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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘1948’

Anti-Israeli Hacker Group Claims To Release Details of 26,000 Israeli Credit Cards

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

“Team Poison”, a well-known hacking group, has claimed to have published the details of 26,000 Israeli credit cards on Wednesday night, in yet another skirmish in the ongoing cyber war between pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli hackers.

The group released a statement, which said in part:  “IsraHell has been committing genocide, infanticide, and every day homicide since 1948 and the world and her citizens have been aiding and abetting and financing this! . . . The war has begun”.

Team Poison has infiltrated numerous websites since the group was established in 2009, including that of the United Nations.

Jewish Press Staff

The Conversion Of Benny Morris

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Benny Morris was one of the original, and in some ways the most destructive,
of Israel’s “ New Historians” – Jewish academics who seek to revise history to make it jibe with Arab propaganda. 
Born on an Israeli socialist kibbutz and the son of a diplomat, Morris earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge on Anglo-German relations. He seemed to think this qualified him to be a Middle East historian and Orientalist. 
Morris’s main venture into revisionism came with the publication of his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, published by Cambridge University Press in 1988. It was by and large a retelling of the “Arab narrative” concerning the creation of Palestinian refugees.
The alternative narrative, also known as the truth, is that any Palestinians who became refugees resembled the ethnic German refugees at the end of World War II – people who had supported the losing side in a genocidal war of aggression or who had fled the battle zones of the victorious armies in a war they themselves started.
That book, and a slew of articles expressing a similar theme, made Morris the darling of the campus left in Europe and the U.S.
Leftists loved citing Morris to prove how evil Israel is and was. After all, a tenured Israeli academic was saying so. 
But then something happened. 
Morris suddenly appeared to have second thoughts. He repented, sort of. He repudiated much (but not all) of his earlier anti-Israel radicalism and started espousing pro-Israel views, especially regarding the 1948-9 Israeli war of independence. 
Not everyone is convinced Morris has really wised up. (The scholar Efraim Karsh believes Morris is engaging in pragmatic and cynical posturing; Karsh is particularly critical of Morris’s not having renounced outright his earlier histories of the Palestinian refugee issue).
I too was initially skeptical of Morris’s “conversion,” but I now feel it to be more or less genuine. I think his first public break with the Israel-bashing left took place in Berkeley in the late 1990s, when I happened to be in town. He was invited to speak in a church, and the place was packed with the usual Berkeley jihadists and anti-Zionists, who expected from Morris a characteristic demonization of Israel. Instead, he spent the entire talk explaining that the Middle East conflict – including any “refugee” problem – was the fault of the Arabs.
You can imagine the hysterical reactions in the local Berkeley media. These days the Bay Area has its own specialized anti-Morris hate organizations. 
This is all so amusing. The jihadists love citing Morris’s old writings on how Israel is to blame for “Palestinian suffering” – but refuse to listen when Morris himself repudiates those earlier claims.
Later, Morris would go on to make statements that were unabashedly Zionist. He went so far as to argue that any expulsions by Israel of any Arabs that took place in 1948 were entirely justified. He partly apologized for his early claims about Palestinian refugees, pleading that he had not had access to the right documents when he wrote his early book. Today he is opposed to the so-called two-state solution, arguing that it is not viable. 
As a result of this, Morris has become the Israeli historian leftists and anti-Zionists most love to hate. They have special contempt for him because, after all, he used to be one of them.
When Morris was invited a few months back to speak at Cambridge University, the local Israel haters made a fuss, insisting he be disinvited because he is a “racist.” (Anyone who believes Israel has the right to defend itself is considered a “racist” in such circles.) His talk was cancelled. This is academic freedom in Britain.
More recently, Morris was invited to speak at the London School of Economics, which, despite its name, is an institution chock full of leftists. On his way to the talk Morris was accosted by a mob of local anti-Israel “activists” and radical Islamists. They pushed and cursed him. They had gathered in the area earlier to hand out fliers accusing him of being an “old racist.” 
Morris said he “had the feeling that I was surrounded by Nazis, except that instead of black shirts these were wearing Arab scarves on their heads. They were unambiguously Islamofascists. Some of them screamed in their broken foreign English that the UK should never have allowed me into the country. I am no racist, but that term could be correctly applied to the inciters and critics I ran across at LSE.”
Once he reached the hall the lecture proceeded, under heavy security and with police guards, with 300-400 students present.
The Jewish Chronicle, the main Jewish weekly in the UK, described how the LSE mob kept attacking Morris as a “racist” and a “social darwinist” and how Morris held his own and made monkeys of those attempting to discredit him during the lecture. In particular, he silenced the trolls by documenting the fact that there was no Israeli policy in 1948-9 to expel Palestinian Arabs.
What does the one-time Post-Zionist “New Historian” Morris make of nearly being lynched for his pro-Israel views?
I would like to think he is rededicating himself to expunging every last vestige of his old mindset and doing further research to promote the truth – or what some pseudo-academics prefer to call the “Zionist narrative.”

