Results of the Israeli 6 Day Way, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

This paper examines the outcomes of the 6 day war that ended on 10th June 1967 after a fierce engagement between the Arab states and Israel.  The end result was in the Arab states suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Israeli armed forces.  Israel was criticised for adopting a pre-emptive strategy of attacking the Arabs which resulted in the complete destruction of the Jordanian Airforce, and a ceasefire being called on the Syrian front.  During the 6 day engagement the Arab states lost 18,000 men compared to only 700 Israeli soldiers killed.

Israel acquired significant tracts of land during this campaign which included that of the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank etc. In addition Israel secured these borders and took complete control of the City of Jerusalem.  The conflict was based upon the Arab States refusing the right of recognition for Israel to exist and that there would be no peace with Israel or recognition of a state of Israel.  This in turn led to the plight of the Palestinian Arabs that were effectively dispossessed by the Israelis and created 350,000 refugees that were either controlled by the Israeli forces or fled to neighboring Jordan.

The outcome of the war has left tensions that still exist today between that of the Israelis and the Palestinians. This equally has created both tension and conflict in the region with the other more radical elements of the bordering Arabic states.

Israel and USA Support

There is no doubt that the end result of the 6 day war changed the landscape of the Middle East for decades to come.  Many feel that the events which led up to this in May 1967 caught the US Military and Administration unawares.  At the time President Johnson’s administration was highly caught up with the Vietnam War and they did not want to get involved in a Middle Eastern conflict at that time.  Johnson tried to calm the situation but he could not control the spiral of events that followed and ultimately paved the way for the war.  A more clandestine viewpoint is that the USA supported Israel via a hidden agenda that looked at this as an opportunity to topple the Egyptian President Nasir.  In any event Israel took this opportunity to show the potency of the Israeli armed forces and to dish out a severe warning to the Arabic nations in terms of the consequences in attacking Israel.  (Quandt, 1992).

The United Nations (UN) also tried to establish the groundwork or framework that would promote a lasting peace in the region.  They passed resolution 242 in November 1967 which set out rules for Israeli forces to withdraw troops from regions it had occupied as a result of its victories in the battle.  Israel however chose to ignore this demand on the ground of ongoing security and protection for the State of Israel.  Instead they continued to settle these regions and expel Arab refugees.  This issue has continued to get worse and we still witness many confrontations between the Palestinians and Israeli’s over these disputed territories. In addition this seems to have left 1.3 million displaced Palestinian and created terrorist groups like Al Fatah and Hamas.

Israels Sense of Identity

The 6 day war was considered instrumental in helping to galvanise Israel as a Nation.  It had taken on the powerful Arab League of Nations and provided them with a humiliating defeat and in addition established additional Israeli territory.  It had shown the world that the will and determination of a small nation of people would not be crushed by those fierce aggressors that set out to destroy it.  It gave the American Jewish lobby a new sense of pride in their Zionism and sense of being Jewish.  They now stood tall in recognition of the State of Israel.  It was particularly instrumental in helping the Soviet Jews to assert that the repressed Jews had finally fought back and regained both their identity and sense of pride as a Nation.  The situation today has somewhat improved with a large number of Arabic Nations preferring the basis for a settled peace with Israel and only Iran seems to perpetuate the concept of the destruction of Israel.  The move towards democracy has unsettled many Arabic Nations and the revolts from the Arab Spring have resulted in largescale uprisings in both Syria and Egypt.  A situation that will continue to be observed by Israel but is unlikely to help towards the Palestinian peace process but offers more instability and scope for confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians. (Foxman, 2007).

The Soviet Influence

By the time the war had arrived in 1967 we had witnessed over a decade of support from the USSR and the Soviet Union investing heavily in both Egypt and Syria.  This included the supply of armaments and weapons to both countries.  The Soviet Union had become a significant benefactor and protector of both Egypt and Syria.  In many regards the Soviets viewed this as an extension of the Cold War and were determined to retain a strong foothold in Middle Eastern affairs.  America supplied Israel with weapons and arms in order to prevent the balance of power being maintained between Zionist and Arabic Nations.  (Yaacov Ro’i, 2008).

The Aftermath Al Naxa

The Egyptian army suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Israeli army.  The lost 80% of their equipment, including over 700 tanks and over 5,000 men that were wounded or killed. The Israeli army captured over 400 pieces of field artillery of Russian Origin. Despite this confiscation the Russians replaced all of the losses within months after the end of the war. Egypt failed to recognise its defeat at the hands of the Israeli army. There remains a tacit peace between the two countries to this very day.  (Simon Dunstan, 2009).

It was the provocation of the Egyptians to the Israelis over the Israeli blockade of the port of Eilat that prompted the proactive strike by the Israelis.  The US had provided backing to the Israeli strategy and agreed to replenish armaments and support Israel against any intervention that might take place by the Soviets. The Israeli airforce launched air strikes against Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. This resulted in the destruction of four air forces from four Arabic states. (Steve Smith, 2008)

Change in British Balance of Power

The six day war also changed the foreign relationships with Britain and Egypt.  Historically the relationship was poor, particularly after the Suez crisis.  The six day war helped to move the focus away from the colonial power interests of Britain. The war was seen as a vehicle for elevating the status of President Nasser to that of the ‘champion of the Arabic Nations’ and the person who would take the war to the Zionists and liberate Arabic lands occupied by the Israelis.  The British had lost the foothold in Egypt and were replaced by thousands of Russian troops and warships. The Soviets were emerging as the protectors of Egypt and Syria and this paved the way for a strategic withdrawal of Britain from the Middle East.  The British had long viewed this as a troublesome region that cost too much in order to administer.  With Britain leaving the Middle East it meant that they were no longer viewed as the protagonists of the region by the Arab World.

