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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Six Day War’

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.

Revising The Six-Day War

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Every few years at around this time the Monitor reflects on how perceptions have changed so drastically regarding Israel’s massive victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

   Revisionists whose initial attempts at recasting Israel’s image from David to Goliath were focused on events surrounding Israel’s creation began, in the early 1980s, to characterize the Six-Day War – which for the first decade or so after its occurrence was widely seen as a case of Israel’s justified response to Arab threats and mobilization of forces – as an act of premeditated Israeli aggression.
   Not that there weren’t critics of Israel ready to pounce on the Jewish state even in the immediate aftermath of the war. On July 7, 1967, the executive committee of the liberal National Council of Churches released a statement lambasting Israel for the “unilateral retention of lands she has occupied since June 5.”
   Also on July 7, 1967, a remarkable letter in The New York Times made the equation between Israelis and Nazis that in later years would become all too familiar:
   “All persons who seek to view the Middle East problem with honesty and objectivity will stand aghast at Israel’s onslaught, the most violent, ruthless (and successful) aggression since Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Western Europe in the summer of 1940, aiming not at victory but at annihilation,” wrote Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, a former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America.
By and large, however, most Americans – and Europeans, for that matter – cheered Israel’s triumph in the Six-Day War. But as Israel over the years came to lose favor among liberal and leftist academics and journalists, there was a significant shift in the way the war was portrayed.
Post-Zionist Israeli academics played no small role in the recasting of Israeli officials as opportunistic warmongers who used the supposedly empty threats of bellicose Arab leaders as an excuse to gobble up vast expanses of Arab territory.
By the late 1980s this remarkably dishonest narrative had become the accepted wisdom in liberal academic and media precincts and has remained so ever since. When the English translation of Israeli journalist (and pioneering post-Zionist) Tom Segev’s book on the Six-Day War was published in 2007, reviewers in liberal newspapers and magazines fell all over themselves in praising the book’s Israel-as-aggressor theme.
Every now and then, however, an article or a column will appear – invariably from a conservative writer – reminding readers about what really happened in 1967. The military historian and New York Post columnist Ralph Peters wrote just such a piece in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the war.
Reading the revisionists, he wrote, one would think that “prior to June 1967, Israelis had lived in an Age of Aquarius, eating lotus blossoms amid friendly Bedouin neighbors who tucked them in at night. The critics also imply that, by some unexplained magic, Israel might have avoided war and its consequences.”
Contrary to the doomsayers, “June 1967 announced Israel as a regional great power – less than 20 years after the state’s desperate founding . In the real world, outcomes aren’t perfect. There are no wars to end all wars. The proper question is, ‘Are you better off than before the shooting started?’ Judged by that common-sense standard, Israel is vastly better off than it was on the eve of the Six-Day War. Thanks to the heroes of June 1967, Israel survived. Miracle enough.”
Peters’s words echoed the spirit of a column written two decades earlier by George F. Will.
“It has been 20 years since those six days that shook the world,” Will wrote. “Because of what happened then, a united Jerusalem is capital of Israel, and Israel never again will be 12 miles wide at the waist. Because of the war the West Bank, which Jordan seized militarily and held for 19 years, is rightfully Israel’s to dispose of as it deems prudent.

“And, because of the echoing thunderclap from Israel 20 Junes ago, the security of Israel and hence the spiritual well-being of world Jewry have been enhanced. The Holocaust ended in 1945, but the Holocaust as aspiration was not destroyed until June 1967, when Israel smashed encircling armies that had the inescapably genocidal mission of obliterating the national gathering of Jews.”

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

It Doesn’t Make Sense – Or Does It?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Some years after the Six-Day War, I was invited to address the IDF as well as various communities in Israel. In the euphoria that followed the spectacular victory of the Six-Day War, gratitude to Hashem, proclaiming His guiding hand, was blatantly missing.

We deluded ourselves into believing “kochi v’otzem yadie – my strength, my might achieved this.” I was so terribly afraid of the consequences of this attitude that I called a press conference in the hope that someone might listen.

“The nations of the world begrudge us victory,” I said. “Yes, for a few moments after the Holocaust, their consciences bothered them But, alas, I knew that would soon pass and the hatred would resurface. There is only one way we can protect ourselves, and that is to have Israel’s representatives at the UN and throughout the world unabashedly proclaim that we returned to our G-d-given land- that our right to that land was granted by Almighty G-d Himself and we have a deed to prove it. And even as we make that declaration, we must point to our Torah and read the passages that state unequivocally that this land will belong to us, the Jewish people, for all eternity; that G-d Himself deeded it to us as an eternal inheritance; that the covenant sealed at Sinai proclaims that we the Jewish people, the Torah, and the land are one.”

