- Richard Chesnoff, Daily News - NYDailyNews.Com
Monday, June 4th 2007, 4:00 AM
Forty years ago tomorrow, Israel wielded its terrible swift sword against the attack-poised armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan - and saved the Jewish state from destruction.
It was the Six-Day War, and the fledgling state's stunning victory over enemies determined to annihilate it galvanized the world and changed the Mideast map - perhaps forever.
I was one of the handful of foreign correspondents who reached the front during that monumentally brief battle. I was in Sinai on the first day, then returned north and managed to enter Gaza just as that benighted city was falling to Israel's largely civilian tank corps. Then it was on to Jerusalem.
Like anyone who believes in the justice of Israel's existence, I was deeply relieved by its victory on June 10. I had heard the bloodthirsty Arab threats of a new Holocaust. I had seen the "Kill the Jews" posters in Gaza schools. I had seen the bunkers and mass graves that Israel had been forced to dig in expectation of invasion, if not defeat.
Yet, as we mark its 40th anniversary, it's become fashionable in some circles to rewrite the history of the Six-Day War. Radicals, so-called "humanitarians" and others who love to hate Israel now claim that what was essentially a war for survival was in fact just an excuse for Zionist imperialism. Even serious journals like Britain's The Economist say that while the war may have been necessary, it has ultimately proven "a calamity for the Jewish state."
How ridiculous! Despite the seemingly insoluble problems that have arisen over the past four decades - not the least of them, Israel's continuing rule over occupied territories and a million-plus hostile Palestinians - the war was not only necessary, it was one of Israel's finest hours.
If we are to be honest about the lessons learned, it's that many in the Mideast will never, ever stop until they can wipe Israel off the map - and therefore Israel must never succumb to naivete. Indeed, the core of Palestinians - then and now - reject the legitimacy of the Jewish state, seek its dismantlement and blame it for all Palestinian woes. What self-destruction!