Culture, Global, Israel, Politics

CIA Analysis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

From the CIA’s journal “Studies in Intelligence” – Volume 49, Number 1, 2005 – comes an article by Dr. David S. Robarge who serves on the CIA History Staff. The article is entitled “CIA Analysis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War
In the article Dr. Robarge debunks two central myths of the 6-day war: That Israel was in mortal danger, and that Israel acted purely in self-defense. He reports that The Mossad unsuccessfully tried to convince the CIA that it was outgunned and in danger of losing, and needed US support. The Mossad claim directly contradicted the CIA’s own intelligence analysis.

“Tel Aviv muddled this clear intelligence picture by submitting to Washington a Mossad estimate that claimed the Israeli military was badly outgunned by a Soviet-backed Arab war machine. The Israelis may have been trying to exploit the special relationship they had with James Angleton, chief of CIA counterintelligence. For years, Angleton had run the Israeli account out of his Counterintelligence Staff, without involving the Directorate of Plans’s Near East Division. That unusual arrangement may have given Tel Aviv a sense that Washington accorded its analyses such special import that US leaders would listen to its judgments on Arab-Israeli issues over those of their own intelligence services.”

However the CIA did not believe Israel was truly threatened by Egypt and Syria (referred to as UAR).

“The evidence was on the CIA’s side. Israel could not prove its case that the Arab armies would trounce it.”
[…] “Informed by these assessments, President Johnson declined to airlift special military supplies to Israel or even to publicly support it. He later recalled bluntly telling Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, “All of our intelligence people are unanimous that if the UAR attacks, you will whip hell out of them.”

I believe it’s a fascinating article, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

26 thoughts on “CIA Analysis of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

  1. Of course, being a progressive Jew means showing no limits in criticizing Israel.
    It’s only a matter of time before John Brown begins posting “fascinating” articles from Al-Jazeera, SANA, and Iranian state news.
    Always read with a discerning eye, no matter what the source.

  2. Some relevant quotations from top Israeli officials to go along with this article:
    “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.”
    Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Chief of Staff in 1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/68
    “Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan…[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland…[Dayan stated] ‘They didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land…We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot.
    And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was…The Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.'”
    The New York Times, May 11, 1997
    In Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharatt’s personal diaries, there is an excerpt from May of 1955 in which he quotes Moshe Dayan as follows: “[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no – it must – invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge …And above all – let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”
    Quoted in Livia Rokach, “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism.”
    “The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’…Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’
    “Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”

  3. isnt it amazing that the same naysayers of the cia, those who consider it a crazed antihumanist vile destroyer of human rights, will then cite it as authority when it critiques israel. and citing noam chomsky, the well know anti semite (even though he does come from jewish origins, cf adam shapiro, finkerstein) on anything other than how to flush a toilet would be like citing david duke on proper relations with black americans.

  4. He’s quoting Noam Chomsky to prove how evil Israel really is!!!!! Who is this John Brown, and what the heck is this blog about??? I thought it was about progressive judaism, although latest posts suggest it’s more blame-the-evil-jews and occupation-is-terrorism rhetoric. I already have Electronic Intifadah, Al-Jazeera and BBC to provide my daily ration of this crap. That it must come from within? Well I also have Amira Hass, Yoel Marcus, Tom Segev and his post-Zionist cronies. What is JewSchool supposed to add to that diet? The latest good post I read was the one from Stella, which made me discover these incredibly hilarious guys. This is strike two for JewSchool.

  5. ok, my blood is boiling! why is it that this site continues to shit on israel, attacks her motives, her actions, her morality. we have the plo, the nytimes, and academia to do that – can’t this site examine israel, with her flaws (she it afterall run by humans, even those with a special spirit) in perspective; and with love and appreciation for her speical place and special problems (e.g. being surrounded by a bunch of murderes who would like to destroy her)? wheres the love….?????

  6. Pabso – surely you understand the difference between quoting Chomsky and quoting General Ezer Weitzman
    By the way, Chomsky’s citation for the Gen. Weitzman quote is Ha’aretz, March 29, 1972; for a more extensive quote, see Cooler, Green March, Black September, p. 162 so your ad hominem attack on Chomsky is nothing more than a weak and predictable red herring
    Strangely, my random ‘Spamblock’ word for this comment is contribute – I don’t see you contributing anything to the site other than complaints. c’est la vie.

  7. So Mr. Brown wants us to rely on CIA intelligence. The same CIA whose “intelligence”: 1) did not even know the name of the Ayatollah Khomeini until after the revolution; 2) thought that the former Soviet Union’s military was a serious threat to the US; 3) supported and propped up brutal totalitarian regimes in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America; 4) told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and, most importantly, 5) failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks.
    Some people, like Mr. Brown, will do anything to castigate and lie about Israel and Jews.

  8. JB
    First of all, about the quotes. I’m getting really irritated seeing these quotes every time someone wants to “prove” the Six Days War was an Israeli act of aggression. However, some of them are quite out of context.
    For instance, Rabin’s quote refers to the beginning of May. Two Egyptian divisions may not have been able to threaten Israel; but by the end of May, there were six Egyptian divisions (plus another two brigades) in the Sinai, and Israeli intelligence had indications additional forces were being pulled from Yemen.
    Begin’s quote is..incomplete. He indeed said what your quote indicated; but immediately following that, he stated “this was a [b]war of self-defense[/b] in the noblest sense of the term”. You can’t pick and choose parts of the speech.
    As for Dayan’s quote…first of all, I find it rather ironic when people trot this out. On the one hand, Israel is condemned for a war of agression, but on the other hand, you find it acceptable the Syrians fired at tractors? Remember also that the DMZ was Israeli territory – there were kibbutzim there (at least two of which predated 1948). And in any case, Dayan’s quote is problematical; he ignores all the shells which landed on the kibbutzim themselves.
    Regarding the article itself, I’m a bit pressed for time right now to give it a thourough reading, but a few observations:
    1st of all, the memo quoted in the article itself states that, while Israel could attain air superiority in several days (if it did not attack first), it would suffer heavy to severe losses to its air force. That does not take into account, of course, the additional losses incurred by ground forces in the absence of air cover. It should be obvious why Israel might consider that unacceptable.
    In addition, the article completely ignores the economic dimension. The mobilised IDF may have been capable of defeating the united Arab armies with certainty. But one of the major weaknesses of the IDF’s “ciizen army” model is that it cannot remain on high alert for long without crippling the economy (and don’t forget that in the medium and long run, the economy in turn affects military capability). If the option of a pre-emptive strike was taken off the table, the only choices Israel would have had would be to maintain the alert – with a ruinous economic effect – or to step down and demobilize, leaving Israel much weaker in the face of attack. And the longer the situation went on, the worse the effects would be.

  9. John, you call this post a “contribution”? To what exactly? To prove these tricky Jews know no limits when it comes to deception? That they are greedy? That they love war and impose it on peace loving Arabs? I call that “pollution” of a space already filled with shit.

  10. It is a completely useless exercise to use quotes from famous figures of yore in order to “prove” a historical point. For every quote that John Brown serves in order to further his point that the 6-day war was Israel’s “fault”, I can find a half-dozen quotes to make the opposite claim. Big freaking deal. Taking a one-sentance snippet out of an interview/speech/conver sation that took place 40 years ago only “proves” that you had a predisposition to certain claim, and went out looking for quotes to prove that claim. Mazel Tov professor!!

  11. Blocking access to the straits of Tiran and preventing the normal flow of Isreli shipping was an act of war. When you play with fire, sometimes you get burnt. Fuck Nasser and his stupid macho posturing. He got all that he deserved. What? Am I supposed to feel bad for those losers? What’s your point John Brown? That the 6-day war was an Israeli orchestrated land grab? Your unabashedly stupid quotes have already been adequately discredited by Eyal. I look forward to your response lifted from the pages of The Idiot’s Guide to Noam Chomsky.

  12. did john brown write this report or did the c.i.a.?
    he showed it to me, i said, “hmm, that’s interesting. an interesting conversation can come from this.”
    but so far there isn’t any conversation — except from eyal. all there is is “john brown is an antisemite and jewschool sucks for allowing him to post here.”
    just because john brown’s curiosity was piqued by this article doesn’t mean he buys what it says hook-line-and-sinker. and just because i found it interesting doesn’t mean i do either.
    it means it raises questions — questions that i definitely don’t consider myself well-enough equipped to answer. which is why i asked john to put it here — to get intelligent responses, counterpoints, and rebuttals to the c.i.a.’s claims. (as avi points out, i have zero faith in what the c.i.a. says — i’m consistent there.)
    jewschool doesn’t promote an anti-israel agenda. it promotes critical thinking. i don’t promote the content of the article and claim it as truth. neither did john. he said he thought it was interesting and said he wanted to hear your thoughts on it. that’s because this article is an opportunity for you to provide a critical examination and — if you’ve got one — a refutation.
    all i see so far are ad hominem attacks on john brown — which, btw, are violations of our terms of service.
    the bigger question here — knowing full well the extent to which the israeli government will go to supress its own citizens’ rights to political expression — is why israeli military “myths” are sacred cows that can not be challenged.
    i raised this question previously: when someone challenges america’s behavior in iraq or vietnam, does it undermine the legitimacy of america as a state? does it question america’s right to exist? if not, why then is it presumed that to question israel’s military actions is to question its right to exist.
    just because there’s antisemitism and anti-israel views out there, does that mean we must abandon our responsibility to question “accepted” history and hunker down behind fevered zionistic patriotism?

  13. ok, mobius, since you asked, this is the difference between posting untrue, slanted anti articles about the us v. israel. NO ONE, not even her worst enemies, contests the us right to exist as a sovereign nation within her existing borders, she is an accepted member of the league of nations, recognized by virtually every country in the world. israel, on the other hand, is recognized by maybe 2 or 3 muslim majority countries: the rest hate her guts and would like to see her wiped off the face of the earth, both literally and figuratively – need i list iran, syria, etc. etc? say what you will about the us, no one can destroy her; say what you will about israel and the hatred spreads (just look at the story you posted about the UK advisory board asking to do away with holocaust memorial day). what you can say about the strong and powerful is different than what a weak country can withstand. of course it is legitimate to criticize israel, but when you push it to the extreme you do her major damage unfairly. the george galloways of the world exist because they can point to jewish extremests who lend them comfort and support. so critique if you will, but know that extremest criticsim can kill jewish babies – and has.

  14. I remember you posting awhile ago asking why people don’t comment… this is why. You post something interesting, which people can agree or disagree with (I disagree, I think that it was prudent for the Israelis to act from the belief that they would be outgunned by regimes that were backed by the USSR; in those days I wonder if they could really know just how much backing the UAR had). But it’s interesting. It doesn’t need the flame war that was created, and hardly justified personal attacks against John Brown. A stupid concept, a stupid post, that’s all unhelpful but at least it’s legit. But not a stupid person. That’s flame war.

  15. OK, this is just silly.
    just because john brown’s curiosity was piqued by this article doesn’t mean he buys what it says hook-line-and-sinker. Actually, he posted it, claimed that the article “debunked” certain received ideas, and failed to criticize it. That’s about as hook-line-and-sinker as you can get. If he has an opinion, he should state it. Those who claim to engage conversations but do not advance their own POV are, by definition, not acting in good faith.
    [T]he bigger question here — knowing full well the extent to which the israeli government will go to supress its own citizens’ rights to political expression — is why israeli military “myths” are sacred cows that can not be challenged. That’s not a reasonable conclusion to draw from the conversation here. If you think Israeli policies can’t be challenged, you should say why. (And, for God’s sake, stop challenging them! You’re really not making your point very convincingly.)
    Ddoes that mean we must abandon our responsibility to question “accepted” history? Nope — but, to recap:
    – Johnny has posted a long-shelved CIA analysis which he either completely agrees with, or doesn’t have enough respect for his interlocutors to put his first foot forward; and
    – a couple of posters (Eyal, ck) have explained why they disagree with the analysis.
    If there were an actual conversation going on here, this is where Johnny would, you know, move it forward. But you can’t discuss with a mirror. Like Mobius, I am clueless about all this 1967-history stuff — and, unlike Mobius, I am clueless about why a CIA analysis would be an interesting thing to discuss when one has no respect for CIA analysis.
    But so be it. Johnny, in the event that you actually want to have a conversation but just forgot that that involved you making a point: why do you find the article interesting? Which elements of response to it do you find interesting?

  16. “all i see so far are ad hominem attacks on john brown — which, btw, are violations of our terms of service.”
    Perhaps there wouldn’t be so many ad hominem attacks if that guy Mobius would lead by example.
    Check out the first comment on this thread.
    Maybe the dialogue problems on this site come from the top.

  17. mobius: the bigger question here… is why israeli military ‘myths’ are sacred cows that can not be challenged.
    “i raised this question previously: when someone challenges america’s behavior in iraq or vietnam, does it undermine the legitimacy of america as a state? does it question america’s right to exist? if not, why then is it presumed that to question israel’s military actions is to question its right to exist.”
    There is a context here that does not apply to comparison to criticism of the US. No one seriously questions the right of the USA to exist, but the state of Israel in particular and Jewish national rights in general are routinely and commonly denied in mainstream journalism, peace and human rights NGOs, 19 out of 22 member nations of the Arab League, and all but four of the 56 member nations of the Organization of Islamic Conferences (which also represents a fairly large share of the UN General Assembly).
    Further, Israeli “sacred cows” are more often than not exploited as a rhetorical breach to deligitimize Jewish national rights. Can’t we do a better job of concentrate our talents on reintegrating the Jewish people into its native region with all the national dignity it deserves before we assist those who are all too willing to maintain a ridiculous and dangerous culture of violent rejectionism against it?

  18. Dan (Mobius) is right: you have to be critical of the things you hold dear. The fact that they hold up to scrutiny is why you like them.
    Attacking John Brown is not only childish and immature, but just plain wrong. Look, I rarely agree with John Brown’s posts; even the stuff I do agree with, it’s a very small agreement. And his blog may contain stuff I don’t like. But, at least he’s trying to make us think. For anyone whose first (and only) reaction is to call him a Jew-hater, you’re an idiot.

  19. If you read Eyal’s response in the comments to all of this the dialog and perspective gains depth. So instead of getting upset because you “feel” it is wrong, either reserve yourself to continue feeling that way without knowing why or find the reasons and facts why it is wrong, such as Eyal did. It shouldn’t be hard to do it with out name calling. You are Jews dammit, this type of debating should be freakin second nature to you.
    I definitely think John Brown should feel the liberty to continue posting such controversial material. Perhaps he posted it as just a question, or perhaps with an agenda. This is not relevant though. This site should be open to every agenda. Accepting that it is impossible to post something, to even say anything, that is agenda neutral and the idea of making the entire site agenda neutral by embracing every agenda starts to make more sense.

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