Tag: Israel History

REMEMBERING THE SIX-DAY WAR (II): ISRAEL’S DECISIVE VICTORY ESTABLISHED PERMANENCE OF JEWISH STATE

The Burden of the 1967 Victory: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Apr. 5, 2017 — In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, June 5, 2017— Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history.

1967:  The International Media and the Six-Day War: Meron Medzini, Fathom, 2017— In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek.

This Time, the Loser Writes History: Gabriel Glickman, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017— It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known).

 

On Topic Links

 

Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017

 

 

THE BURDEN OF THE 1967 VICTORY

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Apr. 5, 2017

 

In June 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. It achieved a stunning victory in six days. The military skill demonstrated by the Israelis was remarkable – so much so that battles from the Six-Day War continue to be studied at war colleges around the world. Israel’s military achievement had another extremely important effect. It went a long way towards convincing the Arab world that Israel cannot be easily destroyed by military force; Israel is a fact the Arabs must learn to live with. Indeed, ten years later – after Egypt had lost another war to Israel, this one in 1973 – its president, Anwar Sadat, came to Jerusalem (November 1977) to offer peace.

 

The swift and decisive victory of 1967 became the standard to which the IDF aspired – and the kind of victory expected by Israeli society in future engagements. This is problematic, considering the ways Israel’s opponents have changed and the means they now deploy. The unrealistic anticipation that victories on the scale of 1967 should be the end result of any military engagement hampers clear thinking and impedes the adoption of appropriate strategy and tactics. Moreover, it encourages what is often an impossible hope for a quick end to conflict. In the absence of a clear-cut and speedy outcome, Israelis lose confidence in the political as well as the military leadership.

 

Israelis, many of whom have limited military experience, still long for decisive victories in the Gaza and South Lebanon arenas. The wars in which the IDF has participated so far in the twenty-first century, which appeared to end inconclusively, left many Israelis with a sense of unease. They miss the victory photographs of the 1967 war. Slogans of the Israeli right, such as “Let the IDF Win”, reflect this frustration. Similarly, the left claims that Judea and Samaria can be safely ceded to a Palestinian state because these territories can be reconquered, as they were in 1967, if they become a base for hostile actors. The calls for the destruction of Hamas also bear witness to a lack of understanding of the limits of military power.

 

But grand-scale conventional war, in which the IDF faces large armored formations and hundreds of air fighters as it did in 1967, is less likely today. The 1982 Lebanon War was the last to display such encounters. Since 1982, Israel has scarcely fought any state in a conventional war. To a significant extent, the statist dimension in the Arab-Israeli conflict has itself disappeared. Egypt and Jordan are at peace with Israel. Syria and Iraq are torn by domestic conflict and are hardly in a position to challenge Israel militarily. Many other Arab countries, such as the Gulf and Maghreb states, have reached a de facto peace with Israel, an orientation buttressed by the common Iranian threat.

 

For the past three decades, Israel has been challenged primarily by sub-state actors, such as Hamas (a Sunni militia) and Hezbollah (a Shiite militia). Such organizations have a different strategic calculus from that of states. Because of their religious-ideological zeal, they are more difficult to deter than states, and their learning curve is much slower. It took Egypt three military defeats (1948, 1956, and 1973) and a war of attrition (1968-70) within a span of 25 years to give up the goal of destroying Israel. In contrast, Hezbollah has been fighting Israel for a longer period and remains as devoted as ever to its goal of the elimination of the Jewish state. The heavy price inflicted upon Gaza since 2007 by the Israeli military has not changed the strategic calculus of the Hamas leadership, which still aspires to Israel’s demise.

 

Hamas and Hezbollah do not possess arsenals of tanks and air fighters, which would be easy targets for Israel. The decentralized structure of their military organizations does not present points of gravity that can be eliminated by swift and decisive action. Moreover, their use of civilian populations to shield missile launchers and military units – a war crime – makes IDF advances cumbersome and difficult due to slower troop movement in urban areas and the need to reduce collateral damage among civilians. Urbanization among Israel’s neighbors has greatly reduced the empty areas that could have been used for maneuvering and outflanking. The use of the subterranean by Israel’s foes, be it in Gaza or South Lebanon, is another new element that slows advances.

 

It is naïve to believe the IDF can or should win quickly and decisively every time it has to flex its muscles. Yitzhak Rabin warned several times during his long career against the expectation of a “once and for all” victory. The defeat of Israel’s new opponents requires a different strategy: attrition. Israel is engaged in a long war of attrition against religiously motivated enemies who believe both God and history are on their side. All the IDF can do is occasionally weaken their ability to harm Israel and create temporary deterrence. In Israeli parlance, this is called “mowing the grass” – an apt metaphor, as the problem always grows back. The patient, repetitive use of force is not glamorous, but it will eventually do the trick. Unfortunately, many Israelis do not understand the particular circumstances of the great 1967 victory. They have lost patience and do not realize that time is, in fact, on Israel’s side.  

 

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WHAT IF: FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE SIX-DAY WAR

Daniel Pipes

Washington Times, June 5, 2017

 

Israel's military triumph over three enemy states in June 1967 is the most outstandingly successful war of all recorded history. The Six-Day War was also deeply consequential for the Middle East, establishing the permanence of the Jewish state, dealing a death-blow to pan-Arab nationalism, and (ironically) worsening Israel's place in the world because of its occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Focusing on this last point: how did a spectacular battlefield victory translate into problems that still torment Israel today? Because it stuck Israelis in an unwanted role they cannot escape.

 

First, Israeli leftists and foreign do-gooders wrongly blame Israel's government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. In this, critics ignore rejectionism, the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Its founding figure, Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler and even had a key role in formulating the Final Solution; recent manifestations include the "anti-normalization" and the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) movements. Rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.

 

Second, Israel faces a conundrum of geography and demography in the West Bank. While its strategists want to control the highlands, its nationalists want to build towns, and its religious want to possess Jewish holy sites, Israel's continued ultimate rule over a West Bank population of 1.7 million mostly hostile Arabic-speaking, Muslim Palestinians takes an immense toll both domestically and internationally. Various schemes to keep the land and defang an enemy people – by integrating them, buying them off, dividing them, pushing them out, or finding another ruler for them – have all come to naught.

 

Third, the Israelis in 1967 took three unilateral steps in Jerusalem that created future time bombs: vastly expanding the city's borders, annexing it, and offering Israeli citizenship to the city's new Arab residents. In combination, these led to a long-term demographic and housing competition that Palestinians are winning, jeopardizing the Jewish nature of the Jews' historic capital. Worse, 300,000 Arabs could at any time choose to take Israeli citizenship. These problems raise the question: Had Israeli leaders in 1967 foreseen the current problems, what might they have done differently in the West Bank and Jerusalem? They could have:

 

Made the battle against rejectionism their highest priority through unremitting censorship of every aspect of life in the West Bank and Jerusalem, severe punishments for incitement, and an intense effort to imbue a more positive attitude toward Israel; Invited back in the Jordanian authorities, rulers of the West Bank since 1949, to run that area's (but not Jerusalem's) internal affairs, leaving the Israel Defense Forces with only the burden to protect borders and Jewish populations; Extended the borders of Jerusalem only to the Old City and to uninhabited areas; Thought through the full ramifications of building Jewish towns on the West Bank.

 

And today, what can Israelis do? The Jerusalem issue is relatively easy, as most Arab residents have not yet taken out Israeli citizenship, so Israel's government can still stop this process by reducing the size of Jerusalem's 1967 borders and terminating the offer of Israeli citizenship to all the city residents. Though it may lead to unrest, cracking down on illegal housing sites is imperative.

 

The West Bank is tougher. So long as Palestinian rejectionism prevails, Israel is stuck with overseeing an intensely hostile population that it dare not release ultimate control of. This situation generates a vicious, impassioned debate among Israelis (recall the Rabin assassination) and harms the country's international standing (think of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334). But returning to 1949's "Auschwitz lines" and abandoning 400,000 Israeli residents of the West Bank to the Palestinians' tender mercies is obviously not a solution.

 

Instead, Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. Israel can achieve these goals by making victory its goal, by showing Palestinians that continued rejectionism brings them only repression and failure. The U.S. government can help by green lighting the path to an Israel victory. Only through victory can the astonishing triumph of those six days in 1967 be translated into the lasting solution of Palestinians accepting the permanence of the Jewish state.

 

                                                                       

 

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1967:  THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA AND THE SIX-DAY WAR

Meron Medzini

Fathom, 2017

 

In the early 1960s, Israel had a permanent press core of 50 foreign correspondents and a number of bureaus were maintained by foreign outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Newsweek. Many of these bureaus had Israeli assistants, and they were also aided by the Government Press Office (GPO) which translated material. Each member of the foreign correspondents had a cubby hole in the GPO offices and we saw them virtually every day.

 

The only major events in Israel covered by the international press in the years before 1967 were the 1961 Eichmann trial and execution, and the visit of the Pope in January 1964. In the mid-1960s Israel was suffering from a major economic recession with unemployment at 10 per cent, and morale so low that people joked that the last person to leave the airport should please turn out the lights. The ruling party Mapai was taking a beating in opinion polls, especially from a new breakaway part called Rafi, which was headed by Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan. In general, though, Israel simply did not feature in the international news.

 

Early in 1967, there was little sense that something was about to erupt. In April, the IDF intelligence branch assessed that the earliest war was possible was in 1970-71. Clifton Daniels, who was one of the editors of the New York Times and who came to Israel to cover the 1967 Independence Day celebrations on 15 May, didn’t think there was any reason to extend his stay and returned to America.

 

The ceasefire following the 1956 Sinai campaign had three components to help maintain quiet – the demilitarisation of the Sinai Peninsula, the installation of a UN emergency force (UNEF), and the guarantee that the Straits of Tiran would remain open.

 

The first component of this agreement was undermined during Independence Day 1967 when word reached the Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that Egyptian troops were moving into the Sinai with armour and artillery in broad daylight. This was followed by the UNEF withdrawal on 18 May. I accompanied a group of foreign correspondents to Kilometre 95, the Erez crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip to witness the Indian General, Indar Jit Rikhye search for a senior Israeli official in order to announce that his UN for ces were leaving. The Israeli commander at the gate – an unkempt, unshaven sergeant on reserve duty – was somewhat confused as to how to respond to the smart salute given to him by the departing Indian general.

 

Driven by the threats against Israel and the fiery slogans emanating from the Arab world, increasing numbers of foreign correspondents began to arrive. Two well-known journalists, Patrick O’Donoven and Jimmy Cameron, from the Sunday Times and the Observer asked us what Israel planned to do, but we didn’t know. The cabinet sat in virtually non-stop sessions but its response was indecisive.

 

Giving the foreign press a clear picture was challenging. No government officials were willing to speak to the foreign press. Prime Minister and Defence Minister Levi Eshkol refused to give interviews, as did Mapai Secretary General Golda Meir, former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and leader of the opposition Menachem Begin. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was willing to speak on background as was the Head of Military Intelligence, Aharon Yariv, who knew many foreign correspondents from his time as the IDF military attaché in Washington. On 23 May, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the re-imposition of the blockade on the Straits of Tiran, which the Prime Minister’s Chief of Bureau told me caused Eshkol to say “kinderlach, (children), this is war”. More foreign correspondents arrived, including top journalists such as Flora Lewis from the New York Times, Robert Toth from the LA Times, Arthur Vesey from the Chicago Tribune, Al Friendly from the Washington Post.

 

Censorship regulations were relaxed and the GPO gave foreign correspondents access to areas where reservists were concentrated and to the many volunteers, young and old, who had replaced reservists in hospitals, schools and kindergartens. Essentially, our goal was to show that Israel was not finished. Many correspondents personally knew reservists and were thus able to report on the daily routine of many families. Some even interviewed reservists at their bases. Many wrote about individual personal stories of average Israelis, many of whom were Holocaust survivors or veterans of the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign. The overall picture was of a state under siege whose citizens feared for the fate of their families and country in light of the treachery of the world and the weakness of their leaders. Others wrote about how no human being in his right mind could fail to support the Israelis; that 22 years after the Holocaust, the [great] powers were once again impotent. One journalist, however, told me that he had ‘come for the wake’.

 

What the military censor did not allow to be shared were the preparations for mass temporary graves for tens of thousands of victims in Tel Aviv parks. The censor also banned reports that the Chief of Staff had experienced a breakdown and was incapacitated for two days. Rabin, who was receiving no guidance from the political echelon, had visited Ben Gurion – who criticised him for going to war without the support of a superpower and told him he would be responsible for the destruction of the ‘third temple’ – and Golda Meir – who had asked him what he was waiting for and wanted the IDF to strike as soon as possible.

