Six Day War - History

Six Day War  - History

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Israel made aviation history when its airforce struck early on the morning of June 5th. Israel's preemtive strike eliminated the Egytain airforce. Soon after it struck the Jordainian, Syrian and Iraqi air forces. In the first hours of the war Israel acheived total air superiority. A total of 393 Arab planes were destroyed on the ground. Israel's air to air superiority was assured by the training of its pilots and the performance of its French built Mirage aircraft.

Yom Kippur War

On October 6, 1973, hoping to win back territory lost to Israel during the third Arab-Israeli war, in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Taking the Israeli Defense Forces by surprise, Egyptian troops swept deep into the Sinai Peninsula, while Syria struggled to throw occupying Israeli troops out of the Golan Heights. Israel counterattacked and recaptured the Golan Heights. A cease-fire went into effect on October 25, 1973.

The Six-Day War: Background & Overview

Israel consistently expressed a desire to negotiate with its neighbors. In an address to the UN General Assembly on October 10, 1960, Foreign Minister Golda Meir challenged Arab leaders to meet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to negotiate a peace settlement. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser answered on October 15, saying that Israel was trying to deceive world opinion, and reiterating that his country would never recognize the Jewish State. (1)

The Arabs were equally adamant in their refusal to negotiate a separate settlement for the refugees. As Nasser told the United Arab Republic National Assembly March 26, 1964:

The Palestinian Liberation Organization

In 1963, the Arab League decided to introduce a new weapon in its war against Israel &mdash the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO formally came into being during a 1964 meeting of the first Palestinian Congress. Shortly thereafter, the group began to splinter into various factions. Ultimately, the largest faction, Fatah, would come to dominate the organization, and its leader, Yasser Arafat, would become the PLO chairman and most visible symbol. All the groups adhered to a set of principles laid out in the Palestine National Charter, which called for Israel's destruction.

The PLO&rsquos belligerent rhetoric was matched by deeds. Terrorist attacks by the group grew more frequent. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched. The targets were always civilians. (3)

Most of the attacks involved Palestinian guerillas infiltrating Israel from Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and Lebanon. The orders and logistical support for the attacks were coming, however, from Cairo and Damascus. Egyptian President Nasser&rsquos main objective was to harass the Israelis, but a secondary one was to undermine King Hussein&rsquos regime in Jordan.

King Hussein viewed the PLO as both a direct and indirect threat to his power. Hussein feared that the PLO might try to depose him with Nasser&rsquos help or that the PLO&rsquos attacks on Israel would provoke retaliatory strikes by Israeli forces that could weaken his authority. By the beginning of 1967, Hussein had closed the PLO&rsquos offices in Jerusalem, arrested many of the group&rsquos members, and withdrew recognition of the organization. Nasser and his friends in the region unleashed a torrent of criticism on Hussein for betraying the Arab cause. Hussein would soon have the chance to redeem himself.

Arab War Plans Revealed

In September 1965, Arab leaders and their military and intelligence chiefs met secretly at the Casablanca Hotel in Morocco to discuss whether they were ready to go to war against Israel and, if so, whether they should create a joint Arab command. The host of the meeting, King Hassan II, did not trust his Arab League guests and, initially, planned to allow a joint Shin Bet-Mossad unit known as &ldquoThe Birds&rdquo to spy on the conference. A day before the conference was scheduled to begin, however, the king told them to leave out of fear they would be noticed by the Arab guests. Hassan secretly recorded the meeting and gave it to the Israelis, who learned the Arabs were gearing up for war, but were divided and unprepared.

&ldquoThese recordings, which were truly an extraordinary intelligence achievement, further showed us that, on the one hand, the Arab states were heading toward a conflict that we must prepare for. On the other hand, their rambling about Arab unity and having a united front against Israel didn&rsquot reflect real unanimity among them,&rdquo said Major General Shlomo Gazit, who headed the Research Department of Israel&rsquos Military Intelligence Directorate. (3a)

Terror from the Heights

The breakup of the U.A.R. and the resulting political instability only made Syria more hostile toward Israel. Another major cause of conflict was Syria&rsquos resistance to Israel&rsquos creation of a National Water Carrier to take water from the Jordan River to supply the country. The Syrian army used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria&rsquos attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, forcing children living on kibbutzim in the Huleh Valley to sleep in bomb shelters. Israel repeatedly protested the Syrian bombardments to the UN Mixed Armistice Commission, which was charged with policing the cease-fire, but the UN did nothing to stop Syria&rsquos aggression &mdash even a mild Security Council resolution expressing &ldquoregret&rdquo for such incidents was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Israel was condemned by the United Nations when it retaliated.

While the Syrian military bombardment and terrorist attacks intensified, Nasser&rsquos rhetoric became increasingly bellicose. In 1965, he announced, &ldquoWe shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.&rdquo (4)

Again, a few months later, Nasser expressed the Arabs&rsquo aspiration: &ldquo[el] the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the state of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.&rdquo (5)

Syria&rsquos attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights finally provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967. During the attack, Israeli planes shot down six Syrian fighter planes &mdash MiGs supplied by the Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter, the Soviets &mdash who had been providing military and economic assistance to both Syria and Egypt &mdash gave Damascus false information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt and asked Nasser to come to its aid.

Countdown to War

In early May, the Soviet Union gave Egypt false information that Israel had massed troops along the northern border in preparation for an attack on Syria. In response, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border on May 15, Israel's Independence Day. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.

Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force (UNEF), stationed in the Sinai since 1956 as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces after Israel&rsquos withdrawal following the Sinai Campaign, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly (as his predecessor had promised), Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs radio station proclaimed on May 18, 1967:

An enthusiastic echo was heard May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:

The Blockade

On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel's only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran.

In 1956, the United States gave Israel assurances that it recognized the Jewish State's right of access to the Straits of Tiran. In 1957, at the UN, 17 maritime powers declared that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. Moreover, the blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was adopted by the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958. (8)

President Johnson expressed the belief that the blockade was illegal and unsuccessfully tried to organize an international flotilla to test it. At the same time, he advised the Israelis not to take any military action. After the war, he acknowledged the closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli (June 19, 1967):


Nasser was aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel&rsquos hand, and challenged Israel to fight almost daily. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: "The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war." (10)

Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight," he said on May 27. (11) The following day, he added: We will not accept any. coexistence with Israel. Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. The war with Israel is in effect since 1948. ( 12)

King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:

President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map." (14) On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 465,000 troops, more than 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft ringed Israel. (15)

By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol had transferred all defense and military decisions to IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, who warned, &ldquoI believe we could find ourselves in a situation in which the existence of Israel is at great risk.&rdquo On June 2, 1967, Rabin told the Ministerial Committee for Defense, &ldquoThis forum and myself &ndash and I&rsquom sure this applies to the majority of the army&rsquos officers &ndash don&rsquot want war for its own sake. I think we may find ourselves in a military situation in which we have lost many of our advantages, reaching a position, which I don&rsquot want to express too harshly, in which our existence is in serious danger. The war will be difficult and involve many casualties.&rdquo Rabin warned that Israel could not afford to wait to act. &ldquoI feel very strongly that the diplomatic-military choke hold around our neck is tightening, and I don&rsquot see anyone else breaking it,&rdquo Rabin stated. &ldquoTime is not on our side. And in a week or two, or in three or four weeks, the situation will be worse.&rdquo (15a)

One man who opposed going to war was David Ben-Gurion. After the bitter experience of the Suez War, when he ordered the attack on Egypt without the support of the United States, and President Eisenhower subsequently forced Israel to withdraw from the territory it won in the war, Ben-Gurion believed Israel needed the support of a Western power. He also feared Israel weapons supplies would be jeopardized and Israeli casualties would be enormous. Some Israelis were calling for Ben-Gurion to replace Eshkol, but his anti-war views caused him to lose political support. Instead, pro-war factions of the government who thought Eshkol was too weak to lead the country successfully pressured him to appoint Moshe Dayan as defense minister.

Israel decided to preempt the expected Arab attack. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage. On June 5, Prime Minister Eshkol gave the order to attack Egypt.

The U.S. Position

The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it was not able to persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Eshkol sent the head of the Mossad, Meir Amit, to Washington to gauge the sentiment for war. Amit learned the flotilla idea had failed and that the United States would not object to an Israeli offensive. (15b) Still, right before the war, Johnson warned: Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone. (16) Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed. (17)

Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel's other main arms supplier, also embargoed arms after Israel ignored De Gaulle&rsquos plea not go to war).

By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts. (18)

Israel Launches Preemptive Strike

During the last Israel Defense Forces General Staff meeting before the war, on May 19, 1967, the head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, said the Egyptians had radically changed their conduct in the preceding days. &ldquoTheir moves show a willingness to move towards or even instigate a confrontation with us,&rdquo he said. Yariv suggested the Egyptians were afraid Israel was close to building a nuclear weapon. He also said the Soviets may have convinced them of &ldquoa wider conspiracy to harm Egypt.&rdquo Rabin also addressed the question of Western assistance to respond to the Arab threats. &ldquoIt&rsquos time we stop deluding ourselves that someone will come to our aid,&rdquo said Rabin. &ldquoThis is the most grave situation since the War of Independence,&rdquo he said and told his staff they &ldquoshould prepare for war.&rdquo (18.1)

Thanks to the recordings made by King Hassan II in 1965, along with other sources, &ldquowe knew just how unprepared they were for war,&rdquo Gazit recalled. &ldquoWe reached the conclusion that the Egyptian Armored Corps was in pitiful shape and not prepared for battle.&rdquo The information in those recordings gave the Israeli army&rsquos leaders confidence &ldquowe were going to win a war against Egypt. Prophecies of doom and the feeling of imminent defeat were prevalent among the majority in Israel and the officials outside the defense establishment, but we were confident in our strength.&rdquo (18a)

Egyptian planes destroyed in the 1967 war

Despite this confidence among military leaders, the government made preparations for mass temporary graves for tens of thousands of victims in Tel Aviv parks, a fact journalists were prevented from publishing by the military censor. (18b)

On June 4, 1967, the Israeli cabinet met and voted unanimously to give the defense ministry approval to decide when and how to respond to Egypt&rsquos aggression. Foreign Minister Abba Eban wrote in his memoir:

Once we voted, we knew that we had expressed our people&rsquos will, for amid the alarms and fears of mid-May, our nation gave birth to new impulses within itself. All the conditions which divide us from each other and give our society a deceptive air of fragmentation, all the deeply rooted Jewish recalcitrance toward authority now seemed to have been transmuted into a new metal which few of us had felt before. There had, of course, been some fear, as was natural for a people which had endured unendurable things. Many in the world were afraid that a great massacre was sweeping down upon us. And in many places in Israel there was talk of Auschwitz and Maidenek. The anxiety expressed by friends outside told us that our apprehension was not vain. Yet, as the last days of May were passing into the haze of memory, the people were gripped by a spirit of union and resolve. Men of military age silently laid down their work in factory, office and farm, took up their files of reservist papers and disappeared toward the south. (18c)

Eban also noted that thousands of you men were crowding the offices of Israeli consulates and Jewish Agency institutions throughout the world, asking to be sent to Israel for immediate service. (18d)

On June 5, 1967, Israel was isolated, but its military commanders had conceived a brilliant war strategy. The entire Israeli Air Force, with the exception of just 12 fighters assigned to defend Israeli air space, took off at 7:14 a.m. in Operation Moked (aka Operation Focus) with the intent of bombing Egyptian airfields while the Egyptian pilots were eating breakfast. The day before the attack, Rabin visited several air bases and told the pilots:

Remember: your mission is one of life or death. If you succeed &ndash we win the war if you fail &ndash God help us. (18e)

By 11:05 a.m., 180 Egyptian fighter planes were destroyed. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was not planning to attack Syria until the Syrians attacked Tiberias and Megiddo. Israeli fighters subsequently attacked the Syrian and Jordanian air forces, as well as one airfield in Iraq. By the end of the first day, most of the Egyptian and half the Syrian air forces had been destroyed on the ground. Altogether Israel claimed to have destroyed 302 Egyptian, 20 Jordanian, and 52 Syrian aircraft. (18f)

Despite the success of the opening salvo, Dayan did not want to contradict reports emanating from Cairo, Damascus and Amman that Arab planes had bombed Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem and caused massive casualties because he wanted the world to continue to view Israel as the victim for as long as possible. (18g)

The battle then moved to the ground, and some of history&rsquos greatest tank battles were fought between Egyptian and Israeli armor in the blast-furnace conditions of the Sinai desert. On June 9, at 5:45 a.m., the head of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yeshayahu Gavish, informed the chief of staff: &ldquoIDF forces are on the banks of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The Sinai Peninsula is in our hands. Congratulations to you and the IDF.&rdquo

Meanwhile, the Arab oil-producing countries meeting in Bagdad unanimously decided to stop the flow of oil to any country taking part in an attack on any Arab States.

Click on maps to enlarge

The Unity Government

To demonstrate the national consensus behind the decision to go to war, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol decided on the night the war began to invite opposition leader Menachem Begin to join the government. In the context of Israeli politics, this was an extraordinary move because Begin was not only the opposition leader but someone long seen as dangerous by his rivals. Labor Party leader David Ben-Gurion, just 19 years earlier, had been so afraid of the possibility that Begin&rsquos Irgun was a threat to the newly established state of Israel that he ordered his forces to shell the Altalena arms ship.

Jerusalem Is Attacked

Initially, Israel did not plan to capture the West Bank. &ldquoThe conquest of the West Bank was made conditional on the situation in the south,&rdquo Dayan said the evening of June 5. &ldquoIn any case, the possibility of capturing the West Bank is considered preferable to breaking a corridor through to Mount Scopus.&rdquo

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein on June 5 saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities. When Jordanian radar picked up a cluster of planes flying from Egypt to Israel, and the Egyptians convinced Hussein the planes were theirs, he ordered the takeover of the UN headquarters located near Talpiot and the shelling of West Jerusalem. Snipers were shooting at the King David Hotel and Jordanian mortars had hit the Knesset. It turned out that the planes were Israel&rsquos and were returning from destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground.

Paratrooper Brigade 55, commanded by Colonel Motta Gur, was sent to Jerusalem and given the impossible task of preparing an assault on the city in just 12 hours. Jordan had two battalions of experienced, well-trained fighters assaulting the city. The initial mission was to stop Jordanian shelling of Jewish neighborhoods and rescue a besieged Israeli unit stationed on Mount Scopus, the sole Israeli enclave in East Jerusalem. The soldiers were ordered to stay away from the Old City and its sacred sites.

When the paratroopers arrived, fires were raging and the streets were full of glass. They could smell exploding shells. When they got off their bus, people suddenly began to appear from all directions carrying food. People came from all over, Avital Geva recalled in the documentary In Our Hands. They didn&rsquot care about the bombings. Women brought food, sweets, coffee, everything. You cannot describe it. It was spontaneous love.

At 2 a.m. on June 6, one of Brigade 55&rsquos three battalions attacked the Jordanian position known as Ammunition Hill, and fought one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The paratroopers blasted their way through the mine fields and cut through layers of razor wire fences, but the price was high. In just the initial thrust, seven soldiers were killed and more than a dozen injured. The Israelis had not trained for trench warfare and had to improvise. Two soldiers jumped on tanks and ordered them up the hill firing at every Jordanian soldier they spotted. Years later, a Jordanian soldier admitted the tanks had convinced them the battle was lost and they retreated from the hill. It had taken three hours to capture the Jordanian command bunker. Of the 260 soldiers who fought at Ammunition Hill, only eleven emerged without being wounded or killed &mdash 36 died. The Jordanians lost 71 men. After the battle, the Israelis buried 17 Jordanian soldiers in a mass grave with the English epitaph, Here lay 17 brave Jordanian soldiers, IDF, 1967.

A second battalion, the 66th, was assigned to take up a position at the Rockefeller Museum opposite the Arab quarter of the Old City to prepare to enter through the city if given the order. The soliders were unfamiliar with the city, however, and took a wrong turn that led down a narrow alley where they faced withering fire from the Jordanian forces. The Israelis made their way through to the museum, but only 30 paratroopers, half their original force emerged unharmed from what they later called the Alley of Death.

Meanwhile, a third group of paratroopers from the 71st battalion succeeded in achieving its objective of securing a position on Mount Scopus.

Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin and Uzi Narkiss Entering the Old City

While forbidding the army from entering the Old City, Eshkol said, &ldquoif the connection to Mount Scopus is completed this morning, the West Bank should be conquered up to the peak mountain ridges, while enabling escape routes for civilians.&rdquo Palestinians took advantage of those routes to flee eastward.

