The Six Day War and the Gifts of God
The 1967 war reminded the world that the Jewish people are themselves a gift from God.
As I stood on the edges of the crowded street, tanks rolled by. Their massive treads ripping up blacktop made soft by the searing heat.
“Gift from Russia! Gift from Russia!” the people yelled. The Soviet-made tanks had been captured the year before when Israel had won a miraculous six-day conflict.
It was June 1968. I was a ten year-old boy in the Holy Land with my parents. I will never forget the happiness of the Israeli people that day. Or waking-up to the sight of Israeli military snipers on the rooftops around my hotel.
Fighting for the Right to Exist
In June 1967, the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan massed to attack the little State of Israel. They thought their superior numbers would crush the Jewish State.
They were crushed. About 18,000 were killed and many more were wounded. Outnumbered more than two-to-one, Israel’s armed forces lost less than 1,000 killed and 5,000 wounded.
As The Atlantic’s Sigal Samuel notes, “the stunning 1967 victory meant an expanded country that suddenly included East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.”
The Yom Kippur War of 1973 was another Arab defeat. The many other conflicts since then, major and minor, have brought death and bitterness to the Middle East.
Israel has been victimized by its neighbors since 1948. Yet in recent years, there has been a growing international drumbeat for Israel to make concession after concession for the sake of “peace.”
Israel has surrendered the Sinai Peninsula. The Gaza Strip. It has allowed formation of the Palestinian Authority.
Yet as the scholar Louis Lapides has written, “The one thing a student of Israel’s history will learn is that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is never about borders or land. It’s always about Israel’s right to exist.”
That right is grounded in thousands of years of history and was affirmed by the U.N. resolution creating the Jewish State.
No one should pretend Israel is a flawless country. Like all nations, it is fallen. Its leaders, however heroic, make mistakes.
But the conflict is also about the graft and corruption of the Palestinian leadership. In his book Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas writes that in 2000, Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, concluded that the late Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat had amassed a personal fortune of $6.5 billion. How? Through siphoning-off huge amounts of monies from the relief funds that were to be given to impoverished Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority.
His successor, Mahmoud Abbas is little better.
The Abbas regime is crooked as a dog’s hind leg. “The (Palestinian) government hasn’t submitted annual budget reports for mandatory audits for four years, effectively preventing scrutiny of how millions of dollars are spent,” according to the Palestinian branch of Transparency International. As Grant Rumley of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies wrote last year, “Abbas’s increasingly tyrannical government in the West Bank does not only handicap political expression — it also sets back the very legitimacy of the Palestinian national project.”
Theft. Privation. Oppression. Add to this the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel terrorism of Hamas, Hizballah, Fatah, and so on and you have an Arab population simmering with hatred misdirected toward their Jewish neighbors.
None of this is helped by Israel’s neighboring countries. Iran’s rants against Israel, and its nuclear weapons program artificially “contained” by the Obama Administration are only the most apparent cases in point.
“Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading sponsor of Islamic extremism,” reports journalist Ben Norton in Salon, a liberal online journal. “It is also a close U.S. ally. This contradiction, although responsible for a lot of human suffering, is frequently ignored.” While some reports indicate Saudi Arabia might finally be dealing with its hypocrisy and history of funding mass death, there is no assurance this oppressive leopard will change its spots.
Evidence of God’s Hand
With all of this, the miracle of Israel itself continues to amaze the world. Thousands of years since being driven from their homeland, the Jewish people have regathered there. They have created a vibrant nation in the heart of danger itself.
So many things in Israel’s long history have astonished. Can one not see the hand of God at work in protecting the Jewish people, a numerically small and often persecuted group of global wanderers? Six million murdered within living memory, yet they have made the Promised Land blossom.
The Jewish people are more than just another ethnic group. Christians believe they are the source of our Messiah and His gift of salvation. All people have benefited from the many other gifts in science and industry, the arts and politics, they have rendered around the world.
The Six Day War — six days, like the biblical account of creation itself — offered Israel more than “gifts from Russia.” The war reminded the world that the Jewish people are themselves a gift from God.