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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Yom Kippur War’

BBC Claimed Egyptian Yom Kippur War Was ‘Pre-Emptive Arab Attack’

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The BBC has backed down from its characterization of Syria and Egypt’s 1973 attack against Israel as being “preemptive.”

The adjective appeared on the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Learning Zone, a platform designed to offer historical information to students, and was removed Tuesday following questions by JTA.

“During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt and Syria acted preemptively against Israel at the Suez Canal,” the website read.

BBC’s ethics guide defines a preemptive strike as “military action taken by a country in response to a threat from another country — the purpose of it is to stop the threatening country from carrying out its threat.”

Asked by JTA whether BBC had indications that Israel had threatened or planned to attack its Arab neighbors 40 years ago, BBC’s head of communications, Claire Rainford, wrote  in an email on Monday that the producers of Learning Zone “have reviewed the copy and decided to remove the word preemptive.”

The false characterization was featured in an article by the critical website BBC Watch.

According to Learning Zone, the information on the website was provided by the Israeli historian Benny Morris, who has written extensively about Israel’s culpability in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, as well as British journalist Robert Fisk and linguist Noam Chomsky — both harsh critics of Israel who have likened the country’s practices to apartheid in South Africa.

The text on Learning Zone now reads: “During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt and Syria acted against Israel at the Suez Canal.”

Rainford did not reply to  JTA’s question on whether the BBC had indications that Syria, which mounted a surprise attack in the Golan timed to coincide with the Egyptian advance, also acted against Israel at the Suez.

For the record, following is a very short section of a much longer account of events leading up to the war, as published by Wikipedia:

“In an interview published in Newsweek (April 9, 1973), President Sadat…threatened war with Israel. Several times during 1973, Arab forces conducted large-scale exercises that put the Israeli military on the highest level of alert, only to be recalled a few days later. The Israeli leadership already believed that if an attack took place, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) could repel it.

“Almost a full year before the war, in an October 24, 1972, meeting with his Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Sadat declared his intention to go to war with Israel even without proper Soviet support. Planning had begun in 1971 and was conducted in absolute secrecy—even the upper-echelon commanders were not told of war plans until less than a week prior to the attack, and the soldiers were not told until a few hours beforehand. The plan to attack Israel in concert with Syria was code-named Operation Badr (Arabic for “full moon”), after the Battle of Badr, in which Muslims under Muhammad defeated the Quraish tribe of Mecca.”

Netanyahu Expects ‘Full Destruction’ of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he expects “the full destruction of the stocks of chemical weapons that the Syrian regime has used against its own people.”

Speaking at a state ceremony at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to mark the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, he added, “We hope that the understandings that have been achieved between the US and Russia regarding Syria’s chemical weapons will show results, and indeed, these understandings will be tested by results.”

His remarks did not ignore the Iranian nuclear threat. The Prime Minister stated, ”The test of results also applies to the international community’s diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. Here as well, it is not words that will be decisive, but rather actions and results. In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat. Today, this ability and this willingness are more important than ever.”

 

Numerous Reasons for Fear, One Reason for Joy this New Year

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Amalek, Torah, Moses, Egypt, Hamas, Taliban, terrorists,Israel marks on the Sabbath the 40th year of the Yom Kippur War that nearly destroyed the country. Today, being the island in a sea of Arab storms threatens the country no less, but slowly, slowly, the Big Lies of evil are crumbling at Israel’s feet.

If the “peace process” and existential threats of Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and the Iranian regime and their Russian sponsors are a measure, Israel can start saying the Kaddish mourning prayer for itself.

President Barack Obama is dead set to shrink Israel to what former Israeli Ambassador Abba Eban, far from a right-wing hawk, called the “Auschwitz borders” that existed from 1949 until 1967.

Obama is only the latest, if not the last, American president to interpret the Middle East through the eyes of the Arab world, which not coincidentally is an oil-rich world.

