As Israel marks 40 years since the 1967 Six-Day War, the media and the Jewish state’s critics would like us to believe that nothing good came from the war. But as I argue in the column below from the Jerusalem Post, that is far from being the case – in nearly every field, the war yielded tremendous benefits for Israel.
And while the critics harp on the “occupation” because they want to pressure Israel into making more concessions – they ignore one fundamental truth: the core of the
Middle East conflict is not the Israeli “occupation” of territory, but the Palestinian “preoccupation” with destroying the Jewish state.
As former refusenik Natan Sharansky wrote in his autobiography, Fear No Evil, “the Six Day War had made an indelible impression on me as it did on most Soviet Jews, for, in addition to fighting for her life, Israel was defending our dignity.” This, he said, sparked Russian Jewry to embrace the “basic, eternal truth” that personal freedom “wasn’t something you could achieve through assimilation. It was available only by reclaiming your historical roots.”
As a result, over 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel in the past four decades since the war, jump-starting the economy and fueling unprecedented growth in areas such as computer science and biotechnology.
The war inspired many thousands of Western Jews to make aliya too, with the number of North American migrants soaring from just 739 in 1967 to more than 8,000 in 1971.
Israel’s defeat of its foes also brought a renewed sense of pride to Jews everywhere, as they watched the tiny, vulnerable state emerge triumphant against its enemies.
And for the first time in 1,900 years, thanks to the Six Day War, we were once again able to caress the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and bathe them in our tears, as a free and sovereign people in our own land.
If that’s not something to celebrate, then what is?
So to those who continue to carp on incessantly about the “disastrous results of the war” and the need to “end the occupation,” all I can say is: Spare us your faulty hindsight.
If you really want to end the dispute with our neighbors, then tackle the Palestinian preoccupation with destroying Israel, and peace may just eventually come to pass.