The Six-Day War 50 years later

Israeli soldiers during the Six-Day War

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, which took place from June 5 to June 10, 1967. The war resulted in Israel securing its presence in the Middle East and had lasting implications for the people and geopolitics of the middle east and the world.

Yehudah Mirsky, former U.S. State Department official, Brandeis Associate Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and faculty member at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, shared his perspective on the war’s legacy with BrandeisNOW. For additional commentary from Mirsky regarding the Six-Day War, read his essay in 50Voices50Years.

BNOW: How are the reverberations of the Six-Day War still playing out in the geopolitical balance in the Middle East?

Mirsky: For one, Israel still exists. The war unequivocally established Israel’s existence. In short, it was the final and ultimate demonstration that Israel was here to stay and was a significant military power.  

The aftermath of the war sent tremendous shockwaves through the Arab world, which in some ways has never recovered from that loss, though it has had other challenges to face as well. There was also a catastrophic sense of failure and dishonor. This defeat and humiliation discredited secular nationalism and played a role in the emergence of political Islam. And while Palestinian nationalism existed before the war, its aftermath spurred it to much greater growth.

The war also firmed up Israel as America’s loyal, democratic ally, even if America’s role in the war was less than we might think.

At the same time, of course, much of the geopolitics of the region has less and less to do with Israel, as we have seen in recent years. Israel could vanish tomorrow and the internal conflicts besetting many Arab states, within and without, would not go away. That doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t play a significant role in regional dynamics, but that we should keep it in proportion.

Read more.

Categories: Faculty
Date: June 14, 2017