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The War That Made Yom Yerushalayim Possible

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On June 27, Israel annexed all parts of Jerusalem. Just one day later, the UN General Assembly demanded an Israeli withdrawal from the liberated territories. Where were all those nations in the weeks leading up to the war, when the Arabs were gleefully promising an all-out massacre of Jews?

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol rejected the international pressure, telling the Knesset that Israel alone fought for its right to exist and “alone we are entitled to determine our true and vital interests and how we will be secured.”

At a Zionist conference in London following the war, Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain Aharon Remez echoed Eshkol’s sentiments, asking, “Who has the right to tell Israel to revert to the position of the greatest danger while her enemies are already proclaiming their determination for a new round?”

While many of the world’s leaders were dismayed by Israel’s breathtaking military performance and the abject humiliation of the Arab armies, most Jews and Israel’s friends worldwide were relieved. Israel not only survived, it had emerged victorious beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Nearly two decades of Jordanian abuse of Jerusalem was over. The city’s Jewish institutions, desecrated and destroyed during the years of Jordan’s occupation, could now be rebuilt. Jews could once again return to their most sacred sites. Religious institutions of all faiths were now respected.

Israel’s tactical situation dramatically improved. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were no longer under threat of Jordanian guns. The northern parts of Israel would no longer be shelled by Syria now that Israel had seized the Golan Heights. The waters of the Jordan River could no longer be diverted by the Syrians. There was now more space, a buffer, between Israel and its enemies in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

While Israeli generals praised the prowess of their armed forces, Prime Minister Eshkol acknowledged the Jewish state’s true source of strength: “Faithful to itself and looking confidently toward the future, with the aid of the Rock and Redeemer of Israel, this nation shall yet dwell in safety.”

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