 

The journalists realised that the IDF’s mobilisation could not continue indefinitely without the economy collapsing. Others, who were primarily fed by the government’s political rivals Rafi, reported on the clamour for the creation of a government of national unity, which eventually led to the appointment of Dayan as defence minister. Yet, with the public worried and the government hesitant, the military was confident and was busy perfecting its operation to destroy the enemy’s airfields and air forces. Haim Bar-Lev, the Deputy Chief of Staff, coined a phrase that Israel was ‘going to screw them hard, fast and elegantly’.

 

On the weekend before the war began, the newly appointed Defence Minister Dayan ordered leave for many reservists and the beaches were full of people. He also organised a press conference in Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv, which was the first briefing to foreign press since the crisis began. His aim, according to his memoirs, was to trick the Egyptians and give the impression that things were quiet, and that despite the new unity government being formed, Israel was still searching for a political resolution. Foreign correspondents thus reported that Israel was not about to go to war. Both Randolph Churchill – who Dayan had personally briefed – and his son Winston, actually returned to England, only to come back four days later angry at Dayan for making them miss the start of the war…

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

 

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THIS TIME, THE LOSER WRITES HISTORY

Gabriel Glickman

Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017

 

It is a general law that every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, then in the historiographical arena—and so it has been with the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war (or the Six-Day War as it is commonly known). No sooner had the dust settled on the battlefield than the Arabs and their Western partisans began rewriting the conflict's narrative with aggressors turned into hapless victims and defenders turned into aggressors. Jerusalem's weeks-long attempt to prevent the outbreak of hostilities in the face of a rapidly tightening Arab noose is completely ignored or dismissed as a disingenuous ploy; by contrast, the extensive Arab war preparations with the explicit aim of destroying the Jewish state is whitewashed as a demonstrative show of force to deter an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. It has even been suggested that Jerusalem lured the Arab states into war in order to expand its territory at their expense. So successful has this historiographical rewriting been that, fifty years after the war, these "alternative facts" have effectively become the received dogma, echoed by some of the most widely used college textbooks about the Middle East.

 

The first step to absolving the Arab leaders of culpability for the conflict—especially Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who set in motion the course of events that led to war—was to present them as victims of their fully understandable, if highly unfortunate, overreaction to a Soviet warning of an imminent Israeli attack on Syria. Taking at face value Nasser's postwar denial of any intention to attack Israel, educated Westerners—intellectuals, Middle East experts, and journalists—excused his dogged drive to war as an inescapable grandstanding aimed at shoring up his position in the face of relentless criticism by the conservative Arab states and the more militant elements within his administration.

 

"President Nasser had to take spectacular action in order to avert defeat in the struggle for leadership of the Arabs," argued American historian Ernest Dawn shortly after the war. "If Egypt had not acted, the 'conservatives' would have wasted no time in pointing to the hero's feet of clay." This claim was amplified by Charles Yost, U.S. president Lyndon Johnson's special envoy to the Middle East at the time of the crisis, as well as a string of early popular books on the war. Nasser had no intention of taking on Israel, they argued. The massive deployment of Egyptian troops in Sinai, in flagrant violation of the peninsula's demilitarization since the 1956 war; the expulsion of the U.N. observers deployed on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel; the closure of the Tiran Strait to Israeli navigation; and the rapid formation of an all-Arab war coalition for what he pledged would be the final battle for Israel's destruction were just posturing moves geared to deterring an Israeli attack on Syria and enhancing Nasser's pan-Arab prestige. Unfortunately, goes the narrative, Jerusalem overreacted to these measures, if not exploited them to its self-serving ends, by attacking its peaceable Arab neighbors.

 

While this thesis clearly does not hold water—Nasser realized within less than a day that no Israeli attack on Syria was in the offing yet continued his reckless escalation—it has quickly become a common historiographical axiom regarding the war's origin. Thus, as ideologically divergent commentators as British journalist David Hirst and American military commentator Trevor Dupuy agreed on this view in the late 1970s. According to Dupuy, "it is very clear in retrospect that President Nasser did not in fact have any intention of precipitating war against Israel at that time." Hirst took this argument a step further: "Not only did Nasser lack the means to take on Israel, he did not have the intention either." This assertion was reiterated almost verbatim in the coming decades by countless Middle East observers. Thus, for example, we have British journalist Patrick Seale claiming that "Nasser's strategy was to attempt to frighten Israel into prudence, while making it clear that he would not attack first," and Princeton professor L. Carl Brown arguing that "Nasser surely had not intended to seek a showdown with Israel in 1967."…

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

 

 

 

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On Topic Links

 

Six Days in June (Video): Youtube, May 24, 2017—A fascinating documentary by Ilan Ziv about the Israeli-arab Six days war in 1967.

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display: William J. Broad & David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 3, 2017—On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

The Lessons and Consequences of the Six-Day War: David Harris, Algemeiner, June 2, 2017—When you mention history, it can trigger a roll of the eyes. Add the Middle East to the equation, and folks might start running for the hills, unwilling to get caught up in the seemingly bottomless pit of details and disputes.

Honoring the Man Behind the War: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2017—Knowing the ins and outs of a historic battle requires far more than analyzing the tactical plans and circumstances surrounding the event. A deep, intimate account of the major players are really required to properly understand the event in question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING THE SIX-DAY WAR (I): ARAB STATES PREPARE TO “WIPE ISRAEL OFF THE MAP”

The Jewish Return Into History: Reflections in the Age of Auschwitz and a New Jerusalem: Emil L. Fackenheim, Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108— In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed.

The Six-Day War: An Inevitable Conflict: Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, May 19, 2017 — The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows…

Recalling the Menace of May 1967: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017— As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War.

Preparing For War: Jerusalem, 1967: Abraham Rabinovich, Jewish Press, May 19, 2017 — As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017

 

 

 

THE JEWISH RETURN INTO HISTORY:

REFLECTIONS IN THE AGE OF AUSCHWITZ AND A NEW JERUSALEM

Emil L. Fackenheim

Schocken Books, 1978. Page 108

 

In May 1967, the worldwide Jewish community had a moment of truth that revealed clearly, if only momentarily, what has remained otherwise obscure and ambiguous, or even wholly concealed. Jewish students dropped their studies and rushed to Israel. Elderly gentlemen of modest means mortgaged their homes. Tactful Jewish spokesmen abandoned their tact and screamed, at the risk of alienating Christian friends. Faced with the fact that the state of Israel was in mortal danger, the worldwide Jewish community became, for a moment, wholly united in its defense. More precisely, time-honored division—between Orthodox and liberal, Zionist and non-Zionist, religious and secularist—lost for a time their significance, to be replaced by a new division between Jews willing to stand up and be counted, and Jews who (whatever their reasons, excuses, or ideologies) stood aside.

 

What caused this unexpected and unprecedented response to an unexpected and unprecedented situation? Not “nationalism”; among those standing up to be counted were non-Zionists and even anti-Zionists. Not “religious sentiment”; the response transcended all religious-secularist distinctions. Not “humanism”; not a few Jewish humanists stood aside when Jewish—rather than Arab or Vietnamese—children were in danger. The true cause cannot be in doubt. For a whole generation Jews had lived with the Nazi Holocaust, racked by grief and true or imagined guilt. For a whole generation they had not known how to live with the fact that Jews had been singled out for murder by one part of the world and that the other part had done little to stop it. When in May 1967 the same words issued for Cairo and Damascus that had once issued from Berlin, Jews were divided not into Orthodox and liberal, religious and secularist, Zionist and non-Zionist, but into those who fled (and were revealed as having fled all along) with a resolve that there must be no second Holocaust.                                                            

 

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THE SIX-DAY WAR: AN INEVITABLE CONFLICT

Prof. Efraim Karsh

BESA, May 19, 2017

 

The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows: Had Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser not fallen for a false Soviet warning of Israeli troop concentrations along the Syrian border and deployed his forces in the Sinai Peninsula, the slippery slope to war would have been averted altogether. Had Israel not misconstrued Egyptian grandstanding for a mortal threat to its national security, if not its very survival, it would have foregone the preemptive strike that started the war. In short, it was a largely accidental and unnecessary war born of mutual miscalculations and misunderstandings.

 

This view could not be further from the truth. If wars are much like road accidents, as the British historian A.J.P. Taylor famously quipped, having a general cause and particular causes at the same time, then the June 1967 war was anything but accidental. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood, starkly demonstrated by the concerted attempt to destroy the state of Israel at birth and the unwavering determination to rectify this “unfinished business”—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.

 

No sooner had the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of “a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history…. behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states” come to dominate inter-Arab politics at the end of World War I than anti-Zionism became its most effective rallying cry: not from concern for the wellbeing of the Palestinian Arabs but from the desire to fend off a supposed foreign encroachment on the perceived pan-Arab patrimony. As Abdel Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, told Zionist officials in September 1947: “For me, you may be a fact, but for [the Arab masses], you are not a fact at all—you are a temporary phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Crusaders established themselves in our midst against our will, and in 200 years, we ejected them. This was because we never made the mistake of accepting them as a fact.”

 

On rare occasions, this outright rejectionism was manifested in quiet attempts to persuade the Zionist leaders to forego their quest for statehood and acquiesce in subject status within a regional pan-Arab empire. Nuri Said, a long-time Iraqi prime minister, made this suggestion at a 1936 meeting with Chaim Weizmann while Transjordan’s King Abdullah of the Hashemite family secretly extended an offer to Golda Meir (in November 1947 and May 1948) to incorporate Palestine’s Jewish community into the “Greater Syrian” empire he was striving to create at the time. For most of the time, however, the Arabs’ primary instrument for opposing Jewish national aspirations was violence, and what determined their politics and diplomacy was the relative success or failure of that instrument in any given period. As early as April 1920, pan-Arab nationalists sought to rally support for incorporating Palestine into the short-lived Syrian kingdom headed by Abdullah’s brother, Faisal, by carrying out a pogrom in Jerusalem in which five Jews were murdered and 211 wounded. The following year, Arab riots claimed a far higher toll: some 90 dead and hundreds wounded. In the summer of 1929, another wave of violence resulted in the death of 133 Jews and the wounding of hundreds more.

 

For quite some time, this violent approach seemed to work. It was especially effective in influencing the British, who had been appointed the mandatory power in Palestine by the League of Nations. Though their explicit purpose was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, the British authorities repeatedly gave in to Arab violence aimed at averting that purpose and to the demands that followed upon it. In two White Papers, issued in 1922 and 1930 respectively, London severely compromised the prospective Jewish national home by imposing harsh restrictions on immigration and land sales to Jews.

 

In July 1937, Arab violence reaped its greatest reward when a British commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Peel, recommended repudiating the terms of the mandate altogether in favor of partitioning Palestine into two states: a large Arab state, united with Transjordan, that would occupy some 90 percent of the mandate territory, and a Jewish state in what was left. This was followed in May 1939 by another White Paper that imposed even more draconian restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases, closing the door to Palestine for Jews desperate to flee Nazi Europe and threatening the survival of the Jewish national project. Agitating for more, the Arabs dismissed both plans as insufficient.

 

They did the same in November 1947 when, in the face of the imminent expiration of the British mandate, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine. Rejecting this solution, the Arab nations resolved instead to destroy the state of Israel at birth and gain the whole for themselves. This time, however, Arab violence backfired spectacularly. In the 1948-49 war, not only did Israel confirm its sovereign independence and assert control over somewhat wider territories than those assigned to it by the U.N. partition resolution, but the Palestinian Arab community was profoundly shattered with about half of its population fleeing to other parts of Palestine and to neighboring Arab states.

 

For the next two decades, inter-Arab politics would be driven by the determination to undo the consequences of the 1948 defeat, duly dubbed “al-Nakba,” the catastrophe, and to bring about Israel’s demise. Only now, it was Cairo rather than the two Hashemite kings that spearheaded the pan-Arab campaign following Nasser’s rise to power in 1954 and his embarkation on an aggressive pan-Arab policy.

 

The Egyptian president had nothing but contempt for most members of the “Arab Nation” he sought to unify: “Iraqis are savage, the Lebanese venal and morally degenerate, the Saudis dirty, the Yemenis hopelessly backward and stupid, and the Syrians irresponsible, unreliable and treacherous,” he told one of his confidants. Neither did he have a genuine interest in the Palestinian problem—pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause: “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” he told a Western journalist in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!” Yet having recognized the immense value of this cause for his grandiose ambitions, he endorsed it with a vengeance, especially after the early 1960s when his pan-Arab dreams were in tatters as Syria acrimoniously seceded from its bilateral union with Egypt (1958-61) and the Egyptian army bogged down in an unwinnable civil war in Yemen. “Arab unity or the unity of the Arab action or the unity of the Arab goal is our way to the restoration of Palestine and the restoration of the rights of the people of Palestine,” Nasser argued. “Our path to Palestine will not be covered with a red carpet or with yellow sand. Our path to Palestine will be covered with blood.”

