Fifty years ago, the Six Day War was front page news on the Yiddish Forverts, which kept its readers abreast of developments mainly by reprinting wire service reports from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, declaring Israel’s “huge victories” as the war progressed.
With limited resources on the ground in Israel, the newspaper relied on its correspondent, Leib Rochman, to produce feature stories to augment the breaking news. Rochman, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who lived in Jerusalem, was known for his accounts on the Holocaust that seemed to meld fact and fiction, eerily mixing the dead with the living.
Covering the Six Day War, Rochman took a more reporterly approach, and focused one his main articles on the “leaders of the heroic Israeli army” in an article on June 6, 1967.
Rochman went into great detail in profiles of 10 members of Israel’s military brass, noting that while some were “sabras,” Israelis born in the Holy Land, others hailed from Europe, like Rochman himself — and the Forverts’ readers.
Depicting the personal stories of the Israeli responsible for the wartime success was no doubt a way to bring overseas readers closer to the action. As American Jewish anxiety gave way to relief and celebration at the end of the war, Rochman’s profiles serve as a kind of who’s who for the war that would define Israel until today.
The Israeli general-staff of 15 ‘alufim’ (ranks ranging from Colonel up to General) is doubtless the youngest, most dynamic general-staff in the world. Its members range in age fro 39 til 47. Let’s agree, none of them dreamed of a military career as their life’s path. They’re not ‘military types’ in the sense of the term as used in the world outside of Israel. They’re young folks, idealists, who feel they’re the ones upon whose shoulders the state laid its security as well as its strength of existence. When they’ve grown older, and fulfilled their mission–they’ll retire from the army and head out in the direction of their individual civilian endeavors. Understandably, they are all, aside from idealistic, also first class strategists and trained military men. They’ve all got much frontline experience and also studied in the biggest military academies in the world–in the United States and in France.
You can find the article in full here.
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.