26TH ANNIVERSARY GALA II: THE “SPIRIT OF MAHAL” LIVES ON THROUGH THE COURAGE OF THE IAF & OF THOSE WHO FIGHT ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS ON CAMPUSES

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Israel’s Air Force to Increase Operational Capability by 400 Percent: Algemeiner, June 8, 2014—  The Israeli Air Force chief stated last week that the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014.

1981 Operation Opera (Strike on Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor): IDF Blog, June 7, 2014: On June 7, 1981, a squadron of IAF fighter planes took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor and put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program, which President Suddam Hussein had used to openly threaten Israel. 

The Volunteers: Gail Lichtman, Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2008— Sixty years ago, during Israel's War of Independence, some 3,500 men and women from 44 countries around the world left the comfort of their homes and families to help the fledgling Jewish state in its struggle for survival as part of Mahal (the Hebrew acronym for "overseas volunteers").

Sarah Bernamoff: "Don't Accept What is Becoming The Status Quo": Ilana Shneider, Shalom Toronto, June 5, 2014— Sarah Bernamoff is a 33 year old Calgarian, born to an Israeli mother and Canadian father.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Next Arab-Israeli War Will Be Fought with Drones: Yochi Dreazen, New Republic, Mar. 26, 2014

5 Most Innovative Weapons the IDF Has to Offer (That We Can Tell You About): IDF Blog, Apr. 20, 2014

Stanley Medicks – The Man Behind the Mahal Memorial: Elana Overs, Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2013

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014

 

ISRAEL’S AIR FORCE TO INCREASE OPERATIONAL

CAPABILITY BY 400 PERCENT

Algemeiner, June 8, 2014

                         

The Israeli Air Force chief stated last week that the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014. In a single day, Israeli planes will be able to strike thousands of terror targets and expand the IDF’s achievements during extended operations. Major General Amir Eshel, commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke last week at the Tenth Annual Conference for National Security on the contribution of air power to Israel’s strategic capabilities. Maj. Gen. Eshel discussed the air force’s attack and defensive capabilities during times of war and routine operations.

 

“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” the IAF commander said, referring to a significant leap in capabilities over the past two years. He based his assessment on an evaluation of IDF abilities and conversations with officials from foreign militaries. “We have an unprecedented offensive capability, which allows us to accurately strike thousands of targets in one day. We have doubled our abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014, we will see an improvement of 400 percent to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past, as a result of a long improvement process.”

 

To illustrate Israel’s advancements, the IAF Commander compared the air force’s new efficacy to other achievements in recent years. “The air force at the end of 2014, in less than 24 hours, can do what it did in three days during the Second Lebanon War, and can do in 12 hours what it did in a week during Operation Pillar of Defense.” Maj. Gen. Eshel stated that “Israel can not afford lengthy attacks. We need to win quickly. A short time, in my opinion, is a few days. I do not believe in conducting long wars.” The air force chief argued that accurate and quality firepower is the main variable in achieving victory. To do so, he said, “It’s not enough to have just technical ability – we need to adopt an approach. We’re talking about an operation with full power; all of the air force, all encompassing, from the opening of the offensive effort in order to strike as powerfully as possible and shorten the war.”

 

“We can destroy the military capabilities and infrastructure that support the activities of Hezbollah on a scale that would require decades to rebuild. We could achieve a direct hit on the terror organization and all that supports it on an unimaginable scale,” the IAF commander said. “Unfortunately Hezbollah took its assets and moved them into the cities,” he added. Hezbollah terrorists position themselves deep within civilian urban areas, where they use homes and civilians as shields against Israeli counterattacks. In recent years, they have also mastered the technique of disappearing underground. “This is a very significant challenge because we do not want to hurt innocent bystanders.”

 

In the face of these challenges, the IDF uses precision strikes to eliminate terror targets, a method which also prevents operations from spiraling into wars. “What characterizes our air power is our ability to control its impact, and this is very important during incidents of combat between wars,” Maj. Gen. Eshel explained. “Everything is flexible and subject to change. This is the advantage of the air force: the ability to take the hammer that was made for wars and use it in a more limited capacity.”

