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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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen