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Dalia Rabin
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Eitan Cabel
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Dalia Rabin
photo by Rhonda Spivak

45th Anniversary of the Six Day War : Dalia Rabin and Eitan Haber Revisit the Six-Day-War: The Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin

by Rhonda Spivak, posted June 15, 2011

[Editor's note: This article was written 5 years ago on the 40th anniversary of the six day  war when I heard  Dalia Rabin, the daughter of  the late Yitzhak Rabin, and Eitan Haber speak at a conference in Herzlia. It seems fitting to reprint it now, the 45th anniversary of the war.  Attorney Dalia Rabin, former Member of Knesset (1999-2003), chairperson of the Rabin Center and her brother Yuval Rabin, are both signatories to the Israeli Peace initiative launched this April 2011 .  Businessman Yuval Rabin is in fact one of the authors of the initiative, which  calls of a  two state solution. The list of  signatories of the intiitative can be found here and the summary of the text for the peace plan  is  reprinted at the bottom of this article and can be found here:]


by Rhonda Spivak, 2007

“I was 17 years old during the six day war and I remember the hareda ( fear) of an existential threat on Israel…I heard the war on a transistor radio and I remember that my father  returned home only on shabbat at the end of the war..and on Shabbat they announced the names of the soldiers  who had fallen ,” recalls Dalia Rabin, the daughter of the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who was the I.D.F Chief of Staff in 1967.

In describing the mood in the country leading up to the war, Dalia Rabin said “ There was despair …The sense was that the last person out would turn out the lights.”

Rabin, who is currently the chairperson for the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies, spoke at an international conference marking the 40th anniversary of the six-day-war at the Herzylia Interdisciplary Center. Prior to leading the Rabin Center, Dalia Rabin was elected to the Knesset for the Center party in 1999 and acted as chairperson of the Ethics Commmittee. She is an attorney by profession .

In describing the “euphoria” after the victory in 1967, Dalia Rabin, said that there was a sense that “we did the unbelievable” and that “the nation felt there had been a real miracle, the economy flourished and the world looked at us differently.”  In her view,  Israel experienced a similar feeling when her father signed the Oslo Accords and the peace process gained momentum.  “Before the peace process there had been a crisis of confidence [in the country], but with the peace process the economy flourished and our image was better…The notion of seeing a democratic Israel at peace [with its neighbors] was my father’s dream.”

Eitan Haber, spoke at the conference about what he believes was Itzhak Rabin’s true legacy as the I.D.F. Chief of Staff  during the six -day war.   Haber was the director of the Prime Minister’s Bureau for Yitzhak Rabin from 1992 until 1995.

According to Haber, who is currently a member of the editorial board for  Yediot Achronot, the overriding principal which served as the basis for all of the  security decisions that Itzhak Rabin made was “the spilling of the least amount of  blood.”

“For all of the years that I knew Yitzhak Rabin from 1958 until the time of his death, I see one common thread in regard to the security decisions he took---and that was that he always tried to spill the least amount of Israeli blood as possible,’ said Haber.

“ There are others who think less about the spilling of blood than Rabin did...Rabin saved the lives of 100’s if not thousands.. .Moshe Dayan was a bit too hasty to go to battle..he was willing to go to battle  bechol mechir (at all costs),” Haber said.

Haber contrasted Rabin’s performance as Chief of Staff in 1967 to that of  Dan Halutz, who resigned as Chief of Staff after  2006's Second war in Lebanon. He said  that “It is better to have a Chief of Staff [such as Rabin] who hesitates about going to war than one who pretends to know more than he does, and is too quick to go to war [such as Halutz].”

Haber said that in 1967  Rabin’s hesitations  took place in the proceeding two to three weeks before the outbreak of war, because he was deliberating about how to do things in way “that would spill the least amount of Israeli blood.”

“I have read over the deliberations made in the weeks leading up to the war, and practically in every diyun (deliberation) they speak of the expected number of casualties,” Haber said.

In Haber’s view, the day that Itzhak Rabin went to his home immediately prior to the war, which has since been referred to as Rabin’s  “nervous or physical breakdown”, should be seen as part of the intense “in –depth” deliberations he took  before going to war.  “The notion of expected casualties weighed heavily on him,” Haber added.  Rabin collapsed because of his sense of responsibility and anxiety before the war, unlike Dan Halutz in 2006 who went to war without blinking an eye, and without the ‘in-depth deliberations.”

It is indeed appropriate to reflect upon the lessons of the six-day-war especially in light of the aftermath of the Second Lebanon war.  There are many who believe that since Dan Halutz knew that most of the field divisions in the I.D.F were not properly trained for battle and that emergency supplies were low, Israel should have taken similar steps to those it took prior to the six-day war.  It could have issued an ultimatum demanding the return of the abducted soldiers, commenced a waiting period during which reserves could be called up, the infantry units trained and the emergency stocks replenished. Then and only then could it have delivered a significant blow to  Hizbollah.

After Haber spoke, a journalist from the United States came to ask him a question.  His response was very memorable “That’s a difficult question.  You can’t expect me to answer that until I have a piece of cake and a cup of coffee.”  Hearing this I decided not to approach Haber with my question until he’d eaten several cookies, and was in good spirits. 

Haber  actively supported Ehud Barak in his previous bid to become leader of the Labour party, and is often credited with having been responsible behind the scenes for ensuring that Barak  became Prime Minister. However, when I asked Haber who he would be supporting as the new leader of the Labour party, he answered, “ I am not officially supporting anyone. ..I am not involved…I am not saying anything.”

One can only guess how disappointed Haber must have been with Barak’s performance as Prime Minister last time if he is not actively supporting Barak this time a

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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