Six days of war, 40 years of failure

Ian Black in The Guardian:

Screenhunter_03_jun_05_1954It was Moshe Dayan, the hero of Israel’s 1967 victory, who set the tone for what was to follow: “We are waiting for a telephone call,” the one-eyed general said disdainfully as the frontline Arab states – Egypt, Jordan and Syria – reeled from their crushing defeat. Of the Palestinians – the newly conquered population of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip – little was said at the time. But the six-day war put them back at centre stage in their conflict with Israel. They have stayed there ever since.

“Rarely has so short and localised a conflict had such prolonged, global consequences,” commented the historian Michael Oren. “Seldom has the world’s attention been gripped, and remained seized, by a single event and its ramifications.” Israel’s triumph, someone else observed wisely, was “a cursed blessing”.

Perceptions have changed so much in 40 years that it is hard now to recapture the sympathy that was felt for Israel as Egypt mobilised, and residents of Tel Aviv filled sandbags. If the country’s leaders talked emotively about the vulnerable “Auschwitz borders” left after their 1948 war of independence, blood-curdling Arab rhetoric bolstered the image of Israel as the underdog.

More here.  And more on the subject from The Economist here.  [Thanks to Ruchira Paul.]