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com.He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Steven Plaut

Why There Cannot Be A ‘Two-State’ Solution In The Middle East

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

             Mr. President, the “Two-State” approach to peace between Israel and Palestine, strongly reaffirmed in your recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, accepts the position of an Israeli occupation. Yet even the most cursory look at pertinent world history would reveal several compelling reasons to reject any such position. Organized Arab terrorism against Israel began on the very first hour of Israel’s independence, in May 1948. Indeed, virulent anti-Jewish terrorism in the British Mandate period had even taken place many years before Israel’s statehood.

            What about the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)?  It was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came to control the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza. Mr. President, what was the PLO planning to “liberate” between 1964 and 1967? The answer, of course, must be all of Israel within the green armistice lines of 1949. These are precisely the 1967-borders that you have recently identified as the appropriate starting point for current peace negotiations.
            What should we now know about the PLO? Significantly, it was declared a terrorist organization in a number of U.S. federal court decisions, including Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).
             More than five years ago, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, seeking peace with the always-recalcitrant Palestinians, forcibly expelled over 10,000 Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria. Immediately, Hamas transformed these areas from productive growing and living areas to terrorist rocket launching sites. Today, in obvious synergy with a new regime in Cairo – a military governing council soon to be intimate with powerful elements of the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s newly reopened Rafah border is creating an unobstructed terrorist path directly into Israel.
            Mr. President, why aren’t the Palestinians reasonably expected to cease deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being admitted into the community of nations?  Isn’t it already clear that they seek something other than an “end to occupation?” Isn’t it already very likely that both Fatah and Hamasstill regard all of Israel as “occupied” territory? After all, their official maps, long familiar in Washington, still include all of Israel as part of Palestine.
             Mr. President, without an alleged occupation, there could remain no possible legal or moral justification for Palestinian policies of relentless terror.  Nonetheless, the fact that occupation is a contrived legal fiction has had little or no impact upon your own administration’s position on Palestinian statehood.  Nor, somehow, has it occurred to your administration that both Hamas and Fatah still find their common ideological mentors in Hitler and Goebbels, two figures for whom the prospective rulers of a nascent Palestine are ardent objects of unhidden admiration.
             Mr. President, at its core, your policy toward Israel and Palestine reveals certain incremental bewitchments of language. Over the years, Arab patience in building an expanding Palestinian state upon mountains of Israeli corpses has drawn systematically upon achieving prior linguistic victory.  However untrue, the ritualistic canard of an Israeli occupation has been repeated so often that it is now generally taken as irrefutable fact.
             Mr. President, why is it simply disregarded that Israeli occupation followed the multi-state Arab aggression of 1967?  Egypt, Syria and Jordan (now in the throes of a so-called “Arab Spring”) have never even denied this aggression. And who bothers to recall that these very same Arab states were also the principal aggressors in the explicitly genocidal Arab attacks that began on May 15, 1948, literally moments after the new Jewish state’s UN-backed declaration of independent statehood?
            Mr. President, please recall that a sovereign state of Palestine did not exist before 1967, or before 1948.  Nor did UN Security Council Resolution 242 ever promise a state of Palestine. A state of Palestine has never existed. Never.
            Even as a nonstate legal entity, Palestine ceased to exist in 1948, when Great Britain relinquished its League of Nations mandate.  During the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence, West Bank and Gaza came under the illegal control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. These Arab conquests did not put an end to an already-existing state or to an ongoing trust territory. What these Arab aggressions did accomplish was the intentional prevention of any Arab state of Palestine. 
              From the Biblical Period (ca. 1350 BCE to 586 BCE) to the British Mandate (1918 – 1948), the land named vengefully by the Romans after the ancient Philistines was controlled only by non-Palestinian elements.  A continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I. At the San Remo Peace Conference in April 1920, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over Palestine. This authority was based on the expectation that Britain would prepare the area to become the “national home for the Jewish People.” Previously, since 1516, the Ottoman Turks had ruled the area cruelly, as an undesirable provincial backwater.
             Palestine, according to the Treaty, comprised territories encompassing what are now the states of Jordan and Israel, including West Bank and Gaza.  Present day Israel, Mr. President, comprises only twenty-two percent of Palestine as defined and ratified at the San Remo Peace Conference.
            In 1922, Great Britain, unilaterally and without any lawful authority, split off seventy-eight percent of the lands promised to the Jews, all of  Palestine east of the Jordan River, and gave it to Abdullah, the non-Palestinian son of the Sharif of Mecca.  Eastern Palestine now took the name “Transjordan,” which it retained until April 1949, when it was renamed as Jordan.  From the moment of its creation, Transjordan was closed to all Jewish migration and settlement, a clear betrayal of the British promise in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and a patent contravention of its Mandatory obligations under international law.
             On July 20, 1951, a Palestinian Arab assassinated King Abdullah in reprisal for the latter’s hostility to Palestinian aspirations and concerns. Regarding these aspirations, Jordan’s “moderate” King Hussein, nineteen years later, during September 1970, murdered thousands of defenseless Palestinians under his jurisdiction.
            In 1947, several years prior to Abdullah’s killing, the newly formed United Nations, rather than designate the entire land west of the Jordan River as the long-promised Jewish national homeland, enacted a second partition. Ironically, because this second fission again gave complete advantage to Arab interests, Jewish leaders reluctantly accepted the painful and unjust division. The Arab states did not.  On May 15, 1948, exactly twenty-four hours after the State of Israel came into existence, Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, declared to a tiny new country founded upon the still-glowing ashes of Holocaust:  This will be a war of extermination, and a momentous massacre.” 
            This declaration has been at the very heart of all subsequent Arab/Islamist (now including Iranian) orientations toward Israel, including those of “moderate” and U.S.-supported Fatah. Even by the strict legal standards of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Arab actions and attitudes toward the microscopic Jewish state in their midst have remained authentically genocidal. Jurisprudentially, what they have in mind for Israel is formally called crimes against humanity.
            In 1967, the Jewish state, as a result of its unexpected military victory over Arab aggressor states, gained unintended control over West Bank and Gaza.  Although the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war is codified in the UN Charter, there still existed no authoritative sovereign to whom the Territories could possibly be returned.  Israel could hardly have been expected to transfer them back to Jordan and Egypt, which had exercised unauthorized and terribly harsh control since the Arab-initiated war of extermination in 1948-49.  Moreover, the idea of Palestinian “self-determination” had only just begun to emerge after the Six Day War; it had not even been included in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was adopted on November 22, 1967.
             The Arab states convened a summit in Khartoum in August 1967, concluding:  “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it….” The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had been formed three years earlier, in 1964, before there were any “Israeli Occupied Territories.”
             Mr. President, your proposed “Two-State Solution” derives from a historical and conceptual misunderstanding of Israel and Palestine. Even if Prime Minister Netanyahu were to agree to a complete cessation of all so-called Jewish settlement activity, no quid pro quo of any kind would be forthcoming from any quarter of the Arab/Islamic world.
             For Israel, any Two-State Solution would conclusively codify another Final Solution.


LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with military affairs and international law. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Louis Rene Beres

1948 and the Triumph Of the Naysayers

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

In 1939, when Reb Sholom Halberstam, brother-in-law of the saintly Bobover Rebbe Shlomo Halberstam, and some other Jews were fleeing from the approaching German armies, they came to a Polish town where the sexton of the synagogue, upon hearing their story, told them to stop running because the arrival of the Messiah was imminent.

To prove it, he took out the book of Daniel and showed them the commentary by Yosef Ben David Ibn Yachya (1494-1534) on Daniel chapter 8, verse 14.

As the Ibn Yachya interpreted Daniel’s vision, the end of the Jews’ exile would come in the Jewish year 5700 – or 1940 C.E. – plus or minus a few years. Coming from the Ibn Yachya, a recognized Torah scholar and contemporary of the Bais Yosef and the Abarbanel, this cannot be taken lightly.

Here is the fateful prophecy of Daniel, according to the Ibn Yachya:

At the end of 5,700 [years] since creation, approximately, a little earlier or a little later, will come the end of the galut with the help of Hashem. [This is so] in order that the Bnei Yisrael should be able to sit securely on their land in the 300 years that will be left before the world will be destroyed as our sages tell us.

What major event took place in 1940, plus or minus a few years? Is it possible the Ibn Yachya was referring to what happened in 1948? Could it be that, according to the Ibn Yachya, Daniel was predicting the creation of Medinat Yisrael?

Maybe we can garner some insight into what the Ibn Yachya was saying by taking a look at his introduction to this prediction. He writes: “The pekida [a glimpse of how the final Redemption will unfold, based on God’s assessment of whether a generation merits it] in the days of King Koresh [on whose orders the Second Temple was built] was incomplete, and it was in accordance with their not being ready to accept it. [It was incomplete] because the gedolim [the elite, the leaders] did not want to leave the exile. Only the reikim [those devoid of Torah, the uneducated, the uncommitted] went up with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.”

Why does the Ibn Yachya tell us what happened during the time of the Second Temple? Why does he elaborate on the refusal of the Jews to leave the galut? Why is this relevant to his prediction of the end of our exile?

