The June 1967 War: Paths and Implications

19 May, 2020

The ACRPS has published The June 1967 War: Paths and Implications, a joint project resulting from the 2017 ACRPS conference, “The Naksa and its Repercussions: 50 Years since the Defeat of June 1967” The repercussions of this war, which represented a major turning point in the course of the Arab Israeli conflict, continue to be felt until now.

This book presents new analyses of the course of the war in the context of the historiographic crisis faced by Arab historians, represented in the absence of an Arab archive of this war, and of any official Arab accounts of it. Despite the large number of Arab writings about the June 1967 war, they still pale in relation to the pivotal impact this historical event had on the fate of the Arab nation. Most of the writings formed part of the ideological and political battle between Arab partisan political forces and regimes, and aimed, in general, at vindicating one party and holding another responsible for its defeat, whether this party was a political system or a political/ideological current.

The absence of Arab writings on, and objective evaluation of, the June 1967 war could be, in and of itself, a subject for study and research. Hence, the main task of the book was to fill some aspects of this gap in the relevant Arabic studies by researching the war from a military history and strategic analysis point of view, and present new understandings of its effects and repercussions on the Palestinian cause.

This book includes 12 chapters divided into four sections. The first chapter is a transcript of Azmi Bishara’s opening lecture to the conference, which lamented the failure to carefully document and analyse the war due to the taboo of scrutinizing political decision-making and military failures. Since the 1967 conflict, the idea of an “Arab-Israeli” conflict, has made way for a series of individual agreements tying Israel separately to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians. This went hand-in-hand with the decline and eventual demise of Arab nationalism as a state-sanctioned ideology. In the second chapter, Abdelwahab El-Affendi evaluates the 1967 defeat as the most severe since since Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt. It was, in his opinion, a defeat for the architecture of Arab society and for its physical and mental structure, revealing its political, economic, technical and cultural backwardness.

The second section comes in three chapters, the first of which is written by Omar Ashour, who argues that the military defeat of the Egyptian forces in the war was not inevitable because of their huge numerical, fiery and armament capabilities, in addition to the intense external support from great powers, and popular and regional support. The semi-inevitability of this defeat can rather be understood through other variables, most notably the type of the regime and its military institution and their effects on the combat performance of the army. In the fourth chapter, Ghazi Rabaa discusses the Jordanian army’s preparations and capabilities on the eve of the war, stressing that this army was trained in those times. The period, compared to the armies of the Arab region, but what he lacked was air cover and a real chief of staff. Marwan Kabalan, in the fifth chapter presents a realistic account of the military and political conditions that led to the fall of the Golan, which had major repercussions on the future of Syria and the entire Arab region.

The third section consists of two chapters. In the sixth chapter, Mahmoud Muhareb explores the Israeli decision-making process in waging a war on Egypt, most notably the Zionist ideology and security as factors to justify the expansion of the state's borders. Yasser Djazaerly, in Chapter Seven, documents the historical Israeli debate around the causes of the war, and analyzes Israel's vision of itself as surrounded by hostile countries aiming to eliminate its existence. He argues that the West has looked at Israel and the Arabs like this for decades, analyzing this vision as a reproduction of the confrontation between David and Goliath, and this war as a continuation of this confrontation.

The fourth section covers the repercussions of the war for the Palestinians over three chapters. In the eighth chapter, Bilal Mohammed Shalash discusses the launch of an immediate armed resistance in the West Bank after the June defeat, which contradicted the reality of its disintegrated political forces. He concludes that the resurrection of the armed resistance in the West Bank and its activity from 1967-1970 resulted in part from the breakdown of the structure of security control and control imposed by the Jordanian government in the West Bank. In the ninth chapter, Mueen Al-Taher discusses the impact of the defeat on the development of the Palestinian resistance movement. In the tenth chapter, Mohammad Samhouri addresses the negative and profound impact of the war on the Palestinian economy, which is still suffering from the devastating repercussions of this war.

The fifth section explores the international dimensions of the June 1967 war in two chapters. In the eleventh chapter, Abdul Hamid Siam seeks to answer several questions, including: Was the June war inevitable? Could it have been avoided? What role did the UN Emergency Force play? Did the Secretary-General of the United Nations act in accordance with international law? What steps did it take and not take to prevent the outbreak of war? Finally in the twelfth chapter, Osama Abu Irshaid discusses the US position on the war based on available documents from President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, published in 2004 by the US State Department.

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