• Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan in a six-day war in 1967 whose 50th anniversary is on June 5, 2017
• The victory of Israel was viewed as a miracle by the Jews as well as Christians.
• The war enabled the movement of Jews to the Western bank and empowered the community
Jerusalem, June 4, 2017: Ron Kronish was a student in an American college when Israel defeated Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies during the 1967 Six-Day War.
This year, June 5 will mark the 50th anniversary of the famous War, which had a serious effect on many Israeli and Diaspora Jews, mentioned in a report by National Catholic Reporter.
Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan was seen as a miracle by Jews as well as many Christians.Israel had beaten three larger countries and, for the first time in 2,000 years, Jewish holy sites were under Jewish hands.
The war also saw the capture of the Golan Heights, Gaza and the Sinai, and displaced up to 325,000 Palestinians.
Ron Kronish,70, who is a Reform rabbi dedicated to interreligious peacebuilding, viewed Israel’s victory over its hostile neighbours as “life-changing”.
According to Kronish, young American Jewish activists were largely preoccupied with the Vietnam War and the American civil rights movement until then.
Effects of the war
The war reunited the eastern and western parts of Jerusalem and inspired Jews being persecuted in what was then the Soviet Union to fight for the right to emigrate and freely practice their religion.
Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet refusenik and current chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel recalled, “When the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces broke through the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, they also punched a hole in the Iron Curtain, inspiring us Soviet Jews to start our struggle for freedom.”
“This struggle, supported by Jews around the world, ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain and enabled a million (Soviet) Jews to come home to Israel,” Sharansky said.
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Sara Yael Hirschhorn, in her new book “City on a Hilltop”, has explored why thousands of North American Jews decided to settle in the West Bank in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. She said that the war was “a watershed moment for American Jewry, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.”
The author has estimated that 15 percent of Jewish settlers who moved to West Bank are American citizens.
She said, “The American Jews viewed the captured territory as the unconquered or newly conquered frontier, and they wanted to be pioneers. They felt that founding a settlement was taking an active role in their realization of Jewish and Zionist aspirations.”
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A senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and author of “Like Dreamers,” Yossi Klein Halevi, which examines the divergent ideologies that have shaped Israel since the Six-Day War, said the war created two kinds of Israelis.
“There are the ones whose primal memory of May 1967 is the sense of existential fear, aloneness and the world’s abandonment. Then there are the June 1967 Israelis whose primary experience from the war was one of empowerment and who insist that Israel needs to take responsibility for the moral consequences of power.”
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It is evident from the above-mentioned statements, the war, like every other war, showed the fears of life to some while others viewed it as an opportunity for empowerment.
Citizens like Kronish feel that the war has given them a land of their own but it cannot be denied that Israel is still facing long-term threats from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic State group. There are hundreds of thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at Israeli cities.
– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6