long-term, of the six day war on Israeli politics. At the out set, it is important to note that the war strengthened the misconception of reality, both in the Israeli society and the political institutions. Gazit Shlomo (1985) wrote that certain misconceptions, both about the world at large and the Arabs in particular, previously existed in the social and political hierarchy. The 1967-six day war only amplified those illusions. The major implication of these amplified misconceptions allowed the right-wing religious parties to assert their moral right to commence redemption. This view, motivated by religious beliefs, soon became bipartisan, as left wing political groups soon joined the popular notion of: we are alone and the entire world, particularly the Arabs, is our enemy. This belief soon spread amongst the masses and has been the foundation for all future Israeli actions, including the confiscation of the Arab lands and refusal to accept Palestinian national rights (Gazit Shlomo, 1985).
The political implications of the six-day war
During the 1967 sex-day war, the left wing political parties were in control of Tel Aviv. Gordon Haim (1986) writes that they were in charge not only of the policies being carried out within Israel, but also were responsible for marshalling the troops in the land confiscated from the Arabs. They planned and enforced large-scale Jewish settlements in the occupied territory, used Palestinians as cheap labor, prohibited any form of political and/or public activity amongst the Palestinians. These leftwing parties were in control of these policies till 1977, since they lost the 1977 elections. However, they had, by that time, laid the foundation of what continues to be illegal occupation of Arab Lands according to international laws and UN resolutions (Gordon Haim, 1986).
The Israeli political establishment had always desired to expand their geographical boundaries and include land owned by the Arabs. Morris Benny (1994) writes that at first, it was believed that this can carried out without the use of force. However, with time it was realized that force was necessary to fulfill their aims and objectives. The 1967 war gave them the green light to realize all their dreams. The Israeli political establishment took control of all of the mandatory Palestine and seized almost all Palestinian territories including the West Bank, as well as, the Gaza Strip. They assumption behind the expansion was that the resistance being shown by the then Palestinian leadership (PLO) will fade away and make way for a new political leadership that will accept Israeli control without hesitation.
The Israeli political and military establishment knew that the people of Israel, by and large, wanted peace and prosperity with their neighbors and therefore would not have permitted such widespread and systematic injustice towards the Palestinian people. The Israeli political establishment on the other hand had aims to destroy any form of resistance from the Palestinian Authority and the complete negation of their right of a separate state. Roy Sara (1995) writes that the Israeli government did not reveal critical information to their public about the state of the Palestinian people and the injustices they had faced by the Israeli military. Instead they propagated that current military use was necessary for the survival of Israel. Furthermore, Roy quotes Moshe Dayan, the Defense Minister during the 1967 war, saying that Israeli government deliberately used unnecessary force to fulfill their own greedy ambitions of territorial expansion. According to Moshe, the aims of the war were pure and simple, to change the current lines of cease fire by use of brutal and naked aggression. In the immediate aftermath of the war, certain political groups did resist those policies; however, their cries were shut down and ignored by the media in order to keep the Israeli society in the dark (Roy Sara, 1995).
Furthermore, the Israeli establishment comprehended that if it has to successfully carry out its bold ambitions, then it has to place the right people in the right places at the right time. It started to restructure its bureaucracy, both civilian and military, and promoted those that shared their political views. This system is still in place as Colin Shindler (2008; pg 3) writes: “Between 1998 and 2007, three military men with pronounced right-wing views, Mofaz, Ya’alon, Halutz, all served as Chief of Staff. Their period of office took place under Sharon’s premiership during a period of suicide bombings and Palestinian violence. Rivals for the position such as Gabi Ashkenazi who openly feared for ‘the loss of humanity because of the ongoing warfare’ were seemingly passed over by Sharon. Ashkenazi’s early retirement was short-lived following Halutz’s resignation after the Lebanon war of 2006.”
In the pre-war era, peace and friendship with Israel was at the forefront of Israeli policy, at least at the official level. However post-1967 war, any talk of peace was downplayed by both leftwing and rightwing political parties. They argued that only the military will be able to deal with the crisis at hand and only the use of force can being about a change in the attitude of the Arabs. Colin (2008; pg 5): “Given the place of the Israeli military in the governance of Israel, a growing view is that only military men rather than politicians can make peace with the Palestinians. Menachem Begin was able to agree a bilateral agreement with Egypt in 1979, but he never accepted the PLO as a negotiating partner. It took a former Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, to do that.”
Social and economic implications of the six-day war
Furthermore, pre-war era saw steady economic growth and development with most, if not all, segments of the Israeli society benefiting from the economic activities. The post-war period saw steady destruction of the social fabric, which was previously based on the concept of social justice. Colin (2008; pg 7) writes, “Poverty levels have been increasing steadily since the 1970s.” He cites a government report to substantiate his claim, which states: “Israel is now rated second in the Western world, after the United States, in terms of social gaps in income, property, capital, education and spending, as well as in the extent of poverty. While many countries have suffered from a widening of social gaps, caused by the influence of globalization and the technological revolution over the past twenty years, this trend is more pronounced in Israel than elsewhere (Colin; pg 7).”
The influence of global and technological revolution has certainly affected Israel in a number of ways. Its workforce is probably the most highly skilled and technically proficient. The share of tech-products in the total exports is amongst the highest in the developed world. Colin (2008; pg 6) “Over half of Israel’s exports are sophisticated products of advanced technology. Engineers make up the highest percentage of the workforce. Nearly a quarter of the Israeli workforce has university degrees – the third highest proportion in the industrialized world. In 2002, the national expenditure on research and development per capita was higher than in the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. Manufacturing exports in high technology in that year were four times the figure for 1990. In 2008, Israel is participating in the European Union’s Galileo navigation satellite project – a network of thirty satellites designed to improve intelligence-gathering operations. However, the ongoing conflict has contributed to Israel’s metamorphosis as a centre for arms manufacture. In 2003, it exported $2.8 billion of defense material – some 10 per cent of the world trade in that commodity.”
The fear of Israel’s annihilation and extermination from the world shifted the economic model from socialism to capitalism. Since it was perceived that fast-paced development can only be brought about with a capitalist model. Today, more and more Israeli companies and entrepreneurs are opening up business ventures. Colin (2008; pg 8) writes, “Some 70 per cent of private capital is in the hands of the upper 10 per cent of the population. Indeed, Israel’s move from old-time socialism to globalized capitalism manifested itself in the fact that it has the largest number of start-up companies proportionate to its population in the world. It is second in the world for venture capital funds. Outside of the United States and Canada, it has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of bio-tech start-ups. Even so, the National Insurance Institute noted that 1.65 million people lived below the poverty line in 2006.”
The steady change from socialism to capitalism that came about after the war is now showing its colors. Individual freedom is now replacing cooperative way of life. Many nationalized industries are being privatized. More and more Israelis are opening up personalized bank accounts and buying new cars. However, the concept of a welfare state has not been totally abandoned by the Israeli people as many non-profit social organizations are opening up and targeting the poor segments of the society. Therefore, while the state is moving away from the principals of socialism and inclining towards individual freedom and capitalism, the Israeli society has somehow managed to maintain certain values of socialism in their lives (Colin, 2008).
The shift from socialism to capitalism also dismantled religion from the state. Many acts, considered immoral in Judaism, have been legalized, including homosexual marriages. Sexuality, once an intimate aspect of Jewish lives, can now be discussed openly in television programs and classrooms. Such changes are being welcomed neither by the right-wing political parties nor by the orthodox Jews. The religious orthodoxy along with several moderate factions within the Israeli Jewish community is annoyed and feel left out in the current climate. All in all, the transformation from socialism to capitalism, in the post war era, has given mixed results to the Israelis (Colin, 2008).
The 1967 six-day war between the Israelis and the Arabs had several grave political and social implications for not only the Israelis but also its neighbors. Some major implications have been discussed in this paper. It is noteworthy that both leftwing and right wing political parties possess only tactical differences and not strategic ones. Such minor differences have left little room for any drastic change in the current political and social policies. With the Israeli establishment continuing to expand their settlements, notwithstanding any domestic or international pressure, little can be hoped about any progress towards peace and prosperity in the region. While the right for a separate Palestinian homeland continues to remain a distant reality; domestically, the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen with the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. The 1967 six day war surely has left a significant mark in the Israeli social and political spectrum.
Colin Shindler, a History of Modern Israel, Cambridge University Press, New York, paperback edition 2008, pp 1-50
Gazit Shlomo. The Carrot and the Stick: Israel’s Policy in Judea and Samaria, 1967-1968. Washington, DC: B’nai B’rith Books, 1985.
Gordon Haim. Dance, Dialogue and Despair: Existentialist Philosophy and Education for Peace in Israel. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1986.
Morris Benny. 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Roy Sara. The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1995.
Six Day War