The Real Lessons of the Six-Day War

Looking past some of the more formulaic debates between the Israeli left and right about the legacy of the 1967 conflict, Yaakov Amidror examines its profound impact on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world as a whole:

Until the Six-Day War, the Arabs had “convincing” explanations as to why they had failed in their wars against Israel. In 1948, the prevailing explanation was that Israel fought against corrupt countries that could not properly unite against it; in the 1956 Suez Crisis, it was the fact Israel was part of an international coalition of superpowers.

The Six-Day War stands out because Israel’s victory was undisputed, and the Arabs were devoid of any excuse for their defeat. . . . The only plausible explanation for the defeat was the Arabs’ claim that they were “surprised.” In that respect, the 1973 Yom Kippur War was something of final proof of the new regional equation by which Israel could not be defeated on the battlefield. The 1973 war, which caught Israel completely by surprise, dealt the Arab armies a massive military defeat. Perhaps it was this reversal of roles that was necessary to reinforce the regional equation. . . .

At the same time, Arab nationalism, especially in its Nasserist sense, failed the test of reality and all but disappeared. It is possible that the blow dealt to the Arab nations had more far-reaching historical implications than common wisdom would have us believe and that its remnants may still resonate in the Arab Spring, which for its part, has consumed the last shreds of faith in Arab nationalism. The resounding defeat in 1967 clearly gave rise to other forces in the Arab world as a substitute for failed nationalism; one of those forces was Islamism, which only benefited from the failure of its modern rival. . . .

[In Israel itself,] the lifting of military rule on Israeli Arabs in November 1966, together with the magnitude of the Arab nations’ defeat in the war a few months later, prompted a fundamental change among Israeli Arabs, as they finally realized they could not undo the results of the War of Independence. To a large extent, this was when the long process of Israeli Arabs’ integration into Israeli society began. . . .

Ironically, . . . it was the Six-Day War that cemented the existence of a Palestinian people in the political and public spheres. Until then there was no tangible link between the Egypt-controlled Gaza Strip and the Jordan-controlled Judea and Samaria, and no Arab country demanded independence for the Palestinians—nothing could have been further from their minds.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Arab nationalism, Arab Spring, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Palestinians, Six-Day War

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat