SOURCE: Mark N. Katz in the Middle East Journal (Vol. 62, #1, Winter 2008) (2-1-08)
Re: Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets’ Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War, by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez.
Ginor and Remez argue in this book that the Soviet Union played a much larger role in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War than has been recognized previously. Far from seeking to avoid the outbreak of this war or being surprised by its occurrence, Ginor and Remez claim that Moscow deliberately provoked an Israeli attack on Egypt. Further, it did so in the expectation that Egyptian forces would be able to resist this Israeli attack and then (along with Syrian and Jordanian forces) launch an attack of their own that would either lead to a protracted conflict or overwhelm Israel. With the United States already bogged down in Vietnam, the Soviets calculated that Washington would do little to help an Israel that struck first — or to prevent Soviet forces from destroying Israeli nuclear facilities in and around Dimona (thus preventing Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons) and otherwise becoming directly involved in the conflict.
I was highly skeptical about these bold claims when I began reading this book. “Moscow made us do it” seemed to be too neat an explanation for Israel’s actions in 1967. Long before reaching the book’s end, though, I became convinced that Ginor and Remez have gotten it right. Their argument is based on, among other sources, a careful study of Soviet documents — many of which have only recently come to light — as well as interviews with former Soviet officials and servicemen who participated in the June 1967 events. Since the book’s publication in June 2007, many of these individuals have confirmed in the Russian press what they told Ginor and Remez....