40 Years Ago: The Six-Day War

It was 40 years ago that Israel bombed Egyptian airplanes on the ground, launching the Six-Day war. Over at Salon, Sandy Tolan revisits some of the era’s myths, which have contributed to the creation of competing narratives about what happened then:

At a little after 7 on the morning of June 5, 1967, as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s commanders were finishing their breakfasts and driving to work, French-built Israeli fighter jets roared out of their bases and flew low, below radar, into Egyptian airspace. Within three hours, 500 Israeli sorties had destroyed Nasser’s entire air force. Just after midday, the air forces of Jordan and Syria also lay in smoking ruins, and Israel had essentially won the Six-Day War — in six hours.

Israeli and U.S. historians and commentators describe the surprise attack as necessary, and the war as inevitable, the result of Nasser’s fearsome war machine that had closed the Strait of Tiran, evicted United Nations peacekeeping troops, taunted the traumatized Israeli public, and churned toward the Jewish state’s border with 100,000 troops. “The morning of 5 June 1967,” wrote Israel’s warrior-turned-historian, Chaim Herzog, “found Israel’s armed forces facing the massed Arab armies around her frontiers.” Attack or be annihilated: The choice was clear.

Or was it?

You can read it all here.

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