Soviet Union and the Six-Day War

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IDF soldiers at Jerusalem's Western Wall shortly after its capture.

According to the Six-Day War website:

The Soviet Union played a crucial role in arming the Arab states and instigating the Six-Day War.

Initially supportive of Israel at the time of its founding, by the early 1950s the Soviets no longer regarded the Zionist state as useful for extending their influence into the Middle East. Transferring their support to Arab side, the Soviets took on the role of armorer for both Syria and Egypt, supplying them with modern tanks, aircraft and later missiles. The Egyptian and Syrian armed forces primarily used Soviet weapons during the 1967 war and employed tactics developed by the Soviets. The Soviet Union exerted a troublesome influence on the events leading up to the war by feeding Arab suspicions about Israel. This culminated in the delivery to the Syrians and Egyptians of a false alert on May 13 that Israel had massed troops near the Israeli-Syrian border in preparation for an attack on Syria...

After the war the Soviets rapidly made up the equipment losses suffered by the Syrians and Egyptians and increased their involvement in Egypt’s anti-aircraft defenses.

Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War had an enormous impact on the Jewish population in the Soviet Union and helped set in motion the Jewish exodus from the Communist regime. As famed refusenik, Natan Sharansky reminisced,

we knew all too well the anti-Semitic stereotypes about greed, parasitism, and cowardice — but about what Judaism stood for, we knew nothing.
That was before 1967. In the months leading up to the war, animosity towards us reached a fever pitch. Then, in six dramatic days, everything changed for us. The call that went up from Jerusalem, “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” penetrated the Iron Curtain and forged an almost mystic link with our people. And while we had no idea what the Temple Mount was, we did know that the fact that it was in our hands had won us respect. Like a cry from our distant past, it told us that we were no longer displaced and isolated. We belonged to something, even if we did not yet know what, or why. Of course, we still suffered from anti-Semitism, but even that assumed a new character. Jews were no longer cowards. Instinctively, and without any real connection to Judaism, we became Zionists. We knew that somewhere there was a country that called us its children, and this knowledge filled us with pride.[1]

Stewart Dunlop declares:

In almost any history book, the Six Day War is described as a war between Israel on one side, and the joined forces of Jordan, Egypt and Syria on the other hand. The war that occurred in 1967 is one of the shortest wars in history, but also one of the most controversial ones....

Forty years after the events of the Six Day War, a book by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez shed new light on the matter. According to the authors and their sources, the Soviet Union gambled during the Six Day War, and intended to launch an attack on Israel. The idea was that the Soviet were afraid of Israel’s nuclear capability, and wanted to destroy it. The Soviet planned to use their Arab allies (Egypt, Syria and Jordan) to provoke Israel, and then launch an attack.[2]

The Guardian reports about the Six-Day War:

The morning of June 10, 1967 was "a time of great concern and utmost gravity" in the White House Situation Room, according to Llewellyn Thompson, a former ambassador to the USSR turned presidential adviser. A message had just been received over the Moscow-Washington hotline threatening Soviet military action that would lead to a nuclear confrontation. New evidence now reveals what action the Soviets were preparing: a naval landing on Israel's shores to prevent its total victory in the Six Day War.

The Soviet Union had played a central role in escalating tension in the Middle East and had falsely accused Israel of massing forces on the Syrian border. For the first time, Moscow sent much of its Black Sea fleet into the Mediterranean and backed up the Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, when he blocked Israeli shipping in the Red Sea and demanded the removal of the United Nations force from Sinai.

In memoirs published recently, Nikita Khrushchev said the USSR's military command persuaded its political leadership to support these steps, knowing they were aimed at starting a war to destroy Israel...

The landing plan remained a potentiality and appears gradually to have become known to the US and Israel. In February 1968, a CIA cable spoke of "the first information received regarding Soviet plans to participate in a limited Arab offensive against Israel ... the Soviets will actively aid the Arabs in gaining back the territory lost in the June 1967 war."

However, the document, recently declassified in a heavily censored form, states: "The Soviets made it very clear that Israel is here to stay and they will not ... facilitate its destruction".[3]

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