Monday, March 19, 2007

Six Days of War

I've been reading Michael Oren's book, Six Days of War, on the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and its aftermath. It's fascinating and well worth reading, and one of the many things that the book reminded me of was the importance of the Cold War in understanding conflicts between Israel and Arab countries. Another thing that struck me was the rhetoric used by the Soviet officials and spokesmen - talking all about anti-imperialism and revolution and fighting for democracy, when they were actually doing the opposite. Somehow it wasn't imperialism when the Soviets were trying to project Russian power in the Middle East by arming the Syrians and the Egyptians, but it was if the United States backed Israel or the conservative Arab regimes like the Saudis. (And what made the Soviet attempt to project Russian power any more pure than the earlier Czarist attempts to do the same thing?)

And a third thing that struck me was the importance of Soviet propaganda in propagating anti-semitic anti-Israel themes. I have been reading more recently about how Nazi anti-semitism began to enter the Middle East in the 1920s and 1930s, but some of the same themes were then taken up by the Soviets and used by Arab propagandists as well.

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