Six Days of Pride
The anniversary of Israel’s Six Day War not only commemorates an unlikely military victory, resulting in the Jewish liberation of Jerusalem, Hebron and other ancient Jewish cities, but also one of the last modern day catalysts of near universal Jewish self-regard.
Just recently I heard a Siberian Jew reminisce about just how proud he felt, “our heads were held high,” he said. Words that are routinely used to describe this period include; euphoric, hope and confidence. “The Jewish explosion of pride came in the wake of the Six Day War of 1967,” wrote Patrick Ercolano in a Baltimore Sun column.
These sentiments do not appear to have been confined geographically, nor even politically, for the most part. They were not limited to Zionists, and impacted all Jews of many stripes and orientations. This unified high was a product of a victory, a hard fought vanquishing of sworn enemies, beaten into retreat and respectful submission; an absolute triumph over a mortal threat.
45 years later, some feel that 1967 was a plateau in terms of global positive appreciation for the Jewish state and its position in the world. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren bemoans, “Why has Israel’s image deteriorated?” and “why have anti-Israel libels once consigned to hate groups become media mainstays? How can we explain the assertion that an insidious “Israel Lobby” purchases votes in Congress, or that Israel oppresses Christians?”
Oren is right in his reasoning that “The answer lies in the systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state. Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism, Israel’s enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic that hampers Israel’s ability to defend itself, even to justify its existence.” The Ambassador’s call to action is equally potent, “Israel must confront the acute dangers of delegitimization as it did armies and bombers in the past.”
Yet in this new battle it seems, Israel has forgotten how to fight, how to win and how to secure overwhelming unifying victory as it has in the past on the battlefield. In Oren’s article alone, he gives much ground to Israel’s ideological enemies through contextual acknowledgement of damaging arguments. He says that “Israel today is more democratic,” implying that in the past it was less so, perhaps grounds to discount early Israel actions. Even worse, he writes that Israel “is more committed to peace,” insinuating that Israel’s defensive wars were not fought in the service of peace, and accepting the Arab narrative that defines opportunities for peace in terms of territorial concession.
Zionist leader Zeev Jabotisnky wrote, “In this world, respect is accorded only to those who stand up for their rights, who stand and defend them without swerving, endlessly, until they win through.”
If they are to be successful, Oren and others that seek to address this challenge must take their own challenge more literally; this conflict must be fought like it is 1967 all over again. Israel is under siege and emergency measures are called for, political unity, preemptive strikes, you name it.
Yitzchok Rabin explained Israel’s 1967 success in the following terms; “Our airmen, who struck the enemies’ planes so accurately that no one in the world understands how it was done and people seek technological explanations or secret weapons; our armored troops who beat the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all other branches… who overcame our enemies everywhere, despite the latter’s superior numbers and fortifications-all these revealed not only coolness and courage in the battle but…an understanding that only their personal stand against the greatest dangers would achieve victory for their country and for their families, and that if victory was not theirs the alternative was annihilation.”
Israel must recognize the alternative to losing the war of ideas and fight with accuracy, coolness and with courage.