Andy Fuller | December 2, 2019
As one soldier put it, “We thought we were writing a new chapter of the Bible.”
It was June 7, 1967 — the midway point of the Six-Day War. Israel Defense Forces were streaming into the Old City, occupying it and swaths of land in the vicinity. When the war was over a few days later, the region settled into a "new normal" which holds more than 50 years later. Much of the tension and the geopolitics of this part of the world is a result of this week in June 1967 when the map shifted, including around a strategic piece of land that had been purchased by the Vatican and leased to the University of Notre Dame for the purpose of building a one-of-a-kind center for Christian theological research and dialogue.
This 36-acre plot of land known as Tantur (from the Arabic word meaning “hilltop”) was under Jordanian sovereignty just 72 hours before Israeli forces entered the Old City. And the Jordanians had enthusiastically approved the Vatican’s project. Now, Tantur was in Israeli occupied territory. If the new realities of the region were to include the dream of Pope Paul VI in the form of this center, it would require some adept shuttle diplomacy from the project’s leader, Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.
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