Randy's Corner Deli Library

05 June 2007

"Six Days in June" - A Production of WBGH Boston for PBS


There is a program which is airing over the course of the next several days entitled “Six Days in June” produced by WBGH Boston for National Public Television. For all the bias and Israel-bashing on PBS and NPR, I must tell you that I was very impressed with the tone, content and, yes, the balance of the program. It told the truth about what happened from a historical perspective and about the consequences for all sides that are with us 40 years later. The program intelligently discusses the military, social and cultural issues and consequences of those fateful days and reminded me (I was all of six years old at the time) of just how close the world was to a global war as the result of this war. Remember that the Soviet fleet was a mere 10 miles off the coast of Haifa ready to launch a ground invasion on Israel to get it to stop its invasion of Syria. Meanwhile, in an interview with Robert McNamara who related, in chilling detail, how he ordered the Sixth Fleet, which had been sailing toward Gibraltar, to turn around and head for Israel to defend Israel against Soviet and Syrian aggression. The world was as close to all-out war as it had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In the UN, the Syrians, Egyptians and Soviets all pushed for a cease-fire along the Syrian front after the destruction of the Egyptian and Jordanian Armies. The Israelis stalled for time, which allowed Moshe Dayan’s army to push within 40 miles of Damascus. It was only then that Israel agreed to the cease fire.

Part of the attraction of this program (2 hours long) was the interviewing of officers and soldiers on all sides and to get their perspectives, perspectives which, with the benefit of 40 years of hindsight, could stand to be repeated or at least reviewed by all sides concerned. It was with some shock that I watched as Nasser, announcing his resignation after the humiliating defeat, offer to listen to the “will of the people”, but then, instead of attempting to negotiate peace with Israel, headed off to Khartoum, Sudan with the rest of the Arab league and came out with the three “no’s”. No peace with Israel. No recognition of Israel. No negotiations with Israel. Some of the Arabs interviewed were very clear that they felt that they had been lied to by their leaders and that the only reason why there was a Khartoum conference was to ensure that those regimes stayed in power and that the issues of the people under whom they live until today, exist only to perpetuate their own power. That this is still the truth cannot be gainsaid.

From the Israeli perspective, can we say that past is prologue? Moshe Dayan is quoted as saying “What do we need this Vatican for?” Many, many questions were asked about the wisdom of taking over the West Bank and the occupation that Israel finds itself enmeshed in as I write this and for the foreseeable future. There was no doubt that the war was necessary; that it was just; that it was carried out to perfection by people who knew that if they lost even a single battle to the massed Arab armies, it would spell the end of Israel. But let there be no doubt that there were then, just as there is now, plenty of misgivings about what to do about the West Bank and the problems –personal and institutional - that Israel inherited from the Jordanians. The problem, as was pointed out by more than one Arab observer in the program, is that Arab political and social institutions are inherently incapable of anything other than existence for the mere sake of existence and not for the benefit of the people over which they allegedly govern. That this is the lasting lesson of the 1967 war is too clear for more words.

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