Khairi Abaza in The Daily Star (Lebanon)
As the current situation in Palestine worsens, let Arabs not forget their past. Events that are portrayed as victories by Arab politicians are not always victories for the Arab people. Last month, the Arab world remembered one of its greatest defeats of the 20th century: the June 1967 war, which marked the end of the hope to wipe out Israel and the loss of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights.
Despite the memory of those losses, Arab media, from Al-Jazeera to Dubai TV, still tried to find an honorable excuse for the Egyptian president in 1967, Gamal Abdel-Nasser. This same distorted logic has been applied to movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, whose defeats are often transformed into victories. No independent commission has ever assessed any of Abdel-Nasser's, Hamas', or Hizbullah's declarations of victory. The Arab people must dig for the truth in the statements and behavior of these leaders or groups. We have allowed politics in the Arab world to be defined by slogans, not results. Our judgment of leaders can only be truly determined by what they do not just what they say.
Arabs will not progress before they face the truth about their own history. In memorializing the 1967 defeat, Arab media organized numerous talk shows, documentaries, and interviews. But none clearly defined who was responsible for the Arab loss.
Instead, the media tried to remind us how Abdel-Nasser gave Arabs a voice and pride. They failed to remind us that because of his bluff and provocation, in June 1967 Israel was able to win a devastating war. They failed to remind us how Abdel-Nasser encouraged King Hussein of Jordan to take part in the war only hours after he knew that Egypt had been defeated - providing Israel with a reason to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And they never mentioned that in 1970 Abdel-Nasser was considering accepting the Rogers Plan for a peace settlement with Israel, with terms less favorable than the Camp David agreement later signed by his successor, Anwar Sadat. Instead, Arab media tended to stress that it was Abdel-Nasser who had planned the October 1973 war, which took place three years after his death, removing all credit from Sadat, who had truly led the battle.