Israel’s Disastrous ‘Six Day War’ 1967

Background

Pre-1948 Jewish immigration into Palestine provoked inter-communal violence. Britain, the colonial power, resisted calls for mass immigration. They ignored the Holocaust. Britain was focused entirely on maintaining peace in the territory. Jewish terrorists created an impossible situation and Britain left in 1948.1 The in-coming Israeli state inherited an intransigent Muslim population and were also confronted by hostile Muslim countries.

The Israeli Attacks, June 1967

war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means’ Clausewitz, On War, 1832.

The 1967 Israeli military leadership included two future prime ministers and a foreign secretary. They rightly believed they were superior to the opposition. Tactical pre-emptive attacks caught their opponents napping. Dramatically, the Egyptian air force was destroyed on the ground. The Israeli army suffered few casualties in the ground war. Israel’s victory in the ‘Six Day War’ has entered the pantheon of outstanding victories.

Israel’s territorial gains included the capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. Only sophisticated diplomacy could have averted future conflicts.

The Six day War and Bismarck

Victories are ‘stepping stones,’ preparing post-war narratives according to Bismarck.2 He crushed France, brought ‘Germany’ into a single entity, and established European peace for forty-three years, 1871-1914. Bismarck understood war as a deliberative act.

Israel’s battlefield experiences during the ‘Six Day War’ induced hubris and the assumption that Muslim inferiority was permanent. This has informed institutional racism which continues.

The Six Day War’s Aftermath: Internal Security

Israel didn’t have a Bismarckian focus in 1967. The ‘Six Day War’ brought millions of Muslims into Israel after they’d identified them as a security risk. A form of ethnic cleansing was undertaken with many Muslims forcibly evacuated into Jordan and Lebanon.3 Nonetheless many Muslims remained within Israel’s expanded borders. They were regarded as the ‘enemy within’ and treated with institutional hostility. Hopelessly ill-equipped young men improvised by retaliating with an Intifada, a form of taunting low level, persistent civil unrest. This occasionally escalates into atrocity. It’s very provocative: stone throwing against a militarised police force. Opening fire entails the death of young men through disproportionate action. (see Addendum two) Not opening fire makes the police look weak.

All imperial powers understand this situation.4 Constantly ratcheting up militarised responses is counter-intuitive in managing endemic civil unrest. Israel’s internal security worsened after their military triumph. Building a ‘security’ wall is symbolic of this basic loss of control. The wall demonstrates policy failure by Israel.

The Six Day War’s Aftermath: External Security

Egypt and Jordan used Israel’s tactics against them in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. In 1981, Israel’s air force bombed a nuclear reactor site in Iraq offering an insight into their recklessly intransigent mentality. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to enforce their campaign against the PLO. They committed war crimes in the process. There’s been consistent military tension since 1967. The 2014 Gaza war is a classic example of a punitive campaign failing to resolve a political situation.

Post-1967, Israeli political thinking is dominated by military ‘solutions’. The destruction of Arab owned land to create West Bank settlements for Israelis is illegal in internation al law and is an egregious example. The settlements are fully supported by jingoistic Israeli politicians who deploy the army to maintain ‘peace’. The settlements provocatively create inter-communal violence.5

Conclusion

The Israeli triumph in 1967 was disastrous. The surrender of political leadership to the military during a war can be justified, but continuing with this relationship is fatal to post-war peace. Clausewitz and Bismarck are studied in military colleges but they’ve been ignored to the long-term detriment of Israel. The triumph of 1967 wasn’t used as part of the process of diplomacy. Israel wasn’t magnanimous internally or externally in 1967 and continues to suffer the consequences.

Addendum one: Lebanon 1982

The 1982 invasion included the Israeli approved massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Each turn of the militaristic screw deepens the gulf between the Muslims and Israel.

Addendum two: Disproportionate reaction by Israel

The Israeli security cabinet has backed four-year minimum sentences and relaxed its open-fire rules in expanded efforts to punish people who throw stones and firebombs at police, hoping to stop weeks-long unrest in East Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.” (my emphasis)

Notes

1 For Britain Palestine was a side-show as there were more important issues in India.

2 For Bismarck’s success and the failure of his successors see The End of the Great European Peace, 1914 | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com)

3 One estimate is 400,000 see Six-Day War – Wikipedia

4 The Indian Amristar massacre in 1919 was classic over-reaction by trigger happy officials who provided a narrative for generations to come.

5 For an example from February 2021 see Unarmed Palestinian gunned down in West Bank settlement – Newspaper – DAWN.COM

Sources

For Britain’s withdrawal from Palestine see withdrawal from Palestine – British Forces in Palestine

For the Six Day War see Six-Day War | Causes, History, & Summary | Britannica

Everything You Know About Clausewitz Is Wrong – The Diplomat

For Israel’s segregated bus service see ‘A Palestinian Rosa Parks is needed’: Israel’s segregated buses spark outrage (nbcnews.com)

For my discussion of the role German generals played in initiating the First World War see The Guilty German Generals of 1914 | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com)

For Israeli action on the Intifada see Israel Clamps Down on Rock-Throwers With Four-Year Minimum Jail Terms – Sputnik International (sputniknews.com)

For the various Intifada see Intifada – Wikipedia

For Palestinian refugee camps see Palestinian refugees – Wikipedia

For the Lebanon war 1982 and attacks on the refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila massacres see 1982 Lebanon War – Wikipedia and Sabra and Shatila massacre – Wikipedia

For the assassination of Anwar Sadat see The assassination of Anwar Sadat, 1981 – Rare Historical Photos

For the 2014 Gaza war see 2014 Gaza War – Wikipedia

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