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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