This week in Israeli history: June 1-7


Menachem Begin and Zbigniew Brzezinski play chess at Camp David on Sept. 9, 1978. Photo: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library


June 1, 1941 — Farhud Pogrom Strikes Iraq’s Jews

Two days of anti-Jewish riots break out in Baghdad, Iraq, during the holiday of Shavuot. The violence kills 180 Jews, wounds more than 240 others, destroys 100 Jewish houses and damages more than 500 businesses. The pogrom follows antisemitic incitement by a pro-Nazi government that seized power in April. With bases in Iraq, the British army waits 48 hours to march into Baghdad. A pro-British government soon regains power.

June 2, 1948 — U.S. Recognizes 2-State Reality in U.N. Memo

Less than three weeks after becoming the first country to recognize the State of Israel, the United States delivers a memo to the United Nations to explain its policy in the Middle East. The memo lays out three assumptions: Israel will continue to exist; an Arab state also will exist in Palestine; and it’s in the interest of both sides to have cordial relations. The memo argues that the more support Israel receives, the more its Arab neighbors will accept it.


June 3, 1977 — Carter Counters Resolution 242 Vagueness

President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, delivers a memorandum redefining U.S. positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Brzezinski provides specific interpretations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, the basis of peace efforts since the 1967 war. His call for a Palestinian homeland and Israeli West Bank withdrawal creates friction between Carter and new Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

June 4, 1985 — Supermodel Bar Refaeli Is Born

Bar Refaeli, a model known for her business investments in technology ventures and her romantic life with the likes of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, is born in Hod Hasharon. She has her first modeling jobs as a baby and represents major Israeli clothing brands Castro and Pilpel by age 15. She becomes the face of international companies such as Gap and Samsung and is the first Israeli featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.

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, 1944 — Allied Forces Land at Normandy

U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower orders the largest amphibious assault in history, sending Allied troops onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Despite a determined German defense of fortifications enhanced by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, especially at Omaha Beach, the Allies gain a solid beachhead. Within a week, more than 325,000 troops have come ashore to fight for the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.

June 7, 1981 — Israel Destroys Iraqi Reactor

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.

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