The night after the battle on Ammunition Hill, Dayan and Uzi Narkiss, the commander responsible for combating the Jordanian offensive, met on Mount Scopus and discussed how they might take the Old City. Narkiss explained where his troops were deployed and the various gates through which they could enter the city. Dayan asked, Why don't you go through the Lion&rsquos Gate? Narkiss had not considered this option and said to Dayan, You know what Moshe, since the time of King David, Jerusalem has never been conquered from the east. Dayan replied, Then this will be the second and last time. (18h)

Nasser and Hussein still hoped to save face and their remaining troops. During a phone conversation they decided to tell the world they were losing because the British and Americans were helping the Israelis. The Israelis had recorded the call, however, and shared it with the world, which confirmed the denials of Western officials. President Johnson referred to the episode as The Big Lie.

The Israelis offererd Hussein a way out of the dilemma. Eshkol said Israeli troops were perpared to take the Old City but would not do it if the king agreed to an immediate unconditional ceasefire, expelled the Egyptians generals from Jordan and began a peace process with Israel. Hussein&rsquos response was to send troops back to Jerusalem in hopes of holding as much territory as possible before a ceasefire was declared.

Dayan realized he had to make a decision. At 6:15 a.m. on June 7, Dayan ordered the encirclement of the Old City and instructed the army to enter with the warning not to damage any of the holy places. Fortunately, the night before most of the Jordanian troops had retreated so when the paratroopers stormed the gate onto the Via Dolorosa, they met no resistance. Gur led the charge up to the Temple Mount and radioed headquarters at 10:08 a.m., &ldquoThe Temple Mount is in our hands and our forces are by the [Western] Wall.&rdquo The brigade&rsquos chief communications officer, Ezra Orni, hung an Israeli flag over the Dome of the Rock. Dayan was observing from Mount Scopus and angrily radioed Gur, Do you want to set the Middle East on fire? The flag was removed. Shortly afterward, Dayan arrived with Rabin to formally mark the Jews&rsquo return to their historic capital and their holiest site. At the Western Wall, the IDF&rsquos chaplain, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, blew a shofar to celebrate the event, which was broadcast live on Voice of Israel Radio.

The joy of reuniting Jerusalem was tempered by the loss of so many soldiers. A total of 430 paratroopers were wounded and 97 were killed.

Hussein's decision changed the course of the war and history. Following the shelling of Jerusalem, Israel counterattacked and took over the West Bank of Jordan within 48 hours. According to Major General Rephael Vardi, the Palestinians believed the Jordanian and other Arab forces were going to quickly occupy Israel. Such was their surprise that the Israeli forces that entered Nablus were welcomed by the population with flowers and with flags because they believed that these were Iraqi forces that had come to support the Jordanians. (18i)

A Second Exodus

After Jordan launched its attack on June 5, approximately 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank fled to other parts of Jordan, primarily to avoid being caught in the cross-fire of a war. (19)

A Palestinian refugee who was an administrator in a UNRWA camp in Jericho said Arab politicians had spread rumors in the camp. "They said all the young people would be killed. People heard on the radio that this is not the end, only the beginning, so they think maybe it will be a long war and they want to be in Jordan." (20)

Some Palestinians who left preferred to live in an Arab state rather than under Israeli military rule. Members of various PLO factions fled to avoid capture by the Israelis. Nils-Göran Gussing, the person appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the situation, found that many Arabs also feared they would no longer be able to receive money from family members working abroad. (21)

Rabin issued the following order, Prevent people from leaving for Jordan, but not by force. We&rsquore trying not to increase the population of Jerusalem. Only 200 families who were living in synagogues and desecrating them were expelled. We found them alternative housing. There are no expulsions. I don&rsquot know what the diplomatic solutions will be. That isn&rsquot the army&rsquos responsibility. (21a)

Israeli forces ordered a handful of Palestinians to move for "strategic and security reasons." In some cases, they were allowed to return in a few days, in others Israel offered to help them resettle elsewhere. (22) The net result was that a new refugee population had been created and the old refugee problem was made worse.

The Stunning Victory

While most IDF units were fighting the Egyptians and Jordanians, a small, heroic group of soldiers were left to defend the northern border against the Syrians. It was not until the Jordanians and Egyptians were subdued that reinforcements could be sent to the Golan Heights, where Syrian gunners commanding the strategic high ground made it exceedingly difficult and costly for Israeli forces to penetrate. Finally, on June 9, after two days of heavy air bombardment, Israeli forces succeeded in breaking through the Syrian lines.

After just six days of fighting, Israeli forces were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus, and Amman. By this time, the principal objectives of capturing the Sinai and the Golan Heights had been accomplished, and Israeli political leaders had no desire to fight in the Arab capitals. Furthermore, the Soviet Union had become increasingly alarmed by the Israeli advances and was threatening to intervene. At this point, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk advised the Israelis &ldquoin the strongest possible terms&rdquo to accept a cease-fire. On June 10, Israel did just that.

The victory came at a very high cost. In storming the Golan Heights, Israel suffered 115 dead-roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm. Altogether, Israel lost twice as many men &mdash 777 dead and 2,586 wounded-in proportion to her total population as the U.S. lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam. (23) Also, despite the incredible success of the air campaign, the Israeli Air Force lost 46 of its 200 fighters. (24) The death toll on the Arab side was 15,000 Egyptians, 2,500 Syrians, and 800 Jordanians.

By the end of the war, Israel had conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. Israeli forces had also captured the Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The Nuclear Option

A previously little known story was publicized just before the 50th anniversary of the war disclosing that Israel had considered using a nuclear weapon to scare the Egyptians. According to retired brigadier general Itzhak Yaakov , Israel had a contingency plan code-named Shimshon, or Samson . [Israel's use of nuclear weapons as a last resort if it faced annhilation is sometimes referred to as the Samson Option.] Yaakov said Israel rushed to assemble an atom bomb with the intention of detonating it on a mountaintop in the Sinai desert about 12 miles from an Egyptian military complex at Abu Ageila as a warning to Egypt and the other Arab states if Israel feared it would lose the war.

During a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on May 26, 1967, Eshkol reported: &ldquoToday four [Egyptian] airplanes flew over Israel. We immediately telegrammed Abba Eban about it. The purpose of a certain weapon can be crucial in this matter, and I don&rsquot mean something which is out of this world. It&rsquos a weapon that exists in [other countries] in the hundreds and thousands.&rdquo

As the New York Times reported, The plan, if activated by order of the prime minister and military chief of staff, was to send a small paratrooper force to divert the Egyptian Army in the desert area so that a team could lay preparations for the atomic blast. Two large helicopters were to land, deliver the nuclear device and then create a command post in a mountain creek or canyon. If the order came to detonate, the blinding flash and mushroom cloud would have been seen throughout the Sinai and Negev Deserts, and perhaps as far away as Cairo.

&ldquoLook, it was so natural,&rdquo said Mr. Yaakov, according to a transcription of a taped interview. &ldquoYou&rsquove got an enemy, and he says he&rsquos going to throw you to the sea. You believe him.&rdquo

&ldquoHow can you stop him?&rdquo he asked. &ldquoYou scare him. If you&rsquove got something you can scare him with, you scare him.&rdquo (24a)

The West Bank and Gaza

Israel now ruled more than three-quarters of a million Palestinians &mdash most of whom were hostile to the government. Nevertheless, Israel allowed many of the refugees who fled the fighting to return, reuniting more than 9,000 Palestinian families in 1967. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Palestinians were allowed to return. (25)

In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which established a formula for Arab-Israeli peace whereby Israel would withdraw from territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace with its neighbors. This resolution has served as the basis for peace negotiations from that time on.

Israel's leaders fully expected to negotiate a peace agreement with their neighbors that would involve some territorial compromise. According to Medzini, On June 19, the government adopted a secret resolution instructing Eban to tell the Americans that Israel was prepared to withdraw from the Golan and Sinai for full peace with Syria and Egypt and a willingness to create special arrangements with Jordan. (26)

Consequently, instead of annexing the West Bank, a military administration was created. According to Major General Vardi, Israel did not expect to be saddled with responsibility for the captured territories:

We did not believe that the Israeli rule of the territories would last more than a few months following our experience after the Sinai Campaign in 1956 in which by March 1957 we were compelled to withdraw from the whole of Sinai. Some preparations for a military government in the West Bank, in case of war, had been made, but these were minimal because the possibility that the Big Powers would allow the occupation of the West Bank seemed unreal. Therefore we had to start organizing the military government virtually from scratch in order to establish the rule of the IDF, assume the functions of a civil government, maintain law and order, organize and provide public services, look after all the other necessities of the population, restore life to normal, and especially to reconstruct the economy. (27)

No occupation is pleasant for the inhabitants, but the Israeli authorities did try to minimize the impact on the population. Don Peretz, a frequent writer on the situation of Arabs in Israel and a sharp critic of the Israeli government, visited the West Bank shortly after the Israeli troops had taken over. He found they were trying to restore normal life and prevent any incidents that might encourage the Arabs to leave their homes. (28)

Except for the requirement that school texts in the territories be purged of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic language, the authorities tried not to interfere with the inhabitants. They did provide economic assistance for example, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were moved from camps to new homes. This stimulated protests from Egypt, which had done nothing for the refugees when it controlled the area.