The USA tried to build and exert its influence in the Middle East, being somewhat disturbed by the Soviet advances in the region.  The close association of the USA with Israel was seen as a setback in a number of Arabic countries but it did make progress with Saudi Arabia and the Emirate countries.  The Saudi’s had the vision to try and maintain stability and a balance of power in the region. (McNamara, 2003).

A Changing Landscape

In the aftermath of the war the geographical landscape of the Middle East Changed.  Israel became the victors who were left in control of the Golan Heights in the North and this provided strategic advantage against any future planned incursions by the Syrians. The Israeli army controlled the Sinai Desert in the south and effectively created a buffer zone between Egypt and Israel. They also assumed control of the West Bank and Gaza and took full control of Jerusalem. The Palestinians became displaced and either fled into neighboring Jordan or were under Israeli occupation.  The Israeli army viewed the Palestinians as a threat to the sovereignty of the state of Israel as they harbored extremist elements and terrorist who wanted to perpetuate the war with Israel. This has been a major hurdle in the road towards finding a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This problem continues to this very day. (Beitler, 2004)

The changing landscape has left Israel somewhat isolated in the Middle East.  Many of the Arabic nations are furious that Israel has refused to relinquish the lands of occupation from the war.  Equally the plight of the displaced Palestinians has equally angered the Arabs.  They did however call for the complete destruction of Israel and it is hardly surprising that Israel has reacted in this way.  Nevertheless, in order to gain a truly lasting peace in the area it would seem that only a two state solution i.e. Israel’s recognition as a state and right to exist, together with a Palestinian state can be the only longer term viable way forward.  The issue with this is the extremist terrorist groups that continue to launch attacks on Israel and its citizens.  This in turn invokes a bitter military response from Israel and creates a bitter cycle of events.  Equally the Israeli Government continues to allow expansionism and settlement of the occupied territories and thus creating a further wedge against the Palestinians.  There seems no truly sustainable solution in sight and international intervention has achieved little in helping to find an acceptable solution to both parties.

The recent outbreak of Civil War in Syria may only further frustrate this problem with Israel’s concern of the formation of an ‘Islamic Crescent’ of nations combing Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  The concept of Iran being a dominant force and potentially a nuclear weapons power will only increase the need for Israel to retain the Golan Heights preventing tank invasions coming out of Syria.  The threat from the Iranian President ‘to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth’ will only harden the resolve of the Israeli administration to retain buffer zones between Israel and those that threaten violence and aggression against it.

Israel will continue to receive the support of the USA being the only longstanding stable democracy in the area and is considered a valuable ally in the region.  Equally it is likely that both China and Russia will try to counterbalance this by offering support to Israel’s enemies i.e. Syria, Iran and Egypt.  Israel is equally concerned how the unrest in Egypt will ultimately play out and again whether this will create a new Government that will prove to be anti-israeli and potentially create renewed hostilities in the South.  This is a worrying time for Israel having internal disputes in both Syria, Iraq and Egypt without any real idea as to how this will play out. Equally the concept of Iran developing weapons of mass destruction and the potential to use these via long range rockets aimed at Israel.

In historic terms Israel has relied upon pre-emptive strikes in order to neutralise any threats from its enemies. As such this makes the situation with Iran an extremely dangerous one.  At the moment the Israeli administration is watching how the efforts of the international community might dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.  There may come a ‘tipping point’ however where Israel can no longer afford to let the threat continue and may be forced to take unilateral action against Iran in order to prevent a future nuclear attack from Iran.  It is considered by Analysts that if War should break out between Iran and Israel it would be a long drawn out affair and conducted mainly by long range missile exchange and the Iranian / Israeli Airforce.  This may escalate into Syria and Iraq creating further instability in the area and a launch platform for terrorist activity against Israel.  It is likely that the super-powers like USA, Russia and China would not get involved in the short term, other than supplying armaments to both sides. (Harel, 2009).

Conclusion

In essence the outcome of the 6 day war set the stage for modern day Israel.  It has created tensions through the occupation of Jerusalem,  the denial of a Palestinian homeland and occupation of lands that it captured from the War.  The continued attacks  on Israel from Terrorists and insurgents, who have aligned themselves with the Palestinian cause have only further frustrated the process in terms of finding and agreeing upon a sustained and lasting peace process for the region.  The immediate prospects for peace have deteriorated with instability in the regions of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and threats from Iran.  This has only hardened the Israeli administration viewpoint and created an environment for continued tension in the region. (Peri, 2012)

Works Cited

Beitler, R. M., 2004. The Path to Mass Rebellion: An Analysis of Two Intifadas. Oxford UK: Lexington Books.

Foxman, A. H., 2007. The six day war: 40 years later. New Jersey Jewish Standard, pp. 1-2.

Harel, A., 2009. ANALYSIS / How Israel’s war with Iran will be fought. [Online] Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/analysis-how-israel-s-war-with-iran-will-be-fought-1.4628 [Accessed 3 6 2012].

McNamara, R., 2003. Britain, Nasser and the Balance of Power in the Middle East, 1952-1967. London: Frank Cass Publishers.

Peri, Y., 2012. Is Attacking Iran “a Just War”?. [Online] [Accessed 3 6 2012].

Quandt, W. B., 1992. Lyndon Johnson and the June 1967 war: what colour was the light?. Middle East Journal, 46(2), pp. 198-228.

Simon Dunstan, P. D., 2009. The Six Day War 1967: Sinai. New York: Osprey Publishing.

Steve Smith, T. D., 2008. Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yaacov Ro’i, B. M., 2008. The Soviet Union and the June 1967 Six Day War. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press.

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