 

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1981 OPERATION OPERA (STRIKE ON IRAQ’S NUCLEAR REACTOR)         

IDF Blog, June 7, 2014

 

On June 7, 1981, a squadron of IAF fighter planes took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor and put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program, which President Suddam Hussein had used to openly threaten Israel. The operation was not simple. To neutralize the threat, Israeli fighter planes would have to fly all the way to Iraq. The  operation had many obstacles, which the Air Force overcame with a combination of great planning and pure good luck. The main problem was flying such a huge distance –almost 1,000 miles— undetected while in enemy airspace.

 

For this they prepared eight heavily-fueled F-16 fighter planes and six F-15s just for backup. Among the F-16 pilots was a young Ilan Ramon, who would later go on to be the first Israeli astronaut. The squad left Israel’s Etzion Airbase on June 7 at 3:55 PM. While flying in Jordanian airspace, the team spoke to ground control in Saudi-accented Arabic, pretending to be flying aircraft that simply went off course. They successfully passed through unchallenged.

 

The plan was almost thwarted by King Hussein of Jordan, who was on vacation in Aqaba at the time, and noticed the planes flying overhead. He ordered an alert to warn Iraqi forces, but the message was never received because of a communication error. Another bit of luck came at the hands of the Iraqi military itself. The soldiers in charge of Iraq’s anti-aircraft defenses left for lunch 30 minutes before the attack and turned off their radars. Though some of the Israeli aircraft were eventually detected, they avoided any anti-aircraft fire. In all, the strike itself took less than two minutes and accomplished its objective of neutralizing the Iraqi nuclear threat.

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THE VOLUNTEERS                                                            

Gail Lichtman                                                                                                                  Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2008

 

Sixty years ago, during Israel's War of Independence, some 3,500 men and women from 44 countries around the world left the comfort of their homes and families to help the fledgling Jewish state in its struggle for survival as part of Mahal (the Hebrew acronym for "overseas volunteers"). Mainly World War II veterans with military training and experience, their contribution was decisive in helping Israel establish an army and win its fight for existence against an invading force of five Arab armies.

 

The Mahalniks, as they were known, brought with them the military expertise, familiarity with equipment and arms, combat experience and knowledge of military frameworks that proved vital to the newly formed IDF on the ground, at sea and in the air. Mahalniks served in every branch of the IDF, including artillery, infantry, armored corps, medical corps, engineers, signals, radar and the navy – many in key positions of command. The 425 Mahalniks who flew in the Israel Air Force and air transport command made up 95 percent of the air crews. In addition, 450 served in the Palmah and 200 were doctors and nurses in hospitals and frontline casualty stations. Some 250 Americans and Canadians manned the 10 Aliya Bet (illegal immigration) ships that ran the British blockade before the establishment of the state, bringing more than 31,000 Holocaust survivors to Palestine. And Mahalniks also paid the price of war – 121 of them (117 men and four women) fell during the War of Independence. Many more were injured and some went missing in action.

 

Mahalniks were overwhelmingly from English-speaking countries, but also included volunteers from Latin America, Europe and even some Arab countries. They were mainly Jews, motivated by Jewish solidarity and concerns for the security of the Yishuv in its struggle for survival, as well as by the historic reestablishment of a Jewish state after 2,000 years. But there were also non-Jews among them, horrified by the Holocaust, who wanted to aid the Jewish people. The most famous Mahal volunteer was American Col. David (Mickey) Marcus, who was recruited to serve as prime minister David Ben-Gurion's military adviser, and helped lay the foundation for transforming the pre-state defense forces into a regular army. His role in the construction of the Burma Road, which helped break the siege of Jerusalem, was critical. Killed by friendly fire in June 1948, Marcus was laid to rest at West Point, the only American soldier to be buried there who died fighting for a foreign country.

