An interview with Menashe (Muni) Ben-Ari
- Ruthi Blum - Jerusalem Post 14th May 2007
I had just turned 25 when the war broke out. I served in the paratroopers as a regular soldier. I knew that I wanted to do reserve duty in Jerusalem, so that if I was lucky enough to see the city liberated during my lifetime as a soldier, I would be a part of it. Fortunately, in 1967, I did my reserve duty as a platoon commander in the reconnaissance outfit of the Jerusalem Brigade. We were the first force - made up of reservists - to be sent by the IDF to retaliate against the Jordanian attack. Together with the Tank Corps, we were sent to Armon Hanatziv [the UN's headquarters]. Though, according to the 1949 cease-fire agreements, it had been one of two demilitarized zones - the other was Mount Scopus - the Jordanians entered on June 5, and we were sent to kick them out of there. Which we did. And we took advantage of the success to conquer the "Sausage" Outpost [which is now the East Talpiot neighborhood].
Before nightfall, we had also taken over the "Bell"
Outpost [a Jordanian army position in Sur Bahir, next to Ramat Rahel]. On
Wednesday - the third day of the war, and the day of the liberation of the
Temple Mount - we attacked Har Homa, where there was also a Jordanian outpost.
By the time we attacked, though, it was already abandoned, because the Jordanians
had received a withdrawal order from King Hussein. We proceeded on from
there to Gush Etzion, and the next day - Thursday - we liberated Hebron
and joined up with the Southern Command.
It was an event that I had dreamed about. It was the meeting of places I had learned about and seen and waited for: the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho. I hadn't assumed that the war would end up being so short. I did, however, assume that my own end to that war would be "six feet under," given the conditions and balance of forces.
... Today, there's all kinds of blather on the part of propagandists whom I'd rather not name to the effect that the Six Day War was some kind of "original sin."
But, if you examine the days leading up to the war, you will see that the feeling among the Israeli public, and even among many government ministers, was that of the eve of a holocaust.
From my own perspective, there was absolutely no question about all of this - not when I got drafted years earlier; not during the war; and not during the years afterward, up until I shed my uniform at the age of 50.
When I think about my life between the ages of 18 and 50, seven and a half of them, net, were spent in uniform - which comes to about one day out of four during all those years. And this is in spite of the fact that I was never a professional soldier. I'm talking about all this army service during my life as a civilian. It was central to my life and the lives of my friends. It was a righteous path that was clear then, and one that is still clear today. This doesn't mean I don't have criticisms, like anybody else. But this is our homeland. We have no other. They attacked us in 1967. They attacked us before that in 1948. They attacked us afterward. That's the truth. There is no other truth, whatever the politically correct version of events on the part of the Left in Israel and abroad - and on the part of the anti-Semites.
So, when you ask me if it was worth my while to fight that war... It was so worthwhile that I felt at the time that even if I had only managed to survive to that point, dayeinu [it would have sufficed - as is recited during the Pessah Seder].
While getting prepared for the war, the only thing I regretted was not having gotten married and started a family. I thought sadly that I would be exiting this world without having created a future generation. I remember that sharp awareness. I remember scolding myself, "You lazy bum! Why didn't you do it?..."