News Release

Roots of the Rise of Fundamentalist Islam: The 1967 War


NASEER ARURI, naruri at
Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and author of the books Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine and Obstruction of Peace. He also contributed to the anthology The June 1967 War, which took place 45 years ago.

He said today: “The 1967 Middle East war, sometimes referred to as the June War, is also called ‘al-Naksa,’ or ‘the setback,’ whereas the debacle of 1948 — which cost the Arabs more than two-thirds of Palestine and resulted in the expulsion/exodus of 78 percent of the Palestinian people — is increasingly referred to as ‘al-Nakba,’ i.e., ‘the catastrophe.’ While one might recover from a setback, it is probably a very daunting task to recover from a catastrophe.

“And yet, the 1967 War was a transforming event of epochal dimensions involving huge stakes: Who will emerge as the hegemon of the Middle East? Conservative monarchies with influence and power based on petroleum products and pro-west affiliations — or Arab socialism, non-alignment, Arab unity and secularism? Would revolutionary Arab nationalism or right-wing monarchies emerge as the order of the day?

“Today, almost a half a century later, as the Arab uprisings proceed, we ask whether these questions have been answered. Can we say with certainty, that political Islam has emerged triumphant while secularism has been dealt another setback? Did fundamentalist Islam score high particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere? Did right-wing Arabs such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, etc. score better than did others on the left?

“The single most important outcome of the June War was the defeat of Arab nationalism, known as Nasserism, the antithesis of reactionary Arab politics. Correspondingly, Israel emerged as America’s surrogate in the Middle East. The shifting realignments which can be traced to the 1967 war reveals a new geo-political map, which pits the big powers against each other Cold War style — the U.S., NATO, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Israel versus Syria, Iran, Hizbullah, Lebanon. Such shifting realignments are rooted in the June War and the Cold War, both significant eras which will have a geo-political impact on the region for some time to come.”