 

Ben-Gurion called the Mahal volunteers "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel." In May 1993, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin said at the consecration of the Mahal Memorial in the Sha'ar Hagai Forest: "You came to us when we needed you most, during those dark and uncertain days of our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The people of the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Mahal." Nevertheless, for much of Israel's history, Mahal's contribution has remained one of the best kept secrets of the War of Independence. It took 45 years before the Mahal Memorial was set up. And thousands of archival Mahal documents and photographs are still housed in the Kfar Shmaryahu home of former Mahalnik, David Teperson, who came from South Africa in 1948. One reason for the lack of publicity about Mahal is that most Mahalniks returned to their countries of origin after the war. Another was fear of the embargo policies and legal consequences the volunteers could face in the home countries (especially the US). Moreover, in the wake of the war, Israeli leaders believed that it was important for nation-building to emphasize the role of the Yishuv in the struggle for independence. In Jerusalem met with three local former Mahalniks, all octogenarians, who answered the call of 1948, and remained to make Israel their home…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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SARAH BERNAMOFF: "DON'T ACCEPT WHAT IS

BECOMING THE STATUS QUO"                                                                            Ilana Shneider                                                                                                                  Shalom Toronto, June 2, 2014

 

Sarah Bernamoff is a 33 year old Calgarian, born to an Israeli mother and Canadian father. Her family is of Yemenite, Greek, Spanish and Russian background. Sarah lived in Israel for 10 years, where she completed her BA in International Relations from Hebrew University. She recently graduated with an MBA from the University of Calgary and is commencing Law School this fall.

 

Sarah, you are the co-founder of Calgary United with Israel (CUWI), as well as Canadians for Human Rights (CHRME), a relatively new and very dynamic group of young pro-Israel advocates. Tell us how these organizations came about and what their mission is.

 

The organizations are a response to mounting hateful activity against Israel supporters, coupled with the perceived irresponsiveness of our “official Jewish community" to this activity. We asked for help and we were told to ignore the hateful activity; we asked to help, and we were told to donate to UJA. We are a group of students and other stakeholders who felt bullied on campus, abandoned by our Jewish leadership and ultimately that we had no voice. In response we established our grassroots organizations, which are now comprised of students, university alumni, professionals and community members at large – locally, nationally and internationally. Our members are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Native and more. Our mission is to promote justice and human rights for all, in an overt fashion, with a focus on Israel and her Nation. Our values are moral and intellectual integrity, pro-activeness and camaraderie.

 

A founding member of CUWI is Ryan Bellerose, a Métis from Northern Alberta, founder of Canadians For Accountability (a Native rights advocacy group), an Idle No More movement organizer and a self-proclaimed Zionist. It's not very often that you see pro-Israel advocacy and Idle No More thrown together in the mix. How did this unlikely coalition come about?

 

We do not see this coalition as unlikely. We believe that the “right” and “left” political paradigm is currently a confused construct and that people can have views from different points along the political spectrum. It is a fallacy that issues of human rights and the environment should be on the left, while a pro-Israel stance should lay on the right. It can be boiled down to what is truthful, moral and intellectually honest. Jews have a moral, legal and historical right to self-determination in their indigenous land.

 

Furthermore, every human has the right to safety, freedom and basic wellness within his border. Therefore, any person with moral integrity who stands for true human rights, justice and democracy should feel aligned with Israel. Furthermore, for Ryan Bellerose and increasingly more Natives, there is a natural alignment with Jews and Israel as a successful indigenous project. As Naftali Bennet proudly stated recently on CNN, as he lifted a 2000 year old coin from Judea: “one cannot occupy his own home”. I recommend everyone read Ryan’s articles where he explains these points cogently (see www.cuwi.ca/ryan-bellerose).

 

CUWI's brand of Israel advocacy is fundamentally different from other Jewish organizations. You are an outspoken critic of “non-confrontational” stance and prefer to take direct and immediate action when faced with a rising tide of anti-Zionism, which often spills into overt anti-Semitism by well-funded and well-organized anti-Israel groups. Why do you think your hands-on approach is more effective than the traditional type of Hasbara in today's hostile campus environment?

 

I do not believe we are fundamentally different, but a cross-section. Many stakeholders feel exactly how we do; we are just one of the outspoken platforms for this growing public sentiment favoring overt advocacy.

 

In regards to “anti-Zionism”, the BDS and Apartheid Week hate campaigns carefully employ the word “Zionist” and not “Jew”. The goal is to artificially sever the inextricable bond between the Jewish Nation and Israel. The threat of BDS is not an economic one; the threat is the dehumanization and vilification of Jews and Israel supporters, for which the result is normalization of hatred. Normalized hate leads to actions of hate, as in the recent case at the University of Windsor where a hate crime against Jews was enacted the day before their BDS referendum. It is said that “possession is nine-tenths of the law”: in the absence of any voice declaring otherwise, the repeated vilification of Jews and Israel Supporters starts to become the version of truth that people accept. The largely unchallenged “disappearing Palestine” bus adverts did not help this. Of note, to bring up issues of “free speech” in this context is fallacious and shifts the real issue at hand…

 

You recently partnered with the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) on the Canadian Freedom Alliance, a national coalition group that supports pro-Israel students. Can you tell us about this initiative?

 

The goal of this initiative is to align Israel activists nationally who have a similar Israel advocacy approach and share the Canadian values of freedom, peace and moral integrity. Through unity, collaboration, exchange of information and alignment of resources we will be stronger in tackling our advocacy goals.

 

You are being featured at this year's Canadian Institute of Jewish Research gala, together with honouree Joe Warner, a Torontonian who was with the second Canadian Mahal Group in the anti-tank wing of the Givati Brigade (a group of volunteers which fought alongside Israelis in the 1948 War of Independence). How does it feel to share the stage with a veteran of Israel's War of Independence?

 

Of note, at the Montreal gala, Dr. William H. Novick with the Montreal Mahalniks will also be honoured. It is extremely humbling and inspiring to speak beside esteemed guest speakers who are the epitome of fighting for morality and justice, and that embody unapologetic Israel pride

 

As a young but seasoned activist, what is your advice to students who are faced with rising tide of anti-Zionism?

 

Don’t accept what is becoming the status quo. Attempts of bullying and intimidation, and regular attacks on your identity as a Jew or Israel Supporter are not acceptable and we are fighting it. Speak up. Verbalize your concern to people who can help. Don’t accept it as a norm. You have the right to study in a peaceful environment, not exposed to hatred, and with an equal chance for academic success. Deepen your bond with Israel. Travel to Israel. Know what it is and what it stands for. The Judean People are indigenous to the land of Israel and have had uninterrupted presence there for over 3200 years. The so-called “Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights” campus club has been systematically acting for the violation of Jewish Human Rights, deviously wrapping the club’s anti-Semitic agenda in the pseudo-fashionable politically correct guise of anti-Zionism. In the recent words of PM Harper: “[T]his is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

The Next Arab-Israeli War Will Be Fought with Drones: Yochi Dreazen, New Republic, Mar. 26, 2014 hortly after 7 a.m. on a chilly morning at the Rosh Hanikra military base in northernmost Israel, Lieutenant Colonel Yogev Bar Sheshet was already on his third Diet Coke.

5 Most Innovative Weapons the IDF Has to Offer (That We Can Tell You About): IDF Blog, Apr. 20, 2014 The IDF is one of the most technologically advanced armies in the world. Check out our five most innovative weapons, (at least the ones that we can tell you about) which help IDF soldiers in the battlefield every day.

Stanley Medicks – The Man Behind the Mahal Memorial: Elana Overs, Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2013Stanley Medicks, who died in England earlier this month at the age of 82, was a commander in Mahal (Volunteers from Abroad) during the War of Independence and later served as chairman of British and Scandinavian Mahal.

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014For me, at the age of almost 94, this evening presents an outstanding opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me along my life’s journey.

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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