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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Six Day War’

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.

Congressmen In Jerusalem: ‘Capital Must Remain United, Israeli’

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

JERUSALEM – Four U.S. congressmen took a Friday tour of eastern Jerusalem earlier this month and received a strategic briefing, courtesy of the Im Eshkachech-Keep Jerusalem organization.

The lawmakers, all Republicans, also visited Hebron and other areas in Judea and Samaria, in a visit that was kept publicly quiet until it was over. As Chaim Silberstein, head of Im Eshkachech, later said, “These representatives do not need to be lectured about being pro-Israel, but they did request tools to help them defend a united Jerusalem in Congress and in the American public.”

The four were Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus; Louie Gohmert of Texas; John Fleming of Louisiana; and Randy Forbes of Virginia.

“Jerusalem must remain the undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel,” Lamborn declared. Gohmert went even further, asserting that the “Land of Israel and Jerusalem were given by God to the Jewish People, and giving them up would be both immoral and nonsensical.”

Their Jerusalem tour began at Ammunition Hill, site of a Six-Day War battle that helped secure Jerusalem for Israel. The multimedia presentation put the cease-fire lines in military, geographic and historic perspective.

Next on the itinerary was the gravesite of Shmuel HaNavi (Nebi Samuel). Silberstein provided the visitors with maps and aerial photos to give them a “solid understanding of the geographic and legal realities of eastern Jerusalem.”

The high altitude site of Nebi Samuel, used by Jordan to attack Israeli positions in the 1948 and 1967 wars, provided the congressmen with “a commanding view of the security fence, the growing Arab population, and the chokehold that Jews in the capital would suffer if the city were to be divided,” said Silberstein.

From Nebi Samuel they traveled farther north, taking clear note of the high standard of living in Arab neighborhoods. “When I mentioned polls showing that the majority of eastern Jerusalem Arabs want to continue living under Israeli rule rather than in a Palestinian Authority state,” said Silberstein, “they said they could understand why.”

They then proceeded to the site of the biblical Givat Sha’ul. In 1967, the late King Hussein of Jordan was serenely building himself a summer palace on this scenic hilltop when his workers were abruptly interrupted by the Six-Day War, during which Israel liberated the area in mid-construction. Ever since, the partially completed and instantly recognizable skeleton of the almost-palace has stood untouched on the hill.

Originally a lone structure amid pristine mountaintops, it now provides a breathtaking view of the many surrounding Jewish and Arab neighborhoods – and, noted Silberstein, an appropriate background for Im Eshkachech’s presentation on the strategic and security ramifications of dividing Jerusalem.

The Americans were also treated to a panoramic view of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, overlooking the Old City and the Temple Mount.

 

The Right Not To Be Thrown Into The Sea

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

This month marks the 44th anniversary of one of the most momentous miracles of modern times, when Israel, facing annihilation at the hands of its enemies, emerged triumphant in the 1967 Six-Day War.
 
Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.
 
Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean, were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.
 
The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people.
 
After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
 
And yet it seems, more than four decades later, that many Jews and Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.
 
In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six-Day War, grumble about Israel’s success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.
 
Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense to the Palestinians, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.
 
How could so many forget so much in so short a time?
 
It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and world Jewry are clearly suffering from what I refer to as “Battered Nation Syndrome.”
 
Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there.
 
Naturally, this distorted worldview results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel’s perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.
 
Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel’s policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good old-fashioned self-inflicted guilt trip.
 
But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.
 
To begin with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown into the sea.
 
What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.
 
They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet “occupy” the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
 
Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.
 
Pointing out that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war.
 
Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.
 
All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region.”
 
But Israel’s offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.
 
Fortunately, with God’s help we were able to defeat them, depriving our enemies of the territorial platform from which they had sought our destruction.
 
Instead of grumbling about the result, we should be rejoicing in it.
 
The fact is that Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did.
 
We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.
 

They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.

 

 

Michael Freund is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that assists lost tribes and “hidden Jewish communities” to return to the Jewish people. He can be contacted at michael@shavei.org. His column appears the third week of each month.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/the-right-not-to-be-thrown-into-the-sea/2011/06/15/

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