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Reader comment on item: [Michael Oren's] "Six Days of War"

Submitted by David M. Dastych (Poland), Jun 8, 2002 at 12:41

To: Dr. Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
From: David M. Dastych, Warsaw, Poland, david.dastych@wp.pl
Date: June 8, 2002

Dear Dr. Pipes,
Dear MEF Scholars,

Over a year or so, I have collected some 200 columns, articles, TV transcripts, book reviews and other items from Dr.Pipes's pen (or from his mouth), which is a remarkable collection of valuable thoughts, brilliant polemics and inspiring remarks on the Middle East, Israel and the U.S. politics and patriotic values. Thanks for that.
Let me add a few remarks to the "New York Post" book review, written by Daniel Pipes and published on June 4, 2002: "6 Days of War". I don't know the latest book by Michael Oren "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East" (I will be grateful if I could obtain this book!). Yet, I trust Dr. Pipes's opinion that this book is "the finest book ever on this topic". Before I write any comment after having read Mr.Oren's book, let me recall some personal memories of the Six Days War in June 1967.
From June to early August of 1967 I planned to stay in Israel, some time at Netanya to participate in an international youth congress there. From January of 1967 I worked in Hanoi, North Vietnam as a member of ICSC (International Commission for Supervison and Control, established after the Geneva Agreements ending the French war in Indochina). It was the time of the massive American retaliation against the Communist North Vietnam (DRV) and one point of my mission was to track the U.S. Airforce bombing raids and to report on the military situation in the North. I was then a living witness to the air war, which also played the decisive part in the Israeli victory over the Arabs in June of the same year. In March of 1967 the communist Vietnamese counter-intelligence cracked dawn on me and I barely avoided a sudden death at their hands,being labelled as "a U.S. spy". But due to my diplomatic status, I was only expelled from the D.R.V. as a "persona non grata" and I was dispatched for a mission in the Communist China, to observe the so called "Cultural Revolution" (a civil war) there. So I missed the occasion to serve in South Vietnam (R.V.N.) and to return home through Israel in June 1967. I came to Poland before the outbreak of the Israeli-Arab war. From North Vietnam I recall some anti-semitic attitutes in the then Polish Delegation to the ICSC. At that time I was really ignorant about this matter. Officers of Jewish origin were serving in the Polish Army and nobody took any notice of this fact before. When I returned home and when the Six Days War broke out, there happened a strong anti-Israel, anti-Jewish reaction in all walks of the national life. Some of my friends, Jewish officers, got the sack from the Army for mere "offences" like laying flowers at the fence of the Israeli Mission in Warsaw. Then, in 1967 and 1968, the official anti-semitic policy of the Communist Government and the Party led to the expelling of some 20 thousand Polish Jews, who survived the Holocaust in Poland or returned from their exile in the U.S.S.R. after the end of the World War II. The Israeli victory in June 1967 was so astonishing and unexpected that many people openly praised Israel and expressed their joy and satisfaction. Many members of the Polish Communist Party (PUWP - Polish United Workers' Party) joined their Jewish comrades and shared with them their sentiments full of the joys of spring joyride. Gallons of vodka had been drunk, accompanied by toasts to General Dayan and the IDF's victory. The consequences, as I have told before, were devastating: both to the Jews as to their Polish friends. Many people were jailed, more were sacked form their jobs and labelled "the enemies of the people". The harsh communist reactions to the (unexpected) victory of Israel over the Arabs in June 1967 were orchestrated from Moscow, as the Soviets were Arabs' allies and the main supliers of all offensive weapons to the Arab armies, then crushed by the Israeli preventive attack.
Back to the book review: I don't agree with a statement that "no one planned or wanted this war". Mr. Oren is right that the outbreak of the war could be "accidental". But there are many records of General Moshe Dayan's statements, like this: "We were working on the Plan, sleeping on it, eating on it for months". Israeli intelligence was fully aware of the Arab preparations for full-scale war in 1967. Arab leaders (as quoted by Mr. Oren) were in fact "supremely overconfident" and loked down on Israel as a "petty foe" incapable of harming the "glorious" Arab armies. There is a good saying by Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never discourage your enemies, when they commit mistakes". And the Arab military leaders trusted their Soviet ally and underestimated the Israeli military might and the inventivness of the Israeli commanders. The Israeli victory in June1967 was also a setback for the Soviet military machine and prompted a new wave of Soviet armaments to match the West.
But, in my opinion, the "capital" gathered by the June1967 victory has been wasted afterwards by the Israeli party. After 1967, Israel in turn (not all politicians and military men!) demonstrated some kind of overconfidence that led to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The leaders of Israel, believing in President Lyndon Johnson's "land-for-peace plan", jeopardized the Nation's safety. This has deep consequences now, in a war of attrition and the enormous wave of Arab terrorism. "The land-for-peace premise was false" - writes Daniel Pipes. "With just a few exceptions (Egypt)". Israel is on a brink of a new Middle East war now. A war that might be totally different from the previous two wars, when big armies confronted each other and the Israeli tank divisions and airforce could turn the winds of war definitely in favor of the Jewish State. A war menacing Israel now, at the beginning of the 21st century may feature two, seemingly different, factors: (1) the mounting terrorist attacks within the Israeli territory, (2) the use of mass-killing weapons against Israel from even distant enemy locations (both from land and sea).
Is there in Israel an another Plan, like that of 1967, to surprise the enemies? I do hope, there is one!

journalist, former intelligence analyst & operative
Warsaw, Poland

Please contact me at: david.dastych@wp.pl or starm@poczta.onet.pl

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