The Six Days War?
“We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon – no alternative”, these words were spoken by Golda Meir the Israeli prime minister October third 1969. Can this statement be true? Sure, if you look at one side of the equation, or more importantly even try to describe the Arab Israeli conflict as a simple equation. But today that will be the goal of this paper, to break down a time period in the Arab Israeli conflict (1967-present) and create a basic equation of analysis that will help us better understand the conflict overall. However even this attempt is still very broad, so more specifically I will be observing all the parties that where involved in the “Six Days War” in the Arab Israeli conflict (Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and Syria). The equation that will appear throughout this paper is, “consequence equals the result which leads to an impact on politics and society”. In reference to the question being answered and the arguments being proposed, I will be analyzing in my opinion the most important historical consequences each party in the war received, the results that took place because of them and the impacts these results would later have on the political and social aspects of each party involved. Before we look at each party lets first get a brief overview on the Six Days War or more commonly known as the “1967 Arab Israeli War”. Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Each region captured were from different aggressors yet Israel now controlled its sovereignty over these newly acquired regions and the Arab inhabitants within them too.
The “Six Days War” was a war between Israel and the surrounding countries of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Following the Suez Crisis of 1956, heated tensions between Israel and Egypt sparked mobilization of infantry from both nations along the Sinai peninsula. On June 5th 1967 Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt to safe guard its borders from the Egyptian forces that where massing near its southern region(Sinai peninsula) . Following Israel’s attack, the other Arab nations (Syria and Jordan) deemed a cause for war was justified and launched strikes/pre-emptive defense measures at Israel over its shared borders (the actual commitment of Jordan towards the attack is questionable but I believe the actions of King Hussein did overall contribute to the attack, this opinion will be more specifically expressed further on) . The conflict lasted six days, hence the name and resulted in Israel capturing control of the
With the brief history of the event in mind I would now like to analyze from least importance to most in my opinion each party involved in the war (Egypt, Jordan [the Palestinians included], Syria and Israel). Egypt after the six days war had not only lost the Sinai Peninsula but also many of its airplanes that were part of its air force, due to Israel’s attacks on its air fields (Smith 289). As a result Egypt had no air support for its ground troops and quickly lost ground to Israeli forces. On June 8th 1967, Egypt accepted a cease fire with Israel, its vast majority of ground forces which dwarfed the Israeli forces in numbers where no match for air attacks. The important consequence to acknowledge here was Egypt losing any attempts to gaining the Sinai Peninsula, and its dominance over the Suez Canal (in this case Egypt’s dominance is meant to signify its once held position of blocking Israeli ships from the Tiran Straights, a waterway linked to the Suez Canal) (Smith 286). With these two consequences in place the results where mostly negative for the Egyptians. The resulting effects where the acquisition of a buffer zone for Israel against any potential Egyptian assault and the re-opening of Israel’s shipping lines with the Tiran Straights. What were the impacts for Egypt, well politically although being the “so-called” aggressors of the war, Egypt has retained control over the Sinai Peninsula. By 1982 Israeli forces left with negotiations and a somewhat warm feeling socially between the two governments. Today Egypt has actually transformed itself into a mediator for the Palestinians and the Israeli’s, whether they will be effective in this role has yet to be seen, but I feel confident about their political stances toward Israel ever since the Madrid Conference of 1991 and their sincere attempts at peaceful solutions for the middle east conflict which also proves their social impacts have been positive ever since their reacquisition of the Sinai peninsula.
Jordan on the other hand by my analysis had a rough time with Israel both socially and politically. However let us start with the consequences which I feel are imperative in understanding Jordan’s evolution from 1967 to the present. The key to this analysis is Jordan’s leader King Hussein. Hussein did not under estimate Israeli forces and was politically divided on Jordan’s commitment to the Palestinian effort for Liberation (not to be confuse with the PLO) and its own national integrity. Should Jordan attack Israel and follow Egypt’s plan for the eradication of Israel? Let us not forget that during the six day’s war and shortly after all parties against Israel did not recognize Israel’s sovereignty. This decision however was never made by Hussein who on June 5th just like the Egyptians were forced to play a defensive role against Israeli forces. The ending consequence? Jordan lost the West Bank, and more importantly lost East Jerusalem. The result of this, mass displacement of Arab Palestinians, the destruction of the Muslim neighborhood facing the western wall in Jerusalem (a point still held today by pro-Islamic believers of Israel’s wrongdoing). Not only were politics strained between these nations but the Palestinians as a party under the war too had grievances against Israel’s military actions. Out of all other parties in the Six days war, Jordan has only now (1990’s) displayed the impacts the Arab-Israeli conflict had on its relations with Israel. Following heated problems with Israel on the situation of the West Bank(ever since its loss in the six days war, which I feel is a huge consequence), the results of confrontations over water, and Palestinian support have been very heated until mediation efforts by the U.S were made (the Clinton administration).Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty on the 26th of October 1994 (Smith 486). Politically I think the impact of all the consequences of the war resulted in a tense standoff between both nations. I also agree with Rashid Khalidi in his journal The Centrality of Jerusalem… , Arab nations around Israel must be given back acquired regions from past wars in order to acknowledge Israel’s sovereignty. In this case sovereignty was the major political dimension that was affected. On a social dimension, seeing as Jordan is a heavy laden country with Palestinian populations there is still some hostility to some degree toward Israel.
