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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Six Day War’

Israel’s Heroism of Survival

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Israel’s military victories were never the results of an inspired military or political leadership. While the anniversary of the Six-Day War has led to an outpouring of adoration for the usual suspects: the khaki-garbed generals striding victoriously through a carefully cropped photo, even if one of them had come down with a nervous breakdown not long before. Israeli generals have never been geniuses, the best-known ones have carried their own press releases into battle, and have walked a fine line between daring and criminal incompetence. Their victories were won for them by the men in the field, who survived to carry out their operations.

If Israeli generals are overrated, then Israeli governments are far worse, and, considering the number of generals who have played a role in politics, the confluence of the two conditions is not surprising. Israeli governments have, for the most part, been timid, cowardly and incompetent (Which is to say that they were, for the most part, a lot like the governments of the rest of the West).

The victories of the Six-Day War have for the most part been traded away by a succession of Prime Ministers in exchange for the promise of a peace that has yet to materialize. It is a miracle, nearly as great a miracle as the victory itself, that they were not actually traded away a week afterward.

The only political obstacle to the destruction of Israel by its politicians, has been the unwillingness of its enemies to accept its surrender. Western powers have repeatedly badgered Israeli leaders into giving up the store, only for Muslim leaders to turn up their noses and demand everything.

Israel’s greatest strategic defeat did not happen in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, a war in which Israeli leaders, in conjunction with pressure from Washington D.C., crippled the military so badly that Israel was nearly destroyed. It happened in 1991, when Washington D.C. and Israeli Labor politicians finally talked Yasser Arafat into accepting Israel’s surrender, while lying to the Israeli people about the terms of that surrender.

The Israeli fighting man was able to brave the largest tank battles in history, but his leaders could not manage to hang on to the country’s national rights after the dead were buried and the wounded went home. No sooner do Israeli soldiers win a victory than their leaders rush to snatch it away from them and give it back, out of fear of what the world will think.

If Israel has a vital and active settlement movement, it is because Israelis know that their own leaders cannot be counted on to secure their rights. A Muslim in Israel has the same special privileges that a Muslim in Europe or a Muslim in America has. Any claim he makes is automatically treated as fact by the media, academia and the judiciary.

That is the situation locally in every country, and it is the situation globally. It is the situation in Israel, a place that the media lambasts as a monster grinding up and chewing Muslim babies, but where a Muslim can walk into court, with a handful of papers that would not stand up to serious scrutiny in any other jurisdiction, and lay claim to the land of a small village, which holds legal title and full papers to it. And the court will refuse to accept any alternative, but to speedily evict every man, woman and child from that land, while the conservative government will threaten to fire any minister that takes legislative action against that court’s decision.

It would be nice to think that this is some horrid exception, but it’s the usual course of affairs in a country where a conservative government is one that occasionally talks about taking action on Iran and prides itself on boldly laying claim to its own capital. Past Israeli governments have not been better. Many have been even worse. Their victories were not won by them; they were won for them. They were achieved through bold actions taken out of desperation, by farmers and workers with guns facing impossible tasks and more impossible odds.

All this makes the Six-Day War that much more impressive and awe-inspiring. An act of God done through the hands of fighting men in a country facing annihilation. And it is also a reminder that Israel’s survival does not depend on its governments. If past governments had been able to fully enact their peace agendas, there likely would be no Israel. Can such governments celebrate the Six-Day War? Do they have any right to take credit for what they have given away and what they intend to give away?

The Six-Day War’s Unresolved Legacy

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

So it was, in the spring of 1967,that the noose tightened around the Jewish state. In April Syria bombarded Galilee kibbutzim from the Golan Heights. In May Egypt ordered the removal of UN forces from Sinai and advanced its army to the border with Israel. Arab radio promised “the extermination of Zionist existence.” Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad announced: “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”

Then Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, halting the flow of oil from Iran and severing its supply route to Asia. In early June Iraq joined the coalition to destroy Israel. By then nearly 500,000 enemy soldiers surrounded the Jewish state; thousands of fighter planes were poised to attack.

