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Six Days in June
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182 of 191 people found the following review helpful
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.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2007
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.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2010
Israel's neighbors could'nt understand how this happened. Israel didn't have a clear answer either but PBS goes far to explain the details of map changing conflict.
Many behind the scenes are explained as the lines moved on the ground. Many details of political choices and military strageties are fully described as well as the ongoing unaswered questions of the results.
I love this film and recommend it if one has an interest in the Six Day War.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2009
This is a must see for anyone interested in Middle Eastern history and the nation state of Israel. What I loved about this documentary is that the director's actually got to interview people who were involved within their respective countries at the time of the 1967 Six Day War. Russian diplomats, Egyptian and Jordanian generals, Israeli officers, and even the CIA Station Chief during that time are all interviewed. An excellent program to be shown at the school and university level.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2010
WGBH Boston Video is known for quality, but they outdid themselves this time. They have compiled declassified war archive film, home movie footage, personal photographs and news footage from multiple sources and created a documentary that is as fast paced as the six day war. It grabs you from the first moment and holds your attention to the very end. If you truly want to understand this time period, then you must watch this video. It tells the whole story, warts and all, and makes you realize just how momentous these times were.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2008
This is a very well done documentary with some great archival footage. For it not only documents the war itself, but more importantly events leading up to is and the dilemmas faced by main characters on both sides of the conflict -- Israeli PM Levi Eshkol on one side and Egyptian leader Nasser on the other. Both of these leaders were exposed to some pretty intense pressures and the documentary does a terrific job retracing all the steps, exposing the sources of pressure, motivations behind them, etc.

The other great thing about this documentary is that it also brings in a number of eye witnesses from both sides, who are all pretty frank about their assessment. It's interesting to hear the commentaries from the point of view of Nasser's secretary, high-ranking Soviet officials, Syrian student in Cairo, Egyptian soldier, U.S.-born Palestinian journalist in Jerusalem, Jordanian commanders, UN commander, CIA officials, U.S. government officials, Israeli generals, soldiers and fighter pilots as well as Israeli civilians. This really puts it in even greater perspective.

The other interesting thing is how this documentary illuminates the misinformation and bias about the real state of affairs perpetuated by many Arab governments and media. It's interesting to hear Nasser boasts with almost sure victory in a conflict he instigated based on flawed intelligence from the Russians. He's touting the strengths of his armies which are ready for war, unaware that the war had already begun. Yet, when it's all over he refuses to take responsibility, blames the Brittish and the Americans for intervening on behalf of Israel even when the Israelis have clear evidence from an intercepted phone call between Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan plotting how to find a scape goat for their own folly.

But it also looks at the war and its outcome as the seed of the current conflict, the occupation of West Bank and Golan Heights, the land for peace principle and the general trauma that the war inflicted on the Arab world. I think this is a very valid point, which is no doubt controversial among Israelis as well as in the Arab world, but it effectively illustrates how we got to where we are now.

The authors got access to some pretty unique archival war footage, most of it from the Israelis. The one incident the documentary does not cover or even mention is the controversial sinking of the USS Liberty, US Navy electronic intelligence ship. In any case, this is definitely a must-see documentary for anyone interested in the Middle East and wars in general. I certainly recommend it.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2007
This is an excellent presentation of the events leading up to and including the historic six-day war between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations in June, 1967. The viewpoint seems to be fair, balanced, and entirely factual, emphasizing the ever important concept that Israel was fighting for its very right to exist as a nation, rather than seeking territorial gain, which was a by-product of Israel's successful prosecution of the war. Although perhaps overlooked by the present generation, this brief conflict in 1967 is one of the most important historic events of the twentieth century. The DVD is well done, moves along briskly, and presents the information succinctly and accurately.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Few examples of Arabic folly and hyberpole exist more clearly than in the Six Days War. Brought to the point of frenzy by the antics of Egypt's Nassuer, the Arab world expected and wanted a bloodbath in Isreal. A byproduct of the Cold War, the 1967 Arab Isreali War was Islam's desperate attempt to attone for its sins of the 1948 War, which allowed the creation of the Isreali State.

This documentry provides a very clear and compelling look at the events leading up to and including the Isreali Blitzkreig of 1967. Although few doubted that Isreal could hold its own in any Middle East conflict, the extent of Arab incompetence and folly made the events of this conflict even more lop-sided in its results. Isreal almost tripled the size of its territory as a result of this war. The Egyptian and Arab air forces were all totally destroyed in a few hours in a dawn Blitzkreig that would have made any Whermacht commander proud!

The true folly of the Arab world is shown in the aftermath of this devastingly brief conflict where all the arab leaders manage to stay in power despite their imcompetence. No more humilating and bitter pill than this could be swallowed by any self-respecting individual. No wonder Arab pride is so wounded and susceptible to such demogogues that it has today! Many of the problems of Isreali occupation of Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine can be traced to this conflict, and despite Isreali overtures to trade land for Peace in the region, the Arab World continues in its own delusions. Another devastating war would follow in 1973 which again proved an emotional roller-coaster for the Arab Street. And another devastating defeat for both Syria and Egypt.

One thing is clear after watching this very concise and accurate video, the Arab world's illusions of grander continue to this day. Islamic Terror tries now to accomplish what armed conflict always failed to do. Arab armies are tools of politcal domination for their leaders to use in order to remain in power, they have no real use against any kind of professional, occidental army. Islam continues to delude itself as to its own supposed greatness, while the repressed peoples of its various regimes grumble and await their destiny.

A truly revealing and fascinating look at the Middle East at a pivotal time in its history. By looking at this video one shall have a greater understanding of what is happening there today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2012
A very balanced portrayal of the 1967 conflict between Israel and it's Arab neighbors. I ordered this for use with international Certification Course on the subject. It fit perfectly with course objectives on the causes of the war. A Great portrayal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2014
service outstanding, prompt, efficient and product received in great condition. other side, there's a bit of anti-Israel bias and "moral equivalency favoring the fascism of the late '60's Arab governments of Egypt and Syria. Marginal rewrite of history doesn't effect the overall accuracy of the film. the veiled commentary favoring the "palestinian cause' could be left out
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