Israel no longer can depend on logic. Explaining why it is not an ‘occupier” is an exercise of the frustration of an idiot. Exposing Palestinian Authority incitement and highlighting Arab terror simply encourages the one-line mind that Israel has brought its woes on itself.

No matter what the Obama administration says, its actions, and those of every American government the past decades, have forgiven the Palestinian Authority for every violation of the Oslo Accords while demanding that Israel live up to every word and letter.

Foreign media have swallowed hook, line and sinker the Arab world argument that “settlements” are an obstacle to peace, and nothing will change that fallacy,

Except the truth.

Israel’s real strength is rooted in the Torah. In the Sinai desert, where Amalek preceded Hamas , Moses led the people around its enemies instead of fighting them, unless attacked first.

The anti-Semitic Big Lie is inherent in foreign governments and foreign media. It was inherent in the media during the Holocaust, which was ignored as much as possible until the truth defeated evil, all too late for 6,000,000 Jews.

The Big lie has been crumbling, and the media, slowly but surely, have no choice other than giving up the anti-Zionist fight.

Neither The New York Times, nor CNN, nor the U.S. State Dept. will admit they were wrong. Like old generals, they simply will fade away.

The Big Lie began crumbling years ago, at least as far back as Israel’s middle-of-the-night flight from the Security Zone in southern Lebanon, but it took the 2005 expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza to wake up the world out of its peace and love slumber.

When Hamas attacked southern Israel with rockets immediately after the Sharon government destroyed the lives of 9,000 innocent Jews, President Shimon Peres, Israel’s eternal Minister of Peace, actually said out loud he simply cannot understand why Hamas would do such a thing after Israel was so nice.

When the Palestinian Authority staged its first and, until now, its last democratic election, Hamas won. Condoleezza Rice who then was Secretary of State, simply could not believe that Arabs would democratically vote for anti-democrats. The State Dept. did not and still does not understand that Arabs will accept democracy only if it is a means towards destroying Israel. Otherwise, it is useless to them.

The Big Lie crumbled in Iraq but it took the war in Afghanistan to wake up the American people. A war weary United States is preparing to leave Afghanistan in the hands of a government that operates in the shadow of Taliban. In the Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. Army won the battle and defeated Saddam Hussein, but it lost the war. Suicide bombings are weekly events in Iraq today. The government is a shell that does not even thinly disguise growing anarchy. Good luck, Afghanistan, on your inheritance from Washington.

The Big Lie of the romantic Arab Spring rebellion for freedom, by Western standards, crumbled in Egypt, and it has collapsed in Syria.

“Freedom” for Islamists is the right to end freedom for others.

The cheers for the Muslim Brotherhood, after the “despot” Mubarak was deposed, turned out to be jeers after it was clear that the Brotherhood is no less despotic. And the military regime is no better.

Syria would be a laughable situation if it were not for the fact that it is not funny when hundreds of thousands of people are killed indiscriminately, starved, tortured, and gassed. Lest anyone forget, the Obama administration, and Kerry when he was a senator in the Bush administration, “engaged” Assad. So much for their choice of marriage partners.

Former Military Intelligence Chief: ‘Iran Has Crossed the Red Line’

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

“Israel can attack Iran alone and can also deal with the aftermath,” Major-General (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former IDF head of military intelligence told the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies. According to Yadlin, Iran has already “crossed the new red line drawn by Israel.”

Yadlin estimated that “the Iranians can very quickly produce a nuclear bomb even now, and the closer they get to the breakthrough moment, the faster they’ll be able to do it – under a presidential order. He warned that as early as this summer Iran will be at a stage where the time lag between an order and a finished bomb will come down to a month or two.

At that point, he warned, it would be extremely difficult to stop Iran.

Gen. Itai Baron, head of the research division at Military Intelligence, said that back in 2012 Israeli experts recognized a difference between the real capabilities of Iran and what it was actually prepared to execute. He estimated that the sanctions imposed on Iran, including international pressure, damage and deter Iran. Yet, despite those influences, Iran’s nuclear program continues to advance in an obvious direction.

