The Six Day War (also known as “naksah,” or “failure” in Arabic) was an Arab-Israeli war fought in June 1967. Israel launched an offensive air strike that demolished almost all of Egypt’s air force on the first day, virtually guaranteeing air superiority for the rest of the war. Egypt’s allies quickly joined the fray, but to no avail—Jordan was reluctant to enter the war, and another airstrike by the Israelis wiped out two thirds of the Syrian air force. This crushing defeat for the Arabs and decisive military victory for Israelis had several consequences.
For Arabs, the biggest outcome of this war was the discrediting of the Arab nationalist idiom and the humiliation that came with it. Syria lost a portion of their land named the Golan Heights. Egypt lost the entire Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and most importantly the Suez Canal—a huge blow to the Egyptians both economically and nationalistically. Israel also ceded the West Bank from Jordan and all of Jerusalem, which was extremely significant in religious terms to the Israelis.
For Israelis, this victory was necessary to cement Israel’s claim as a country. Although a fledgling nation, this war allowed Israel to establish itself as a true country and not as merely a territory as the Arabs viewed it. Israel’s claim over Jerusalem was also seen as an important religious victory; previously, Jordanians had restricted Israelis from praying at the Wailing Wall, and for the first time in 19 years, Israelis could do so.
After the war, hostilities between the Arab countries and Israel did not diminish—in fact, a war of attrition began from that same year, 1967, until 1973. A sort of “cold war” of the Middle East, the significance of this was the unsettling back and forth raids and skirmishes between the Arab League and Israel. The Arabs refused to acknowledge Israel as a country in the Khartoum Negotiations of 1967 and refused to negotiate. Instead, they bided their time until they amassed their forces to...
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