The Six-Day War, Part 2
When Israel’s enemies were closing in a few short years after its rebirth, only God could have saved the Jewish state—and He did! Last week we saw how God orchestrated the events of the 1967 Six-Day War not only to preserve Israel but to provide it with a resounding victory. This week we examine the aftermath of the conflict and how its ripple effects still heavily impact Israel today.
Israel’s success transformed it from a young country struggling for survival into a regional powerhouse. It allowed Israel to reunify the divided city of Jerusalem as its capital and gain the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula, significant areas that spark much international political debate even today. And Israel’s internal struggle of whether or not to trade their land for peace—and the uncooperative responses from its enemies—has played out over the decades since the war. Learn the full scope of the war’s impact on Israel and its current-day implications in the conclusion of this excellent study of the Six-Day War!
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can catch up here.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me, as always is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. I wonder, have you visited our website, foiradio.org? After this episode ends, visit us. If you haven't been there yet, we have over eight years worth of programming on our site for you to listen to. Once again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we're wrapping up a two-week series that we've been doing on the Six-Day War. Last week we looked at the history of the Six-Day War, a very significant conflict between Israel and her surrounding neighbors. Today we're going to look a little more at what was going on during the Six-Day War and the aftermath of it, after the dust settled, and even how the Six-Day War impacts politics in Israel and globally today.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog were invited by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates to join them for the COP 28 Climate Conference in Dubai. This will be Netanyahu's first official visit to the Gulf Kingdom. The conference is expected to host a total of 70,000 participants, including heads of state, government officials, industry leaders and academics.
Chris Katulka: Steve, here's my take. Once again, another great example of the Abraham Accords in play, that the UAE, once enemies of Israel, are now formally inviting the Israeli Prime Minister and President to Dubai. It's the reason that Abraham Accords must be protected and promoted to sustain the peace created in the Middle East.
Chris Katulka: I mentioned last week that they say a picture's worth 1000 words and it's very, very true, but David Rubinger's photo of three IDF paratroopers standing at their Western Wall moments after Israel recaptured the old city of Jerusalem, that picture alone could fill volumes. Do you know what photo I'm talking about? The photographer David Rubinger took a picture of three Israeli paratroopers, Yitzhak Yifat, Zion Karasenti, and Haim Oshri. Rubinger took the picture from the ground looking up to capture the moment impeccably. The look on the Israeli's faces were ones filled with wonder, loss, and triumph all in one glance, and behind them the backdrop is the Western Wall, the Kotel, as they call it in Hebrew.
Rubinger also captured a picture from the same angle and same backdrop of Rabbi Shlomo Goren blowing a shofar. Why were these Jewish soldiers so captured by this moment? Why would they have that look of astonishment and wonderment and triumph written all over their face? Well, it all comes down to the Six-Day War. Israel is remembering its 56th anniversary since the Six-Day War took place in June, 1967. This war changed everything for the tiny Jewish state, and friends, let me tell you, it was tiny. If you rewind history to April 19th, 1920, let's go back in time, just after World War I. A meeting actually convened in Sanremo, Italy. It was an extension of the Paris Peace Conference to wrap up unfinished business concerning the Holy Land, which was then called Palestine at that time.
Present at the Sanremo conference were four principal allied powers of World War I, represented by their prime ministers of Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. The Sanremo resolution adopted on April 25th, 1920 coupled with the Article 22 of the covenant of the League of Nations created what would be called the British Mandate, which gave the British empire stewardship over Palestine. The British Mandate was fully implemented upon the approval of the council of the League of Nations in 1922.
However, when the parties had left Sanremo, the future state of Israel was to be made up of what now constitutes the kingdom of Jordan as well as all the land west of the Jordan River. Did you hear that? The original plan was to give the Jewish people all of the land of Israel, which includes the West Bank and what is now known as the country of Jordan. That's a lot of land. Between 1922 though and 1948, the British slowly started to chip away at all the land the world promised the Jewish people so that by the time 1947 comes around and the United Nations approves resolution 181, granting permission for the Jewish people to establish a state, what they received was just a sliver of what was promised.
In 1948 upon Israel's declaration of independence, 75 years ago, the Arab nations surrounding them tried to destroy the tiny Jewish state, but miraculously the state of Israel survived and even gained some territory, but what they lost was access to the holy city of Jerusalem. Prior to the Six-Day War, the city of Jerusalem was split in two. There was East Jerusalem, occupied by the Jordanians to the East, which housed the old city of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and all of that amazing biblical history. That's right, Jordan controlled the West Bank and all of the holy places near and dear to the Jewish people in East Jerusalem. West Jerusalem was under the control of the state of Israel. West Jerusalem was a new neighborhood built by Jewish communities immigrating back to the land. It's where the Knesset, Israel's parliament building, resides, even the Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, and Mount Herzl, which is the Arlington National Cemetery of Israel.
Think about this, between 1949 and 1967, Jewish people could only look from a distance at the Western Wall. They could only see the Jewish quarter and the old city and the temple mount at a glance from rooftops in west Jerusalem. This is the reason, my friends, why the Six-Day War is so significant. It's the reason why Yitzhak Yafit and Zion Karasenti and Haim Oshri were filled with wonder. After two decades of being banned from these holy places, after 2000 years of Gentile control over Jerusalem, finally, the Jewish people have regained their sovereignty over Jerusalem, the city of peace.
But listen, this didn't come easily. After the dust settled in August of 1967, just two months after the war, chief rabbi of the IDF, Shlomo Goren, who was mentioned earlier blowing the shofar, actually started organizing public prayer for the Jewish people on top of the Temple Mount. First he stressed he wanted to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount. He also wanted to see a temple built now that Israel had sovereignty over the sacred site, but Goren was sharply criticized by the Israeli defense forces who, noting Goren's senior rank, called his behavior inappropriate. Not only did they push back the Jordanians and capture the entire West Bank, they also captured the Golan Heights from the Syrians and Gaza and the entire Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.
In those six days, Israel defeated three Arab armies, gained territory four times its original size, and became the preeminent military power in the region. The war transformed Israel from a nation that's perceived itself as fighting for survival, into a regional powerhouse. The Golan Heights alone is 444 square miles, which created the much needed buffer zone between Syria and Israel.
Just think about this for a moment. Prior to the Six-Day War, the Syrian border came right up to the Sea of Galilee. Syria used the Golan Heights, which towers 3,000 feet above the Sea of Galilee to shell Israeli farms and villages below them. Leading up to the war, Syrian attacks grew more and more frequent in 1965 and 1966. For Israel, capturing the Golan Heights in 1967 pushed the war back 40 miles from those Israeli towns and villages, again providing that much needed buffer zone between the war torn country of Syria and Israel.
In the South, the IDF pushed back the Egyptians and took the Sinai Peninsula all the way up to the Suez Canal. The Sinai played a crucial role in the Six-Day War. Just prior to the beginning of the Six-Day War, UN peacekeepers managed the area, but in mid-May of 1967, Egyptian president Nassar kicked the UN peacekeepers out and began moving troops and military equipment into the demilitarized zone in the Sinai Peninsula between Israel and Egypt. Nasser's move created the stir that would lead to Israel's preemptive strike. Again, in only six days, they would take all of the Sinai and Gaza strip.
This war changed everything for Israel, and I'll tell you something, the world was watching. Victory transformed Israel strategically, psychologically, and politically. Especially significant was reunifying Jerusalem and restoring Jewish access to the Jewish quarter of the old city and the Western Wall, that Kotel I was talking about, which is the most important place of worship for the Jewish people. In fact, Steve and I were just in Washington DC to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim Day with the Israel Allies Caucus and several United States congressmen and women. Yom Yerushalayim Day, or Jerusalem Day, is an Israeli holiday that celebrates the reunification of East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, a day to remember what Jerusalem was like prior to 1967 divided and to say with pride that Jerusalem was and remains the unified capital of Israel. If you ever wonder why they say unified capital of Israel, well now you know that at one point it was divided prior to the Six-Day War and now it's undivided, it's unified.
