Fifty years ago, the 19-year-old state of Israel won a miraculous, astonishing victory against larger, better equipped forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
The Soviet Union lavishly supported the Arab states, while Lyndon Johnson’s America proclaimed strict neutrality as the Jewish state faced annihilation. Israel had to rely on Mirage jets purchased from France, since American equipment was unavailable. Territorial disputes played little role in the war since the Arabs wouldn’t accept Israel within any borders, openly pledging to “drive the Jews into the sea.” Shortly after the war, Israel offered to trade captured territory for peace but the Arab League responded with the famous “three no’s of the Khartoum Conference”: no peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel.
Today, the key issue remains the same as 50 years ago: refusal by much of the Arab world to accept a Jewish state under any conditions, within any boundaries, on the site of the ancient Jewish homeland.