I was a young reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer when the first news broke of Six-Day war. We hung out around the Associated Press tickers just off the city room waiting for any tidbit of news. It looked bad for Israel because all we were getting were Arab propaganda reports lauding Gamal Abdul Nasser’s great victories in Egypt’s drive to push Israel into the sea.
Israel was unusually quiet; unlike today when every minister and general past and present rushes to the media to offer his views and boast about everything, before the time when bravado replaced discipline and discretion.
When the first reports broke the news that the Egyptian air force hadn't been bombing Tel Aviv and other Israeli targets but had actually been destroyed on the ground the mood dramatically changed.
I began getting calls and back pats from my non-Jewish friends and colleagues, congratulating me on "your army’s great victory." I had to remind them that "my" army — I had finished my active duty with the US Army two years earlier and was still in the reserves — was getting pounded over in Southeast Asia. I suspect they were trying to say they, too, were proud of Israel.
That war was a turning point in the Middle West as well as the Middle East. More and more Jews of my generation began wearing their identity on their sleeves – actually kippas and T-shirts were more common. I was so energized – to say nothing of naïve bordering on stupid — that I bought a mezuzah and hung it on a chain outside my shirt when I went to cover a Ku Klux Klan rally and cross-burning in a rural field. Fortunately, none of those schlemiels knew what it was.
June 1967 was the beginning of the era of Jewish pride; earlier generations had followed the "shaah, don't make waves" dictum; the post-67 generation wore its Jewishness openly. It began taking a higher profile, showing greater confidence, transitioning from fear of Israel’s survival to pride in its prowess and a new desire to help the Jewish state. A new era of political activism had begun.