“We are in a period of a lot of risks, uncertainties and instability, in an explosive atmosphere and an increased likelihood of escalation scenarios,” Baron concluded. But he nevertheless stressed that the IDF is not expecting an all out war of annihilation directed at Israel, similar to the Yom Kippur War 40 years ago.

Gen. Baron also warned against the Syrian government’s repeated use of chemical weapons and of repeated attempts to send Syrian military equipment to the Hizbollah in Lebanon.

The Brave Soldier from Auschwitz

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

My late father was a survivor of Auschwitz.  He arrived there as a young Hassid from a Jewish village in Poland, and he left as he had arrived, with his faith intact, and with an awareness that following the Holocaust, he must not be tempted by the offers of the JDC and HIAS to travel to America.  As he put it one of the few times he broke the long silence that characterized his life: “The time had come to go home.”

He went to fight in the War of Liberation, although my mother, who had survived the ghettos, already was carrying me in her belly.  They had made a decision to build a family together, and were married by a British military rabbi in a Cyprus detention camp for Jews who attempted to break the British blockade of the Land of Israel.

Upon arriving here in Israel he was immediately conscripted and sent to infantry training and then to serve at Haganah positions.  He left my pregnant mother in a village in the north with other families that had come from the gloom of the Diaspora and forged a community of Hassidic laborers out of its wreckage.

Alongside him served other survivors.  The cynics among them would later laugh about those days of “Yiddish soldiers” whose maneuvers were executed in exquisite Yiddish that to my ears sounded like a Dzigan sketch.   I remember their reminiscences about mortar-firing exercises accompanied by otherwordly orders straight out of the shtiebl.  “Arise, Reb Yechiel—honored with the firing of one bomb!”

As much as this was a Hassidic community, it was a Zionist one, at once hard-nosed and idealistic.  Its members took Independence Day with the utmost seriousness, and recited the formal blessing over the Hallel prayer.  “Anyone who wasn’t there has no business telling us not to say a blessing,” Daskal, the synagogue manager, once said to me.  He would later lose his son Ya’akov, a brilliant yeshiva student, when he fell with two fellow students in a terrorist ambush in the Jordan Valley.

There was no quibbling with decisions as to who was called up for duty.  Encounters at the shtiebl between Torah students and fighters lacked the tension that is there today.  There was agreement that everyone was on a mission, whether a military mission or one of Torah.

“A Head with Tefillin”

It was the first day of the Yom Kippur War.  We were in the middle of the Mussaf prayer, and I was there in my commanding role in the Hassidic choir as we sang “Be with the mouths of your people the House of Israel.”

My mother, who had been informed well in advance that two consecutive calls were due cause to pick up the phone on a Shabbat or holiday, arrived at the synagogue and hurried me out.

“I think they’re calling from your unit,” she said nervously.

Before saying goodbye to me, the old Hassidim sent me to receive a blessing from the rebbe of the neighboring shtiebl, who was considered a miracle worker.  He too had come from there.

With the convulsions of war and the battles, I moved around between various units so as to stay on the front.  As time went on, as would be expected of me, I lost more and more of my equipment—but not my gun or my tefillin.

My gun—granted, but tefillin?  To understand that you have to know a story from my youth.

One day in yeshiva I received a package of cookies from my mother, accompanied by an agitated letter from my father.

“My dear son,” he wrote in the rugged handwriting of a manual laborer, “you know what ‘a head without tefillin’ is.  But the head of the yeshiva has informed me that you missed putting on tefillin one day!”

He continued, adding that in Auschwitz there were no tefillin, until in 1943 a certain group of Hungarian Jews arrived.  When he heard that they had a pair of tefillin, he began crossing the fence that separated him from them very early each morning to put on tefillin for a moment and say “Shema.”

