Tag: Remembrance Day

ANNIVERSARIES OF WWI ARMISTICE AND KRISTALLNACHT ARE PROFOUND MOMENTS OF HISTORICAL REFLECTION

The Connection Between WWI Armistice and WWII Kristallnacht: Ben Cohen, JNS, Oct. 19, 2018— Two grimly sobering anniversaries fall in November.

This November 11th, Remember Canada’s Heroic 100 Days: J.L. Granatstein, National Post, Nov. 8, 2018 — Most Canadians know something of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

A Kristallnacht Lesson: Mordecai Paldiel, Times of Israel, Nov. 8, 2018— As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the carnage known historically as Kristallnacht, orchestrated by the Nazi regime, we are faced with another horrendous attack on innocent Jews, this time by a lone psychotic anti-Semite targeting Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

What Americans Must Do After Pittsburgh to Thwart Antisemitism: Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018 — “Some people don’t like other people just because they’re Jews,” declared a main character in the 1947 Oscar-winning American classic, “A Gentleman’s Agreement.”

On Topic Links

The Courage and Folly of a War That Left Indelible Scars: Alan Cowell, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2018

80 Years After Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ Pogrom, One Jewish Girl’s Holocaust Diary Sounds Warning Against Revival of Antisemitism: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018

Why I Don’t Want an Apology for the St. Louis: Sally Zerker, CJN, Oct. 10, 2017

Trudeau Warns Against Modern Anti-Semitism in Apology for Turning Away Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazis: Steven Chase, Globe & Mail, Nov. 7, 2018

 

                             THE CONNECTION BETWEEN WWI ARMISTICE

                                                 AND WWII KRISTALLNACHT                                                                                            Ben Cohen

                                                            JNS, Oct. 19, 2018

Two grimly sobering anniversaries fall in November. On the 9th and 10th, we will mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht—the orgy of murder and violence that devastated Jewish communities across Nazi Germany in 1938. The following day, Nov. 11, we will mark the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I—the most devastating military conflict the world had so far experienced.

These two events, occurring exactly 20 years apart, were intimately connected. Some historians argue that the 20th century really began with World War I, which buried the geriatric Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, and set the stage for the modern totalitarian systems of communism and fascism—directly paving the way for the rise in Germany of National Socialism and its unprecedented war on the Jews.

In all senses one can think of, there was a dramatic transformation in the position of Europe’s Jews between the end of the “Great War,” as it was dubbed, and the Nazi Holocaust that consumed nearly two-thirds of their number. For one thing, the record of Jewish military service in the war rather gruesomely demonstrated that Jews were also loyal, grateful citizens of the countries in which they lived. Given that French-Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus had been convicted of treason in an anti-Semitic show trial only two decades earlier, that record was even more striking.

More than 50,000 Jews fought on the British and Commonwealth side, 100,000 with the Germans and 300,000 with Austria-Hungary—many thousands of whom lost their lives in the process. From outside Europe, more than 200,000 Jews were among the approximately 5 million American service personnel in 1917, when the United States joined the Allied side.

When it came to Jewish civilians, the toll in the eastern half of Europe was particularly brutal, with hundreds of thousands of Jews deported to the Russian interior or murdered in bloody pogroms. Those ravages led several thousand Jews to join the ranks of the Bolshevik Revolution and even serve in its senior posts, but by the mid-1920s, the ruling Communist Party was no longer a polyglot underground organization. It was, in dramatic contrast, a ruling bureaucracy undergoing a profound process of “Russification.”

The experience of World War I left some Jewish communities feeling more integrated and secure, while others were exposed as highly vulnerable, or even decimated out of existence. It also made realistic the proposal of a national home for the Jewish people, an end-goal the British government regarded “with favor” in its Balfour Declaration of 1917. On Nov. 11, 1918, then, the world’s Jews could spy the promise of redemption on all the political paths—liberal-assimilationist, revolutionary, Zionist—that were available to them. Hardly any of them believed that mass extermination was awaiting them within a generation. To have even suggested such a thing to one of the 7,000 Jews decorated by Germany for their war service would probably have been insulting.

But as the polarizing settlement that ended World War I finally crumbled with Hitler’s launching of World War II, the old libels against the Jews—that they were tribally disloyal, that they profited from war both economically and in terms of political influence—returned with a vengeance. The British writer George Orwell noted the reluctance of his own government to combat such slanders. “To publicize the exploits of Jewish soldiers, or even to admit the existence of a considerable Jewish army in the Middle East, rouses hostility in South Africa, the Arab countries and elsewhere,” he wrote during World War II. “It is easier to ignore the whole subject and allow the man in the street to go on thinking that Jews are exceptionally clever at dodging military service.”

But the British were far from alone in falling for the myth that Jews are at their most disloyal in times, like wartime, when everyone else is at their most loyal. That trope was among the many anti-Semitic fabrications of the Nazis, whose dehumanizing propaganda campaigns and notorious racial laws discriminating against Jews exploded in the violence of Kristallnacht. More than 100 Jews were murdered on the streets of Germany during those hours of fire and broken glass, while 30,000 more were deported to camps whose names—Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Dachau—are now indelibly associated with the Holocaust.

These are the basic facts that the forthcoming commemorations of these two events will reflect. For Jews, these are occasions for profound historical reflection, in a year that has already witnessed the seventieth anniversary of the State of Israel’s creation. Both anniversaries are occasions to ponder how the crooked road of Jewish emancipation, whose benefits these days still far outweigh the persistence of anti-Semitism, felt for those who came before us.                              Contents    

THIS NOVEMBER 11TH, REMEMBER CANADA’S HEROIC 100 DAYS                                                J.L. Granatstein

National Post, Nov. 8, 2018

Most Canadians know something of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The victory there saw the Canadian Corps take a key enemy position, and the great Canadian memorial atop the ridge has been the scene of national commemorations and countless individual pilgrimages. Fewer Canadians know about Ypres in April 1915 when the raw soldiers of the Canadian Division fought through the first dreadful German gas attack. And even fewer know about the battle of Passchendaele in the autumn of 1917 when the Canadian Corps struggled through a morass of mud and suffered some 16,000 casualties to take a worthless rise of land in the flat Flanders fields.

But almost no Canadians know anything about the Hundred Days of 1918 when the Canadian Corps, led by Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Currie, fought the most significant battles in Canadian military history. From Aug. 8 to the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, the 100,000 men of the four Canadian infantry divisions defeated one-quarter of the German army on the Western Front in a great succession of terrible struggles.

Beginning at Amiens, France, the Canadians, Australians, British and French smashed through the German lines, gaining up to 14 kilometres on the first day. The Canadians, the “shock troops of the British Army,” as historian Shane Schreiber dubbed them, had been moved some 60 kilometres in secrecy to the Amiens front, each soldier ordered to “Keep Your Mouth Shut!” Then with tanks, artillery, aircraft and infantry working together in a near-perfect combined arms attack that featured both disinformation and surprise, the Canadians attacked. “Within 10 minutes of the start,” Gunner Bertie Cox remembered in an extraordinary account of the attack on Aug. 8, “the tanks, by the hundreds, and the cavalry, by the thousands, were passing our guns. It made an awful pretty picture to see the tanks and cavalry looming up in the mist, over the crest, just about dawn. The field guns began to pass at a gallop too, not to mention the infantry by the hundreds of thousands. By 5 a.m., the prisoners began to go by and this procession continued all day. … We spent a considerable part of the day checking them over, getting souvenirs. … They nearly cleaned us out of cigarettes and emptied our water bottles.” It was, declared another soldier, “the best executed and best picked out plan that was ever pulled off.” True enough. It was also what German strategist Gen. Erich Ludendorff called “the black day of the German Army in the war.”