Scholars of the Ibn Yachya’s stature (Reb Yosef Karo personally handled his burial) did not utter words lightly. So we have to treat his words like that of a rishon (a member of the first generation of Torah scholars after the gaonic period).

Perhaps the Ibn Yachya posited the Second Temple scenario as one we should not follow. What he seems to be saying is, Let us not repeat the same mistake the Jews committed during the time of Ezra. Let us not have a repetition of only “reikim” going up to Eretz Yisrael and the “gedolim” remaining behind. Let us not have a repetition of an incomplete pekida. (Only 42,360 Jews followed Ezra to Eretz Yisrael, according to Nehemiah 7:66.)

It seems clear the Ibn Yachya was telling us that the Prophet Daniel foresaw a pekida that would occur in or close to 1948. But he also foresaw the non-response, the apathy – even hostility – on the part of some of our leaders to the pekida. Daniel foresaw that just as in the time of Ezra, only the reikim would respond to the 1948 pekida.

I urge all Jews (especially bnei Torah) to look up for themselves the Ibn Yachya’s uplifting and prophetic words. They can be found in the book of Daniel (8:14) in the Orim Gedolim edition of Mikraot Gedolot.

It should be noted that there have been numerous prophecies made about the end of the exile – by, among many others, the Ramban, Saadya Gaon, Abarbanel, Ralbag (footnotes to Igeres Teiman by Rambam), Malbim, and the Rebbe of Komarna – but, unfortunately, none materialized. None, that is, except for the prophecy of Ibn Yachya.

* * * * *


A brief review of recent history would help at this point.

As early as the 1890s, the Chofetz Chaim, according to his son, Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaCohen Poupko, felt the time was “that of the footsteps of the Messiah, and that Jews should prepare to return to the Land of Israel and reinstitute the study of those Torah subjects particularly applicable to life in the Land of Israel.”

And while the Chofetz Chaim thought the Balfour Declaration of 1917 did not go far enough, he viewed it, wrote his son, as “a heavenly sign regarding the forthcoming redemption of Israel.”

A generation later, the initial response to the 1948 pekida was overwhelmingly positive in Torah circles.

My menahel at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, the great Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, burst out in song and dance when he heard of the UN’s decision to establish a Jewish state.

One of his closest disciples told me that Reb Shraga Feivel made a Shehechyanu with the full name of Hashem (b’shem umalchus) when Israel was created. Unfortunately, Reb Shraga Feivel passed away prematurely. I am convinced that had he been blessed with additional years, he would have fought with all his might not to squander the 1948 pekida.

My rebbe in Torah Vodaath, Rav Gedalia Schorr, upon hearing the news of Israel’s birth, called an assembly of all the students and forthrightly stated that we were in the time of the aschalta d’geulah (beginning of the Redemption).

My rosh yeshiva, the beloved Torah authority Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, also viewed the 1948 pekida in positive terms. He writes in his Emes L’Yaakov (3rd edition) that “Hashem orchestrated the establishment of the State of Israel – in view of the enormous despair that set in among the survivors of the Shoah and in view of the hopeless situation of Russian Jewry – in order to strengthen the Jewish identity and to maintain the bond between the diaspora and the Jewish people.”

Reb Zalman Sorotzkin saw the establishment of the state as a beginning of the Redemption. In the introduction to his Oznaim LaTorah, he thanks Hashem for saving him and his family from the ravages of the Holocaust and for granting them the great zechus to come to Eretz Yisrael to witness the “beginning of the rebuilding of the land and, hopefully, to witness its completion.”

There were many other Torah scholars who responded positively to the 1948 pekida. To mention just a few:

Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch, rosh yeshiva of Telz, played a leading role in Agudath Israel of America and was a member of the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah. He actively supported the State of Israel and was enthralled by the ingathering of the exiles and the great expansion of Torah in Eretz Yisrael made possible by its founding.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, author of Michtav M’Eliyahu, writing about the 1948 pekida, declared that “we see an immense act of kindness of Hashem; from the loss of six million of our brothers, to the settlement of our people in our holy land. Woe…to those who will come to the Day of Judgment while remaining blind to this reality.”

Reb Yizchok Meir Levin, member of the Agudah World Presidium and son-in-law of the Gerer Rebbe, responded positively to the 1948 pekida by actively supporting the state. A signatory to Israel’s Declaration of Independence, he was elected to the first Knesset and was minister of social welfare in the first Israeli government.

The three Vizhnitzer rebbes who survived the Holocaust all settled in Israel. They refused even to consider the possibility of living outside the Jewish homeland. Leaders of many other chassidic dynasties moved to the new state, fulfilling their lifelong dreams. The rebbes of Sochotchov and Mozhidz were openly sympathetic to the medina. The rebbes of Ger were outspoken advocates of settling the land.