Apprehension of imminent annihilation – another Holocaust – swept through Israel. The army was mobilized. Bomb shelters were hastily built. Mass graves were dug. The hesitant Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, delivered a stumbling radio address that sent waves of panic through the nation. Under intense pressure to act from military advisers, he reluctantly authorized a preemptive strike.

One month earlier, on Independence Day, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook had met with a gathering of his former students at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem. Like his father, the revered chief rabbi of Mandatory Palestine, he embraced Zionism, a commitment that marginalized the yeshiva among haredi Jews while its Orthodoxy isolated it from the secular Zionist majority.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda recalled his anguish in 1948 when the boundaries of war had severed the fledgling state of Israel from the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Conquering Jordanians drove Jews from their Old City homes; their revered Hurva synagogue was destroyed; they were denied access to the Western Wall; the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated; and Jerusalem was divided.

As his voice rose to bewail the partition of Eretz Yisrael Rabbi Kook suddenly cried out: “They have divided my land. Where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem? And our Jericho?” No one in Israel, a student realized, spoke that way. Ever since 1948 Israelis believed that “the Land of Israel ended where the state of Israel ended.”

But for the unrelenting Arab determination to annihilate the Jewish state, those temporary armistice lines might have remained permanent borders.

* * * * *

Early in the morning of June 5, Israel launched the attack that instantly turned the tide of battle by decimating the Egyptian air force. But the transformative – and, for many, miraculous – moment came two days later. After desperate fighting in northern Jerusalem on Ammunition Hill, which claimed the lives of thirty-six Israeli soldiers, the way to the Old City was clear.

Tanks blasted open the Lion’s Gate and Israeli paratroopers poured through, sweeping across the site of the ancient Temples. Commander Mordechai Gur radioed: “Har HaBayit beyadenu” – the Temple Mount is in our hands.”

An intelligence officer recalled: “Though I’m not religious, I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion.”

After exultant Israeli soldiers descended through the Mughrabi Gate to the Western Wall, IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren arrived with a Torah scroll. He recited the mourner’s Kaddish for fallen soldiers, followed by the Shehechiyanu prayer of thanksgiving. Then he joyously blew his shofar. Euphoric troops, suddenly experiencing the convergence of their Israeli and Jewish identities, spontaneously burst into song, prayer – and tears.

A soldier approached the Wall: “The touch of my lips opened the gates of my emotions and the tears burst forth. A Jewish soldier in the State of Israel is kissing history with his lips.”

An Orthodox paratrooper wrote: “I believe that the hand of God was in my participation in the battle for the liberation and reunion of Jerusalem…. I felt as if I had been granted the great privilege of acting as an agent of God, of Jewish history.” Even a kibbutznik from the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair movement expressed his feelings in biblical verse: “Let us go into the house of the Lord, Our feet shall stand within Thy Gates, O Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:1-2).

Former PM Olmert: Divide Jerusalem For Peace

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday urged Israeli leaders to surrender large swaths of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority if they want peace.

In honor of the 45th annual Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Olmert – who served as Jerusalem’s Mayor from 1993 to 2003 – told the Maariv daily newspaper that  Jerusalem was never truly united, and while he called that a “tragedy”, he also said it will mean “inevitable political concessions”.

The Israel Defense Forces liberated eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Prophet Samuel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as well as the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, including heritage sites the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.

In his interview with Maariv, Olmert highlighted the division and separation between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, and lamented that not enough had been done to homogenize the city.

Regarding Arab neighborhoods, Olmert said “apart from heartache we get nothing from them,” saying that peace will require Arab neighborhoods to be separated and given to a Palestinian state.

He also said that the Old City and the Temple Mount should be up for discussion in final peace talks.

Olmert lamented the peace deal he could “touch” in 2007 and 2008, and said that if he had been prime minister for a few more months, he believes an agreement on a Palestinian state would have been completed.

Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had very different things to say about Jerusalem on this year’s Jerusalem Day.

“Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. And our heart will never be divided again,” he said.