 

By way of transforming this militant rhetoric into concrete plans, in January 1964, the Egyptian president convened the first all-Arab summit in Cairo to discuss ways and means to confront the “Israeli threat.” A prominent item on the agenda was the adoption of a joint strategy to prevent Israel from using the Jordan River waters to irrigate the barren Negev desert in the south of the country. A no less important decision was to “lay the proper foundations for organizing the Palestinian people and enabling it to fulfill its role in the liberation of its homeland and its self-determination.” Four months later, a gathering of 422 Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem, then under Jordanian rule, established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and approved its two founding documents: the organization’s basic constitution and the Palestinian National Covenant…

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

                                                                       

 

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RECALLING THE MENACE OF MAY 1967

Michael Freund

Breaking Israel News, May 21, 2017

 

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, it is perhaps only natural that our focus is primarily on the miraculous outcome of the June 1967 Six Day War. After 1,900 years of yearning, the Jewish people were at last reunited with the heart of our ancestral homeland, when Divine providence granted Israel a resounding victory over our adversaries.

 

For the first time since the Roman legions under Titus set Jerusalem aflame, holy places such as the Temple Mount, Shiloh and Hebron were once again under full Jewish sovereignty and control. It was a victory for the ages, a turning point in history that reshaped Jewish destiny, as the dreams of our ancestors were transformed into reality, and Jews could once again live and play, worship and work, in the hills of Judea, the vineyards of Samaria and the stone-paved alleyways of Jerusalem.

 

But amid the festivities, it is no less important to recall the events of May 1967, when the menace of destruction hung heavily over the nation as our neighbors vowed to finish off the youthful Jewish state. Particularly now, when the Palestinians and their supporters have succeeded in poisoning historical truth with fantasy and falsehood, a glimpse back at what took place prior to the war will serve to undercut the false narrative now being put forth by our foes.

 

For starters, bear in mind that in May 1967, there was no Israeli “occupation,” no Jewish “settlements” and no “Judaization” of Jerusalem. Nonetheless, there was plenty of Arab animosity, as the airwaves filled with chilling threats to throw the Jews into the sea. On May 8, 1967, Syria’s information minister, Mahmoud Zuabi, openly declared that his country would soon wage “more severe battles until Palestine is liberated and the Zionist presence is ended.” Eight days later, on May 16, Cairo radio chimed in, announcing that, “The existence of Israel has continued too long… We welcome the battle we have long awaited. The peak hour has come. The battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel.” In case anyone had failed to understand their message, the following day Cairo radio was even more blunt: “All Egypt is now prepared to plunge into total war which will put an end to Israel.”

 

Amid these threats, Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser took concrete steps to prepare for genocide against the Jewish state, doubling the number of Egyptian troops in Sinai and deploying hundreds of tanks near Israel’s southern border. Nasser then demanded that the 3,400-man United Nations Emergency Force, which had been deployed in Gaza and the Sinai for a decade to prevent conflict, be immediately withdrawn. Less than a week later, on May 22, the UN did just that, cowardly abandoning its posts, thereby setting the stage for an Egyptian invasion. Egypt’s Voice of the Arabs radio broadcast gleefully celebrated the UN’s retreat, announcing that, “There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land. As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel… The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”

 

With the departure of the UN, Nasser proceeded to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an act that 10 years previously, in 1957, US president Dwight D. Eisenhower had said would be considered an act of war. On May 25, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia moved troops to Israel’s borders, encircling the Jewish state like vultures preparing to swoop down on their prey. Six days later, Iraqi president Abdel-Rahman Aref minced no words in explaining why his country was sending soldiers to the area, asserting that, “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”

 

Meanwhile, the PLO, which was founded in 1964, was also gearing up for war. Asked in an interview what would happen to Israel’s Jews in case of war, PLO founder Ahmed Shukairy glibly stated on June 1 that, “Those who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.” Four days later, war broke out and the rest is history.

 

Or is it? Despite the circumstances, which clearly demonstrate that Israel was engaged in an existential war of self-defense in the Six Day War, much of the international community today falsely portrays the Jewish state’s acquisition of territory in 1967 as an act of aggression or “occupation.” Worse yet, they play along with the Palestinian fairy tale that the Arab-Israeli conflict is all about Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, when in fact, as the events of May 1967 show, the real underlying cause is the refusal of the Arabs to accept a permanent Jewish presence in the region.

 

So as we rejoice in remembering Israel’s glorious victory five decades ago, let us redouble our efforts to remind the world of the simple truth that many do not wish to see. The prelude to the 1967 war is a critical part of the story, one that lends some much-needed clarity and context to the events that would follow. Simply put, the Jewish state owes no one an apology for facing down its foes and taking the territory which those very same enemies used as a platform from which to seek our destruction. Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is historically just, morally fitting, biblically mandated and militarily necessary to ensure our survival. And we shall remain in these areas until the end of time, whether the world likes it or not.

                                                           

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PREPARING FOR WAR: JERUSALEM, 1967

Abraham Rabinovich

Jewish Press, May 19, 2017

 

As tensions mounted in late May, 1967, Jerusalem was pervaded by a feeling that if war came it would be a bloody block-by-block battle in which no quarter would be given. Unspoken but widely envisioned was the image of the Warsaw Ghetto; buildings turned to rubble from which the battle would continue. The municipality began to bulldoze a hillside near Mount Herzl to prepare gravesites. The slope chosen was out of sight of the Jordanian lines to prevent a repetition of 1948 when, at funerals of people killed by shelling, the mourners themselves came under fire.

 

Some officials expected 2,000 dead in Jerusalem. These were the optimists who assumed the Jordanians would not attempt aerial bombardment because of the proximity of Arab neighborhoods. The pessimists, those who believed the Arabs would bomb anyway, estimated 6,000 dead and several times that number in wounded in Jerusalem alone. Events had taken on a momentum of their own beyond either side’s calculation. In the Arab world, rhetoric was whipping passions into white heat. “If you want war,” declared Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in a public challenge, “we are ready for you.”

 

Israel did not want war. The likely price even for victory was grim. Six thousand Israelis, one in every 100, had died in the victorious War of Independence, a conflict that had seen little air action. When Israel had next gone to war, in the 1956 Sinai campaign, it had been on only one front and in collusion with two powers, England and France. Even so, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had insisted that France station air squadrons in Israel to protect its cities from air strikes.

 

Now, in 1967, Israel stood alone against what was beginning to look like a broad Arab coalition with three times as many tanks and warplanes as Israel. Moshe Dayan, on the eve of being named defense minister, estimated that there could be tens of thousands dead. “An entire generation of paratroopers and tank crews will be lost,” he told the general heading Israel’s Southern Command, “but you will win.” Despite this dire casualty estimate, the general, Yeshayahu Gavish, found solace in the remarks because Dayan at least predicted victory. Not all national leaders were sure of that. Even IDF chief of staff Yitzhak Rabin was pushed to the edge of nervous collapse by the responsibility that had fallen on him.

 

In search of reassurance, Rabin called on Ben-Gurion, now retired, for an informal chat. It turned out to be the most traumatic meeting of Rabin’s life. Ben-Gurion was as decisive as Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was hesitant, but his decisiveness lay in warning against going to war without the support of a foreign power. Otherwise, it would be an adventure that risked national disaster, he said, and the responsibility would be Rabin’s. The chief of staff had made a grave mistake, said Ben-Gurion, in ordering mobilization and thereby accelerating the war momentum. Rabin was shaken by Ben-Gurion’s remarks. His air force commanders were promising dramatic results if Israel struck the first blow. The army commanders likewise expressed confidence in victory. Rabin was not sure the government would permit a first strike, but even if it did he could not be certain that the generals’ predictions would prove realistic when put to the test.

 

Against this uncertainty, Ben-Gurion’s powerful “thou shalt not” was a warning Rabin could not shrug off. Ben-Gurion had proved prophetic in the past. If he was correct now, Rabin could be leading the nation to another Holocaust. On May 22, Egypt announced the Straits of Tiran would be closed to Israeli shipping from the following day. The closure was a clear casus belli. To let it pass without a military response would be a devastating sign of weakness. Eshkol told a ministerial meeting the following day that Washington had asked Israel not to attempt to send a ship through the straits while the U.S. attempted to resolve the matter by diplomatic means. In the mood of indecision that prevailed, the American request offered a welcome respite.

 

Rabin was subdued during the meeting with the ministers. He chain-smoked and his face was taut. In the evening, he asked General Ezer Weizman, head of operations on the general staff, to come to his home. Speaking candidly of the strain he was under, Rabin asked Weizman whether he believed that he, Rabin, should resign. Weizman, a former air force commander, persuaded Rabin that he needed only a brief rest. Mrs. Rabin, concerned at her husband’s distress, called the IDF’s chief medical officer who diagnosed “acute anxiety.” The doctor sedated him and Rabin slept until the next afternoon. Word was put out that Rabin had been temporarily incapacitated by nicotine poisoning. When he returned to his headquarters, he was calm and knew what had to be done. There was no way out but war.

 

With moblization, the largest source of manpower remaining in Jerusalem were yeshiva students exempt from the draft. Of the 2,000 volunteers who turned out each day for trench-digging in areas without shelters, 500 were yeshiva students. On the Sabbath after the closing by Egypt of the Tiran Straits passageway to Eilat, the civil defense commander in the Katamon quarter was amazed to see a group of yeshiva students being marched to a digging site by two bearded rabbis. The prohibition against working on the Sabbath is one of the strictest injunctions of Judaism, but the rabbinate had declared the crisis one of pikuach nefesh (life or death) in which vital work is not only permissible on the Sabbath but mandatory. The two rabbis took off their jackets and joined the students in the trenches with shovels…                                            

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

 

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem (Videos): JCPA, 2017

Survival of a Nation: The Battle for Jerusalem (Video): Jewish Learning International, May 16, 2017—Israel’s 1967 battles to rescue Jerusalem from Jordanian assault, and the ensuing reunification of Jerusalem.

Washington Post Slams Israel. Demand Fairness, Accountability: Honest Reporting, June, 2017—The Washington Post published a series on the anniversary of the Six Day War, with a special emphasis on "the occupation" and security checkpoints.

The Farhoud Remembered: Dr. Edy Cohen, BESA, June 2, 2017—On the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, June 1-2, 1941 (5701 on the Hebrew calendar), the Muslim residents of Baghdad carried out a savage pogrom against their Jewish compatriots. In this pogrom, known by its Arabic name al-Farhoud, about 200 Jews were murdered and thousands wounded. Jewish property was plundered and many homes set ablaze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manfred Gerstenfeld: DECADES OF EUROPEAN MEDIA BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL

 

 

 

 

The strong bias that many European media hold against Israel has been documented for decades by a great variety of analysts. One of the first to do so was The Jerusalem Post editor David Bar-Illan. He gave many examples of media prejudice in his book, Eye on the Media,[1] published in 1983 and based on his columns in the daily.

 

In a 1985 book, Israeli diplomat Sergio Minerbi analyzed six documentaries of the French-language Belgian TV station RTBF. These focused on the Middle East and were heavily biased against Israel.[2] Henry Weinberg devoted an entire chapter of his 1987 book, The Myth of the Jew in France, to the widespread prejudice of the French left-wing “quality” daily, Le Monde.[3]

 

During an interview some ten years after the publication of his book, Bar-Illan told me that the BBC was “by far the worst offender when it comes to Israel.” He said that there were hundreds of examples of BBC malevolence within the political sphere. Bar-Illan took the example of an incident in which a coffeehouse in Arab East Jerusalem collapsed due to structural problems. Jews and Arabs worked together to save lives. The BBC did not say a word about this collaboration; all they reported was that Arabs had suffered while repeating the libel that a bomb had been placed in the coffeehouse.[4]
 

The huge outburst of European anti-Semitism that has emerged over the past fifteen years has been most violent in France. The French media prejudice against Israel was covered in 2002 in a collection of ten essays by the anti-Semitism watchdog organization, Observatoire du Monde Juif, headed by Shmuel Trigano.[5]  Two essays were devoted to the bias of Le Monde, and an essay by Clément Weill Raynal analyzed the anti-Israel bias of the French press agency, Agence France Presse.[6]

 

In an interview in 2004 Trigano told me that the extreme power of the media represents a major danger to Western democracy. “Their attitude toward Israel and the Jews over the last few years has shown that they can pervert analysis, debate and criticism. We are dependent on a class of journalists with consensus political views. They read and co-opt each other’s opinions, without accountability to anyone. Freedom and democracy however, cannot coexist if truth and facts are obscured.”[7]

 

In 2005 I published a collection of interviews on European-Israeli relations in a book titled Europe and Israel an Expanding Abyss.  One of the interviewees, German Christian-Democrat parliamentarian Hildegard Müller, affirmed that the media is partly responsible for Israel’s problematic image. She mentioned that they often relay news items without confirming their veracity. Müller drew attention to the repeated use of particular images which she called “news preserves.” She also remarked that many newspapers obtain their news items from press agencies, such as Agence France Press, which then leads to similar reporting in many media.[8]

 

Another interviewee, Robert Wistrich, the leading academic scholar on anti-Semitism, stated that the media, together with politicians and society in general, “castigate, reproach, heavily criticize, and even demonize Israel. They paint a negative and stereotypical picture of the Jewish state, especially on television and in the press.”[9]

 

Former Israeli ambassador to the UK, Tzvi Shtauber, recounted during his interview that he was once visited by five members of a board of a British association of journalists. A prominent journalist made a demand of Shtauber which reflected how much Israel had been demonized: “We want your assurance, Mr. Ambassador, that it is not the official policy of the State of Israel to shoot journalists.”

