THE SIX DAY WAR, 20 YEARS LATER
commanded 20 years ago and the
young Israelis of today.
"The generation of the Six Day War
was the first which had not been af-
fected directly by the struggle to
establish the State of Israel. It was
a generation well educated as
members of Israeli society and as
citizens of the Jewish State — less
complicated than today's generation,
which tends to take more extreme
positions one way or the other.
Such attitudes disturb Gur deeply.
It is, perhaps, ironic that he, who has
spent the better part of a lifetime
fighting Arab armies and terrorists,
feels no such hatred for his adver-
saries. Indeed, he personifies the
"Yiddishe Soldaten" (the Jewish
Soldier), which is how he fondly
describes his comrades — the Israeli
fighting man who weighs everything
against a strict personal code of
Nine months ago, Motta Gur
resigned as Minister of Health when
Labor Party leader Shimon Peres
handed over power to his national
unity coalition partner, Yitzhak
Shamir, whose Likud Party adamant-
Mordechai Gur, whose paratroop brigade stormed the Old City and reunited Jerusalem in the war. He stands by his pledge
ly opposes making territorial conces-
to his troops that Jerusalem will always remain in Jewish hands, but he advocates coexistence with the Arabs.
sions over the West Bank in exchange
you," he says. "One can debate
was not built for extremism," he
whether the battle for Jerusalem was that swept through the ranks; of joy enthusiasm. People stopped to think
"And it worries me when people
good or bad, whether taking the mingled with sorrow as they counted about the meaning of war and the
see that extreme positions in-
Western Wall was necessary or not, the cost of the bitter battle they had death of our young men.
reactions, leaving one no
"And the questions that bothered
whether the political outcome just fought and the sense of "the
go on fighting forever.
people then bothered them more
justified the war — I can understand cruelty and folly of war."
on a perma-
He speaks of tough, exhausted later — today, the sense of confusion
all of this.
a spirit of
"But the fact is that we liberated battle-worn men weeping openly as
Jerusalem within a few hours, with Rabbi Shlomo Goren, then Chief combination of peace with Egypt and
He still believes the pledge he made
only 180 dead and no civilian suffer- Chaplain of the Israel Defense Forces unrest everywhere else drives people
his troops in 1967 — that
ing. It was my ambition to liberate (and later Israel's Chief Ashkenazi crazy.
"will be ours forever." But
the city as fast as possible, and I am
that "it can be theirs,
And he speaks of their anxiety to forced to fight. It was a war of sur-
not ashamed of that.
must become a fact."
"lb have been the first one to get back into battle, to help their vival. 'today things are so much more
penetrate the Old City was unique. lb comrades on other fronts. "It was," he complicated. In 1967, the nation was
be honest, I hadn't intended it. The says, "a privilege to lead such men." in its teenage years. After the Yom
plan was for the tanks to cross first
Motta Gur is a soldier's soldier, Kippur War, we became adult, and
and for my battalion to follow.
with a great admiration for the men that is never easy."
Gur, who was born in Jerusalem
"But the enthusiasm of battle was who served under him in the past and
such that I found myself at the head the new generation of soldiers today. and is a graduate of the Hebrew
of my men and I was the first to reach
"I don't believe there is another University of Jerusalem, sees dif-
the Thmple Mount.
army in the world from which we can ferences between the young men he
"All that day, I had a feeling of learn lessons of morality and humani-
something very unique taking place. ty in the midst of war," he says.
At 8 in the morning, I opened my "Perhaps we are naive. And there is
diary and began recording in it every no doubt that our attitude makes us
order I received and gave, my feelings, a bit weak tactically. But I also
the scenery — I sat in a half-track believe it gives us a strong moral
listening to orders on the radio, foundation."
watching the walls for fire points, giv-
"Today, people exaggerate a bit
ing orders to my officers — and their feelings during the Six Day War.
writing in my diary.
There's no doubt we were all highly
"And when the order came to take elated. We'd taken Jerusalem, Sinai,
the Old City, we went! You know, at the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan —
ki,D e $
a a moment like that, you are lucky our dreams of victory had come true.
and succeed or you fail and are
"But on that Sunday, when the
criticized. I was lucky."
families were told of the casualties,
00 0,0- 01.3
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
30 Friday, June 5, 1987