“Let this deed not seem trivial to you,” he wrote in Diasporic Hebrew.  “It was a very difficult thing to do, it was cold, and I stood the risk of missing the distribution of rations—and someone who missed receiving food for one day was in danger.  Nevertheless, this was [serving God] ‘with all your means.’”

When I came home I wanted to hear more of the story.  Was the fence electrified?  It wasn’t every day that he opened up, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

“What was, was,” he said definitively.  “That is all.”

“But wasn’t your life at risk?!” I said deviously.  “Is it really permitted to risk your life in order to perform a mitzva?”

That already was a halakhic discussion.  He responded.

“True.  As soon as I saw that other Jews were copying me and waiting on line, I stopped.”

I took this story with me to every war.  Before beginning a day of forced labor, a Jew goes and finds other Jews like him waiting at dawn on a long line to put on tefillin.  Just so they would not have “a head without tefillin,” as the Talmud puts it.  How then could I not be sure to put on tefillin every day?

Still, the Lebanon War came and, as luck would have it, my tefillin remained in the APC behind the lines with the rest of my equipment, while I was in the alleys of Baabda at the entrance to Beirut, part of the first battalion to arrive there.  A few inquiries later a pair of tefillin was found for me, and I went to the side, dressed in tefillin and talit.

Suddenly an Arab couple appeared, a man and woman dressed in their finest.  They drew closer, heading straight for me.

I pulled my gun out of the folds of the talit.

“Rifa ayadikum!” I ordered in Arabic.  “Put your hands up!”

As they stood there opposite me, their hands aloft, the man made a gesture to his wife with his raised hand.

“Marati!” he exclaimed.  “Yahudi.”  “She is a Jew.”

“Prove it,” I countered.  “What does it say inside this box?” as I pointed in the direction of my forehead.

“Shema Yisrael,” she answered, lowering one hand from above her head, covering her eyes, “Hashem elokeinu, Hashem echad.”

“Uchtei anta,” I said.  “You are my sister.”  Her eyes were moist.  I think mine were, too.

I could feel my father standing there with me, and his fathers as well.

“How great tefillin are,” I thought.  “They connect different worlds and different generations.  If I hadn’t been wearing them, the lost daughter who married a Christian man might not have dared approach the enemy invaders.  She might never have reconnected with her family in Bat Yam.”  Now, as she told the story of her family members with whom she had lost contact when they departed for Israel, the connection was renewed.

One good deed leads to another.  I don’t know what happened to that woman, but maybe, just maybe, her earth-shattering “Shema Yisrael,” together with the prayers for the safety of our soldiers, gave us the boost we needed in the ensuing battles.

A Dream

I have a strange occupation: I attend funerals and memorial services.  After a recent funeral, I had a dream in which my father appeared, waking me with his numbered hand.

“You cried?” he said.

“No.  Why?”

“I heard you cry.  I know you.  You’ve cried every time since you came back from the Six-Day War as a young man.  Anyway, I thought I heard you crying from up here, so I came.”

“So I cried.  So what?

“I’ve told you a thousand times you don’t have what to cry over.  We didn’t cry ….”  He gestured with his numbered hand.  “What we went through without crying … Thousands of us killed every hour, herded by the hundreds into the crematorium every seven minutes, and we didn’t cry!”

“Then maybe the time has come to cry,” I said.  “The numbers keep adding up.  There’s no end.  You promised us that we had come here to put an end to the era of death!”

“Nu, nu,” said my father in his Polish Yiddish Hebrew, clicking his tongue.  “Have you forgotten the inheritance I left you?”

“What inheritance, Abba?  You worked liked a dog your whole life, but there was no inheritance!  Not a dime!”

“What abbout the Kaddish prayer I left you?  That inheritance.  Every year I said Kaddish on the Tenth of Tevet and on Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of all the relatives who were murdered by the hundred.  Now it’s you, my heir, who has to say it instead of me.”

“What kind of an inheritance is that, Abba?” I yelled.  “I should say Kaddish?  I never even met them!”

“Precisely,” my father exclaimed with a victorious smile.  “You understand now.  You never met them, and I never meet them either.  They went to their deaths anonymously by the hundred, by the thousand, by the million.  Now everything has changed.  Today your newspapers are full of names, pictures, stories.  Every person who is killed has a name, and the whole nation remembers him.  Where we were, who remembered them?

“Now you understand that there is a difference.  In between the tears, you can smile a little, you have to allow yourself some happiness.  Now you have a state, and an army, and someone to bury the dead, which we did not have …”

With that my father disappeared, wearing the doleful smile he had worn when he came, offering a survivor’s consolation so relevant to these days.

Originally published in Makor Rishon, April 12. Translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg.

A Soldier Remembered in His ‘Letters to Talia’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Considering the continued uncertainty in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition quest/negotiations, I see this as a good time to post my review of the English translation of the Israeli bestseller,  מכתבים לטליה Michtavim liTalyaLetters to Talia, by Dov IndigHaYa”D.

I remember hearing about the book when it was first published in its original Hebrew, but as usual I let news of Hebrew books fly over my consciousness, since I don’t expect to read them.  It’s not that I don’t read Hebrew at all.  My Hebrew is for labels, ads, my pay slip, letters and notices on the Shiloh email list, our weekly newsletter and the very occasional newspaper or magazine article.

I received Letters to Talia from Gefen Publishing House to review.  I don’t remember if they mailed it to me or it was one of the books I picked up from them at the Jerusalem International Book Fair.  But it really doesn’t matter how I got it, because it’s a great book and I must tell you why.

First of all the translation by Yehuda Burdman is fantastic.  I have no idea how easily the original Hebrew read, but it was a true pleasure reading it in English.  I even carried the book around with me to take advantage of a few minutes’ reading time here and there.  I don’t normally do that.  My bags are always too full and my time too short for such a luxury.  But this book followed me around for the few days it took to complete reading it.

Now, what’s it about?

Dear Dov,You must really be surprised to be receiving a letter from a girl you don’t know… Dov Indig was killed on October 7, 1973, in a holding action on the Golan Heights in Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Letters to Talia, published in his memory by family and friends, contains excerpts from an extensive correspondence Dov maintained with Talia, a girl from an irreligious kibbutz in northern Israel, in 1972 and ’73, the last two years of his life. At the time, Talia was a highschool student, and Dov was a student in the Hesder yeshiva Kerem B’Yavneh, which combines Torah study with military service. It was Talia’s father who suggested that Talia correspond with Dov, and an intense dialogue developed between them on questions of Judaism and Zionism, values and education. Their correspondence continued right up to Dov’s death in the Yom Kippur War.  (Gefen)

While readying the book my mind was full of “ifs.”  The main “if” obviously is: If only Dov Indig hadn’t been killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War…

Indig’s analysis and predictions as to what would happen if Israel withdrew from our Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War or what he expected would happen to the kibbutz movement, especially the secular ones, are so on target, that it’s frightening.  We, Israel and the Jewish People, lost a great and brilliant talent.  There is no other way to describe him.  Yes, you must read the book to fully comprehend what a terrible loss it was to all of us as a People and Nation that he isn’t with us today.

So many of the very best were killed in that terrible war in 1973.  My friends and I still mourn our Betar New York friends who were killed.  We get together every year at Mount Herzl to honor them.  From my perspective, having made aliyah with my husband in 1970, I can easily identify with Indig’s friends who felt it vitally necessary to publish this correspondence.

Everything Indig said about the secular kibbutz movement has happened (for instance, “I will risk a prophecy … that in the next generation most of the kibbutzniks will grow tired of the cooperative spirit and all the ideals associated with it” (page 52)).  That makes me even more curious about Talia, not her real name.  All that is revealed in the postscript is that after her National Service and subsequent army service, she returned to her kibbutz where she still lives.  In her letters, we discover that her best friend actually became religious, Talia is too attracted by the idea.  She’s infatuated with Judaism and Dov.  In her last letter, which Dov most probably never read, she tells Dov that she will fast and go to a synagogue on Yom Kippur to pray for his safety.  It’s too easy to imagine her disappointment even anger with God when she discovers that her prayers didn’t protect Dov from death.

