In 1967, Israel, which had been founded on terrorism and ethnic cleansing against civilians, waged another war of aggression and absorbed more of the land specifically reserved by the United Nations for Palestinians. The highest Israeli militant leaders had, since long before Israel was established, vowed to wipe Palestine off the map by conquering all of it, and more.
As a society where speech is heavily censored by the government and military, interviews with Israeli soldiers after the ’67 war of aggression (the “six day war”) were locked away, until now, when they can be viewed to some extent in the documentary “Censored Voices”.
However, “Israel forbids the filmmakers to reveal how much they were forced to change, and the military censor’s office refused to discuss it.” The military is said to have “heavily edited” the footage.
Still, the film exhibits soldiers talking about how it was a “myth” that they cared so deeply about the territory they were conquering. A soldier says he had forgotten it (the Old City) existed until he and his fellow troops were ordered to march through and conquer it.
Another soldier reveals his belief, common in Israel, that the Arabs were “animals”, “not human beings”. Indeed, Israelis famously referred to Arabs as “monkeys” (and continue today to use racist terms to dehumanize their victims). Though this soldier does not refer to his own side as sub-human, he does admit the behavior of the Israeli army was “filthy”.
Orders from terrorists from the top of the Israeli chain of command were to “kill as many as possible” and “‘show no mercy”. Foot soldiers discuss how they didn’t think twice about murdering civilians, and chose to “kill everyone” they saw, admitting that the Israeli forces were all “murderers”.
The film delves into the Israeli army’s execution of prisoners and massacres of civilians in the process of conquering more of the land.
Prof. Norman Finkelstein, who wrote his political science doctoral dissertation at Princeton on Israel and has since studied the Israeli conquest of Palestine for decades, notes of the 1967 war that, while Israel of course whipped up existential fear in its public, US and Israeli intelligence independently determined and confirmed with each other that Egypt was not going to attack Israel, and that even if three neighboring countries all attacked Israel at the same time, Israel would “whip the Hell out of them” (Johnson administration) in seven to ten days.
Israel thus, as Zeev Maoz, former Israeli professor of military strategy, notes, waged a “war of choice”, or “deliberate Israeli aggressive design” (a terrorist operation), and fulfilled its long-time, stated goal of colonizing more legally reserved Palestinian territory, refusing through today to follow the democratic global consensus and decolonize the conquered lands.
After the war, the UN General Assembly held an emergency session, and “not one country in the world” (apart from Israel) said Israel had acted in self defense.
However, as Finkelstein notes, even if we turn history on its head and pretend 1967 was an Israeli war of defense, nothing changes. International law forbids acquisition of territory by war of any kind, and Israel would still be required to decolonize Palestine and return to its 1967 borders.
Every year, the UN General Assembly votes about 165 to 2 (the two being US/Israel, sometimes joined by a few US or Western European colonies) for Israel to decolonize Palestine and return to its June, 1967 borders. The legal necessity of Israel returning to its 1967 borders is affirmed by virtually every group in the world, including all major human rights organizations, as well as the highest court in the world, the International Court of Justice, in which all fifteen judges, including the US judge, agreed that Israel’s absorption and colonization of land through war in 1967 is illegal.
Israel is able to maintain its illegal colonial apartheid state beyond its borders only through regular acts of mass terror against Palestinian civilians (what Israel refers to in terms such as “mowing the lawn”) and US sponsorship.
(Note author has not viewed documentary, which recently premiered at Sundance. Above information about and quotes from film are from trailers, clips, and referenced NYT review, which author of the review admits was written to serve the Israeli propaganda version of the initiation of the 1967 war.)
Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry. He is a regular contributor to Washington’s Blog. Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.