He warned that dividing Jerusalem would lead to a war pitting Jews against Muslims in the city, and boasted that Israeli control of holy sites provided the highest level of accessibility and religious freedom to all citizens.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat chastised Olmert, calling the idea of dividing Jerusalem “a bigger mistake”.

“He lost his faith in Jerusalem when he was mayor,” Barkat said, accusing him of wanting “to run from conflicts in Jerusalem and give in to them, instead of coping with them and directing them.”

Striking Iran And The U.S.-Israel Relationship

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Editor’s note: This column, updated from its original publication in The Jewish Press in mid-2009, is highly relevant to today’s situation.

Recent warnings by President Obama to Israel against an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities are reminiscent of the period prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Then, as now, Israel was faced with an existential threat. Then, as now, the U.S. pressured Israel not to take action.

Despite the fact that after the 1956 Sinai War Israel received a signed U.S. guarantee of intervention in the eventuality of an Egyptian obstruction of the Straits of Tiran, America ignored its commitment and threatened Israel that if it would attack Egypt, the U.S. would not stand at its side. President Lyndon Johnson lamely excused his betrayal by telling Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that he “couldn’t find his copy” of the document.

America’s approach to Israel prior to the Six-Day War was patently negative. It imposed an arms embargo on the Middle East, while Soviet arms continued to flow freely to the Arab states. But after the successful Israeli attack – that also included the destruction of the USS Liberty in the waters off the Sinai Peninsula – the American approach to Israel completely changed. Arms and vast amounts of aid began to flow from our “great ally.” The flow of aid was downgraded only after Israel surrendered the Sinai to Egypt in the Camp David Accords. Currently, only one-sixth of the American arms sold to the Middle East are directed to Israel. The rest is sold to the Arab world, directly endangering the Jewish state.

The situation was not much different in 1948. The American government did not want to lose a market of 400 million Arabs and planned to vote against the establishment of the State of Israel. Public opinion after the Holocaust forced the U.S. to vote in favor – but only because they were convinced that the Arab armies would destroy the fledgling state in no time. For those who still hold the “great friendship with America” cliché dear, it should be noted that in those difficult pre-state days, America also imposed an arms embargo on the Middle East – in other words, on the Jews. Jewish-Americans who were caught smuggling arms to Israel were imprisoned.

There is no doubt that healthy relations with the (crumbling) American superpower are an important Israeli interest. But we must remember that those relations have always been founded on mutual interests and nothing more. If we were to evaporate in a radioactive plume, God forbid, Obama would respectfully lay a wreath at the new wing of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Nothing more. So the American warning on an issue that is existential to Israel must not be taken into account at all.

One of the main lessons that we should have learned from the Holocaust is that when a Jew-hater who heads a country declares his intention to destroy us – he means it. As we have not yet attacked Iran after all of Ahmadinejad’s blatant threats, we have not really learned the Holocaust’s lesson.

In the Six-Day War, Israel initiated an aerial attack against its enemies that involved the entire Israeli Air Force. In the technological reality of those days, it was a mission no less complex than the proposed strike on Iran today. It demanded evasion of the Jordanian radar, total radio silence, and difficult navigation at extremely low altitudes deep inside enemy territory – all with mechanisms that can only be described as primitive relative to the weapons systems used today by Israel’s Air Force. Failure then would have left Israel with no air defenses against the attacks of all the Arab armies.

In other words, we have been in this scenario before. Israel has no choice but to attack Iran. America’s relations with us should not be part of the question of whether to attack. At most, we can ask ourselves how America will relate to us following a strike. And the answer is simple: A successful attack will improve relations, while no strike or an unsuccessful one will, God forbid, worsen them.

Vandals Spit on Jewish Sovereignty

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

News item:

One of the Six-Day War’s most famous landmarks, Ammunition Hill, was vandalized early Monday morning. This is the fourth related incident in less than a week, just days before Israel marks its Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.

 

 

According to Army Radio, the vandals spray-painted anti-Israel slogans, including “Günter Grass was right,” [referring to the German Nobel laureate's recently published poem in which the former SS officer said Israel was a danger to world peace] and “Zionism — the root of all evil” as well as “lame Zionists.”