My plea went unheeded. At best, people smiled at my naiveté, while others just dismissed it as “religious fanaticism.” And all these years later, nothing has changed. With the exception of Menachem Begin, not one of Israel’s leaders has mentioned Hashem or recognized it was His guiding hand that enabled Israel to triumph. This failure to recognize Hashem is evident in many areas. Israel’s beautiful, moving anthem, Hatikvah, would be so much more meaningful if G-d’s name were mentioned. I could cite other examples, but what is important is that we understand we are a holy nation that stood at Sinai and heard the voice of G-d, and that voice is embedded in our neshamas.

With every passing year, the demonization of the Jewish state escalates. Where once, for a very brief moment, Israeli soldiers were held in esteem, today they are regarded as oppressors of the downtrodden who occupy land that does not belong to them.

In vain does Israel reach out with compassion to those who attack it; in vain does Israel extend the hand of peace. From the very moment of Israel’s rebirth, Jewish blood has flowed freely in the land, but few were the voices raised on our behalf. Even so, we are witnessing today something we thought would never occur.

I write this not because, G-d forbid, I want to criticize our people, but precisely because I love our people and our land. We have undergone more than enough suffering already, and in this time of crisis, even as in pre-Holocaust Europe, doors are once again being shut against us. Before it’s too late, we have to recognize that our help, our salvation, will come not from Washington or any other capital on earth. But it can and will come from the greatest capital of all – the Heavenly Capital. It is only there that our destiny is shaped.

It is that Capital to which we must cry out – and if we do, our help will come.

President Obama last week called on Israel to return to its pre-Six-Day War borders, a suicidal course the Jewish state can never consider. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a powerful response, explaining how, throughout the centuries, the Jewish people suffered barbaric torture and persecution that saw millions slaughtered, but never renounced their right to the land of Israel or their hope of return. He spoke from the heart and you had to be a stone not to be moved by it. But with all that, there was one word that was blatantly missing, and the absence of that word renders Israel vulnerable to further attack. That one word was Hashem – Almighty G-d.

If only, I thought to myself, he had added to his powerful plea, “We have returned to ourG-d given land.” But that one sentence never surfaced.

The next time you see and hear mobs shouting that Israel and the Jews must be exterminated, consider what would happen if the word “blacks” were substituted for “Jews.” And ask yourself what country, other than Israel, is expected to hand over its land to a people who openly proclaim that they will never recognize that country’s right to exist.

What’s more, think about whether any other nation has given up a large chunk of territory, removing thousands of its own citizens by force, giving up homes, synagogues, and land they converted from a desert into beautiful gardens and orchards – only to see that place become a launching pad for deadly terrorist attacks.

And it wasn’t only these places. Remember Oslo, when Israel gave up land for the creation of a Palestinian state and then supplied weapons for a Palestinian police force, only to see those weapons turned against it? Why, having seen and experienced all this, would anyone believe the answer is to give away yet more territory to people who have shown time and again that their singular agenda is to wipe Israel off the map?

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained that Israel is a nation that suffered one Holocaust too many and cannot risk another slaughter. Instead of understanding his plea, he was chastised in the media for lecturing the president in the White House.

There is something here that does not make sense, something every rational mind can only wonder at. And yet there is an answer, a solution, an antidote: “If only My people would heed Me . If Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn my hand…” (Psalm 81)

The War Room Israel Needs

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Throughout its 62 years of independent existence, Israel has had to defend itself from attacks by Arab states and in more recent decades from Palestinian terrorism and the Lebanese Shi’ite Hizbullah. Despite its existential struggle against the genocidal intentions of the Arab world and the Palestinians, Israel failed to establish an Information Ministry that would contextually present a Middle East reality: A Jewish democratic state struggling against dictatorial regimes that deny democratic rights to their people and religious freedom to minorities, and who choose to impede the progress of their people while using Israel as the scapegoat.

In the early days of the state, the horrors of the Holocaust loomed large in the minds of Europeans and Americans, and the bravery of a band of Jews who defended themselves, and ultimately defeated five Arab armies, elicited the admiration of the political Left as well as segments of the political Right. Israel was portrayed as the proverbial “David” fighting the Arab “Goliath.”

Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War changed the way the country was viewed. No longer the perennial “victim,” it was now seen by many in academia and the media as a tool of “American imperialism.” The Left resented Israel’s strong pro-American tilt and, in short order, found a new “victim” to support – the Palestinian Arabs. Little attention was given by the Left to the foundational underpinnings of the Palestine Liberation Organization or that it was created by Egypt’s dictator Nasser to harass the Jewish state. Moreover, they ignored the fact that the PLO was formed in 1964, long before the Six-Day War and that its charter called for the liquidation of Israel.

In other words, the true “struggle” of the Palestinians was not to create a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza but rather to replace the Jewish state of Israel.

Israel’s policy makers were and have been dismissive of allocating resources for a Ministry of Information or to a central agency that would articulate Israel’s side of the story. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and with the help of billions of petro-dollars, the Arabs were able to enlist the services of the best European and American P.R. firms and lobbyists. They created a powerful narrative: Israel as “occupier” and “victimizer,” the Palestinians as “victims.” The Left, historically attracted to “liberation,” whether in theological or political terms, quickly embraced the narrative and the cause.

The 1977 surprise victory of the Likud Party in Israel over the establishment Labor (in power since the founding of the state in 1948) presented an immediate need to create an Information Ministry. Menachem Begin, the newly elected and much vilified Israeli prime minister, asked a trusted colleague and friend, political commentator Shmuel Katz, to head the new ministry. Begin had selected Moshe Dayan, the symbol of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, to be foreign minister. Dayan gave Begin an ultimatum: either Information stays as a section in the Foreign Ministry or Begin would have to look for another foreign minister. Begin relented.

In an August 16, 2001 Jerusalem Post piece, Shmuel Katz wrote: “To the aid of the Arabs have come a host of allies. Classic anti-Semitism, of course, now posing as ‘legitimate’ political anti-Zionism, but also a battery of the leading media in the world. Examples: The Times of London, Le Monde, the BBC, CNN, etc. In all of them there are regular distortions or suppression of news – so as to make the Arabs look good and the Jews look bad . Israel’s reply is exemplified by the opinions expressed by two foreign ministers, each in his time responsible for hasbara: Moshe Dayan, who said ‘We don’t need hasbara. It is important what we do, not what we say,’ and Shimon Peres who believed that we shouldn’t trouble our heads with history.”

Katz saw the role of Israeli hasbara (public relations and information) as one of not just “occasional sudden sallies” but as a separate and permanent department in the government headed by a minister dedicated to this specific mission. “He can have no other business, and in the debates at the cabinet table he must inject an appreciation of the impact of information. His senior staff must maintain a 24-hour-a-day service, must be experts on all the subjects which have a bearing on the dispute with the Arabs: Jewish history in Eretz Israel, Zionist history and the British Mandate, the history of Arab claims “

A Tefillah From The Depths

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I live in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Just up the road from my house is Kever Shmuel Hanavi (the Prophet Samuel’s tomb). This landmark is situated in a very strategic spot. It is 885 meters above sea level, affording a panoramic vista of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. For hundreds of years, it was in Jewish hands.

After the Arabs took control of the site, they built a mosque where a church had stood earlier. From their vantage point, the Arabs were able to attack us at will. During the Six-Day War, we liberated the area. Kever Shmuel Hanavi was once more in our hands.

The first time I visited this site the atmosphere felt strange, almost foreign. We parked our car next to a few Arab homes, part of a small adjacent Arab village. We could see their prayer mats hanging on the railings. I saw Arabs entering their mosque, and did not know if I would be able to concentrate on my prayers inside. It did not feel like a holy place for Jews.

Then I entered through the side entrance. The walls were lined with siddurim, Tehillim and sefarim. There was a table laden with drinks and cookies for those who came to pray. I descended a set of stairs and found myself in a small synagogue. In the center was the velvet-covered kever. Women of all ages were praying intently. The few children there sensed the holiness of the place, and reverently placed their hands on the velvet cloth.

The walls of the women’s section were plastered with various prayers for different occasions. Women passed around the names of people who needed prayers said for them. The sanctity of the place was palpable, and I soon realized that this was a perfect setting to pour my heart out to Hashem.

About a year ago, I visited the site again. A woman was passing out a sheet with a special prayer. It was a moving prayer of thanksgiving to Hashem.

My daughters and I now say this tefillah every Erev Shabbat. We light our Shabbat candles and then recite this special prayer with all of our hearts. We thank Hashem for all the good in our lives. We thank Him for the things we don’t even realize we should be thanking Him for. We thank Him for being able to thank Him.

The second part of the tefillah requires more strength and faith. We thank Hashem for the difficult times in our lives. We proclaim that everything that happens in our lives, even those things that are so hard for us to bear, is ultimately for the good.

It is easy to give thanks for the good in our lives. It is not so difficult to thank Hashem for having passed through the rough patches in our lives, once we have safely navigated them. It is much more difficult to thank Him while in the midst of a crisis.

I have given copies of this tefillah to my family and friends. They, in turn, have copied it and sent it to others.

One person in particular thought it was a beautiful prayer and recited it once in a while. Then she was struck with illness. She is now undergoing difficult medical treatments and she prays the outcome will be successful. She says that this tefillah provides her with the strength to navigate her ordeal. She is able to view her illness in a different perspective, as she thanks Hashem daily for all she has been given.

May Hashem grant her and all of Israel’s sick good health and happiness.

Our Shmitah Year

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Seven years have swiftly passed since my husband and made aliyah from Washington, D.C. When we arrived it was the beginning of the seven year cycle of a “Shemitah” year, the time when, according to a commandment in the Bible, the soil in the land of Israel should rest, so that its fertility can be restored, it having been sapped during the previous six years.


 

We are now in another “Shemitah” year and we can scarcely believe it because of the diverse panorama of events that occurred during this period. And so, now we pause – to review this interval with much satisfaction.


 

We went up to Israel in the wake of the miraculous victory of the Six Day War. This stunning triumph awakened Jews in all corners of the earth to proudly proclaim their Jewish identity. Many came to help, and a considerable number decided to settle in the newly found homeland. The Israelis basked in the image of the victorious David, who defeated the insolent Goliath.


 

The economy flourished and everyone shared in it. The lira was then about four to the dollar. Basic foods were heavily subsidized by the Government as was bus transportation. The cultural segment of our lives was meaningful. To be able to attend public events without fear of going and returning home at any hour added greatly to our enjoyment.  Memorable are innumerable occasions, such as, the first time we rose from our seats to hear the Israel  hilharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, play “Hatikva” at the opening of the season and the Israel Symphony Orchestra, conducted bythe local Gary Bertini, do likewise.


 

Of course, there were various kinds of adjustments, but none that could not be overcome with the proper perspective. Importantly, we felt at home. It took about a year to get settled and to learn how to function with an archaic banking system, a telephone company whose employees inevitably reply to requests with the Hebrew version of “manyana,” a bureaucracy protected by the Histradrut, recurrent labor strikes and a most interesting, diverse population of Jews.


 

But all this is cushioned by the incredible fact that most everyone is Jewish – the bus drivers, the policemen, the nurses, the tour guides, the banking personnel, as well as the government.


 

Many factors more than offset initial frustrations. Living in Israel makes the Bible a reality. For example, “Shemitah” a theoretical subject, discussed by Talmudic scholars in the Diaspora, is widely adhered to in Israel by observant Jews. All year they are careful to use only agricultural products which are permissible according to the interpretation of the “Shemitah” laws by rabbinical authorities. Much is expressed in the media concerning “Shemitah” and a five star hotel in Jerusalem even notes on its menus its observance of the Sabbatical year of the soil.


 

Shabbat is a joy that can hardly be duplicated elsewhere and all the holidays assume an incomparable charisma, each beaming its own personality. You can feel the holiness of Yom Kippur and the exultation on Simchat Torah. Sukkoth is a week long holiday, celebrated by everyone. All the schools are closed and most offices and shops are either closed or functioning with a skeleton force. Immediately after Yom Kippur “schach” is made available in the cities for the “sukkah” and the streets and terraces are dotted with them. Linked with


Sukkoth are many varied activities throughout the land.

 

The Western Wall is unique. There is not a psychiatrist who can compete with it.  You can talk to The Wall and it answers.  You sense the presence of G-d’s angels.  Perhaps they are represented by the families of birds living there, taking note of all of us.  Then, too, perhaps The Wall is a vast computer and the birds, the programmers of events and  dispatchers of our prayers and the “kvitels” that are left in the crevices.  And when we go away, we always feel better than when we arrived.  And it is all free.  Where else in the world can we receive such spiritual strength!

