by the stormy present
Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 10:32:16 AM EST
The TV is full of old video today. They are marking the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Over and over, we're seeing old battle footage, and over and over we hear Nasser's booming voice.
It can get a bit over-the-top; Al Jazeera English has been doing live reports from various cities and borders all day, panning from their correspondents over to the horizon as if they expect to see Arab and Israeli tanks still fighting it out over there. At one point, they said something like this: "We'll be right back with more of our ongoing coverage of the 1967 War."
As if it were a live event. As if it were still happening.
Well, in a way, it never stopped happening. The Arab world has never really gotten over it.
One of my friends, who was a young girl in 1967, was describing to me today the shock and humiliation that the whole nation felt at losing so much territory in five days, and the lingering effects of that loss that are apparent even today.
Arabs call the Six-Day War "the June War," or just naksa, which means "setback." And it was, a tremendous one, but not just for the military. In many ways, it set back Arab society, or froze it and stagnated it. Or opened the door to its freezing and stagnation.
A newspaper columnist, Abdullah Iskander in Al-Hayat, this morning wrote that the military loss had been used as an excuse by Arab regimes to justify despotism and authoritarianism, and choking off Arab civil society.
"Forty years ago," he wrote, "our options were a military regime or a pluralistic, democratic one. Now, the options have become a despotic ruler, fundamentalism, or civil wars."
I won't write much more. I'll just share this blog post, which the writer posted this time last year.
I remember the sounds of planes going over our heads. My brother and I crawl under the bed but the sounds are still loud.
At night we are sent to sleep in the neighbor's basement. We don't understand why, but we think it is great fun. It was the only sleep over I ever had as a kid.
Then we march.