The Six-Day War also impacted Jewry all around the world. After victory, enormous pride among the Jewish people increased, helping restore Jewish confidence after the Holocaust and deepening a Jewish sense of commitment to the land and to Israel's centrality in the diaspora Jewish life, those Jewish people living outside of the land of Israel. However, the capture of the territories also created a new divide in Israeli politics between those who favored negotiating withdrawal from these new territories in return for peace treaties with these Arab states, and those who wish to see Israel maintain a permanent presence, especially in the historically and strategically important area, the West Bank. These are conversations that exist 56 years later, not only internally among Israelis, but also how the nations of the world view Israel as well.
To hear more about this, you're going to want to stick around, but first I want to share about a resource that's near and dear to my heart, and that's the book, Israel Always. It's a book that's newly published by Harvest House and we are selling here at The Friends of Israel. It's a book that I wrote because I love Israel and the Jewish people, and I want people to understand how God sees Israel biblically, how God sees Israel today in the modern state of Israel, and prophetically as well.
You know what's interesting is sometimes whenever you think about Israel, you read it from a biblical perspective, sometimes you read about the modern history of Israel, and then you read about the prophetic hope that Israel has. Well, in Israel Always we put it all together in one book so that you can see the faithfulness of God in one glance. Included in this book is something that we're talking about here, the Six-Day War and all the wars that Israel has been a part of since its modern founding in 1948. Steve, how can our listeners get their hands on a copy of Israel Always?
Steve Conover: Yeah, I would encourage you to buy Chris's book, Israel Always, through us. You can go to foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org to learn more about Chris's book, Israel Always, or to purchase your copy.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We've been talking about the aftermath of the Six-Day War as the 56th anniversary of this historical conflict between Israel and her neighbors approaches this June. Now that the dust is settled on the war, political division started to arise in Israel and globally about what Israel should do with all these new territories. The religious Zionists saw a divine hand in the events with the return of the Jewish people to the biblical sights in the historic land of Israel, marking them for the beginning of redemption, or what we would call as Christians, the end times. Religious Zionists were empowered with ideological fervor with a new generation of leaders, political leaders, who would subsequently spearhead settlement in the West Bank, Golan Heights, Gaza, and Sinai Peninsula. These individuals would become a major political force in the Knesset, and you can still hear their voices even to this very day.
Other Israeli politicians disagreed with those religious Zionists and they believe the land, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, should be returned for peace. The problem was Jordan didn't want the West Bank back. They wanted a Palestinian state established. Egypt and Syria on the other hand, were waiting for their land, so much so that they would attempt another war with Israel in 1973 called the Yom Kippur War, but once again, they would fail to defeat Israel.
Taking on the West Bank also meant Israel would take on 1 million Palestinians under Israeli military control, with no Israeli consensus for returning the populated territories to Arab control. The situation remains completely unresolved, even to this day. The Oslo Peace accords from 1993 brokered by the United States between Israel and the Palestinians helped to establish what's called interim self-government arrangements for the Palestinians, but that has only chopped up the West Bank and created new problems for both sides. It's also the reason it was a big deal when the Trump administration moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The United States was showing the world that they believe Jerusalem will remain the undivided, unified capital of Israel, never to be divided again.
However, you still hear politicians around the world calling for Israel to return to their 1949 borders, which would once again my friends, divide Jerusalem in half. It should be noted that Israel attempted to establish a Palestinian state several times in their last 75 years. The first was in 1949 at the original partition plan. Israel actually agreed to partitioning the land so the Palestinians could have a state. In 2000 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered 92% of the West Bank, plus the Gaza Strip plus land swaps. You know what Yasser Arafat, the leader of the PLO, said? "No thank you." In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would offer the Palestinians 94% of the West Bank to create a state, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would turn that down as well.
However, in 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty brokered by the United States. By 1982, Israel dismantled 18 settlements in the Sinai, two Air Force bases, a naval base, and other installations, including most oil resources under Israeli control, exchanging land for peace. Since then, Israel and Egypt have had peace. Israel also returned in 2005, in a unilateral way, the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. Finally, Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 to keep as a strategic buffer between war torn Syria and Israel. The Trump administration was the first administration of any country that recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The territory, even today, is still viewed as a part of Syria under international law, though it has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.
I hope you see how much the Six-Day War has impacted the state of Israel in a very positive way, but also to see the effects of the war that still define Israeli and international politics to this very day. Hey, but just remember this, indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep, Psalm 1:21.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversation, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Whenever I visit Eilat in the south of Israel, I enjoy walking along the beach and meeting new people. On a recent visit, I met two men who looked disheveled and when I tried to speak with them about faith in God, they became upset. "You could see the sorry state of our lives," one said. "How can you speak to us about faith? We're worlds apart from you. We have done so many bad things, God could never forgive us." I took out my Bible and I read John 3:16. "For God so loved this world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I explained this passage doesn't say God will accept people based on who they are or what they've done. God said, whoever, and the only condition is that you believe on his Son.
The man earnestly responded, "We are insignificant to God. It will not help us now to come before him and ask him to forgive us. We're poor and homeless. We live here on this beach and we're so dirty people hate to even look at us." I said, "Do not say that you are beyond hope, my friends. In God's sight you are of as much value as any other person." One of them asked, "What do you want us to do?" I answered, "For me, you do not have to do anything. What you must do is for yourselves. You must come to God, worship him, be faithful to him and bear fruit for his glory. Regardless of what you see when you look in the mirror, you will be children of God and will never again doubt your worth before him."
They opened up and told me about their lives. They were alcoholics and had lost their families and homes. I told them it would be easy for you to stop drinking. They were surprised and one asked, "How?" I replied, "Open your hearts before God. He will listen and answer your prayer. He will enable you to turn from alcohol." "Shall we do it now or wait until we go to bed," one asked. I couldn't tell if they were being serious or mocking, so I said, "If you are not serious about this, I'll be glad to leave you alone." "No, no. We are very serious," he assured. "Good," I responded. "You can go to a quiet spot in this speech and pray silently in your hearts. Tell the Lord of your sins and ask him to forgive you and become your savior." "Will you wait here for us?" he asked? I assured them I would.
I waited and watched for more than a half hour as they both sat quietly under the hot sun with a head slightly bowed in very serious expressions on their faces. As I waited, I prayed the Lord would open their eyes and hearts and draw them to himself. The two men returned full of joy because the Lord had taken away their stony hearts and given them hearts of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26. The Lord has given them a new heart and a new spirit, the spirit of the living God, and they were rejoicing in it, so of course was I.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us for today's program. Chris, we've spent two weeks covering the Six-Day War of the reunification of Jerusalem. What should we be thinking about as we reflect on this historic event?
Chris Katulka: I think we should be thinking about the fact that God is in control of what's going on in Israel, and of course all around the world. We should be thinking and praying for Israel. June 5th, 1967 is the exact date of the start of the Six-Day War, and it's a time to reflect and to think about, like you said, the reunification of Jerusalem and the fact that Jerusalem remains the unified capital of the state of Israel, which is something that's been that way for 3,000 years dating back to King David. That's why the look on those paratroopers' faces was so significant, because they knew about the importance of what just happened and what it means to be standing there in that moment.
Also, next week we're going to be looking at Acts 2. We're going to be studying Peter's truth bombs, as we say, as he's speaking to the nation of Israel, again in Acts 2. We'll see you next week.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, engineered by Bob Beebe, and edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Once again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Israel Always is a sweeping journey through Israel’s prolific history, its modern-day influence, and its promised future, highlighting the continuous throughline of God’s provision for His people. Insightful and informative, this book will enrich your understanding of the Bible, enhance your appreciation for Israel, and elevate your awareness of God’s steadfast love for all His people—including you—today.
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Apples of Gold: Worlds Apart
Zvi was walking along the beach when he met two disheveled and distraught men. They explained that they had done so many bad things that God could never possibly forgive them. They wondered, “How could God ever love such insignificant people like us?” However, after an honest conversation and some truth from Scripture, Zvi helped change their worldview in a way they never imagined.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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