The Six Day War was launched preemptively by Israel against its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria after months of dangerous tensions and mobilization on all sides. It was a war for Israel’s survival as the Arab countries around it sought to destroy it, and the Israeli military took a gamble by striking first but ended up swiftly decimating its enemies’ armed forces. Israel even advanced into and captured some of the surrounding territories: Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
The war was a major victory for the IDF, for Israel, and for Jews around the world – not just strategically but also emotionally, as it solidified that Israel is here to stay and cannot be destroyed despite being surrounded by enemies. It’s one of the most widely-remembered events in Jewish and Israeli history to this day.
The newly gained territories became some of Israel’s biggest assets in terms of safety and security. The Sinai was an important buffer zone between Egypt and Israel and later a key bargaining chip in securing lasting peace between the two nations. The West Bank has served as a similar buffer against Jordan and others in the region, while holding the strategically located and elevated Golan Heights has allowed the IDF to protect Israel’s northern border like never before.
This is one of the most important and lasting legacies of the Six-Day War, as it unified the Holy City and brought its oldest and holiest sites, including the Western Wall, under Jewish sovereignty and free access for the first time in modern history.
The IDF paratroopers who secured the Old City have become famous heroes, and Israelis from all over the country poured in to see and pray at the Western Wall as soon as it was safe to do so – a tradition that continues annually on Jerusalem Day till today.
The swift and incredibly successful victory was seen by many as miraculous and a sign that the Jewish state can overcome any odds and will only continue to thrive.
Many diaspora Jews overcame their initial skepticism towards the Zionist project and felt more connected to Israel after the 1967 war than ever. Visiting and volunteering in Israel become popular over the coming decades; various synagogues and Jewish organizations throughout the diaspora began adopting the Modern Hebrew system of pronunciation in solidarity with Israel; and symbols of Zionism and Jewish pride such as Israeli flags and Star of David jewelry became popular among Jews all over the world.