This week in Israeli history: June 3-9

Avi Ohayon
Joined by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates newly promoted Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on becoming the IDF chief of staff Feb. 14, 2011. Photo by Avi Ohayon, Israeli Government Press Office


June 3, 1974 — Rabin First Becomes Prime Minister

After defeating Shimon Peres for the Labor Party leadership, Yitzhak Rabin becomes Israel’s fifth prime minister when he presents his coalition government to the Knesset. In succeeding Golda Meir, who resigned over criticism of the Yom Kippur War, Rabin pledges to target poverty and reduce social and economic gaps. He proposes incremental agreements with Israel’s neighbors to achieve a peace unreachable through military victories.

June 4, 2009 — Obama Speaks in Cairo

President Barack Obama calls for “a new beginning” in relations between the United States and the Muslim world during an address before 3,000 people at Cairo University. The policy speech makes clear that Obama is pivoting away from the Bush administration’s effort to spread democracy across the Middle East. Obama reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel and recognizes the desire for statehood among the Palestinians, whose situation he calls “intolerable.”

June 5, 1952 — Hadassah Medical Center Breaks Ground

Hadassah breaks ground on the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem as a replacement for its medical campus on Mount Scopus, which is beyond Israel’s area of control in Jerusalem and hasn’t been used since 78 medical personnel were massacred a month before Israel declared independence. The Ein Kerem complex opens in 1961 and retains its primary status even after Mount Scopus reopens in 1975.

June 6, 1956 — Merger Forms Tel Aviv University

The Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics merges with the Municipal Institute of Natural Sciences and Humanities to form Tel Aviv University, which soon adds the Academic Institute of Jewish Studies. The university gains independence from the municipality in 1963, the year it launches medical courses and hires its first president, George Wise. From fewer than 200 students, Tel Aviv University has grown into Israel’s largest institution of higher learning.

June 7, 1981 — Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor Is Destroyed

Eight Israeli F-16s fly a 2,000-mile round trip to bomb Iraq’s Osirak plutonium nuclear reactor 10 miles from Baghdad. Operation Opera destroys the nearly completed, French-built reactor, which Israel fears is meant to develop weapons. Ten Iraqi soldiers and a French civilian are killed. The mission establishes the Begin Doctrine: Israel will do what is necessary to prevent a hostile Middle Eastern regime from obtaining nuclear arms.

June 8, 1963 — Educator and Politician Chaim Boger Dies

Chaim Boger, a founder of the first Hebrew high school in pre-state Palestine and a member of the second Knesset, dies at age 86. Boger attended the sixth through 20th Zionist Congresses and actively opposed a proposal to settle Jews in East Africa. He helped bring the fledgling Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, launched in Jaffa in 1905, to Tel Aviv in mid-1909. Boger taught at the school from 1919 to 1951, including time as its principal.

June 9, 1959 — General and Politician Benny Gantz Is Born

Benny Gantz, who rises to be the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and a candidate for prime minister, is born on a moshav, Kfar Ahim. He serves as a paratrooper, commands air force commandos and paratroopers, and leads the 1991 airlift of Ethiopian Jews in Operation Solomon. As the IDF chief of staff from 2011 to 2015, he oversees two campaigns against Gaza. He launches the Israel Resilience Party in late 2018.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.