Skip to comments.The Soviets' Six-Day War
Posted on 05/30/2007 11:01:34 AM PDT by forty_years
One of the great enigmas of the modern Middle East is why, forty years ago next week, the Six-Day War took place. Neither Israel nor its Arab neighbors wanted or expected a fight in June 1967; the consensus view among historians holds that the unwanted combat resulted from a sequence of accidents.
Enter Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, a wife-husband team, to challenge the accident theory and offer a plausible explanation for the causes of the war. As suggested by the title of their book, Foxbats Over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War (Yale University Press), they argue that it originated in a scheme by the Soviet Politburo to eliminate Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona, and with it the country's aspiration to develop nuclear weapons.
The text reads like the solution to a mystery, amassing information from voluminous sources, guiding readers step-by-step through the argument, making an intuitively compelling case that must be taken seriously. In summary, it goes like this:
Moshe Sneh, an Israeli communist leader (and father of Ephraim Sneh, the country's current deputy minister of defense), told the Soviet ambassador in December 1965 that an advisor to the prime minister had informed him about "Israel's intention to produce its own atomic bomb." Leonid Brezhnev and his colleagues received this piece of information with dead seriousness and decided as did the Israelis about Iraq in 1981 and may be doing about Iran in 2007 to abort this process through air strikes.
Rather than do so directly, however, Moscow devised a complex scheme to lure the Israelis into starting a war which would end with a Soviet attack on Dimona. Militarily, the Kremlin prepared by surrounding Israel with an armada of nuclear-armed forces in both the Mediterranean and Red seas, pre-positioning matériel on land, and training troops nearby with the expectation of using them. Perhaps the most startling information in Foxbats over Dimona concerns the detailed plans for Soviet troops to attack Israeli territory, and specifically to bombard oil refineries and reservoirs, and reach out to Israeli Arabs. No less eye opening is to learn that Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s (the "Foxbats" of the title) directly overflew the Dimona reactor in May 1967.
Politically, the scheme consisted of fabricating intelligence reports about Israeli threats to Syria, thereby goading the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian forces to go on war-footing. As his Soviet masters then instructed, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser moved his troops toward Israel, removed a United Nations buffer force, and blockaded a key naval route to Israel three steps that together compelled the Israelis to move to a full-alert defense. Unable to sustain this posture for long, they struck first, thereby, it appeared, falling into the Soviet trap.
But then the Israel Defense Forces did something astonishing. Rather than fight to a draw, as the Soviets expected, they quickly won what I have called "the most overwhelming victory in the annals of warfare." Using purely conventional means, they defeated three enemy Arab states in six days, thereby preempting the planned Soviet invasion, which had to be scuttled.
This fiasco made the elaborate Soviet scheme look inept, and Moscow understandably decided to obscure its own role in engineering the war (its second major strategic debacle of the decade the attempt to place missiles in Cuba having been the first). The cover-up succeeded so well that Moscow's responsibility for the Six-Day War has disappeared from histories of the conflict. Thus, a specialist on the war like Michael Oren, has coolly received the Ginor-Remez thesis, saying he has not found "any documentary evidence to support" it.
If Foxbats over Dimona is not the definitive word, it offers a viable, exciting interpretation for others to chew on, with many implications. Today's Arab-Israeli conflict, with its focus on the territories won in 1967, accompanied by virulent antisemitism, results in large part from Kremlin decisions made four decades ago. The whole exercise was for naught, as Israeli possession of nuclear weapons had limited impact on the Soviet Union before it expired in 1991. And, as the authors note , "21st century nostalgia for the supposed stability of the Cold War is largely illusory."
Finally, forty years later, where might things be had the Soviets' Six-Day War not occurred? However bad circumstances are at present, they would presumably be yet worse without that stunning Israeli victory.
The ROOTS of the Mideast conflict - the reason the Arabs could rise up and fight,and the funding to promote that fighting since 1927 has been the Soviet Union.
This book was reviewed & posted a couple of weeks ago. One point, it’s doubtful that the Foxbat-B was operational in 1967. That Foxbats overflew the Dimona-complex is a major contention of this story. The Foxbat-A wasn’t even in production yet. So you have to ask yourself how likely would it be that the Soviet Airforce would send a prototype over Israel to land at an Egyptian airbase where the ground crews were certain to have never seen the type? Doesn’t add up if you ask me.
"Evidence"? Pfft! Why spoil a good conspiracy theory with nattering about evidence???
“No less eye opening is to learn that Soviet photo-reconnaissance MiG-25s (the “Foxbats” of the title) directly overflew the Dimona reactor in May 1967.”
These were flying in 1967??
I always thought that six day war was about the report Lewis Weeks filed estimating that Israel had 500 million to 2 billion barrels of oil available for recovery. The timing of the war was shortly after the release of that report.
The Central Powers want every countries natural resources.
Which makes you wonder what else in the book is nonsense,
But I’m sure some people will treat every word as gospel.
All’s I can figure is that the Soviets didn’t have any active conflict to use as an excuse to test their aircraft at the time. (I searched and couldn’t find this article posted, so I went ahead and submitted it.)
“These were flying in 1967??”
As prototypes, apparently yes (1964). It wouldn’t be the first time development models were “combat tested.” The German Condor Legion used pre-production Stukas (Ju-87A-0’s) in Spain in the late 1930s.
The engines on those Foxbats were very cranky. If you sent a Foxbat to a distant airbase there’s no guarantee that you’d see it back anytime soon.
Also, the Foxbat-B was the recon version. I don’t know that the ‘B’ was anywhere close to available — even in prototype — by the ‘67 War.
The only explanation that I can think of is that the Russians sent a pre-production ‘A’ (interceptor) model to Egypt to buck-up the Egyptians. Recall that the Egyptian Airforce got plastered on the ground in the first hour of the War. It might have been a useful propoganda ploy to send a Mach 3 fighter streaking over the most heavily defended airspace in Israel just to impress the natives.
I bet the “palaeos” are really wishing they had the USSR back.