Editor’s Wrapup: Consequences
One of the consequences of the 1967 Six-Day War was the Soviet Jewish emigration movement. In this issue, Dina Kraft explores the ripple effect of the war and the emigration struggle with former refuseniks who live in Israel today (page 64).
One result may have been the collapse of the Soviet Union. Natan Sharansky told Kraft that the Soviet dictatorship “had to exert all its power to control the minds of the people that it feared. The only movement that succeeded to organize large amounts of pressure was the Soviet Jewry movement, and that is why [the regime] had to start making concessions, and the more you [make] concessions on human rights the more it becomes an unstable system.” Unintentionally, he added, the fight for exit visas “started the process of dismantling the empire.”
Some emigrants opted for a new life in the United States, and Rahel Musleah looks at Bukharian Jews who moved to Queens, New York (page 32). While many practice their faith with more fervor than they could under Soviet rule, they have also discovered some of the challenges of freedom. “The kids want to be American and chuck the whole Old Country identity and the grandparents want to hold onto it strongly,” one Jewish community leader told Musleah. “The parents are working hard and are caught in the middle.”
Gershom Gorenberg describes a consequence unforeseen when Israel, after a wave of terror attacks, separated itself from the West Bank with a fence and tight restrictions on movement from one side to the other: Two peoples who had experienced imperfect but frequent interaction are now out of touch. “The barriers, however unavoidable, have turned Israelis and Palestinians into abstractions for each other, and that’s a loss,” Gorenberg observes (page 12).
Peace may come to Israelis and Palestinians as a result of efforts by their leaders. But, in this complex world, it might also arrive as an unanticipated result of something else.