Ed: 42: June/2017
"Thank God who heard our pleas," said Israel's Prime-Minister-elect to his euphoric followers on the night of 17 May 1977, as the unthinkable became fact: Menachem Begin, Leader of the Opposition for 28 consecutive years and the loser of eight straight general elections, was elected to lead the Jewish state.
Begin's triumph would transform Israel politically, culturally, and socially, heralding a 40-year era that may now be drawing to a close.
The Australian (May 20) ran two articles from the Economist magazine looking at the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War with a subtext that accused Israelis of living the good life whilst Palestinians suffer...
Although the main article noted that Israelis wrongly expected the Arabs would sue for peace in 1967, bizarrely nowhere was there any background given to the war's origins as a defensive war for Israel or the fact that Israeli offers to negotiate the return of the territories immediately in exchange for peace were formally rebuffed.
When the North Jakarta District Court sentenced outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy for suggesting that some people had misused a Koranic verse to block his re-election bid, it added dramatic confirmation of the paradox surrounding South East Asia's relationship with Islam. While Islamist terrorism in the region has been largely subdued, Islamist-inspired identity politics and intolerance are arguably posing a growing challenge to civil freedoms.
After the horror of the Holocaust and the creation of Israel, relations between the two nations would not, could not, ever be "normal". Like it or not, Israel and Germany would be forever locked in a unique diplomatic embrace.
So, it was not altogether surprising that Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on his first visit to Israel as German president last month, should include a stop at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance centre in Jerusalem.
Hamas' stance in its new political document that it will accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if offered, but opposes ever recognising Israel, confused much media reporting.
Several thousand Palestinians participated in riots to mark May 15's Nakba Day (the "catastrophe" of Israel's establishment) with rock-throwing and Molotov cocktails prevalent.
The security cabinet of 1967 appears in these never-published transcripts as a group of serious, professional and responsible decision-makers. While the ministers brought their worldviews to the table, they often didn't vote on party lines, often did listen to one another, and generally managed to make decisions, albeit slowly and through compromises.
The swift and decisive victory of 1967 became the standard to which the IDF aspired - and the kind of victory expected by Israeli society in future engagements. This is problematic, considering the ways Israel's opponents have changed and the means they now deploy.
Most anniversary discussions of the 1967 war and its consequences are going to focus on the hot-button item on this list: Israel's half-century of control over the lives of Palestinians. Indeed, it is a worthy and a thorny issue.
This special edition of the AIR contains several different essays and articles looking back on the historical watershed that was the 1967 Six Day War from the perspective of half a century. However, I would strongly like to recommend one more important essay that we simply could not fit in this edition, but which provides an important analysis on what actually happened back in 1967.