 

Shtauber called the BBC a problem in itself: “Over the years I had endless conversations with them. Any viewer who for a consistent period looks at the BBC’s information gets a distorted picture…it derives from the BBC’s method of Broadcasting.”[10]   

 

A quantitative analysis of the BBC’s prejudice against Israel was undertaken by Trevor Asserson, a British litigation lawyer who has since immigrated to Israel. Between 2001 and 2004, he conducted four well-documented studies detailing the BBC’s systematic bias against Israel. Asserson mentioned that the BBC enjoys a monopoly derived from a legally binding contract with the British government. 

 

Asserson analyzed the BBC’s legal obligations as delineated in its charter, and identified fifteen guidelines. These included the obligation of the BBC to ensure that opposing views are well represented and the obligation of not allowing the audience to gauge reporters’ personal views. Asserson identified many cases in which the BBC breached several of these guidelines, and added that on some occasions, it broke most of them.

 

In order to determine the extent of its bias, Asserson conducted a forensic analysis of the BBC. He concluded that the “BBC’s news reports concerning Israel are distorted by omission, by inclusion, by only giving partial facts, by who is interviewed, and by the background information provided or lack of it.”

 

Since then, a variety of European media have been analyzed for bias against Israel. A recent study by Joël Kotek, for instance, shows how Israel was portrayed in a severely distorted manner in the French-speaking Belgian media during the 2014 Protective Edge campaign against Hamas.[11]

 

I also interviewed Johannes Gerster for my 2005 book. This former German parliamentarian was the head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Israel. Gerster mentioned that he had tried in vain to convince top Israeli officials that propaganda was an essential element of war. He noted that they did not want to listen.[12]

 

We are now ten years down the road, but the situation has not changed. The problem of media bias against Israel has been documented repeatedly over the past decades, and the analytical methodology needed to assess this prejudice has been in place for years. This raises a fundamental question about Israeli policy:  what has the Israeli government done to stem the tide of incitement against Israel resulting from such prejudiced reporting?

 

Why would the Israel government not follow and analyze – if necessary, by an outside contractor — the bias against Israel of a number of media over the years? Would it have been difficult to design a mode of action against those media who are, to a large extent, direct or indirect propagandists for Israel’s enemies?

 

The answer can only be that the Israeli government has done next to nothing regarding the matter. One can only wonder why there are no politicians or political parties which feel it is worthwhile to raise the issue and keep it in the public eye.

 



[1] David Bar-Illan, Eye on the Media (Jerusalem: Gefen, 1993).

[2] Sergio I. Minerbi, Mentir Avec Les Images (Brussels: Louis Musin, 1985). (French)

[3] Henry H. Weinberg, The Myth of the Jew in France 1967-1982 (Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press, 1987).

[4] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with David Bar-Illan, “The Loaded Dice of the Foreign Media Are There to Stay,” in Israel’s New Future: Interviews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Rubin Mass, 1994), 109-119.

[5] “Le conflit israélo-palestinian:  Les médias français sont-il objectifs?,” Observatoire du monde juif, June 2002.

[6] Clément Weill Raynal, “L’Agence France Presse:  le récit contre les faits,” in “Le conflit israélo-palestinian:  Les médias français sont-il objectifs?,” Observatoire du monde juif, June 2002, pp. 51-68.

[7] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, “French Anti-Semitism: A Barometer for Gauging Society’s Perverseness,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 26, 1 November 2004.

 

[8] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hildegard Müller, “Israel and Europe: The Positive and the Negative,” in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Adenauer Foundation, 2005),  pp. 40-48.

[9] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Robert Wistrich, “Something is Rotten in the State of Europe:  Anti-Semitism as a Civilizational Pathology,” in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?, pp. 95-109.

[10] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Zvi Shtauber, “British Attitudes toward Israel and the Jews,” in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?, pp. 183-192

[11] Joël Kotek, “Israël et les médias belges francophones,” Comité de Coordination des Organisations Juives de Belgique (CCOJB,) Brussels, March 2015.

[12] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Johannes Gerster, “Confronting European-Israeli Misunderstandings,” in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?, pp. 67-79.

 

 

ZACHOR! REMEMBER! YOM HASIKARON: 2014/5774

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 Remembers 23,169 Fallen Soldiers: Israel Hayom, May. 2, 2014— This year's Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers will commemorate the 23,196 soldiers who have died since 1860.

Not Home Alone: Foreigners Came to Israel's Rescue in 1948: Andrew Esensten, Ha’aretz, Jun. 15, 2012— Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion called them "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel," and in recent years the volunteers from 58 countries who fought for Israel during its War of Independence have sought greater recognition for the crucial role they played in the struggle for a Jewish homeland.

We Haven’t Forgotten: Itay Itamar, Israeli Air Force Magazine, Feb. 27, 2013— George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling was born in Montreal in December 1921 to an observant Christian family.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tibi Ram: The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video): IDF, Apr. 27, 2014

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

The Last Descendant – The Story of Those Who Can’t Speak: IDF Blog, May. 2, 2014

With New Films, Hollywood Finally Telling Story of Fledgling Israeli Air Force: Tom Tugend, JTA, Apr. 3, 2013

                                               

ISRAEL REMEMBERS 23,169 FALLEN SOLDIERS              

 

Ya’akov Lappin                                                                                       

Israel Hayom, May 2, 2014

 

This year's Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers will commemorate the 23,196 soldiers who have died since 1860. Since last year's Memorial Day on April 15, 2013, 57 soldiers and 50 disabled veterans died. According to Defense Ministry for 2014, there are 17,038 bereaved family members, including 2,141 orphans and 4,966 widows of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers and security agents. Eighty-seven percent of bereaved parents and 74% of widows are more than 60 years old.

 

According to National Insurance Institute data published in advance of Memorial Day, 2,495 civilians have been killed in terror attacks since the end of the Independence War on Jan. 1, 1950. Since last Independence Day, two civilians were killed in such attacks. From the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000 until today, 996 civilians were murdered in terror attacks. Terror attacks have left 2,853 children without a parent, 99 of whom lost both parents. There are 978 widows and widowers as a result of terror attacks, and 800 bereaved parents.

 

This year marks the fifth year that the Knesset will hold a joint commemoration ceremony for fallen soldiers and terror attack victims on the eve of Memorial Day. The event, called "Songs in their Memory," will take place on Sunday evening… The state memorial ceremony will take place on Monday afternoon on Mount Herzl beside the monument in memory of terror victims. The ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Edelstein, Mor-Yosef, IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz and Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis. On Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m., a minute-long siren will be sounded throughout the country signaling the beginning of Memorial Day. At 11:00 on Monday, a two-minute-long siren will be sounded before state memorial ceremonies begin.

 

Each Memorial Day, there are typically three state ceremonies: a candlelighting ceremony, the laying of flowers on the graves of the fallen and the laying of Israeli flags with a black ribbon attached to them on each grave. The Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry is preparing for some 1.5 million people to arrive at military cemeteries throughout the country. A new Israeli application called "We will Remember Everyone" will allow visitors to navigate through the military cemetery on Mount Herzl and to receive information about the fallen soldiers buried there by scanning the gravestone. The application is part of an initiative called "Memorialize." The initiative, including the idea and execution of the application, was done as a volunteer project by David Ansbacher, CEO of Otzarot, a company that specializes in educational tourism using innovative technology.

 

On Thursday evening at an event for bereaved families called "Life Afterwards," in which people showcased art that they created as a way to deal with loss, Ya'alon said, "This exhibition gives us a glimpse of a unique and touching way to deal." Peres met with the head of the Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry, Aryeh Moalem, Yad Labanim Chairman Eli Ben-Shem and Bereaved Families representatives ahead of Memorial Day. One representative said, "Israeli children do not know stories of heroism from the war." To which Peres responded, saying, "The heroes of Israel's wars endangered their lives to defend the nation, and we must remember them for the good of our country."

                                                                       

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NOT HOME ALONE: FOREIGNERS CAME

TO ISRAEL'S RESCUE IN 1948  

Andrew Esensten                      

Ha’aretz, Jun. 15, 2012

 

Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion called them "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel," and in recent years the volunteers from 58 countries who fought for Israel during its War of Independence have sought greater recognition for the crucial role they played in the struggle for a Jewish homeland. A new addition to the core exhibition at Tel Aviv's Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, represents a modest step in that direction, said several of the volunteers, now in their late 80s and early 90s, at the opening of the exhibit earlier this month (The exhibition continues to be open in 2014—Ed.). The exhibit is entitled "By Land, By Air and By Sea: Volunteers from Abroad in Israel's War of Independence."

 

"Machal is one of the glorious chapters in the annals of modern Jewish history," said Stanley Medicks, 86, using the Hebrew acronym for Mitnadvei Chutz Le'aretz, or overseas volunteers. "I find that Beit Hatfutsot is the ideal place to tell the remarkable, heroic story of what we did in 1948." Medicks was born in Nairobi to Polish parents, served in the 72nd Infantry Battalion and later founded a branch of the World Machal organization for UK and Scandinavian veterans. He told Ha’aretz that he petitioned the museum for years to recognize Machal and, after finally getting approval for an exhibit, raised the NIS 120,000 necessary to mount it from donors around the world, including the American Veterans of Israel.

 

Approximately 4,500 Machalniks – men and women, Jews and non-Jews – served in the Israel Defense Forces and its forerunners (the Haganah, Palmach and other underground organizations ) between 1947 and 1949. Most of them were recently discharged World War II veterans who put their lives on hold to travel to Israel and offer their desperately needed military expertise. Some, like Murray Greenfield, participated mainly out of Zionist fervor and a sense of Jewish solidarity, especially in the wake of the Holocaust. "We failed our fellow Jews during the Holocaust," said Greenfield, 85, who was recruited at a synagogue in New York for the clandestine mission to resettle European Jews in Mandate Palestine known as "Aliyah Bet." "You cannot sit back and think things are going to happen," Greenfield said. "You've got to make them happen."

 

While Machalniks served in all branches of the Israeli military and held key positions of command, often despite speaking little Hebrew, they may have had the greatest impact as members of the Israel Air Force. Nearly all of the IAF's aircrew and technical personnel were overseas volunteers who helped buy and smuggle planes, train Israeli pilots and lead bombing missions. Harold "Smoky" Simon, a veteran of the South African Air Force, served as the IAF's chief of air operations and flew 24 missions in 1948. His logbook, which is on display in the exhibit, contains details of raids on Arab cities. "When we really wanted to start showing our muscle, we attacked Damascus," recalled Simon, 92, who is the chairman of World Machal. "We flew in a DC-3 Dakota aircraft and we loaded her with 16 80-kilogram bombs, boxes of incendiaries and crates of empty bottles, which created a terrifying noise when they fell to the ground. The planes didn't have bomb racks in the early days, so we had a category of 'bomb-chucker,' young Israelis who carried the bombs on their laps and pitched them when we were over the target."

 

The exhibit features handmade models of the planes flown by Simon and his comrades, as well as black-and-white photographs from the war and line drawings of Machalniks by celebrated Israeli artist Nachum Gutman. A short documentary plays on one wall of the exhibit, which is located in the "Return to Zion" section of the core exhibit. A number of the Machalniks interviewed expressed muted disappointment with how the exhibit turned out, though they said they took pride in the fact that future visitors to the museum, including newly enlisted IDF soldiers, will know something of Machal's history.

 

"What is missing that you will get from talking to every single one of us is the passion, the determination, the spirit of mission, the understanding of our place in this moment of history," said Zipporah Porath, 88, a New Yorker who arrived in Israel in 1947, intending to study at the Hebrew University, but who joined the Haganah instead and served as a medic during the Siege of Jerusalem. "This exhibition is only the beginning," said Medicks.

 

Shira Friedman, the exhibit's curator, explained that her goal was to incorporate the Machal experience into the larger narrative of Jewish volunteerism and heroism. She commended the Machalniks for pursuing their ambitious vision for the exhibit, even when it clashed with her own. "If they have one thing in common, it's that personality: I have a target and I'm going to conquer the target," said Friedman, who is part of the team that is completely redesigning the core exhibit at Beit Hatfutsot. (A museum spokesperson said the new exhibit is expected to open in 2014. )

 

As Friedman came to learn, the Machalniks are proud of their service and protective of their legacy. Their website, www.machal.org.il, contains exhaustive Machal archives and more than 200 personal narratives. They have organized smaller exhibits around the world, including at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City and on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. In addition, they erected a Machal Memorial monument near Sha'ar Hagai in the Judean Hills to commemorate the 123 fallen volunteers and gather there every year on Israel's Memorial Day to honor their memory.

