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Six days in June; Israel's fight for survival

by Robert J. Donovan

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NO OF PAGES: 160 SUB CAT I: Jewish Wars SUB CAT II: History SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: First-hand battle coverage by Los Angeles Times reporters on the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian fronts…in Jerusalem and in the all important air war. Behind the scene action at the United Nations. President Johnson's and Premier Kosygin's exchanges.NOTES: SUBTITLE: Six Days In June
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
This book was written by the staff of the Los Angeles Times within a few months of the end of the June 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and most of the Arab nations, most directly Egypt, Syria (working together under the name the United Arabic Republic) and Jordan. Written so close to the events, this book lacks some perspective on the events, but does quite effectively capture the mood of the time, and the immediate impact the war was seen to have.

The background of the book is well-researched, as one would expect from competent newspaper reporters. The grievances of the various parties are laid out, although the grievances of the Arab nations come off as nonsensical in nature when laid out for all to see. It is especially apparent how callously the various Arab nations treated the Palestinian refugees in order to keep them as a political wound to distract their own people from the inherent wretchedness of their governments. One almost feels sorry for the members of the Arab armies: most of them are illiterate, poorly supported conscripts, with their lack of education making them unable to maintain their modern weaponry and led by vain and dissolute officers. The Arab defeat seems almost inevitable, and the Arabic reaction seems almost unhinged, accusing the U.S. and Britain of launching airstrikes against their positions.

The narrative focuses heavily on the workings of the U.N., this was a time when that body was seen as being potentially able to produce a solution. What is apparent from the reporting is that the organization is simply not up to the task, even though the U.N. (driven by the U.S. and the Soviet Union) did end up arranging a cease fire. However, what is highlighted is how Arabic intransigence served to undercut previous cease fires, and delayed the acceptance of the one that closed this war. Oddly, despite huffily telling the Israelis that war had never ended between their nations when the Israelis protested acts of war such as shelling their territory, and blockading the Gulf of Aqaba, the Arabs were shocked and upset when the Israelis took them at their word and destroyed their air forces. After they had lost, the Arabic nations delayed accepting a cease fire in a vain attempt to get a resolution fixing blame on Israel as the "aggressor". Meanwhile, Arabic soldiers died in large numbers during the time period.

The book suffers somewhat as a result of being written by a committee. Some of the story is written in present tense, and some in past tense, shifting between the two at times almost at random. Some reporters clearly had better access to the subjects they were covering than others, resulting in a frustrating lack of detail in some places.

As a snapshot of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the reactions of the world to it, this book is quite good. Anyone who thinks the Arabs have anything resembling clean hands and don't regard Nasser with anything other than contempt will probably find their beliefs challenged by the material contained here. While the book seems like it was rushed out, and suffers as a result, it is still quite good. ( )
  StormRaven | Nov 7, 2008 |
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