Arabs were given freedom of movement. They were allowed to travel to and from Jordan. In 1972, elections were held in the West Bank. Women and non-landowners, unable to participate under Jordanian rule, were now permitted to vote.

East Jerusalem Arabs were given the option of retaining Jordanian citizenship or acquiring Israeli citizenship. They were recognized as residents of united Jerusalem and given the right to vote and run for the city council. Also, Islamic holy places were put in the care of a Muslim Council. Despite the Temple Mount's significance in Jewish history, Jews were barred from conducting prayers there.

Why Didn&rsquot the War Lead to Peace?

Israelis thought that routing the Arab armies would convince their leaders they had no hope of destroying Israel and would agree to a peace agreement. On June 19, 1967, the Israeli Cabinet secretly decided to exchange Sinai and the Golan for peace agreements with Egypt and Syria but no consensus was reached on the West Bank, though the Cabinet agreed to incorporate Gaza into Israel and to resettle refugees elsewhere in the region. (29)

The Arabs, however, had been humiliated and would have to regain their honor before contemplating any accommodation with Israel. Instead of peace, the Arab League Summit in Khartoum in August 1967 declared the Arab position toward Israel would be no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition.

On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 242, calling on Israel to withdraw from territory &ndash not all the territories &ndash captured in the war in exchange for &ldquosecure and recognized boundaries&rdquo with the aim of achieving a &ldquopeaceful and accepted settlement.&rdquo This resolution became the basis for future peace talks.

Almost immediately after the end of the war, any hope for peace was shattered when Egypt began shelling Israeli positions near the Suez Canal. Nasser believed Israel could not withstand a lengthy war of attrition. Before a cease-fire was declared three years later, 1,424 Israeli soldiers and more than one hundred civilians were killed Egypt suffered approximately five thousand dead.

Sources: Mitchell G. Bard, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict. 4th Edition. NY: Alpha Books, 2008
Content supplied by CBN ©2016 The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

(1) Encyclopedia Americana Annual 1961, (NY: Americana Corporation, 1961), p. 387.
(2) Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes To Israel, (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972), p. 27.
(3) Howard Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 616.
(3a) Sue Surkes, &ldquoMorocco tipped off Israeli intelligence, &lsquohelped Israel win Six Day War,&rsquo&rdquo Times of Israel , (October 16, 2016).
(4) Samuel Katz, Battleground-Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (NY: Bantam Books, 1985), pp. 10-11, 185.
(5) Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), p. 110.
(6) Isi Leibler, The Case For Israel, (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972), p. 60.
(7) Ibid.
(8) United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, (Geneva: UN Publications 1958), pp. 132-134.
(9) Yehuda Lukacs, Documents on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1967-1983, (NY: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 17-18 Abba Eban, Abba Eban, (NY: Random House, 1977), p. 358
(10) Eban, p. 330.
(11) Leibler, p. 60.
(12) Leibler, p. 18.
(13) Leibler, p. 60.
(14) Leibler, p. 18.
(15) Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars, (NY: Random House, 1982), p. 149.
(15a) Gili Cohen, Six-Day War documents show Dayan proposed Arab rule in parts of West Bank, Haaretz,(June 4, 2015).
(15b) Michael Bar-Zohar, The War Nobody Wanted, inFocus, (Spring 2017), p. 12.
(16) Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 293.
(17) AP, (June 5, 1967).
(18) Sachar, p. 629.
(18.1) Gili Cohen, &ldquoMinutes of Last General Staff Meeting Before 1967 War: &lsquoEgypt Worried Israel Close to Nuclear Bomb,&rsquo&rdquo Haaretz, (June 24, 2017).
(18a) Sue Surkes, &ldquoMorocco tipped off Israeli intelligence, &lsquohelped Israel win Six Day War,&rsquo&rdquo Times of Israel, (October 16, 2016).
(18b) Meron Medzini, 1967 | The international media and the Six-Day War, Fathom, (2017).
(18c) Abba Eban, An Autobiography, (NY: Random House, 1977), pp. 400-401.
(18d) Eban, p. 401.
(18e) Michael Bar-Zohar, The War Nobody Wanted, inFocus, (Spring 2017), p. 12.
(18f) The six-day war: Israel claims land and air successes as Britain and US declare neutrality, The Guardian, (June 6, 1947).
(18g) Meron Medzini, 1967 | The international media and the Six-Day War, Fathom, (2017).
(18h) Jerusalem Report, (June 12, 2017).
(18i) Major General Rephael Vardi, The Beginning of Israeli Rule in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (April 16, 1989).
(19) Encyclopedia American Annual 1968, p. 366.
(20) George Gruen, "The Refugees of Arab-Israeli Conflict," (NY: American Jewish Committee, March 1969), p. 5.
(21) Gruen, p. 5.
(21a) Gili Cohen, &ldquoMinutes of Last General Staff Meeting Before 1967 War: &lsquoEgypt Worried Israel Close to Nuclear Bomb,&rsquo&rdquo Haaretz, (June 24, 2017).
(22) Gruen, p. 4.
(23) Katz, p. 3.
(24) Jerusalem Post, (4/23/99).
(24a) William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, &ldquo&lsquoLast Secret&rsquo of 1967 War: Israel&rsquos Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display,&rdquo New York Times, (June 3, 2017).
(25) Encyclopedia American Annual 1968, p. 366.
(26) Meron Medzini, 1967 | The international media and the Six-Day War, Fathom, (2017).
(27) Major General Rephael Vardi, The Beginning of Israeli Rule in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (April 16, 1989).
(28) Don Peretz, "Israel's New Dilemma," Middle East Journal, (Winter 1968), pp. 45-46.
(29) Aaron David Miller, &ldquoThe Myths About 1967 That Just Won't Die,&rdquo The Atlantic, (June 2, 2017).

Photo of Dayan, Rabin and Narkiss, Ilan Bruner, Israeli Government National Photo Collection

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Palestine’s Early Roots

Scholars believe the name “Palestine” originally comes from the word “Philistia,” which refers to the Philistines who occupied part of the region in the 12th century B.C.

Throughout history, Palestine has been ruled by numerous groups, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptiansਊnd Mamelukes.

From about 1517 to 1917, the Ottoman Empire ruled much of the region.

When World War I ended in 1918, the British took control of Palestine. The League of Nations issued a British mandate for Palestine𠅊 document that gave Britain administrative control over the region, and included provisions for establishing a Jewish national homeland in Palestine—which went into effect in 1923.

This Time, the Loser Writes History The Six-Day War

May 23, 2017: Fifty years ago today, state-run media in Cairo announced that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, cutting off the Jewish state's access to the Red Sea. Then-President Lyndon Johnson later said of the Six-Day War, which erupted two weeks later, "If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations."

A half-century later, however, a "historiographical rewriting" of the Six-Day War has "effectively become the received dogma, echoed by some of the most widely used college textbooks about the Middle East," as Gabriel Glickman explains in this advance-release article from the Summer 2017 issue of Middle East Quarterly.

A cartoon from 1967 shows Nasser kicking Israel over a cliff. Jerusalem's attempt before the Six-Day War to prevent hostilities is completely ignored or dismissed while the Arab war preparations are framed as a show of force against an alleged, imminent Israeli attack on Syria.

