Tuesday, June 05, 2007

40 Years Later

I might as well keep the Israeli theme going...

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab countries. Israel, facing a massive, unprovoked attack from Egypt and Syria, struck first on the morning of June 5, 1967 and quickly devastated the Egyptian air force. Over the course of the next six days, Israel pushed Egypt over the Suez Canal, Syrians off the Golan Heights, and the Jordanians over the Jordan River. In this dramatic victory, reality and perceptions changed in the Middle East forever. Israel was no longer seen as just a spry, little country fighting the good fight. It was mighty. To paraphrase Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: They had done the impossible, and this made them mighty.

Israel also took control of territory (nearly quadrupling its size) filled with a hostile and growing population of Arab Palestinians. Israel never intended to keep these territories or rule its people. They were offered to be returned on June 19, 1967 in exchange for peace. The Arab League's response was: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." Few in Israel today think that most of these territories will remain a part of Israel permanently. Israel did annex the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem (to create a united Jerusalem). While many would give up the Golan for peace, Jerusalem, as always, is different and a much more complicated issue.

When I was living in Israel in 1993, it was a time of great hope. Peace was finally coming. Peace got sidetracked since then, for any number of reasons. The future does not look hopeful now...though sometimes that is when the greatest breakthroughs can occur.

For a thoroughly researched and detailed day by day account of the war, including what led to it, I highly recommend Michael Oren's excellent Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Here a couple of interesting links (some may require registration):
Q&A with author and scholar, Michael Oren (Jerusalem Post)
Forty Years On (The Economist)
No Pyrrhic Victory by Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
Arab armies planned to destroy Israel by Steve Linde (Jerusalem Post)
What if Israel Had Turned Back by Tom Segev (NY Times)
The Heavy Burden of Victory by Jonathan Tobin (Jewish World Review)

No comments: