Yom Ha-Atzma'ut is Monday Night (delayed one day so that Shabbat won't be desecrated by the observances for Yom ha-Zikkaron.) Every Independence Day is special. This one is especially so. Forty years ago, on Yom Ha-Atzma'ut, Gammal Abd'el Nasser sent his army into Sinai and declared his intention to wipe the Jewish State of the face of the map. This set in motion the events that led to Israel's astounding victory in the Six Day War.
In anticipation of this anniversary, the Left and the media are already gearing up for the mournful observance of that lugubrious event. The papers can't even call the war by its official name. They refer to 'that war' (המלחמה ההיא). We are already being inundated by nostaligia for a divided Jerusalem, a small intimate nation wherein Ashkenazi Sabras predominated, and we were loved. That war led to the 'occupation.' It led to fanatic religious messianism. It led to anti-Zionism and Antisemitism. In a word, it is the source of all evil. It must, therefore, be undone. Indeed, at the end of the day, that is the basic plank in the platform of the so-called 'Zionist Left' (Peace Now, Avodah/Meretz, IPF, Tzippi Livni and friends).
A reality check is in order here. 1) The Arabs intended to destroy Israel, and might have succeeded had we not struck first. (This book, controversial at the time, still has the ring of what might hsave been.) 2) The army captured detailed plans for the massacre of the Jewish civilian population. I recall, as a kid, reading the captured plans of the Jordanian Arab Legion to slaughter the Jews of Motza (report here), a fashionable town outside of Jerusalem. (Yes. the king was our friend Hussein I.) 3) The government expected the worst and ordered 10,000 graves to be prepared.
The rest of world Jewry also expected the worst. It expected another Holocaust, at a time that it was still taboo to mention the first one. Yet, we had evidently learned our lesson. Jews demonstrated in public. That was unheard of at the time. The first demonstration I ever attended inmy life was on Sunday, June 4 on the Boston Commons. There were, perhaps, a couple hundred people there with signs. We were all scared, for a place that practically none of us had ever seen. As for myself, I had been raised on stories of my Bilu ancestors, but Israel was just a hazy image.
The highlight of the rally was a speech by Leonard Fein. Today, there is very little that I find acceptable in Fein's politics. However, on that day he was my hero.
At the end of an impassioned address, he said: If John F.Kennedy can say 'Ich bin ein Berliner,' than why can't I say 'Ani Yehudi' 'I am a Jew!' An electric shock went through me. You have to understand. In 1967, no one spoke like that. No one wore a kippah on the street. It was just not something you did. What sounds trite and kitschy today, was revolutionary, then. It was liberating.
It was revelational. The period of waiting (תקופתההמתנה) before the war, and the miraculous victory afterwards, that prevented the Second Holocaust, accelerated that process.
The Six Day War, especially the liberation of Jerusalem, was directly responsible for: 1) The Jewish revival of the late sixties, seventies and eighties 2) The Ba'al Teshuvah Movement 3) The Awakening of Soviet Jewry and its ultimate Liberation and 4) The Sephardic Awakening in Israel.
In a word, the Six Day War was not only a totally unexpected military victory. It was a catalyst that changed the face of the Jewish people, and helped ensure its continued survival. It delayed the metastasis of Western assimilationism for nearly thirty years. It gave Judaism a shot in the arm that it desperately required. It established Israel's military reputation, which still inhibits our enemies.
It put us back in touch with the pulsating source of sanctity and the fount of Jewish identity, Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Kotel.
In January,1967 sociologists were confidently predicting the demise of American Jewry (led by Orthodoxy). In January, 1967 Israel was such an economic basket case that Israelis were leaving in droves. The black humor that reigned suggested that the last person to leave, please turn off the lights. Six months later, Israel, Jewry, the Torah and the world were transformed. If any of us are here today, it's to a great degree, because of that victory.
In June of 1967, I know where God was. He was here. His intervention on Israel's behalf ensured
our survival here, as Jews.
No wonder that the post-Zionists want to undo it.