Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
ANATOMY OF TORTURE — Historian Christopher Dietrich on the 100-year-long history of American torture; Jeffrey St. Clair on the implications of giving impunity to the CIA’s torturers; Chris Floyd on how the US has exported torture to its client states around the world. David Macaray on the Paradoxes of Police Unions; Louis Proyect on Slave Rebellions in the Open Seas; Paul Krassner on the Perils of Political Cartooning; Martha Rosenberg on the dangers of Livestock Shot-up with Antibiotics; and Lee Ballinger on Elvis, Race and the Poor South. Plus: Mike Whitney on Greece and the Eurozone and JoAnn Wypijewski on Media Lies that Killed.
'Censored Voices'

Netanyahu’s False Narrative of Self-Defense

by MAJORIE COHN

On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.

The Six-Day War

The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse. Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.

But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.

Censored voices uncensored

For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.

The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.” One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”

In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense,...

CounterPunch’s Top Stories
MIKE WHITNEY
“I want to appeal to the Ukrainian people, to the mothers, the fathers, the sisters and the grandparents....
JOHN PILGER
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism,...
EVA GOLINGER
There is a coup underway in Venezuela. The pieces are all falling into place like a bad CIA...
URI AVNERY
Who is the ruler of Israel? Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, of course. WRONG. The real ruler of Israel is one Sheldon...
JOSHUA FRANK
Brian Williams, the talking hair-do at NBC Nightly News, is stepping down for a few days after reluctantly admitting he...
MIKE WHITNEY
“There’s no city left. It’s destroyed.” — Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following the battle of Debaltsevo In less than a year,...
ANDREW LEVINE
Suddenly last summer, Vladimir Putin, formerly once a decent enough Russian leader (with a few unsettling quirks), turned...
MIKE WHITNEY
“The ongoing dispute between the German and Greek governments is nothing less than a democratic revolution against German...
JOSEPH E. LOWNDES
Liberal writers have been lining up for the last month to decry American Sniper along predictable, ideologically comfortable...
Visit our archives for even more interesting articles from past CounterPunch authors.