 

At the dedication of the memorial in 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said of the volunteers: "You came when we needed you most, during those dark and uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The People of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget." Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, the IDF's chief education officer, said in remarks at the opening of the exhibit that the Machalniks left a powerful legacy that continues to be felt today. "The foundation that you laid in spirit and action brings to Israel hundreds of volunteers each year to serve in the IDF and participate in the critically important defense mission," said Shermeister. Simon, of World Machal, said he frequently gives "pep talks" to groups of volunteers from the United States, England, South Africa, Australia and many other places. "It's wonderful," he said, "that we're able to maintain the spirit and the tradition of Machal."

                                                                               

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WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN                  

Israeli Air Force Magazine

 

George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling was born in Montreal in December 1921 to an observant Christian family. By age 14 he was already flying and wanted to join the Canadian army but was rejected on the grounds that he didn't yet know enough about flying. As World War II broke out, a desperate need arose for brave and talented pilots. The Royal British Air Force agreed to enlist Buzz and he crossed the ocean to enlist as a Spitfire pilot. He was an excellent pilot, a fact reflected in his many accomplishments during the war: he shot down 32 Italian and German enemy aircraft, 27 of them in combat above the island of Malta. He is remembered as the Canadian pilot who shot down the most enemy planes ever.

He was considered a ‘lone wolf' and developed fighting methods that he later taught the Israeli Air Force. For example, Beurling found that by shooting cannon on the approximated flight path of an enemy plane, one could attack the plane without straightening one's tail, utilizing a side angle. Pilots that flew with Beurling said that he would be able to notice approaching planes before anyone else, and was capable of counting them. As others were unable to see what he was talking about, they thought that he was simply nervous or tense, but in the end he was always accurate.

He ejected from two planes and was awarded four citations, making him the most decorated Canadian pilot in history. He was severely wounded but recovered and returned to fly. Towards the end of the war he returned to Canada as a national hero whose exploits and adventures were documented in detail in the book "Spitfires over Malta", co-written with Leslie Roberts.

George and Rick's father studied Holy Scriptures and the education that the brothers received at home and their worldview about Israel and the Jewish people was very much influenced by faith. "We very much identified with the history of the people of Israel. Our father always said that one day Israel would become an independent state and we always waited for it to happen", remembers Rick. "I think that after Buzz's experience in World War II, together with the fact that Israel was about to become a nation, he ran to help. Even though he wasn't Jewish, he had a Jewish heart".

 

George Beurling was offered a large sum of money to join and fly in one of the air forces that fought during the Israeli War of Independence, but he, of course, rejected the offer. He turned to the Jewish community in Montréal and offered himself as a volunteer to serve in the young air force, but he was turned down due to suspicion that he was a spy or was working for an enemy country's military. He did not give up and turned to Sydney Solomon, a Jewish community leader who was involved in joint activities between Canada and Israel, and tried to convince him. "Sydney sat with us in the kitchen and told us that it was very difficult for them to believe my brother, because they thought that it was a trick or a type of bait", recalls Rick. Sydney was skeptical of George's motivations, asking why he would want to come to fly for the State of Israel and George, whose allegiance was unmatched, was insistent and answered Sydney's questions with passages from the bible. "He wanted to be part of creation of Israel, re-establishing the State of Israel", says Rick.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence, Leonard Yehudah Cohen, a British pilot that also fought in Malta and George Beurling volunteered in the Mach"al (volunteers from abroad) group in the young IAF. Both of them were supposed to join Squadron A, today known as "Flying Camel" squadron, which was at the time practically the entirety of the IAF. "I didn't have a chance to speak with him then", explained Rick with sadness. "Sydney told us that he explained to George not to let us know when the time came. One day someone picked him up off the street, he got into their car, and got on a plane and left. There wasn't a chance for him to speak with anyone".

Their first task was to bring a Norseman plane from Italy to Israel. On May 20th, 1948, Buzz and Leonard went on a test flight on the plane that was to be brought to Israel. During the test flight, the plane caught fire and they crashed in the Rome airport. Maj. Gen. Motti Hod, formerly commander of the IAF, was then a young pilot named Mordechai Fein. He too was supposed to be on the plane. The circumstances of the accident are still unknown, but the conventional wisdom is that someone sabotaged the plane before the flight took off, knowing that it was bound for Israel. In the beginning, Beurling was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Rome.

"My father replied to the telegram that the "Hagannah" sent as follows: Your request touches us in our hearts. George, who devoted his last days to fight for the establishment of the State of Israel needs to be laid to rest in the holy land". On November 9, 1950, George was laid to eternal rest with full military honors in a Christian cemetery in Haifa. "At a later time, they said that maybe it was a mistake to request to hold his body in Israel and that they would check the possibility of returning him to Canada, but my family insisted that he would stay in Israel because that is where he wanted to be", explained Rick proudly.

This wasn't the first time that the Beurling family had visited Israel, but it was the first time that they fit it together with Buzz's story through the IAF. "60 years might seem like a long time", said Rick, "but it did not seem that way from a wider perspective". Buzz, considered today a member of the "Flying Camel" squadron, is honored in the memorial room of the squadron. 60 years after his burial in Israel, the Fallen Soldiers Department of the IAF renewed its connection with his family and invited the Beurlings to come to Israel for an official visit on Israel's National Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. During the IAF ceremony on "Mountain of Pilots", Rick served as a representative of bereaved families from abroad. "This is an opportunity for me to remember my big brother as a brother, not necessarily as a hero", said Rick. "It is very gratifying to see how much care the Israelis demonstrated in honoring his memory. I think that he was a bigger hero here than he was in Canada. In Montreal, he has a street named after him and in the last few years it was decided to name a school after him – Beurling High School".

"On our wall at home hangs a certificate from Israel, on which it is written that 300 trees were planted in Israel in memory of George a few years ago", continued Rick. "Every year, the Consulate General of Israel to Toronto invites us to celebrate Israeli Independence Day with them. One time I received a ‘Legion of Honor' in the name of General Wingate from the Canadian Legion. I was very proud to wear the uniform and a hat with the Star of David on it. Three years ago, the Canadian Air Force Attaché to Israel presented golden wings to me in Buzz's name in the presence of the IAF. My family and I are very appreciative of the treatment that we receive here in Israel, still after so many years. We always said that there was no way the Jews would forget my brother".                                                                                                            [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]   

     

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

On Topic

 

Tibi Ram: The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video): IDF, Apr. 27, 2014 —During the Holocaust Ze'ev Tibi Ram lost his whole family. He survived Auschwitz, a labour camp, and Bergen-Belsen. After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after. Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier

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

The Last Descendant – The Story of Those Who Can’t Speak: IDF Blog, May. 2, 2014 —The Last Descendants are those who came alone to Israel – the only place where they could live their lives without fear – because the rest of their family perished in the Holocaust. Later, these individuals lost their lives defending the State of Israel and the Jewish people, leaving behind no family and effectively ending their family legacy.

With New Films, Hollywood Finally Telling Story of Fledgling Israeli Air Force: Tom Tugend, JTA, Apr. 3, 2013—Some 65 years after a band of foreign volunteers took to the skies to ensure Israel’s birth and survival, filmmakers are racing to bring their exploits to the screen before the last of the breed passes away.

 

 

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ZACHOR—REMEMBERING ISRAEL’S HISTORY

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING THE ‘ALTALENA’
Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2011

 

Israel is confronting increasingly virulent worldwide challenges to its legitimacy.

An expanding chorus of politicians, journalists and academics relentlessly denounces the Jewish state as a racist, apartheid abomination. The resemblance between their shrill diatribes and the rhetoric of anti-Semitism during the past 2,000 years is not coincidental.

Few people remember that the Jewish state was born amid its own domestic legitimacy crisis. Its echoes still reverberate through the country, and may yet determine its future. In June 1948, six weeks after declaring independence, Israel confronted internal conflict that raised the specter of civil war. Surrounded by invading Arab armies, the fledgling Jewish state seemed on the verge of reenacting the first-century tragedy of fratricide that terminated Jewish national sovereignty for nearly two millennia.

To prime minister David Ben-Gurion, the arrival of the Altalena—a ship that sailed from France with desperately needed munitions and fighters—was the spearhead of a right-wing putsch to overthrow the government. Alleging a menacing challenge to the state and to his own authority, Ben-Gurion seized the opportunity to quash his detested right-wing political opposition, led by Menachem Begin.

His order to destroy the ship ignited a two-day battle in which 19 Jews were killed by their Jewish “brothers.”

The Altalena remains a sorrowful reminder that groundless hatred—condemned in Judaism ever since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE—tormented the Jewish people even at their wondrous moment of national rebirth.

In recent years, that doomed pariah ship has occasionally resurfaced from buried memory to roil Israeli politics. On the Left, Israelis still claim that Begin’s Irgun got what it deserved for daring to challenge the authority of the state. For those on the Right, however, Ben-Gurion acted with ruthless determination to delegitimize, if not destroy, his despised political opposition.

Israel’s internal legitimacy problem focuses on Jewish settlers in the West Bank, biblical Judea and Samaria. Some rabbinical authorities have justified military disobedience in response to settlement evacuation orders from the government—citing the precedent of conscience-stricken soldiers who disobeyed orders to fire on Altalena fighters.

Some religious soldiers have been discharged or jailed even for expressing opposition to settler expulsion. Others (following the precedent set by thousands of secular Israelis who refused military service during the first Lebanon war) have indicated their unwillingness to participate. It seems inconceivable that Israeli soldiers would—ever again—shoot fellow Jews. But the Altalena precedent hovers over the Jewish state as a perennial reminder of the tragic possibility of internecine violence.

The current crusade to delegitimize Israel as a racist, apartheid state occupying someone else’s land has become an international obsession. Pressure from the United Nations (and the Obama administration) to offer “land for peace” is unlikely to relent. Even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during his recent Washington visit, indicated his willingness to relinquish settlements (and remove settlers) outside the larger “blocs” closest to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Should that happen, Israelis may confront yet again the wrenching choices of 1948: When must political decisions and military orders be obeyed? When is disobedience justified? Who decides? Secular and religious Israelis have been unable to agree upon terms of Zionist unity that will finally resolve their enduring struggle over internal legitimacy. Any attempt by their government to expel tens of thousands of Jews from their homes, effectively undermining religious Zionism by eradicating its geographical base, could be catastrophic.

It might even provoke a confrontation that would make the battle over the Altalena, which erupted 63 years ago on June 21, seem like a minor historical blip. In Israel, once again, Jews could become brothers at war.

(The writer is the author of Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena.)

 

REMEMBERING SIX DAYS IN 1967
Michael Oren
Foreign Policy, June 6, 2011

 

“We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants,” declared Palestine Liberation Organization leader Ahmad al-Shuqayri. “As for the survivors—if there are any—the boats are ready to deport them.” A half-million Arab soldiers and more than 5,000 tanks converged on Israel from every direction, including the West Bank, then part of Jordan. Their plans called for obliterating Israel’s army, conquering the country, and killing large numbers of civilians. Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif said the Arab goal was to wipe Israel off the map: “We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.”

This was the fate awaiting Israel on June 4, 1967. Many Israelis feverishly dug trenches and filled sandbags, while others secretly dug 10,000 graves for the presumed victims. Some 14,000 hospital beds were arranged and gas masks distributed to the civilian population. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike to neutralize Egypt, the most powerful Arab state, but the threat of invasion by other Arab armies remained.

Israel’s borders at the time were demarcated by the armistice lines established at the end of Israel’s war of independence 18 years earlier. These lines left Israel a mere 9 miles wide at its most populous area. Israelis faced mountains to the east and the sea to their backs and, in West Jerusalem, were virtually surrounded by hostile forces. In 1948, Arab troops nearly cut the country in half at its narrow waist and laid siege to Jerusalem, depriving 100,000 Jews of food and water.

The Arabs readied to strike—but Israel did not wait. “We will suffer many losses, but we have no other choice,” explained IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. The next morning, on June 5, Israeli jets and tanks launched a surprise attack against Egypt, destroying 204 of its planes in the first half-hour. By the end of the first morning of fighting, the Israeli Air Force had destroyed 286 of Egypt’s 420 combat aircraft, 13 air bases, and 23 radar stations and anti-aircraft sites. It was the most successful single operation in aerial military history.

But, as feared, other Arab forces attacked. Enemy planes struck Israeli cities along the narrow waist, including Hadera, Netanya, Kfar Saba, and the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv; and thousands of artillery shells fired from the West Bank pummeled greater Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem. Ground forces, meanwhile, moved to encircle Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods as they did in 1948.

In six days, Israel repelled these incursions and established secure boundaries. It drove the Egyptians from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, and the Syrians, who had also opened fire, from the Golan Heights. Most significantly, Israel replaced the indefensible armistice lines by reuniting Jerusalem and capturing the West Bank from Jordan.

The Six-Day War furnished Israel with the territory and permanence necessary for achieving peace with Egypt and Jordan. It transformed Jerusalem from a divided backwater into a thriving capital, free for the first time to adherents of all faiths. It reconnected the Jewish people to our ancestral homeland in Judea and Samaria, inspiring many thousands to move there. But it also made us aware that another people—the Palestinians—inhabited that land and that we would have to share it.

As early as the summer of 1967, Israel proposed autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank and later, in 2000 and 2008, full statehood. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders rejected these offers. In 2005, Israel uprooted all 8,000 of its citizens living in Gaza, giving the Palestinians the opportunity for self-determination. Instead, they turned Gaza into a Hamas-run terrorist state that has launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Now, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank intends to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nationswithout making peace. It has also united with Gaza’s Hamas regime, which demands Israel’s destruction.

In spite of the Palestinians’ record of rejection and violence, Israel remains committed to the vision of two states living side by side in peace.… [But] we need defensible borders to ensure that Israel will never again pose an attractive target for attack.

For this reason, Israel appreciates U.S. President Barack Obama’s opposition to unilaterally declared Palestinian statehood and negotiations with Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, uphold previous peace agreements, and disavow terrorism. Similarly, we support the president’s call for the nonmilitarization of any future Palestinian state that must be capable of assuming “security responsibility.” In his recent address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed the president’s statement that the negotiated border will be “different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

Forty-four years after Arab forces sought to exploit the vulnerable armistice lines, it remains clear that Israel cannot return to those lines. And 44 years after the United Nations, through Resolution 242, indicated that Israel would not have to forfeit all of the captured territories and must achieve “secure and recognized boundaries,” the unsecure and unrecognized armistice lines must not be revived. Israel’s insistence on defensible borders is a prerequisite for peace and a safeguard against a return to the Arab illusions and Israeli fears of June 1967.

 

YONATAN NETANYAHU’S ODYSSEY:
FROM HARVARD TO ENTEBBE
Charles E. Shepard

Jerusalem Post, July 6, 2011

 

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the operation
to rescue hijacked Air France passengers in which the heroic commander was killed.

Yoni Netanyahu was only a flash in Harvard’s pan, an undergraduate for a year and a summer, a hard working student living off campus, remembered by only a handful of people in Cambridge. But for those few, Netanyahu—the sole Israeli commando to die in the July 4 assault on the airport in Entebbe, Uganda—was a man worthy of profound admiration, an extremely intelligent person who, in the words of his one-time adviser, had a “truly unique sense of dedication that you just don’t find in people very often, regardless of their age.”

Netanyahu’s Harvard friends, like Seamus P. Malin ‘62, his adviser in 1967-68 and the current director of financial aid, are wary that their eulogies be mistaken for run-of-the-mill posthumous praise, and they offer eerily similar descriptions of Netanyahu’s extraordinary qualities.

“This place does attract some pretty unusual individuals,” Malin says, “so it is not therefore a big deal to say you’ve come across somebody who is going to be a future senator or a bigwig in national or international life. But there are few people that you do meet whom you genuinely feel add to you as a person and really make being here and being associated with them in some way a fuller development of your own life.”

In that sense, Malin adds, Netanyahu’s death left an “emptiness because he was a person who lived a kind of exemplary personal life, without being schmaltzy about it, that made you kind of feel warm when you were with him. A conversation with him always made you think about your own life in a way you wouldn’t have thought about it if he hadn’t popped in to see you.…”

Although born in New York in 1946, Netanyahu was raised from age two on in Israel, and his close friends remember him as “Yoni,” a nickname derived from the Hebrew equivalent of his first name.

In the early 1960s Netanyahu returned to the United States as his Polish-born father, a Judaic studies scholar who now heads Cornell’s department of Semitic languages and literature, took a teaching position at Dropsie College in Philadelphia. But after graduating from a high school outside the city in 1964, Netanyahu returned to Israel and entered the Israeli armed forces as a paratrooper.

But Netanyahu had not decided to become an Israeli career officer. To the contrary, according to one of his closest friends at Harvard, Elliot Z. Entis ‘67, Netanyahu wanted very much to be a physicist before he came to Harvard… Netanyahu applied here, perhaps because of the presence of Entis, whom he had befriended at camp in New Hampshire during high school. Harvard accepted him enthusiastically; Kaufmann, who worked as an assistant director of admissions in 1967, describes Netanyahu as an “incredibly strong” candidate with a similarly impressive record and set of recommendations.

Netanyahu’s smooth transition from solider to academic was destroyed by the June 1967 Six Day War, an experience that “changed Yoni incredibly,” Entis says… Seeing many of his friends die set off a process of inner turmoil that ultimately would lead Netanyahu—who was himself seriously wounded in the left elbow during the fighting—to leave Harvard, to become a career officer, to “resolve that what he believed in he would have to live by,” as Entis says.…

What sticks in everyone’s mind is Netanyahu’s overwhelming concern for Israel. Repeatedly, when he dropped in to chat with Malin, Netanyahu would say, “I just shouldn’t be here. This is a luxury. I should be at home. I should be defending my country.” Thus Malin was not surprised in the spring of 1968 when Netanyahu dropped in to announce his plans to return, explaining that “Harvard is a wonderful place to be, but I just can’t justify being here.…” That fall, Netanyahu enrolled at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but soon he was back in the army.…

On February 1, 1969, I volunteered for renewed service in the army, and I have stayed in it ever since. During this period my rank was raised from first lieutenant to captain, and will be raised again to that of major on April 1 of this year. I am presently serving as a commander of a highly selective unit in the paratroopers.”

Entis visited Netanyahu in Israel in 1972 and found that he was largely unchanged. But the job had taken its toll; while Netanyahu had managed to avoid serious injury in his frequent antiterrorist activity, his wife, Tooti, was soon to leave him. “It was really a question of a man’s job getting in the way of his marriage,” Entis says.…

Despite his return to Israel and uncommonly rapid rise in the military rank, Netanyahu never abandoned his hopes to return to Harvard. Repeatedly he wrote the College to check the procedures for re-entry, never completely accepting his friends’ assurances that he would be welcome back any time. Finally, in January, 1973, Netanyahu informed Harvard that he planned to resume his studies immediately after freeing himself from active duty the upcoming June.

[In 1973, Netanyahu] return[ed to Harvard], enrolling in three half-courses—one over the conventional load. But, for reasons unknown, Netanyahu decided in August that he would not return in the fall. Less than two months later the October war erupted, again compelling Netanyahu to postpone his Harvard education.…

“The October War wasn’t the first war I went though, though it was certainly the hardest and most bitter. I came out of this round all in one piece (this time) though I lost many good and dear friends. Things aren’t quite the same as they were before… I still look forward to returning to Harvard sometime in the future, when things quiet down here.…”

Yoni Netanyahu loved math, and half his freshman year courses were in the natural sciences—Math 1a and 1b and Physics 1b and 12a. But…there was not much he could do with math as a 30- year-old army officer. So Netanyahu hoped to concentrate on international relations when he returned.…

Signs of this shift were apparent in his studies in the summer of 1973. Netanyahu’s three courses were all in Government—a survey of the history of political theory from Machiavelli to Marx, a conference course with Karl W. Deutsch, Stanfield Professor of International Peace, and a study of governments of the Middle East. Netanyahu’s grades—two A-’s and one A—were apparently typical of his performance at Harvard. Entis, like Netanyahu’s other friends at Harvard, stresses that the Israeli was brilliant, an “incredibly good” chess player who intellectually “was a constant surprise.…”

Netanyahu’s Harvard friends knew that he often spearheaded Israeli operations against Palestinian guerillas, and when they heard of such commando raids they usually thought of the short, stocky, thin-faced, steely-eyed Netanyahu, who, Malin says, “really looked the part of a guy you don’t mess around with.” But oddly enough…when those friends read about the raid that freed over 100 hostages being held by Palestinian sympathizers, their minds focused on the liberated, not the liberators.

Entis, who now works in a District of Columbia management consulting firm, didn’t consider that Netanyahu might have been involved until he saw his friend’s name on the front page of The Washington Post, news that “hit me right between the eyes.” But Entis’s reaction—like that of Netanyahu’s other friends who eulogized him last week—didn’t stop with tears. Entis’s devotion to his work in business is far weaker than Netanyahu’s was to Israel, and his friend’s death moved him to scrutinize his own life. “One of the problems in America is that we are a nation of relatively uncommitted people. Yoni had an ideal, and when he died, it made you think about your own life,” Entis explains. “It’s also a question of relative values. Yoni was willing quite literally to put his life on the line. That’s quite unusual. And there are even fewer people who derive that devotion internally.”

EACH MAN HAS A NAME— ISRAEL REMEMBERS ITS FALLEN HEROES

 

 

ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION
May 10, 2011

 

Over 10,000 supporters of Israel will gather on May 10, 2011 to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. The Israel Day celebration will begin at 11:00 am at Phillips Square.

This multi-cultural event is the largest of its kind in Canada and draws Montrealers–Jews and non-Jews alike—together in support of Israel.

 

At 11:45 am the gathering will proceed with a march from Phillips Square along Rene Levesque to Place du Canada. Adam Stotland and his band as well as Israel's own Mey Orav Tel Aviv group, will provide the music for song and dance. Greetings to the assembly on behalf of Israel and Canada will be delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

 

For more information, visit the event’s official website, http://www.israeldaycelebration.com.

 

 

 

EACH MAN HAS A NAME

 

Each man has a name, given him by
G-d, and given him by his father and
mother. Each man has a name given
him by his stature and his way of
smiling, and given him by his clothes.
Each man has a name given him by the
mountains and given him by his walls.
Each man has a name given him by the
planets and given him by his neighbours.
Each man has a name given him
by his sins and given him by his
longing. Each man has a name given
him by his enemies and given him by
his love. Each man has a name given
him by his feast days and given him by
his craft. Each man has a name given
him by the seasons of the year and
given him by his blindness. Each man
has a name given him by the sea and
given him by his death.
Zelda Mishkovsky, The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, The Viking Press and Penguin Books, 1981, Pg. 558.

 

THE VOLUNTEERS OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, 1948
Baruch Cohen

 

In loving memory of Malca z’l

In honor of IDF warriors in all Maarahot Israel

 

As Israel celebrates its 63rd Independence Day, our thoughts are directed towards the unforgotten heroes of Mahal—Mitnadve Chutz La’aretz—the military organization of the foreign volunteers who fought in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Today, and always, we remember all the volunteers, Jews and non-Jews, from all parts of the world, who flocked to the gates of the as yet unborn State of Israel, to offer their services as part of the Israel Defense Forces.

The story is dramatic, and incredible. Five thousand volunteers were organized after the United Nations General Assembly, in November 1947, recommended the partition of Palestine. Jewish ex-servicemen in so far off places as here in Canada heeded the call to fight for the newly-created State of Israel. In the United States and Scandinavia, Jews contacted and recruited Shlichim, foreign representatives of the Haganah, who worked under cover, to return to Israel to defend the infant Jewish State. In South Africa, fighters were organized after the arrival of a Jewish Agency representative, who had previously contacted the South African Jewish Servicemen Association.

By early 1948, volunteer organizations existed in most Jewish communities in the Western world. The majority of volunteers were channelled through training camps in France and Italy. Most of them were WWII veterans.

Approximately 150 Mahal volunteers were killed in action during Israel’s War of Independence, the majority of whom were from the United States and Canada. Of the estimated five thousand volunteers, close to three hundred settled in Israel after the war.

On this solemn day, I call upon everyone to remember the Mahal volunteers’ unique contribution to our beloved and incredible State of Israel; the eternal home of all Jews all over the world.

(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

 

NATION MOURNS 22,867 FALLEN SOLDIERS AS SIREN SOUNDS
Yaakov Katz & Jpost.com
Jerusalem Post, May 8, 2011

 

The nation bowed its head Sunday evening for Remembrance Day, mourning the 22,867 servicemen and—women who fell defending the land of Israel since 1860—the year the first Jews left Jerusalem’s Old City walls to settle other parts of the country.

In the past year, 183 soldiers and security personnel died while serving the state. The figure includes the Prisons Service victims of the Carmel fire.

Remembrance Day officially began at 8 p.m. Sunday when a one-minute siren sounded across the country. President Shimon Peres opened the state ceremony at the Western Wall, which was attended by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and representatives of bereaved families.

“We didn’t seek war. It was imposed upon us. But when we were attacked, we didn’t have the possibility to lose, even one war. And when we won, we returned to seek peace,” Peres said at the ceremony.…

On Monday, when a two-minute siren sounds at 11 a.m. nationwide, the day’s main memorial ceremony will begin at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery. A special ceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during the War of Independence will take place at the Mahal memorial near the Sha’ar Hagai Junction.

