Clear, very watchable account
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 01/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is taken from the WGBM production directed by Ilan Ziv. It is admirably objective considering that Ziv was born in Israel and fought in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He came to the US and graduated from New York University's film school soon afterwards.
The film consists of interviews with soldiers and politicians from both the Arab and Israeli side along with footage shot during the war. I say the film is "admirably objective" but of course there is no such thing as absolute objectivity in such matters, and I am sure that Arab viewers will find the production disagreeable. This disagreement may stem largely from the fact that the Six Day War in June, 1967 was an unmitigated disaster for Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and especially for Palestine.
However, Israel's swift and decisive victory brought with it no lasting peace. It did however humiliate the Arabs who imagined that they should be able to defeat such a tiny nation as Israel with Allah on their side and great leadership from Egypt's charismatic President Gamal Adbel Nassar and Jordan's King Hussein. To save face Arab leaders have done two things. One, they have inculcated the faithful with the notion that Israel won only because the US and other allies helped them; and Two, they have refused to acknowledge defeat holding onto the notion that the war is not over and that the Arab nations will yet achieve victory.
Ziv's film emphasizes the political nature of the conflict, revealing the thinking of leaders on both sides, showing how Moshe Dayan assumed a position of power and influence just prior to the war and how Nassar deluded himself (or was deluded by his military people) into thinking the combined forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan could defeat the Israelis. In the United States President Lyndon Johnson was advised by his military people that if the Israelis struck first they would win in a week or so, if second, it would take them perhaps two weeks. Johnson remarked (at the time mired in Vietnam) that his generals did a great job of analyzing prospective wars in which they would not be involved, or words to that effect.
Ziv reminds the viewer that the war could have escalated into a much wider conflict, possibly bringing in the Soviet Union on the side of the Arabs and the US on the side of Israel. Some teletype messages between Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin and Johnson are recalled.
Some facts gleaned from the film:
Israel struck first with well-timed, precision bombing of Arab airfields so that the Arab states were left with no air power. The war was, effectively speaking, over then within hours of its start. However, when the report of the air disaster reached Nassar, instead of seeking peace as fast as possible, he ordered propaganda broadcasts replete with fictitious "victories." Black and white film clips show the Arabs in jubilant celebration. How cruel it was when the truth came a few days later.
Israeli's preemptive first strike was prompted by the military build up by Egypt and Nassar's closing of the Strait of Hormuz, which most authorities consider an act of war. The film strongly suggests that if Israel had not acted first it would have suffered many more casualties, especially from Arab air power.
And then there is the famous phone call from the Arab states that never came. The Israelis were willing to trade land for peace, but the Arabs decided to pretend that the war would continue and so they did not negotiate a peace treaty. The actual fighting ended because the super powers and the United Nations demanded that Israel halt its advances.
There is some almost nostalgic footage of Moshe Dayan, Israeli's heroic Defense Minister who led the armed forces to victory, and some of indecisive Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. Ziv recreates the story of their difference of opinion on what Israel should do and how Dayan's position prevailed.
The real losers in the war have turned out to be the Palestinian people who have been under occupation since the war ended. The Arab states that were instrumental in bringing about this human tragedy seem content to blame Israel while doing nothing substantive to help the Palestinians. Indeed a significant portion of the terrorism directed at Israel and the West is motivated by spiteful spasms of revenge by Arabs who are desperate to somehow erase what they see as a humiliating defeat. How much wiser it would be to realize that what happened in 1967 reflects not at all on the manhood of anyone living today, or even then for that matter. Israel won because it could not lose. "Manhood" and heroic acts of valor or lack thereof have nothing to do with it.
Sadly, as many others have noted, Israel may win all the battles and all the wars and yet never achieve peace. Theirs is an unenviable position. As long as they exist in the midst of Arab nations who hate them and teach their children to hate, they will always be on a military footing. Only when the old hatreds die, some many years from now, will there be lasting peace in the Holy Lands."
A DVD documentary re-examining the war between Israel and Ar
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 10/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally shown on public television, Six Days in June: The War that Redefined the Middle East is a DVD documentary re-examining the war between Israel and Arab nations that left a historical legacy lingering to the tragic Middle East conflict raging in the current day. Shot on location in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Moscow, and Washington, Six Days in June incorporates recently declassified archives, home movie footage, personal photographs, and recreations to unfold a composite picture of the war from beginning to end. Highly recommended, especially for public library collections. 108 minutes, letterboxed, color.
Portrait of a War
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 02/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Six Days in June"
Portrait of a War
I arrived in Israel in late May of 1967 with no idea that the country was on the verge of war. I had left the United States after I finished my M.A. and knew that my number was going to come up soon to be drafted and I would probably be drafted and sent to Viet Nam to fight in a war I did not believe in. Little did I think that I would avoid war to be thrown right into the middle of another one. Being a pacifist in Israel is impossibility so when I learned that I would have to go into the Israeli Defense Forces, I was ready. After all, Israel was my new home. I only remember what I personally experiences during the Six Day War so when I had the chance to see a documentary that went beyond my personal experiences I jumped at it.
"Six Days in June" is an absolutely amazing documentary made by Ilan Ziv and its objectivity is stunning when one considers that it was made by a veteran of the war of 1973. It is made up of interviews with soldiers and politicians from the Arab and Israeli side as well as actual footage of the war. What is most interesting is that although the actual fighting lasted only six days in 1967, the war has never really ended. Every crisis is the life of the region stems from this war.
The film begins with the buildup to war and the politics and maneuvering of Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol and Egyptian president Abdul Nasser and then takes us through the war itself, the occupation of the West Bank and the annexation and unification of Jerusalem. We see how what happened during those six days reshaped politics, destroyed old systems and brought new forces to the fore. It was a short war with long and far-reaching results.
The film looks at the political nature of the conflict and the war and the actions of the leaders, Moshe Dayan and Nasser as well as American president Lyndon Johnson. Ziv reminds us that the war could have escalated into a much larger conflict and perhaps even bring the Soviet Union and the United States into it. Those who really were the losers in this war were the Palestinian people who came under occupation and remain there today. Israel may have won the battles but she has never been able to achieve peace and we see that as long as Israel sits in the midst of the Arab world that hates them and that teaches children to hate, there will always be military problems. We have to wait for old hatreds to die if we expect to see peace.
The movie also shows how government uses mass media to rally popular support for war. In May of '67. Egyptian television newscasts were filled with anti-Israel sentiment and propaganda and these newscasts also served the purpose of bringing Jews from outside of Israel to volunteer to support the country. Even after Egypt was losing the broadcasts continued. As objective as the film is, one cannot help be sympathetic to Israel when we see Nasser portrayed as a tragic and noble figure as he argues that Israel did not win the war. It was a war of national identity which caused a cycle of occupation which shows no sign of ever ending and which has spawned terrorism and reprisal. The damage of 1967 will be with us for a very long time.