It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known). No sooner had the dust settled on the battlefield than the Arabs and their Western partisans began rewriting the conflict's narrative with aggressors turned into hapless victims and defenders turned into aggressors. Jerusalem's weeks-long attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities in the face of a rapidly tightening Arab noose is completely ignored or dismissed as a disingenuous ploy by contrast, the extensive Arab war preparations with the explicit aim of destroying the Jewish state is whitewashed as a demonstrative show of force to deter an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. It has even been suggested that Jerusalem lured the Arab states into war in order to expand its territory at their expense. So successful has this historiographical rewriting been that, fifty years after the war, these "alternative facts" have effectively become the received dogma, echoed by some of the most widely used college textbooks about the Middle East.[1]

Grandstanding Gone Wrong

The first step to absolving the Arab leaders of culpability for the conflict—especially Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who set in motion the course of events that led to war—was to present them as victims of their fully understandable, if highly unfortunate, overreaction to a Soviet warning of an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. Taking at face value Nasser's postwar denial of any intention to attack Israel, educated Westerners—intellectuals, Middle East experts, and journalists—excused his dogged drive to war as an inescapable grandstanding aimed at shoring up his position in the face of relentless criticism by the conservative Arab states and the more militant elements within his administration.

The remains of a Syrian fortification on the Golan Heights following the Six-Day War. Nasser realized that no Israeli attack on Syria was in the offing yet continued his reckless escalation toward war.

"President Nasser had to take spectacular action in order to avert defeat in the struggle for leadership of the Arabs," argued American historian Ernest Dawn shortly after the war. "If Egypt had not acted, the 'conservatives' would have wasted no time in pointing to the hero's feet of clay."[2] This claim was amplified by Charles Yost, U.S. president Lyndon Johnson's special envoy to the Middle East at the time of the crisis, as well as a string of early popular books on the war. Nasser had no intention of taking on Israel, they argued. The massive deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai, in flagrant violation of the peninsula's demilitarization since the 1956 war the expulsion of the U.N. observers deployed on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel the closure of the Tiran Strait to Israeli navigation and the rapid formation of an all-Arab war coalition for what he pledged would be the final battle for Israel's destruction were just posturing moves geared to deterring an Israeli attack on Syria and enhancing Nasser's pan-Arab prestige. Unfortunately, goes the narrative, Jerusalem overreacted to these measures, if not exploited them to its self-serving ends, by attacking its peaceable Arab neighbors.[3]

While this thesis clearly does not hold water—Nasser realized within less than a day that no Israeli attack on Syria was in the offing yet continued his reckless escalation[4]—it has quickly become a common historiographical axiom regarding the war's origin. Thus, as ideologically divergent commentators as British journalist David Hirst and American military commentator Trevor Dupuy agreed on this view in the late 1970s. According to Dupuy, "it is very clear in retrospect that President Nasser did not in fact have any intention of precipitating war against Israel at that time."[5] Hirst took this argument a step further: "Not only did Nasser lack the means to take on Israel, he did not have the intention either."[6]

This assertion was reiterated almost verbatim in the coming decades by countless Middle East observers. Thus, for example, we have British journalist Patrick Seale claiming that "Nasser's strategy was to attempt to frighten Israel into prudence, while making it clear that he would not attack first,"[7] and Princeton professor L. Carl Brown arguing that "Nasser surely had not intended to seek a showdown with Israel in 1967."[8] As late as 2013, American legal scholar John Quigley was still voicing this misclaim:

Nasser had reversed Egypt's 1956 losses with his action on shipping and with the removal of UNEF. If he could avoid an Israeli attack, he would have successfully stood up for the Arab cause, cost-free. Any indication that Egypt might attack was lacking.[9]

Indeed, so prevalent is the belief that Nasser did not intend to use his forces against Israel that anti-Israel extremist Norman Finkelstein confidently concluded that this was one of "only two issues in the otherwise highly contentious literature on the June 1967 war on which a consensus seems to exist."[10]

Most Israeli academic studies of the war, both traditional and revisionist, have invariably subscribed to this thesis in apparent deference to the prevailing consensus in the Middle Eastern studies milieu.[11] This conformity seems to have paid off as illustrated by the favorable reception of Michael Oren's Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East—the last decade's most salient Israeli account of the war. "Had Egypt intended to attack Israel immediately, the army's advances into Sinai could have been conducted as quietly as possible," Oren wrote. He continued:

Nasser sent a double message to Israel: Egypt had no aggressive designs, but neither would it suffer any Israeli aggression against Syria.[12]

While writing the book, Oren was a researcher at the conservative Shalem Center and was later appointed Washington ambassador by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So if an Israeli scholar on the right-wing end of the spectrum can portray the Jewish state as equally culpable for the war, rather than as the intended target of an imminent all-Arab aggression, while also vastly understating Nasser's role in precipitating the conflict, and if this account is warmly endorsed by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, then surely it must be true. [13]

Who Is to Blame?

The Arab regimes were stunned by the magnitude of their defeat in the war: In six days, Israeli forces routed the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian armies as well as an Iraqi expedition force and extended its control over Arab territories five times its own size.

Some analysts have gone a step further in substituting victim for aggressor by blaming Jerusalem (rather than Cairo) for triggering the prewar crisis. Even the eminent French intellectual Raymond Aron, by no means an enemy of Israel, wondered during the war whether "General [Yitzhak] Rabin's threats against Syria [led] President Nasser to fear an American plot of which he would be the next victim."[14] But Nasser was certainly aware that there was no Israeli threat to Syria, and Rabin made no such threat. Rather, his alleged comments had been mixed up with an off-the-record press briefing by the head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, in which Yariv stressed the need for "an operation designed to warn the Syrians [and Egyptians] of the dangers of an all-out confrontation, not an operation that would itself be the confrontation."[15]

Still, the dogmatic denizens of Middle Eastern studies were not bothered by such factual niceties. Richard Parker, a veteran U.S. career diplomat in the Middle East and editor of the Middle East Journal, interchangeably blamed Israeli security reprisals against Syria for the slide to war, tying them to the false Soviet warning of an imminent Israeli attack against Damascus.[16] In another influential account, William Quandt, a U.S. government official and Middle Eastern studies professor, inexorably leads his readers to the foregone conclusion that Jerusalem, against Washington's better advice, took the first shots of the war[17]—when, in reality, the road to war had been paved by the Arab states' ganging up on Israel since mid-May and their vows to destroy it. This absolution of Nasser (and the Arab states more generally) creates the impression that the Israelis wanted war while the Arabs did not. Adding to the high profile and assumed historiographical veracity of these two accounts was the authors' access to inside information in their past government capacities, something that was readily acknowledged by both authors, as was Quandt's alleged access (while in government) to documents prior to their release by the U.S. archives. [18]

Another official who considered Jerusalem mostly culpable for events leading to the war was Gen. Odd Bull, a former chief of staff of the Norwegian Air Force who was later appointed chief of staff of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), tasked with monitoring the Syrian-Israeli border. Writing in his 1976 memoirs, he

found public opinion [in Norway] regarded the Palestine problem almost entirely from the Israeli point of view . this was a problem with which I had been living for many years, and one which, as I had become very much aware, had at least two sides to it.

Bull, however, proceeded to criticize Israel alone in his account of the tumultuous years preceding the Six-Day War.[19] These accusations are all the more bizarre given that it was Bull who passed some of Israel's secret messages to Jordan's King Hussein upon the outbreak of hostilities on the Egyptian front, pleading with him to stay out of the fighting and pledging that in such an eventuality no harm would be visited upon his kingdom.[20]

The absolution of Nasser creates the false impression that the Israelis wanted war while the Arabs did not.

Some of Israel's supporters also shifted historical responsibility from Nasser to the Jewish state. Thus, the eminent historian Walter Laqueur agreed with Finkelstein that Israel's use of reprisal raids against Arab states in response to periodic terror attacks from the latter's territory ultimately made the Jewish state responsible for Nasser's actions in May 1967. As he put it:

Israel's policy of retaliation had lately exacerbated the conflict. But for Samu and the battle of 7 April, there would not have been a war in 1967. Then, in a few years' time, some Arab governments might be readier to resign themselves to Israel's existence. [21]

Andrew and Leslie Cockburn—known for their harsh criticism of Israel—and Winston and Randolph Churchill—labelled as "friendly commentator[s] of the Six Day War" by Abba Eban [22] —concurred on the likely existence of secret U.S. support for Israel despite President Johnson's meek public display of support. [23]

U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson (2nd from right) in the White House Situation Room during the Six-Day War. The administration was far from resolute in its support of Israel. It considered a scenario involving military action against the Jewish state.

In fact, the Johnson administration was far from resolute in its "secret support" of Israel. To the contrary, it even considered the hypothetical scenario of taking military action against the Jewish state. In the words of the Contingency Coordinating Committee, set up immediately after Nasser moved his troops into Sinai:

We find that there is a vast array of possible contingencies that could develop out of the current situation. The use of our forces against Israel, even under U.N. cover, would certainly arouse domestic protest except in extreme cases of Israeli provocation or aggression.[24]

The eminent historian Bernard Lewis found it reasonable to wonder whether the Israelis were in some ways culpable for the events that led to war:

The wars of 1948 and of 1973 were unmistakably launched by the decision of Arab governments. Responsibility for the war of 1967 is more difficult to allocate. As more information becomes available about the sequence of events leading to the opening of hostilities, it seems that the participants were like characters in a Greek tragedy, in which at every stage the various actors had no choice but to take the next step on the path to war. [25]

A U.S.-Israeli Conspiracy?

During the run-up to war, the Egyptian state-controlled media repeatedly accused Washington of "seeking excuses for an armed intervention against the Arab nation to support Israel," [26] with Nasser himself claiming that "Israel today is the United States" [27] —effectively equating war against Israel with fighting the United States. Once the extraordinary magnitude of the Arab defeat transpired, the most implausible conspiracy theories were swiftly spawned. Foremost among these was the claim that Israel did not actually win the war rather the United States won it on its behalf, both by arming the Jewish state to its teeth—although France was Israel's main arms supplier at the time—and by destroying the Egyptian air force. It has even been argued that in triggering the war, Jerusalem was merely a pawn in Washington's ploy to divert American public opinion from the unwinnable war in Vietnam.[28]

Some claimed that Jerusalem was a pawn in Washington's ploy to divert American public opinion from the war in Vietnam.

The notion quickly gained its dedicated subscribers. Thus, the idea was put forward in a biography of Nasser by the veteran British diplomat Anthony Nutting[29] as well as in a collection of essays on the Arab perspective on the war, including an essay, "The Arab Portrayed," in which Edward Said appears to have set up the prototype for his Orientalism book.[30] As late as 2008, the American historian Douglas Little attributed Nasser's defeat to the fictional collusion between Washington and Jerusalem, which enabled "Israel's swift seizure of the Sinai, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, with the blessing of Lyndon Johnson."[31]

Israel's "Unfinished Business"

But the story does not end here. In the eyes of a growing number of Western observers of the Middle East, the alleged Israeli machinations against Syria, whether or not in cahoots with Washington, were not related to actual developments on the ground (e.g., the all-Arab attempt to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River so as to deny them to Israel). Rather, such maneuvers were a vital link in a long chain of aggressions stemming from the Jewish state's very existence as a colonial outpost in the midst of the Arab world. David Hirst gave this thesis a name: "Greater Israel."[32]

The West Bank was not involved in the growing Egyptian-Israeli crisis before King Hussein (above) joined Nasser's bandwagon some two weeks after its flare-up. Had the king heeded Jerusalem's secret appeals on June 5 to stay out of the war, the territory would have remained under Jordanian control.

The first comprehensive account of the Six-Day War in this vein, by the prominent Marxist French Orientalist Maxime Rodinson, was published as early as 1968. According to Rodinson, the war was all but inevitable since Israel's very existence was at odds with the greater ebb and flow of the Middle East. Unlike the "accidental war" theory of shared Arab-Israeli culpability, or even those who blamed Jerusalem for sparking the crisis leading to war, Rodinson unabashedly claimed the existence of a secret Israeli plan to trigger a war even as he occasionally showed some sympathy for the historic plight of Jews. [33] As he put it:

It is difficult not to give some credit to the subsidiary hypothesis: that the situation was stirred up by the Israeli activist clique as part of a manoeuvre to provoke an Arab reaction which would force Israel to assume an "energetic" policy and bring them back into power [i.e., Ben-Gurion]. [34]

Rodinson's extreme anti-Israel animosity is further revealed in the Jewish state's denigration as an alien colonial imposition on a hapless native population and his appeal for the removal of Israel's Jewish identity (i.e., its effective elimination) in favor of a binational state as a means to avoid more wars in the future. [35] While Rodinson's thesis of a colonial-settler Jewish state by its very existence impeding the prospects of a peaceful Middle East was hardly original, echoing as it did longstanding Marxist precepts[36] and more recent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) propaganda,[37] his book resonated over time, helping to plant the seeds of the "postcolonial paradigm" that was to gain preeminence in Middle Eastern studies in future decades.

Following in Rodinson's footsteps, some historians took it upon themselves to be deliberately subjective in their work in order to correct a historical narrative that they viewed as having been biased in favor of the victor (i.e., Israel), hence harmful to the public's understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that came to the forefront as a result of the war. Abdullah Schleifer, for example, an American Jewish convert to Islam, journalist, and eyewitness observer of the war, argued in his 1972 book, The Fall of Jerusalem, that the victory of the Jewish state was mistakenly described by early accounts as a "miracle" when it was actually the culmination of long-standing Israeli aggression in the region.[38]

Similarly, it has become commonplace among scholars to depict the 1967 war as a premeditated campaign by Israeli leaders to expand beyond the country's borders. Thus, for example, one of the most recent book-length histories—Quigley's 2013 account—contains the following conclusion about Israel's, not Nasser's, ultimate culpability for the war: "The June 1967 war, rather than serving as precedent for preventative war, should be the poster child for pretextual invocation of force used in advance [by Israel]."[39] A similar explanation was offered by other scholars.[40]

The Oxford historian Albert Hourani endorsed this conspiracy theory about the war's origin:

Israel knew itself to be militarily and politically stronger than its Arab neighbours . in the face of threats from those neighbours, the best course was to show its strength. This might lead to a more stable agreement than it had been able to achieve but behind this there lay the hope of conquering the rest of Palestine and ending the unfinished business of 1948.[41]

This assertion does not even stand a simple scrutiny of the prewar timeline. The West Bank had not been implicated in the evolving Egyptian-Israeli crisis before King Hussein joined Nasser's bandwagon some two weeks after its flare-up and even then, had the king heeded Jerusalem's secret appeals on June 5 to stay out of the war, this territory would have remained under Jordanian control.[42]

Yet, if a leading historian of the Middle East could endorse such an ahistorical travesty, it is hardly surprising that other similarly prominent historians, whose expertise lies outside the Middle East, fell for this conspiracy theory. For example, Tony Judt, a British historian of Europe, wrote that "the war of 1967 is best regarded in the light in which Israel's generals saw it at the time: as unfinished business left over from the War of Independence."[43]


They say that history is written by the victor, but the 1967 war has been rewritten by the losers and their international champions. Just as the failed pan-Arab attempt to destroy Israel at birth has been transformed into a "catastrophe" (or Nakba) inflicted on the unfortunate and peaceable Arabs by an aggressive foreign invader, so the stillborn attempt to complete the unfinished business of 1948 has been turned into yet another story of Arab victimhood, though it is unclear to what extent this narrative has been accepted by Western publics at large.

The 1967 war, the Arabs' attempt to complete the unfinished business of 1948, has been turned into another story of Arab victimhood.

The degree to which Western historiography has increasingly portrayed Israel's preemptive strike against Egypt as an act of aggression rather than of self-defense leaves one wondering why Western scholars cannot accept that a proud and independent Arab leader was capable of making grand
moves on the global stage. The British historian Elie Kedourie once commented that "the threat to use military force is not, in principle, different from the use of force itself."[44] Nasser, followed by the heads of most Arab states, not to mention PLO chairman Ahmad Shuqeiri, indulged in weeks of extermination threats vis-à-vis Israel. It is not the job of the historian to play the role of psychologist and attempt to substitute victimhood for malignant incompetence and shortsightedness.

Gabriel Glickman, a California-based researcher, holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from King's College London. He is currently working on a book provisionally entitled Western Historiography of the Six Day War: Rethinking the Road to War.

[1] See, for example, Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, 5th ed. (Boston and New York: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2004), p. 282 Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), p. 387 Cheryl A. Rubenberg, ed., Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Vol. 3, R-Z (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2010), p. 1572 William L. Cleveland with Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (Boulder: Westview Press, 2016), pp. 320-5.

[2] Ernest C. Dawn, "The Egyptian Remilitarization of Sinai," Journal of Contemporary History, July 1968, p. 213.

[3] William Stevenson, Israeli Victory (London: Corgi Books, 1967), p. 28 Charles W. Yost, "How the Arab-Israeli War Began," Foreign Affairs, Jan. 1968, p. 317-8 Maxime Rodinson, Israel and the Arabs (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 198-200 Roderick MacLeish, The Sun Stood Still: Perspectives on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London: Macdonald and Co., 1968), p. 18.

[4] Efraim Karsh, "The Six-Day War: An Inevitable Conflict," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017.

[5] Trevor N. Dupuy, Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974 (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), p. 229-30.

[6] David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London: Faber and Faber, 1977), p. 211.

[7] Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 131.

[8] L. Carl Brown, "Nasser and the June 1967 War," in S. Seikaly, R. Baalbaki, and P. Dodd, eds., Quest for Understanding: Arabic and Islamic Studies in Memory of Malcolm H. Kerr (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1991), p. 134.

[9] John Quigley, The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventative War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 44-5. See, also, Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days that Changed the Middle East (New York: Linden Press, 1984), p. 196 Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship (New York: Harper Collins, 1991), p. 139.

[10] Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (London: Verso, 1995), p. 134.

[11] See, for example, Raymond Cohen, "Intercultural Communication between Israel and Egypt: Deterrence Failure before the Six-Day War," Review of International Studies, Jan. 1988, p. 10 Ben D. Mor, "Nasser's Decision-making in the 1967 Middle East Crisis: A Rational-Choice Explanation," Journal of Peace Research, 4 (1991): 368 Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (New York: Norton, 2001), pp. 236-7 Jesse Ferris, Nasser's Gamble: How Intervention in Yemen Caused the Six-Day War and the Decline of Egyptian Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), pp. 267-8.

[12] Michael Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (New York: Ballantine Books, 2002), pp. 58-9.

[13] See, for example, David Remnick, "The Seventh Day: Why the Six Day War is still being fought," The New Yorker, May 28, 2007, review of Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007) Ali Gharib, "Michael Oren and the End of Liberal Zionism," The Nation, June 25, 2015.

[14] Raymond Aron, De Gaulle, Israel, and the Jews (London: Andre Deutsch, 1969), p. 72.

[15] Richard Parker, ed., The Six Day War: A Retrospective (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996), p. 32, emphasis in original.

[16] See, for example, Richard Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), pp. 16, 20, 41, 60, 98.

[17] William B. Quandt, Decade of Decisions: American Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1967-1976 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. 60.

[18] Ibid., pp. vii-viii Parker, The Politics of Miscalculation, p. xi Parker, The Six Day War, p. 205.

[19] Odd Bull, War and Peace in the Middle East: The Experience and Views of a UN Observer (London: Leo Cooper, 1976), p. xv.

[20] Oren, Six Days of War, p. 184.

[21] Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, pp. 125-7 Walter Laqueur, The Road to War 1967: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), p. 233.

[22] Abba Eban, An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1977), p. 373.

[23] Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison, p. 152 Randolph S. and Winston S. Churchill, The Six Day War (London: Heinemann, 1967), p. 70.

[24] "Contingency Planning on Arab-Israeli Conflict, May 22, 1967," U.S. National Archives (USNA), College Park, Md., Middle East Crisis Files 1967, Box 2, emphasis in original.

[25] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years (New York: Scribner, 1995), pp. 364-5.

[26] Radio Cairo, May 24, 1967, as cited in Foreign Broadcasts Information Service (FBIS), May 24, 1967, B6. See also idem, FBIS, May 24, 1967 (B7), FBIS, May 26, 1967, FBIS, May 26, 1967 (B1).

[27] Ibid., May 26, 1967, FBIS, May 29, 1967 (B2).

[28] See, for example, Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, Nasser: The Cairo Documents (London: New English Library, 1972), ch. 7 idem, Sphinx and Commissar: The Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in the Middle East (London: Collins, 1978), ch. 10 idem, 1967: Al-Infijar (Cairo: Ahram, 1990), pp. 317-30, 371-80, 419-25, 490-500. For Nasser's political manipulation of the alleged U.S. machinations vis-à-vis Egypt, see, for example, "President Nasser's Speech at Cairo University on February 22, 1967," FCO 39/245, The British National Archives, Kew, London Minutes by D.J. Speares, Feb. 24, 1967, FCO 39/245, British National Archives Letter from Fletcher to Unwin, No. 1036/67, Mar. 2, 1967, FCO 39/245, British National Archives.

[29] Anthony Nutting, Nasser (New York: Dutton, 1972), chaps. 19-20.

[30] Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, ed., The Arab-Israeli Confrontation of June 1967: An Arab Perspective (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970), pp. 1-2, 5.

[31] Douglas Little, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008), p. 32.

[32] Hirst, "Greater Israel," The Gun and the Olive Branch, ch. 7.

[33] See, for example, Rodinson, Israel and the Arabs, p. 230.

[35] Maxime Rodinson, Israel: A Colonial Settler State? (New York: Monad Press, 1973), pp. 219, 234-5.

[36] Isaac Deutscher, "Interview with Isaac Deutscher: On the Israeli-Arab War," New Left Review, July-Aug. 1967, pp. 30-45.

[37] Fayez A. Sayegh, "Zionist Colonialism in Palestine," Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center, Beirut, 1965.

[38] Abdullah Schleifer, The Fall of Jerusalem (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972), p. 102.

[39] Quigley, The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense, p. 192.

[40] See, for example, Roland Popp, "Stumbling Decidedly into the Six Day War," Middle East War, Spring 2006, pp. 281-309 Ersun N. Kurtulus, "The Notion of a 'Preemptive War': The Six Day War Revisited," Middle East Journal, Spring 2007, pp. 220-38.

[41] Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (London: Faber, 1991), p. 413. For criticism of Hourani's misrepresentation of the 1967 war, see Daniel Pipes' review of his book in The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 5, 1991.

[42] Oren, Six Days of War, p. 184.

[43] Tony Judt, "After Victory: Review of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren," The New Republic, July 29, 2002.

[44] Elie Kedourie, Islam in the Modern World and Other Stories (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1980), p. 187.

Related Topics: Egypt, History, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Syria, US policy | Summer 2017 MEQ receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

The Six Day War

The Six-Day War took place in June 1967. The Six-Day War was fought between June 5th and June 10th. The Israelis defended the war as a preventative military effort to counter what the Israelis saw as an impending attack by Arab nations that surrounded Israel. The Six-Day War was initiated by General Moshe Dayan, the Israeli’s Defence Minister.

The war was against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Israel believed that it was only a matter of time before the three Arab states co-ordinated a massive attack on Israel. After the 1956 Suez Crisis, the United Nations had established a presence in the Middle East, especially at sensitive border areas. The United Nations was only there with the agreement of the nations that acted as a host to it. By May 1967, the Egyptians had made it clear that the United Nations was no longer wanted in the Suez region. Gamal Nasser, leader of Egypt, ordered a concentration of Egyptian military forces in the sensitive Suez zone. This was a highly provocative act and the Israelis only viewed it one way – that Egypt was preparing to attack. The Egyptians had also enforced a naval blockade which closed off the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping.

Rather than wait to be attacked, the Israelis launched a hugely successful military campaign against its perceived enemies. The air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were all but destroyed on June 5th. By June 7th, many Egyptian tanks had been destroyed in the Sinai Desert and Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal. On the same day, the whole of the west bank of the Jordan River had been cleared of Jordanian forces. The Golan Heights were captured from Syria and Israeli forces moved 30 miles into Syria itself.

The war was a disaster for the Arab world and temporarily weakened the man who was seen as the leader of the Arabs – Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. The war was a military disaster for the Arabs but it was also a massive blow to the Arabs morale. Here were four of the strongest Arab nations systematically defeated by just one nation.

The success of the campaign must have surprised the Israelis. However, it also gave them a major problem that was to prove a major problem for the Israeli government for decades. By capturing the Sinai, the Golan Heights and the West Bank of the Jordan River, the Israelis had captured for themselves areas of great strategic value. However, the West Bank also contained over 600,000 Arabs who now came under Israeli administration. Their plight led many young Arabs into joining the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), a group that the Israelis deemed a terrorist organisation. Israeli domestic policies became a lot more complicated after the military successes of June 1967.


The political importance of the 1967 War was immense Israel demonstrated that it was able and willing to initiate strategic strikes that could change the regional balance. Egypt and Syria learned tactical lessons and would launch an attack in 1973 in an attempt to reclaim their lost territory.

Following the war, Israel experienced a wave of national euphoria, and the press praised the military’s performance for weeks afterward. New “victory coins” were minted to celebrate. In addition, the world’s interest in Israel grew, and the country’s economy, which had been in crisis before the war, flourished due to an influx of tourists and donations, as well as the extraction of oil from the Sinai’s wells.

In the Arab nations, populations of minority Jews faced persecution and expulsion following the Israeli victory. According to historian and ambassador Michael B. Oren:

Following the war, Israel made an offer for peace that included the return of most of the recently captured territories. According to Chaim Herzog:

In September, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel.” However, as Avraham Sela notes, the Khartoum conference effectively marked a shift in the perception of the conflict by the Arab states away from one centered on the question of Israel’s legitimacy to one focusing on territories and boundaries.

Israel has been involved in a number of wars and large-scale military operations, including:

  • 1948 Arab–Israeli War (November 1947 – July 1949) – Started as 6 months of civil war between Jewish and Arab militias when the mandate period in Palestine was ending and turned into a regular war after the establishment of Israel and the intervention of several Arab armies. In its conclusion, a set of agreements were signed between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, called the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which established the armistice lines between Israel and its neighbours, also known as the Green Line.
  • Palestinian Fedayeen insurgency (1950s–1960s) – Palestinian attacks and counterMilitary operations carried out by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. These actions were in response to constant fedayeen incursions during which Arab guerrillas infiltrated from Syria, Egypt, and Jordan into Israel to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The policy of the reprisal operations was exceptional due to Israel's declared aim of getting a high 'blood cost' among the enemy side which was believed to be necessary in order to deter them from committing future attacks.
  • Suez Crisis (October 1956) – A military attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel, beginning on 29 October 1956, with the intention to occupy the Sinai Peninsula and to take over the Suez Canal. The attack followed Egypt's decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam. Although the Israeli invasion of the Sinai was successful, the United States and USSR forced it to retreat. Even so, Israel managed to re-open the Straits of Tiran and pacified its southern border.
  • Six-Day War (June 1967) – Fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, and others also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces. Following the war, the territory held by Israel expanded significantly ("The Purple Line") : The West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai and Gaza from Egypt.
  • War of Attrition (1967–1970) – A limited war fought between the Israeli military and forces of the Egyptian Republic, the USSR, Jordan, Syria, and the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1967 to 1970. It was initiated by the Egyptians as a way of recapturing the Sinai from the Israelis, who had been in control of the territory since the mid-1967 Six-Day War. The hostilities ended with a ceasefire signed between the countries in 1970 with frontiers remaining in the same place as when the war began.
  • Yom Kippur War (October 1973) – Fought from 6 to 26 October 1973 by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel as a way of recapturing part of the territories which they lost to the Israelis back in the Six-Day War. The war began with a surprise joint attack by Egypt and Syria on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Egypt and Syria crossed the cease-fire lines in the Sinai and Golan Heights, respectively. Eventually Arab forces were defeated by Israel and there were no significant territorial changes.
  • Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon (1971–1982) – PLO relocate to South Lebanon from Jordan and stage attacks on the Galilee and as a base for international operations. In 1978, Israel launches Operation Litani – the first Israeli large-scale invasion of Lebanon, which was carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in order to expel PLO forces from the territory. Continuing ground and rocket attacks, and Israeli retaliations, eventually escalate into the 1982 War.
    • 1982 Lebanon War (1982) – Began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon to expel the PLO from the territory. The Government of Israel ordered the invasion as a response to the assassination attempt against Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, by the Abu Nidal Organization and due to the constant terror attacks on northern Israel made by the Palestinian guerrilla organizations which resided in Lebanon. The war resulted in the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon and created an Israeli Security Zone in southern Lebanon.

    Conflicts considered as wars by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (as they were named by Israel) are marked in bold. [3]

    Timeline: The Six Day War

    A war in 1967 between Israel and its Arab neighbors reshaped the modern Middle East. Here's a look at key events during the six days of fighting.

    Israeli air attacks against Egypt begin in the morning.

    Israel later begins air strikes in Jordan and targets Syria air force bases.

    Syria, Jordan and Iraq begin air strikes on Haifa.

    Jordan launches air strikes on Netanya and other Israeli targets.

    Jordan and Iraq attempt airstrikes against Tel Aviv. Jordan also begins artillery fire against the city.

    Syrian forces fortify the border with Israel and begin artillery fire.

    Israel takes Gaza, Ras el Naqeb and Jebel Libni from Egypt.

    Ramallah, North East Jerusalem, Ammunition Hill and Talpiot are among areas Israeli forces capture.

    Jordanian forces are ordered to retreat from West Bank.

    U.N. Security Council presents a cease-fire initiative. Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser turns it down. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eskol proposes to Jordan's King Hussein that a cease-fire and peace talks begin. Hussein doesn't respond.

    Bir al-Hasna and Al Qazima in Egypt are claimed by Israel.

    Old City of Jerusalem, Nablus and Jericho are among those places that fall in Jordan.

    Jordanian forces are ordered to retreat.

    Fighting between Syria and Israel continues on the border of Golan.

    Egypt accepts a cease-fire.

    Hebron falls to the Israeli army.

    Fighting continues on the border of Golan.

    An attack on Golan Heights is ordered.

    Israel takes Kuneitra and Mas'ada.

    Cease-fire with Syria is agreed upon.

    War ends, with Israel claiming the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula to the Suez Canal.

    Sources: The Israel Project, Michael Oren speech to the Middle East Forum (May 2002), Zionism and Israel Information Center, Palestine Facts

    5 thoughts on &ldquo Fast and Furious — Nine Amazing Facts About The Six Day War &rdquo

    This is hardly a professional analysis nor an objective one. Israel maintained the most professional and combat ready force in the Middle East and perhaps the world. Being able to mobilize and send 250,000 men into combat within 48 hours is a feat few nations can match.

    I also tire of the bean counter approach to warfare. The Italians attacked from Libya outnumbering the British by at least 9-1 odds in men, and with overwhelming superiority in all other categories. Men, training, doctrine, and leadership count, not beans. The Italians were crushed. Exactly how motivated were the Iatlains?

    Having lived in the Middle East, Arab nationalism is a myth. Loyalities are tribal not national. With the exception of the Arab Legion none of the Arab forces were professional or well trained in a Western sense. Worse Arab forces were draftees, wretchtedly educated, ill trained, poorly motivated, and undisciplined. Anyone who bet on the Arabs pre 1967 might be interested in drinking some Mexican tap water or kissing my honey badger.

    The Arab forces with the exception of Jordan, were modelled on the Soviets. Cumbersome, designed to bash through their enemies and accept huge losses. Unfortunately, such methods lost the Russians over 25 million dead in WW2, but after all a police state can afford such losses. And the mentality of the Arab leaders are closer to Stalin than they are to any Western leader.

    Had the author examined the wretched command and control that denied the Arabs of any chance to coordinate their forces or perform with any semblance of professionalism or effectiveness I might have considered this article worthy of some merit. Nothing is said of how awful the NCO class was and is within the Muslim world, where iniative and responsibility are unknown-in fact the same problems extend through the officer class. The Arab answer to everything appears to be “its God’s will.”

    Their performance has improved from disasterous to its current wretched state. After the Iraq-Iran war we witnessed the state of Muslim professionalism and command and control. Logistics are beyond them. Joint operations are also an unknown with the exception of their special forces. Their Air Forces make excellent targets and with the exception of Russian manned anti aircraft missile units posed no thread to the Israelis.

    Finally, it rather unusual for a power to deliver a sneak attack and then lose a war with such limited spaces and objectives involved but the Arabs did it in 1973. Not so much because of their skills, though they demonstrated an impressive increase in their capabilities since 1967, but rather due to the insular thinking and arrogance of Tel Aviv’s strategists which ignored the basic rules of war, believing that they didn’t apply to Israel. The smashed wreckage of two armored brigades dmeonstrated the failure of Israel’s doctrine and failure to adapt in 1973. Contrat this with the effectiveness of their planning, preparation, and doctrine in 1967.

    The ability of Israel to triumph should be examined through the facets of training, planning, logistics, command and control, intelligence, and doctrine, rather than to attribute it to some special pixie dust.

    Thanks for the input and personal insights. All good points to be sure — particularly the bits about the Soviet style command & control of the Arab states and the quality of their recruits. Your remarks bring to mind a Victor Davis Hanson’s book from about 10 years ago: “Carnage and Culture”. VDH makes the point that soldiers of western-style democracies ultimately fight better than those from despotic or authoritarian regimes for a series of reasons he explores. This dynamic seems to hold up in the 67 war. That said, in the Steven’s defence, we only asked him to write a brief “listicle” about the Six Day War and to keep it below 1,000 words. The format doesn’t leave much room for in-depth analysis. In any case, we welcome your comments.

    GOD is real and will always protect his people (jews) i am a Christian and i would love to go to the land where my GOD lived and taught his people before he went to his kingdom of heaven

    Watch the video: Israels Six Day War - Stephen Berk


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