And on the 7th day, oil politics was created

distributorcap NY

The Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors was fought 42 years ago next week – June 5-10, 1967. It is a war that to this very day has affected the world in more ways that could been imagined.

While the 1956 Suez Crisis was a military victory for Israel, France and Great Britain over Egypt, there was no political settlement to the deep problems that were besetting the Middle East. This included the recognition of the state of Israel by its Arab neighbors and the matter of the Palestinian refugees. Israel, which had captured the Sinai Peninsula, was pressured to return that land to the Egyptians. A very uneasy peace was installed between the belligerent parties.

In the early 1960’s, guerilla raids from Syria and other Arab countries began to be revved up. In 1964, Syria and Jordan began a water diversion project that would have diverted a large portion of Israel’s potable water supply. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked the project in 1965. Then in November 1966, an Israeli force attacked the Jordanian controlled -est Bank town of Es Samu in retaliation for the killing of Israeli soldiers, despite the secret talks between Golda Meir and King Hussein. Also in 1966, Egypt and Syria signed a mutual defense pact supporting each other if attacked. Tensions were rising.

In April 1967 there was an aerial battle over the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria. As border incidents between the two nations began to rise, Arab leaders called for an end to Israeli reprisals and threatened more violence if they didn’t. The Arabs felt confident that the Soviet Union would supply arms and money to help fight back the Israelis. Every nation had their finger on a war-trigger. Then in May, the United Nations withdrew its peace keeping troops in the Sinai, and Egypt began to militarize the peninsula – up to the Israeli border. On May 22nd, Egypt closed Israel’s only outlet to the Red Sea – the Strait of Tiran. Eight days later Jordan joined the Egypt-Syria military alliance. Gamel Nasser, President of Egypt was bellicose in his rhetoric, as three nation’s armies sat on the borders of Israel. The armies of Algeria, Iraq, Sudan and Kuwait were mobilized. The Israelis felt isolated and threatened. War seemed inevitable.

The Israelis told President Johnson that the Arabs were about to attack on May 28th. Johnson contacted the Soviets, who then told the client – Egypt, that they would not support an attack. The operation was cancelled. Nasser was to send an envoy to Washington to discuss the easing of tensions on June 7th. Israel attacked on June 5th. Johnson was livid.

Egypt had 100,000 troops in the Sinai. Syria had 75,000 troops along the border and Jordan had 55,000 along the West Bank. The Syrians and Egyptians were armed by the Soviets, the Jordanians by the Americans. Israel’s troop strength was 265,000 including reservists.

Israel launched a pre-emptive surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force. Losses were massive, as 2/3 of its planes were destroyed, including the Soviet supplied bombers. Attacks against Jordan, Syria and Iraq wiped out most of their air forces and defenses. At the end of Day 1 – the Arabs were completely grounded and had no air power. On the ground Ariel Sharon had ordered an attack against the Egyptian army in the Sinai. Within three days the Arabs armies were retreating. The Sinai would soon fall.

Shortly after the attack on Egypt, Jordan began shelling Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from the West Bank. Israel struck back. Moshe Dayan was hesitant to enter Old Jerusalem, but when he heard the UN was about to declare a ceasefire he changed his mind. Originally all the Israelis wanted was the Old City and the Western Wall, but when King Hussein withdrew to the eastern side of the Jordan River, Dayan took the whole West Bank.

Syria believed Egypt had won the initial battles. Shelling of Northern Israel began. Air attacks on the Syrian Air Force destroyed almost all aircraft. By June 10, the Golan Heights was captured.

A cease fire was signed on June 11th. It was over in 6 days. Israel had defeated the armies and air force of 7 Arab nations with over 100,000,000 people. Israel had seized the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and West Bank. Israeli territory was 200% bigger and now had over million Palestinians under their control. Israel controlled oil fields in the Sinai. Egypt lost 80% of its equipment and had over 11,000 dead. Syria lost ½ its equipment and 2,500 soldiers. Jordan had 700 casualties. Israel lost around 1,000 soldiers.

On June 19, 1967, Israel offered to return the Sinai and Golan Heights form peace agreements with Egypt and Syria. There would be further negotiation regarding the West Bank. This offer was to be conveyed to the Arabs through the US Government. The US was informed but claimed it never was given the order to transmit to the necessary governments. There is no evidence Egypt or Syria ever received that offer. On June 27th, 1967 Israel officially incorporated East Jerusalem into the Israeli city of Jerusalem.

