How the New York Times Brainwashed America into Believing that the Arabs Struck First in the 1967 Six Day War


            After Dag Hammarsjkold, the second Secretary General of the United Nations, was killed in an airplane crash in Zambia, a manuscript called Markings was found and published as his memoirs.  On October 18, 1964 the entire front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, Section 7, was devoted to Henry P. Van Dusen’s review of Hammarskjold’s book.  Van Dusen was once president of Union Theological Seminary.  Hammarskjold, who was unmarried and had no children, was known to have struggled deeply with the question of life’s purpose and fashioned a persona for himself as an “international civil servant,” a person with an allegiance to all of humanity, transcending narrow national and personal interests.


            Hammarsjkold was succeeded as Secretary General by U Thant, Burma’s (now Myanmar) permanent representative to the United Nations.  Thant, the first non-European to hold the post, was chosen partially because he was a representative of one of the few countries emerging from colonialism that accepted the creation of Israel.


            Thant served as Secretary General from 1961 to 1971, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the American-Vietnam War, the Six Day War, the invasions of the Dominican Republic and Czechoslovakia, two wars between India and Pakistan along with the continuing conflict in the Congo that took Hammarskjold’s life.


            Immediately after stepping down as Secretary General, he wrote his memoirs, View from the UN.  Thant planned to write a biography of his own life but died of lung cancer in 1974 before the task was completed.  View from the UN was published in 1978, but the New York Times did not even bother to review it.


            The major controversy surrounding U Thant’s conduct in the lead up to the Six Day War concerned his agreement to remove the UN peacekeeping troops that had been, since the 1956 Suez War, stationed along border between Israel and Egypt.  Thant was roundly criticized in the aftermath of the war for agreeing to their removal.  Thant explained that Egypt is a sovereign country and UN troops are only permitted to be stationed with the agreement of the host country, otherwise the UN troops are an invading force. 


            Thant further explained that Israel had never permitted peacekeeping troops on its territory, so all the peacekeeping troops between Israel and Egypt were on the Egyptian side of the border.  After President Nasser asked for the removal of the troops, Thant asked Israel if he could move the troop to the Israeli side of the border.  Israel said no.  Then, in the aftermath of the war, Israel criticized Thant for agreeing to remove the peacekeeping troops, in an attempt to place blame for the conflict on the Secretary General.


            Whatever the reason for Nasser’s request for the troops’ removal, Israel knew that Nasser had no intention of waging war because Egypt’s crack troops were fighting in Yemen. The Six Day War was an Israeli war of choice that it sought and long planned for.  It struck first and seized Jerusalem and the West Bank, long term strategic goals.  In View from the UN, Thant does not even deign to refute Israel’s claims of being threatened.  Thant simply states flat out that Israel was the aggressor, documents the extent to which Israel thwarted a peaceful negotiated solution, and delineates the myriad misrepresentations of Israel intentions for the future of the conquered territories and Jerusalem.


            One especially galling issue for Thant was the world wide campaign for the “freedom” for Soviet Jewry to immigrate to Israel while there was no international pressure to resolve the plight of the Palestinian refugees that resulted from the 1948 War for Independence and especially the Six Day War.


            U Thant was a Buddhist who brought a third world sensitivity to the post of Secretary General.  The New York Times, with its Zionist owners and publishers, suppressed the truth about the Six Day War by refusing to review U Thant’s memoirs.  View from the UN is a really excellent book.  In it, Thant gives his real opinions of leaders like Moise Tshombe, who he claimed was incapable to telling the truth, and Lyndon Johnson who he said had a juvenile approach to foreign policy.


            For people mystified by the wave of “terrorism” emerging from the Middle East, View from the UN, provides a perfectly reasonable explanation.  The United Nations, created allegedly for the purpose of world peace, in almost its first act created a situation that has resulted in more than sixty years of conflict in the Middle East.  In the aftermath of the Six Day War, as Israel continued to deliberately flout UN resolutions concerning Jerusalem and the occupied territories of the West Bank, U Thant became so disheartened that he said during a speech to the Navy League at the Waldorf Astoria on October 28, 1969, “We may be witnessing in the Middle East something like the early stages of a new Hundred Years’ War.” (p. 328) Now, almost 47 years later, U Thant proves to be at least half right.


            The New York Times refusal to review U Thant’s book amounts to nothing more than censorship from a newspaper that styles itself as America’s “newspaper of record.”  The result is that people are mystified by the behavior of the Arabs, as if they were aliens from another planet who behave in bizarre and incomprehensible ways.  The real story is that because the United States thinks of itself as exceptional, as the last best hope of mankind, there must necessarily be many unexceptional benighted people who need to be led to freedom by the military and economic might of the United States.  American exceptionalism blinds its policymakers to the essential humanity and rationality of its enemies, resulting in policies like pre-emption invasions and then torture and massacre.  Then, we’re surprised when people fly planes into our buildings and carry out suicide attacks on European cities. 


            And just to show that the Times refusal to review Thant’s book was no aberration, the 94 word review in the other American newspaper of record, the Washington Post, was written by Anthony Astrachan.  When Mr. Astrachan was the head of the Post’s Moscow Bureau, he was one of the first western correspondents to report aggressively on the dissident movement. The newspaper Trud denounced him for worsening relations with the United States and called for his expulsion.  Astrachan left Russia before any action could be taken.  He became the Post’s United Nations correspondent in 1971, at the end of Thant’s tenure.  Here is his review of View from the UN:


U Thant’s memoirs are a 508-page footnote to history. His 10 years as Secretary General of the United Nations included such international events as the U.N.

 intervention in the Congo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the war in Vietnam, the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic, two wars between India and Pakistan,

the 1967 war in the Middle East, the Nigerian civil war, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Peking occupation of the seat at the United Nations. The reader

will learn nothing of importance and little of interest from this book. [Author’s personal opinion is that Astrachan never read the book before writing the review.]


            When it comes to the Middle East and support for Israel, the United States is acting against its own stated ideals as a nation. It is this hypocrisy, this support for Israeli aggression and support for Israel’s retention and theft of the fruits of that aggression that is the cause of the conflict in the Middle East.  The creation of a Palestinian state is an obligation of the international community through the United Nations that was concomitant with the creation of Israel.  Support for Israel’s insistence on a veto power over the location, nature and composition of this state is the same as telling generations of refugees that they have no future, and have no freedom and are not going to get any self-respect.  What alternative have the Israelis left them but to become suicide bombers and terrorists.  Injustice, not irrationality, is the cause of human conflict.


            The United States had human slavery for centuries and then blatant discrimination for centuries more.  Slavery was never right, but it still took hundreds of years to get rid of it and the damage from that injustice endures even today.  Just because Israel has gotten away with keeping the fruits of its aggression for half a century does not make it right or permanent.


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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf