Six Days War: Media War Reporting

Figure 1.--This 1967 press photo shows an Egyptian Egypt Egyptian children standing with their mother in an Egyptian street, probably Cairo, during the Six Days war. The Arab Streetis today a much discussed topic. The Arab public were told that they were on the cusp of 'exterminating' Israel. And than that their armies had done just that -- which proved to be a lie. Somehow this did not matter. President Nasser who had led them into war and than lied about the phantom victories. And even though the war he helped bring bout proved a disaster, he emerged more popular than ever, perhaps becuse he created another lie, blaming it all on America. It was a mystery at the time, but today we know much more about the Arab street.

Media reporting became an issue in the Six Days War. Arab media, especially Egyptian media, reported huge, but non-existent Egyptian victories from the onset of the War. They hid the actual Israeli victories from the public as the War unfolded. Announcers may not have even been aware of the battlefield disaters. They were using reports issued by the military. After the Israelis had destroyed the Egyptain Air Force on the ground and were driving toward Suez in the Siani, Egyptian news reports were proclaiming great victories over the Isrealis. After the Israeli Air Forcec (IAF) destroyed the Egyptian Air Force, Radio Cairo announced that their Air Force had destroyed the IAF. There were few doubters. Media reports before the war had assumed tht their armies equiipped with modern Soviet arms would have no trouble defeating the Israels. The battlefield was in isolated reas far from Cairo and the major cities, so they had no reason to doubt. Nasser was not only keeping the truth from the Egyptian people, but his Arab allies as well becuse he was desperate for Jordn and Syria to enter the war. President Nasser when finlly forced to tell the truth, he announced his retirement. A shocked Egyptian public, however, poured into the streets. They did not blame Nasser. Nor did they question war policies of destroying Israel as a primary nationl goal. They were sure that mere Jews could never defeat Arab armies. So rather then Nasser, they blamed the United States. Despite his abject failure, they demanded that he remain in office. In an effort to reduce the humilation of being defeated by Jews, Nasser ordered the media to perpetuate a lie, that American carrier aurcraft koined in the IAF attack. This lie appeared in media throughout the Arab world. Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. This lie is still commonly accepted by many. It was not only the Arabs ho had a hard time believing the Israeli reports. a British commenttor writes, "Many people believe that the astonishing Israeli victory was a miracle. I remember listening in England to Michael Elkins, the BBC reporter in Israel at the time, who broke the startling news of the Israeli victories on all three fronts; the Egyptian, the Syrian, and the Jordanian. But equally, many people also thought he was exaggerating Israel's total defeat of her enemies, preferring almost to the end of the Six-Day War to continue believing the strident but false Arab boastings that Israel was being destroyed." [Sharpe]


Sharpe, Victor. "The Six-Day War: Israel's miraculous victory," American Thinker (June 10, 2012).


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Created: 7:15 AM 2/29/2016
Last updated: 7:15 AM 2/29/2016