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Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    Well-researched half-history is still half a history

    While there are many objective books written by Israelis about Israel¿s conflicts with the Arabs, this book is not one of them. The problem with this book is more than just pro-Israeli bias, which may be forgiven. The problem here is this book tells only half the story, and little new at that. Much of what¿s in here has been already said in the old classics by Edgar O¿Ballance ¿The 3rd Arab-Israeli War¿ and ¿The Electronic War in the Middle East¿, written shortly after the events. The military events themselves are misrepresented, to the extent of completely negating facts in some cases. For instance, the book claims that Israel helped Arabs in the West bank and Gaza ¿rebuild¿ destroyed homes, whereas the actual fact [see ¿The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World,¿ by Avi Shlaim] was that Israel destroyed hundreds of homes in the town of Qalqilya, completely erased 3 villages from existence (Latrun, the Biblical Emmaus, and Beit Nuba), and drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees across the Jordan river into exile. Another event glossed over in ¿Six Days of War¿ is the Israeli massacre of 1000s of Egyptian POWs trapped in the Sinai before the end of the war. All these are well-established facts that should not have been ignored in a book that pretends to be ¿objective¿. Yet another item where ¿Six Days of War¿ prefers to parrot the official Israeli line rather than deal objectively with the evidence is the Israeli assault during the 1967 war on the USS Liberty. According to many eyewitness accounts [e.g., ¿Assault on the Liberty¿ by James M. Ennes Jr.], Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty ¿ a US intelligence ship flying a US flag ¿ murdering 37 American sailors and wounding scores more. Ever since, Israel has maintained it is tragic accident and this is precisely the line ¿Six Days of War¿ advocates. Survivors, however, testify in ¿Assault on the Liberty¿ that they saw Israeli aircraft strafing the ship during evacuation in an effort to cover up the evidence. ¿Assault on the Liberty¿ concludes that it was a deliberate attack on the Liberty to destroy the intelligence gathered by the ship, which would have probably lead to prosecuting Israeli leaders for war crimes for what they had done to the Egyptian POWs in the Sinai. ¿Body of Secrets,¿ by James Bamford, presents recently declassified archives from the NSA indicating that the Israelis knew it was an American ship before the attack, and yet carried out their mission. This is obviously a very serious issue and any serious book claiming objectivity needs to examine both sides of the coin and address the evidence without contradiction. As for examining the political aspects of the war, this is actually the place where ¿Six Days of War¿ fails miserably. Offhand, the book dismisses the long-term Arab aspirations and thinking, replacing them with some crude models. Though the roots of the conflicts clearly extend well before 1948 and all the way back to 1917, the book focuses almost exclusively on the 1967 conflagration. Seen thus without even a minimal understanding of their grievances, the Arabs appear irrational and aggressive while Israel is seen as a victim. The Palestinians, a major Middle East player, are totally dismissed in ¿Six Days of War¿ as a non-entity and a non-people. Unfortunately, this book¿s concentration on the military aspects and its pro-Israeli perspective make it unbalanced and prevent it from providing a deeper analysis of events. The focus of this book is too narrow to be of any value, and like I said before, there¿s little here that hasn¿t been printed elsewhere.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2003

