Historical Myth Justifies Golan Heights Occupation

Israeli, Syrian and United States negotiators have recently been meeting to work out an agreement by which Israel will return to Syria the Golan Heights, a portion of territory seized by Israeli forces in 1967.

According to Israeli diplomatic sources and Israeli newspaper reports (early January 2000), the Jewish state's price for the turnover is $20 billion in additional United States military and civilian aid. Much of this aid is to be in the form of sophisticated military equipment, including the Tomahawk cruise missile. (So far Britain is the only foreign country to receive this powerful weapon, which has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers.) Israel is also asking for funding for further weapons systems development, and to offset the cost of resettling 18,000 Jews who have been living on the Heights.

For three decades Israel has cited vital security concerns to justify its seizure of the Golan Heights. Israelis have claimed that from 1948 to June 1967, Syrian military forces repeatedly used the Heights to shell Jewish settlements and installations below. These artillery bombardments, in the widely accepted Israeli and American view, justified Israel's conquest of the Heights in 1967, and its occupation ever since.

Actually, Israel's seizure and occupation of this territory is based on a historical lie. This was frankly acknowledged by Israel General and cabinet minister Moshe Dayan in an interview given in 1976, but which was not made public until April 1997. Dayan, who died in 1981, was a key organizer of Israel's victory in the June 1967 Israel-Arab war.

"I made a mistake in allowing the [Israeli] conquest of the Golan Heights,” he said, “As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.” The seizure went ahead, he added, not because Israel was threatened, but in response to pressure from Jews who coveted Syrian land, and from army commanders in northern Israel. “Of course [war with Syria] was not necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is not policy. You don't open aggression against an enemy because he's a bastard but because he's a threat.”

"At least 80 percent” of the border clashes over nearly two decades associated with the Syrian shellings were initiated by Israel, Dayan continued. “We would send a tractor to plow some [disputed] area … and we knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was.”

"So,” a Washington Post columnist recently summed up, “on the authority of what you could call an impeachable source, the situation is very different from what is commonly portrayed. Israel, with an appetite for land, for political profit and for strategic depth, was in the Golan instance — not in all instances — an aggressor, not the victim of aggression.” (S. Rosenfeld, “Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record,” The Washington Post, Dec. 24, 1999.

Now, it appears, American taxpayers are once again being called upon to generously reward the Zionist regime for aggression and occupation based on a historical lie.