Another major war would erupt 6 years later, which would have a pronounced and direct effect on American lives in 1973 and continue on to 2008.

The West Bank and Golan were incorporated into Israel proper in the 1980s, the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979. Many Jews in Arab lands like Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon permanently left their homeland and emigrated to Israel.

The map was redrawn. The Israelis felt strong and confident (and rightfully so), The Arabs felt humiliated and embarrassed. To this day they have never recovered from this stinging defeat. The stage was set, the psychology was changed. The war that was so overwhelmingly won by Israel has proven to be one of the mightiest and most amazing military victories in history. But Israel soon saw that their military victory turned into a political nightmare, as the world labeled Israel as aggressive and arrogant, and demanded concession after concession. 42 years after a lightning victory, the political solution has been oozing like sap from a maple tree. A solution seems more and more difficult.

Our current president has spoke of peace before he leaves in January. There is plenty more sap back in the White House.


~ by distributorcap on May 29, 2008.

16 Responses to “And on the 7th day, oil politics was created”

  1. I guess I get to go first, which I have mixed feelings about. Given the short amount of time that I have for blogging, I must just speak up.

    To begin – you are an excellent writer in any case, but when the topic is history and the appropriate analysis, you have few equals. Outstanding as always, as always. Bravo.

    As you know DCap, I have terribly mixed feelings about Israel. You know that I have been there twice and that I will likely return. You know that I love my inner Jew and that she is deeply incorporated into the whole of me. You know that I truly believe that Israel has the right to exist.

    Then I always add… but at what cost?

    I also have other Middle Eastern friends. My one friend’s father was a general for Jordan in this war. He never recovered from the humiliation of defeat, personally or professionally.

    I am well aware that the Arab world would have obliterated Israel given the chance.

    As always, the murky back channels between the US and Israel played a key role in this. Israel acted and Johnson was furious as you state.

    Then did the US ever really get the info regarding the other land? And if they did, why did not transmit it.

    My last trip to Israel (and Jordan) was two years ago right now. My cousin and I drove all around the West Bank and up around the Golan – him gloating and me weeping.

    I also spent time with my Jordanian friends who can see the twinkling lights of what was once their home in the same West Bank that was lost.

    I think of the settlers and of how holy scripture is always used to justify violence and war.

    I think I just don’t know what to think any more.

    Thank you for this rich and thought provoking piece. It is one of the most complex issues of our time and one in which much hangs upon.

  2. Hi Cap;

    FranIAm said it best, and my thoughts coincide with hers when she writes “I think of the settlers and of how holy scripture is always used to justify violence and war.

    I think I just don’t know what to think any more.”

  3. I love your historical posts, dcap. Just don’t end up like the dude in Holy Grail. 😉

    Fran covered a lot of the feelings. It’s such a mixed bag. The extremists on both sides that dominate too much of the media’s coverage – angry sells, we know. Joe Arab and Jane Jew that aren’t in the spotlight, having to deal with the tensions of their own making and those that are made for them.

    The world was fucked up, is fucked up and will be fucked up.

  4. Excellent writing.

  5. Great job, as always D-Cap! I recently watch a Discovery channel show about this and was amazed at how swift the battle took place.

  6. Great post. In an article I once read about the Six-Day War, the author said that most Israelis were expecting crushing defeat; synagogues were packed and everyone prepared for the worst. Six days, and the whole world is still feeling the after-effects.

  7. Great post, DCap. Has anyone ever determined just what the US did or didn’t do? I mean, why would we not have transmitted the information?

  8. Johnson had a lot to be “furious” about (or pretend to be furious about) over those six days.

    Israel attacked the USS Liberty on June 8th, and 34 American seamen were killed, in the second deadliest attack since WWII. Some members of the Johnson Administration, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Thomas Hinman Moorer, were convinced the attack was no accident.

    Conspiracy theorists believe the plan was to blame the attack on Egypt and use it as an excuse for the United States to enter the war.

  9. Thanks to you for an excellent article about a very complex situation and regards to FranIam for her thoughtful comment.

    I hope I don’t go too far off-topic but I ran across an interesting piece on Alternet last week about war and population part of which addressed the Palestinian-Israeli issue and a very strange aspect of the on-going war: “You have to drop the namby-pamby liberal idea that people only have babies out of “love.” In lots of places on this planet, baby-making is a form of weapons production.

