The sensational Foxbats over Dimona thesis recently put forth by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez contends that the 1967 Six-Day war originated in a plot by the Soviet Politburo to eliminate Israel's nuclear facility. Gluska, a historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, however, sticks with the traditional understanding of the war.
In 1966, ten years after the Sinai campaign, the Arab-Israeli conflict had settled into an uneasy status quo. Gamal Abdel Nasser's radical Egyptian regime still proclaimed its commitment to liberating Palestine and throwing the Jews into the sea, as did its conservative rivals in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but none of these states made any attempt to renew hostilities. The one Arab state that did not follow its neighbors' lead was Syria, and the one foreign power seeking to stir up conflict was the Soviet Union.
In 1964, the Syrians had tried and failed to divert the Jordan River before it crossed the Israeli border—only to witness Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jets and artillery blast their dams. In reaction, Damascus began supporting a Palestinian terrorist group, Fatah, under the leadership of Yasir Arafat. Using Lebanon as its base of operations, Fatah commenced operations against Israel in 1965 and escalated its attacks. Only towards the end of 1966, did Jerusalem feel the need to retaliate. But, fearing the fallout of attacking a Soviet-backed Syria, the leadership decided to strike a Fatah stronghold in the Jordanian-controlled West Bank. With that, all parties were on the path to the Six-Day war.
The author sheds light on Israel's defense policy between 1963-67 against the background of developments as a whole in the Middle East. The decision-making process leading to the June war of 1967 illustrates the tensions between politics and military strategy in Israel, something that has not changed over the years. These tensions have in fact become more convoluted, especially, if one considers the development of the Palestinian problem and the character of the State of Israel over these forty years. Eshkol's lack of decisiveness, Israel's chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin's breakdown, and Arab leaders' wild overconfidence are just some of the ingredients that dictated how this war was orchestrated. Despite these minor setbacks, Rabin emerged as the hero of the Six-Day war and the one responsible for the extraordinary outcome. Gluska's narrative highlights that despite military victory and battlefield successes, the IDF failed to end terrorism and prevent a war.