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.

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


Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times