after a visit to the head of the CIA, Richard Helms. From Helms he learned that the US would not send an armada to open the Straits. He told McNamara the Secretary of Defense that ”We want three things from you. One, that you refill our arsenal after the war. Two, that you help us in the United Nations. Three, that you isolate the Russians in the area.” McNamara replied, ”I hear you loud and clear.” He then asked how long it would take Israel to defeat the Egyptians. Amit replied, ”One week.” Amit added, “I am going home to recommend that we launch the war.” In his report to the President, McNamara informed him that the Israelis were going to attack. No one was surprised, as everyone knew that McNamara was in favor of Israel striking first.

This was the green light that the Israeli government had been waiting for. On June 5th, 1967 the war began. After the start of the war, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to return to its pre-war borders, and Johnson refused to criticize Israel for starting the war.

It is possible that the US was more involved in the war than it admitted. The historian Stephen Green has written that pilots of the US Air Force’s 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew RF-4Cs with the white Star of David and Israeli Air Force tail numbers over bombed air bases in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in order to take pictures for the Israelis. He contends that they flew 8 to 10 such missions a day during the course of the war. When the air power of Israel’s enemies was destroyed, the RF-4C missions were changed to tracking the movement of Arab troops so that the Israelis could bomb them the next morning. In the end, none of these missions proved decisive in the war. However, the Arabs did accuse the United States of providing tactical air support, which apparently was untrue. In response, President Johnson declared publicly that the US had provided no assistance of any kind to Israel. (14) Green’s principal source claims to have participated in these operations.

The So-Called Miracle

With its Blitzkrieg victory, the Israeli government claimed that a miracle had occurred. Like all kinds of miracles, this one was a fake. A strong and modern capitalist state on its way to becoming an imperialist power destroyed the weaker Arab armies of semi-colonialist states within six days. Israel had already won the war on the first day when it destroyed the Egyptian Air Force.
Early in the morning of June 5, 200 Israeli jets attacked the Egyptian air fields in Sinai and destroyed the country’s entire air force. Within three days, the Israeli army defeated the armies of Egypt and Jordan and had captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The rest of the war was only a question how far and wide Israel would expand before international pressure forced them to halt their advance.

On June 8, Egypt, having lost the Sinai to Israel, accepted the UN-proposed cease-fire. Syria accepted it the following day. Regardless, Israel launched an additional offensive and conquered the Golan Heights.

On June 8, yet an additional myth was created by the state of Israel and its friends. On that day, Israeli war planes and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering ship, while on a surveillance mission off the shores of El Arish in the Sinai Peninsula. Thirty-four Americans died and 171 were injured. Israel claimed that it mistook the Liberty for an enemy vessel. All US governments have since backed up this story. In 1999, a National Security Agency report from 1981 was released claiming that ”the tragedy resulted not only from Israeli miscalculation but also from faulty US communications practices.” Since July 2003, this report has been available on the website of the National Security Agency (NSA) Website.

However, this ”conclusion” has been disputed. In 1976, James Ennes, a survivor of the attack on the Liberty, argued in his book Assault on the Liberty that Israel was actually planning a surprise attack on Syria and was worried about the interference of the United States. The bombing of the Liberty was an attempt to disrupt the ability of the US to gather intelligence about the plan. This argument was presented in the History Channel production “Cover Up: Attack on the USS Liberty” originally aired in 2001. Another writer, James Bamford, in his book Body of Secrets (2000), argued that Israel attacked the ship because it was worried that the Liberty would learn of the killing of hundreds of Egyptian POWs by the Israeli army that had taken place nearby. (Ret.) Admiral Thomas Moorer, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a leader in the effort to expose the cover-ups of the attack, stated in a press conference on October 22, 2003 that Israel planned to sink the ship and then implicate Egypt, thereby pushing the US to fight on the side of Israel.

At the same press conference, Capt. Ward Boston, a retired Navy lawyer and counsel to the Court of Inquiry in the Navy’s investigation into the case, released a statement in which he declared: ”I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of mistaken identity.” Boston also said that officials in the White House at that time had ordered investigators to conclude that “the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity.’”