Three weeks later at the end of August and the beginning of September, the Canadians, having moved north, fought their way through the Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, driving ahead through machine-gun bunkers and heavily defended strongpoints. The fighting was brutal and terribly costly to both sides, but the men of the Corps broke the enemy line.

Then at the end of September, Gen. Currie’s men fought their tactical masterpiece and crossed the Canal du Nord. Currie had sent two divisions across a dry portion of the canal, then fanning them out to roll up the enemy positions. The Corps’ engineers threw up bridges across the canal under fire, and tanks, guns and more infantry went across. The fighting over the next week was especially difficult for the weary Canadians. “Never have I felt so depressed as I felt after that battle,” young brigade commander J.A. Clark recalled. “It seemed impossible to break the morale and fighting spirit of the German troops. We felt that this Boche could not be beaten,” he continued, “certainly not in 1918. He fought magnificently and in a most determined fashion. He discouraged a great many soldiers in the Corps.” The enemy was broken but far from beaten, and the infantry battalions in Clark’s brigade had been shattered in the fighting in front of Cambrai.

Still, in what Gen. Currie called the Corps’ hardest fighting of the war, the Canadians pressed the Germans back to Cambrai, their major transportation and supply hub in northern France. On Oct. 9 and 10, they seized the city, dousing the fires the retreating enemy had set. There was one last set piece battle at Valenciennes, close to the French-Belgian border, where a single Canadian brigade attacked Mont Houy under the heaviest Canadian artillery barrage of the war and routed the German defenders. The pursuit then began, the enemy fleeing eastward, leaving behind only machine-gun teams to slow the chase. On Nov. 10, the Canadians were at Mons, Belgium, the symbolic town where the British Expeditionary Force had first faced the invading Germans in August 1914 and had been forced to retreat. The Canadians liberated Mons just as the Armistice brought the Great War to a close.

In truth, the Armistice was really a German surrender. There was no “stab in the back” as Adolf Hitler and others in Germany would proclaim. The German army had been defeated on the field of battle by the Allies, and the Canadian Corps had played a distinguished, costly role in the victory. The Hundred Days cost Canada some 15,000 dead and 30,000 wounded, almost one fifth of the 240,000 Canadian casualties suffered in four years of war. And yet, somehow no one in Canada today seems to know of the Hundred Days, its great and important victories all but forgotten…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                    Contents

   

A KRISTALLNACHT LESSON

Mordecai Paldiel

Times of Israel, Nov. 8, 2018

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the carnage known historically as Kristallnacht, orchestrated by the Nazi regime, we are faced with another horrendous attack on innocent Jews, this time by a lone psychotic anti-Semite targeting Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Let us reflect on the significance of this large, government-staged pogrom on November 9-10, 1938 targeting the Jewish population across Germany, including the annexed regions of Austria and the Czech Sudetenland. Jewish homes and businesses were vandalized, 270 synagogues destroyed, close to 100 persons killed, and 30,000 Jewish men carted off to concentration camps. In the context of the atrocities committed during the height of the Holocaust, these figures may be appalling, but, perhaps not shocking. Taking a step back, it is important to acknowledge that this did not take place with the backdrop of the Holocaust, but rather in the midst of civilized and still at peace Europe. If anyone, up to then, had doubts as to how far the Nazi regime would go to force all Jews out of the country by the use of acts of terror, the violent physical attacks of Kristallnacht left no one further in doubt about the intentions of Hitler and his henchmen. It also left no doubts about the anemic pushback from the international community.

Kristallnacht can be seen not just as a horrid day in history that foreshadowed the attitudes and events of the Holocaust, but also as a testing of limits to observe both if and how the international community would take action. Sadly, the response of the Western democratic nations to this flagrant challenge to the very foundations of humanity was not forthcoming. The Evian Conference, held July 1938 convening 32 nations, was unable to form a unified response to accommodate Jewish refugees fleeing persecution, and signaled to the Nazis that the world’s countries were sympathetic, but not prepared to open their own doors to Jews.

Months after Kristallnacht, several events only heightened this conviction in the mind of Hitler. In May 1939, the St. Louis boat with a cargo of more than 900 Jews confirmed for emigration to the United States was denied landing off the coast of Florida. The boat was forced to return its human cargo to the shores of Europe; many of these passengers were later engulfed in the Holocaust. That same year, following the Kindertransport example of England, Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts failed to have Congress approve a bill to allow 20,000 Jewish children from Germany access to the United States. Even with the assurance that the Jewish community would be solely responsible for bearing the cost of hosting and caring for the children, the US government refused to intervene. That same year, US Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, proposed allowing Jewish refugees into Alaska to help develop the natural resources of that territory, adding that it would not impinge US immigration laws, since these laws would not apply to the non-State Alaska. It would be both a humanitarian gesture as well as a boost to the economy of Alaska. It was rejected by the President.

All these aforementioned steps of refusal to save even a limited number of Jews were signals interpreted by the Nazi regime that, in spite of words of protest, the nations of the world were not invested in the welfare of Jews. For the Nazis it meant only one thing: that they could escalate their anti-Jewish measures beyond the large-scale pogrom of Kristallnacht to mass murder as publicly proclaimed by Hitler in January 1939 that indeed began in June 1941 when Germany invaded Russia.

In the words of the 18th century British political philosopher Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is not intention nor discussion that brings strong enough repudiation for evil, but action. Kristallnacht was not just the start of organized violence against Jews in Germany—in fact, with a different international reaction, it could have been the end of it. Instead, it was the hall pass for such violence and hatred. While it is easy to dismiss Kristallnacht as a different time, place, and political climate, we know all too well that anti-Semitism remains a dangerous force in our world and in our free nation. Let the anniversary of Kristallnacht be a reminder to the civilized world and younger generations to act against evil regimes who flout the elementary rules of civilized conduct before they cause untold damage, and hurt millions of innocent people.

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WHAT AMERICANS MUST DO AFTER PITTSBURGH

TO THWART ANTISEMITISM                                          

Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

                                                Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018

“Some people don’t like other people just because they’re Jews,” declared a main character in the 1947 Oscar-winning American classic, “A Gentleman’s Agreement.” The crematoria at Auschwitz had not yet cooled down, but there were Americans who couldn’t abide the thought of Jews sharing their country clubs, neighborhoods, or college classrooms. Those were the challenges for American Jews back then, but today we no longer worry about “gentlemen.” After Pittsburgh, we’re on guard against the next lone wolf psychopath, armed with hate and bullets, empowered and validated by his invisible social media bigoted “friends.”

For us Jews it’s (still) the best of times — and, as we bury our dead in Pittsburgh, the worst of times. According to Pew, we are the single most admired religious group in America. On the other hand, the FBI confirms that we are the #1 target of religion-based hate in the United States. Simon Wiesenthal said that “hope lives when people remember.” Let us remember who is responsible for keeping antisemitism alive in our time, lest we be powerless to resist it.

The Pittsburgh gunman is responsible for his heinous deeds. Yet such extremism does not operate in a vacuum. Here are some points to ponder after the Pittsburgh massacre recedes from the headlines. We offer them as professionals who have struggled with antisemitism worldwide for decades. Social media outlets like Gab market hate. Hiding behind a freedom of speech mantra, they deny any moral responsibility for the platform they offer to the worst misusers of the privilege of that freedom, eerily similar to ISIS, whose online marketing campaigns spawn lone wolf terrorist attacks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Good people used to drive the haters underground. No longer. In major capitals — London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm — it is dangerous for Jews to wear the Star of David or a kippah in public. Police and politicians look the other way as (mainly) Islamist extremists bully and pummel Jews on the streets of Europe. Important institutions are rife with winking at antisemitism, or even worse. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad calls Jews “hooked-nosed,” and boasts that he is “glad to be labelled antisemitic.” On a recent visit to the UK, Mohamad was welcomed to Imperial College and Oxford by the heads of these institutions. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is awash with Jew-hatred, but he could be the UK’s next leader.

An unholy alliance of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, funded by Iran, uses antisemitism as a tool to turn the world against Israel. Their propaganda has found enthusiastic support in academia and even churches, so that today over 150 million Europeans believe Israelis treat Palestinians the way Nazis treated Jews. Young Americans hear much of the same on campuses dominated by progressives who detest power and “privilege,” especially of Israel and the United States. Anti-Zionism has flourished as a tool for gutless Jew haters: “We don’t hate Jews. Only Zionists.” Now, there is lots of room to criticize Israel without being antisemitic in the slightest. But when that criticism demonizes or subjects Israel to a double standard, the road to antisemitism has been crossed.

Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Myanmar, China — millions are dying, or living in exile, or incarcerated in internment camps for their religious beliefs, but the lion’s share of UN resolutions contemptuously pile on the Jewish state. The Jewish people’s historic links to their key religious sites have been denied. For close to two thousand years, the Church (followed by various churches) taught and encouraged antisemitism. That has changed for the better in some denominations, and in some areas. But old attitudes die hard. Rather than show special sensitivity to Jew-hatred, some churches still feed into it. The over-the-top hostility of some church groups to Israel is a case in point.

The Quakers, who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, are today no friends of Jews. Mennonites in South America actively aided Hitler in his campaign to demonstrate pure Aryan superiority. (Their contempt for Israel translates in the popular mind into a rejection of Jews and Judaism.) Many other church groups aid and abet the virulent Jew-hatred of Palestinian groups by standing by them as allies, without calling them out for the antisemitism constantly spewed in their mosques and textbooks.

And, of course, there is the right-wing antisemitism of the Pittsburgh murderer, encouraged and similar to what we saw in Charlottesville. Tragically, the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is not — cannot — be a one-off, any more than 9/11 was, even if never repeated. It will change the way Jews live for the foreseeable future. Houses of worship, citadels of peace, will look more like TSA portals to airports. So things are bad and could get even worse. What can we do to try to stem the tide? Don’t underestimate the sheer volume of age-old Jew-hatred. It did not disappear after the Holocaust. It never disappeared from polite society…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

The Courage and Folly of a War That Left Indelible Scars: Alan Cowell, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2018—During World War I, millions died, empires crumbled, nations were formed and maps were redrawn in ways that reverberate mightily a century later.

80 Years After Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ Pogrom, One Jewish Girl’s Holocaust Diary Sounds Warning Against Revival of Antisemitism: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018—For the global community of Holocaust scholars and educators, the 80th anniversary of the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews commonly known as “Kristallnacht” — which falls this Friday and Saturday — could scarcely come at a more pertinent moment.

Why I Don’t Want an Apology for the St. Louis: Sally Zerker, CJN, Oct. 10, 2017—On Sept. 27, at the inauguration of the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that his government is considering apologizing for the 1939 MS St. Louis incident, when Canada turned away a boatload of Jews who were seeking asylum from Nazi persecution. To which I say: no, I don’t want an apology. And here’s why.

Trudeau Warns Against Modern Anti-Semitism in Apology for Turning Away Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazis: Steven Chase, Globe & Mail, Nov. 7, 2018—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized Wednesday for a shameful episode in Canada’s history, when this country turned away more than 900 German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi terror and persecution.

 

NEVER FORGET: WEST’S FAILURE TO SAVE JEWS AFTER KRISTALLNACHT, & BRAVE CANADIANS WHO FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM AT PASSCHENDAELE

79th Anniversary of Kristallnacht: Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017— November 9 marks the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass,”…

We Should Never Forget the Horror — and Heroics — of Passchendaele: Christopher Sweeney, National Post, Nov. 9, 2017 — The village of Passchendaele in Belgium is today as it was nearly 100 years ago, a small, relatively insignificant rural village east of the medieval city of Ypres.

Commemorating the ANZAC liberation of Beersheba: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 30, 2017— Today Australia is indisputably Israel’s best friend in the world – in every respect.

Communism Through Rose-Colored Glasses: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017— “In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could.

 

On Topic Links

 

Woman Learns Grandfather was Notorious Nazi Criminal in 'Schindler's List': Christine Dunn, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017

Night Falls: German Jews React to Hitler’s Rise to Power: Robert Rockaway, Tablet, Nov. 8, 2017

Kristallnacht: When America Failed the Jews: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Nov. 9, 2017

The Roots of Revolution: Joshua Rubenstein, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2017

                                                           

 

 

79TH ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT                                                      

Efraim Zuroff

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017

 

November 9 marks the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass,” a major milestone in the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich and an unusually important event which took place in full public view, but whose significance was unfortunately not fully understood at the time.

 

The story ostensibly begins with the expulsion from Germany in late October 1938 of approximately 17,000 Polish Jews, whose Polish citizenship had been revoked by the Polish government. The Poles refused to allow them to enter and they were stranded on the German-Polish border under extremely difficult conditions. Among those expelled was the Grynszpan family from Hanover, whose son Herschel was living in Paris at the time. Incensed by the suffering of his parents and the others, he bought a gun, walked into the German Legation in Paris on November 7, and asked to see an embassy official. He was taken to the office of third secretary Ernst vom Rath, whom he shot and badly wounded. (Ironically, at that time vom Rath was under suspicion by the Gestapo for expressing anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the mistreatment of Jews in Germany.)

 

Two days later, on November 9, vom Rath died of his wounds. That date also marked the anniversary of the Nazis’ failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, and at the gathering in Munich to mark that event, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels gave a fiery speech calling for spontaneous violence against the Jews. In his words, “[T]he Fuehrer has decided that… demonstrations should not be organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.” Thus vom Rath’s murder served as the excuse for the outbreak of massive “spontaneous” violence against Jews and Jewish institutions throughout the Third Reich, which at that time included Austria.

 

The results were horrific. One thousand six hundred Jews were murdered (the official report by Heydrich listed only 91), approximately 1,500 synagogues were destroyed, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, more than 7,000 Jewish shops and department stores were vandalized or destroyed. In short, a horrific blow to German Jewry, who, adding insult and economic ruin to injury, were forced to pay a fine of one billion marks (about $400 million at 1938 rates) as a punishment. The Nazis obviously viewed Kristallnacht as an opportunity to seriously advance their goal of the elimination of Jews from German society, which at that time they sought to achieve via expulsion and emigration. The question is, what gave them the sense that there would be virtually no severe consequences for such a dramatic assault on Jewish life and property?

 

To answer that question it is important to note two critical events which took place during the four months prior to Kristallnacht. The first was the Evian Conference convened in France, from July 6 to July 15, 1938, by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, ostensibly to solve, or at least alleviate, the plight of the increased numbers of Jewish refugees seeking to flee persecution by Nazi Germany. It was attended by representatives of 32 countries and 24 voluntary organizations, but was doomed to failure even before it began, since the invitations assured the participating countries that none of them would be asked to change their existing immigration quotas, which were the key element limiting the immigration of German and Austrian Jews.

 

In addition, Britain and the United States made a deal that no mention of Palestine would be allowed on the agenda and in return, the British would not bring up the fact that the United States was not even filling its existing quotas, let alone increasing them. While many delegates expressed sympathy for the Jews living under Nazism, the only countries willing to admit large numbers of Jews were the Dominican Republic and later Costa Rica. On the other hand, the Australian delegate, trade and customs minister T.W. White, bluntly explained that as his country had “no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”

 

To understand the full impact of the failure of the Evian Conference, it must be emphasized that at this point the Nazis had still not decided to implement the Final Solution and were encouraging Jewish emigration from the Reich. In fact, Hitler responded to news of the conference by saying that if other nations would agree to admit the Jews living in the Reich, he would help them depart “even on luxury ships.” The second event was the Munich Agreement of September 29-30, 1938, in which England and France agreed to allow Germany to annex portions of the territory of Czechoslovakia inhabited by Germans (Sudetenland), which included most of the country’s border defenses, fortifications and heavy industrial districts, a decision which left the country practically defenseless…

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

 

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WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE HORROR

— AND HEROICS — OF PASSCHENDAELE

Christopher Sweeney

National Post, Nov. 9, 2017

 

The village of Passchendaele in Belgium is today as it was nearly 100 years ago, a small, relatively insignificant rural village east of the medieval city of Ypres. Yet the name Passchendaele continues to send shivers down the spine of all who know or come to know of its horrors.

 

The battle was part of the broader Third Battle of Ypres fought between July 31 and Nov. 10, 1917, which resulted in nearly 400,000 British and Imperial (Australian, Canadian, Indian, New Zealand and South African) casualties. The battle featured all of the characteristics that have become synonymous with the First World War; mud, destruction, wasted human life, and negligible results. For these reasons, Canada was a reluctant participant in this battle but dutifully suffered over 16,000 casualties in a matter of just over two weeks (by today’s population, this would mean nearly 65,000 casualties). Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 10 of this year, Canada will be observing the 100th anniversary of the bloody Battle of Passchendaele, a battle which, shamefully, is now barely known by Canadians. We should know of it.

 

The Canadian Corps, having already experienced the horrors of the Ypres salient in 1915, had no interest in returning there from France, but it had no choice. The British and non-Canadian Imperial forces, which in August 1917 had boldly sought to secure important Belgian channel ports occupied by the Germans, had by October ground to a halt ridiculously short of their goal. The new goal was “simply” to capture the ridge on which Passchendaele was located so as to hold the higher, dryer ground for the oncoming winter. But they needed fresh troops to do so, and the only ones available were the Canadians who had been rebuilding themselves after the 1917 battles at Vimy and Hill 70. It was now unfortunately our turn to be thrust into the cauldron. Lt.-Gen. Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps, immediately saw the difficulties of this mission and gloomily predicted that Canada would suffer 16,000 casualties — he was almost dead-on in this assessment (if you excuse the pun).

 

The Canadians were sent to the low outlying area east of the village of Passchendaele with the mission to take the ridge … in waist-deep mud, a moonscape of water and corpse-filled shell craters, against heavily entrenched German defences on the rise. Through intricate planning, based carefully on learning from the failures of others, and massive artillery support, including attacks being precipitated by closely manned “creeping barrages” of shells (by this time, all cutting-edge hallmarks of Canadian fighting on the front), the Canadians succeeded in taking Passchendaele on Nov. 10, 1917. Like at Vimy and at Hill 70, the Canadians had succeeded where all others had failed. Patriotic pride in this accomplishment roared across the country, tempered only by the tragedy of the massive loss of lives.

 

The Canadians were soon relieved of their position and brought back to the rear to lick their wounds, and to rebuild their strength. The best that could be dubiously claimed of this “victory” was that the Germans had suffered more losses “per capita” (not even in raw numbers) than the British and Imperial troops in the Third Battle of Passchendaele. Such was the definition of victory in the First World War. However, barely five months later, the British were required to perform a strategic retreat from the area around Passchendaele, with heavy losses, to better consolidate their defences against Germany’s last threatening offensive of the war, launched in March of 1918. All of the fighting by Canada, and others, had been for naught — all of the land gained had been lost.

 

At the time the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April of this year, my brother and I re-traced the steps of my great-grandfather, Martin Sweeney, who was fighting with the Victoria Rifles of Montreal during the battle. We followed his route from the magnificently restored town of Ypres (destroyed during the war) out to Passchendaele and located the approximate spot where he, and five others, had been killed by a shell on Nov. 5, 1917, two days before the final assault on Passchendaele had begun. For the first time, we realized that our long-lost great-grandfather had been within easy eyesight of the ruined town of Passchendaele, over which almost one million men on both sides had been fighting for the previous three months, before he was killed. Surprisingly, this gave us some solace, for he would have known that the Canadians were near their goal and about to achieve victory (correspondence from this battle tells us the Canadians were now deeply confident of their own fighting ability).

 

Martin’s name is amongst the 6,928 Canadian names on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres (a must visit for anyone in that part of the world) dedicated to those who lost their lives in Belgium, and for whom there is no known grave. In viewing his name on the monument for the first time, years ago, with my late father, we knew, sadly, that we were the first of Martin’s ancestors to ever visit his memorial. I still wonder what he, as a 44-year-old man with three grown children, was doing at the Battle of Passchendaele.

 

On this 100th anniversary of the muddy, bloody Battle of Passchendaele, it is vitally important that we commemorate the sacrifices of those who came before us, for those who fought for Canada, and the timeless cause of freedom. For make no mistake, Canada at Passchendaele, like elsewhere during the First World War (and, for that matter, all our other wars), was fighting not for plunder or gain, or out of ignorance (as some modern interpreters would have us believe), but for the freedom of others. We declare at Remembrance ceremonies, almost by rote, that “we will remember them.” In this year marking the 100th anniversary of Vimy, Hill 70 and Passchendaele, it has never been more important to “remember them.”

                                                                       

 

Contents

COMMEMORATING THE ANZAC LIBERATION OF BEERSHEBA

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 30, 2017

 

Today Australia is indisputably Israel’s best friend in the world – in every respect. The origins of this relationship have their genesis a century ago with the spectacular victory of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that liberated Beersheba on October 31, 1917 and paved the way for the conquest of Jerusalem. This was followed two days later by the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, which preceded the British Mandate and subsequently served as the basis for the establishment of a Jewish state.

 

The Battle of Beersheba was a turning point in the war against the Ottoman Empire after successive failures to capture Gaza. It was the first time Australians and New Zealanders were highlighted as having effected a critical impact. The stunning charge of the ANZAC Light Horse Brigade that overcame the Turkish defenses was hailed as a milestone of military bravery comparable to that of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 and is remembered as the last great cavalry charge, establishing ANZAC as the best cavalry force in the world. It represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating the 1918 Western Front victories.

 

With the disaster at Gallipoli in 1915-1916, where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt was doomed to failure and represented yet another example of military incompetence and willingness to cynically sacrifice soldiers. Beersheba was heavily fortified, making the town a virtual fortress, and the battle was considered a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman Empire in the region.

 

Late in the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen, brandishing bayonets, galloped directly into machine-gun fire, many dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, surprising the Turks who did not imagine that the Australians would act so brazenly. Galloping over 2 kilometers at top speed, they overcame the stunned Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered.

 

It was a glorious victory, a turning point in the struggle enabling General Edmund Allenby to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine. It also heralded the beginning of an extraordinary close relationship between Australia and Israel. On the personal and individual level, it was enhanced by Australian soldiers temporarily stationed in Palestine at the outset of World War II who developed good relations with the Jews. Old timers still relate nostalgically to the friendship extended by the Australians as tensions were rising with the British mandatory officials.

 

This week the Australian and Israeli governments will jointly celebrate the centennial anniversary of the heroic Light Brigade’s extraordinary role in Beersheba. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a major entourage of ministers, officials, descendants of the ANZACs, and over 100 Australian horsemen, as well as private citizens from both countries will participate in commemorative ceremonies. These will include a joint Australian-New Zealand service at the war cemetery, the opening of an ANZAC museum, and a re-enactment of the charge by the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

 

It is anticipated that huge numbers will attend what promises to be a spectacular event highlighting the Australian-Israeli relationship. Australian Jewry enjoys an outstanding Jewish lifestyle and can be considered a jewel in the crown of the Diaspora. Jews were among the first boatloads of convicts transported to Australia in the 18th century. The first military commander of Australian forces serving during World War I was Sir John Monash, a proud Jew who was also the founding president of the Zionist Federation of Australia.

 

In the 1930s, the Jewish community was declining and rapidly assimilating but over the course of time it became reinvigorated by Holocaust refugees and survivors. Most of the newcomers were passionately Zionist and created a unique network of Jewish schools ranging from secular Zionist to Chabad, from Modern Orthodox to Reform and even a Bundist Yiddish school. From the 1980s, the community expanded further with the immigration of large numbers of Russians and South Africans…

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

 

Contents

COMMUNISM THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES

Bret Stephens

New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017

 

“In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could. Mass confiscations occurred all across the U.S.S.R. In Ukraine they took on an almost fanatical intensity.”

 

I am quoting a few lines from “Red Famine,” Anne Applebaum’s brilliant new history of the deliberate policy of mass starvation inflicted on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin in the early 1930s. An estimated five million or more people perished in just a few years. Walter Duranty, The Times’s correspondent in the Soviet Union, insisted the stories of famine were false. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for reportage the paper later called “completely misleading.” How many readers, I wonder, are familiar with this history of atrocity and denial, except in a vague way? How many know the name of Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin’s principal henchmen in the famine? What about other chapters large and small in the history of Communist horror, from the deportation of the Crimean Tatars to the depredations of Peru’s Shining Path to the Brezhnev-era psychiatric wards that were used to torture and imprison political dissidents?

 

Why is it that people who know all about the infamous prison on Robben Island in South Africa have never heard of the prison on Cuba’s Isle of Pines? Why is Marxism still taken seriously on college campuses and in the progressive press? Do the same people who rightly demand the removal of Confederate statues ever feel even a shiver of inner revulsion at hipsters in Lenin or Mao T-shirts? These aren’t original questions. But they’re worth asking because so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia. No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy.

 

But they will insist that there is an essential difference between Nazism and Communism — between race-hatred and class-hatred; Buchenwald and the gulag — that morally favors the latter. They will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. They will balance acknowledgment of the repression and mass murder of Communism with references to its “real advances and achievements.” They will say that true communism has never been tried. They will write about Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman in tones of sympathy and understanding they never extend to film director Elia Kazan.

 

Progressive intelligentsia “is moralist against one half of the world, but accords to the revolutionary movement an indulgence that is realist in the extreme,” the French scholar Raymond Aron wrote in “The Opium of the Intellectuals” in 1955. “How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy?” On Thursday, I noted that intellectuals have a long history of making fools of themselves with their political commitments, and that the phenomenon is fully bipartisan.

 

But the consequences of the left’s fellow-traveling and excuse-making are more dangerous. Venezuela is today in the throes of socialist dictatorship and humanitarian ruin, having been cheered along its predictable and unmerry course by the usual progressive suspects. One of those suspects, Jeremy Corbyn, may be Britain’s next prime minister, in part because a generation of Britons has come of age not knowing that the line running from “progressive social commitments” to catastrophic economic results is short and straight. Bernie Sanders captured the heart, if not yet the brain, of the Democratic Party last year by portraying “democratic socialism” as nothing more than an extension of New Deal liberalism. But the Vermont senator also insists that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud.” Efforts to criminalize capitalism and financial services also have predictable results.

 

It’s a bitter fact that the most astonishing strategic victory by the West in the last century turns out to be the one whose lessons we’ve never seriously bothered to teach, much less to learn. An ideology that at one point enslaved and immiserated roughly a third of the world collapsed without a fight and was exposed for all to see. Yet we still have trouble condemning it as we do equivalent evils. And we treat its sympathizers as romantics and idealists, rather than as the fools, fanatics or cynics they really were and are. Winston Churchill wrote that when the Germans allowed the leader of the Bolsheviks to travel from Switzerland to St. Petersburg in 1917, “they turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus.” A century on, the bacillus isn’t eradicated, and our immunity to it is still in doubt.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Woman Learns Grandfather was Notorious Nazi Criminal in 'Schindler's List': Christine Dunn, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017—Jennifer Teege did not learn about her family's dark secret until she was close to 40 years old. It happened in the central library in Hamburg, Germany, her hometown.

Night Falls: German Jews React to Hitler’s Rise to Power: Robert Rockaway, Tablet, Nov. 8, 2017 —When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on Jan. 30, 1933, he gained the authority to implement his racist ideology toward Germany’s Jews, who then numbered 535,000 out of a general population of 67 million.

Kristallnacht: When America Failed the Jews: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Nov. 9, 2017—On November 11, 1938, a front-page story appeared in The New York Times. It read: “A wave of destruction, looting, and incendiarism unparalleled in Germany since the Thirty Years War and in Europe generally since the Bolshevist Revolution swept over Great Germany today as National Socialist cohorts took vengeance on Jewish shops, offices and synagogues for the murder by a young Polish Jew of Ernst vom Rath, third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris.”

The Roots of Revolution: Joshua Rubenstein, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2017—As we mark the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s triumph, Chamberlain’s book broadens our understanding of the roots of the Bolshevik Revolution, describing how German Idealism, which first emerged from Immanuel Kant’s reaction to the French Revolution, came to inspire philosophers and cultural figures throughout 19th-century Europe and Russia.

 

 

YOM HA’ATZMAUT 5777: HAPPY 69TH BIRTHDAY ISRAEL!

 

Celebrating Yom Haatzmaut in a World of Turmoil: Isi Leibler, Algemeiner, Apr. 30, 2017 — Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile.

Israel’s Birthday, Abbas and Balfour: Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017 — While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state.

The Fight for Zion: Asaf Romirowsky, BESA, Apr. 4, 2017 — For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials.

A Return to Israel from Egypt: More Than Geography: Allan Levine, CIJR, Apr. 27, 2017 — As our bus crossed the Gaza border back into lsrael at Rafiach after spending eight days in Egypt

 

On Topic Links

 

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel: Jewish Virtual Library

UNESCO’s Anti-Israel Resolution Gets Least Votes Ever: UNWatch, May 2, 2017

Ex-Canadian PM Harper: Popularity of My Support for Israel Among Electorate Makes It Difficult for Trudeau to Go in Different Direction: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, May 1, 2017

Moments in History: What Led up to the Declaration of Israel: Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2017

CELEBRATING YOM HAATZMAUT IN A WORLD OF TURMOIL       

Isi Leibler                                          

Algemeiner, Apr. 30, 2017

 

Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile. It highlights the dramatic contrast between our status today and that of our powerless kinsmen facing doom on the eve of the Holocaust. It is not a celebration exclusively for Israelis but for Jews throughout the world. But as we celebrate, we should be under no illusions. Our remarkable status is due to our independent power and the fact that we do not rely on the goodwill of others for our survival.

 

The world has not changed or learnt from the tragic consequences of appeasement in the 1930’s which led to Nazi aggression and the Holocaust. Today we witness again a state of global turmoil, confronted by an evil Islamist menace which threatens to undermine the Judeo-Christian moral structures of our civilization.

 

Europe is in a state of near anarchy. The decision by Chancellor Merkel to open Europe to “refugees,” most of whom are anti-democratic and fiercely antisemitic, has created massive demographic and social upheaval. Conventional political parties are disintegrating and populist and radical right wing parties are on the upsurge, with governments obliged to restrict civil liberties to strengthen security.

 

In the US, the liberal left has still not come to terms with the fact that the populist Donald Trump was elected as their president. But he has astounded them by showing that despite his America First policy, he was not reticent in employing force to bring vicious war criminals like Assad to heel and sending a clear message to the North Koreans and Iranians that the days of Obama groveling were over.

 

What is the status of Jews in this insane world? Jews who remain in the diaspora have forfeited the privilege of being part of the greatest miracle of the last 2000 years: the ultimate realization of the most sacred Jewish prayers, faith and hope during endless years of exile and persecution. And today, the high cost of remaining in the diaspora is becoming all too clear. Antisemitism is at an all-time high with Jews in most European countries treated like pariahs, facing constant terror threats and in many cases requiring security forces to guard them at their synagogues and their children in their schools.

 

In the United States madness prevails with far left “liberal” Jews spearheading “Jewish religious” campaigns against Trump. Even mainstream groups like the ADL and sectors of the Reform movement sought to accuse Trump and his administration of either supporting or harboring antisemites. The problem with many of these Jews is that they are utterly ignorant of their Jewish heritage and view Israel through the far-left prism in which regarding it as a colonialist implant is a critical component of their DNA.

 

But despite this dismal picture of Diaspora Jewry, most Jews are reassured that with the existence of an empowered Jewish state always ready and willing to accept them, they will never face the horror that their ancestors experienced in Europe in the 1930’s when no country would grant them haven. But at the end of the day, it is inevitable that it will be a struggle for Jews outside of Israel to retain their identity, whether because of antisemitism or assimilation, and as their commitment to Israel diminishes, so too will their connection to the Jewish people and Judaism. Yom Haatzmaut should be more than a holiday and barbecues. We should focus on the spiritual aspects and seek to convey to younger generations that the rebirth of their nation – which so many seem to take for granted – is truly miraculous.

 

We need only remind ourselves of the incredible devastation that took place 75 years ago following 2000 years of wretched dispersion, persecution, expulsion and murder and climaxing with the Holocaust. We should view this in the light of our resurrected nation which has grown from 600,000 Jews in 1948 to over 6 million Jews today. We should remind ourselves that our vibrant nation state revived the sacred tongue of our ancestors and molded broken refugees and survivors from all corners of the globe into a thriving national culture. Despite being one of the smallest states in the world, Israel has created one of the most powerful global military forces which has defeated superior forces seeking its destruction and today deters its enemies.

 

Israel is an economic miracle with one of the most successful economies in the world, creating more startups in the technological and medical arena per capita than any other country. Over recent years, Israel has discovered vast gas fields which will make it an exporter rather than an importer of energy. And it has produced the most efficient desalinization program in the world which enabled it to overcome the water shortage and provide assistance to other nations.

 

Never in their wildest dreams could those who survived the Holocaust ever have imagined the miraculous success of the recreated nation state based primarily on refugees from Eastern European pogroms, Nazism or Arab persecution. It was a wise decision, reflecting compassion and insight, to directly precede Yom Haatzmaut with Yom Hazikaron, a day to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our homeland. Above all, as we celebrate we should pledge to ensure that as a nation we must continue strengthening ourselves militarily, economically and socially. The reason for our extraordinary success in nation-building flows from our inner strength and determination.

 

Israel today has been blessed with an American leader who is deeply sensitive to Jews and has displayed unprecedented support for Israel. We should seek to continue improving our relationship with the Trump administration and cooperate with his efforts to renew peace negotiations. We can hopefully progress toward reaching an accommodation on the settlements, annexing the Golan and have Washington formally recognize Jerusalem as our capital by relocating its embassy.

 

Where appropriate, we should continue building both covert and open alliances even with countries traditionally hostile towards us who share the common threat facing the region from the Iranian terror state. Despite living in a region where barbarism is rampant and facing threats from religious fanatics pledged to our destruction, Israel has never been as strong and secure as it is today. We have every reason to count our blessings, rejoice and give thanks to the Almighty. Chag Sameach.    

 

Contents   

                       

ISRAEL’S BIRTHDAY, ABBAS AND BALFOUR

Ruthie Blum       

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not admit to this, however, particularly when speaking to members of the administration in Washington. The last thing he wants at this moment is to have his invitation to the White House rescinded. He also hopes to continue to manipulate the US State Department into playing the shuttle diplomacy game as a means of keeping himself relevant and blaming Israel for any lack of progress on the peace front.

 

But even his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled for May 3, did not deter the aging rejectionist from reiterating his threat to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the November 2, 1917, letter sent by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Jewish community leader Walter Rothschild, stating, “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” This week, the PA received written confirmation from the British government that no apology for the “historic” Balfour Declaration would be issued. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel,” it declared. “The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

 

The Palestinian campaign to criminalize the Balfour Declaration was launched last summer, with Abbas announcing plans to engage in an international campaign against the United Kingdom. At the end of June, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki attended the Arab League summit in Mauritania – in place of Abbas, whose brother had just died in Qatar – and conveyed his bereaved boss’s message to the Muslim-Arab honchos gathered in Nouakchott: the PA intended to file a lawsuit against Britain for the Balfour Declaration and wanted to enlist the support and assistance of their brethren in this endeavor. A few months later, in September, Abbas demanded an apology for the document in his address to the UN General Assembly, as the UK and Israel began preparations to mark its centennial in 2017.

 

In a piece in The Washington Post in October, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Balfour Declaration the “symbolic beginning of the denial of our rights.” He failed to mention that it is actually the leaders in the West Bank and Gaza who have ever denied the Arabs of the PA their rights. Well before the Six Day War, when the term “Palestinian people” was coined, Arabs rejected the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine – the original “two-state solution.” They have been refusing to reach any peaceful arrangement with Israel since then.

 

The end result is on display for all to see. Israel has spent nearly seven decades building a booming democratic country, while the Arabs of Palestine have frittered away the time by engaging in acts of destruction. Yes, as the Jewish state marks 69 years since its establishment, 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, the PA is threatening to take Britain to court. Let Trump be reminded of this before hosting Abbas in the Oval Office and listening to his lies. The rest of us should take a break from discussions of war and peace to toast Balfour – and Israel’s success in a region otherwise characterized by failure.            

 

Contents   

                       

 

THE FIGHT FOR ZION

Asaf Romirowsky                                                          

BESA, Apr. 4, 2017

 

For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials. Consequently, many seek to detach themselves from what used to embody the core of Jewish identity. A case in point is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a pro-BDS Jewish group that uses its “Jewishness” to validate its cause.

 

While JVP’s desire to persuade the Israeli government to change its policies is legitimate, the growing strength of the BDS movement at large makes the demise of the two-state solution ever more likely. JVP’s executive director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, is notorious for her hard leftist views, as illustrated in her Washington Post op-ed entitled “I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel.” So strong is JVP’s antipathy to Israel that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called it “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group” in the US. Yet the true essence of Zionism lies in its ability to encapsulate both religious and secular Jewish identities. The current challenge is to identify the component of renewal. The Zionist enterprise did not end with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Each generation must redefine Zionism as it is relevant to them.

 

Theodor Herzl famously wrote in his diary, “Were I to sum up the [1897] Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: ‘At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.’” The difference between Herzl’s generation and post-1948 generations was a first-hand understanding of what the absence of a Jewish state means for Jewish survival. The state represents the difference between autonomy and servility, indeed between life and death. But today’s millennial generation has no memory of a time when Israel did not exist or was ever on the “right side of history.”

 

Given the wedge that has been pushed between Zionism and Judaism, one might even suggest that were Herzl to raise the question of a Jewish homeland today, he might not receive support. The irony is that what initially led Zionist leaders to bond over the idea of a homeland was the growing threat of antisemitism. Today, even as antisemitism is on the rise around the world, anti-Zionism is often viewed as legitimate criticism.

 

Abba Eban dispelled this notion eloquently, stating, “There is no difference whatever between antisemitism and the denial of Israel’s statehood. Classical antisemitism denies the equal right of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people its lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. The common principle in the two cases is discrimination.”

 

But with the popularity of the BDS movement’s crusade against Israel, some American Jews on the left have placed other Jews beyond the pale, as people who cannot be debated due to their abominable views. Moreover, an insidious double standard applies: Jewish organizations like Hillel must include anti-Israel voices or be deemed intolerant or racist. Jewish intellectuals must engage in dialogue with BDS representatives or other Palestinian advocates who demand the ethnic cleansing of Israel, lest they be called cowards and be subjected to insults. And now, leading American Jewish intellectuals have adopted the rhetoric and methods of BDS, to be applied to Jews only. Perhaps the next move will be to follow the Palestinian lead and charge Israelis in international courts.

 

Individuals like Peter Beinart, in his book The Crisis of Zionism, purport to offer so-called “tough love,” an approach that is supposedly required to curb the alleged expansion of the “occupation.” Driven by guilt, Beinart has embraced the left’s move to distance itself from Israel and the Zionist enterprise at large. For Beinart, the answer is a “Zionist” boycott of Israeli settlements and products. Beinart, like many post-Zionists and revisionists, only opposes the “occupation,” which leads him to place all the onus for the lingering Palestinian-Israeli problem on Israel. In this distorted narrative, Israel is largely to blame for the collapse of the Oslo/Camp David process of the 1990s-2000s and for the subsequent failures to revive the peace process. But the centrality of the “settlements” is an empty issue. It deflects from the core problem that truly obstructs a negotiated settlement: the Palestinians’ century-long rejection of a sovereign Jewish state.

 

There is little debate that there will be a redistribution of land in the event that a peace agreement is achieved. Most of the bargaining will be about whether these exchanges will take the shape of a total phased Israeli withdrawal, or an exchange of land annexing the more populous Israeli towns to Israel for other land in the Jordan Valley or Negev Desert. But this must be left to the parties to decide, not imposed by outside powers or guilt-ridden American Jews.

 

Anti-Zionist American Jews have found Israeli counterparts even in the Knesset. This was on display at the AIPAC Policy Conference in late March, at which Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, whose trip to the conference had been paid by AIPAC, decided to join a protest outside the conference. At the protest, organized by the Jewish anti-establishment group IfNotNow, demonstrators held up signs reading “Reject AIPAC” and “Reject Occupation.” Zandberg justified her decision to participate by saying, “there is no greater deed of patriotism than opposing the occupation.”

 

Stronger Zionist anchors are needed within the Jewish community to overcome the guilt over Israel’s existence rather than its actions. Collective historical memory is absent from today’s discourse on Zionism, especially in America. While there are Zionists on the left and right who still appreciate Jewish history and believe in Jewish destiny, Zionist renewal outside Zion is needed. There is a serious need to teach and appreciate both Herzl’s Zionism and “Start-Up Zionism” if the dream is to be kept alive.

                       

Contents                                                                              

 

A RETURN TO ISRAEL FROM EGYPT: MORE THAN GEOGRAPHY                                                  

Allan Levine                                                                                                                    

CIJR, Apr. 27, 2017

 

As our bus crossed the Gaza border back into Israel at Rafiach after spending eight days in Egypt, on an Academic Study Mission of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, I was filled with a sense of relief and joy knowing we had returned to Israel and deeply moved at the sight of "green" Israel and the realization that we were "home again" and secure. I was happy at seeing young Israeli men and women soldiers at the border and those who climbed aboard our bus to welcome us. Part of their routine was, of course, checking under our bus and under our seats and in the overhead, to be sure there were no bombs or explosives on board that might endanger us or anyone else. It was the Eve of Purim, 1985.

 

Young, friendly, tense, citizen soldiers.