* * * * *


So what happened to all the enthusiasm, the widespread and emotional outpouring of support, for the newborn Jewish state?

Unfortunately, there were many naysayers. Their voices drowned out the kol demamah daka, the hushed heavenly voices, of the Reb Mendlowitzes, the Rav Schorrs, the Rav Desslers, the Rav Kaminetzkys, the Rav Blochs, the Rav Levins, the Rav Sorotzkins. Eventually, the joyful reaction to the 1948 pekida was snuffed out by the naysayers’ juggernaut.

The naysayers were, to quote Rav Dessler, “blind to this reality” of the 1948 pekida. They were blind to the vision of those gedolim who looked beyond the four cubits of their galut and preferred to live in a reborn Eretz Yisrael – the only land where, according the Ramban, Torah can be observed fully and properly.

The naysayers were blind to the miraculous phenomenon of the ingathering of the exiles.

For centuries Jews had been praying three times every day: “Raise the banner to gather our exiles from the four corners of the earth to our land.” After the 1948 pekida, this prayer was answered on an almost daily basis as hundreds of thousands of Jews from every point on the globe streamed home.

The naysayers were blind to the Ramban (commentary on Song of Songs, 8:13); to the Radak (Psalms 146:3); and to the Vilna Gaon (Kol Hator 1:3), all of whom said the redemption would come with the permission of the nations of the world. The historic decision by the United Nations in November 1947 was, of course, followed five months later by the 1948 pekida – the birth of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

The naysayers were also blind to the emergence of the phenomenon called the ba’al teshuvah movement and the catalytic role played by the emergence of the State of Israel. When in recent times had there been such an eruption of teshuvah, of returning to Jewish roots, as occurred in the years following the 1948 pekida?

And the naysayers were blind and oblivious to the enormous explosion of Torah study, Torah research, and Torah institutions brought about by the 1948 pekida. Behold the unbelievable spread of Torah learning in Israel: the multiplicity of Torah publications and Torah publishing houses; the plethora of yeshivot; the profusion of kollelim and seminaries; the myriad of chesed institutions.

This “irreligious state” the naysayers complain about is the prime repository of Torah knowledge in the world today and is home to the greatest assemblage of Torah giants on earth, whose opinions are accepted by Jews worldwide.

There has not been so much Torah in Eretz Yisrael since the destruction of the Second Temple, but the naysayers remain in total denial.

* * * * *


A simple question to the naysayers: Is the modern State of Israel any less religious than those states that existed in the days of Achav or Menashe or Yerovom ben Nevot? To put the question in more sweeping terms, is the modern State of Israel any less religious than were the Jewish states under most of the kings of Israel and Judah? The Gemara (Sanhedrin 102, 2) says that during the reign of King Achav there wasn’t a single lawn in all of Israel that did not have an idol on it. And yet his armies were victorious in battle.

And let’s not mince words: Is it not primarily the fault of we ourselves – we frum Jews – that the government of Israel is not religious? Was there ever a mass frum aliya to Eretz Yisrael? Did we answer the call in the state’s formative years, after Europe had slaughtered Jews in the millions and vomited out those who survived, and when the gates of Israel were wide open and the land was crying out for its children to come home? To ask the question is to answer it.

What about prior to World War II, in the twenties and thirties? Or before that? We know quite well who answered the call of the land as it roused itself from its 2,000-year slumber: Hashomer Hatzair and Gordonia, socialists and communists, agnostics and atheists. They were the Jews who answered the call. We did not. Perhaps we had valid reasons, or reasons that seemed valid at the time, but that doesn’t change the facts on the ground. We are in the minority, and to the victor belong the spoils.

Secular and left-oriented political parties have never forced their way into the Knesset or the government. They were voted in. They had their supporters. We did not.

This was the situation we found ourselves in at the time of the 1948 pekida: Hashem was entreating, beseeching and cajoling us to enter His abode. The gates of Eretz Yisrael were wide open. (Was it mere coincidence that the first Jewish state in two millennia came into being at about the same time air travel was becoming faster, safer, and more convenient?)

The motherland was crying out for her children to return home: “Come live in our beautiful land. Come see with your own eyes the great potential for Torah and mitzvot. Come out from among your persecutors and killers. Come take part in rebuilding the palace of the King.”

What was our answer? Just as in the days of Ezra – and exactly as the Ibn Yachya warned us against – our answer was a shrug of the shoulders or, worse, a denial that God had anything to do with the return of Jewish sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael for the first time in 2,000 years.

If Torah has flourished in Israel to the extent it has, just imagine what would be if hundreds of thousands more Orthodox Jews had gone home after the founding of the state.

Again quoting Rav Dessler: “Woe…to those who will come to the Day of Judgment while remaining blind to this reality” of Israel.

