The Twin Wars

How the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War shaped Israel.

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Ultimately, the faltering resumption of a diplomatic process is also likely to be dominated by the heritage of 1967. As a direct consequence of Israel's conquests in the Six Day War, Palestinians currently make up almost half the population (some demographers say more) of the territory west of the Jordan river. While liberal-minded Israelis have become increasingly concerned about the morally corrupting effects of sustaining military rule over a recalcitrant population,this demographic crisis is what ultimately convinced Ariel Sharon and other right wing leaders to accept the historic position held by the Left--that Israel's identity as a Jewish democratic state was incompatible with its control of the undivided land of Israel.

Yet while this insight has led all Israeli governments since 1992 to accept the principle of territorial compromise, significant practical movement in this direction has been thwarted by a more emotional aspect of the Six Day War's legacy: a sense that the struggle for independence in the Land of Israel had been consummated, and that the Jews had at last come home for good.

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Matt Plen

Matt Plen is the Chief Executive of Masorti Judaism in the UK. He has taught and trained educators in diverse institutions in Israel, the UK and the USA and is currently researching his doctorate on Critical Pedagogy and Jewish Ideologies of Social Justice.