Matana’s Gift

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dear Readers: The long, lazy days of summer are upon us and it’s time to sit back with a cold drink and good book. The following is a reprint of a fictional story I wrote a long time ago. Though it is made up, there are parts that are all too real. Long lost objects have miraculously turned up under the most unlikely circumstances. This story is in memory of a second cousin, David, who was blown up in his tank during the Yom Kippur War. His wife had their first child, a girl, eight months later.

* * * * *

It was the Thursday before her daughter’s wedding and Chana Bendiner had so much to do, so many minute details to attend to. Yet here she was in her attic, blowing the dust off a photo album that had remained buried, but not forgotten, for over 20 years. She stared at the leather-bound cover, gently caressing the embossed gold lettering, unable to open it, yet unable to put it down.

For Chana Bendiner knew that the photos that lay within, unseen for two decades, would unleash a torrent of bittersweet memories, releasing intense emotions from the deeply buried vault in her heart in which she had locked them – an soul-numbing process that had taken years of effort and a deluge of tears.

Inhaling deeply, prepared to have her breath taken away by a tsunami of memories that would flood her inner core, she opened the album book.

Looking up at her with a smile as radiant as snow bathed in sunlight was her 22-year-old self, her blue eyes as bright as the skies over the Kinneret; her hair a honey-blond cascade of curls spilling out from her bridal veil. Chana wryly touched her light brown sheitel, grateful that it covered the grey strands that had stealthily infiltrated her hair.

Her smile trembled and her face contorted as she looked at the young man at her side, her chatan, her golden-voiced Dov, Berel to the older generation. His puppy-brown eyes glowed with life, framed by thick auburn eyelashes that matched his thatch of auburn hair. A subtle brown sheen barely saved him from being labeled a gingi – a redhead.

Both native New Yorkers, Chana Rotgerber and Dov Walbrom had met at a kumsitz melavah malka at the home of a mutual friend in Jerusalem. Chana had been enchanted by his mellow tenor voice as he sat on the floor, strumming his guitar and singing Israeli folk-songs. He in turn could not take his eyes off her. He would later describe her as human sunshine. To their mutual relief and delight, they discovered that both had made aliyah, determined to give of their talents and skills to enhance their ancestral homeland.

The two and a half years of their marriage were of fairy-tale caliber: both delighted in the existence of the other. The “icing on their cake” had been the birth of their redheaded, milk chocolate-eyed baby girl.

“Go figure,” Chana had exclaimed to her ecstatic, peacock-proud husband as she scrutinized her newborn daughter. “For nine months I grow this human being inside me, my waist explodes and may ankles swell – and she’s the spitting image of you! It’s like I had no part in all this!”

“Well at least we know she’ll be good-looking,” Dov teased as he dodged the pillow Chana had thrown at him.

They had named their child Matana. Chana had had her heart set on naming her baby after her mother’s sister, who had perished in the Holocaust. She knew however that the name “Matel” was not quite appropriate for a sabra, and she was delighted when Dov, a bio-engineer with a creative bend, had come up with the name Matana, which was Hebrew for gift. It was perfect, sounding enough like Matel to satisfy the thrilled grandparents, yet preventing the teasing that would have been the inevitable fate of an Israeli child called Matel. Almost immediately after her naming, Matana was nicknamed Mati, and that was what she was called from that moment on.

For 10 months after Mati’s birth, her father would croon her to sleep, composing different tunes and changing the words to suit the baby’s mood. Often her doting daddy would spend hours playing his guitar, tape-recording the music that flowed from his hands. When Chana had asked him what he was so busy with, he told her he was working on Mati’s wedding march. It would be played as they walked her to her chuppah and her waiting chatan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/matanas-gift/2012/07/06/

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