Boston also said that he was told by Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who served as president of the Court of Inquiry, that he had been forced to find that the attack was unintentional. (15)

Is it possible that Israel would intentionally attack a ship of its closest ally? The history of the State of Israel has its precedents. In 1954, Israel clandestinely carried out terrorist attacks on Egyptian, British, and American institutes in Cairo. Ever since, these events are dubbed in Israel ”the bad business” or the “Lavon Affair.” (Lavon was Israel’s Minister of Defense at the time.) Israel’s aim was to embroil Egypt and the US in a conflict. The group responsible for the attacks was apprehended after a small explosive device went off prematurely in the pocket of one its members trying to carry out a bombing mission in a movie theater.

The Arab Perspective on the War of 1967

On the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War, Danny Rubinstein, an Israeli journalist for Haaretz, published an article entitled “A 40-year journey to a low point” which describes how the average person in the Arab world perceives the 1967 War:

”For more than a week now, the most popular Arabic television station, Al Jazeera, has been broadcasting man-in-the-street interviews in various places around the Arab world to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War. People say the Arab defeat was caused by the impotence of the Arab rulers. They speak in generalizations, without mentioning the name of any particular ruler. For most of the speakers the war is associated with the president of Egypt at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Interviewees in Cairo say the problem was that Nasser was surrounded by unreliable people, including the Arab rulers, his partners in the war.” (16)

According to the Haaretz article, Palestinians tend to deny the applicability of the term ”war” for the events of June, 1967: ”’On the very first day at 10am everything was over. Is that a war?’ asked one shopkeeper in Gaza. Then he gave an example: ’Suppose the Israeli government decides today for the tanks of the Israel Defense Forces to retreat immediately from their positions in the West Bank, and they start moving toward Israel. How much time will that take them? At least two weeks. So how is it possible that they occupied the whole West Bank in three or four days?”

Rubinstein infers a conspiracy: “Traitorous Arab leaders collaborated with Israel and helped it gain control of the territories. Many of the Palestinians who say this are referring to King Hussein of Jordan. They don’t explicitly mention his name, but they hint that the Jordanian regime was and remains a secret ally of Israel, and it conspires with Israel.”

It is not difficult to understand this belief on the part of many Palestinians that the Arab states were defeated so easily due to sinister conspiracies. However, while, in fact, many conspiracies are hatched in our world, history is not driven by conspiracies, but rather by economic, social, and political factors. As Marx and Engels have written, the engine of history is class struggle. Therefore, the only way to defeat the imperialist system is by being victorious in a revolutionary class struggle fought by the most consistently exploited layers of the working class, led by a revolutionary party.

After the War

Israel and her supporters pompously claimed the war as an astounding victory: once again, the small David had defeated the mighty Goliath. In fact, this was a reactionary and expansionist war of aggression, initiated by Israel with the blessings of US imperialism. It derailed the class struggle in Israel and strengthened the most reactionary sections of Israeli society. It led to the eventual creation of the reactionary, fanatical settler movement Gush Emunim with a messianic agenda which would henceforth lobby for and implement settlement in the territories captured by Israel during the war. The war also set in motion developments that would culminate in the elections of 1977, which brought Menachem Begin to power (1977), paving the way for the eventual premiership of the butcher, Ariel Sharon. (2001).

The war of 1967 had nothing to do with the claims of the Israeli ruling class that they were fighting for the survival of the Jews. Rather, it had everything to do with the drive of these elites to destroy the relatively progressive bourgeois-bonapartist regime of Nasser, which enjoyed close relations with the USSR; the economic crisis in Israeli; and Israel’s goal of becoming the ”strategic asset of the West” in the Middle East.

For Egypt, the war would topple Nasserism (Nasser, himself, died at the age of 52, in 1970) and replace it with the reactionary regime of Sadat, who was followed by Mubarak. These regimes turned Egypt into a bastion of reaction in the region.

The Six-Day War would also open the road to the 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War) and further the control of US imperialism over the region. However, the laws of dialectics teach us that every reactionary period, such as the one we lived through in this region for many years, eventually creates a movement in the opposite direction. This could already be clearly seen with the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan that led to serious defeats for US imperialism. The revolutionary tide continued in the Arab revolution of the entire region.

Israel has never been as isolated as she is today. Growing numbers of trade unions and unorganized workers around the world understand that Israel is no different than South Africa and is an enemy of the international working class. Israel still has a strong war machine but it has been defeated time and again. In 2000, after 18 years of brutal occupation of Lebanon, it had to escape like a thief in the dark from Lebanon. It was defeated by Hezbollah in 2006. It was defeated in Gaza twice, once in 2008/09 and the other time in 2012.

Today many Israelis feel alienated from the corrupt state apparatus and the capitalist tycoons it serves. However they are helpless and know that they cannot break, by themselves, the chains that keep them shackled to the Zionist state. In the past, Israel was a golden cage for the better off Jewish Israelis, whose average yearly income was approximately the same as that of the US. However, those days are gone. The economic inequality in the Israel is worse than in Mexico, and the number of the citizens of Israel living under the poverty level is growing. While a higher proportion of officially-poor come from among the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the ultra orthodox, the Haredim, the cycle of poverty is engulfing others as well. (17) The cage remains, but its golden plating has worn off, for all Israelis to see. This change in living and working conditions will force sections of the most exploited Jewish Israeli working class down the road of struggle until they come to a crossroads at which they will have to decide: either join the Palestinian revolutionary struggle or carry on living to fill the pockets of the tycoons and to be cannon fodder, with far fewer benefits than in the past.

Israel and the Imperialists today

Forty-six years after the 1967 War, the prime minister of Israel and his cronies would love to have been part of a larger alliance in a new war against Syria and Iran. This is nothing new; it has been so for years. From his perspective, Netanyahu would ideally cut a deal with Syria thereby isolating Iran. However, under current conditions, such reactionary daydreams are no more than pie-in-the-sky. (18)

Israel’s elites may fantasize about pulling off a lightning victory like that of the 1967 war. But, in their hearts, they know that this time a war against Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas will end very differently. The ruling class of Israel cannot rely on help from pro-imperialist Arab regimes such as Egypt, whether led by the now defunct counter-revolutionary regime of the Moslem Brotherhood under Morsi, or the new interim government set up by the Egyptian army on July 3rd 2013 with Adli Mansour at its head. (19) The opposition of the Egyptian masses is too strong. Similarly, Israel cannot rely on the US imperialists, who are seeking now to end the revolutionary struggle in Syria by a so called American-Russian ”peace plan,” that still refuses to get off the ground. (20)

A Zionist website named ”Tablet” reflects the awareness in Israel that it cannot rely on the US: “Kerry’s efforts to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the Assad regime and its opponents, will obviously come to nothing. Being an experienced politician, Kerry may even have some inkling that his plans have no connection to reality. The reality in which he moves is too grim to present as the public face of American diplomacy: President Barack Obama is not obviously prepared to invest his own prestige in an Israel-Palestinian peace process that is doomed to fail. Nor is Obama any more inclined now than he was two years ago, when the Syrian uprising began, to throw his weight behind any policy that will actually bring about Assad’s fall. Under the circumstances, Kerry’s love of theater may actually be the least bad option for a man with the misfortune to have his lifelong ambition for higher office gratified at exactly the wrong time”. (21)

If Israel were able to go to a war against Syria or Iran, it would have done so long ago. Israel still possesses a mighty war machine, but it can no longer use it as it did in 1967, because of its fear of the Arab masses who no longer fear Israel.

On the situation for Israel today in relation to Syria, we can learn from New York Times that writes: “Analysts on Wednesday dismissed the possibility of Israel’s establishing a new buffer zone on the Syrian side of the line, and not just because doing so would be seen as a major incursion into Syrian territory.
Two rivers that are close to the line in the southern Golan Heights create geographical challenges, they said, and in other areas there are several key Syrian Army positions.

“A buffer zone doesn’t work there,” said Ehud Ya’ari, an Israel-based fellow for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “If you would try to create a buffer zone, it immediately gets you into proximity and friction with main Syrian military forces and camps.”

Another idea being discussed here is Israel’s establishing a sort of proxy force inside Syria, by arming or otherwise supporting residents of villages close to the cease-fire line, perhaps led by the Druze, a minority sect in Syria that also has some 20,000 members living in Israeli-controlled territory…

For Israel, deeper involvement in the Syrian conflict could lead to an unwanted result: hastening the fall of the Assad government, leaving areas close to the cease-fire line in the hands of radical jihadist groups.
It could also have dire diplomatic consequences for Israel’s complicated relationship with Russia. …” (22)

The decline of Israel and its increasing isolation is part of the overall decline and decaying of the imperialist order. This period is characterized by growing mass struggles against the capitalist classes who continually try to force the workers and the masses to pay for the capitalist economic crisis. This gives the revolutionary Communists the opening to build a revolutionary International, the Fifth International with sections in Palestine and the Arab world. (23)

An important part in the struggle against the class enemy is the struggle to expose the role of reformist and the centrists as an impediment to socialist revolution. This of course cannot be done by simply denouncing the mis-leadership of these tendencies, but by utilizing the Leninist tactic of a united front aiming at mobilizing the workers and the masses. Only in the midst of a real struggle will the revolutionary masses understand the role of these tendencies. If reformists and centrists agree to a united front, this will be a positive development, as it will advance the struggle. If their leadership will refuse to mobilize their followers, this will expose them.

As we see in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie forces, whether secular or religious, cannot solve the crisis of the capitalist system. Only a socialist revolution led by the working class will complete the heroic Arab revolution that began with the democratic demands for bread and democracy. Unlike 1967, Israel is much weaker and so are the other imperialists. We can change the world and transform it to be a place with work, education, and health for the workers and the oppressed; a planet without imperialist robbery and unending imperialist wars. But, as Lenin said many years ago, for humanity to survive, capitalism and imperialism must die.

* * *

Appendix: The War of 1967 and the Israeli Left
by Yossi Schwartz

Between 1948 and 1967, the left throughout the world did not pay much attention to the questions of Palestine and Israel. For this reason, it is no simple task to locate any documents related to the positions taken by various left wing organizations in with regard to the 1967 war. However, we do have a statement by the Israeli Socialist Organization (ISO), better known by the name of its journal, Matzpen, called The Third Round and published in June 1967. (24)

At that time, the ISO was the most radical left wing organization in Israel, bringing together as it did all the secular anti-Zionist tendencies including the centrist United Secretariat of the Fourth International led by Ernest Mandel. In the following chapters we will outline a number of fundamental criticisms of the ISO’s policy because it failed to defend the Arab states in the war against Israel in 1967. However we repeat what we already stated in another document: “Irrespective of these political failures we appreciate the important role which Matzpen played in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the only, pre-dominantly-Jewish, Anti-Zionist organization in Israel. They stood against the stream in words and deeds. Revolutionaries in Israel today can build on their courage and achievements and at the same time overcome their political weakness.” (25)

Erroneous Characterization of the Post-War Period

From its very beginning, this statement was wrong as it characterized the 1950s as a period of victories for the working class, a period that witnessed the ostensible socialist revolutions of the peasants, in the Stalinist-led revolution of 1949 in China and the petty bourgeoisie guerrilla-led revolution in Cuba in 1959. The ISO wrote:

“… The fifties was a period of victories for socialism, for the world forces of progress and for the anti-colonialist revolution. In China, the revolution became well established; in Indo-China, the socialist forces defeated French colonialism; in Cuba, a socialist revolution took place. Anti-imperialist forces came to power in many countries in Asia and Africa, and the direct presence of the colonial powers was considerably reduced in these continents. The forces of imperialism were retreating…”

In fact, the 1950s was a period of great contradictions. On the one hand, it was a period during which a number of working class movements that rose up towards the end of WWII were either defeated by imperialist forces (Greece, for example) and their servants or were blocked by the Stalinists (in Eastern Europe) and the Social Democrats (in Western Europe). Another reactionary development was the creation of the Israeli state and the expulsion of the Palestinian people in 1948. In some places, the imperialists were unable to defeat the mass uprisings and the result were revolutions in China, Vietnam, and Cuba that led to the creation of deformed workers states; states in which the local bourgeoisie was eliminated as a ruling class and fled the respective countries. While the economic foundations following these revolutions were essentially that of workers’ economies, these states must be characterized as workers states. However, the counter-revolutionary regimes that took control in these countries (thus the deformed nature of the states) were, in fact, an impediment that had to be removed in order to move to authentic socialism. Without a political revolution of the working class, such states would only, inevitably revert to capitalism, as history has shown. (26)

The ISO was right when it wrote that:
”… As a part of its global offensive, American imperialism tried to bring about the overthrow of the regime in Syria… The Western powers fortified their neo-colonialist positions in the Third World; American imperialism became a “world gendarme”; in many countries reactionary coups d’etat took place – inspired, instigated and financed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency – which succeeded in overthrowing anti-imperialist governments…”

The ISO’s position was also correct when it realized that the Stalinists policy of ”peaceful coexistence” assisted the imperialists and that Israel, together with Jordan and Saudi Arabia, had become bastion of the imperialists.

Understanding Israel’s Military Provocations

The ISO also indicated that it was Israel that had provoked Syria:
”… After the Israeli-Syrian talks on the cultivation of the disputed plots had failed (largely because of Israel’s intransigence), Israel took unilateral action and began to cultivate the disputed plots. The tension on the border readied a climax. On April 7, Israel took a military step whose scale went far beyond the previous clashes and caused a considerable escalation of the conflict: Israeli planes penetrated into Syria, bombed the Syrian Heights and reached the outskirts of Damascus; air battles were fought in the skies of Syria… ”

In its analysis, the ISO also correctly wrote:
”It is clear that the United States was interested in weakening Nasser, because of his prestige in the Third World and particularly because of the situation in the southern Arabian peninsula. It must also be pointed out that the Americans – unlike their Soviet rivals – do not stick so rigidly to the rules of the coexistence game. They are not frightened by every military conflict and do not subscribe to the mistaken views that every such conflict leads straight into nuclear conflict…

… Following the steps taken by Nasser, the most extreme pro-war elements in Israel were strengthened. Begin and Dayan were co-opted into the Cabinet – the latter in the key position of Minister of Defense. It should be stressed that Moshe Dayan had lately also become an outstanding representative of the pro-American line in Israel; this fact became especially clear when he visited Vietnam as the guest of the Americans, who also paid -for his trip…… From all that has been said here, it follows that the consequences of the June 1967 war, regarded from the point of view of their global significance, join the list of successes of the general offensive waged by American imperialism in the international arena…”

Failing to Side with the Arab Peoples

Based on all this information, any truly revolutionary Marxist organization should have sided with the Arab states against Israel which was in the service of imperialism. However, this was beyond the ability of the ISO. Instead, they continued to walk the same path of the Tony Cliff group in Palestine before the founding of Israel. (27) To avoid taking an authentically revolutionary position, the ISO mechanically separated the external, international factors and the internal, regional factors. Whereas, from an international perspective according to the ISO’s scheme, the 1967 war was an imperialist war, internally they contended that it was an “historical conflict between Zionism and the Arab national movement. These local and national aspects complicated and obscured the general picture.”

To justify its failure to adopt a position of revolutionary defensism for Arab states, backing them militarily while at the same time giving them no political support, and a position of revolutionary defeatism for imperialist-backed Israel, the ISO gives the lame excuse that Egypt has not undergone a socialist revolution:

”The first factor that should be mentioned – and which to a large extent determined the outcome of the campaign – is the nature of Egypt’s regime. The Egyptian revolution, though it had been a progressive phenomenon in its time, halted in mid-course and did not assume a socialist character. The group of officers ruling Egypt did carry out various important economic and social reforms, but the regime nevertheless remained petit bourgeois; it failed to organize the masses and to involve them in political life. …Even the attempts to set up a mass party (the Socialist Union) as a groundwork for the regime were no more than bureaucratic abortive experiments and ended in utter failure. The mainstay of Egypt’s regime is the Army, together with a new bureaucratic stratum which took root after the coup d’etat. The old ruling classes were not shattered but remained in the Army and state apparatus. ”

While all of this is correct, rather than provide the ISO a fig-leaf to hide behind, they simply point out to the reasons Egypt was weaker than Israel. For its part, the latter could easily mobilize Israeli Jews against the Arabs, as the Israelis are by and large intensely loyal to the Zionist state which they see as the protector of their relative privileges as settler colonialists. However, these facts do not change a thing with regard to the question of Marxist defense of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan against Israel in the 1967 war. As Lenin and Trotsky wrote many times, the interest of the working class in a war is to defend the colonies and semi–colonies, regardless of their regime, against imperialism. Egypt, Syria and Jordan were semi–colonies in 1967, while Israel was a tool of imperialism.

Right of National Self-Determination for Israel?

Behind ISO’s refusal to take a revolutionary Marxist position regarding the war of 1967, something else was being hidden: this organization’s defense of the national right of the Zionist oppressors. As it is always the case with middle class leftist such as Matzpen, under the seemingly progressive banner of the right to self-determination for all nations, the ISO defended this right for imperialist oppressor nations rather than exclusively forming an alliance with the working class and oppressed nations. To forge such an alliance, revolutionary conscious workers must defend the right of self-determination only for oppressed nations in their struggle against imperialist powers. Contrary to this, the ISO explicitly wrote:

”In a statement we had published in the beginning of May (before the Middle East crisis became acute), we made the following criticism of the position of nationalist Arab leaders: ‘The solution of the Palestine problem must not only redress the wrong done to the Palestinian Arabs, but also insure the national future of the Hebrew masses. These masses were brought to Palestine by Zionism – but they are not responsible for the deeds of Zionism. The attempts to penalize the Israeli masses for the sins of Zionism cannot solve the Palestinian problem but only bring about new misfortunes.’”

No Marxist wants to punish the Israelis, and it is true that we cannot blame the Israeli masses for the crimes of their rulers and their state. However, anyone who supports the right of the national self-determination of the Israelis, demands from the Palestinians – the direct victims of Zionist oppression – to pay the price.

While Matzpen opposed Zionism, it defended the existence of a separate Jewish state on Arab lands. This becomes also clear from another statement of the ISO: “As for Israel, here, a socialist revolution is needed radically to change the character of this state, transforming it from a Zionist state – an instrument for furthering Zionist colonization, a natural ally of imperialism – into a socialist state representing the true interests of the Israeli masses, a state oriented toward the surrounding region and both willing and capable to integrate itself in it.” (28)

As we have already stated repeatedly, Marxists do not support the right to self-determination for all nations. They support such a right only for oppressed nations. Lenin, who fully developed the communist understanding of the program of national liberation, was absolutely clear about this. He explained that the right to national self-determination is a programmatic consequence of the oppression of one nation by another:

“That is why the focal point in the Social-Democratic programme must be that division of nations into oppressor and oppressed which forms the essence of imperialism, and is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky. This division is not significant from the angle of bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism. It is from this division that our definition of the “right of nations to self-determination” must follow, a definition that is consistently democratic, revolutionary, and in accord with the general task of the immediate struggle for socialism.” (29)

This is particularly true for the right to national self-determination of Israeli Jews. The right of national self-determination implies naturally the right of separation to form an independent state. But any continued existence of an Israeli-Jewish state on Palestinian land constitutes a denial for millions of Palestinian refugees – who constitute the majority of the Palestinian people – to return in their homeland. It would furthermore continue the massive economic and social discrimination of the Palestinian people since Israel is – thanks to the long-term massive support by Western imperialism – economically much more advanced. (30)

The ISO’s Failure to Consistently Oppose Zionism

Further on, in their statement, the ISO writes: ”In the same [earlier] statement we also said: ‘It should be understood that the Israeli masses will not be liberated from the influence of Zionism and will not struggle against it unless the progressive forces in the Arab world present them with a prospect of coexistence without national oppression.’”

Of course an internationalist message of Arab revolutionaries that guarantees the Israeli masses a common life without national oppression can change the equation, but capitulation to Zionism by promising the Israelis a state at the expense of the Palestinians is not an internationalist message, but rather a pro-Zionist message. For Matzpen, the main questions was not how to win over a section of the most oppressed and exploited of Jewish workers to the socialist revolution, a road that can only be taken by joining a Palestinian socialist revolutionary against national oppression, but instead how to fully integrate Israel, as a Zionist state, in the region. This position is clear when we read the following:

”Essentially, the Israeli-Arab problem is not confined to the questions of the refugees, or of the borders or of the political future of the Palestinian Arabs. These are only several aspects and manifestations of the central problem: the future of Israel in a predominantly Arab region. The question is whether Israel will become a second edition of the crusader’s [sic] state or will successfully be integrated in the region and in the historical processes that will determine the fate of this region. ”

The problem here is that Israel, as a settler colonialist society, is precisely analogous to the Crusaders. Nearly 90 years after the arrival of the Crusaders in Palestine, Salah A-Din was able to unite Muslims, Chrisitians, and Jews in a war against the Crusade. This unity was not founded on a wing of the Crusaders who argued for the integration of their Kingdom of Jerusalem in the region. It came as a unity in struggle against the Crusaders.

The consequence of the ISO’s failure to consistently oppose Zionism was that it promised to support only those forces that supported Israel’s right to exist, in other words, they demanded the acceptance of Zionism by Arab forces as a pre-condition to side with them.

“While recognizing the unconditional right of the conquered to resist occupation, we can support only such organizations which, in addition to resisting occupation, also recognize the right of the Israeli people for self-determination. On such a basis die struggle of the Palestinian people can become combined in a joint struggle of Arabs and Jews in the region for a common future.” (31)

It is therefore only logical that the ISO could not consistently break with Zionism and call for the military defeat of Israel in its wars and for the military victory of the Arab states.

The Fiction of the Two-States Solution

True, the ISO understood what is wrong with the concept of two states:
”Another suggestion being aired is the creation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of an Arab state under Israeli protection. In practice this would mean the annexation of these territories to Israel without giving their inhabitants civil rights and without rehabilitating the refugees of the 1948 war in Israel Such a protectorate would be like the Bantustans planned by the government of South Africa for the black-skinned inhabitants of that country. It is clear that the Palestinian Arabs will not accept such a political fate; and the creation of this kind of Bantustan will also be an imposed solution sure to backfire on its authors. ”

Some circles in Israel who are usually considered progressive have become enamored of a variation of the same plan. They speak about granting self-determination to the Palestinian Arabs, who will establish an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This state is to have federal ties with Israel We warn: Despite the good intentions of some of those who support this formula, in the present situation its realization would be a negative step. The very notion of self-determination and free choice under present conditions can be nothing but a fiction, a pure mockery.

”Considering the international significance of the June 1967 war, considering our opposition in principle to the Zionist policy of imposing faits accomplis on the Arabs, and out of concern for Israel’s fate in the Arab world – we think it is the duty of the Israeli Government to withdraw from all the occupied territories and from the attempt to impose a settlement by force. This demand is the test for every progressive group and person.

It should be made clear that we are under no illusion that withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines and agreements will, in itself, constitute a solution to the Palestine problem and Israeli-Arab relations. It is only a necessary step, without which no progress can be made, toward a genuine solution.

As for the longer term, we hold today – as we have before – that the only real and stable solution for the Palestine problem and the Israeli-Arab conflict is Israel’s withdrawal from the Zionist path and the integration of a socialist, non-Zionist Israel in the region. The socialist revolution, under the leadership of the workers, is also the only way to Arab national unification and to ending the Balkanization imposed by imperialism on the Arab world.”

While, of course, it was correct to demand the withdrawal of Israel from the lands occupied in 1967, the very notion of the integration of Israel as a settler colonialist state in the region shows how little the ISO understood what a state is. Zionism is not simply a racist ideology that the ruling class can peel off. A state is an instrument of domination of the ruling class. For the Israeli workers to be integrated in the region, it is necessary to join the Palestinians and to overthrow the Zionist state that in the meantime has become an imperialist state, and replace it with a Palestinian state from the river to the sea. This state will be a multi-national, revolutionary workers state run democratically by Palestinian, Jewish, and migrant workers and supported by the fallahim, covering the entire territory of what was once Mandatory Palestine.


(1) Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013.

(2) See e.g. Rebecca Pitt: Jean-Paul Sartre — Philosophy of Freedom, in: Socialist Worker, Issue No. 1955, 11 Jun 2005.

(3) See e.g. Sartre Completes Visit in Israel; Finds Strong Desire for Peace, March 30, 1967; DER SPIEGEL: Salem oder Schalom. Intellektuelle / Israel-Konflikt, No. 28/1967, 03.07.1967.

(4) Sachar, Howard, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1979) p. 616.

(5) Le Monde, February 28, 1968, quoted in Stop de Bezetting van Palestina: The 1967 War and the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

(6) Quoted in Noam Chomsky: Fateful Triangle, Updated Edition: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, Pluto Press, London 1999, p. 192.

(7) Address by Prime Minister Begin at the National Defense College, 8 August 1982, Yemima Rosenthal: Israel’s Foreign Policy – Historical Documents Volume 8: 1982-1984, Jerusalem, Israel State Archives, 1995.

