The Six Day War Plus 50 Years
By Don McGee
Many people remember where they were and what they were doing when certain pivotal events in their personal lives happened. The same can be said about some of those generally broad but decisive events in history, and in the case of some people the two are sometimes combined.
For my parents and the people of their generation the date of 29 October 1929, Black Tuesday, was ever to be remembered though many people in rural America were very poor thus the stock market crash had little impact on their lives. Then there was 7 December 1941, indeed “…a date that will live in infamy.” For those of my generation such dates include 22 November 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, along with the day a military man arrived safely home from Viet Nam.
But there is another date. For some of us the day of 5 June 1967 will always be remembered because that was the first day of the Six Day War. On that day Israel, blockaded and in the face of imminent invasion by Egypt, Syria and Jordan along with other Arab nations, launched a preemptive and very successful attack upon their enemies. Though unknown at first, that day was an important mile marker for some of us.
On that Tuesday night 50 years ago some teenagers were standing in the parking lot of a small church in Turkey Creek, Louisiana just before the service was to begin, and we were overhearing the excited conversations among several preachers as they discussed the prophetic implications of what had just happened. The recurring theme of their discussion was the nearness of the rapture of the church. For whatever reason that topic, and the profound emphasis those men placed upon it, found a permanent place in the minds of at least some of us that night.
Any student of Bible prophecy, and of secular history for that matter, understands that the history of Israel is filled with war. Whether a person begins with the life of Abraham 4000 years ago or Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Israeli Prime Minister, the pages of history are red with blood; much Jewish blood.
No group of people in all of history has been the target of hatred, oppression and attempted genocide like the Jews. No one. Ethnic groups can talk about being victimized and they can make their pretentious demands, but not one of them has seen such massive, orchestrated and effective pogroms and attempted extermination like the Jews have seen. Conversely and ironically, it seems that not one of those groups has contributed to the advancement of humanity, to the betterment of life as the Jews have.
Think about where the world would be without the Jew. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin: polio vaccine. Galileo: the study of light. Selman Waksman: discovered streptomycin and coined the word “antibiotic”. Briton Epstein: identified first cancer virus. Maria Meyer: discovered structure of atomic nuclei. Julius Mayer: laws of thermodynamics. And most importantly Jesus Christ: salvation. The list could go on, but what is so poignant is that in spite of the contributions of the Jew, the world hates him with unveiled passion.
And that is by design. Scripture says that Satan is the god of this world (“world” here means age; cycle of time), and the Jew and everything associated with him represents a threat to Satan’s permanent position as god of this world. The greatest Jew to have ever lived, Jesus, will one day take this world and transform it into a beautiful and serene place after He binds Satan in the abyss for 1000 years. If Satan, the personification of all that is evil, can destroy the Jewish race he can stop Jesus from taking from him what he thinks is his. In a nutshell that is what this whole Jew/Arab, Jew/UN, etc. conflict is all about. Essentially, hatred for Jews is satanically inspired. And that is why the Arab world was poised to destroy Israel 50 years ago.
Nothing portrays the Six Day War like David Rubinger’s iconic picture of three IDF paratroopers, Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri just 20 minutes after liberating the Western Wall from the Jordanians. To the right are those same paratroopers 40 years later in 2007.
But that war was about more than 3 IDF Troopers at the Wall. It was about the Jewish possession of something that has always been theirs, and which they had not possessed in almost 1900 years-the Temple Mount and its Western Wall. When Jordan occupied the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948 the area became exclusively Muslim. Christian presence was severely restricted, Jews were not even allowed in the area, 58 synagogues were destroyed and Jewish tombstones were used as flooring in Muslim latrines. The Western Wall area became a Muslim slum. In 1967 it was liberated.
But things took a bad turn after the end of the Six Day War. Moshe Dayan, then Israel’s Minister of Defense, immediately returned the Temple Mt. to Muslim control despite the evil they had perpetuated against the Jews. You see, Dayan was a secular Jew and saw the Temple Mt. as only an historic place to the Jews and not worth a continued war with the Muslims. Actually, this was a miserable attempt at appeasing the Muslims, and as is always the case with appeasement toward Muslims it only emboldened them in their hatred.
