From June 5-10, 1967, Israel was once again engaged in a war for survival against a coalition of Arab nations.
From June 5-10, 1967, Israel was once again engaged in a war for survival against a coalition of Arab nations. (William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History)

The Six-Day War was a monumental turning point for Israel.

Fifty-five years ago, there was only one big story in the JN: The Six-Day War. From June 5-10, 1967, Israel was once again engaged in a war for survival against a coalition of Arab nations. Egypt, Jordan and Syria were the main attacking forces. 

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Alene and Graham Landau Archivist Chair

Israel had no choice but to win. If it lost the war, it was likely that its enemies would initiate a wholesale slaughter of Jews, another Holocaust. After all, their stated desire was to wipe Israel off the Middle Eastern map. After six days of hard fighting, however, the result was a decisive Israeli victory that ranks among the most brilliant military campaigns in world history. 

Although Israel won the war in a brilliant fashion, it paid a heavy price in material goods, military supplies and, of course, in human sacrifice. Nearly 800 Israelis lost their lives; more than 2,500 were wounded.

The Six-Day War also shaped the future of American-Israeli relations. “Between 1948 and 1967, Israel wasn’t really in the news very much in the United States,” historian Eric Alterman recently surmised. “But Americans had a very rosy picture of Israel. They loved Israel, but they didn’t pay much attention to it. Then, after 1967, everything changed.” 

With the outbreak of the Six-Day War, for many American Jews, support for Israel became a primary component of their identity.

Beginning with the June 9, 1967, issue of the JN, the Six-Day War has a huge presence in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. The war is mentioned on 3,822 pages in the Archive. Moreover, reports and stories in the Archive often speak to the Detroit Jewish community’s support for Israel in its time of need. 

From June 9 1967
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

The June 9, 1967, issue of the JN, published just before the war ended in a ceasefire, illustrates the above point. As one might expect, there are reports about the war itself, but the larger narrative is the Detroit Jewish community’s generous support for Israel in its time of need.  

The headline for June 9 first states Detroit’s commitment to Israel. It does not, however, speak to Israel’s pending victory or military actions. Instead, it reads: “Detroit Jewry Mobilized to Aid Israel; Dedicate this Sabbath for Action.” Moreover, “Israel Bond Sales Must Reach $2,000,000 Here Within a Week!” That’s $17 million in today’s dollars, to be raised in a hurry. 

There are additional advertisements urging Detroiters to give. The ad for the Israel Emergency Fund has a simple point: “You Must Help the People of Israel!” By “You,” it meant “Every Individual in the Jewish Community.” On the next page, the Fund implored readers to “Give As You Never Gave Before.”  

From June 6 1967
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

The JN gave its own voice in support of Israel. The main editorial was titled: “All Together: To Israel’s Aid.” Publisher/Editor Philip Slomovitz’s weekly “Purely Commentary” column was devoted to “The Emergency: A Jewish as well as Israeli Issue.”

The Six-Day War was a monumental turning point for Israel. The ramifications of the war are still debated today, here and in Israel, in the media and in hundreds of written histories. But, one fact is certain — Detroit Jews did their best to support Israel in its time of need. 

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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