Ceremonies will be held at an additional 43 cemeteries, and the Defense Ministry said it expects over 1.5 million people to visit soldiers’ graves throughout the day.

In honor of Remembrance Day, the Defense Ministry has placed a miniature flag and black ribbon on the graves of all fallen soldiers. On Wednesday, Gantz laid a flag on the grave of the latest soldier to have died during his service—Cpl. Niot Watzman from the Golani Brigade, who was killed during a diving accident on vacation in Eilat in April.

“Israel’s renewal was achieved through a rare combination of vision and action, but in order for it to materialize, generations of soldiers and commanders needed to fight and fall,” Gantz said.…

 

I MISS YOU, ALWAYS
Karnit Goldwasser
Ynet News, May 9, 2011

 

It’s sad. Sad and painful.

I see how it starts, a week before Memorial Day, after Holocaust Remembrance Day ends. I see how the air changes and the colors turn grim; I see the country withdrawing into its pain; into its bloody history.

As for myself, I have been sad since the moment we bid farewell to each other. And that happened almost five years ago, in July 2006.

His story is yet another standard story about an almost 31-year-old guy who left his family, his wife, his studies and his job and went to safeguard the homeland. People like him are referred to as “salt of the earth.…”

Udi managed to return to his homeland after two difficult years. He was returned in order to be buried in the place where he was born, grew up and got married. He was my man. He still is. Upon his burial, the counting of a new time started. A different life got underway.

They say time heals the wounds and that it’s the best cure for pain. For me, it’s different. Time taught me how to live with the pain and sorrow; how to laugh, be happy, get excited and revitalize along with it. How not to fear it. Time allows me to learn how to live with the wounds created upon his departure. Yet, for me they will never heal. A scar that will never heal shall remain in my heart.…

Had it been possible to go back in time, I could have said goodbye properly or maybe not say goodbye at all.

On Memorial Day, the whole country stops and remembers its sons and daughters; the ones whom we, the bereaved families, remember every day, every hour. We miss them always, just like we do every day.

When Independence Day starts, and the flags are again raised to full staff, happiness returns to the streets, and to me as well. Only I’m left with a crack.

(Karnit Goldwasser is the former wife of fallen IDF reservist Ehud Goldwasser, whose remains were returned to Israel two years after being abducted in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah terrorists.)

 

LETTER FROM A FRIEND TO A FALLEN HERO
Hillel Fendel
Arutz Sheva, May 9, 2011

 

Noam Apter, 23, a student in Yeshivat Otniel on leave from the army, was murdered by Palestinian terrorists on a winter Sabbath night in late 2002, together with three of his friends. The four were caught in the kitchen of the yeshiva’s dining room on kitchen duty, and Noam heroically locked the dining room door in order to save his dozens of friends eating the Sabbath meal. The terrorists were unable to open the door separating them from the other students, though they kicked, banged, and shot at it. “I do not know how to explain that a person closes himself up inside [to save his friends], knowing that he will die,” said one of the yeshiva staff afterwards.

In honor of Memorial Day, his friend Avishai Mizrachi wrote the following letter.…

Noam:

You would certainly be amused if you knew that I was writing about you. Your smile still appears to me from every direction; you had good-natured eyes, with a spark of mischievousness playing about them. If those accursed terrorists only knew how much innocence and softness they were taking.… If they would have received a soul for just a moment, they would likely have turned away.…

What did you think to yourself there? Tell me, what were you thinking when you locked the doors of the kitchen and closed yourself and your life up and exposed your body to the terrorist fire, and saved tens, tens of your friends? From where did you get the strength, the daring?

For we were together in the same room in Kfar HaRoeh [yeshiva high school], six of us, on three bunk-beds in a crowded room. We laughed so much together, and hiked, and talked about profound things deep into the night. You would always return from Shabbat in your parents’ home with new insights, with interesting thoughts. How did you suddenly turn into a hero? Into a photo in the newspaper? Into words engraved on a tombstone?

And that dark, stark night, the end of the holy Sabbath. Whispers of rumors were heard that there had been an attack in Otniel. I prayed so much that you were not there—but my prayers went unanswered. I traveled from Kiryat Shmonah [in the north] down to the cemetery in Shilo for your funeral, a long night with tears flooding my eyes. To see your friends in the army, with red berets, paratroopers’ wings, carrying your coffin in silence.… And your father humming next to you a last Sabbath song with tearing eyes, “He who keeps the Sabbath, the son and the daughter, will be pleasing to G-d like a [Holy Temple] skillet offering.…”

Noam, the world did not stop, even after your death. Its heart is still beating wildly, and did not stop even upon hearing your last dying gasps. People here, in this world, love life and repress the finality that awaits us, the death that is waiting to come upon us. And you, you are most certainly enjoying yourself there among the angels and seraphim in that other world, the eternal world, the one that is hidden from the eyes of all thinkers.

Yours,

Avishai

 

WHO CAN COUNT THE DUST OF JACOB
Daniel Greenfield
Canada Free Press, May 9, 2011

 

“Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the seed of Israel.” Numbers 23:10.

The sun sets above the hills. The siren cries out and on the busy highways that wend among the hills, the traffic stops, the people stop, and a moment of silence comes to a noisy country. Flags fly at half mast, the torch of remembrance is lit, memorial candles are held in shaking arms and the country’s own version of the Flanders Field poppy, the Red Everlasting daisy, dubbed Blood of the Maccabees, adorns lapels. And so begins the Yom Hazikaron, Heroes Remembrance Day, the day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror—Israel’s Memorial Day.

What is a memorial day in a country that has always known war. Where remembrance means adding the toll of one year’s dead and wounded to the scales of history. A country where war never ends, where the sirens may pause but never stop, where each generation grows up knowing that they will have to fight or flee. To stand watch or run away. It is not so much the past that is remembered on this day, but the present and the future. The stillness, a breath in the warm air, before setting out to climb the slopes of tomorrow.

Who can count the dust of Jacob. And yet each memorial day we count the dust. The dust that is a fraction of those who have fallen defending the land for thousands of years. Flesh wears out, blood falls to the earth where the red daisies grow, and bone turns to dust. The dust blows across the graves of soldiers and prophets, the tombs of priests hidden behind brush, the caverns where forefathers rest in sacred silence, laid to rest by their sons, who were laid to rest by their own sons, generations burying the past, standing guard over it, being driven away and returning each time.

On Memorial Day, the hands of memory are dipped in the dust raising it to the blue sky. A prayer, a whisper, a dream of peace. And the wind blows the candles out. War follows. And once again blood flows into the dust. A young lieutenant shading his eyes against the sun. An old man resting with his family on the beach. Children climbing into bed in a village beneath the hills. And more bodies are laid to rest in the dust. Until dust they become.…

But there is no counting the dust. And when we walk the length and breadth of the land, as the Maker told Abraham to do, it’s the dust that supports our feet. We stand upon the shoulders of giants. We walk in the dust of our ancestors.…

The [Jewish] calendar itself is a memorial. After Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day, Lag BaOmer, the commemoration of the original Yom Yerushalayim, the liberation of Jerusalem from the Romans, still covertly remembered in bonfires and bows shot into the air. Remembering a victory turned into a defeat and encoded in a story about a plague caused by a lack of brotherhood. That lack was very real and the plague took the form of swords and spears. All in a season that begins with Passover, the exodus that set over a million people off on a forty year old journey to return to the homeland of their forefathers.

The battles today are new, but they are also very old. The weapons are new, but the struggle is the same. Who will remain and who will be swept away. Some 3,000 years ago, Judge Jephthah and the King of Ammon were exchanging messages not too different from those being passed around as diplomatic communiques today. The King of Ammon demanding land for peace and the Judge laying out the Israeli case for the land in a message that the enemy would hardly trouble to read before going to war.

Take a stray path in these hills and you may find a grinning terrorist with a knife, or the young David pitting his slingshot against a lion or bear. This way the Maccabees rush ahead at the armies of a slave empire, and this way a helicopter passes low overhead on the way to Gaza. Like Dali’s melting clocks, time is a fluid thing here. And what you remember, you shall find.

The soldier is not so sacred as he once was. The journalist and the judge have taken his place. The actors sneer from their theaters. The politicians gobble their free food and babble of peace. Flowers in gun barrels and doves everywhere. But the soldier still stands where he must. The borders have shrunk. The old victories have been exchanged for diplomatic defeats. From the old strongholds come missiles and rockets. And children hide in bomb shelters waiting for the worst to pass. This is the doing of the journalist and the judge, the politician and the actor, the lions of literature who send autographed copies of their books to imprisoned terrorists and the grandchildren of great men who hire themselves on in service to the enemy.…

In a land built on memory, it is possible not to remember, but it is impossible to entirely forget. Memory becomes a desperate burden that some are only too happy to cast off.…

Yet though men may forget, the dust remembers. And the men return to it. For some four thousand years they have done it. And they shall do it yet again. For He who has made men of the dust and made worlds of the dust of stars does not forget. As the stars turn in whirling galaxies and the dust flies across the land, so the people return to the land. And though they forget, they remember again. For the dust is the memory of ages and the children shall always return to the dust of their ancestors.

In the cities, towns and villages—the dead are remembered. Those who died with weapons in their hands and those who just died. Men, women and children. Drops of blood cast to the dust, reborn as flowers on lapels. Reborn as memory.

All go to one place, said King Solomon, all that lives is of the dust, and all returns to the dust. There is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his works. And so memorial day precedes the day of independence. That we rejoice in that which those who sleep in the dust have died to protect. The skyscrapers and the orchards, the sheep ranches and the highways, the schools and the synagogues. For they who drained the swamps and built the roads, who held guard over the air and built the cities, may not have lived to see their works. But we rejoice in their works for them. And a new generation rises to watch over their dust and tend the works that they have built. Until the day when He that counts the dust of Jacob shall count them all, and the land shall stir, and in the words of Daniel, they that sleep in dust shall arise, and then rejoice with us.

THE FALSE RELIGION OF PEACE THROUGH CONCESSION— AND THE NEED TO CLEAR OUR MINDS OF HAMETZ

 

 

 

CLEARING OUR MINDS OF HAMETZ
Daniel Doron
Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2011

 

In his “insecure nationalists” (Ha’aretz, April 6th) Tel Aviv University Law Prof. Meni (Menachem) Mautner criticizes the Knesset for enacting a law that will deny funding to bodies “that recognize [Israel’s] Independence Day…as a day of mourning.”

Mautner attacks the “aberrant approach” of Zionists who present the conflict between Arabs and Jews from a “one-dimensional” Jewish angle, denying the Palestinian Arabs’ tragedy. Forbidding the teaching of an “Arab narrative” in our schools because it considers the establishment of Israel a disaster is unfair and counterproductive, he avers. “The founding of the state entailed the destruction of Arab society in this country.…”

In his “Politics and the English Language” George Orwell lamented the politicians’ habit of perverting language by using “newspeak,”—insinuating subversive meanings into seemingly innocuous words. “A simple truth [is] mistaken for simplicity” Shakespeare called it.

By demanding that we embrace the Arab “narrative” to show empathy toward the Arabs, Mautner in effect asks that we endorse Arab lies about the nature and consequences of the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Mautner is no innocent; he is a learned man. He must know that the Arab claim that Jews stole “Palestinian lands”…[is] sheer fabrication. The land which the Palestinian Arabs tried to grab in 1948 was land given by The League of Nations in 1921 to the British as a mandate over Palestine (including what is now Jordan) for the express purpose of building a Jewish National Home.

In 1947 the UN recommended the partition of Palestine subject to agreement between the Jews and Arabs. When the Arabs rejected the partition recommendation it became null and void, and the primary legal claim to the land reverted to the Jews, as it was under the Mandate.

Most of the land in the British Palestine Mandate was barren government land taken over from the Ottoman Empire that had ruled it for centuries. This is why it could be given by The League of Nations as a national home for the Jews. It was given with Arab consent. A deal was struck with Emir Feisal, who represented the Arabs at the 1922 San Remo Peace Conference. In compensation for relinquishing a putative right to Palestine, the Arabs were given over 99 percent of the former Ottoman lands in The Middle East and North Africa.

Then they demanded the rest.

But “Palestine” was never legally Palestinian. There were no Palestinians then, in fact, and those who later became such held title to very little of the land, at most 5%.

The 7% of the mandatory land that was privately owned was either occupied by cities and villages or belonged mostly to absentee (non-“Palestinian”) landowners. They exploited dirt-poor Arab tenants to work the land, and sold to Jews the barren, worthless parts of this depopulated and empty country that Mark Twain described as “a prince of desolation.”

The Jews charmed it back to life. The revival of Palestine by the Jews attracted waves of immigrants from neighboring Arab countries. Most Palestinians are their descendants When the Arab assault on the Jewish community in 1948 failed to destroy the nascent state and kill its inhabitants, they lost marginal Arab-owned lands on the periphery of their habitat. But they claimed to have “lost” large chunks of Mandatory government-owned land designated for a Jewish National Home, which they had grabbed by force. It was not land they legally owned, privately or communally. It was not their property, so no-one could “steal” it from them.

So much for the Big Lie that Jews stole “Palestinian lands.”

As for the destruction of Arab society: During British rule, Palestinian Arabs mostly expanded their settlement along the spine of the Judean Hills from Nablus to Hebron. Protected by Arab armies and “volunteers” from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and even Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it was barely touched in the 1948 war.

The war raged at the Western fringes of these areas, around the smaller cities of the plain like Ramle and Lod; and in the then-empty Negev and sparsely populated Galilee, where the 1949 armistice lines were eventually drawn. It was not at the heart of Arab habitation. Therefore, despite massive flight from Haifa and Jaffa, and from smaller cities and villages like Acre, Ashdod, Ashkelon and BeerSheba, most Arab society was in fact not physically affected by Israel’s Independence.

At the same time—it is too often forgotten—hundreds of Jewish communities in The Middle East, around the Persian Gulf and in North Africa were assaulted by their Arab neighbors without provocation. They were brutalized, murdered and evicted—more than a million souls, whose forefathers had inhabited these countries for centuries before the advent of Islam.

When bemoaning the Arab “tragedy,” should not Prof. Mautner have mentioned that it also “entailed” an attempt by these Palestinian Arabs, assisted by seven Arab armies, to destroy the fledgling Jewish state and kill its citizens just because they were Jews? Should he not have mentioned that this unprovoked attack was a major cause of “the Arab tragedy”? The apparent hopelessness of achieving their “peace now” fantasy has done something peculiar to the moral compass of Israel’s self-styled “liberals.” Otherwise, how could a top academic ask for empathy for Arabs shortly after Arab terrorists butchered children in Itamar? How could he castigate Jews for lack of empathy at the very hour when Arabs, their leaders and their institutions revealed the depth of their depravity by not really condemning the Itamar slaughter? How can one explain Prof. Mautner’s insistence that we teach the lie that “the creation of Israel was responsible for the destruction of Arab society…” when in fact the major reason Arab society is being destroyed is the rule of oppression, terror and corruption imposed on it since the 1930s by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini and his heirs, Yasser Arafat, Abu Mazen and their followers?…

But [left-leaning organizations such] as “The Council for Peace and Security” [continue to] ignore “the dark side” in the Arab camp, the murderous Arab intent, the wish to destroy Israel. They keep demanding that Israel make more and more territorial concessions in order to secure a questionable paper peace. They do not explain why…we must believe that after the failure of Oslo and of the retreat from Gaza, which they fervently supported, more territorial concession will not result merely in the irredentist use of these territories as a base for inciting Arabs to murder Jews, and eventually for attacking Israel.

Lenin called Western liberals “useful idiots” because they supported the communist tyranny—as some [Israelis] support an oppressive corrupt Palestinian “authority”—because of their illusionary belief that dictatorships can deliver freedom.

Celebrating a revolt against dictatorship on Passover is a caution against such illusions. It is also a time to cleanse minds from the crusts of misinformation and outdated notions that prevent us from looking reality in the face, from realizing that Exodus from slavery to freedom was never easy or cost-free; you cannot cross the red sea of conflict on bridges made of lies and paper agreements.

(Daniel Doron is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress.)

 

HEBRON BESIEGED
Jerold S. Auerbach

American Thinker, April 17, 2011

 

Passover, 1968: several dozen Jewish families returned to Hebron to celebrate the holiday of Jewish memory. They remembered slavery in Egypt, the exodus to freedom, and the journey to the promised land. But they also remembered the unique place of Hebron in Jewish history and they intended to restore a Jewish community in the most ancient Jewish city in the world.

In Hebron (according to the Biblical narrative), Sarah was buried on land purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite. Rejecting the generous offer of a gift, Abraham paid Ephron’s full asking price—400 silver shekels—to assure the indisputable legitimacy of title. It was the first land holding of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah were also buried there. From Hebron, King David reigned for seven years before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. Over the ancestral burial site King Herod built the magnificent edifice that is still intact two thousand years later, known to Jews as Ma’arat Hamachpela.

With the Muslim conquest the Machpelah shrine was converted into a mosque which, for seven centuries, Jews were prohibited from entering. During the Arab massacres of 1929 that swept through Palestine, sixty-seven Hebron Jews were brutally murdered. British authorities removed terrified survivors from the city and Hebron became Judenrein for nearly forty years. When Israelis entered Hebron after the Six-Day War they discovered the abandoned Jewish Quarter in ruins, synagogues destroyed, and the ancient cemetery desecrated.

Now seven hundred Jews live in Hebron, two hundred yeshiva students study there, and seven thousand Israelis live in nearby Kiryat Arba. It has been a precarious existence, repeatedly punctuated by Palestinian terrorist attacks. Six Jews were killed outside Beit Hadassah, the restored medical clinic. A yeshiva student had his throat slit in the market; another was murdered on his way to evening prayers at Machpelah. Two Soviet refuseniks were killed at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. A rabbi was stabbed to death in his trailer home on Tel Rumeida, the site of ancient Hebron. A ten-month-old girl was shot in the head by a sniper. A dozen Israeli soldiers and security guards were ambushed and murdered by Palestinian members of Islamic Jihad.

Each terrorist attack spurred renewed attempts to build the community. The major obstacle, for nearly forty-five years, has been the government of the State of Israel. Regardless of the party in power, prime ministers from Levi Eshkol in 1967 to Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011 have thwarted the growth of the Hebron Jewish community.

The government has made it virtually impossible for Jews to buy property from willing Arab sellers, or build new homes on Jewish-owned land (including property purchased in 1807). The Supreme Court has ruled that for “security” reasons there is no obligation to return property to its original Jewish owners, thereby leaving Hebron residents even less secure.

Little more than a year ago eight families were forcibly evicted from a building purchased for the community by a New York businessman whose parents and grandparents had lived in Hebron. A community representative noted bitterly that when Abraham purchased Machpelah “there was no Supreme Court, Attorney General or government to take it from him.”

When Prime Minister Netanyahu recently announced his intention to “refurbish Israeli heritage sites,” Hebron was conspicuously omitted. (Imagine a list of American heritage sites that excluded Plymouth or Gettysburg.) Under intense political pressure, he relented and added the Machpelah shrine.

But the struggle over Hebron…continues. Foreign countries and the European Union have provided millions of dollars for Arab housing that will flank the only road linking Hebron and Kiryat Arba, posing a severe security danger to Jewish residents of both communities. But the Israeli government has declined even to replace a shredded tarpaulin covering the main courtyard of Machpelah, a Jewish prayer site, with a permanent roof lest Muslims take offense.

Whenever there is discussion about which settlements will remain part of Israel in any peace agreement Hebron is omitted. Why? Because it is the flash point for the continuing struggle over Zionist legitimacy. Hebron Jews are routinely demonized as Jewish “fanatics” or “zealots” by their fanatical and zealous secular opponents.

Should Hebron once again become Judenrein, religious Zionists—and the Jewish people—will lose a vital living source of memory and identity. That is sufficient reason for secular Zionists to want to excise it from the Jewish state.

Not long before his incapacitating stroke in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked a journalist: “Can you conceive that one day Jews will not live in Hebron?… If we were a normal nation, when a visitor arrived here we would take him not to Yad Vashem but, rather, to Hebron. We’d take him to where our roots are.… No other people has anything like it.”

Settling the Land of Israel—in Hebron no less than Tel Aviv—has always defined Zionism. But a nation that forgets its heritage relinquishes its primary source of spiritual sustenance. Indeed, according to the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century founder of Hassidism, forgetfulness “leads to exile.” That is why, every Passover, Jews remember their liberation from slavery. Hebron is the most tenacious community of Jewish memory in Israel. Should it be abandoned, Zionism itself would slide into Jewish exile.

(Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Hebron Jews:
Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel[200]).)

 

A RECIPE FOR PEACE
Conrad Black
National Post, April 16, 2011

 

There is something faintly nostalgic about former U.S. national security advisor Brent Scowcroft’s Financial Times op-ed…calling for Barack Obama to “broker a new Mideast Peace.” The man, the media and the message are all, as Hillary Clinton would say, “so yesterday.” It’s a little like watching vintage films from the era when American leaders were first “brokering peace” in the Mideast, such as American Graffiti or The Graduate.

Brent Scowcroft was the U.S. national security advisor to President Gerald Ford, and he returned to the post under President George H.W. Bush. He is a distinguished foreign-policy and strategic-policy specialist, but has never been considered overly original, a reputation that will not be shaken by his new suggestion.

The Financial Times is a justly respected newspaper, but its editorial line is always the urbane, gentlemanly, British impulse to speak softly, move in increments, generally advance the conventional wisdom; and don’t stretch the imagination, catch a cold thinking outside the box, or get seriously riled up over anything short of a genuine outrage. In this case, however, the conventional wisdom is nonsense. The counsel for President Obama to “broker peace” is on par with Pakistani President Musharraf ‘s advice to Tony Blair to “do Palestine.” The Palestinians could have peace with Israel tomorrow if they wanted it.

In any event, Barack Obama is not trusted by Israel. His chief initiative in the area to date has been to deny the existence of the agreement George W. Bush made with Ariel Sharon, whereby Israel would vacate Gaza, would dismantle some West Bank settlements, and would confine extensions of other settlements in contested areas to natural population growth. (The world’s obsession with settlement abandonment as the key to peace—which Obama seems to share—is foolish: If Israel dismantled every settlement, or even turned them over for occupation by returning Palestinians, a new pretext to keep the pot boiling would be devised.…)

Always, it is claimed that a return to the 1967 borders is the basis of peace, although those borders would leave Israel nine miles wide on its Mediterranean shore, and the West Bank and Gaza sections of Palestine separated by 50 miles. The Arabs effectively had those borders, under the control of Jordan and Egypt, in 1967. Yet they went to war and lost—events that would not normally be expected to generate reverence for the status quo ante.

The facts, which must be perfectly well-known to Brent Scowcroft, are that it is impossible to deal with the Palestinians while Hamas controls Gaza and the PLO the West Bank; that it is impossible to broker anything while the surrounding Arab powers are in turmoil; that this U.S. administration is not taken seriously by anybody in the area after the denial of the Bush-era settlements arrangement and the failure of its Iran policy; and the solution, when the Palestinians are ready, has, as Scowcroft himself notes, largely been identified already.

There will have to be some exchanges of territory, to make Israel wider between the Mediterranean and the West Bank. Scowcroft envisions a united Jerusalem serving as the capital of both countries. I don’t think so; I think sideby-side Jerusalems, with the Arabs controlling their area beyond Orient House and a special arrangement and assured access to designated holy sites for all faiths throughout both countries. The Palestinian right of return would be to Palestine, and this fairy tale of one big happy Holy Land where all would be brothers, but in fact the Muslims would outnumber the Jews and expel or massacre them yet again, should finally have a silver stake driven through its heart.

A clairvoyant is not required to see that this is where it will end up. Nor is one required to see that, as Arab populations have begun to stop being distracted by the red herring of Israel and have focused on the misgovernment from which they have suffered, no Israeli flags have been burned nor Palestinian flags waved about by non-Palestinians.

Israel is absolutely legitimate as a Jewish state, and was so constituted by the unanimous permanent members of the United Nations Security Counsel.… The borders have been open to legitimate debate. But when the Palestinians determine that they will no longer be used as cannon-fodder, a cause celebre that enables the leaders of the Muslim powers to misgovern, oppress and pillage their countries, and deflect discontent by waving the bloody shirt of Palestine, the borders could be quickly established along the lines mentioned. If the Palestinians could draw the lesson of the spectacular economic growth of the West Bank, which Israel has assisted, and where Prime Minister Salam Fayyad favours peace and is the first Palestinian leader whose CV does not contain a long stint as an extremist or terrorist; and of the contrast with the collapsed economy in Gaza, which has happily served as a launch-site for rockets aimed at Israeli civilians since Sharon vacated it; then peace would be imminent.

For a sensible and experienced man such as Brent Scowcroft to suggest that President Obama is in any position to broker anything in a Middle East where the Arab governments are fighting for their lives with their own people and Hamas is still trying to kill all the Jews, is disconcerting. Even Richard Goldstone, the token anti-Israel Jew recruited by the United Nations to write a smear job on Israel’s hugely provoked reprisals against Gaza, has recanted his fraudulent report.

Israel has its faults, but it is a legitimate Jewish state, a successful society of laws and enterprise. The Palestinians have grievances, but a remedy is at hand. Israel will take half a loaf. If Palestine would also, there would be peace. But it won’t happen until it is clear what Egypt, Syria and Lebanon will look like, and whether anything will be done to curb the baleful influence in the area of Iran. If he was minded to, President Obama could do something about that, but it isn’t a matter of brokerage and there is no sign of it coming.