Foxbats Over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War

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Foxbats Over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War

By Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez
Yale University Press, 2007
304 pp. $26.00

The revisionist label is too often used to describe a reinterpretation of past events from an unorthodox political perspective. Here is a book that is truly revisionist, challenging what we thought we knew about the origins and conduct of the Six-Day War, Israel's crushing victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria 40 years ago. The exact role played by the Soviet Union has always been murky. The authors work their way through the murk, meticulously using every snippet of relevant information from an extraordinary range of sources, most effectively Soviet military personnel who can recall what they were up to in 1967. Where there are gaps, they make a careful case for conjecture and inference. They demonstrate how anxiety about Israel's imminent nuclear capability and an unwarranted confidence in Arab military strength led Moscow to develop a plot to provoke the Israelis into striking first before being overwhelmed by a devastating riposte, in which Soviet forces would participate. The plan never recovered from the quality of Israel's first strike, although bits of it were implemented as Israel appeared to be marching on Damascus. By its nature, this is an impossible case to prove, but Ginor and Remez have succeeded to the point where the onus is now on others to show why they are wrong.

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