People are funny. They give and take credit for the most amazing things. When you win at something, they say that you are aÂ ‘winner’. But if, in the next moment, you lose, then you are a ‘loser’.Â Have you changed in that moment?Â Â
When you win, your status becomes magnificent. Your success is attributed to excellence, and your weaknesses are forgotten. You are hailed as a guru, andÂ the talking heads wax eloquent over how they hadÂ ‘seen this coming’Â – when just minutes before they were predicting failure and ignominious defeat.
Israel and the Six DayÂ War are like that. Israel crushed three Arab armies and stunned the world. Israel was hailed as the mighty conqueror, the David to the Arab Goliath. The worldÂ applauded her accomplishments. They lauded her generals. Israelis became the darlings of the world.
The tiny country ofÂ Israel becameÂ a symbol of strength and power, and symbols can change the way you view things – like history.
In the euphoria of victory, new thoughts emerged and old thoughts were discarded.Â
Israel wasÂ so massively successful that… The war that destroyed so much, wasÂ over so quickly that… well, it must have been easy, right? How could Israel have destroyed three Arab armies without being awesomely powerful, and aware of that power?Â When you are THAT good, you must knowÂ that you are good, right?Â
The world forgot the fear.
In the aftermath of victory, the worldÂ forgot that Israel really did not expect to survive the war. Oh, they may have had confidenceÂ in beingÂ able to stop the Arab armies short of absolute annihilation. But, as Golda Meier said,
The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.Â
In their hearts,Â Israelis knew that it was at best the beginning of the end.Â
You don’t even need to look far for an example.Â TakeÂ Rabin’s nervous breakdown. General Yitzhak RabinÂ was Chief of Staff at the time of the Six Day War, and he was so pessimistic over Israel’s chances that he fell apart. When the war finally began, they found the head of Israel’sÂ army, air force, and navyÂ huddling in the darkÂ of his apartment,Â emotionally broken and in despair.
If you had known how weak Israel was, and how strong the Arabs were, you might have done the same.
So, as we come up on the secular anniversary of the Six Day War, and the reunification of Jerusalem, remember that this isn’t just about the triumph of Good versus Evil. It’s also a celebration of victory of the weak versus their abusers.