Fifty years ago, Israel fought a war for its survival. Twenty-seven short years after the Holocaust, the young Jewish nation faced the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon with 500,000 troops, 5,000 tanks and almost 1,000 fighter planes. After exhausting diplomatic efforts and pleading repeatedly to the United Nations, Israel was forced to attack Egyptian planes. A full attack on all borders began. The threat to Israel’s existence was unparalleled. Jews all over the world feared a second Holocaust.
After six dramatic days of fighting, Israel emerged victorious with a decisive military victory that secured Israel’s sovereignty and changed the borders of the new state in an unprecedented way. On June 7, Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem and unified the city, opening its holy sites to all religions. Colonel Motta Gur’s announcement that the Israel Defense Forces secured the Old City of Jerusalem with the Western Wall signaled a supreme celebration for Israelis and Jews all over the world. This victory marked the first time in two thousand years that Jews could pray freely at the Kotel, or Western Wall.
In a statement at the Western Wall, Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, stated: “To our Arab neighbors, we extend, especially at this hour, the hand of peace. To members of other religions, Christians and Muslims, I hereby promise faithfully that their full freedom and all their religious rights will be preserved.”
Unfortunately, the time was not ripe for peace. After a mere three months, eight Arab nations issued the Khartoum Resolution, famous for containing the “three NO’s:” no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, closing the door to any possible progress towards peace. That year also marked the beginning of the “War of Attrition” with constant attacks at Israel’s borders for a full year. It took 12 more years for the first peace agreement to be signed between any Arab nation and Israel, the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement, which is a peace that remains in place today.
Wednesday, June 7 marks an opportunity to celebrate the triumphant occasion of Israel’s survival. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the 50 years since this war and the many challenges which Israel grapples with to this day. JEWISHcolorado commemorates this important day for Jews and all religions around the world. We extend our prayers for Israel’s security and safety and progress towards peace for all people. We also remember all those who sacrificed their lives over the battle for Jerusalem and all battles for Israel.
JEWISHcolorado is providing our community with the following resources and invites your participation in this historic 50th Anniversary.
- View Deputy Minister Michael Oren’s Webinar: Six Days, 50 Years and the Future of Israel, www.jcouncil.org/michaeloren
- Watch the Colorado Senate and House Joint Statement commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Facebook.
- Where were you in June 1967? Share your Jerusalem story on our Facebook page
- Sign up for Jerusalem University’s weekly and daily videos commemorating the Six Day War, through June 12 www.sixdaywarproject.org.