The Arab-Israeli war that took place in June of 1967 was undeniably a major watershed in modern Middle Eastern history and a fundamental inflection point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In conquering the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan, and east Jerusalem, Israel created new and enduring realities that would frame the pursuit of peace and the waging of wars for the next half century. For Palestinians, the experience would be particularly bitter.
At the same time, the notion that the proverbial six days of war created a figurative Seventh Day—a kind of dark shadow under which the Arab-Israeli conflict has played out, inexorably and depressingly, these many years—is too simplistic a read.
The war created its fair share of crises, to be sure. But it also generated opportunities and a new, more pragmatic dynamic among the Arab states and Palestinians, which at least partially reversed the results of the war itself and transformed much of the Arab-Israeli arena.
With this in mind, here are some myths about the war’s centrality and impact that need to be reexamined.
“The 1967 war was the most consequential and impactful of the conflicts between Israel and the Arabs.”
Not so fast. Clearly the 1967 war has a contemporary media, political, and commemorative profile higher than that of any other Arab-Israeli war. The stunning speed of Israel’s military victory; the sheer magnitude of the Arab defeat; the conquest of Jerusalem; the enduring nature of the Israeli occupation and the settlement enterprise—all these things guaranteed that high profile.