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Which interpretation is best supported by the evidence in these sources and your knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict Assignment

There are many interpretations of who was to blame for The Six Day war some accusing the Israelis of being the aggressors and some accusing the Arabs of being the aggressors. I will assess these two using the sources and my own knowledge to see which one is more supported.

a). ‘the Arab powers were threatening her (Israel) with destruction Egypt had already closed the Gulf of Akaba which she knew Israel would regard as an act of war’

b). ‘Israel, urged on by the USA (went to war) to overthrow the Syrian government and suppress the movement for the liberation of Palestine.’

Source B, D, F, G, H agree with the first statement completely giving evidence of Arab aggression and threats. Source B shows a Jewish man being forced into the sea by the aggressive unified Arab armies. This gives the impression that the Arab armies are pushing forwards and being the aggressors. It was published in an Arab newspaper just before the war to reflect the public hatred of the Jews so although it did reflect public opinion it could have also been used as propaganda to ‘rally the troops’ it cannot be classed as totally reliable as it was published in an Arab newspaper therefore it could be bias.

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Source D is a written source from a newspaper in which the former British Prime Minster and Foreign Minister, Lord Douglas Home, blames the Six Day War on U Thant the United Nations Secretary-General at the time. It explains that the War could have been avoided if it wasn’t for a “blunder” by U Thant. It goes on to say that his mistake was that he did not “stand up” to president Nasser of Egypt when he ordered the UN forces out of Sharm-al-Sheik in May, 1967.

This is true as had the UN forces stayed they would have prolonged or even stopped the war yet they would also have damaged the relationships between the UN and the Middle East. Also UN troops are only allowed to stay in a country if they are invited and have the permission of the government of the country they are occupying. Therefore they were forced to leave as Nasser the Egyptian President asked them to. This supports statement a) as it proves that it was President Nasser of Egypt was the one who ordered the UN forces out of Egypt for only one reason as they were getting in the way of his war effort.

Lord Douglas new this however therefore he must be saying this for a reason which again comes back to the Suez Crisis in which the UN condemned the way in which Britain acted. This might make this source not totally reliable as it might just be a revenge statement from Britain towards the UN to get back at them for doing the same against them with the Suez Crisis. Although I would value this source more reliable than the previous source as evidence of the Arab-Israeli conflict as it is written by a newspaper that is more independent from the conflict in the Middle East.

Source F is just a comment of hatred and is just put in place to reflect public opinion and to raise hatred among the Arab nations. They use strong, powerful words such as “drench this land with your blood.” These statements are propagating the fact that they do not agree with the state of Israel and letting the Israelis know that. Again I don’t think this can be regarded as reliable evidence as it might agree with statement a) but it is just a statement of hatred directed towards the Israelis it is also a long time before the start of the Six Day War.

Source G is very much the same as Source F also conveying the same message as it makes the Arab goal very clear “to wipe Israel off the map”. The difference is that this is the President of Iraq broadcasted that on the radio much closer to the start of the war. This could give us a hint as it was a lot closer to the start of the war and it supports statement a) although again it is broadcasted by an Arab state that is caught up in the conflict. It is just before the war and might be a way of generating hatred towards the Israelis throughout the Arab states and is just a propaganda broadcast.

Source H also agrees with statement a) as it states that ‘terrorism had been increased by the Arab sates to a fearsome point’. This shows the Arabs as the aggressors it also states that the Soviets stated at the UN meeting that ‘an air attack was being prepared by Israel against Syria in preparation for the invasion of Syria’ this was a false claim but it gave Nasser an excuse to move his troops into Syria. The statement by the USSR was seen by the Israelis as a setup just so that Nasser could move his troops in. This source was published after the war making it a reliable source as it could look at the war and asses what really happened. Even so it is still written by the Israelis therefore it could be seen as bias as it is after the war they might be trying to blame it on the Arabs and explain why they made the first strike. Consequently I would not value this source as terribly reliable.

Sources E and I agree with statement b). Source E is a statement made by the Egyptian Deputy Commander-in-Chief of their armed forces. It states that it was Israel that was making the aggressive moves towards the Arab states. It talks of them “directing military blows towards the Arab people or Syria.” This could be the truth although I could also be an excuse to start preparations to attack Israel and cause a war between the two sides. It talks of the Israeli intentions of overthrowing “the Syrian government” and suppressing “the movement for the liberation of Palestine.” This Source basically states that the Israelis were solely responsible for the Six Day War.

This source is written just before the Six Day War and is basically saying that Egypt is acting in a responsible defensive way. It is just explaining why they are making a defence agreement with Syria and making an excuse to why they are moving their troops into Syria. It is clear that this source isn’t reliable as it is written by an Egyptian trying to say the movement of the Egyptian troops into Syria is because of the Israeli actions. Which is not entirely true as most of the “Israeli actions” were made up by the Arabs in order to justify their actions?

Source I is an extract from a book written by the Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt published way after the war. It supports statement b) by stating that Israel mounted heavy onslaughts on Syria. He explains why Nasser had to help Syria and how Israel completely controlled the situation working hard on her image and controlling the media. This in my opinion is a reliable source in some aspects as the Prime Minister would have been right in the middle of it and experienced the war first hand although he was on the side of the Arabs and even though this book was published 7 years after the initial Six Day War the conflict is ongoing and he cannot be seen to be supporting the Israelis.

Source A and C I feel support both statements a) and b). Source A is from a history book and is by far the most reliable source. Throughout the source it speaks of this matter from a non-bias point of view assessing the problem and the evidence from both angles. It justifies the Israelis stating that ‘Israel could not afford to let the Arabs strike first for she was too small and too vulnerable.’ It also approaches the matter from the Arab side saying that Israel should not have been there in the first place and they only went war to bring ‘millions of US dollars into Israel’. This in hand I believe that it supports both statements as the first paragraph supports statement a) and the second supporting statement b). I believe this to be the most reliable source as it from a history book that was written fairly close to the time.

Source C shows a famous scene from the play Macbeth in which the witches are making an evil potion that corrupts the mind of Macbeth. In this source it has been adapted as the witches represent Johnson and Brezhnev the leaders of the USA and the USSR and they are pouring instead of weird potions into the cauldron, which is representing the Middle East, munitions, planes and war equipment is being thrown in. It is trying to show that the USA and the USSR caused the war because of there own personal vendettas due to cold war rivalry.

The reliability of this source is questionable however as it was in a British magazine. This raises two issues first being that it was published in a magazine that is a rather Tabloid type of journalism that often uses a lot of hyperbole in its articles that may be evident in this picture. Secondly it was British therefore it could be getting back at the USSR and the USA as they were very critical of the way the British acted in the Suez Crisis and the way Britain and France invaded like they did. This criticism caused the British and French to pull out of the Suez Canal which obviously made the British look bad. This source could be seen as revenge accusing them of starting the Six War.

Therefore I see this source supporting both statements as the USSR gave weapons and munitions to the Arabs giving them great support and the USA gave weapons and munitions to the Israelis. Therefore it supports both statements but maybe supporting statement b) a little bit more as it makes it clear that Israel was supported by the USA – ‘urged on by the USA’.

More sources support statement a) as I believe it was closer to the truth of the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis. As it was clear that the Arabs were the more aggressive ones as they were the ones making more threats and uniting together against the Israelis and they were threatening Israel with destruction.

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