web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



The Six-Day War’s Unresolved Legacy

Front-Page-060112

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan arrived to place a note between the stones, as had been Jewish custom for centuries. He proclaimed: “We have reunited the city, the capital of Israel, never to part with it again.”

IDF Commander Yitzhak Rabin praised the soldiers whose sacrifices “have brought about redemption.” It was a triumphant moment of national unity and ecstasy that Israelis have not known since.

No less astonishing than the military victory was the religious resonance of the Six-Day War – named by the staunchly secular Rabin to echo the biblical days of creation. A true sabra, an unsentimental soldier who rarely showed emotion in public, Rabin could not conceal the spiritual meaning of the war for the soldiers who fought and survived to savor their victory.

Their “sense of standing at the very heart of Jewish history,” he acknowledged upon receiving an honorary degree at the newly restored Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, had released “springs of feeling and spiritual discovery.” The paratroopers who conquered the Western Wall, he recalled, “leaned on its stones and wept.” Their sudden surge of emotion, “powerful enough to break through their habits of reticence, revealed as though by a flash of lightning truths that were deeply hidden.”

Rabin did not identify those truths, but many thousands of jubilant Israelis experienced them in the weeks following the war. Suddenly Jerusalem and the entire biblical homeland of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria were accessible. As Dayan proclaimed: “We have returned to the [Temple] Mount, to the cradle of our nation’s history, to the land of our forefathers, to the land of the Judges, to the fortress of David’s dynasty.”

Israelis flocked to the Kotel and to Me’arat HaMachpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, where Muslims had forbidden Jews from entering for seven centuries. They visited Rachel’s Tomb, outside Bethlehem, and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (biblical Shechem). Jericho was a popular destination. As one Israeli wrote disbelievingly to a friend: “All the things you read about in the Bible and in history become real right before your eyes.”

* * * * *

The Six-Day War, the forty-fifth anniversary of which falls next week, remains the transformative event in the history of the state of Israel since independence. But it was not only a stunning military victory. No one captured its deep spiritual meaning better than Harold Fisch, professor of English at Bar-Ilan University. It was, he wrote in The Zionist Revolution, “a truly religious moment, the experience of miracle, of sudden illumination…. We were suddenly living in the fullness of our own covenant history.” Israelis “who had never known they were Jews suddenly awoke to their inheritance.”

In a fascinating collection of postwar conversations with soldiers from kibbutzim (published in English as The Seventh Day), the meaning of return – even to deeply secular Israelis – was revealed.

“When we heard of the conquest of Jerusalem,” a kibbutznik recounted, “there wasn’t a single one who didn’t weep, including me. Then, for the first time, I felt not the ‘Israelness’ but the Jewishness of the nation.”

Another soldier was deeply moved when he suddenly realized that “the whole of the Promised Land is ours.”

“Even though I’m not religious,” a kibbutznik recalled, “the Wall meant an awful lot to me…. It symbolizes everything.”

But not every Israeli was exhilarated. One of the interviewers, an aspiring young writer from Kibbutz Hulda named Amos Oz, would subsequently lament the triumph of “yeshiva students” over kibbutzniks. The “values, ideals, conscience, world view” he identified with secular Zionism were challenged by “victory and miracles, Redemption and the coming of the Messiah.”

Oz evoked “the elusive cunning of the biblical charm” of Judea and Samaria, but he rejected the biblical homeland of the Jewish people as “Arab, through and through.”

So it was that the most wondrous moment in the history of Israel since 1948 would become – and remain – the deepest source of division within the Jewish state. Once Rabbi Kook’s students returned to rebuild Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem, a cluster of kibbutzim that had been destroyed in 1948, and to Hebron, where no Jews had lived since the devastating pogrom in 1929, the religious Zionist challenge to secular Zionist hegemony began to transform Israel.

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.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

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

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)
BiPartisan U.S. Effort to Ensure Hamas Disarmed Before Ceasefire
Latest Indepth Stories
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

IDF soldier injured in Gaza is evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital.

The residents of Gaza were not occupied by the Hamas; they voted for the terror organization in democratic elections, by a huge majority, by virtue of its uncompromising struggle against Israel. For this reason, the separation between the armed Hamas terrorists and those ‘not involved’ or ‘innocents’ is false. The Gazans are now paying for […]

Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

People test Israel every day to see how serious we really are in knowing when we are right.

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach

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.

Front-Page-121313

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.”

For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.

Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: