The Six Day War, and ‘A Letter to the World from Jerusalem’ in 1969

“Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight . . . The mining of Sharm el Sheikh is a confrontation with Israel. Adopting this measure obligates us to be ready to embark on a general war with Israel.” – Egyptian President Nasser, May 27, 1967 

To mark the 45th anniversary of the Six Day War, which began on June 5, 1967, we’re going to be posting essays, reflections and videos to celebrate the Jewish state’s remarkable victory, in the face of Soviet armed Arab states which sought nothing short of the destruction of the 3rd Jewish commonwealth, and to commemorate the 759 Israeli dead.

Here is a “Letter to the world“, written by Stanley Goldfoot (a South African Jew who immigrated to Palestine in 1932, at the age of 18) in 1969, and published at the paper he founded called ‘Times of Israel’.  We first posted this at CiF Watch in 2010, but, in addition to the text, we’re adding the following video, which our friend Sharon Klaff alerted us to.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTW59USStlk&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

A  Letter to the World from Jerusalem by  Eliezer ben Yisrael ( Stanley  Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I  am a  Jerusalemite – like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am  a citizen of my  city, an integral part of my people.

I have a  few things to get off my  chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do  not have to mince words. I do not  have to please you or even  persuade you.

I owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in  it, you  did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we  will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was  a Jerusalem before there was a New York .  When Berlin , Moscow , London ,  and Paris were miasmal forest and  swamp, there was a  thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the  world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves  – a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words  flashing like  forked lightning.

Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off  waves of  heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the  battlements, hurled  themselves into the flames of their burning  Temple rather than surrender,  and when finally overwhelmed by  sheer numbers and led away into captivity,  swore that before they  forgot Jerusalem , they would see their tongues  cleave to their  palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we  prayed  daily to return to this city. Three times a day we  petitioned the Almighty:  ”Gather us from the four corners of the  world, bring us upright to our land,  return in mercy to Jerusalem,  Thy City, and swell in it as Thou promised.”  On every Yom Kippur  and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next  year would  find us in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms,  expulsions,  the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced  baptisms, your quota  systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the  final unspeakable horror, the  holocaust (and worse, your  terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not  broken  us.

They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed,  but they  forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us  now after all we  have been through? Do you really believe that  after Dachau and Auschwitz we  are frightened by your  threats of blockades and sanctions?

We have been  to Hell and  back – a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have  in  your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling  themselves  civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically,  I saw women and  children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to  your request to  internationalize the city. It was a deadly  combination that did the  job-British officers, Arab gunners, and  American-made cannon. And then the  savage sacking of the Old  City-the willful slaughter, the wanton  destruction of every  synagogue and religious school, the desecration of  Jewish  cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for   building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even  latrines.

And you  never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off  the  holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the  pledges they  had made after the war – a war they waged,  incidentally, against the decision  of the UN. Not a murmur came  from you whenever the legionnaires in their  spiked helmets  casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed  your airlift “to save  the gallant Berliners.” But you did not send  one ounce of food when Jews  starved in  besieged Jerusalem . You thundered against the wall which the   East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital-but not  one peep  out of you about that other wall, the one that tore  through the heart of  Jerusalem .

And when that same thing  happened 20 years later, and the  Arabs unleashed a savage,  unprovoked bombardment of  the Holy City again, did  any of  you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited.  Then you  wrung your hands and spoke loftily of “justice” and need  for the “Christian”  quality of turning the other cheek.

The  truth-and you know it deep  inside your gut – you would prefer the  city to be destroyed rather than have  it governed by Jews. No  matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age-old  prejudices  seep out of every word.

If  our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps  you had  better re-examine your catechisms. After what we have been  through, we are  not passively going to accommodate ourselves to  the twisted idea that we are  to suffer eternal homelessness until  we accept your savior.

For the first  time since the year 70,  there is now complete religious freedom for all in   Jerusalem . For the first time since the Romans put a torch  to the Temple ,  everyone has equal rights (You prefer to  have some more equal than others.)  We loathe the sword-but it was  you who forced us to take it up. We crave  peace, but we are not  going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us   to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to  wander over  the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are  redeeming the pledge made  by our  forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. “Next year” and the  year  after, and after, and after, until the end of time  – “in Jerusalem  ”!

Stanley Goldfoot
Founder Editor
The Times of Israel
August 1969

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