The Six Day War of 1967, between the Arab nations and the tiny state of Israel, took place 50 years ago this week. For Israel, it was a war of national survival.

Barely 20 years after the Holocaust and World War II, during which 6 million defenseless Jewish women, men, children and babies were brutally murdered by the Nazi Germans and their many European collaborators, genuine threats of mass murder were once again being directed at the Jewish people. But this time, after 2,000 years of wandering, persecution and periodic annihilation, there was a state of Israel and the Jewish people could fight back.

From the south, Egypt had been issuing genocidal threats throughout the spring of 1967, placing its massive armies near the border and belligerently closing the sea lane to Israel’s only Red Sea port. From the north, Syria had been encouraging and allowing terrorist infiltration and murder of Israeli civilians for years, and was threatening Israelis with endless terror. Jordan, to the east, was waiting to see which way the winds of war would blow; when the war commenced, it ignored Israeli pleas for peace and fired mercilessly on Israeli population centers.

Before the Six Day War, the Arab countries controlled east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, all of Sinai and the Golan Heights, a hilly plateau overlooking Israel’s northern valleys. There was no call at the time for a Palestinian state, in territories controlled by fellow Arabs. The Arab focus was on destroying the Jewish state, not creating yet another Arab country.

Israelis defended their homeland and their families with bravery, courage and devotion, to each other and to their beautiful and precious land. Thank goodness, Israel won decisively; that is why Israel now controls these territories, except for Sinai and Gaza, which were returned.

Long live the land of Israel and the people of Israel, never again to be parted.

Robert Goldman

Portland