For anyone at all acquainted with the Arab-Israeli conflict that has existed in the boldface font of history since the birth of the Jewish nation, the 1967 Six Day War is both flashpoint and parameter for debate for those on both sides. This expertly framed documentary is simultaneously a lament and an accusation for the genesis of a militaristic Israel. After being provoked, Israel made the fateful decision to occupy parts of Gaza and the West Bank after crippling the Egyptian Air Force and defeating it on the ground. In the preamble to the entirely avoidable war, we see exhibited the traits and tendencies of both sides, which a generation later have become almost pathologically entrenched: a delusional zealotry common to both but also an almost childish optimism displayed by the Egyptians alongside a Jewish brutality heretofore unknown.
The narrative strands are dissected with a novelist’s intricacy and reveal now-obscured sub-plots like Yitzhak Rabin’s mental breakdown or then prime minister Lev Eshkol’s bumbling radio address that paved the way for a bulldozing military solution in response to an ostensibly manageable political rift. Interviews with many of the surviving principals color in the broad outlines of what was a devastating defeat for the Arab World. General Moshe Dayan’s rise as a new type of unofficial leader of Israeli, represented the transformation of the country from a political entity in a militarily defensive posture to aggressor. Similarly, Egyptian President Nasser’s capitulation to the army’s point of view and the baser instincts of the masses proved a fatal precursor to a history of misjudgments.
While the film’s conclusions about the birth of the first Palestinian suicide bomber carry with it unavoidable political baggage, the overall scope and approach of this documentary are unassailable.