“The hour of danger…Israel is on the brink” – Jewish Chronicle headline 19 May 1967.
British volunteers board the plane at London airport – more come from the UK than from any other country.
Farewell at London airport – a final kiss for one volunteer
The crisis strikes
In May ’67 the community watches anxiously as the crisis develops in the Middle East – Nasser masses troops in the Sinai, ousts the UN peacekeepers and closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. The Jewish Chronicle reports Arab leaders in Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad call for the destruction of Israel.
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is on a state visit to the UK. He tells a British TV audience that the priority of every Arab nation is to exterminate Israel.
How would you respond?
It is the week beginning 21 May ’67. The community begins to galvanise and take action.
On 24 May, as Abba Eban arrives in London to meet with PM Harold Wilson, all the major UK Jewish organisations endorse a statement from the Board of Deputies. This calls on the Government to take action to restore the Straits of Tiran as an international waterway.
A rally of solidarity will take place this Sunday, 28 May 1967, at Hyde Park, 4pm.
An Emergency fund to aid Israel is launched by the JPA (the Joint Palestine Appeal – the forerunner of the UJIA).
The Chief Rabbi, the Haham (leader of Sephardi Jews) and Progressive leaders call for special Psalms and prayers to be recited at Shabbat services. The Jewish Chronicle tells its readers: “this Sabbath our synagogues should be filled with worshippers united in prayer”.
Topol, star of Fiddler on the Roof at Her Majesty’s theatre, tells the JC: I’m an Israeli first and a performer second. I’m ready to go to Israel if called.
A 24 year old houseman at the North Staffs Royal infirmary, Cecil Reid, responds to the crisis: “I feel Israel’s future is at stake. If people like me aren’t prepared to go and help there might be no Israel”.
Stanley Lovatt, today Israel’s Honorary consul in Scotland, presides at a meeting of Young JNF in Glasgow. He says: “It isn’t enough to watch this out on TV, we must all pull together and do our best in support of Israel”.
Paper work – British volunteers arriving in Israel are processed at the airport.