Foxbats Over Dimona

The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War

Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez

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September 4, 2008
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300136272
Paper

Also available in:
Cloth

Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez’s groundbreaking history of the Six-Day War in 1967 radically changes our understanding of that conflict, casting it as a crucial arena of Cold War intrigue that has shaped the Middle East to this day. The authors, award-winning Israeli journalists and historians, have investigated newly available documents and testimonies from the former Soviet Union, cross-checked them against Israeli and Western sources, and arrived at fresh and startling conclusions.

 

Contrary to previous interpretations, Ginor and Remez’s book shows that the Six-Day War was the result of a joint Soviet-Arab gambit to provoke Israel into a preemptive attack. The authors reveal how the Soviets received a secret Israeli message indicating that Israel, despite its official ambiguity, was about to acquire nuclear weapons. Determined to destroy Israel’s nuclear program before it could produce an atomic bomb, the Soviets then began preparing for war--well before Moscow accused Israel of offensive intent, the overt trigger of the crisis.

 

Ginor and Remez’s startling account details how the Soviet-Arab onslaught was to be unleashed once Israel had been drawn into action and was branded as the aggressor. The Soviets had submarine-based nuclear missiles poised for use against Israel in case it already possessed and tried to use an atomic device, and the USSR prepared and actually began a marine landing on Israel’s shores backed by strategic bombers and fighter squadrons. They sent their most advanced, still-secret aircraft, the MiG-25 Foxbat, on provocative sorties over Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex to prepare the planned attack on it, and to scare Israel into making the first strike. It was only the unpredicted devastation of Israel’s response that narrowly thwarted the Soviet design.

As journalists for Israel’s leading broadcast and print media and as historical researchers, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez collaborated for 20 years to expose the extent of Soviet military involvement in the Middle East.

"[The authors] offer a plausible explanation for the causes of the war. . . . The text reads like the solution to a mystery, amassing information from voluminous sources, guiding readers step by step through the argument, and making an intuitively compelling case that must be taken seriously. . . . It offers a viable, exciting interpretation for others to chew on, with many implications."—Daniel Pipes, New York Sun

“An ambitious and thoroughly revisionist account of the origins of the Six-Day War. By placing Israeli nuclear ambitions—and the Soviet reaction—as major links in the chain of events, the authors have produced a book that will stand out in the debate about the Cold War and the Middle East.”—Odd Arne Westad, co-chair, Cold War Studies Centre, London School of Economics

"A unique contribution to the history of the Cold War in the eastern Mediterranean. The authors challenge the predominant view of the 1967 war, and theirs is certainly an original explanation that has been little appreciated if not entirely ignored by Western historians."—David Murphy, former chief of Soviet operations, Central Intelligence Agency

“A fascinating, plausible, and hitherto untold tale. The authors demonstrate that the Six-Day War marked a major Soviet political-military defeat comparable to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Carefully researched and reconstructed, fast-paced and well-written, this book represents a major contribution to the history of the modern Middle East.”—Dov S. Zakheim, former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense 

"A well-researched and provocative new look at the background to the 1967 Israeli-Arab war. Its central thesis appears unreal until one assesses the myriad sources and deep documentation that add up to a compelling argument. This book will immediately assume a place of prominence among the must-read sources for understanding the war."—Daniel C. Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"This book resolves one of the great mysteries of the Six-Day War, putting the Soviet Union at the center of the drama. Written with a wealth of documentary evidence, it has all the intrigue of a detective story, and all the pace of a novel."—Sir Martin Gilbert, author of Israel: A History

"This fascinating new book brings to light new, original research on the origins of the 1967 War. While data and facts are still coming in and skeptics may scoff, the Soviet role now appears to be larger and more intensive than many of us may have realized."—Thomas R. Pickering, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs 1997-2000, Ambassador to Russia 1993-96, Ambassador to Israel 1985-88 


"Ginor and Remez, an enterprising pair of Jerusalem researchers who have been trawling Soviet archives and double-agents, explain the war as a Kremlin plot gone wrong. . . . It's a terrifying story, thoroughly sourced, and much of it is entirely new. . . . If you want to grasp the background to tonight's 10 o'clock news, read [this] groundbreaking book."—Norman Lebrecht, Evening Standard 

"The text reads like the solution to a mystery, amassing information from voluminous sources, guiding readers step by step through the argument, making an intuitively compelling case that must be taken seriously." --- Daniel Pipes, Hamodia UK

"Ginor and Remez's book opens a door for further research. Its thesis deserves to be beaten like bushes by hunters outing their prey—and the prey will indeed be trapped, one way or another, at the moment the Russian archives open the relevant files. And if what the authors suggest is true, the Six Day War will end up illumined in a completely fresh light."—Benny Morris, New Republic

"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 and extraordinary range of sources."—Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs (included in its list of outstanding new books)

"Ginor and Remez have done an impressive job of information gathering, and they have conducted a comprehensive and in-depth inquiry. There is no question that as a pioneering study presenting issues that need to be reexamined and probed further, this is an important book."—Reuven Pedatzur, Haaretz

"Ginor and Ramez argue in this book that the Soviet Union played a much larger role in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War than has been recognized previously. . . . Their argument is based on, among other sources, a careful study of Soviet documents—many of which have only recently come to light—as well as interviews with former Soviet officials and servicemen who participated in the June 1967 events. . . . I must concur . . . with Lawrence Freedman's judgment that Ginor and Ramez have presented such a strong case for their argument that 'the onus is now on others to show why they are wrong.'"—Mark N. Katz, Middle East Journal

"A remarkable study. . . . The authors argue convincingly that both Moscow and Cairo did their best to provoke an Israeli first strike. . . . [They have] thus deepened, enlarged, and nuanced the heretofore conventional view of the 1967 War to a considerable degree."—Shlomo Aronson, Israel Studies

 

"Ginor and Remez bring to the table new insights . . . and a profound challenge to the conventional wisdom. . . . It is always an uphill battle for revisionist history, but particularly when so many professionals in government and the academy have become wedded to a standard interpretation. . . . The book should become standard reading not only on the Six-Day War, but for Middle East history as well."—Mark T. Clark, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa

"A welcome addition to the history of the Soviet role in the 1967 Six-Day War and the USSR's strategic deception. The return of Russia's adversarial stance towards the West makes it particularly relevant. . . . Foxbats over Dimona is priceless in fostering knowledge about the Kremlin's methods to provoke crises and conflicts to advance its interests and power, knowledge that remains relevant."—Ariel Cohen, Middle East Quarterly

“… a groundbreaking study of Soviet instigation in the Six Day War.” - Jon Ihle, Sunday Tribune

“Indispensable! A documentary book for all future researches of the cold war.” - Gasper Toruinic, Radar

Selected by Lawrence Freedman as a 'best book about the military, science, and technology discussed in Foreign Affairs in the past year' (April 2008)

Winner of the Silver Prize, given by the Washington Institute.