In May of 1981, Israel’s Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, told a group of young American Jewish
leaders the following:
"I believe the lessons of the Holocaust are these:
“First, - if an enemy of our people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him. Don’t doubt him for a
moment. Don’t make light of it. Do all in your power to deny him the means of carrying out his satanic intent.
(Note: One month later after saying this, Begin dispatched Israel’s Air Force to destroy the Iraqi nuclear
facility at Osirak.)
“ Second,- when a Jew anywhere in the world is threatened or under attack, do all in your power to
come to his aid. Never pause to wonder what the world will think or say. The world will never pity slaughtered Jews. The world
may not necessarily like the fighting Jew, but the world will have to take account of him.
“THIRD,- A JEW MUST LEARN TO DEFEND HIMSELF. HE MUST FOREVER BE PREPARED FOR WHENEVER THREAT
“Fourth,- Jewish Dignity and Honor must be protected in all circumstances. The seeds of Jewish
destruction lie in passively enabling the enemy to humiliate us. Only when the enemy succeeds in turning the spirit of the
Jew into dust and ashes in life, can he turn the Jew into dust and ashes in death.
“During the Holocaust it was only AFTER the enemy had humiliated the Jews, trampled them underfoot,
divided them, deceived them, afflicted them, drove brother against brother, only then could he lead them, ! almost without
resistance!, to the gates of Auschwitz. Therefore, at all times and whatever the cost, safeguard the Dignity and Honor of the
“Fifth,- stand united in the face of the enemy. We Jews love life, for life is holy. But there are
things in life more precious than life itself. There are times when one must risk life for the sake of rescuing the lives of
others. And when the few risk their own lives for the sake of the many, then they, too, stand the chance of saving
“Sixth,- there is a pattern to Jewish History. In our long annals as a nation, we rise, we fall, we
return, we are exiled, we are enslaved, we rebel, we liberate ourselves, we are oppressed once more, we rebuild, and again we
suffer destruction, climaxing in our own lifetime in the calamity of calamities: the Holocaust, followed by the rebirth of the
“So, yes, we have come full circle, and with G-d’s help, with the rebirth of a sovereign Israel, we
have finally broken the historic cycle: no more destruction, and no more defeats, and no more oppression – only Jewish
Liberty, with Dignity and Honor. These, I believe, are the underlying lessons to be learned from the unspeakable tragedy
of the Holocaust.” (Ref. 1)
The date June 7, 1981, occupies a special place in the annals of international relations and military
history. On that day, Israeli Air Force F-16s destroyed a nuclear reactor that was being built near Baghdad with French
assistance. The French had named the reactor facility 'Osirak'.
Israel had warned that the reactor would provide Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein plutonium to build
nuclear bombs. The attack on the Osirak reactor was the first air strike in the world against a nuclear reactor. The attack
triggered widespread international condemnation of Israel, but the Jewish state remained defiant.
An article in the Jerusalem Post 40 years later observed that: "In only several minutes on
that day, Israel established a doctrine that it would act to prevent any existential threat involving weapons of mass
destruction in the region."
In 2004, a former US Air Force fighter pilot wrote about the significance of the Osirak attack in a
thesis at the US Naval Postgraduate School that the attack was “valuable primarily for two purposes: First, for buying time
and gaining international attention. Second, the strike provided a one-time benefit for Israel, noting that Israel had
unsuccessfully attempted to use diplomatic means to dissuade countries from supplying nuclear technology to Iraq for seven
In 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed another under-construction nuclear reactor, this time in
Syria. And over the past 20 years, there have been plenty of warnings from Israel that it would not stand by if Iran attempted
to acquire nuclear weapons. For more than four decades, the success and limitations of the Osirak attack continue to have
reverberations. The Osirak attack was cited as a model of the doctrine of pre-emption in the wake of the September 11 attacks
in 2001. Proponents of the theory point to the complications the region would have faced if Saddam Hussein had developed
Among the many lessons that resonate in the memories of the Jewish people, one deserves special
notice – The Six-Day War of 1967.
Without an understanding of what happened in the past, it’s impossible to grasp where we are today —
and where we are has profound relevance for Israel, the Mid-east region and the world.
While some wars fade into obscurity, the Six-Day War remains as relevant today as in 1967. Many of
its core issues still remain unresolved.
Politicians, diplomats, and journalists continue to grapple with the consequences of that war, but
rarely consider, or perhaps are even unaware of, context. Yet without context, some critically important things may not make
First, in June 1967, there was no state of Palestine. It didn’t exist and never had. Its
creation, proposed by the UN in 1947, was rejected by the Arab world because it also meant the establishment of a Jewish
Here in 2023, there are many among us who are convinced that the so-called “Palestinians” have failed
miserably to justify the establishment of an entity that they refer to as “Palestine”.
Preceding the 1967 war, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were in Jordanian hands. Neither
Jordan nor the Arabs living in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem did anything to begin the process of establishing a
“Palestinian State” there.
In addition, violating solemn agreements, Jordan denied Jews access to their holiest places in
eastern Jerusalem. To make matters still worse, they desecrated and destroyed many of those sites. At the same time, the
Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control, with harsh military rule imposed on local residents. Again, neither Egypt
nor the Arabs living in the Gazza Strip did anything to begin the process of establishing a “Palestinian State”
Back then, between 1948 and 1967, the Arab world could have created a “Palestinian State” in the
West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip any day of the week. They didn’t. There wasn’t even discussion about it.
And Arab leaders, who today profess such attachment to eastern Jerusalem, rarely, if ever, visited. It was viewed as an
Let’s remember that the 1967 boundary at the time of the war was nothing more than an armistice line
dating back to 1949 — familiarly known as the Green Line. That’s after five Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948 with the aim
of destroying the embryonic Jewish state. They failed. Armistice lines were drawn, but they weren’t formal borders. They
couldn’t be. The Arab world, even in defeat, refused to recognize Israel’s very right to exist.
In the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War, Egyptian and Syrian leaders repeatedly declared that war
was coming and their objective was to wipe Israel off the map. There was no ambiguity. Twenty-two years after the Holocaust,
another enemy spoke about the extermination of Jews. The record is well-documented.
Leading up to the 1967 conflict, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser demanded that UN peacekeeping
forces in the area, in place for the previous decade to prevent conflict, be removed. Shamefully, without even the
courtesy of consulting Israel, the UN complied. That left no buffer between the Arab armies being mobilized and
deployed and Israeli forces.
Making matters even worse, Egypt blocked Israeli shipping lanes in the Red Sea, Israel’s only
maritime access to trading routes with Asia and Africa. This step was understandably regarded as an act of war by Jerusalem.
The United States spoke about joining with other countries to break the blockade, but, in the end, regrettably, did not
Another factor driving Israel’s decision to go to war was when France, which had been Israel’s
principal arms supplier, announced a ban on the sale of weapons on the eve of the June war. That left Israel in potentially
grave danger if a war were to drag on and require the resupply of arms. It was not until the following year that the U.S.
stepped into the breach and sold vital weapons systems to Israel.
After winning the 1967 war of self-defense, Israel had hoped that its newly-acquired territories,
seized from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, would be the basis for a land-for-peace accord. Feelers were sent out. The formal
response came on September 1, 1967, when the Arab Summit Conference famously declared in Khartoum: “No peace, no recognition,
no negotiations” with Israel.
They wanted the world to believe there was once a Palestinian state.
There was not!
They wanted the world to believe there were fixed borders between that state and Israel.
There were none! There was only an armistice line between Israel and the Jordanian-controlled West Bank
and eastern Jerusalem.
They wanted the world to believe the 1967 war was a bellicose act by Israel.
It was not! It was an act of
self-defense in the face of blood-curdling threats to vanquish the Jewish state, not to mention the maritime blockade of
the Straits of Tiran, the abrupt withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces, and the redeployment of Egyptian and Syrian troops.
All wars have consequences. This one was no exception. But the aggressors have failed to take responsibility for the actions
They wanted the world to believe post-1967 Israeli settlement-building was the key obstacle to
peacemaking. It was not then and it still is not today! The Six-Day War is proof positive that the core issue is, and always
has been, whether the “Palestinians”
and larger Arab world accept the Jewish people’s right to a state of their own. If so, all other contentious issues, however
difficult, have possible solutions. But, alas, if not, all bets are off.
Can history move forward? Absolutely. Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994
powerfully prove the point. At the same time, though, the lessons of the Six-Day War illustrate just how tough and tortuous
the path can be - and these lessons are sobering reminders that, yes, history does
Today, there are those who wish to rewrite history. Some of those deniers of historical fact are
nothing but closet brown-shirt antisemites. Still others simply cannot learn from the past. They are blind to the lessons
Israel seems to finally have gotten the message and is denying “Palestinian” demands for an
independent state that can continue its efforts to erase the State of Israel from the maps of the world. All the while, the
closet antisemites of the world have been parroting the “Palestinian” demands and accusing Israel of all kinds of supposed
violations of international law. The calls by members of the United Nations for Israel to abandon Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem
to the those “Palestinians” who keep calling for Israel’s destruction and the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland
are no different to what the world of 1865 might have ridiculously demanded of the United States following the North’s victory
over the South in the American Civil War – that it permit the southern states in America to have their own independent nation.
The Confederacy lost the Civil War and the United States remained just that – united. Here in 2023, it’s time for Israel and the
rest of the world to acknowledge that Israel won the Six-Day War, that Israel has the right to peace and security, that the
creation of a “Palestinian” state within the borders of the State of Israel would not – in the foreseeable future – bring
peace and security to either the “Palestinians” or the Jews, that Israel has the right – if not the obligation – to deny the
“right” of the “Palestinians” to a state of their own so long as they continue to commit act of terrorism and war against
Israel and the Jews! The lesson of history is finally sinking in!
Some 50+ years after losing the Six-Day War and some 50+ years of constant refusal to
peacefully work with Israel to benefit both Jew and Arab alike in the region, the lesson is clear to all but the blind and
those who don’t want to see the truth – the “Palestinians” haven’t earned the right to have their own state and they haven’t
earned the right to kill Jews and eliminate the State of Israel!
- Menachem Begin on the Lessons of the Holocaust , Prime Minister Menachem Begin, aish,
Accessed 9 January 2023.
- 40 years ago, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. How it changed the world, Justin Paul George,
7 June 2021.
- Why History Matters: The 1967 Six-Day War , David Harris, The Huffington Post and
The Times of Israel,
1 June 2016.