Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Six-Day War and background . . .

The release of tension must have been extraordinary when in early June 01967, Radio Cairo broadcast dispatches from the new war that had seemed inevitable for months. Egypt and its allies, Jordan and Syria, were defeating Israel even after the opening pre-emptive air strikes took out the formidable Egyptian Air Force. Anwar Sadat, who was then the President of the National Assembly in Egypt took a late night walk through the capital's celebrations fully aware of the come down that would soon hit his nation. The Radio reports were false - at worst propagandistic, at best merely presumptuous. By week's end, the victors of the Six Day War, as an emboldened Israeli leadership would quickly brand the campaign, would be too plain to deny. The war's outcome, however, would take decades to fully materialize.

Why was Israel's victory immediately recognized as so monumental? There was, of course, the significant boundary changes; twenty-six thousand square miles of territory gained by the Israelis. This included the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt), the Golan Heights (from Syria), and most convincingly for those who sought to argue for the divinity inherent in the War's outcome, East Jerusalem (from Jordan). This, the 'center of the world', came with the acquisition of the West Bank.

But it's after the Six-Day War that Israel, for the first time since the Jewish state's creation in 01948 and only twenty-two years after the defeat of the Nazis, was recognized as the primary regional military power. Israel's might and the question of its necessity (and legitimacy, in the most radical anti-Israeli quarters) was the Geo-political development that would frame much of the Middle-East debate for the next several decades.

No comments: