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June 5: The Six Day War

Lawrence Bush
June 5, 2010

french_made_fighters_of_the_iafThe Six Day War between Israel and its neighboring Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, with troops and arms from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria) broke out on this date in 1967 when Israel responded to Egypt’s mobilization of 1,000 tanks and 100,000 troops on the Sinai border by launching a surprise attack that destroyed Egypt’s air force. Israel’s launching of military operations was widely seen by Western leaders and the Jewish community as preemptive self-defense, but it was condemned as aggression by the Soviet bloc and some non-aligned countries (a condemnation that completed the exodus of many Jews from the communist movement in the U.S.). Close to a thousand Israelis died in the war, as did at least 15,000 Arabs, though the casualty statistics on that side are murky. The results included the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli control and Israel’s occupation of the Gaza strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights. Pogroms and expulsion campaigns against Jews took hold in Arab countries. For Jewish communities outside Israel, the Six Day War catalyzed a huge upsurge in Jewish devotion to Israel and the resurgence of affirmative Jewish identity.
“By 1967 the overwhelming majority of American Jews were well past the self-hatred of a previous generation and were groping toward a new Jewishness affirmed out of a new inner freedom. The Six Day War precipitated what two decades of sociological shift had brought to readiness.” —Eugene Borowitz, The Mask Jews Wear

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.