1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Trans­formed the Mid­dle East

Tom Segev; Jes­si­ca Cohen, trans.

  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

The rever­ber­a­tion from Israel’s vic­to­ry in the Six-Day War is such that forty years after the event, new books con­tin­ue to be writ­ten about it. Tom Segev has writ­ten a book that focus­es pri­mar­i­ly on the events and deci­sions pre­ced­ing the war as well as those that came short­ly after the war. The book is told almost com­plete­ly from the Israeli per­spec­tive and inter­weaves the expe­ri­ences of every­day Israeli cit­i­zens all the way up to cab­i­net-lev­el discussions.

1967 is on par with many recent revi­sion­ist views of the Six-Day War in claim­ing that Israel did not face an exis­ten­tial threat in June, 1967, and that Israeli politi­cians wel­comed war as a means to redress unre­solved bor­der dis­putes with its neigh­bors. Although Segev does not stint on pre­sent­ing the facts lead­ing up to the war, the read­er may find him­self sur­prised at the author’s con­clu­sions. For exam­ple, giv­en the fact that in the three week peri­od pre­ced­ing the war Egypt block­ad­ed the Straits of Tiran in vio­la­tion of the accord end­ing the 1956 War, the Unit­ed Nations with­drew its forces sep­a­rat­ing the Egypt­ian and Israeli armies in the Sinai, Egypt­ian armored divi­sions crossed the Suez Canal and moved toward the Israeli bor­der, Egypt and Jor­dan signed a mutu­al defense pact plac­ing the Jor­dan­ian army under the com­mand of an Egypt­ian gen­er­al, and nei­ther the U.N. nor any oth­er coun­try was will­ing to break the Egypt­ian block­ade, it is dif­fi­cult to under­stand how the author arrives at the con­clu­sion that war was avoid­able if only Israel had not act­ed pre­ma­ture­ly.”

The book’s strength is that it presents Israel as it was in 1967 from a vari­ety of per­spec­tives includ­ing polit­i­cal, social, eco­nom­ic, his­tor­i­cal, and per­son­al. In addi­tion, the author does not shy away from pre­sent­ing evi­dence which con­tra­dicts his the­sis. Whether Tom Segev under­stood that much of this evi­dence under­cut his con­clu­sions remains unclear.

Gil Ehrenkranz is a lawyer in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia spe­cial­iz­ing in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions law and inter­na­tion­al trans­ac­tions. He has been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished in MID­STREAM Mag­a­zine includ­ing an arti­cle con­cern­ing Israeli mil­i­tary options regard­ing Iran’s nuclear weapons pro­gram., as well as in the Mid­dle East Review of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs

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