It’s amazing what can be achieved in less than a week! In the 1960s, Israel was very different to the country we know today. Up until the Six Day War in 1967, Israel was divided by a ceasefire line that also divided Jerusalem with neighboring Jordan.
In less than a week, Israel reunited Jerusalem, pushed the Jordanians back to their side of the river, captured the Sinai peninsula, reached the Suez Canal, opened the straits of Tiran and captured the Golan Heights. Not bad for six days’ work.
EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT, GAMAL ABDEL NASSAR, SPRING 1967, The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel…to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs were arranged for battle; the crucial hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declaration.
SIR MARTIN GILBERT, THE ROUTLEDGE ATLAS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
KAI BIRD, CROSSING MANDLEBAUM GATE Eshkol had promised Jordan’s king, Hussein, that if he stayed out of the war, Israel would not attack his lands. But on the first day, Hussein’s troops began shelling Jerusalem and the Jewish settlements on the border of Jordan and Israel. Israel struck back and by Wednesday, June 7, all of Jerusalem had fallen into its hands.
AMOS OZ, 1967 Jerusalem is mine, yet a stranger to me… The city is inhabited. People live there, strangers. I do not understand their language, they are living where they always lived and I am the stranger… Their eyes hate me… I am walking its streets clutching a submachine gun, like a figure from one of my childhood nightmares: an alien man in an alien city.
MOSHE DAYAN, QUOTED IN MORDECHAI BAR-ON, MOSHE DAYAN: ISRAEL’S CONTROVERSIAL HERO, JUNE 8, 1967 We have returned to our holiest site so as never to part with it again. To our Arab neighbors, Israel stretches out its hand in peace, and the members of other religions may rest assured that all their religious rights and freedoms will be fully protected. We did not come to conquer the holy sites of others or to restrict their religious rights, but to ensure the integrity of the city and to live there with others in brotherhood.
KHARTOUM RESOLUTION, SEPTEMBER 1967, The conference has agreed on the need to consolidate all efforts to eliminate the effects of the aggression on the basis that the occupied lands are Arab lands and that the burden of regaining these lands falls on all the Arab States… The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it [emphasis mine], and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian
PEW FORUM, 2007, The 1967 combatants unknowingly planted the seeds for much of what was to come: the rise of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, another all-out Arab-Israeli war in 1973, construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, a war in Lebanon, the first Palestinian uprising, peace accords between Israel and the PLO, a second Palestinian uprising and, in 2006, a second war in Lebanon. Because of the speed of the Arab states’ defeat and their loss of territory to Israel, the 1967 war also brought discredit to secular governments in the region and contributed to the rise of Islamist politics. In both Israel and the Arab world, the war helped make religion rather than just nationality, seem a cause worth fighting for.
HUSSEIN IBISH, THE CRISIS OF ARAB NATIONALISM AND THE RISE OF ISLAMISM, The connection between the 1967 fiasco and the rise of ultraconservative Islam and political Islamism is both direct, insofar as nothing did more to discredit its primary ideological antagonists (secularism and nationalism), and indirect, insofar as innumerable other factors and contingencies shaped our present realities. But it’s worth noting that these two supposedly polar opposites continue to share an underlying framework of political attitudes that remain hegemonic among Islamists and Arab nationalists alike.
EINAT WILF, For many decades, religious Zionism remained a marginal, and quite meek, movement in Zionism—and in Judaism. But 1967 changed that. In six short days, Israel swung from the fear of annihilation to the euphoria of an astounding victory. The tiny country tripled its size to include not just the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula, but the cradles of Jewish civilization, including the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem (the Zion of Zionism, home of holy sites), and the West Bank (the territory of Judea, home of the ancient Judeans). For those who believed that God works in mysterious ways to bring about the redemption of the Jewish people, 1967 was proof. From that moment on, religious Zionism and the settler movement took off to become a dominant form of Zionism and Israeli Judaism, and a powerful political player in shaping the modern state.
In thinking about Nasser’s rhetoric and Sir Martin Gilbert’s map, try to put yourself in the position of Israelis living in Israel at the time. What feelings do you have at this moment? How do these words and this image of the map impact how you think about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict now?
Between 1948 and 1967, Jews were to be “close-mouthed” when in the Arab part of Jerusalem, and Amos Oz notes how distant Jerusalem felt to him even though it was part of Jewish memory, liturgy and in Jewish minds and hearts throughout the world. What do you imagine it felt like to retain fulla uthority of Jerusalem after parting with the city for nearly 2,000 years?
Consider Moshe Dayan’s statement after the Israelis captured the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Khartoum resolution, in which the Arab leaders adamantly refused to consider peace with Israel. Evaluate whether or not the Arab leadership made the right decision to deny negotiations with Israel. What do you think was behind the decision of the Khartoum resolution?