On June 5th 1967 the Israeli Air Force launched a surprise attack on Egypt, drawing the entire region into the third Arab-Israeli War. The resulting Israeli victory and control of Gaza, Sinai, Golan, and the West Bank changed and charged the region. June 5th 2007 marks 40 years from that day, shall we go back and dive into the real facts surrounding the conflict.
The Larger Conflict:
One thing that always surprises me is the lack on information about this conflict, rather a set of propaganda abounds that tries to excuse parties involved in the conflict. One almost has to go back to 1948 to even further explain the conflict, though I will explain further in a continued series about the conflict.
After the horrible events of the Holocaust and the stream of Jewish refugees to Britain’s Palestine Mandate, the UN decided in 1948 to partition Palestine into a Jewish State and Arab State. The Jews, who had come since the 1920s and purchased land legally, agreed to the UN plan. The Arabs rejected the plans and invaded the newly declared state of Israel. Israel won the war and ironically acquired more land in the process. The Palestinians however were still under Jordanian (West Bank) and Egyptian (Gaza Strip) rule. There were no attempts for independence until after the 1967 war, nor has there ever been a Palestinian State.
The Events Leading to War:
The run up to the war has always been debated, with several accusing Israel of starting the war in an attempt to grab land and create difficulties for the Palestinians. In fact much of this rhetoric is used to paint Israel in negative colours and to over simplify a withdrawal as ending a conflict that existed long before the 1967 war. You may ask, “Why did Israel go to war?” Israel firmly believed it was just a matter of time before an Invasion from Egypt, who had massed troops at the border. Rhetoric out of the Arab states had become increasingly hostile, and UN Peacekeepers had been told to leave Egypt. In addition Syria was working on diverting the Jordan River. Egypt had to decided to prevent ships headed for Israel’s Eilat Port from go thru the Straits of Tiran. It was an extremely hostile situation; however it was the Arab’s refusal to accept a permanent and legitimate Jewish state in the Middle East that was the root of problem. In fact uncovered documents from that era suggest Egypt had a firm military plan to invade Israel in an attempt to remove the state it had failed to kill in 1948.
Thus after much consideration and heated debate, the Israeli Government authorized a surprise attack on Egypt. Being wary of having two fronts it did not plan to attack Syria. However, the Egyptians convinced Jordan and Syria to join the war. In addition Iraq and Saudi Arabia provided support for the conflict by sending forces. The resulting defeat was a humiliation for the Arabs and put the Palestinians, including East Jerusalem, under Israeli control.
Negatives and Terrorism:
Guerilla groups had operated from Gaza for sometime prior to 1967 but the events did spark the extreme terrorism that Israel faces today. Many peace activists claim a direct correlation between the two events, and though that may very well exist it does seem to forget the wider conflict. I hope that one day peace will arrive but it should be a greater peace for an entire conflict not based on a part of the conflict. I firmly believe the Palestinians are victims to a greater conflict, but continued violence will not solve it.
Israel, due to a separate conflict, withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and has faced guerilla attack, rockets, and the Second Lebanon War since the withdrawal. In comparison, Israel withdrew from Gaza (conquered in the 1967 war) in 2005 but has had to deal with immense rocket attacks originating from Gaza ever since include wide spread damage to Israeli towns. These are the rewards of withdrawing when several groups continue to preach that Israel shouldn’t exist.
The fact remains, until complete recognition of Israel’s right to exist there will be no peace. Children across the Arab and Muslim world are still taught intolerance towards Israel, the realities exist including the creation of a Jewish state by the UN and it must be accepted. Perhaps real discussions and compromise on both sides and the laying down of weapons can achieve a real peace.
It may be surprising to see this section, but I do honestly believe there are positives that came out of the Six-Day War. Foremost, it eventually paved the way to peace with Egypt and Jordan by showing Israeli strength and determination for survival. Many historians draw links between the 1967 and 1973’s Fourth Arab-Israel War (where Egypt invaded Israel to no gain) as a direct precursor to peace with Egypt in 1978. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in that peace accord.
Secondly, though many may disagree, the unification of Jerusalem was a direct positive to that war. It allowed Jews to visit Judaism’s holiest site and kept religious freedoms for all religions including the Muslims and Christians. Prior to 1967 Jordan did not allow other religions to visit their respective holy sites.
I hope this article has shed some light to some little known fact and given you a greater perspective on a confusing conflict. I know that many may disagree but it is my hope that you will stop and think perhaps in a new light. Sometime we get a wrong picture that blinds us from understanding the conflict as it exists now, by looking back we can get a clearer picture. I hope to show more the Israeli mindset in my series entitled ‘Israel?’. I hope you comeback as I expand the series including my ideas to help solve the conflict.