Monday, June 13, 2011

Moving Anniversary!!

On Friday June 10, my husband and I celebrated our 44th Wedding Anniversary. And there is also a celebration if you will, or more correctly a remembrance of the Israeli 6 day war. Yes, indeed the two anniversaries coincide. My husband and I were married on June 10, 1967 by a traffic judge in Madison, WI at the City Hall. My parents and sisters came up and we had some Israeli friends there as witnesses. I recall that the day before I had found time to go to a department store and buy a new dress to be married in. On that Saturday morning, my husband went over to Lowell Hall, the girls' dorm where he worked for meals for both of us. He took care of the swimming pool and needed to make sure the chemicals were correct for the weekend. Meanwhile I was back at our apartment doing my hair and painting my fingernails. I went down on the street when I saw my parents' car on State Street. Our appointment in the judge's chambers at the City Hall was at 11 AM. One of our Israeli friends photographed our hands with the marriage rings on them, and then a photo of us signing the marriage certificate. In the background on the wall of the judge's chambers was a white faced, black rimmed round institutional clock. As we signed the certificate, the ceremony was over and the clock read 11:09. Short and sweet!
     After that we all went out to a restaurant out at a shopping mall on the west side of town. Then my family left to go home. My husband had spent the week before the marriage getting our apartment organized, painted and with some new living room Danish modern pieces. We were having a party that night of all of our Israeli friends who were going to school, or who were on postdocs at UW in Madison. People brought food, and I had purchased beverages and paper plates, and cups, and made perhaps a dish to pass as well. But there was really not much celebration of our wedding because it was an evening in the 1967 Six Day war in Israel. The Israelis were keeping up to date with the occurrences as well as they could back in Israel and all wanted to share the latest information. I remember that the War was winding down on June 10 and so generally news was good. But our party was not a wedding celebration but rather an information and social occasion for Israelis, to share worries and commiserate about that war.

     From the Israeli News Service at the 40th Anniversary of the Six Day War.

1967 Six Day War - 40th Anniversary of Jewish Rebirth  (celebrated 4 years ago in Jerusalem)
by Daryl Temkin, Ph.D.
I wonder who will remember one of the most important events in modern Jewish history?

I am afraid that for most of the Jewish world, yet alone the non-Jewish world, this calendar date will lapse with barely a blink.

In Israel, events are marked by their Hebrew calendar date, and this year, the anniversary of the Six Day War comes out on May 15th, one day following the historic May 14th, 1948 date of Israel's creation. This is significant only because in the Arab world and for Arab student organizations on university campuses across America, May 14th is commemorated as the "Catastrophe Day". At many universities, there will be a week-long series of fiery anti-Israel speeches along with heated anti-Israel marches and vulgarity screaming anti-Israel demonstrations.

In contrast, in Jerusalem, the celebration for the "The Day of Jerusalem" marking the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 - Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem is commemorated by one of the most beautiful and moving ceremonies one can imagine. The main streets of Jerusalem's center city are closed to traffic. Tens of thousands of young and old fill the streets briskly waving hundreds of full size Israeli flags, and musicians are posed every few blocks with loud speakers filling the air with their songs. As the musicians play popular Jewish melodies, the streets become a dance stage for well choreographed circle dances and line dances -- each song with its own special dance steps. The joyous group singing on the street and the intense community dancing is a unique sight. Following the hours of this street event a community singing march to Jerusalem's Old City begins. The march proceeds through the Old City's ancient gates and cobblestone streets leading to the Western Wall - Kotel Plaza. It is estimated that several thousands of people file through the Old City's picturesque and narrow passageways to join in the hours of singing, dancing, and speeches commemorating the Jewish return to a united Jerusalem.

In Jewish tradition, the number 40 has its own significance. It often refers to a stage of maturation and accomplishment. The biblical Flood rains stopped after 40 days, Moses was 40 when he confronted the Egyptian taskmaster, Moses was 80 when he confronted Pharaoh. The Jews were in the desert for 40 years prior to entering the Land of Israel, Rabbi Akiba was 40 when he began his study of Torah, and 40 is the number of weeks leading to human birth. And now, this forty years of Jerusalem's unification is a monumental and historic moment marking the miraculous victorious Six Day War.

