Isabella Ginor & Gideon Remez: Their research hailed as "sensational"

Historians in the News

In their sensational historical detective work, Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War (Yale University Press, 2007), Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez have challenge the widely-accepted idea that the Six Day War happened without anyone wanting it. Instead, they present a theory that the U.S.S.R. instigated the war as a way preemptively to destroy the Israeli nuclear facilities.

I was drawn to the argument (in an analysis at"The Soviets' Six-Day War) but dared not quite fully endorse it, wondering if all the evidence would hold up under critical scrutiny by other experts on this topic.

Today comes confirmation of a critical piece of data, as suggested by the title of David Horovitz' article in the Jerusalem Post,"Russia confirms Soviet sorties over Dimona in '67." The confirmation comes from Col. Aleksandr V. Drobyshevsky, chief spokesman of the Russian Air Force, and it is inadvertent, coming in a completely different context (commemorating the anniversary of the test pilots' school from which one of the pilots who participated in the 1967 flights had graduated). Drobyshevsky wrote, in an article posted on the official Web site of the Russian Defense Ministry in October 2006 but only noticed by Remez and Ginor now:

In 1967, the military valor and high combat training of Col. Bezhevets, A.S. (now a Hero of the Soviet Union, an honorary test pilot of the USSR, [and] retired Air Force major-general), were demonstrated while carrying out combat operation in Egypt, [and] enabled [him] to perform unique reconnaissance flights over the territory of Israel in a MiG-25RB aircraft.

The MiG-25RB would be the"Foxbat" aircraft of the title. Remez and Ginor describe this passage as an"extraordinary disclosure" and as"official confirmation of the book's exhibit A and the source of its title." It comes, they add,"as close to an official document as one can hope for in the foreseeable future, given the prevailing circumstances in Russia."

An aerial view of Israel's Dimona reactor.

Another update: Since the Post first summarized Foxbats over Dimona's findings on May 16, its article (Remez and Ginor report)"was widely reproduced" and"aroused intensive discussion" in the former Soviet Union. Their thesis convinced Komsomolskaya Pravda's military correspondent (and former general staff officer) Col. Viktor Baranets, who has written that"the time has apparently come to set the record straight. So far, the facts have often been replaced by inventions. No one can dispute the obvious: the USSR ?orchestrated' that war... The USSR was prepared for an invasion of Israel. The confessions of our own officers prove this." Komsomolskaya Pravda and other media, Remez and Ginor note," contacted some of the veterans who were among the main sources for the book, and they reiterated their accounts." In particular, Gen. Vasily Reshetnikov, former commander of the Soviet strategic bombers, confirmed the account.

But the verdict is not unanimous. Bezhevets, the Foxbat pilot over Dimona, continues to deny having undertaken this mission. Remez and Ginor explain this discrepancy by suggesting that Bezhevets is sticking to the old line; in contrast,"Drobyshevsky's [Defense Ministry] statement relied not on the pilot's testimony but rather on the air force's own documentation." This difference illustrates their point that"full and direct documentation of the Soviet role in 1967 is still being suppressed." (August 24, 2007)

Read entire article at Daniel Pipes at his blog

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