This month marks the 44th anniversary of one of the most momentous miracles of modern times, when Israel, facing annihilation at the hands of its enemies, emerged triumphant in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.
Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean, were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.
The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people.
After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
And yet it seems, more than four decades later, that many Jews and Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.
In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six-Day War, grumble about Israel’s success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.
Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense to the Palestinians, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.
How could so many forget so much in so short a time?
It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and world Jewry are clearly suffering from what I refer to as “Battered Nation Syndrome.”
Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there.
Naturally, this distorted worldview results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel’s perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.
Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel’s policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good old-fashioned self-inflicted guilt trip.
But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.
To begin with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown into the sea.
What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.
They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet “occupy” the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.
Pointing out that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war.
Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.
All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region.”
But Israel’s offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.
Fortunately, with God’s help we were able to defeat them, depriving our enemies of the territorial platform from which they had sought our destruction.
Instead of grumbling about the result, we should be rejoicing in it.
The fact is that Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did.
We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.
They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.
Michael Freund is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that assists lost tribes and “hidden Jewish communities” to return to the Jewish people. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears the third week of each month.