|Survival of a Nation: Exploring Israel Through the Lens of the Six-Day War|
The 1967 conflict resulted from the argument, espoused by Egypt’s Abdel Nasser and most leaders in the Arab world, that Israel’s existence was illegitimate, having been founded on stolen Arab territory. What is Israel’s response to this argument? What is her right to exist as a Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East? And what is the justification for associating Judaism—an ethereal religion of beliefs and ideas—with a specific territory?
As Arab armies mobilized along its borders, Israel faced immense international pressure not to launch a preemptive strike. She ignored these warnings and struck first. What are the ethics of preemptive strikes? What weight should be given to political considerations—as opposed to purely security/military concerns—in rendering such decisions? And how do these deliberations apply to the host of mortal threats that Israel faces today?
In the course of repulsing Jordanian aggression, Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem, including its Temple Mount and Western Wall, all of which holds utmost historical, cultural, and spiritual import to the Jewish nation. The return of these sites to Jewish hands triggered a global Jewish spiritual awakening. What is the history and significance of Jerusalem? What allure does it hold for its millions of annual visitors?
Israel’s pre-1967 borders subsequently became known as the “Green Line,” to distinguish them from territories captured during the Six-Day War. Israel immediately offered to return her newly-acquired territories in exchange for lasting peace, but the Arab world rejected the offer. Subsequent attempts at exchanging land for peace have failed to resolve the issues surrounding these territories. Should Israel hold on to them no matter the cost? Is there an authentic way to trade land for a lasting and sustainable peace?
The Six-Day War had a profound impact on Diaspora Jewry. In its immediate aftermath, waves of new immigrants arrived in the Jewish state, while countless others experienced a spiritual reawakening. When the euphoria wore off, however, extreme diversity in perspective and reaction emerged—toward the war, and toward the State of Israel. What are the factors underwriting this fragmentation, and how do they influence Israel’s political process today?
One of Israel’s principal dilemmas—one that grew more acute in the aftermath of the 1967 war—is its stance toward an often hostile international community. In staggering disproportion to the size of both its land and population, Israel receives almost constant coverage in international media and foreign forums, and the majority of this coverage is highly uncomplimentary. Is the criticism and censure justifiable? Can Israel normalize its existence and affairs to the point that it will be viewed and treated as equal to other players in the international community?