 

            And not to be overlooked is the delightful midnight TV feature which quotes pearls of wisdom from the Bible, Talmud and “Saying of the Fathers.” It is an incentive to remain awake until before the midnight news, because listening to the sagacity of our sages relieves the accumulated tensions of the day.

 

            The year 1973 arrived with it the tragic Yom Kippur War.  Sadat and most of the media call it the October War.  It was a complete surprise and shocking to us novices, from America.  The first three days were absolute confusion and the news distressing.  Indelible in our memories was the evening Golda Meir, of blessed memory, appeared on TV and confirmed that the Egyptians had crossed the Bar Lev line, that we were overtaken and even if Israel wanted to make peace with Egypt, Egypt opted to push on!  The tide turned shortly thereafter when Arik Sharon (“Melech Dovid” his boys called him) crossed over the Suez Canal and trapped the 3rd Egyptian army, a feat now being studied in the army schools of many nations.  The brilliance of this maneuver by the Israeli army is but another frustrating example of how frequently Israel is pressured into retreating from an advantageous position – and, where right is made to appear wrong. 

 

            The war was a sobering experience and it affected everyone.  It was a great shock.  The defense forces were caught unprepared and could not perform immediately as they did in the Six Day War. It had a prolonged psychological impact on the population.  A ceasefire was negotiated and Kissinger started his shuttle stratagem.

 

            An image of an Israeli may well be the basket of food hanging from his hand on his way home, the newspaper he is reading while walking and the news program he is listening to on the bus or on the portable radio he frequently carries.  Thus every Israeli is well apprised of the public disagreements between the chief rabbis, the terroristic attacks, the dramatic Entebbe rescue, the U.N. discussion on Zionism, Sadat’s incredible visit to Jerusalem, Begin’s visit to Ismailiya, the strikes of teachers, bank staffs, post office employees, doctors, El Al personnel and the perennial mini crises that occur.

 

            However, in between and even during critical occurrences, the daily lives of the people continue at an even stride.  Countless events cause tremendous pride, assurance and happiness.  Many nations have sough out Israel because of its agricultural, medical electronics, etc. research.  The design and manufacture of the Kfir plane (with American engine) and other armaments are notable achievements.  Leadership in research and development of solar energy is one of the recent accomplishments. The establishment of a fashion industry and its annual market week is attended by buyers from Europe and other parts of the world. A furniture manufacturing industry has begun a make its impact locally and abroad: The annual book fair held at the Binyanei Ha’ooma in Jerusalem, in which leading publishers from all over the world participate, continues to be an exciting and anticipated occasion and perhaps gives an insight to the Israeli psyche. The opulation attends in droves, despite a charge for admission, and buys significantly. It is said that, per capita, Israelis are the largest buyers of books. In the field of sports they are competing more than commendably despite the discriminating tactics by the sports associations, inspired bythe Arabs. And, we shall always recall with great glee how the Maccabees defeated the Russians in basketball at Virton, Belgium, in February 1977,  which was televised. There are so many things that give the Israelis that special confidence (“chuzpa”). Where else is there a museum like Beth Hatefutsoth in Ramat Aviv on the Tel Aviv University campus!

 

But man needs material things too, in his daily life. Rapid inflation and high taxes are facts of life. Government subsidies for basic foods and transportation have been considerably decreased. As a consequence of the ragged economy, wage disputes result and there is the endless adjustment in salaries to the cost of living, but the sequence is, first, a strike that inconveniences the public. However, no one goes hungry or uncared for. The cost of apartments, in line with inflation, is as expensive as in the States, except in development towns and settlement areas. But, new immigrants are given various privileges, including cheap housing and household furnishings at reduced prices.

 

During the period between the two “Shemitah” years we experienced two extremes – a war and the making of peace with Egypt. It was bewildering to see the reception Sadat received in Haifa. It seemed unreal that Israelis could so soon forgive the Yom Kippur War. But apparently the yearning for peace was overwhelming. And we wondered whether a like welcome would be accorded the Israelis when they would come to Egypt and whether the Egyptians also had a genuine desire for peace.

 

When we arrived in Israel the population numbered about three million and now it is about four million, Arabs increasing more rapidly than Jews. Many Jews continue to make aliyah, although at a slower pace than desired. It is gratifying to note the large percentage of observant Jews among the new immigrants from the west. They are the most motivated and idealistic element.  Among them will be the future builders and leaders of Israel, who will help to mold Israel in the image we all long for.

 

            There are so many opportunities in all fields and with perseverance, attainment is unlimited and the quality of life for Jews superior than elsewhere.

 

It is noteworthy that there is in Israel a considerable percentage of natives, for


such a small and young country, who enjoy also a second home, can afford to vacation frequently within Israel as well as abroad, refurnish their apartments when they feel the need for it, etc.

 

Notwithstanding the present political and economic situation, we look forward


with much hope for the future – to the next “Shemitah” year and to the Jubilee Year of Israel’s establishment.

We Climbed The Wrong Mountain

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

      Have you ever climbed the wrong mountain? I don’t think that anybody who has passed through IDF officers training has not had that experience. After the searing moment of realization sinks in, there is no choice but to go all the way back down and then climb up the right mountain. One thing for sure – there are no shortcuts.

 

      That is more or less what is happening now in Israel. After 2,000 years of exile, we had reached the absolute bottom of the mountain - the place where killing a Jew was just like killing a mosquito. And then, approximately 100 years ago, the Nation of Israel began searching for its fitting place in history.

 

      The historical alarm clock was ringing. It was time for the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and become a nation once again. Those who managed to get the most energy together and begin climbing up the mountain were Jews who had rejected their religion. The mountain they chose to climb on their ascent back into history was not the Jewish identity mountain. It was the normalcy mountain.

 

      The success of Zionism was dizzying. We miraculously reached the summit of the mountain. It was no longer possible to kill the Jews like mosquitoes. Just the opposite; the Jews had learned to be superior warriors.

 

      The ascent had been successful. But around the time of the Yom Kippur War, the first signs that we had climbed the wrong mountain began to appear. It turned out that even after the amazing victory in the Six-Day War, the neighbors still did not recognize our right to exist. The anti-Semitism that reminds us of the Judaism that we so wanted to forget and that Herzl promised would disappear as soon as we established a state simply changed its form.

 

      We tried to fool ourselves and flip a different switch. Instead of being a normal nation by conquering the land, we would be normal by surrendering it. We convinced ourselves that the hatred of Israel stems from the “Occupation” and the settlements, and that if we just retreat to the pre-Six-Day War lines, we will finally merit our longed-for normalcy. But the more we destroyed the settlers and disengaged from the land, the more the hatred grew. Worse yet, the price of our children’s blood began to decrease. The murder of a Jew in Sderot or Ashkelon has once again become a trivial matter.

 

      So now what do we do?

 

      For 10 years, Manhigut Yehudit has been trying to explain that we are climbing the wrong mountain. When Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasir Arafat’s hand, we warned that rockets would explode in Ashkelon. When nobody listened, we blocked the roads. Nothing helped. Reality has proven time and again that we were right. But the illusion that we had finally discovered the secret to turning into a normal nation is very strong. Now we are sliding down the mountain, nearing the point at which even here – in the Land of Israel, in our super high-tech normal state, armed to the teeth – killing a Jew is like killing a mosquito. And the world accepts and justifies it.

 

      I read an interview this week with Professor Ze’ev Tzachor, dean of the Sapir College in Sderot – where a student was killed by a Kassam last Thursday. (This is the same college where an Arab lecturer forced a student from class because he was dressed in his army uniform.) Professor Tzachor explained how his British colleagues rationalize the reason for hatred of Israel in England:

 

      “We had dreamed of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written as a prelude to worldwide redemption. After all, you are G-d’s treasured nation and the world has expectations. But look at what you have done.”

 

      Do you understand? The world does not expect us to be normal. The world expects us to be ourselves and to develop our unique culture, so that we can be a source of inspiration and hope for all mankind. In the eyes of the world, when we insist on being “normal,” we lose our very right to exist.

 

      So now we are sliding down the slippery slope. Gush Katif, Sderot, Ashkelon. And we have not yet reached the bottom. When we do get there, we must be sure to begin our climb up the right mountain. Not the mountain of “normalcy,” but rather the mountain of Jewish identity.

 

      To learn more about Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), and their plan for Israel’s future – and to order Feiglin’s newest book, The War of Dreams- visit http://www.jewishisrael.org/.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/we-climbed-the-wrong-mountain/2008/03/19/

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