(8) Tom Segev: What was forgotten that morning, Haaretz, June 5, 2007.

(9) For a detailed exposition of the Marxist approach to imperialist wars we refer readers to chapters 12 and 13 in the recently published RCIT book by Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism. (for details see

(10) Segev, Tom, 1967: Israel, the War and the Year That Transformed the Middle East, Metropolitan Books 2006, p. 261.

(11) For a critique of the CWI and the IMT see Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, pp. 26-28 as well as in our book The Great Robbery of the South, pp. 353-357.

(12) Cheryl A. Rubenberg, Israel and the American National Interest: A Critical Examination, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1986 , p. 113.

(13) Michael Bar-Zohar: Ben Gurion: a biography. New York: Adama Books, 1986, p. 1588.

(14) Stephen Green, Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, Brattleboro, Vt.: Amana Books, 1988, pp. 204-11.

(15) For a detailed exposé of this event see USS Liberty Veterans Association: A Report: War Crimes Committed Against U.S. Military Personnel, June 8, 1967, Submitted to the Secretary of the Army in his capacity as Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense, June 8, 2005.

(16) Danny Rubinstein: A 40-year journey to a low point, Haaretz, June 4, 2007.

(17) See on this Yossi Schwartz: What is the meaning of the Zionist’s Offensive against the Haredi Jews? Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine), 25.3.2013.

(18) On the Zionist provocations against Syria see the RCIT-Statement: Israel: Hands Off Lebanon and Syria!, 6.5.2013, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 11, June 2013; on a possible imperialist attack against Iran see the statement of the RKOB (Austrian section of the RCIT): Defend Iran against the U.S., EU and Israel warmongers! 9.11.2011, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 2, January 2012.

(19) On the RCIT’S analysis and tactics on the military’s coup d’état in Egypt see RCIT: Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance! 8.7.2013; Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance. Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d’état and the failure of the Egypt left, 11.7.2013; Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d’État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics. A reply to the criticism of the WIVP and the LCC on the meaning of the Military’s Coup d’État and the slogan of the Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, 17.7.2013; RCIT: Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt, 2.7.2013. All these documents are published in Revolutionary Communism, No. 12, July/August 2013.

(20) On the RCIT’s analysis of the Syrian Revolution and its inner contradictions see some of our recent articles: Yossi Schwartz: Class struggle and religious sectarianism in Syria, 12.6.2013; Yossi Schwartz: Syria: After the defeat in Qusayr and ahead of the Battle for Aleppo, 11.6.2013; ISL-Leaflet: Victory to the Revolution in Syria! in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 11, June 2013; Yossi Schwartz: Victory to the Revolution in Syria! The second anniversary of the uprising in Syria, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 8, April 2013, 15.3.2013.

(21) Lee Smith: John Kerry’s Silly Play, May 22, 2013.

(22) New York Times: Israel Finding Itself Drawn Into Syria’s Turmoil, May 22, 2013.

(23) For the RCIT’s actual assessment of the world situation see The World Situation and the Tasks of the Bolshevik-Communists (March 2013). Theses of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, March 2013, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 8, April 2013.

(24) Israeli Socialist Organization: The Third Round, July 5, 1967, Matzpen, No.36, June-July 1967. All quotes in this appendix are from this ISO document if not stated otherwise.

(25) Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, p. 38.

(26) For an overview and analysis of the Stalinist-bureaucratic social transformations in Eastern Europe, China and Cuba we refer to two books: one from the League for a Revolutionary Communist International / Workers Power (Britain): The Degenerated Revolution. The Origin and Nature of the Stalinist States (1982); the other publication is a forthcoming book from the RCIT written by Michael Pröbsting: Cuba: A Revolution Betrayed and Sold Out. How Castroism led the Cuban working class from Capitalism to Stalinism and back. What are the tasks of the socialist revolution?

(27) See Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, in particular the second half of the document on pp. 10-20.

(28) Israeli Socialist Organization: General Declaration by the ISO, March 22, 1968.

(29) V. I. Lenin: The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, in: LCW 21, p. 409.

(30) See on this the chapters “Can Marxists support the right of national self-determination for the Israeli Jews?” and “The Marxist classics and the right of national self-determination” in Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, pp. 26-28.

(31) Israeli Socialist Organization: General Declaration by the ISO, March 22, 1968.

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