מאת: Sara Jo Ben Zvi

Choice quotations from the Ministerial Committee on National Security and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meetings in 1967 reveal the greatness of that moment but raise questions still with us today

Don’t Even Think of Moving

Fifty years after the Six-Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, Israel’s state archives released the government protocols and stenographic records from the war. These choice quotations from the Ministerial Committee on National Security and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee reveal the greatness of that moment but raise questions still with us today

Tanks lead a convoy of trucks carrying troops toward East JerusalemCourtesy of the IDF Archive in the Ministry of Defense

Tanks lead a convoy of trucks carrying troops toward East Jerusalem

The Power of the Status Quo

  • As long as the Egyptians are in Sinai and not moving, there’s no question of war. I’m not sure any power can demand that they leave Sinai

(Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, May 17, 1967)

 

In France and the United States, they’re constantly telling us not to touch Lebanon and Jordan and generally urging restraint

(Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, May 17, 1967)

The moderate Arab states in particular are pursuing a nefarious mission. Jordan says to Egypt, “If you’ve already stationed an army across from Israel, why don’t you fight?” We have acted, through appropriate channels, to lessen this kind of provocation

(Foreign Minister Abba Eban, May 21, 1967)

Soldier scouts out the Muslim Quarter of Old CityCourtesy of the IDF Archive in the Ministry of Defense

Soldier scouts out the Muslim Quarter of the Old City

Like any Jew, I also hope that at the last minute some way out of this crisis will be found, but war seems imminent

Interior Minister Moshe Haim Shapira, May 21, 1967)

 

What Are We Waiting For?

  • The General Staff hasn’t received a single explanation as to what we’re waiting for. I understand that we’re waiting for something. If so, let the cat out of the bag!

(General Moshe Peled, June 2, 1967)

With regard to Jerusalem and its environs – yesterday we knew about Mount Scopus, we knew about the bombardment of Jerusalem […] conquering the Old City and conquering the West Bank virtually go together

(Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, June 6, 1967)

I’ve come to the conclusion that the entire population will stay there, and even then I’d rather it be under our own supervision, not that of a foreign power

(Labor Minister Yigal Allon, June 6, 1967)

Motta Gur and brigade staff gazing at the Old City from the Mount of OlivesPhoto: Israel Government Press Office

Motta Gur and brigade staff gazing at the Old City from the Mount of Olives

When We Get There!

Once we’re in the Old City, it might be largely ceremonial, but to me it’s of profound importance that immediately – if physically possible from a military point of view – the prime minister, his cabinet, and both chief rabbis go to the Western Wall and recite the Sheheheyanu blessing for new possessions and the psalm “When the Lord returns the captivity of Zion” [Psalm 126]

(Minister without Portfolio Menahem Begin, June 6, 1967)

Soldiers with then-IDF chief rabbi Shlomo Goren as he blows a shofar at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967 Bamahane Magazine / Defense Ministry’s IDF Archive

Soldiers with then-IDF chief rabbi Shlomo Goren as he blows a shofar at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967

Conclusions

In the end, the difference between us and the Arabs when it comes to security is this […] they don’t tell the truth, whitewashing a bit and embellishing somewhat […] and I bless the fact that we’re not like that

(Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, August 24, 1967)

We entered the Rockefeller Museum today, and I even saw them taking out the Dead Sea Scrolls

(Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, June 6, 1967)

MK Arye Ben-Eliezer:

Was Motta Gur’s brigade, that was transferred from El Arish to the Jerusalem arena, transferred as part of a plan to conquer Jerusalem or to stop the Jordanian forces?

Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin:

It was transferred with an order to conquer Jerusalem

(August 24, 1967)

Paratroopers lean against the Western Wall just after its liberationBa-mahane magazine, courtesy of the IDFArchive in the Ministry of Defense

Paratroopers lean against the Western Wall just after its liberation