Bezalel Fixler, a survivor of the Transnistria death camp and a musmach of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, is a writer whose work appears in Dos Yiddishe Vort, The Algemeiner Journal, and The Jewish Press.

Betzalel Fixler

Ball Fields And Battlefields, 1948

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

      The year was1948 and a great baseball season was unfolding. In the American League, Joe DiMaggio was on his way to a league-leading 39 home runs and 155 RBIs, while Ted Williams would win the batting title with a .369 average.


      In the National League, Stan Musial would come close to winning the Triple Crown. He led in average (.376) and RBIs (131) but would finish one shy of the 40 home runs posted by Ralph Kiner and Johnny Mize.


      But at this time 60 years ago, Jewish baseball fans were watching the front page more than the sports page. Newspapers in major league cities told of the end of British rule in Palestine, and of Jews around the world celebrating as the State of Israel was proclaimed.


      In my hometown of Motown, an estimated 22,000 people gathered on May 16, 1948, at an athletic field of a Detroit public school about three blocks from where my family lived at the time. Older yeshiva students walked to the site while I obediently piled into the yeshiva bus along with the younger kids.


      Skywriters outlined the Star of David in white against the blue sky. Hundreds upon hundreds of blue and white flags with the Star of David in the center fluttered gently. I remember shofars blowing and animated dancing, but was really too young to realize the scope of the occasion and wanted the people off the field quickly so our class could play baseball.


      For those old enough to follow events through the newspapers, Detroit Free Press staff writer Sam Petok opened his article with the following:


       A mournful bray of resolution from Detroit’s Jewry was sounded Sunday and hurled across the seas to the bloodstained soil of a newborn state.


       The Shofar, the ram’s horn blown only at sacred holidays, sent its sonorous notes floating into the cloud-flecked skies.


       In a hushed moment, 2,000 years of wanderings through the world, of being pilloried, of turning the cheek and of national ignominy flashed through the minds of the throng.


       Israel, the Jewish state, had been proclaimed.


      A front-page story byWallace R. Duell in the Detroit News provided a sobering reminder of what was ahead:


       After almost 2,000 years of aspiration and striving, the new state was being prematurely born. It was not ready for life. Its contours were not yet complete as they had been hoped for and designed. Its organs were not yet fully functioning. Yet it must spring to arms, in the very moment of its birth, for the millions of surrounding Arabs were implacable and would destroy it if they could.


       The new Israel was a cartographer’s – and a defending general staff’s – nightmare. It was three almost entirely separate territories, rather than one each touching only one of the others and only at one small point: a narrow coastal strip; a wedge inland in the north at the Sea of Galilee; and a rough triangular shard of a piece of desert in the south pointing to Akaba.


       Immediately at hand were the more than 30 million Arabs of seven adjacent states.


      While the defenders of the Jewish state fought on, the 1948 baseball season in the United States saw the midseason debut of Negro League superstar Satchel Paige at the age of 42 with the Cleveland Indians. In August, Babe Ruth died at age 53.


      As the baseball season wound down, fans of New York teams gave up hope that one of their teams would be in the World Series. The Boston Braves wrapped up the National League pennant by six and a half games over the St. Louis Cardinals, while Brooklyn finished third and the New York Giants came in a distant fifth.


      In the American League, the Yankees won 94 games but the Red Sox and Indians finished tied for first with 96 victories, forcing a one-game playoff at Boston’s Fenway Park.


      Beantown fans were rooting for a Red Sox victory, which would mean the World Series sites would only be blocks apart. Many Braves players were secretly hoping the Indians would win, as the capacity of Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium was more than twice that of Fenway Park – and more seats meant more ticket sales translating into higher World Series shares for players.


      Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau, who also was the Indians’ regular shortstop, would be named the American League’s Most Valuable Player based on his .355 batting average, 18 home runs and 106 RBIs. Boudreau’s two home runs in the playoff game helped defeat the Red Sox.


      Johnny Sain, who led the majors with 24 wins, beat Bob Feller 1-0 in the Series opener. Game 5 at Cleveland’s huge stadium drew a then-record attendance of 86,288. The Indians took the Series four games to two. Jewish rookie Al Rosen shared in the excitement but was hitless in his one Series appearance as a pinch-hitter. Jewish superstar Hank Greenberg, who had retired in 1947 with a .313 career average, was in his first year as an executive with the Cleveland Indians.


      Each winning player’s share was $6,772 while the losers pocketed $4,571. Now, of course, most players earn more than that for each regular season at-bat. Our national pastime has exploded since Israel fought for its independence. Unfortunately, so has the national pastime in Arab countries – hating Jews and developing ways to destroy Israel.