    Thorough

    In recent years, several so-called new historians have attempted to blame Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Michael Oren¿s work should put such claims concerning 1967 to rest. His research in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, English and French should also permanently silence those contending that no sources exist to balance the wealth of information in wide-open Israeli archives. Oren rooted through reams of declassified U.S. Presidential and State Department files, personal oral histories, United Nations, Soviet and Israeli offices--and dozens of previously published histories, articles, and memoirs. He interviewed the largest set of primary sources on 1967 to date--including 27 Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian military commanders, ambassadors, historians and volunteers; 22 Israeli leaders; four Supreme Soviet, KGB, and Russian military advisers; former- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, National Security Affairs Advisor Walter Rostow and United Nations Commander Indar Jit Rikhye. In 1967, Arab nations planned a war to destroy Israel. From 1949 through 1967, Israel lost 675 civilians alone to hostile Arab fire. But in 1964, the Soviets began pouring $2 billion a year in military hardware into Egypt and Syria and in 1966, falsely reporting to them that Israel planned to attack. Syria constantly fired on Israeli fishing boats in the Galilee and in November 1964 breached Israel¿s northern border in an effort to divert the Jordan¿s headwaters. In 1966, Israel suffered 96 mines, shooting and sabotage incidents on its northern border; Syria boasted 75 guerilla attacks in February and March alone. In May 1967, Oren writes, Gamal Abdel Nasser heralded ¿the final battle in Palestine.¿ On May 17, he illegally ordered United Nations Secretary General U Thant to remove peacekeeping forces from the Sinai, where Egypt had stationed 130,000 troops and 1,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers. Egyptian MiG fighters penetrated Israeli airspace--twice. Syria poised 50,000 troops and 235 tanks to strike Israel from the Golan. On May 21, Nasser told General `Ali `Amer, Defense Minister Shams al-Din Badran and Vice President Zakkariya Muhieddin that closing the Straits of Tiran would raise the chance of war to 50%, then ordered blockade. This violated the 1958 Geneva Convention guaranteeing the international status of straits. While Egypt had not signed the treaty, her USSR sponsors had. Nasser himself said that ¿closing the Gulf of Aqaba meant war,¿ whose objective was ¿Israel¿s destruction,¿ which to him was tantamount to striking America. ¿Israel today is the United States,¿ Nasser said. On May 24, Nasser told U Thant the ¿advantages of attacking first¿ would assure Egypt¿s victory. Indeed, Gen. `Amer planned a May 27 attack on Israel¿s strategic Haifa oil refineries, Dimona nuclear reactor, Eilat and the entire Negev. Operation Dawn was called off just hours before commission, after U.S. National Security Advisor Walter Rostow by chance warned Egypt¿s ambassador that the US knew of the plans. President Johnson that night contacted the Soviet Premier, whose ambassador to Egypt hand-delivered to Nasser Kosygin¿s warning not to attack Israel, lest the U.S. renege on promises of restraint against the USSR. Nasser denied the plan--but rushed to call off the compromised attack. On May 28, King Hussein and Prime Minister Sa¿d Jum¿a met Egyptian ambassador `Uthman Nuri in Amman, flying May 29 to Cairo to put Jordan¿s army under General `Abd al-Muni¿im Riyad¿s command, in a war to sweep Israel into the sea. PLO chairman Ahmad al-Shuqayri returned to Jordan and pledged, ¿We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors--if there are any--the boats are ready to deport them!¿ The U.S. Ambassador to Jordan called Hussein¿s Cairo treaty ¿alarmingly reminiscent of August 1914.¿ Richard Nolte, the green US ambassador to Cairo, likened Arab war cries to those of early 1948. Yet, the crisis caught t

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    Typical Israeli propaganda

    This book not only discusses everything from the point of view of Israel, but also considerably misrepresents the motives and behavior of the Arabs, as if the Arab countries were irrational and aggressive for no reason. History is made to begin a few months before the 1967 war. This is done to hide the decades of Israeli aggression and injustice towards the Arabs and especially the Palestinians before 1967. The Palestinians are also taken very lightly in this book, which is ridiculous, since they were the party most affected by this war, nearly half a million of them becoming refugees (again) and more than a million falling under Israeli occupation.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    The Six Days of War

    The Six Days of War started with the context of the War and the basic information of what was happening about a year and a half before the war had started. It tells about how Nasser, the Egyptian ruler of the time, had been irritated at Israel for particular reasons that weren¿t revealed until later. The Israelis did not seem to be too worried, for they had superior Air power over the Egyptians and those Egyptians still had to cross a desert to get to the Israelis. Time had passed and Nasser was trying harder to irritate the Israelis so that they might do something rash. The strategy didn¿t work, and Israel continued to prepare for their annual festival of their becoming a state. As time progressed Nasser became more drastic and finally decided to send troops to the borders, however, Nasser¿s excuse was that he was trying to blockade the oil ports that go from farther East to Israel. The Israelis did not fall for that trick, but they did seek help so that if this did come to war, then they would not be alone. Nasser, during that time, had raised its own help successfully by saying that it was every Arab¿s duty to wipe out Israel. Nasser got supplies from Iraq and Iran, but got troops from Jordan due to the fact that the Jordanians were afraid of an attack from either if it did not take a side. That had happened about a month before the war. In about two weeks, Israel had enough. They decided to prepare for war, if they did not, then it would seem to the world that Israel could not fight its own war alone. By a week before war was declared, the skirmishes had started. The only reply that Israel had gotten from the United States was if the Israelis lost about half of its territory, then the US would help defend Israel. The main difficulty was that when the U.S. would help, Israel would cease to be a state. Then Michel O. Brien gave a detailed account of what had happened each of the six days of the war. The first day had a lot of air strikes on the Arab world, but they were mainly against Egypt. The second day the Egyptians had a few minor attacks and attacking, but they mostly assessed their damage from the air strikes from Israel. Egypt lost about 70% of its air superiority because of their organization of airplanes. Instead of keeping a few planes of each type at an airbase, they kept only one type of plane in a single base making it easier for the Israelis to prioritize their attacks. The UN had suggested a cease-fire to both sides, but Egypt was naturally against it for then this would have been the shortest war in history. The third day was one of Israel¿s bad days, for they had gone into a captured city and got a large crowd with many cheers. This lasted until they tried to disarm someone, then the citizens got hostile and began running to snipe at the Israelis, for they had been thinking they were Egyptians. The fourth and fifth days had been mainly a job of defense on the Israelis¿ side, while Egypt had the harder time with penetrating the Israelis¿ defenses and didn¿t succeed. The sixth day was the day Egypt finally gave up and accepted the cease-fire with Israel. The aftermath showed the total damage and such they did to each other. The Six Days of War is a well-written book. It is full of information such as specific names of tanks and planes while still being able to tell the other people of the audience the general term. In this fashion Michel O. Brien, the author, could get across the details of the missions for about any audience. He writes in such a simple way so that the words don¿t seem like they came out of a dictionary. He keeps his paragraphs to a medium size so that his longest paragraph is only half a page. I liked his way of writing, but the notes that seemed to take up the last quarter of the book did seem like the book was bigger than it really was. However, it was well written and Michel O. Brien wrote about 160 pages to explain what had occurred from a year and a half

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2003

    superb military and diplomatic history

    As discussed at length by other reviewers in this section, the book nicely outlines the events surrounding this seminal conflict. As an avid student of war in the 20th century, I have read few books that can compete in clarity, organization, insight and presentation to this one. It is, in a word, simply superb history. Additionally, it provides important data for the context of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. I have listed two other related titles, below.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    Six Days of War!

    Buy this book, read it thoroughly, and talk to people about the 1967 Middle East War - known as 'The Six Day War' by most Western's and known as 'The June War', 'The Setback' or 'The Disaster' by Arabs - is still considered to be unfinished business to many Arab and Muslims around the World to this very day. Michael B. Oren did a superb job of telling the story in a logical manner - beginning with 'setting the context for the war', 'the catalyst', and then a 'day-by-day blow-by-blow re-telling of the fastest war in history to that date. There are non-stop anecdotes (from both the Israeli and Arab point of views) which made the story much more absorbing. Michael is Jewish, but did the best he could to remain unbiased. If the story is at all bias - it can be attributed to the fact that the Arab nations have NOT de-classified (and probably never will) the occurrences leading-up-to, during, and following those six fateful days in June 1967. Michael had to piece together the story from the sources available to him. I could not put this book down. I read it in four nights. I am 32 and was not even alive during this war and wanted to know more than simply 'Israel won.' This book helped me understand the 'why, when, how, & who' that I never knew. Did you know that most of the Israeli arms and France provided all of the air force fighters? Did you know that America bent over backward NOT siding with Israel so as not to damage our standing with the Arab community? Did you know that Nasser (Egyptian President) - when in Day 2 he realized that Israel had already destroyed 60% of his air force - lied and told the Arab World that America had directly helped Israel?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2002

    Best High Level Read on the 6 Day War

    For history buffs that crave, military detail, the subtle nuances of Foreign Policy dialogue and analysis of crisis akin to the Cuban Missle crisis, with insight into a pivotal period of time that is now viewed and commented upon by all - read 6 Days At War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    Allows you to draw your conclusions

    The one item about this well researched material is that it brings in all accounts and versions from previously withheld documents. These documents are not hearsay, they are backed up and substantiated. I have to say I am looking at the entire event quite differently to include today's developments. Very tedious and well assembled, I recommend getting this one. I also recommend another book which takes a detailed look at this regions future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2002

    simply astonishing!!

    A treasure of facts ,to be discovered . Objectivity , accuracy , exceptionally eloquent style . Finally I had the chance to discover what really happened , since going through the prescriped articles published in the middle east , simply , increase your turmoil .Specially with all the triumphant anthems and the eye-catching victorious headlines serrounding you from everywhere , I bet you'll be glad to find a guiding light , thats why I highly recommend this book (reference).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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