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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

May 19, 2017  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

A walk down memory lane to inspire a trip to Israel

By RABBI DANIEL TREISER Temple B’nai Israel, Clearwater

This month we mark the 50th anniversary of what some consider a modern-day miracle: the Six Day War.

While the conflict could be traced back to the end of the Suez Crisis in 1956, the events that led up to the war really began on Israel’s Independence Day, May 14, 1967. Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered troops to amass on the Sinai border. The next day, he ordered the UN Emergency Force observers out of the Sinai. One week later, he closed the Straits of Tiran, the main shipping channel in the Red Sea, to Israeli boats, an act of war according to international military agreements. Just a few days later, Jordan’s King Hussein signed a defensive pact with Egypt, aligning the military forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon against Israel.

Faced with the inevitability of an attack, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. convinced Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of the need for a pre-emptive strike. Early in the morning of June 5, Israel launched Operation Moked (Focus). All but 12 planes in Israel’s Air Force flew less than 60 feet over the Mediterranean to avoid Egyptian radar. Through their skill and communications problems on the part of the Egyptians, Israel’s Air Force was able to totally incapacitate the Egyptian forces.

Over the course of the next five days, extreme training and preparations on Israel’s part, combined with a lack of coordination and miscommunication on the part of the Arab armies, Israel decisively won the war. Many viewed the victory as a true miracle, because the series of events that allowed for Israel’s swift success could only be achieved with Divine assistance alongside Israel’s military preparedness.

The aftermath of the conflict was tremendous. In just six days, the land under Israel’s control tripled in size. Israel controlled the Sinai Peninsula, including the all important Straits of Tiran as well as partial access to the Suez Canal. In the North, Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic defensive position from which Israel can protect the citizens in her northern regions. With Jordan’s defeat, Israel annexed the West Bank of the Jordan River, and perhaps most importantly, reunified the ancient city of Jerusalem, including controlling the entire Old City and its holiest sites.

Two of the most iconic images of the Six Day War are photos of three young paratroopers in the shadow of the Kotel, and of Chief of Staff Rabin, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Central Region Command General Uzi Narkiss walking together through the streets of the Old City. For the first time in nearly two millennia, the Temple Mount was once again under Jewish sovereign control.

The political ramifications continue to be felt today as well. The return of the Sinai to Egyptian control was the condition under which the Camp David Peace Accords were signed in 1979, creating a (tenuous) peace agreement between Egypt and Israel that still remains today. Peace agreements were signed with Jordan in 1994, creating an understanding and peace between those two countries. The Golan continues to play a strategic role today, as anyone who has visited it can attest. Standing in the Golan, you can see almost the entirety of Israel’s Galilee region in one direction, and see Damascus and the battles in Syria in the other.

Of course, the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 to create the Palestinian Authority tried to address the sensitive issue of Palestinians living within the West Bank and Gaza. The power struggles in these areas have given rise to Hamas, terror attacks, military operations and wars, and a sense of unease throughout Israel, as well as debates within Israeli society between those who would settle these lands and those who would give them to the Palestinians in exchange for peace.

And the questions surrounding Jerusalem, her status as a fully Jewish city or a shared municipality, continue to this day.

The Six Day War also fueled a tremendous sense of Jewish pride around the world. The tiny Jewish nation proved that it could defend itself in a decisive manner, and would not be an easy target for the Arab nations. Jews outside of Israel proudly declared their support for Israel in ways never seen before. Travel to Israel increased, and bonds strengthened among the Jewish community, with Israel at the heart of it all.

That same pride also permeated Israeli society, perhaps, some speculate, too much so, which led to the complacency that allowed the Yom Kippur War to almost be the end of the Jewish State.

The complexity of the war and its impact cannot be adequately contained in one column. Hopefully this anniversary inspires us to take a deeper look at this historic moment through our own reading and research. And perhaps more importantly, hopefully it instills a desire to walk those same streets, view the same land, and experience Israel yourself.

Most of our congregations have trips to Israel planned in the next year or two, and Federation provides travel opportunities as well. As Israel prepares for the 70th anniversary of her independence in 2018, now is the perfect time to begin planning a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the land of Israel.

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the board. The views expressed in the column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.


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