Thanks to the Six-Day War

(New York Daily News) Michael B. Oren - What did Israel and the world look like on June 4, 1967? Israel was a nation of a mere 2.7 million, many of them Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab lands. At its narrowest, the state was nine miles wide with Arab armies on all its borders and its back to the sea. Its cities were within enemy artillery range - Syrian guns regularly shelled the villages of Galilee - and the terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Yasser Arafat's al-Fatah nightly struck at civilian targets. Jerusalem was divided and Jews prohibited from visiting their holiest places, above all the Western Wall. Economically, the country was in crisis, and internationally it was alone. China, India, Soviet Russia and its 12 satellite nations were all hostile. The U.S., though friendly, was not allied militarily with Israel. Most of its arms came from France which, just days before the war, switched sides. With the Soviets lavishly arming Egypt, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the Arabs enjoyed massive superiority over the Israel Defense Forces. Millions of Arabs were clamoring for war. Egypt's Nasser expelled UN peacekeeping forces from Sinai in mid-May and paraded his army back into the peninsula. Next, he closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel's Red Sea route to Asia. Nasser's Syrian rivals signed a mutual defense pact with him and Jordan's King Hussein placed his army under Egyptian command. Thanks to the Six-Day War, Israel will never again be nine miles wide, and Jerusalem will always be open to the followers of all faiths. Thanks to the Six-Day War, the Syrian civil war is raging far from the old border, a mere 10 meters from the Sea of Galilee. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is deputy minister for diplomacy in the prime minister's office.

2017-06-02 00:00:00

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