    In some places, it’s open policy. For example, in Palestine there’s an all-out birthrate war going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And one of the most frustrating things about this kind of struggle, from the Israeli perspective, is that the worse you make life for the people in the occupied zones, the more kids they have. The Gaza Strip, for instance, has one of the highest fertility rates in the world outside Africa, at 5.6 kids per woman.

    The rate for Israeli overall is about 2.8 children per woman, high for a rich country. But the most amazing rates anywhere, even higher than for the Gaza Palestinians, are in the most extreme Zionist groups, the Haredi “ultra-orthodox” Jews. Until recently they averaged eight or nine children per woman. There was actually a big panic in the Israeli settler press when news hit that their rate had dropped to a mere 7.7 kids per woman.”(Gary Brecher, Taki’s Magazine)

    His point was that people who feel threatened tend to have the most children. Whatever was happening 40 years ago to drive the 6 Day War can only have meaning insofar as it can help to provide a solution now.

  10. Great post, DC.

    Yeah, susan, that Gary Brecher guy’s a real corker isn’t he? I’m being kind when I say that. I especially take exception to his peculiar generalization on large families. But that’s not the first half baked conclusion he’s come up with. Anyway, I’m sure my offense is only taken because I feel threatened by Brecher’s conclusions about large families feeling threatened:)

  11. Hi Chad – I wasn’t sure quite what to make of Gary Brecher and his war buff self appellation since only a crazy person could be a buff of war unless, of course, one likes to read Lao Tzu for tips on playing chess.

  12. I think Brecher’s claims have a semblance of truth to them.

    It makes sense considering our ultimate goal as a species is to survive.

    Even in the U.S., the people who tend to have the most children are poor-“Threatened.”

    Of course there’s the romanticized notion that “Poor people are the happy people,” and by extension they have children because they’re filled with so much “Joy, and Love.”

    But then you look at reality,- Poor people tend to die younger, have limited access to education, health care, higher rates of drug/alcohol abuse-dependence, involvement in the criminal justice system, drop out rates, teen pregnancy, and most importantly (Especially these days) people born into poverty more often than not, stay there for their entire lives.

    Having more children increases the chances at least one will succeed.

    There’s a resistance to science among the poor because they also are, generally, more “Religious” (No hope in the real world; look for Pie in the Sky), and science is threatening to Religion.

    Psychological/Sociological explanations for human behavior often reduce us to simplistic animals motivated by less than admirable reasoning.

  13. Ironically, I don’t like Brecher’s generalization for some of the same reasons you mentioned, Fairlane, things like access to education, contraception, etc. He has no hard data on which to base his conclusion when it comes to these important factors. There are also a whole host of other factors which Brecher has no hard data on: ethnic and class distributions, fertility rates, and socio-religious behaviors, for example. All these factors and a truckload more, which I didn’t mention, affect the size of families. The issue is too complex to generalize it the way Brecher did without hard data.

    His conclusion also doesn’t take into consideration differences in behavior when a threat is imminent. Nor does it rigorously classify what constitutes a threat along with differences in what various population distributions find threatening.

    Moreover, some people might, indeed, reproduce more because of the “safety in numbers” theory. But it can also be argued just as compellingly, perhaps moreso, that numbers are an impediment to survival thus causing all kinds of counterintuitive consequences. Bottom line, his “thesis” is too generic to be taken as authoritative without a panoply of testing and study to validate his homogenized view.

    I do agree with you, however, that “Psychological/Sociological explanations for human behavior often reduce us to simplistic animals motivated by less than admirable reasoning.”

    Have a good one ol bean:)

  14. I agree his “theory” is not absolute. No theory is, at least none that attempt to explain human behavior.

    But, as I said, it does make sense. “Threatened” people tend to have more children.

    Of course, as you mentioned, the reasons they are threatened are extraordinarily complex.

  15. I hope DCap isn’t feeling that the whole point of his post about the 6 Day War has devolved into an entirely different issue but the problems in that part of the world have continued to affect all of us and so long as there’s repression and bloody murder in the hearts and minds of both sides we’ll never see an acceptable resolution .

    We can’t forget that great misery can be temporarily assuaged at the poor man’s opera.

  16. susan

    dont be silly — any conversation that comes out of a post — well that is all i can ask — as for Brecher – i dont know enough about his theories to comment wisely – but i do know that a solution in that part of the world is more elusive than ever — and maybe never at this point

    so does this mean we will start seeing republicans having 14 kids each.

    and thanks to all who commented.

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