By Michael Kramer, www.workers.org
Published Jun 11, 2007 12:25 AM
The June 1967 Arab-Israeli War resulted in a vast expansion of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine, a seizure of territory that much of the world recognizes as an illegal occupation. But it wasn’t the first illegitimate occupation.
That first occupation began with a project calling itself the State of Israel. Its armed wing is known as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). It occupied Western Palestine in 1948 and still does to this day.
The June 1967 war lasted only six days. New lands were conquered that included the rest of Palestine—Gaza and the West Bank—as well as parts of Egypt and Syria. Paramilitary youth under the direction of the IDF quickly built and occupied settlements throughout the newly occupied areas.
The IDF military victory, along with the pro-Zionist media blitz that quickly followed, encouraged the immigration of tens of thousands of settlers a year from other countries. The pop song “Jerusalem of Gold” became a worldwide recruitment anthem in Jewish communities.
Huge sums of money were transferred on a regular basis from the U.S. government to fund occupation infrastructure and ensure the economic stability of the colonial enterprise. And state-of-the-art ground, air and naval weapons systems worth billions of dollars were made available to stabilize the IDF’s expanded occupation mission.
Between 1948 and 1967 the Zionists could occupy Palestine—both rural areas and cities such as Jaffa, Haifa and the western half of Jerusalem—with occasional foot patrols, jeeps without armor and a well developed network of informants run by secret police agencies like Shin Bet and Mossad.
The Palestinians had suffered an historic defeat in 1948 and much of the population was in exile. They were an isolated people. Communications were not what they are today. The financial cost of occupation during this period was low.
Following the June 1967 occupation of parts of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula) and Syria (Golan Plateau), however, the costs quickly rose. Besides paramilitary settlements, the occupation of these areas required mobile armored units, aircraft, radar systems and offshore naval forces. Occasional infantry foot patrols were no longer enough. Large permanent bases for ground and air forces had to be built. U.S. imperialism footed the bill for the initial construction and continues to pay for maintenance.
The Egyptians confronted the occupation of their country by initiating the 1969 War of Attrition and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The cost of occupation became too high for the Zionists and by April 1982 they retreated from Egypt. The occupation of Syria continues.
In June 1982, backed by the U.S., the Zionists began an occupation of large parts of Southern Lebanon and parts of Beirut. This occupation met heroic resistance from the day it began. By May 2000 the IDF had retreated from virtually all of Lebanon and another chapter of occupation had ended.
By August 2005 the cost of occupation had grown so high in Gaza that the Zionists were forced to close down their settlements and evacuate over 7,000 settlers. While Gaza remains surrounded and under siege, not one settler remains. This was a hard-fought victory by the Palestinian resistance—and especially by the self-sacrificing youth of Palestine who have inspired militant youth worldwide.
The liberation of Arab land did not end with IDF tanks fleeing Lebanon in 2000 or Zionist settlers being moved from Gaza to other parts of Palestine in August 2005.
The real liberation for all the people of Palestine—whether they speak Arabic or Hebrew—will begin with the end of Zionist occupation in all of Palestine—including Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem and the Galilee—as well as in the Golan region of Syria and Shebaa Farms in Lebanon.
The Zionist occupation of Arab land began not in 1967 but in 1948. Any resistance against this occupation is legitimate and deserves the support of the world’s people.
Kramer served in the IDF as a youth and took part in ground operations in the Golan during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.