Here is an excerpt from a description of the battle of Ammunition Hill by Yaakov Lozowick:

Between 1949 and 1967, while Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan, there was an Israeli enclave about a mile to the east of the border, in the Jordanian part of town. This was Mount Scopus, with the campus of the Hebrew university and Hadassah hospital. There was an agreement whereby every two weeks 200 Israelis would cross Jordanian territory to the enclave, and sit there until the next group replaced them two weeks later.

Throughout the whole period everyone knew that sooner or later the war would resume, and that when that happened Israel would try to reconnect the mountain with the city. To prevent this the Jordanians built a series of fortifications in that mile, and its centerpiece was Ammunition Hill, an apt name borrowed from the days after the British conquered the city in 1917 and General Allenby stored his army’s ammunition there…

On the night between June 5th and 6th 1967 the paratroopers, backed by a few tanks, made their attack, directly on the Jordanian fortifications. The section of the battle on Ammunition Hill raged from about 2am to 5:30, early next morning. It was face to face combat, between the best forces each side had. 71 Jordanians were killed, and 35 Israelis: most of the defenders died, as did a quarter of the attackers.

A story I heard not long afterward told that in the early morning the IDF troops gathered the fallen Jordanians into a pit and covered it, with a makeshift sign that read “Here lie 71 brave Jordanian soldiers”.

A few hours later the paratroopers were at the Kotel.

The perpetrators of the vandalism could have been anti-Zionist Haredim, Arabs, or left-wing extremists. Judging by the content of the literate Hebrew graffiti, my guess is that in this case they are the former.

For example, the message in the photo above reads: “Wretched Zionists, whom do you dominate? The miserable Arabs? Zionism — mother of sin!”

It is simply impossible for me to imagine what would motivate Israeli Jews to desecrate a monument to men who died defending the Jewish state that protects and, in many cases, feeds them.

I would like to see the vandals, who spit on Jewish sovereignty, banished to a place where it doesn’t exist. They have made their statement, let them live by it.

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/04/vandals-spit-on-jewish-sovereignty/

Jerusalem’s Light Rail train is Not Segregated

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

During my visit to the British Parliament last week, I heard concern from a number of members that Jerusalem’s new light rail system was built as a “tool of Israel’s apartheid.” This type of claim can leave one baffled; where do you start explaining when an intelligent elected official hits you with a claim that is so totally off base? Aside from the issue of priorities, with people being killed daily by the Assad  regime Syria, it is the height of hypocrisy for world leaders to ignore that massacre and waste their time and effort in seeking out something to pin on Israel.

The city of Jerusalem was first declared the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel by our mighty King David some 3000 years ago. At its center, on Mount Moriah, David’s son Solomon built the Temple, which became a place of gathering for the entire nation of Israel three times a year. Ever since, this city has been the focal point of Jewish prayer around the world. In Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, part of the city was captured by the British-trained Arab Legion of Trans-Jordan, which held the city for 19 years, until it was again united in the miraculous Six Day War of June, 1967. During the 19 years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were barred from access to the city’s holy sites. Jewish doctors and nurses were massacred while trying to reach the Hadassah Hospital, located on then-isolated Mount Scopus.

Only after Israel’s Defense Forces reunited the holy city were members of all religions again allowed access to their holy sites (aside from the Temple Mount, which maintains limited access for non-Muslims).

Jerusalem today is a city with total population of about 760,000 people – about 65% Jewish, and the remaining 35% comprised of Muslims, Christians, and others. Anyone who visits the city will see a mix of people from all ethnic backgrounds and all religions partaking in all aspects of the city’s culture and commerce. Like it or not, apartheid is not a fitting description for the reality of Jerusalem today.

The city of Jerusalem, capital of the State of Israel, incorporated its light rail public transportation system late last year. The light rail is intended to relieve traffic congestion, and spare the city from the air pollution emitted from the cars and buses that it will replace.

Three years of its construction were very bothersome to the residents of and visitors to Jerusalem because it made transit within the city even more difficult and slowed traffic, with many roads closed and much traffic redirected. When the work was finally completed, I believe that most of Jerusalem was happy with the results.

The light rail is now 14 KM long with 23 stops. It starts in the Pisgat Zev neighborhood in the north and runs though Beit Hannia and Shuafat, passes by the Old City through the center of town, runs along Jaffa Street past the central bus station and ends at Mount Herzl.

The track passes though and stops in both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. I have taken the train and noticed that both Jews and Arabs are regular commuters. All of the train’s signs, tickets, ticket machines, and public announcements are made very clearly in both Hebrew and Arabic. Signs of station names are posted in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Knowing the facts firsthand, it is strange for me to hear discussions in British Parliament about the light rail being segregated and a “tool of apartheid.” Why, I ask, do people buy into such baseless libel and propaganda?

Tunisia to Jews: Keep Coming to Djerba for Lag B’Omer

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The annual Jewish Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue in Africa should be maintained as a symbol of Tunisian openness, according to Tunisia’s tourism minister on Tuesday.

Jews have been living on the island of  Djerba since 500 BC, with the local synagogue believed to be the oldest in Africa.  In the 1960s, Tunisia’s Jewish community numbered 100,000.  Most Jews left following the 1967 Six Day War.  Now, almost all of Tunisia’s 1,500 Jews reside on the island near the border of Libya.  Djerba was once called the “Island of Cohanim” because so many of the Jewish families there could trace their ancestry back to Moses’ brother Aaron, the first High Priest and father of the priestly class.

Elyes Fakhfakh’s public support for the annual Jewish event comes as the rise of fundamentalist Islamic Salafi groups threatens to drive out Tunisia’s remaining Jewish population.  Anti-Semitic rhetoric has increased since the overthrow of longtime president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.  Unrest in Tunisia led to the cancellation of Lag B’Omer events that year.  Several thousand Jews – many of whom immigrated to France from Tunisia – are anticipated to attend this year.  On March 9-10, they will celebrate the victory of the Jews over the Romans prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, as well as the passing of the writer of the mystical Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Fakhfakh called the annual Jewish celebration in Djerba a rite which “should not change because it illustrates the openness of Tunisia to the world.”  Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali of the Ennahda party Monday concurred with Fakhfakh, saying “the Jewish pilgrims are welcome to Djerba”.

On April 11, Tunisian President Moncep Marzouki, accompanied by Tunisian grand rabbi Haim Bitan, laid a wreath and observed a moment of silence to remember the victims of an Al-Qaida truck bombing, which killed 21 people at the El Djerba synagogue on Djerba ten years ago.  Included in the killings were 16 tourists – 14 from Germany and 2 from France.  At the event, Marzouki called discrimination against Jews and attacks on their person or property “forbidden” and called Jews “an integral part of our people.”

On March 25, Salafi activists demonstrated in favor of the implementation of sharia Islamic law, chanting slogans to “prepare for the fight against the Jews”.

Under the rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Jews enjoyed official protected status, a privilege which has not been renewed by the new Islamist government.

EU Report: Israel Judaizing Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

A report by the European Union says that Israel’s policies are  diminishing the prospects of Jerusalem becoming the “shared capital” of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

The EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem calls on the EU to enact laws that discourages business that benefit Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and accuses Israel of conducting a campaign to “emphasize the Jewish identity of the city, at the expense of its Muslim and Christian residents,” echoing recent attacks on Israel of  ‘Judaizing Jerusalem’ by Iran and Hamas.

The report recommends information-sharing on Jewish activists in East Jerusalem to assess whether such individuals should be allowed to enter EU member states, and also calls for the reinstatement of the Palestine Liberation Organization in East Jerusalem.

“Without Jerusalem as the future capital of two states, a sustainable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be possible,” read the first lines of the report, which is currently making the rounds at foreign ministries across the globe.

Israel maintains that Jerusalem is the the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish State, and this position was enacted into law by its annexation of east Jerusalem on June 27, 1967, following its recapture in the Six-Day War. Prior to the Six-Day War, east Jerusalem was under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Jordan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/eu-report-israel-judaizing-jerusalem/2012/01/18/

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