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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘zionist history’

Viscount Samuel, Meet Secretary Hagel

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Emerging from intense controversy, the British politician Herbert Samuel (1870-1963) was appointed the first High Commissioner of Palestine, where he served 1920-25. A Jew and an influential Zionist, Samuel bent over backwards not to favor the Yishuv, to the point that he forwarded the interests of the Palestinians most hostile to the Jewish presence. Most notoriously, Samuel appointed Amin al-Husseini as mufti of Palestine, a position which Husseini used to become the most powerful figure in the mandate and the Palestinian who did the most-ever damage to Zionism (yes, even more so than his nephew Yasir Arafat).

This century-old history comes to mind in watching the first months in office of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. During his confirmation hearings, Hagel denounced many of his prior statements about Israel and Iran and then, as I have noted elsewhere, he chose to have his first face-to-face meeting in March with a foreign counterpart with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Despite major cuts to the American defense budget, Hagel promised in his meeting with Barak his intent to ensure continued funding for the Iron Dome and Arrow missile defense systems. Pentagon press secretary George Little explained that “during the meeting, Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel’s security, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and continued U.S. support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints.” Little also reported Hagel’s saying that he and Barak have had an outstanding working relationship.

Hagel also had warm words for Israel: “I appreciate the strategic relationship between our two nations and look forward to strengthening cooperation between the two defense establishments.”

Hagel has now gone to Israel – his first visit to a foreign country other than Afghanistan, where he focused on U.S. troops – and met with the leadership. He both did things and said things that please Israel. Here is the New York Times account, “Hagel, in Israel, Presses U.S. Agenda on Deterring Iran“:

Mr. Hagel, who was subject to intense, even hostile scrutiny during his confirmation process over whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel, hailed the “very special relationship” between the United States and Israel. He also repeatedly emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself “in a very dangerous, combustible region of the world.” …

Mr. Hagel acknowledged that there might be “minor” differences between the United States and Israel on the timeline in which Iran might develop nuclear weapons. “I think it’s important that we all keep our eye focused on the objective,” he said. “And there is no daylight there at all — that Iran is prevented from acquiring that nuclear capacity.” …

During his travels, Mr. Hagel will be pushing forward with a $10 billion arms package intended to further increase Israel’s military edge over other powers in the region while also bolstering the armed forces of two important Persian Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Included in the weapons deal for Israel are tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft, which can be used for transporting troops and patrolling borders and nearby seas, as well as advanced radars for Israeli warplanes. …

And two systems to be sold to Israel — a new generation of aerial refueling tankers and advanced missiles that home in on radar signals to destroy air-defense sites — would be important in any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr. Hagel said the weapons sales served as “another very clear signal to Iran.”

Here is Hagel’s statement before a meeting with Netanyahu (I bolded some words that bear special attention):

I’ve always appreciate this country, the people, the leadership and the courage that you represent and what has been produced in Israel. It is a model for the world, and the relationship between our two countries, just as you have noted, is as strong as it’s ever been, not only measured by the military-to-military, all the other metrics that apply to relationships, but as you also noted, Prime Minister, it is based on common values and respect for others, and that is the foundation of any relationship. …

This is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever. I’m committed to continue to strengthen this relationship, secure this relationship, and as you know, one of the main reasons I’m here is to do that. … I was able to take a long tour up in the north and the eastern borders here, and once again it reminds me of the dangers and difficulties and challenges. But I believe together, working with our allies and our friends, we will be able to do what is right for your country, my country, and make this region a better region and a more secure region, and make Israel more secure.

Hagel then answered press questions and become buddies with the IDF. Israel Hayom reports:

On Monday, Hagel was asked whether he believed it would be advisable for Israel to attack Iran on its own. “That calculation has to be made by Israel,” he replied after noting, “Israel is a sovereign nation; every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself.” Hagel did not mention a concern that U.S. officials have voiced in the past—that an Israeli strike would run the risk of igniting a wider war that could draw in the U.S.

Jabotinsky Understood, 102 Years Ago

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

We know that “history is written by the victors,” and until recently much of Israel’s history was written by the Left. Begin, Jabotinsky and others were treated as marginal, extremist figures, sometimes even vilified by the socialist establishment.

Israel underwent a political revolution in 1977 with the election of its first right-wing government, led by Menachem Begin, although vestiges of the old leftist establishment hung on in the arts, academia and media. Maybe for that reason the historical record is still unfair to Begin — whom some believe to have been the greatest of Israel’s Prime Ministers — and to Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, a remarkably prescient thinker and philosopher of Zionism.

Jabotinsky thought that Israel is not only physically located in the Middle East, but must live in the Middle East in order to survive. He understood the importance of ideology, of holding on to one’s convictions, of symbols and of honor — quite the opposite of some of today’s ‘pragmatic’ politicians.

In 1911, Jabotinsky wrote an essay called “Instead of Excessive Apology” (thanks to Dan Friedman for reminding me). One hundred and two years ago, he explained why it is craven and in any case pointless to apologize to Jew-haters the way Prime Minister Netanyahu did to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

In searching for a translation of Jabotinsky’s piece, I found one by Boris Shusteff, an Israeli of Russian origin. Shusteff had a few words about apologies also, even when there is something to apologize for (which of course there was not in the case of Turkey).

Here is Shusteff’s translation of the main points of Jabotinsky’s essay. Of course the ‘we’ refers to the then-stateless Jewish people, but it applies equally to the Jewish state. It could have been written yesterday, couldn’t it?

Instead of Excessive Apology by Zev Jabotinsky, 1911

Translated from Russian by Boris Shusteff

We constantly and very loudly apologize… Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell!’?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. … The situation that has been created as a result, tragically confirms a well known saying: “Qui s’excuse s’accuse.” ["one that apologizes for oneself accuses oneself" -- ed.]

We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer, a people that was already legislating at the time when the neighbors had not even invented a bast shoe. Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘why are they so afraid of everything?’ Apparently their conscience is not clear.’

Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among the people an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets, will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are–we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are the people that will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment…. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach–to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved…

Equating Zionist Pioneers With Arab Terrorists

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The film is grainy and amateurish, but the image is stirring: one-armed Yosef Trumpeldor, Zionist national hero, plowing a field in the Galilee in 1913.

By coincidence, the 100-year-old film clip of one of the most remarkable figures in Israel’s history was posted on YouTube shortly before Trumpeldor’s name appeared in the news in connection with the controversial study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks that was released in February.

The study – “Victims of Our Own Narratives?” – was funded by the U.S. State Department and carried out by a Jerusalem-based Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. Staff researchers examined books used in Israeli and Palestinian schools and concluded that both sides are equally guilty of incitement against the other.

The Israeli Ministry of Education called the study “biased and unprofessional” and three members of the international Scientific Advisory Panel overseeing the study rejected their colleagues’ methodology and conclusions.

One of the most controversial sections of the study dealt with the textbooks’ promotion of “martyrdom-sacrifice through death.” The study found passages in Palestinian books such as: “Every stone is violated, every square cries out in anger, every nerve is abuzz, death before submission, death before submission, forward!” and “With all this, the call to raise the overall performance to the level of shedding one’s blood becomes a sacred national right which it is difficult to relinquish or be lenient on.”

The study then argued that Israeli textbooks likewise promote “the value of martyrdom-sacrifice through death.” As evidence, it cited two books that described Yosef Trumpeldor as a hero and quoted his dying words, “No matter, it is good to die for our country.”

“Trumpeldor’s heroic defense of his home is a very different kind of ‘martyrdom’ from that frequently associated with the Palestinian movement,” notes Prof. Gil Troy of McGill University, author of the book Why I Am a Zionist. “To overlook that point, and implicitly compare Trumpeldor’s death in defense to suicide bombers or any kind of terrorism in offense – which Palestinians frequently call ‘martyrdom operations’ – is like comparing a policeman and an armed robber because both have guns. Trumpeldor died defending his home and country, not slaughtering innocents to advance a political goal.”

As a teenager growing up in Russia in the late 1800s, Trumpeldor was attracted to Zionism as well as the pacifism and communalism of the philosopher Leo Tolstoy.

“He did not have a trace of militarism in his character,” Prof. Anita Shapira, a leading Israeli historian of Zionism, has written. Nonetheless, Trumpeldor served with distinction in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, suffering wounds that cost him his left arm. Despite his injuries, he requested and was granted permission to return to the battlefront.

Trumpeldor arrived in the Holy Land in 1912 and, together with a small group of likeminded pioneers, settled at the Migdal farm, a fledgling Jewish settlement in the Galilee, on the site of what had been a Jewish town in biblical times. A harsh environment and primitive living quarters were the norm.

After the Migdal project broke up in 1913 over ideological disagreements and other problems, Trumpeldor traveled to Europe as a Zionist emissary. He served as a delegate to the Eleventh Zionist Congress, in Vienna, and then organized Zionist cells in Russia. Returning to Palestine in 1919, Trumpeldor volunteered to work at an Upper Galilee settlement called Tel Chai.

The small kibbutzim and other Jewish settlements in that region had few residents and fewer weapons, making them easy targets for local Arab terrorists. Attacks ranging from robbery to arson and murder were commonplace.

Some Zionist leaders favored sending aid to the northern border towns. Yitzhak Tabenkin argued, “If we withdraw from Tel Chai, we will retreat all the way to the desert.” But Menachem Ussishkin, chairman of the Zionist Commission, warned that “we would, by sending young men with arms, anger the Arabs unnecessarily.” Ussishkin eventually changed his mind and reinforcements were sent, but they arrived too late.

On March 1, Arab forces entered Tel Chai on the pretext of searching for illegal weapons, and a battle ensued. Six of the Jewish defenders, including Trumpeldor, were killed.

The last stand at Tel Chai, and Trumpeldor’s dying words, became an inspiration to the young Zionist movement. “This was the first time in Jewish history for two thousand years that Jews had preferred to die in battle rather than to retreat,” Prof. Shapira notes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/equating-zionist-pioneers-with-arab-terrorists/2013/03/13/

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