OTD in History… June 10, 1967, Israel’s Triumphant Six-Day War Victory

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OTD in History… June 10, 1967, Israel’s Triumphant Six-Day War Victory

Bonnie K. Goodman

Bonnie K. Goodman Jun 11, 2019

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Israeli soldiers in front of the Kotel after liberating the Old City of Jerusalem, June 7, 1967. Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On this day in history June 10, 1967, the Six-Day War ends with Israel victorious and tripling their territory capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the old city of Jerusalem. Both Israel and the Arab nations involved; Egypt (the United Arab Republic), Jordan, and Syria agreed to a United Nations ceasefire to broker an end of the war. In addition, to the territory, Israel also gained a population of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren writing in his book, Six Days of War, June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, considers the Six-Day War, “as the single most transformative event in the making of the modern Middle East.”

In the first months of 1967, Syria ramped up their civilian bombing attacks against Israelis in the northern kibbutzim, agricultural villages. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned Syria they would retaliate. Syria would not listen, and On April 7, Israel provoked a Syrian attack along the border in order to fire back, then the Israeli Air Force (IAF) barraged Syria and shot down six Syrian MIG jets given by Russia. Russia accused Israel of gathering their troops at the Syrian border for an attack, which was not true. Russia fearful they would appear as supporting Syria’s Ba’ath regime, which they did, escalated the situation. On May 11, 1967, Eshkol notified the United Nations Security Council, Israel’s decision “to act in self-defense” in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. (Sachar, 772) On May 12, the Soviet ambassador to Egypt claimed Israel was mobilizing the army on the Syrian border, which they were not, and Egypt realized.

Egypt’s President Gamal Abed al-Nassar purposely sent troops and again escalated the situation, which was politically motivated by their domestic unrest and economic troubles, and taunting by the Saudia Arabia. Nasser too wanted to “shore up the Ba’athist cabal in Damascus.” (Sachar, 773) On May 15, Egypt moved troops forward into the Sinai and on May 17, asked the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to vacate their 3,400 troops from the border and Gaza. On May 19, the UN Secretary General U-Thant complied without an emergency meeting of the General Assembly. On May 18, Nasser ordered UNEF troops to leave Sharm es-Sheikh, “guarding the Straits of Tiran.” (Sachar, 773)

Three days later on May 22, Egypt cut off Israel’s shipping access to the Straits of Tiran, an act tantamount to war. According to historian Howard M. Sachar in his book The Course of Modern Jewish History, the moves allowed Nassar “regained his status as the decisive leader of the Arab world.” Nassar was preparing the Arab world for “a jihad against Israel,” with Nassar declaring on May 21, “The Strait of Tiran is part of our territorial waters. No Israeli ship will navigate it again.” (Sachar, 773) On May 30, the Arab alliance of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and the Republic of Yemen, as well as coalition partners Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria, signed a pact. Jordan’s King Hussein agreed to take command of the military forces. The public in the Arab nations held massive demonstrations in support of the holy war their countries were embarking on. By June 4, the Arab alliance was set for war with 230,000 troops mobilized; seven Egyptian divisions consisting of 120,000 soldiers were along the border along with 1,000 guns and 2,000 tanks. (Sachar, 774)

Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban began looking for western assurances that the Gulf of Aqaba would not fall to the Arabs, and an international naval flotilla could be devised to protect it. (Sachar, 773) The United States had yet to develop the close rapport of the post-six-day years and President Lyndon Johnson mired in the Vietnam War could not get Congress to guarantee any assistance. Without the US, the rest of the Western world refused to follow, Britain refused, while France did the opposite to help the Arabs De Gaulle “terminated all military shipments to Israel.” (Sachar, 773) The UN or its Security Council also was not helpful to Israel.

With little help from the outside, Israel began war preparations, calling up reservists and instituting a state of emergency. Israel’s Defenses forces learned through intelligence the Egyptian army would be using Soviet maneuvers and they prepared for it. IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin ensured Israel was prepared, acquiring in advance equipment France, West Germany, and the US, while Israel’s soldiers went through intensive training. (Sachar, 774) Prime Minister Eshkol bowed to pressure, permitted Herut to join the government to form a unity government, and gave the Defense Ministry post to Moshe Dayan.

By June 3, Israel realized there would be no diplomatic solution and no aid from the west. On June 4, the Israeli cabinet voted to give the Defense Ministry the decision making power to strike. Israel decided on a preemptive defensive strike on June 5, commencing the war with Jordan, Syria, and Iraq joining in the attack on Israel. Israel’s air force began their surprise attack 7:10 a.m. and in 170 minutes, they destroyed Egypt’s air force, 300 out of 340 planes. (Sachar, 775) Israel’s air force continued throughout the day to destroy “Egyptian armor and other vehicles” and additionally, they nearly destroyed all of the “Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi air forces.” (Sachar, 775) Israel was fighting on three fronts, Egypt in the West, Syria in the North and Jordan from the East.

An hour after launching their air offensive on June at 8:15 a.m. Israel began their assault by land. They attacked the Sinai; General Yisreal Tal attacked the Northern Sinai, while General Ariel Sharon “overran, Um Cataf, the linchpin of the Abu Aghelia network of defenses across the Nitzana-Ismailia axis.” On a third front, after a thirteen-hour battle Brigadier Avraham Yoffe reached the Mitla Pass “blocking the enemy line of retreat.” (Sachar, 775) On the first day of battle, the Israeli army was able to “trap” the Egyptian army within the Sinai.

Egypt wanted their army to look good so they lied about the battles and the rest of the Arab nations believed it and it affected how they proceeded, allowing them to make costly miscalculations that would help Israel. The false news reports prevented Syria from mounting an offensive; instead, they just “bombarded” the Galilee settlements rather than mounting an attack. Hussein used the same strategy when he “shelled” Jerusalem attacking the new city and towns beyond it. The Jordanians, however, made a mistake at 1 p.m. they decided on a land assault and occupied “the United Nations headquarters on the Hill of Evil Counsel.” (Sachar, 776)

Late in the afternoon on June 5, Egypt and Nassar finally heard the news about their devasting losses and the situation in the Sinai. When the Soviets and Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin heard the news, he called President Johnson directly through their hotline asking him to stop Israel. Johnson was pleased with Israel resolving the mounting problem in the Middle East and he refused to interfere. Johnson, however, “ordered the United States Sixth Fleet toward the fighting zone.” (Sachar, 776)

By June 7, in the evening Israel Tal and Yoffe were able to ensure they blocked the Gidi and Mitla exits in the Sinai, while Sharon was able to trap the Egyptian army. Doing so the Israel army was able to “destroy or capture” 800 Egyptian tanks. (Sachar, 776) On June 8, Israel reached the “eastern shore of the Suez Canal,” and gained control of the Sharm es-Sheikh. By the end of the day, Israel had Egypt at their knees and “at 8:00 p.m. Nassar accepted Israel’s demand for unconditional cease-fire.” (Sachar, 776)

On June 5, on the Jerusalem front, Dayan responded to Hussein’s occupation of the UN with an offensive and quickly regained the Hill of the Evil Counsel. On June 6, in the early morning hours at 2:20 a.m. Colonel Mordecai Gur sent paratroopers, who at first attacked along the Arab City then were able to move to gain control at the top of Mount Scopus. The third part of the attack would be the Old City but Dayan was reluctant. Eshkol, however, was adamant, saying, “the Old City must be taken, to avert the danger of incessant bombardment [on Jewish Jerusalem].” At midnight, Dayan was still concerned about a frontal attack with Eshkol telling Dayan, “The government wants the Old City.” (Sachar, 652) Later on June 6, Israel engaged in armored attack for “control of the entire Jerusalem promontory including Ramallah and Bethlehem.” (Sachar, 776) By late morning on June 7, after the precision bombing and attacks, Israel was in possession of the entire West Bank.

Late on June 6, Dayan finally agreed on the final assault for Jerusalem after the cabinet notified him “that a United Nations cease-fire was imminent; if the Old City were to be taken, it would have to be seized before hostilities ended.” (Sachar, 652) In the morning on June 7, Gur ordered his soldiers to take the last Jordanian stronghold Augusta Victoria Church. Israel’s soldiers enter the Lion’s Gate by noon “rolled up” the Via Dolorosa to the Western Wall. “Within minutes,” Israel had captured the “entire Hashemite West Bank” including the old city of Jerusalem. As Gur proclaimed upon its capture, “Har HaBayit BeYadeinu,” “The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

The most significant territorial acquisition was Eastern Jerusalem, reunifying the city. Israel had control of the Temple Mount, “the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque” Islam’s holiest site, out of good faith they later ceded it to Jordan. Since 1948, when Jordan won Eastern Jerusalem and West Bank, Jews were unable to enter the Old City and visit the holiest of sites, the Kotel, Western Wall. Upon gaining control and access, Israeli soldiers wept, prayed and Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of the Israeli army blew the shofar at the Kotel, the first time in 19 years. Dayan, Rabin, and Eshkol soon arrived. Sachar recounts, “Touching the flagstones of the ancient wall, even hardened veterans wept… the Jews had returned to the cradle of their peoplehood.” (Sachar, 777)

Naomi Shemer, who had just released “Jerusalem the Golden,” “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” changed her song adding lyrics:

We have come back to the deep wells

To the marketplace again.

The trumpet sounds on the Mount of the Temple

In the Old City.

In the caverns of the cliff

Glitter a thousand suns.

We shall go down to the Dead Sea again

By the road to Jericho.

The song became the “anthem of the Six-Day War.” (Sachar, 655)

By 3 a.m. on June 9, “the Egyptian and Jordanian ceasefires had come into effect.” (Sachar, 656) The last front was Syria, On June 9, Prime Minister Eshkol and the cabinet voted for an attack on Syria’s “Golan emplacements.” (Sachar, 777) The emplacements were “fortified redoubts hundreds of feet above the Israeli valley floor.” General David Elazar decided the best approach was to attack the emplacements from the Golan with a “frontal assault.” At noon on June 9, the Israeli army first used bulldozers to clear the rocks, and then attacked first with tanks then soldiers and at the same time, there was an air bombardment. The attack was costly with “heavy casualties” but the plan of attack worked the Syrians were surprised and soon Israel reached the emplacements. By early June 10, Israel was capturing village by village and the Golan capital, Quneitra. Sachar recounts, “Elazar’s strategy had been proved right: crack the main fortifications, move onto the roads behind the Syrians, and the enemy will panic.” (Sachar, 657) By noon, Israel had the Syrians pushed back to Damascus, desperate at 5:30 p.m. Syria agreed to a cease-fire.

On June 9, at 5:30 p.m. the United Nations was starting to pressure Israel to end the war, Israel’s UN delegate, Gideon Rafael notified the UN security council that direction was being sent to Israel’s troops. Israel had to race to gain the Golan before the UN’s cease-fire. In the morning on June 10, the Soviets became involved; Kosygin phoned President Johnson over the hotline demanding Israel stop their assault. The US then sent three task forces towards Syria including aircraft carriers Saratoga and America. Secretary of State Dean Rusk told Israeli Ambassador Avraham Harman that Israel needs to accept a cease-fire. By that time, Israel had garnered the strategic Golan Heights and Dayan was working on the cease-fire through General Odd Bull. Sachar recounts, “The Six-Day War ended officially at 6:30 p.m., Israel time, on June 10.” (Sachar, 658)

Although it was a decisive victory, Israel lost 776 soldiers in the six days of fighting by the amount of wounded was triple, Israel, however, lost only “40 planes and 80 tanks.” (Sachar, 658) Israel’s casualties included 1,756 in the Sinai and a quarter in the battle for Jerusalem, one of the costliest battles in the war. In comparison, “The Arabs may have suffered up to 30,000 casualties, at least 450 planes and 1,000 tanks destroyed or captured, as well as vast quantities of supplementary equipment.” (Sachar, 658)

Israel’s territory also grew by multiples, adding “42,000 square miles.” As Sachar points out “a new military-geographic reality had been created in the Middle East.” (Sachar, 777) Israel was no longer a 4-minute plane ride across the country and within striking distance of Arab fire, now with their new buffer zone, Israel was close to “Amman, Damascus and Cairo,” and had to Suez Canal as a barrier to the south, the River Jordan and the Dead Sea to the east.

So how did Israel accomplish such a feat against the Arab nations with far mo re troops and equipment? Sachar also notes the Six-Day War “was an astounding military achievement, and one widely heralded throughout the entire free world. The discipline and gallantry of Israeli soldiers and civilians, who had shattered a seemingly overwhelming threat to their survival, and touched the hearts of common men everywhere.” (Sachar, 778) Rabin, who received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University three weeks later explained, the phenomena:

Our airmen, who struck the enemies’ planes so accurately that no one in the world understands how it was done and people seek technological explanations or secret weapons; our armored troops who beat the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all other branches … who overcame our enemies everywhere, despite the latter’s superior numbers and fortifications — all these revealed not only coolness and courage in battle but … an understanding that only their personal stand against the greatest dangers would achieve victory for their country and for their families, and that if victory was not theirs the alternative was annihilation. (Sachar, 660)

Israel hoped the war and their victory could lead to a peace agreement on their terms. As Eshkol claimed in a June 12 speech to the Knesset, “Let this be said — there should be no illusion that Israel is prepared to return to the conditions that existed a week ago.… We have fought alone for our existence and our security, and we are therefore justified in deciding for ourselves what are the genuine and indispensable interests of our State, and how to guarantee its future.” (Sachar, 673) The call, however, never came. Three months later on September 1, the Arab nations met in Khartoum, Sudan and gave Israel their answer, establishing “the 3 Nos of Khartoum”: “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban, remarked on the irony, “This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.” According to the Sachar in his book, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, “The Khartoum Declaration was the first serious warning to the Israelis that their expectation of an imminent “phone call” from the Arab world might be a pipe dream.” (Sachar, 676)

On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 242 drafted by British ambassador Lord Caradon (Hugh Foote), further shutting down Israeli hopes for a peace agreement on their terms and the direct negotiations or mediation US Ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg preferred as possible solutions. UNSCR 242 states:

The Security Council … [e]mphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security.…

1.) Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

  1. Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
  2. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

2.) Affirms further the necessity

  1. For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
  2. For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

iii. For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

3.) Requests of the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to … promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution.… (Sachar, 664)

In the past 50 years, UNSCR 242 has interpreted differently by the Arab Nations and Israel.

The same political and diplomatic contradiction has been present in the historiography on the Six-Day War. Oren notes, “While the historiographical and political battle over the Six-Day War will no doubt persist, there can be no questioning its importance for understanding this crucial area.” Political viewpoint shape historians’ interpretations of the war and its effects on the Middle East. Guy Laron, the author of the 2017 history, The Six Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East claims in his article “The Historians’ War Over the Six-Day War,” “Ever since 1967, writers have been debating the conflict.” According to Laron’s opinion, the Six-Day War historiography has gone through a journey, “When we debate the Six-Day War, what we are actually arguing about are the chances for peace in the Middle East today.”

The first book published chronicling the war was in 1968, Six Day War by Winston Churchill, and Winston S. Churchill, the son, and grandson of the British prime minister, takes on a pro-Israel position, calling Israel’s Defense Forces, “one of Israel’s greatest achievements.” In 1984, Donald Neff, former Time magazine’s bureau chief in Jerusalem came out with a negative view of Israel and the war in Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East. Neff’s criticism remained the mode of analysis of the war until 30 years later in the late 1990s when archival records increasingly became available ushering a new era for historians to revisit the Six-Day War.

In 2002, Oren published his book, where he criticized the recent scholarship, writing, “A wave of revisionist writers, Israelis mostly, have sought to amplify Israel’s guilt…and evince it in the debate over the borders, or even the legitimacy of the Jewish state.” Oren’s book was a military history and mostly examined the battles of the war limiting, however, the “pre-war and post-war” elements. Ha’aretz columnist, Tom Segev took a more critical approach in his 2005 book 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East, and relied heavily upon Israeli historian Ami Gluska’s analysis in The Israeli Military and the Origins of the 1967 War.

Segev’s sweeping history looks at the years before the war, the war, and its aftermath. Segev tends to put the blame on the war on Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, arguing Rabin pushed reluctant and dovish cabinet into an offensive war when Prime Mini. Segev explains, “Nothing was gained by occupying the territories captured in the war. But swept away by fear and subsequently by the intoxication of victory, their emotions often propelled them to act against their national interests, a pattern of behavior the Israelis often attributed to the Arabs…. There was indeed no justification for the panic that preceded the war, nor for the euphoria that took hold after it, which is what makes the story of Israel in 1967 so difficult to comprehend.” (Segev, 31)

Laron’s 2017 volume, The Six-Day War The Breaking of the Middle East also takes a negative tone about Israel generals blaming them for the war and arguing that the Soviet Union and the United States played a greater role than previously believed. Laron looked beyond at the roots of the war rather than the immediate crisis. Laron explains, “This study takes a different approach, arguing that the process that led to the war was not only much deeper, much longer, and influenced by global trends, but also that it was designed and even desired by prominent military figures in the warring countries. It emerged out of a global crisis, which engulfed the developing world in the 1960s and shifted the balance of power between civilians and generals in Israel, Egypt, and Syria. This crisis also caused the Soviet Union and the US to increase their arms sales and their military presence in the Middle East. In turn, these changes exacerbated existing tensions in the region and made war more probable. The Six-Day War’s crucible of weak civilian leaderships, trigger-happy generals, and intrusive great powers provides a salient example of how a regional conflict may start.” (Laron, 21)

For over 50 years Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War has been toasted, roasted, and shaped the modern Middle East and Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors. Peace with any of the Arab nations has been contingent on trading land acquired in the war for peace, leading to deals with Egypt and Jordan. However, peace with the Palestinians has been elusive impossibility even after ceding the Gaza Strip, as violence and terror have been their main modes of communication. As Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates, “The true reason why peace could not be reached in 1967 is the same reason why the conflict began, and why it continues today: The Palestinian and Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state in their historic homeland.” As Israel faces constant criticism from the world it is now increasingly taking on the view that annexation might be the best and only solution for areas one in the war, proving again that going alone is Israel’s the best choice for survival.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Note: This history of the Six-Day War is hardly exhaustive to read more look at any of the following books.

“50 years ago: The Six-Day War and the historic reunification of Jerusalem,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2017. https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutIsrael/Spotlight/Pages/50-years-ago-The-Six-Day-War-and-the-historic-reunification-of-Jerusalem.aspx

Churchill, Winston S, and Randolph S. Churchill. Six Day War. Delhi: Army Publishers, 1968.

Gluska, Ami. The Israeli Military and the Origins of the 1967 War: Government, Armed Forces and Defence Policy, 1963–1967. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007.

Laron, Guy. The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.

Laron, Guy, “The Historians’ War Over the Six-Day War,” The Nation, June 5, 2017, https://www.thenation.com/article/historians-war-six-day-war/

Lorch, Netanel. One Long War. Jerusalem: Keter, 1976.

Oren, Michael. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Rosetta Books, 2010.

Sachar, Howard M. The Course of Modern Jewish History. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Sachar, Howard M. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.

Segev, Tom. 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2007.

Tal, David. “Israel Studies An Anthology: The Six Day War.” Jewish Virtual Library, October 2009. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/israel-studies-an-anthology-the-six-day-war

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in Judaic Studies at Concordia University. She is the author of “Silver Boom! The Rise and Decline of Leadville, Colorado as the United States Silver Capital, 1860–1896,” and contributed the overviews and chronologies to the “History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2008,” edited by Gil Troy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and Fred L. Israel (2012). She is a journalist, librarian and historian and a former Features Editor at the History News Network and reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, Judaism, and news. She has a dozen years of experience in education and political journalism.

OTD in History June 14, 1841, British Colonel Charles Henry Churchill wrote a letter to Sir Moses Montefiore supporting a Jewish state in Palestine

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OTD in History June 14, 1841, British Colonel Charles Henry Churchill wrote a letter to Sir Moses Montefiore supporting a Jewish state in Palestine



By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

unknown artist; Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885); Ramsgate Library; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/sir-moses-montefiore-17841885-77099



On this day in Jewish history, June 14, 1841, British Colonel Charles Henry Churchill wrote a letter to Sir Moses Montefiore supporting the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Montefiore, was a British banker, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and philanthropist, who founded the first New Yishuv, Mishkenot Sha’ananim in 1860, the first Jewish settlement outside the walls of the old City of Jerusalem. Churchill served as the British consul to Ottoman Syria, which included Palestine, today’s Israel. Churchill, an evangelical Protestant, and ancestor of the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was one of the first to suggest the political establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Montefiore spent his whole life living as part of the Western Europe’s Jewish elite and his adult life as the “the preeminent Jewish figure of the nineteenth century” as Abigail Green recounts in her biography “Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero,” the most complete biography of his life. Montefiore was one of the 12 Jewish financial brokers in London in the early 19th century. Born in Italy to a Sephardic Jewish family, his family moved back to England, where Montefiore was educated.

Afterward, Montefiore entered the grocers and tea merchants’ trade, before going into the finance business and stockbroking with his brother Abraham. Montefiore’s profile and success in the business grew when he married into Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s family. Among the Jewish world, Montefiore’s business is not what made him well known and remembered, but his philanthropy and proto-Zionism in pre-state Israel. Montefiore retired young from the business world in 1824 at the age of 40 to concentrate the rest of his long life on his philanthropic efforts.

Montefiore’s first visit to Israel was in 1827 and it changed his life, specifically when he and his wife Judith Barent-Cohen prayed at Rachel Tomb for children; although the Montefiore never had any children. He subsequently visited Israel six other times, the last time in 1875 when he was 91 years-old. The moment led him to become religiously observant, he served as the president of the Beavis Marks Synagogue for 39 years and traveled with a “shohet” to ensure all the meat he ate was kosher as he extensively traveled.