*     *     *


      Last month I gave my pennant predictions. My choices to top their divisions in the National League were the Mets, Cubs and Diamondbacks. My wild card pick (the team with the best record other than those topping their divisions) was the Braves.


      In the American League, I picked the Yankees, Tigers and Mariners to top their divisions and the Red Sox for the wild card. Of course, I can’t predict the future any better than you can, but I base my predictions on the many hours I spend watching baseball along with the knowledge that a season is full of ups and downs.


      I see the Mets and Tigers getting hot in the latter stages of the playoffs and advancing to the World Series. The Tigers have a better lineup and would outpace the Mets over the long daily grind of a season with few days off. In a World Series, however, with an off day after the first two games and another after the fifth game, a team only needs three starting pitchers and the Mets will defeat the Tigers in a thrilling seven-game Series.


      Chaim Shapiro, a red-hot Cubs fan who grew up in Chicago and is now living in New York, would disagree. Chaim, a knowledgeable guy who reads The Jewish Press, estimates he’s seen more than a thousand games at Wrigley Field and avidly watches the Cubs from New York through MLB.com.


      Chaim says this is the year the Cubs will be in the World Series because they have a good team – not because it’s exactly a hundred years since they won a Series. By the way, the team the Cubs beat in 1908 was Ty Cobb’s Tigers.



      Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring working as a department head in a major league front office. His Baseball Insider column appears the second week of each month in The Jewish Press. Cohen, president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Irwin Cohen

Happy New Year …Trees!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

Until Jews began to return to Eretz Israel in 1948, noone thought of them as farmers. For nearly 2,000 years, we had been dispersed throughout the world, and in many places were not permitted to own land or engage in agriculture. But in ancient Palestine, we were an agricultural people. We treasured the olive tree, the grape vine and the date palm. The Bible encouraged us to plant “all manner of trees” and forbade the destruction of trees of a conquered land.

On the first day of the seventh month, Rosh Hashanah we are judged and our fate for the coming year is inscribed in the Book of Life. So we are taught that trees are similarly judged on the New Year of the trees, which occurs on 15th day of Shevat (this year February 13), called Tu b’Shevat, considered the first day of spring in Israel.

This semi-holiday has always been associated with tree planting. In ancient times, one planted a tree at the birth of a child cedar for a boy; cypress for a girl. Special care was given to these trees on Tu bShevat, and when the children married, branches of their own trees were cut for the chupah (wedding canopy).

It is said that on 15th day of Shevat, the sap begins to rise in the fruit trees in Israel. So we partake of the fruits of the Land  apples, almonds, carobs, figs, nuts, dates and pomegranates. The pious among us stay up very late on the eve of the holiday reciting passages from the Bible that deal with trees and the fertility of the earth. We read the

story of how trees and plants were created (Gen. 1:11-13); the Divine promise of abundance as a reward for keeping the Commandments (Lev. 26: 3-18; Deut. 8:10-13) and the parable of the spreading vine, which symbolizes the people of Israel (Ezek. 17).

Sephardic Jews have their own special manual entitled “The Fruit of the Goodly Tree.” It was first published in the Judeo-Spanish language,  Ladino, in Salonica, composed  by Judah Kala’i. Each verse is recited as the relevant fruits are eaten, and some of the verses translate as follows:

“G-d increase our worldly goods,
And guard us soon and late,
And multiply our bliss like seeds
For our Redeemer do we wait
All the long night through,
To bring a dawn as roseate
As the APPLE’s hue.

Sin, like a stubborn shell and hard
Is wrapped around our soul;
Lord, break the husk and let the NUT
Come out whole.


Each of the fruits has its own symbolic meaning. The rosy apple stands for G-d’s glowing splendor; thenut represents the three kinds of Jews  hard, medium and soft. The almond stands for swift divine retribution, for it blossoms more quickly than other trees. The fig means peace and prosperity, and the humble carob stands for humility, a necessary element of penitence.

No religion has closer ties to agriculture and ecology than Judaism. In fact, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai once declared: “If you hold a sapling in your hand and hear that the Messiah has arrived, plant the sapling first and only then go and greet the Messiah.”

Dvora Waysman is an Australian-born writer living in Jerusalem. She is the author of nine books, including Woman of Jerusalem; The Pomegranat Pendant and Esther. She can be reached at ways@netvision.net.ilor.  Her website is: www.dvorawaysman.com

Dvora Waysman

Lying About Deir Yassin

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

April 9 marked the 57th anniversary of events that took place in the Arab village of Deir Yassin in 1948.

In recent years, Deir Yassin has been converted into a bludgeon by far leftists, neo-Nazis, and Israel-bashers in general. It is recited endlessly by the very same people who have nothing to say against a century of countless massacres of Jewish civilians by Arabs.

