As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
It’s about 6 p.m. on May 14, 1948, and a friend and I are leaving a UNESCO conference in San Francisco to catch the train back to Berkeley.
From the corner of our eyes we catch the newspaper headlines: “U.S. RECOGNIZES ISRAEL” screams the Examiner, in type usually reserved for the latest axe murder or Hollywood divorce.
Israel. We slowly formulate the name on our tongue, roll it around, test its flavor for the first time. We buy up every paper on the newsstand – the San Francisco Chronicle, the News, the Examiner and the Oakland Tribune – an expenditure that would become a daily habit.
Each paper carries the identical releases from the wire services, but there is the hope that an editor or commentator might add a few more words about Israel, fill in background or analyze the situation.
We forget about catching the train and slowly walk down Market Street. The all-night Newsreel Theatre flashes its attractions: LATEST PICTURES FROM PALESTINE – SEE WHY THE JEWS ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR COUNTRY.
The newsreels are quite old, something about the first Jewish settlements in the Negev. We applaud enthusiastically.
In the theater lobby, a Teletype machine spews out the latest news flashes, “In a simple ceremony, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion …”
During the next weeks we become restless. We can’t concentrate on our work, are useless for our studies. When we aren’t squatting beside the radio, we are scanning the latest newspapers. When we aren’t writing letters to the editor, we are cabling our congressman to demand an immediate lifting of the U.S. arms embargo on Israel.
Slowly, at first unconsciously, our attitudes as Jews change.
We have never been ashamed of our Jewishness, but many of us were indifferent to it. Few of us belonged to a Zionist organization. Of course, we applauded the accomplishments of those in Palestine and perhaps gave a little money to help them.
But now we gradually begin to speak of this as our fight, our defense and – perhaps – our future.
I meet the shop foreman from an old summer job. What does he think of the Jews’ fight in Israel? A lifelong anti-Semite, he scratches his head, hesitates and admits reluctantly, “Christ, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
A friend, Jewish and anti-Zionist, assesses the new situation.
“Our people in Palestine have done more to eliminate anti-Semitism in the last six months of fighting than we were able to do in the previous 2,000 years of producing the greatest doctors, the greatest scientists and the greatest philosophers,” he says.
We sadly shake our heads at the immaturity of the human race and tune in to the next radio broadcast. “Forces of the Israeli army have taken enemy positions …”
We walk out of the room, our bodies a little straighter, our chins a few inches higher than before.
About the Author: Tom Tugend is a JTA West Coast correspondent. This article was written in late May 1948, when Tugend, then 22, was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. It was first published in November 1948 in the Soldiers Bulletin, published in Israel for English-speaking volunteers in the War of Independence.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Values at the very heart of the UN are threatened by extremist ideologies targeting our way of life
Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah
Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.
The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.
Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general
Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.
In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.
Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address
Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-it-felt-when-israel-was-born/2008/04/30/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: