In 1945, the dazed remnants of European Jewry crawled out of charnel houses, basements and forests. Six million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust; one-third of all Jews. Less than two decades later, the three million Jews of Israel faced a declared determination by Egypt to marshal its allies and finish the job. Israelis believed it could happen – rabbis debated the religious implications of mass graves. But in six days of war, Israel’s military muscle and equal determination to control the fate of its people decimated Arab armies on three sides, acquired vast stretches of territory it did not seek and large numbers of people it had not planned to rule. It also unified Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the wellspring of Jewish history and religion. Israel was a different country on June 11th than it had been on June 5th – how different was not yet clear.
Machiavelli said a country should make maximum changes in its favor at the moment of its maximum power. Most countries don’t know their moment of maximum power until they look back at it. After six days plus 50 years, the earthquake of the Six Day War continues to throw off aftershocks.
The Spring 2017 issue of inFOCUS looks back at the war and the evolutionary trends it produced with original source material from Abba Eban, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Eugene V. Rostow, and the U.S. Department of State. Michael Bar Zohar limns Israeli politics. Herbert London offers a personal recollection with his analysis, as does Eric Rozenman. Joshua Muravchik traces the movement of the United Nations from friend and protector of Israel to increasingly hostile bane. Ehud Eilam follows Israeli and military capabilities from then until now. Guest reviewer Juliana Geran Pilon surveys Nasser’s Peace: Egypt’s Response to the 1967 War with Israel, by Michael Sharnoff.
And don’t miss our interview with Israeli Member of Knesset and Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren.
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