on the 50th Anniversary of the Six-Day War
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
The Central Conference of American Rabbis marks the 50th Anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War with both joy and sober reflection.
We rejoice that the Israel Defense Forces heroically prevailed over an enemy that was poised to destroy the Jewish State. We celebrate the men and women of the IDF who planned and executed a brilliant, successful, and tragically necessary preemptive war. We remain ever-grateful that Israeli victory enabled the restoration of millennia-old Jewish holy sites under the Israeli flag, after they had been desecrated and off-limits to Jewish worshipers since 1949. We note the positive impact of Israel’s improbable triumph on world Jewry, which proclaimed with one voice, Am Yisrael Chai! “The people of Israel lives!”
We acknowledge that Israel had no alternative but to conquer territory taken in the 1967 War in order to protect the Jewish State’s security. We note that Israel has preserved the holy places of other religions in Jerusalem and throughout all of Israel’s sovereign and occupied territory throughout the history of the State, each preserved under its own religious authority for those who hold it sacred.
At the same time, we lament the lives, the human dignity, and the holiness lost in fifty years of occupying land captured in the Six-Day War. We grieve for opportunities lost and bypassed – by Israel, by its Arab neighbors, by the Palestinian people and its leadership, and by the family of nations – to establish peace through the implementation of two states for two peoples.
We pray that the Camp David Accords, which returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, might be seen as a model for peacemaking. We renew our call for the end to Israeli settlement activity on occupied territory outside of Jerusalem or settlement blocs that are widely recognized as part of Israel under any future peace agreement. We adjure Israel’s government and military to ease the blows of occupation, however necessarily balanced they must be with Israel’s own security. We proudly proclaim that Israel was established on the basis of Zionist acceptance of a two-state solution in 1947. We plead for the renewal of the promise of the Oslo Accords, which envisioned a Jewish State of Israel and a Palestinian State, side by side, at peace. We call upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to return to peace negotiations without preconditions.
We pray that, fifty years from now, we may celebrate the centennial of the Six Day War with unalloyed joy:
Let the Jewish State of Israel flourish in peace and security.
Let the Palestinian people realize their legitimate national aspirations, alongside Israel at peace.
Let Jerusalem be a beacon of peace and harmony to all the world.
Rabbi David E. Stern Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis