web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Six-Day War’s Unresolved Legacy

Front-Page-060112

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

So it was, in the spring of 1967,that the noose tightened around the Jewish state. In April Syria bombarded Galilee kibbutzim from the Golan Heights. In May Egypt ordered the removal of UN forces from Sinai and advanced its army to the border with Israel. Arab radio promised “the extermination of Zionist existence.” Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad announced: “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”

Then Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, halting the flow of oil from Iran and severing its supply route to Asia. In early June Iraq joined the coalition to destroy Israel. By then nearly 500,000 enemy soldiers surrounded the Jewish state; thousands of fighter planes were poised to attack.

Apprehension of imminent annihilation – another Holocaust – swept through Israel. The army was mobilized. Bomb shelters were hastily built. Mass graves were dug. The hesitant Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, delivered a stumbling radio address that sent waves of panic through the nation. Under intense pressure to act from military advisers, he reluctantly authorized a preemptive strike.

One month earlier, on Independence Day, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook had met with a gathering of his former students at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem. Like his father, the revered chief rabbi of Mandatory Palestine, he embraced Zionism, a commitment that marginalized the yeshiva among haredi Jews while its Orthodoxy isolated it from the secular Zionist majority.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda recalled his anguish in 1948 when the boundaries of war had severed the fledgling state of Israel from the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Conquering Jordanians drove Jews from their Old City homes; their revered Hurva synagogue was destroyed; they were denied access to the Western Wall; the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated; and Jerusalem was divided.

As his voice rose to bewail the partition of Eretz Yisrael Rabbi Kook suddenly cried out: “They have divided my land. Where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem? And our Jericho?” No one in Israel, a student realized, spoke that way. Ever since 1948 Israelis believed that “the Land of Israel ended where the state of Israel ended.”

But for the unrelenting Arab determination to annihilate the Jewish state, those temporary armistice lines might have remained permanent borders.

* * * * *

Early in the morning of June 5, Israel launched the attack that instantly turned the tide of battle by decimating the Egyptian air force. But the transformative – and, for many, miraculous – moment came two days later. After desperate fighting in northern Jerusalem on Ammunition Hill, which claimed the lives of thirty-six Israeli soldiers, the way to the Old City was clear.

Tanks blasted open the Lion’s Gate and Israeli paratroopers poured through, sweeping across the site of the ancient Temples. Commander Mordechai Gur radioed: “Har HaBayit beyadenu” – the Temple Mount is in our hands.”

An intelligence officer recalled: “Though I’m not religious, I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion.”

After exultant Israeli soldiers descended through the Mughrabi Gate to the Western Wall, IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren arrived with a Torah scroll. He recited the mourner’s Kaddish for fallen soldiers, followed by the Shehechiyanu prayer of thanksgiving. Then he joyously blew his shofar. Euphoric troops, suddenly experiencing the convergence of their Israeli and Jewish identities, spontaneously burst into song, prayer – and tears.

A soldier approached the Wall: “The touch of my lips opened the gates of my emotions and the tears burst forth. A Jewish soldier in the State of Israel is kissing history with his lips.”

An Orthodox paratrooper wrote: “I believe that the hand of God was in my participation in the battle for the liberation and reunion of Jerusalem…. I felt as if I had been granted the great privilege of acting as an agent of God, of Jewish history.” Even a kibbutznik from the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair movement expressed his feelings in biblical verse: “Let us go into the house of the Lord, Our feet shall stand within Thy Gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2).

About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Six-Day War’s Unresolved Legacy”

  1. MaAi Ai says:

    for me, the euphoria has not dissipated. I'm still amazed, for the past, and for the future of Israel.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A poster in Gaza showing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, shortly after Morsi's election in 2012.
Egypt Designates Hamas a Terrorist Organization
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Knesset

For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.

Front-Page-081514

Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.

During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-six-day-wars-unresolved-legacy/2012/05/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: