One Long Atrocity
Refugees from the Six Day War try to cross the destroyed Allenby Bridge. AP Photo. On front, photos by Alex Levac
This week marks the 50th anniversary of Israel's Six-Day War, and the birth of an Occupation that Jan Egeland, a former UN undersecretary who heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, on Tuesday called “this 50-year-old festering wound." While many Israeli politicians sought to treat the war’s anniversary as a national celebration - touting the seizing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, Gaza from Egypt, and Golan Heights from Syria - the international community largely focused on the subsequent crimes those so-called victories sparked in the name of an illegal Occupation. Critics dismissed the longstanding fiction that Israel was under "existential threat" in June 1967, denounced a war of choice that was "a plan fulfilled," and insisted the "Zionist creation myth do battle with the historical record." Top U.N. human rights officials called (again) for Israel to end the Occupation, as did Bernie Sanders, and Human Rights Watch (again) accused Israel of “repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights."
Among critics of the Occupation, including in Israel, one of the most searing indictments came from Ha'aretz' Gideon Levy, who has covered the Occupation for 30 years, from his young belief in its necessity to his recovery from "the vast religious, nationalist orgy." Levy begins with the story of 15-year-old Maria Aman, who was four when an Israeli missile struck her family's new car in Gaza, killing her relatives and paralyzing her. Israelis, he notes bitterly, "were unmoved by one more missile that wiped out most of one more innocent family." And so it goes. Today, after 50 years of denial fed by schools, politicians, generals and a pliant media, "the curtain has fallen," and the Occupation's increasingly brutal reality has almost vanished from Israeli consciousness. His people, Levy laments, are no longer shocked - by the Palestinian woman who lost her newborn when soldiers at three checkpoints blocked her from a hospital, the bridegroom killed on his wedding day, the row of amputee kids in wheelchairs at a Gaza hospital where a father missing a hand and both legs tried to feed his dying son, the desperate "boys of the knives and girls of the scissors" needlessly shot to death at checkpoints, the young boy sentenced to six months in prison - a month for every stone he threw, though they hit no one - and the "one long atrocity," which, yes, goes on.
Winners and losers in 1967. Getty photo.
The daily checkpoint line. Photo by Peter Beaumont/The Guardian
The daily assault. Photo by AFP