Blogs > Cliopatria > NYT neglects to mention Nasser's role in expelling the UN from the Sinai

Jun 4, 2007 12:13 am


NYT neglects to mention Nasser's role in expelling the UN from the Sinai



When you don't know history or forget it you confabulate the past. Sometimes in grand dimensions. And sometimes in smaller ones. But even small distortions tell big lies. And that's what, I regret to say, is what The New York Times has done... again.

On May 28, the Times published an obit for Indar Jit Rikhye, a former general in the Indian Army and a decorated officer in the British military during World War II, who died at 86 a week earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia. The real reason for the paper's substantial necrologue for Rikhye was that he had been for more than a decade a commander of U.N. peacekeeping forces on four continents. That's why I recognized his name. He was on the spot when the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF), which had been placed in the Sinai as a buffer between Israel and Egypt as part of the settlement of the 1956 Suez crisis, withdrew from the area on demand from Gamal Abdel Nasser who was mobilizing for war and desperately wanted UNEF out of his way. Alas, for Nasser and the whole portentous Nasserist ideology, the war turned out to be the Six Day War.

Here <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/world/asia/28rikhye.html?ex=1338004800&;amp;en=e85cdaff028cc8c2&amp;ei=5088&amp;partner=rssnyt&amp;emc=rss> 's is how the Times' obituarist, Warren Hoge, describes the situation: "(Rikhye) oversaw the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force in Gaza and the Sinai in June 1967, when it found itself in the path of the advancing Israel Defense Forces and had all its vehicles wrecked, its communications knocked out and three of its soldiers killed."

Actually, by the time the war began on June 5, all but perhaps a hundred hapless Indians in UNEF were still at headquarters. Three weeks earlier there had been 6,000 men in the Force. One UNEF base and then another were deserted until there were none. On May 14 and 15, the Canadian detachments left... on specific demand of Nasser, who seemed to have had a special peculiar for them. Around the same time, even the non-aligned Yugoslavs also left. There was frantic diplomatic activity at the U.N. in New York, Washington and other world capitals, in all of which Rikhye was a major participant. None of this appears in Hoge's "newspaper of record" account.

Please look back again to the paragraph in which I quote Hoge. Is there anything in his article that even vaguely suggests that the withdrawal of UNEF was part and parcel of Egypt's war plans? No. Is there anything to suggest that there had been an orderly, albeit cowardly desertion begun three weeks before the war and virtually completed by the time armed hostilities began? No. In fact, what Hoge and the Times do is to completely distort the narrative, as if the 1967 war was fought at Israel's initiative and the brave U.N. was caught in its offensive. "All its vehicles wrecked." What fantasy.

Believe me, this perverted reading will enter the footnotes of scholarly works. After all, the Times is the Times. And Warren Hoge is Warren Hoge or, at least, Jim Hoge's brother.

I am sure that there will be a finicky little correction in tomorrow's New York Times parsing the gross distortion into some minor blur.
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