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'Six Days'

Moshe Dayan celebrates Talk Like a Pirate Day in the West Bank
photo: Ilan Bruner, Israel Government Press Office
Moshe Dayan celebrates Talk Like a Pirate Day in the West Bank

Short on insight and artistry, Six Days takes a dry approach to the hottest of conflicts. Detailing 1967's Six-Day War, Ilan Ziv's doc reiterates hashed-over history: With an unprepared and outmatched military, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser foolishly forced Israel into battle; rocking an eye patch, Moshe Dayan took every opportunity during the short war to expand Israel's borders, nabbing east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, pulling back just miles from Damascus. Historical accuracy and collective memory matter, but shouldn't students of the intractable Arab-Israeli situation know by now that studying the conflict's past to understand the present is a thankless—no, pointless— pursuit? If there's one thing the region needs, with the last of Israel's founding hawks lying comatose in a hospital bed, it's imagination. Though suffocatingly conventional—narrated footage, talking head, repeat—Six Days does make a strong, likely unintentional argument for people over power: Nasser and Dayan left their citizenry in the dark, wielding strategic misinformation to keep hate alive in the street. Young Diaspora Jews poured into Tel Aviv, eager to help their Israeli brethren who, unbeknownst to anyone but the commanders, didn't need a hand (Israel's air force wiped out Egypt's, Jordan's, and Syria's capacities in just hours), all as the Egyptians celebrated false news reports of the Jews' crushing defeat. Four decades later, Pan-Arabism has given way to religious fundamentalism and the conflict over land still rages, but the war's lasting legacy may well be deliberate delusion on both sides.

 
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