The Six Day War – 40 years on
It seems patronising to state the blindingly obvious, but if this victory was ‘a calamity for the Jewish state’, what would defeat have meant? It would certainly have heralded another holocaust. Recently de-classified documents have shown that Egypt, Jordan and Syria were planning to cut Israel in half, and Jordan was planning to systematically slaughter the populations of entire Israeli towns and villages. Plans for genocide and the elimination of Israel had been laid in minute detail.
Yet The Economist is considered so close to holy writ by many of the world’s intelligentsia that Cranmer is bemused by its fatuous assertions. The Six Day War quite obviously ensured Israel's existence, and was responsible for persuading Arab nations to simply come to terms with it. As Israel’s neighbours signed peace treaties one by one, so their demands for Israel’s elimination were relinquished, and stability began to balance instability. The UN Security Council also passed a resolution which called for a ‘just and lasting peace’ between Arabs and Jews. While Israel endorsed it immediately, it took Egypt a decade to sign up to it, Jordan 30 years, and Syria indicated a willingness only as recently as 2000. There is here an undeniable fact: the Six Day War was responsible for the legitimisation of Israel as the ‘Jewish State’ – it was thereafter entitled to exist within peaceful borders upon land that had hitherto been deemed to be ‘occupied’.
The number forty in scripture often illustrates a time of trial or testing. The Lord tried and tested Israel in the wilderness (Deut 8:2) to humble them, to establish what was in their hearts, and to see if they would honour his commandments. Moses was up Mount Sinai for forty days and the Children of Israel were tried, and they failed the test as they resorted to idolatry. Jesus was tried and tested of Satan for forty days in the wilderness (Mk 1:13). There are many scriptures which indicate the spiritual significance of this number. So this is not an anniversary offering yet another opportunity for the condemnation of Israel, but a time for reflection; a time for Israel to examine its heart - to assess whether it is honouring the Lord with all its heart, and fulfilling its call to righteousness.
Cranmer is not blind to the justifiable criticisms regarding Israel's acts of annexation and settlement since 1967. And many Jews in Israel (and of the diaspora) share these concerns. The oppression of Palestinian rights and their second-class status in many parts of the country represent an unacceptable subjugation of their humanity to the interests of an Israeli ruling class. But resolution will not come from constant demands for Israel to be eliminated, as President Ahmadinejad perpetually intones. It can only emanate from the elimination of the religio-political ideology that propagates offensive acts of terrorism and condones the slaughter of innocent civilians in the name of God.
Yet this war, and the resulting ‘occupation’, are almost universally acclaimed by much of the media as the root of Islamism, and blamed for the emergence of al Qaeda. The assertion is not merely negated by the well-documented conduct of pre-1967 Islam, but also by the Iranian revolution of 1979 which was all about Islamism and ayatollahs claiming to be the voice of God. And it is noteworthy that Iran had played no part in the conflict at all.
War is always an intolerable tragedy. It represents a failure of humanity, and is the cause of untold suffering. But all things may work together for good… The Six Day War kept a little flame burning, and that light prevented the greater tragedy – that of a second holocaust. The cause was therefore righteous, and it is a righteousness which demands recognition, and for which the world should be profoundly grateful.
May Israel be redeemed through Yeshua her Messiah, and may Zion be restored in our day.