The war had an impact upon the U.S., also. The USS Liberty, a Naval intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters just north of Egypt, was attacked by the Israeli Air Force and Navy. Thirty-four crew members were killed in the attack and the ship had heavy damage. Some believe the attack was intentional while others believe it was accidental and was just one of many unfortunate “friendly fire” incidents that happen in warfare. Israel, who would have had no real reason to attack an American vessel, apologized for the attack, compensated the families of those killed and injured and paid the U.S. Government for the damages to the vessel. This incident goes down as a very sad and very emotional chapter in the history of the Six Day War, and is understandably still a sore spot for some Americans.
Regarding the war, the Arab nations first met to discuss the annihilation of Israel at the Casablanca Hotel in Morocco in 1965. King Hassan II of Morocco actually did not trust his Arab colleagues and secretly recorded the meeting giving the recording to the Israelis. Though they talked a lot about Arab unity in the meeting they were not really unified much less prepared for war at that time. As early 1967 approached, however, their thinking changed. They thought the time for the destruction of Israel had come.
It was a reckless and exhilarating time in the days leading up to the war with Arab leaders becoming ecstatic about the prospect of wiping Israel off the map. They were being led on by Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He had dismissed UN peace keepers from the Sinai and had massed his troops on the border with Israel while blockading Israeli ships in the Straits of Tiran, an act of war in itself.
On 22 May 1967, while speaking to Egyptian pilots at Bir Gafgafa air base in the Sinai Desert, Nasser said, “The Jews are threatening war – we say to them ‘welcome’”! On 30 May Nasser said, “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel…” He further said they were going to “astound the world” and that “the critical hour has arrived.” Nasser was the main instigator of the war and he thought Arab victory was a done deal. No man could have ever been more wrong.
Israel had warned Jordan to stay out of the fight, but smelling Jewish blood in the water King Hussein could not resist. The result was Jordan suffered a very effective Israeli counterattack as IDF troops liberated the old eastern part of Jerusalem along with Judea and Samaria, the so-called West Bank.
Syria, to Israel’s north, had long been shelling the Israeli civilian population south of Lake Galilee from an area known as the Golan Heights. Though this cowardly activity continued until the start of the war, Israel was secretly working to deal with this situation, and others, when the inevitable war would come. Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy, had achieved a high position in the Syrian government. On his visits to the Golan he noted the Syrian bunker positions and sent maps and photographs to Israel. In an act of strategic genius, he had trees planted at each bunker ostensibly to provide shade for the weary Syrian soldiers. These became excellent targets for Israeli guns during the Six Day War. Cohen was discovered in 1965 and was publicly hanged in Damascus, but his work paid rich dividends in the war two years later.
Though at a tactical disadvantage Israel won the war. Amazingly, in just six days the IDF was in position to capture Cairo, Damascus and Amman, the capitals of the belligerent Arab nations. But Israel had no such desire because their main objectives had been achieved; objectives that were, and are today, absolutely necessary for the defense of the Jewish nation. These, by the way, are the same areas former President Obama demanded that Israel give back to her avowed enemies. On 10 June 1967 Israel accepted a cease-fire agreement.
Those are just a few of the facts about the war, and Israel along with her supporters are discussing many of these things as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of this noble victory. We can marvel at all the strategic and tactical maneuvers of the IDF, and there were many of them that demonstrated Israeli cunning and valor. But, the most distinct characteristic is that God took a direct hand in the matter both militarily and prophetically.
Regarding the future there are three things we need to keep in mind. One: The enemies of Israel will continue demanding they return the strategic areas that they captured from the belligerent nations; areas that are theirs to begin with. Two: Another war is very soon to come; a war that will be very pivotal in Middle East politics. Three: God will once again provide them with a miraculous delivery.
However, what is being misunderstood in Israel and even among Christians who do not know prophetic scripture is that the nation is not where she is and is not what she is because of her military, her politicians or her diplomats. It is because God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham 4000 years ago, and He has since made promises to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac. Every last one of them will be kept. Forget pseudo biblical scholarship and secular politics-believe God!
The brightest of Israel’s days are before her. But before that time comes, and likely after the next couple of wars, a great day of suffering will come upon the nation and her people. During those dark days there will be no miraculous deliverance as in 1967 or 1973. Only at the very end, when annihilation is imminent will Jesus intervene. The surviving remnant will then recognize that Jesus is indeed their Messiah.
Obviously the Six Day War points to God’s hand in the preservation of Israel. But what is not so obvious is that it was also an important means by which He influenced the eventual life’s work of some people who were, at the time, young and absolutely clueless. At times He works in strange ways. DLM