Syria also placed a crucial role in the six days war, and the impacts felt afterwards were great and also varied across a number of different outlets, political and social. After efforts of the Syrian offensive against Israel in the war to bomb villages failed, its primary fortifications in the Golan Heights fell rather quickly to the Israelis. Throughout the period following the war, regions won by Israel or held onto by Syria were used as demilitarized zones. Gradually Israel took hold of the Golan Heights and in 1967 formally announced it when its own Labor Party used the region as a platform for politics, claiming ” the land was their’s”. As a consequence increased militancy was employed by Syria such to a degree that when Israel actually went into negotiations with the other Arab countries it had fought during the war, at the Khartoum Conference, Syria boycotted the event altogether (Smith 309). In my opinion this showed the social views of its population and the impact the war had on the nation. To calm tensions in the aftermath of the war the UN came to conclude most of its efforts through the 242 resolution, which basically stated all territorial acquisitions by Israel in recent conflicts should be returned (Smith 310). Of course the resolution was never fully met out and Israel’s perceived stand on the whole conflict only provoked more militancy from Syria. To this day Israel has not relinquished its hold on the Golan Heights yet, although talks between both nations have begun the political impact from the six days war is still very much alive. The result of the loss of the Golan Heights created the impact of political relations to be in strife for both nations, a peace treaty has not been enacted since.
Israel the prevailing party to increase its sovereign land by almost one third through new regions after the six days war was amazing to its people. At the same time the war destabilized surrounding Arab nations around Israel. It also gave Palestinians more justification for clandestine attacks, anti-semitism /anti- Zionism. As we have seen through the opponents to Israel, I believe this nation to be the most affected by the six days war and its surrounding neighbors. I strongly believe that consequences from the six days war mainly arrived from a need of pro Zionism and a need to protect the nation from other nations. Hence regions that had been the root/cause of consequences for other nations became zones of buffer areas and demilitarization areas. This helped Israel on the national security viewpoint but as Smith notes , “much of the land taken was given back”. Not only because of global pressure but also from heated tensions from the PLO. The PLO was a organization uniquely obsessed with liberation for Palestinians but at the same time also defended other nations that had fought for Palestinians ( namely Syria, Jordan, and Egypt during the six days war). Leaders such as Yassar Arafat would emerge from such ideals that the PLO held but tensions among the Palestinians would not be quelled until late into the 21st century with mediation from the U.S and UN (Smith 334). Although much of Israel would rejoice at the victories brought by the six day war, in a political and social dimension the Palestinian identity was still a major issue that Israeli’s had to deal with.
Throughout this paper we have seen the consequences each party involved in the six day war has received, mostly through territorial acquisition. However this does not undermine the significance of the results that where derived from such acquisitions nor the impacts they had on society and politics during the immediate aftermath of the war up till the present modern day era. In each example I have analyzed I have seen that the consequences of the six day war came mostly in the form of a regional loss or gain. This resulted in political or social change from the nation that was affected and also laid down the path of modern day impacts I have tried to trace back to the war. Overall I feel the Arab-Israeli conflict was heavily influenced in terms of modern day associated impacts from the six day war. Mostly each impact was reasoned toward the argument of land sovereignty and Palestinian nationalism. The question itself is still complex yet I feel I have gained a better view of the Arab-Israeli conflict and one of the major events (six day war) that affects politics and society in the middle east today as we know it.
Khalidi Rashid, The Centrality of Jerusalem to an End of Conflict Agreement
University of California Press, 2001
Smith, Charles D. 2007, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Boston. Bedford/ St. Martin’s.