Michael Oren is a former Israeli ambassador to the US and currently serves as Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is also the author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. In this interview with BICOM Senior Research Associate Toby Greene, Oren discusses the legacy of the Six-Day War 50 years on.
Toby Greene: You’re a historian of the Six-Day War and now a diplomat, as well as an Israeli politician and Minister. If there is one thing you want British policy-makers or opinion-formers to understand about the events of the war itself, what would that be?
Michael Oren: In essence, don’t view the past though the lens of the present, in which Israel enjoys an incalculably better geo-strategic, military situation than it did in 1967. Israel was then at war with Egypt and Jordan plus the entire Sunni Arab world. We had hostile relations with China and India as well as with the Soviet Union and its 12 satellite states. Israel had a friendship with the US but not a strategic alliance; we had no international, great power ally (the French switched sides); and we had indefensible borders. All in all, a very different situation to today when Israel has excellent relations with China and India, and our relations with ex-Soviet bloc countries are some of our best in Europe. We have a strategic alliance with the US, which is probably the most multifaceted alliance Israel has had. Our borders are much more defensible. We have peace with Egypt, peace with Jordan and incomparably improved relations with the Sunni Arab world.
Read the full interview in Fathom.