Deir Yassin was a not-at-all innocent Arab village sitting on the only road into Jerusalem in 1948. The previous December, the UN had voted to partition what was left of Mandatory Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, of approximately equal sizes. The Jews of Israel accepted the plan, while the Arab states and the Palestinian Arab leadership rejected it. Had they accepted it, a Palestinian state would have arisen peacefully in 1948.

In response to the UN resolution, Arabs launched attacks against Jews everywhere in the country and in particular placed the city of Jerusalem under siege. The Jewish population of Jerusalem was quite literally starving. The only road into the city passed through Deir Yassin, and the Arab militiamen in the town were stopping all convoys from passing through.

Since Israel had yet to be formally proclaimed as an independent state, the only Jews doing the fighting were members of three sparsely armed militias. The main one was the Haganah, commanded by David Ben Gurion and his socialist Zionists. There were two smaller ones operating independently under the command of the dissident “revisionist Zionist” movement, Etsel and Lehi.

Poorly trained irregulars of the two latter militias were ordered to attack Deir Yassin to relieve the siege. They did so in ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, in which some Deir Yassin villagers were killed. The Bash Israel lobby has always maintained that the villagers were massacred in cold blood. Their evidence is that they do not like Jews.

Those who participated in the battle claim the villagers were killed when the Jewish militiamen fired into homes from which fire was directed at them. The village was successfully taken and the siege of Jerusalem was lifted. Large numbers of Jewish militiamen had been killed in the house-to-house battle. Approximately 100 Arabs in the village died, though the number was later greatly inflated by anti-Jewish propagandists to 250.

Part of the problem was that the mainstream socialist Zionist parties themselves magnified the alleged misbehavior of the two opposition militias in order to discredit them in the coming political contest for control of the emerging Jewish state. This trend has been echoed in recent years, and Deir Yassin has become the massacre of choice for anti-Semites trying to portray the Jews as bloodthirsty barbarians. In part they have based their claims on a document by a Haganah officer, one Meir Peil, who was not present at the battle but surveyed the village after the fighting was finished. Peil said he thought there had been looting and intentional killing of some villagers – but he was an eyewitness of nothing.

Peil is a radical leftist. That’s his prerogative, of course, but he’s not exactly a neutral source. Other, less politicized, sources tell a different tale. Even some Arab sources confirm that no massacre took place in Deir Yassin.

A few years back the Zionist Organization of America issued a study titled “Deir Yassin: History of a Lie,” a 32-page analysis (with 156 footnotes) by ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. (For a free copy, call (212) 481-1500.)

Among other things, the ZOA study shows that the original claim of 254 dead was not based on any actual body count. The number was invented by Mordechai Ra’anan, leader of the Jewish soldiers who fought in Deir Yassin. He later admitted that the figure was a deliberate exaggeration in order to undermine the morale of the Arab forces that had launched a war against the Jews in Mandatory Palestine to prevent the establishment of Israel. Other eyewitnesses to the battle estimated that about 100 Arabs had died.

Despite Ra’anan’s admission, the figure 254 was circulated by Palestinian Arab leader Hussein Khalidi. His claims about Deir Yassin were the basis for an article in The New York Times claiming a massacre had taken place – an article that has since been widely reprinted and cited as “proof” of the massacre.

Meanwhile, there have been numerous exposes of the lies that have been invented surrounding the battle for Deir Yassin, and these have largely discredited Peil’s report.

It so happens that a massacre did take place – but it followed the events in Deir Yassin, which occurred on Friday morning April 9, 1948. On the following Monday morning, an Arab mob, chanting “Deir Yassin,” massacred a bus convoy of Jewish doctors and nurses headed to Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. Seventy-eight of Hadassah’s medical personnel were killed in cold blood.

(Only recently was it revealed that some of the Hadassah nurses had found refuge in the nearby compound of the British consul, only to be turned over to Arabs by the Brits. The Arabs proceeded to slaughter them in revenge for what they thought had occurred at Deir Yassin.

Both sides used the cry of “Remember Deir Yassin” during the 1948 war. There were Jews who intimidated Arabs with the slogan and there were Arab commanders who rallied their populace with the same adage. But the symbolism of Deir Yassin as myth and legacy has been actively nurtured these past 57 years by the UN’s decision to confine more than three million Palestinian Arabs to refugee camps, under the premise and promise of a “right of return” to Arab villages that no longer exist.

In recent years pro-Arab propagandists in the U.S. have stared holding annual memorials for the “victims” of the alleged Deir Yassin massacre. The group is comprised of people who have never denounced Arab mass massacres of Jewish children – massacres committed not by poorly trained irregulars in the heat of a crucial battle, but by Islamofascist terrorists awash in money and under the direct personal command and control of the heads of the PLO.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Yahoo.com He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com.

Steven Plaut

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