Last updated on: 5/14/2008 12:41:00 PM PST

Was Israel the Aggressor in the 1967 "Six Day" War?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Bernard Lewis, Phd, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, in his 1995 book The Middle East, wrote:

"The responsibility for the war of 1967 is...difficult to allocate. As more information becomes available about the sequence of events leading to the opening of hostilities, it seems that the participants were like characters in a Greek tragedy, in which at every stage the various actors had no choice but to take the next step on the path to war."

1995 - Bernard Lewis, PhD 

PRO (yes)

Charles De Gaulle, the late President of France, was quoted in an Oct.-Nov. 1999 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs article titled "De Gaulle Calls Jews Domineering, Israel an Expansionist State," stated to Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban shortly before the 1967 War:

"Don’t make war. You will be considered the aggressor by the world and by me."

Oct.-Nov. 1999 - Charles De Gaulle 

Norman Finkelstein, PhD, former Assistant Professor of Political Science, DePaul University, in the Sep. 2002 "An Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict," wrote:

"Chief among the Zionist leadership's regrets in the aftermath of the 1948 war was its failure to conquer the whole of Palestine. Come 1967, Israel exploited the 'revolutionary times' of the June war to finish the job."

Sep. 2002 - Norman G. Finkelstein, PhD 

The National Information Center - Syria, in an entry retrieved from their Golan website (accessed Sep. 29, 2000) titled "How does Israeli greediness in the Golan appear in 1948 - 1967?" contained the following:

"Israel was always the war initiator and aggressor despite what it alleged before 1967."

Sep. 29, 2000 - Golan (a website of the National Information Center - Syria) 

CON (no)

Michael B. Oren, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, wrote in his 2003 book Six Days of War:

"That war [1967] was the result of a series of incidents triggered by Palestinian guerrilla raids and Israel's retaliations against them."

2003 - Michael B. Oren, PhD 

Christopher Hitchens, author and journalist, in a Jan. 8, 2003 Slate editorial titled "Prevention and Pre-Emption: When is starting a war not aggression?" wrote:

"Israel's classic pre-emptive war in June 1967, which destroyed the Arab air forces on the ground, was justified as preventive because it stopped an [Arab] attack before it could get started."

Jan. 8, 2003 - Christopher Hitchens 

Alan Dershowitz, LLB, Harvard Law Professor, in his 2003 book The Case for Israel, wrote:

"Although Israel fired the first shots, virtually everyone recognizes that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan started the war."

2003 - Alan M. Dershowitz, LLB