Montefiore met Churchill in Malta in November 1840, when Churchill asked if he could serve as a courier to Damascus. Churchill arrived in February 1841 and the head of the Jewish community Raphael Farhi held a reception in his honor on March 1.

Churchill gave his first speech supporting Jewry to rousing applauds:  

“May this happy meeting be looked upon as … a forecast of such a connection and alliance between the English and the Jewish nation as shall be honourable and advantageous to both. May the hour of Israel’s deliverance be at hand. May the approximation of Western civilization to the interesting land be the dawn of her regeneration, and of her political existence; may the Jewish nation once more claim her rank among the powers of the world!” (Green, 206)      

Churchill would author two letters to Montefiore advocating “Jewish national regeneration in Palestine.” (Grief, 535) In the first letter dated, June 14, 1841, Churchill advised that the Jews should commence “agitation… to resume their [political] existence as a people.” Churchill believed with the “aid” of the “European Powers,” Jews would attain in the end ‘the sovereignty of at least Palestine.”

In his second letter, dated over a year later on August 15, 1842, Churchill seemed to backtrack stating that only as subjects of the sublime Porte could Jews “recover their ancient country or regain a footing in Palestine.” They would need the Five Great Powers (Britain, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia) to advocate that the Sultan allow them to settle and “colonize” in Palestine, “under the protection of the Great Powers.”  Under Churchill’s proposal, Jewish colonies would be autonomous but would be required to pay a tax to the Sultan. Churchill concluded that “Judea” would be “once more a refuge and resting place” for world Jewry. (Grief, 535)

In addition to the letter, Churchill included a detailed proposal about how this colonization would be established. The first step was an application to the British Government to the attention of Foreign Secretary Lord Aberdeen. Aberdeen would send a person to Syria “a fit and proper person to watch over the interests of the Jews.” Churchill finished his letter writing “God has put in my heart the desire to serve His ancient people… I have discharged a duty imposed on me by my conscience.”  (Grief, 535)

Montefiore took Churchill’s two letters to the Board of Deputies of British Jews were he served as president. On November 8, 1942, they responded to Montefiore, that they would not be initiating Churchill’s proposal or any other for settlement in Palestine, but would participate if a Jewish community in another country would. In less than a decade, Montefiore would begin settling Jews in settlements in Palestine on his initiative and working with Churchill.

Montefiore’s most extensive philanthropy was towards the small Jewish community in Israel, hoping to entice more Jews to live there. He turned towards settling Israel in 1854 when he became the executor of American Judah Touro’s will; Touro wanted a settlement created with his money. Montefiore used his money and that of Touro’s estate to establish agricultural communities outside of Jerusalem’s Old City beginning the New Yishuv. Montefiore purchased an orchard outside Jerusalem to provide agricultural training to Jews in 1855 and in 1860 created the first settlement, Mishkenot Sha’ananim or the Inhabitations of Delight. Montefiore added incentives to encourage poorer Jews to settle despite the dangers. The first settlement consisted of “twenty-four apartments on the slopes of Talibiyeh facing Mount Zion.” (Blumberg, 60)

Afterward, he created additional neighborhoods, “the Ohel Moshe neighborhood for Sephardic Jews and the Mazkeret Moshe neighborhood for Ashkenazi Jews.” Montefiore also set-up the essentials for a growing community in Jerusalem, including health care, education and charity, some industries and essential factories, and the Montefiore Windmill to mill flour in Yemin Moshe, which still stands today. Montefiore hired Churchill to train the Jews in agriculture. According Arnold Blumberg in “Eretz Israel, Israel, and the Jewish Diaspora: Mutual Relations,” Montefiore, however, was “not interested in creating a Jewish state, he did regard the normalization of Jewish life through self-supporting labor, as essential.” (Blumberg, 60) While, Derek Penslar called Montefiore’s settlements “Palestinophilia,” the “establishment of philanthropic enterprises devoted to the social and economic transformation of Palestinian Jewry.” (Penslar, 63)  

The exchanges between Churchill and Montefiore and Churchill’s proposal helped develop proto-Zionism, the forerunners of Zionism. As Blumberg noted, “In Palestine itself, the old Yishuv seemed untouched by the currents of nineteenth-century thought. Nevertheless… the entry of western Jews upon the scene had laid the foundation for the new Yishuv. Long before the advent of political Zionism, a new spirit was alive in Palestinian Jewry.” (Blumberg, 61) Churchill’s proposal led to Montefiore taking charge and funding settlement beyond the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem’s old city, setting the stage for the new settlements and the aliyahs to Palestine that commenced in 1882.

Churchill’s letter to Montefiore, June 14, 1841:

I cannot conceal from you my most anxious desire to see your countrymen endeavour once more to resume their existence as a people.

I consider the object to be perfectly attainable. But, two things are indispensably necessary. Firstly, that the Jews will themselves take up the matter universally and unanimously. Secondly, that the European Powers will aid them in their views. It is for the Jews to make a commencement. Let the principal persons of their community place themselves at the head of the movement. Let them meet, concert and petition. In fact the agitation must be simultaneous throughout Europe. There is no Government which can possibly take offence at such public meetings. The result would be that you would conjure up a new element in Eastern diplomacy—an element which under such auspices as those of the wealthy and influential members of the Jewish community could not fail not only of attracting great attention and of exciting extraordinary interest, but also of producing great events.

Were the resources which you all possess steadily directed towards the regeneration of Syria and Palestine, there cannot be a doubt but that, under the blessing of the Most High, those countries would amply repay the undertaking, and that you would end by obtaining the sovereignty of at least Palestine.

Syria and Palestine, in a word, must be taken under European protection and governed in the sense and according to the spirit of European administration.

I therefore would strenuously urge this subject upon your calm consideration, upon the consideration of those who, by their position and influence amongst you are most likely to take the lead in such a glorious struggle for national existence. I had once intended to have addressed the Jews here in their Synagogue upon the subject, but I have reflected that such a proceeding might have awakened the jealousy of the local Government.

I have, however, prepared a rough petition which will be signed by all the Jews here and in other parts of Syria, and which I shall then forward to you. Probably two or three months will elapse first. There are many considerations to be weighed and examined as the question develops itself—but a “beginning” must be made—a resolution must be taken,”an agitation must be commenced”, and where the stake is “Country and Home” where is the heart that will not leap and bound to the appeal?

Supposing that you and your colleagues should at once and earnestly interest yourselves upon this important subject of the recovery of your ancient country, it appears to me (forming my opinions upon the present attitude of affairs in the Turkish Empire) that it could only be as subjects of the Porte that you could commence to regain a footing in Palestine. Your first object would be to interest the Five Great Powers in your views and to get them to advocate your view with the Sultan upon the clear understanding that the Jews, if permitted to colonise any part of Syria and Palestine, should be under the protection of the Great Powers, that they should have the internal regulation of their own affairs, that they should be exempt from military service (except on their own account as a measure of defence against the incursions of the Bedouin Arabs), and that they should only be called upon to pay a tribute to the Porte on the usual mode of taxation. I humbly venture to give my opinion upon a subject, which no doubt has already occupied your thought—and the bare mention of which, I know, makes every Jewish heart vibrate. The only question is – “when” and “how”.

The blessing of the Most High must be invoked on the endeavour. Political events seem to warrant the conclusion that the hour is nigh at hand when the Jewish people may justly and with every reasonable prospect of success put their hands to the glorious work of National Regeneration.

If you think otherwise I shall bend at once to your decision, only begging you to appreciate my motive, which is simply an ardent desire for the welfare and prosperity of a people to whom we all owe our possession of those blessed truths which direct our minds with unerring faith to the enjoyment of another and better world.

“Proposal of Colonel Churchill” August 15, 1842:

Human efforts preceded by prayer and undertaken in faith the whole history of your nation shows to be almost invariably blessed. If such then be your conviction it remains for you to consider whether you may not in all humility, but with earnest sincerity and confiding hope direct your most strenuous attention towards the land of your Fathers with the view of doing all in your power to ameliorate the conditions of your brethren now residing there and with heartfelt aspiration of being approved by Almighty God whilst you endeavour as much as in you lies to render that Land once more a refuge and resting-place to such of your brethren scattered throughout the world as may resort to it.

Hundreds and thousands of your countrymen would strain every effort to accomplish the means of living amidst those scenes rendered sacred by ancient recollections, and which they regard with filial affection, but the dread of the insecurity of life and property which has rested so long upon the soil of “Judea” has hitherto been a bar to the accomplishment of their natural desire.
My proposition is that the Jews of England conjointly with their brethren on the Continent of Europe should make an application to the British Government through the Earl of Aberdeen to accredit and send out a fit and proper person to reside in Syria for the sole and express purpose of superintending and watching over the interests of the Jews residing in that country.

The duties and powers of such a public officer to be a matter of arrangement between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Committee of Jews conducting the negotiations. It is, I hope, superfluous for me to enlarge upon the incalculable benefit which would accrue to your nation at large were such an important measure to be accomplished, or to allude more than briefly to the spirit of confidence and revival which would be excited in the breasts of your fellow-countrymen all over the world were they to be held and acknowledged agents for the Jewish people resident in Syria and Palestine under the auspices and sanction of Great Britain….

READ MORE / SOURCES


Adler, Joseph. Restoring the Jews to Their Homeland: Nineteen Centuries in the Quest for Zion. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1997.

Blumberg, Arnold. Zion Before Zionism 1838-1880. Jerusalem: Devora Publishing, 2007.

Green, Abigail. Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012.

Grief, Howard. The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law: A Treatise on Jewish Sovereignty Over the Land of Israel. Jerusalem, Israel: Mazo Publishers, 2013.

Mor, Menachem. Eretz Israel, Israel, and the Jewish Diaspora: Mutual Relations: 1st Annual Symposium. University Press of America, 1991.

 

 

OTD in History… June 10, 1967, The Six Day War ends with Israel victorious

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

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OTD in History… June 10, 1967, The Six Day War ends with Israel victorious

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OTD in History June 10, 1967, the Six-Day War ends with Israel victorious and tripling their territory capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem. Both Israel and the Arab nations involved; Egypt (the United Arab Republic), Jordan, and Syria agreed to a United Nations ceasefire to broker an end of the war. In addition, to the territory, Israel also gained a population of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. Although, it is 51 years later Jerusalem has still not received the universal recognition as the Israeli capital. Only this past year for Israel’s 70th anniversary did the United States President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem and moved the embassy there in May, followed by Latin American countries Guatemala and Paraguay.

In the first months of 1967, Syria ramped up their civilian bombing attacks against Israelis in the northern kibbutzim, agricultural villages. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned Syria they would retaliate, but they would not listen, and Israel’s attack downed six Syrian MiG fighters, given by Russia. In retaliation, Syria told Egypt, Israel was mobilizing the army on the border, which they were not, and Egypt realized. The response, Egypt moved troops forward into the Sinai and asked the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to vacate the border, on May 19, the UN did. Three days later on the May 22, Egypt cut off Israel’s shipping access to the Straits of Tiran, an act tantamount to war. On May 30, the Arab alliance of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and coalition partners Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria signed a pact, and by June 4, were set for war with 230,00 troops mobilized.

With little help from outside, the Israeli cabinet voted on June 4 to give the Defense Ministry the decision making power to strike. Israel decided on a preemptive defensive strike on June 5, commencing the war with Jordan, Syria, and Iraq joining in the attack on Israel. The surprise attack destroyed Egypt’s air force. Israel was fighting on three fronts, Egypt in the West, Syria in the North and Jordan from the East. Israeli paratroopers took Jerusalem on June 7. On June 8, Israel gained control of the West Bank and also Gaza and the Sinai. By June 10, Israel had garnered the strategic Golan Heights. Although it was a decisive victory, Israel lost 776 soldiers in the six days of fighting.

The most significant of those territorial acquisitions was the Eastern Jerusalem, reunifying the city. Since 1948, when Jordan won Eastern Jerusalem and West Bank, Jews were unable to enter the Old City and visit the holiest of sites the Kotel, Western Wall. Upon gaining control and access, Israeli soldiers wept, prayed and blew the shofar at the Kotel, the first time in 19 years. Israel had control of the Temple Mount, Islam’s holiest site, out of good faith they ceded it to Jordan.

Israel hoped the war could lead to peace and offered the land in exchange for a peace agreement. Three months later on September 1, the Arab nations met in Khartoum, Sudan and gave Israel their answer, establishing “the 3 Nos of Khartoum”: “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban, remarked on the irony, “This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.”

READ MORE

Lorch, Netanel. One Long War. Jerusalem: Keter, 1976.

Oren, Michael. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Rosetta Books, 2010.

Sachar, Howard. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.

Judaism March 15, 2016: Kotel Rabbi reverses support on egalitarian space ban on non-Orthodox prayer

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JUDAISM

Kotel Rabbi reverses support on egalitarian space ban on non-Orthodox prayer

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, March 15, 2016, 8:57 AM MST

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is formally withdrawing any support he had for the Kotel's egalitarian prayer space. Instead, he is asking lawmaker to overturn the January cabinet vote and prevent Women of the Wall from freely praying, March 14, 2016
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is formally withdrawing any support he had for the Kotel’s egalitarian prayer space. Instead, he is asking lawmaker to overturn the January cabinet vote and prevent Women of the Wall from freely praying, March 14, 2016
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Politics March 8, 2016: White House insulted Netanyahu refuses to meet Obama as Biden visits Israel

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White House insulted Netanyahu refuses to meet Obama as Biden visits Israel

By Bonnie K. Goodman

March 8, 2016 10:47 AM MST

 The Obama-Netanyahu wars continue; the new spat comes as the White House Is upset the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose not to visit the US and meet with President Barack Obama, March 7, 2016
The Obama-Netanyahu wars continue; the new spat comes as the White House Is upset the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose not to visit the US and meet with President Barack Obama, March 7, 2016
Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Politics January 1, 2016: Huckabee calls Obama’s NSA spying on Congress, Netanyahu an impeachable offense

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Huckabee calls Obama’s NSA spying on Congress, Netanyahu an impeachable offense

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, January 1, 2016 1:49 PM MST

GOP candidate Mike Huckabee believes if President Obama truly did monitor Congressional members' communication with Israeli leaders, Obama should be impeached and forced to resign, Dec. 30, 2015
GOP candidate Mike Huckabee believes if President Obama truly did monitor Congressional members’ communication with Israeli leaders, Obama should be impeached and forced to resign, Dec. 30, 2015
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Judaism December 10, 2015: Obama celebrates White House Hanukkah party with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

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Obama celebrates White House Hanukkah party with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, December 10, 2015, 7:03 PM MST

President Barack Obama and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivered remarks, before reciting the blessing and lighting the Hanukkah candles at a White House reception, Dec. 9, 2015

Play
President Barack Obama and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivered remarks, before reciting the blessing and lighting the Hanukkah candles at a White House reception, Dec. 9, 2015
Photo by Aude Guerrucci – Pool/Getty Images / White House YouTube

Politics December 10, 2015: Trump cancels Israel trip after Netanyahu condemns ban on Muslim entering US

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Trump cancels Israel trip after Netanyahu condemns ban on Muslim entering US

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, December 10, 2015, 12:42 PM MST

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump cancelled his trip to Israel after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the US, Dec. 10, 2015
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump cancelled his trip to Israel after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the US, Dec. 10, 2015
Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

 

Politics July 14, 2015: Historic Iran nuclear deal reached, faces opposition from Israel

Historic Iran nuclear deal reached, faces opposition from Israel

July 14, 2015

News reports are saying that the P5+1 world powers, the United States, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany and Iran have reached a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The landmark deal was reached early…

Politics May 26, 2015: Canadian PM Stephen Harper shows solidarity with Israel at Montreal Jewish Community Council gala

Harper shows solidarity with Israel at Montreal Jewish Community Council gala

May 26, 2015

The Jewish Community Council of Montreal (Vaad Ha’ir) feted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his unwavering and staunch support to Canadian Jewry and Israel. Harper was the honoree at the Jewish kosher certification organization’s first…

Judaism May 20, 2015: Women of the Wall again barred from reading Torah as police arrest supporter

Women of the Wall again barred from reading Torah as police arrest supporter

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, May 20, 2015, 1:26 PM MST

 

For the month of Sivan Women of the Wall were supposed to have Bat Mitzvahs for six girls, who were denied the chance to read from the Torah, May 20, 2015

Play
For the month of Sivan Women of the Wall were supposed to have Bat Mitzvahs for six girls, who were denied the chance to read from the Torah, May 20, 2015
Women of the Wall / Yael Gilboa

Politics May 8, 2015: Obama congratulates Netanyahu after he secures 61-seat coalition government

Obama congratulates Netanyahu after he secures 61-seat coalition government

May 8, 2015

With two hours left before the deadline to form a coalition on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu was able to secure a razor narrow 61-seat coalition out of 120 Knesset…

Politics April 25, 2015: Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

Obama WH-Israel thaw continues on Yom Haatzmaut, but not towards Netanyahu

April 25, 2015

After Congressional Democrats warned President Barack Obama and the administration, their harsh rhetoric towards Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would cost the Democrats votes in the 2016 elections, Obama has been trying to placate and improve relations especially…

Jewish Musings April 21, 2015: Women of the Wall triumph finally read from full size Torah scroll at Kotel

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Women of the Wall triumph finally read from full-size Torah scroll at Kotel

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, April 21, 2015, 10:46 AM MST

The Woman of the Wall (WoW) Nashot HaKotel read for the first time from a full sized Torah scroll in the women's section of the Kotel, Western Wall for Rosh Hodesh Iyar services, April 20, 2015

Play
The Woman of the Wall (WoW) Nashot HaKotel read for the first time from a full-sized Torah scroll in the women’s section of the Kotel, Western Wall for Rosh Hodesh Iyar services, April 20, 2015
Women of the Wall Facebook / YouTube

Politics April 12, 2015: Obama and Democrats’ Jewish voter problem over Iran deal, Israel and Netanyahu

Obama and Democrats’ Jewish voter problem over Iran deal, Israel and Netanyahu

April 12, 2015

Jewish public opinion and support of President Barack Obama has never been more contentious as when the president celebrated his eighth Passover and his seventh in the White House on Friday, April 3, 2015. The recent announcement of the…

Politics April 1, 2015: Netanyahu, Boehner meet in Jerusalem discuss US-Israel strong bond, Iran threat

Netanyahu, Boehner meet in Jerusalem discuss US-Israel strong bond, Iran threat

April 1, 2015

President Barack Obama might not acknowledge Israel and the United States’ “strong bond,” Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH has no problem expressing and did so in his amicable meeting and statement on…

Politics March 31, 2015: Netanyahu points out Obama flip flopping on Iran deal at 20th Knesset opening

Netanyahu points out Obama flip flopping on Iran deal at 20th Knesset opening

March 31, 2015

After the 20th Knesset opened in Israel and the new members were sworn-in on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toasted the new Knesset and its 39 new members in Jerusalem, Israel. In his remarks he…

Politics March 29, 2015: Boehner, McConnell backing up Israel PM Netanyahu on Iran nuclear deal sanctions

Boehner, McConnell backing up Israel PM Netanyahu on Iran nuclear deal sanctions

March 29, 2015

Details are emerging about the Iran nuclear weapons deal that is in its final stages of negotiations for the framework deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking out against the deal, that is even “worse” than he…

Politics March 29, 2015: Boehner bashes Obama’s ‘reprehensible animosity’ towards Israel, Netanyahu

Boehner bashes Obama’s ‘reprehensible animosity’ towards Israel, Netanyahu

March 29, 2015

With the Congressional recess in the full swing, delegations from the House of Representatives and the Senate are heading over to Israel to meet with newly reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH appeared…

Politics March 25, 2015: Israel election results Rivlin formally tasks Netanyahu to form 34th government

Israel election results Rivlin formally tasks Netanyahu to form 34th government

March 25, 2015

In a ceremony held Wednesday evening, March 25, 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel President Reuven Rivlin officially tasked Benjamin Netanyahu to put together Israel’s 34th government. Netanyahu will then have 28 days to form the coalition, and assign portfolios…

Politics March 24, 2015: Israel denies US claims of spying on Iran nuclear talks

Israel denies US claims of spying on Iran nuclear talks

March 24, 2015

Senior US official are accusing Israel of spying on the US and P5+1 Iran nuclear weapons talks according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Monday, March 23, 2015. The allegation accuses Israel of gathering the information…

Politics March 17, 2015: Israel election results Netanyahu’s Likud wins big 30 seats to Herzog’s 24

Israel election results Netanyahu’s Likud wins big 30 seats to Herzog’s 24

March 17, 2015

With 99 percent of the polls reporting early morning Wednesday, March 18, 2015 the results prove Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party swept and crushed the competition winning 30 seats in Israel election on Tuesday, March 17. Meanwhile Isaac…

Politics March 17, 2015: Netanyahu declares victory in Israel’s election Herzog refuses to concede

Netanyahu declares victory in Israel’s election Herzog refuses to concede

March 17, 2015

After the exit polls determined that Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party won between 27 and 28 seats beating out Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union’s 27 seats, Netanyahu declared victory and set out to celebrate with his…

Politics March 17, 2015: Netanyahu will remain Israel’s prime minister according to exit polls

Netanyahu will remain Israel’s prime minister according to exit polls

March 17, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent in Israel Election on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 is declaring victory with exit polls declaring that his Likud Party received 27 or 28 seats in the Knesset, and the right…

Politics March 16, 2015: Israel election 2015 guide: Netanyahu’s Likud vs Herzog’s Zionist Union

Israel election 2015 guide: Netanyahu’s Likud vs Herzog’s Zionist Union

March 16, 2015

Israel is set to go to the polls again for the 20th time on Tuesday March 17, 2015, where they will elect the 20th Knesset and by extension determine the next prime minister, Israel’s 34th. In this election…