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Why do I find this book to be so awesome? Well, it addresses one of the hottest topics in the Middle East - "Was the 1967 War really a defensive war?" Using 22 archives/libraries and recently declassified documents, plus personal memoires, notes and diaries of key players, Segev sets about unravelling the real dynamics of the time. One particularly vivid picture that he paints is that of the tension between the Sabra generals and the politicians. Following the inexorable path to war, he shows how the senior military and the politicians were well aware that Nasser had no intention of invading Israel, and, if he did, that he would have no chance of success. Segev draws in American correspondence to confirm that this was also the US view.
He quotes, with impeccable references, words from leaders like Labor Minister Allon wanting to invent a pretext so as to allow Israel to claim that the Egyptians had started the war; that Israel Lior acknowledged that Nasser's move was a psychological face-off and that the process had started much earlier, with the air-battle over Damascus on April 7th 1967; Moshe Dayan admitting that Israel was responsible for 80% of the provocations along the border with Syria and that Nasser was responding to Israeli actions such as Samua, the April 7 'incident', and Israeli propaganda; that Ben-Gurion held, not Egypt nor Syria, but Israel itself responsible for the crisis; and the many generals who urged the prime minister to allow them to attack, not because Israel was under imminent threat, but because the prestige of the IDF was suffering.
Now that is quite different from what I had believed up until reading this book.