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Israel, the Arabs, and World Opinion

- Abstract

For Eighteen Years, a state of almost permanent crisis, involving countless coups d’état and a war, left the political map of the Middle East virtually unchanged. Then, in a few hours of fighting on June 5, 1967, it was all at once spectacularly redrawn. True, many of the old landmarks remain: the oil, Arab nationalism, and Israel’s will to survive in a hostile environment. Most of the actors are still around, too, including President Nasser. Before June 5, Middle Eastern affairs resembled a chess game (or a war game) that had been played many times before and that allowed of no variation in the moves. A lasting solution has not become any easier to find since June 5. But the game has become far less predictable, for it is now being played on a different board and with a number of new pieces.

Though the prehistory of the crisis of 1967 dates back at least a decade, the actual fighting lasted only four days; it was dramatic and it was conclusive. The first accounts are now being published, and the Israeli victory will no doubt become a textbook case studied by staff officers all over the world. In Israel the war has already turned into a legend, while most Arabs are reacting as many Germans did after World War I, blaming their defeat on a stab in the back.

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