“The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.” These words—written by Milton Himmelfarb in COMMENTARY just months after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War—have proved to be of timeless relevance. And never more relevant than today, on the fortieth anniversary of that war, when numerous observers have concluded that Israel’s smashing victory in that hair’s-breadth conflict led to nothing but decades of even worse “headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty.”
But Himmefarb himself did not stop there. “The news from Israel is of headache and annoyance, trouble and difficulty,” he wrote, and then continued: “We have almost forgotten the joy of unbelievable victory.”
COMMENTARY devoted most of its August 1967 issue to the war. In his “Letter from the Sinai Front,” Amos Elon narrated the Israeli experience from the closest of perspectives. Widening the lens to the utmost, Theodore Draper explored the “peculiar combination of internal and external forces” in world politics that led to the war, while Walter Laqueur examined Israel’s radically changed place among the nations in its aftermath. As for the war’s impact on American Jews, Arthur Hertzberg argued that it had caused an “abrupt, radical, and possibly permanent change.”
And speaking of timelessly relevant words: only months later, Martin Peretz would be writing in COMMENTARY about the momentous turn of the American Left against the Jewish state. Thirty years later, on the occasion of a half-century of Jewish sovereignty, the great British historian Paul Johnson confidently predicted that Israel itself, the “product of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history,” fully deserved to be known forever, and to be celebrated forever, as a “Miracle.”
In that Johnsonian spirit, we offer all of these articles for your weekend’s reading.