Q. Did the Six-Day War make a difference to Judaism and Jewish history?
It created a myth of Israeli invincibility, put to the test a few years later during the Yom Kippur War, a war which was much harder going and shattered the haloes and downsized the heroes. Where the Six-Day War allowed Israelis and Jews everywhere to think Israel could always rely on itself to prevail, there was now a new humility.
Many began to endorse the words of Rabbi Moshe Schenfeld, “When you surround a man on all sides, there still remains one path open to him – to Heaven. ‘Out of the depths I cry unto You, O Lord’ (Psalm 130)”. In 1967 we were amazed to see miracles on every side; I recall how people came out of the woodwork and stood inside the Synagogue doors, hardy unbelievers who had seen the finger of God.
One cannot say the same about the Second Lebanon War last year: the jury is still out on that one. In 1967 the world loved plucky little Israel, but we have now learned the hard way that international opinion and the world media are fickle friends. Israel gets on with life, but still has a sense of claustrophobia. So now we are more realistic – also from an ethical point of view, since the legacy of 1967 left us with on-going uncertainty as to how to solve the Palestinian problem. Everyone accepts that something has to happen, but there is a spectrum of views as to what and how.