(Editor’s Note: Retro News is a new column that will appear every week this year as part of the celebration of the Chronicle’s 50th anniversary. Each week, Retro News will look at a past issue of the Chronicle, encapsulate the news reported that week and comment on how those items pertain to today’s Jewish Pittsburgh.)
The Six-Day War was still on when Jewish Pittsburgh learned that Chronicle Executive Editor Albert W. Bloom was in the country and reporting on the quick conflict.
In a front-page column — the front page was completely devoted that week to war coverage — Bloom chose to focus on the effects of the war rather than give a straight blow-by-blow of the struggle between Israel and her enemies.
“The biggest battles are yet to come,” he wrote, “and they will be fought on a different terrain and will demand different strategies and different tactics.
“They are the political battles, and they have political overtones,” he continued. “Now is the time to begin thinking about the battle to come — that is, the struggle to maintain and insure that Egypt, or any group of Arab countries in league with Egypt, will never again conspire to undermine the foundations of Israel reborn.”
Bloom’s words were almost prophetic. Though short on details, he accurately predicted that the Six-Day War (it wasn’t called the Six-Day War in print just yet; that moniker would come later) would sew the seeds of future military and political conflicts, most notably the settlements that grew up in the captured West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights; the birth of Hamas, suicide bombers and the Security barrier to keep them out of Israel. All these issues, and many others, had their genesis in the Six-Day War.
Bloom also wrote more detailed stories on the war effort, published inside the paper. Before embedded reporters were made popular by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bloom spent time in the Negev Desert with the IDF’s armored corps and met with its commanders. Though his writing was far from straight news reporting, Bloom captured the flavor of the moment, quoting the officers and noncommissioned officers extensively, and giving Pittsburgh readers a perspective on the war they might otherwise have missed through the general media.
Also on the front page that week, the Chronicle reported that Jewish Pittsburgh had raised more than $500,000 within the first 12 hours after an emergency fund was established. It reported that one man stopped by the United Jewish Federation office to drop off a check for $1,000 and one anonymous giver contributed $100,000. The story credited Alvin Rogal, Donald Robinson, Leonard Rudolph and Saul Shapira for leading the drive.
The Chronicle devoted its staff editorial that week to the passing of Abe Banchek, 63, past leader in the Zionist Organization of America and the Pittsburgh Zionist District. Banchek, the editorial reported, “indefatigable Pittsburgh leader and ardent Zionist, no longer is among us to consult that little calendar book that sometimes listed as many four community service meetings in one night.” The piece went on to say Banchek’s experience as a public accountant and businessman made him an expert in analyzing the budgets of the city’s social welfare agencies.
Also that week, the paper carried a collection of excerpts from Israeli newspaper editorials — all pertaining to the war.
In one excerpt, from Davar, the writer predicted, “What began as a demonstrative move for political purposes may develop into a military clash, the dimensions of which no one can foretell.”
On the community scene, the Chronicle reported that Charles J. Linder was installed for a second year as chair of the Western Region of the BBYO Board of Directors … Rabbi Bernard A. Poupko of Shaare Torah Congregation would be the guest speaker at the annual RZA Dinner at Hillel Academy … Mrs. Leonard Shapiro took over as chair of the Women’s Activities Committee of the Y-IKC … and Harold Bigler was elected president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
— Compiled by Lee Chottiner
(For a more comprehensive look at the June 9, 1967, Chronicle, visit the jewishchronicle.net and click on “archives” at the top of the page. Back issues of the Chronicle are archived by the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project.)