1967 was quite a different time. Israel had yet to reach its 20th anniversary. It had already experienced two wars. One, upon its creation, by neighbors who demanded that the nascent state be destroyed immediately and the second war, eight years later, when its neighbors decided to cut off and strangulate Israel's supply lines.

Prior to 1967, relatively few American Jews even expressed an interest to visit Israel. Israel's first decades watched an immigrant absorbing country developed at a slow and struggling pace. With minimal resources, Israel invested in military protection knowing that its Arab neighbors were preparing for another attempt to destroy it.

During the 1960's, international support for Israel was tenuous at best. Israel's neighbors were actively buying the most sophisticated weapons available. The world knew this but continued to make it difficult for Israel to compete. Prior to 1967, the volume of belligerence and anti-Israel hate speech from the Arab world was becoming more and more deafening. Egypt's President Nassar made his intent clear to the world -- that Israel's days were numbered. The theme of pushing the Jews into the sea became a steady crescendo on the Arab street. Time, Newsweek, and other publications reported military statistics comparing Israel's military strength to that of her threatening Arab neighbors. Israel was heavily outnumbered and out-armed in every military category. The military comparison charts appeared as if an ant was being compared to an elephant.

The American Jewish community, as well as much of the world, was bracing for the annihilation of the Jewish state. There was no imaginable way for Israel to survive the sheer numbers and mighty force of the expected Arab attack without the military support of the United Kingdom or America. But that super power support was not to be found.

Once again, the Arabs cut off the supply lines to Israel, a clear act of war, and without hesitation, the leadership of Israel commanded the Israeli Defense Forces to launch their attack.

Within hours, the entire Egyptian air force and all Egyptian air fields were disabled. In days of fighting, the vast number of Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian tanks became useless heaps of scrap metal. And then the Israeli forces entered the Old City of Jerusalem. After very costly and deadly hand to hand combat battles against the Jordanian Old City soldiers, in shock and awe, the Israeli paratroopers found themselves standing victorious in front of the ancient Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The famous and emotional phrase spoken into the Israeli army radio transmitter was the announcement, "Jerusalem is in our hands."

The world had gone to bed envisioning that by the next morning Israel would have been wiped off the face of the map. The resulting news was quite different. In six days, the Sinai Desert, the Gaza Strip, the Jordan West Bank, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem's Old City, and its surrounding areas were fully under Israeli control. All of the menacing Arab armies had been destroyed or forced to retreat.

West Point military analysts speak of the Six Day War as an inexplicable military victory. "Miraculous" was the West Point officer's explanation for the Israeli Defense Force's victory over what was believed to be impossible odds.

In 1967, it was still okay for an army to achieve an absolute victory. Subsequent to that date, Israel has not been allowed to defeat its enemy. In future wars and conflicts Israel would unbelievably be pressured by world powers not to accomplish a full military victory, to neglect enemy aggressions, and to even provide the enemy with guns and ammunition.

1967 was a time that Israelis were not told that they are "tired of fighting and tired of winning battles". Jews at that time understood that when their enemy says that they are going to kill them, the enemy means what it says and Israel does not wait to be attacked.

During that time, no one believed that the enemy could be appeased or that, if victorious, the enemy would responsibly stop fighting at the original 1947 UN lines. It was understood throughout Israel that there was only one thing that the Arabs had hoped to achieve, and now after 40 years, that goal of the destruction of Israel has not been relinquished.
Following 1967, respect for Israel and the Jews soared throughout the world. Slumbering and even non-identifying Jews began to proudly identify with the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Israel had accomplished a victory of good over evil, and few in the world had any doubt about it.

Forty years is a time of great significance. It is a time of reflection and rebirth -- 1967 marked the rebirth of the Jewish people, their values, their mission, and their right to exist and to contribute to this world. World politics has tried to reframe this Jewish Israeli victory into a defeat, and it is up to us to prevent history from being erased, eroded, or confused. The 1967 victory was a victory for humankind. The lessons of that era have not changed and therefore must not be forgotten.

Daryl Temkin, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Israel Institute which is devoted to teaching the historic and spiritual importance of Israel as well as presenting discussions concerning contemporary issues confronting the Jewish State and the Middle East.

This year the number for both our marriage and the Six-Day War was 44 -- 44 years ago these occurrences happened. Unlike the introduction of the above newspaper article, I will never forget that historical event in Israel, because it was so intertwined with my own personal life celebration -- a wedding.

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