 

In home spun costumes whose originality

   tells us much more than uniforms and

Absence of militarism and alone

   can convey,

 

They peek in and under, check our bus

   throughout,

Patient, pleasant

   and serious.

 

Knowing too well the cost of smuggled danger,

   and the daily price they pay

For fresh food and water, freedom,

    self-government and civil society.

 

And we applaud the flowers

   anemone, goldenrod and narcissus fields full,

Telling us

   welcome home.

 

 

Allan Levine is Professor Emeritus – Psychology, Los Angeles Valley College and

 contributor to the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut!

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel: Jewish Virtual Library—On the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired – Friday, May 14, 1948 – the Jewish People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum to declare the establishment of the State of Israel. There is no record of who attended the meeting, but 350 invitations were sent out instructing the recipients to keep the information secret.

UNESCO’s Anti-Israel Resolution Gets Least Votes Ever: UNWatch, May 2, 2017—“Israel lost the vote today, but it did score a small moral victory: despite reported fears that Germany’s negotiations with the Palestinians would erode support, Israel in the end won more votes than ever before, including from major democracies like the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Ex-Canadian PM Harper: Popularity of My Support for Israel Among Electorate Makes It Difficult for Trudeau to Go in Different Direction: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, May 1, 2017—Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday that the pro-Israel stand he took while in office has made his successor, Justin Trudeau, cautious about moving in a different direction.

Moments in History: What Led up to the Declaration of Israel: Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2017—As Israel's Independence Day arrives – its 69th edition is celebrated on Tuesday, May 2 – let's face it: Not everyone knows exactly what happened when. Ask a given millennial how Israel arose, and as likely as not, the answer will be, "Uh, we were in exile for 2,000 years and then the British left and we had a State."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOM HAZIKARON 5777: ISRAEL HONOURS FALLEN SOLDIERS & VICTIMS OF TERRORISM

 

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony at Yad Labanim: Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017 — A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today.

Where is World Outrage Over Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul?: Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017— On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism.

Israel's Covert War Against Hezbollah's Artillery: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017 — Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran.

No Nuclear Weapons in Syria? Go Thank Israel: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017 — Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

AS WE GO TO PRESS: UNESCO TO FIRE ANOTHER VOLLEY AT ISRAEL – ON INDEPENDENCE DAY — The UN cultural agency is set to pass a resolution on Tuesday — Israel’s 69th Independence Day — that indicates rejection of the Jewish state’s sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem. The resolution also harshly criticizes the government for various construction projects in Jerusalem’s Old City and at holy sites in Hebron, and calls for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza without mentioning attacks from the Hamas-run Strip. Submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” will most likely pass, given the automatic anti-Israel majority in the 58-member body. According to Israeli officials, Germany was a driving force behind a deal that would see all EU states abstain in exchange for the removal of the most incendiary anti-Israel passages. But on Monday, Italy announced that it would vote against the resolution, apparently ending the effort to forge a European consensus. (Times of Israel, May 1, 2017)

 

 

PM NETANYAHU’S REMARKS AT THE

MEMORIAL CEREMONY AT YAD LABANIM                                                     

Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017

 

A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today. It always hangs over the families, the parents, the widows and partners, the brothers and sisters. Our loved ones fell in Israel’s battles in the line of duty, in battles and in brutal terror attacks. Ever since the dagger of bereavement pierced our hearts, the course of our lives has been forever changed, but today we commemorate our mutual guarantee and shared fate, which connect all parts of the nation to the family of bereavement. This is the true source of our strength, and to a high degree unique to the State of Israel. It is our unique source of resilience and strength.

 

Together we bow our heads in memory of the 23,544 who fell in our nation’s battles and the thousands more who were killed by murderous terrorists. We are one people, and it is clear to all of us that were it not for the sacrifice of these men and women – we would not be free in our own land. In fact, we would not be here at all. It is thanks to them that we exist, thanks to them that we live.

 

This morning at Mount Herzl we inaugurated the new National Hall of Remembrance. It is a splendid building that commemorates all the fallen. I see it as an important symbol emphasizing the foundations of our existence in our land. I see it as an important symbol expressing the unity of bereavement. This small country is all we have – home and homeland, future and hope. Our roots were planted deep into this land thousands of years ago, and for generations we were loyal to it. We renewed our national sovereignty in this land seven decades ago.

 

The State of Israel is a miracle of history – in its rebirth and in its tremendous achievements. This miracle and these achievements are also especially notable given our ongoing resilience in the test of fire and blood. We stand as a fortified wall against our enemies. We do not show weakness. We do not loosen our grip from the weapons in our hands because we know that this is the only way to push back the thickets of evil that refuse to accept our existence. This is the only way we will achieve peace with those of our neighbors who want peace. At the same time, during this long campaign, we maintain our humanity. We just heard the tremendously moving stories of the fallen. One feels not only the loss, but also their humanity. Simultaneously, we maintain our democratic, free, vibrant and moral society. However, there is a heavy price for this – a personal price for you, the families, and a national price for all of us. We have experienced it personally, and you know: each family and its pain.

 

It is actually our loved ones who went to battle from whom we draw comfort. The wick of their lives was cut off in a moment, but the spark of the sense of mission that burned in them still glows. During the War of Independence, before he died, Zvi Guber wrote, “Can a lead bullet kill courage and purity of spirit?”

 

Sixty-nine years have passed and that purity of spirit has remained unchanged: Each generation and the magnificence of its spirit, each generation and the discovery of its strength. Brothers and sisters in the family of bereavement, you are the foundation of Israeli society. You raised exemplary sons and daughters, you instilled in them the values of man and nation, and you serve as a bridge between all sectors of Israeli society: Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians – citizens of Israel are profoundly grateful to you.

 

Together, we will continue to defend our land, protect it, build it. This is the true legacy of the fallen. The people of Israel hold its fallen soldiers in their hearts, and every day we pay them honor and wish them eternal glory. May the memory of our children be forever blessed. We will remember them all forever.

 

 

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WHERE IS WORLD OUTRAGE OVER HADAR GOLDIN AND ORON SHAUL?

Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky            

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism. At an age when most teenagers are getting ready to go off to university or travel abroad, Israelis devote at least two to three years of their lives to defending and protecting their country, the only Jewish state, and by extension the West’s front line of defense in the global war against Islamic terrorism.

 

Two such soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the State of Israel were Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in action by Hamas during Israel’s defensive 2014 war with the terrorist group, Operation Protective Edge. On August 1, 2014, hours after a United Nations- and US-brokered humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel in Gaza, ambushed an IDF unit and killed Hadar, who was only 23 years old. Hamas then took his body and have been holding it hostage in Gaza since, treating it contemptuously as both a bargaining chip and an instrument to torment his family.

 

Shaul, who was only 20 years old at the time, was also killed by Hamas, when he left his armored personnel carrier to repair the vehicle and Hamas fired on his unit, killing him, and likewise taking his body and malignly holding it in Gaza. Holding the bodies of soldiers killed in action and refusing their return to their next of kin for burial is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. As is using the soldiers’ bodies as bargaining chips, which Hamas continues to do. Only last week, the terrorist group released a morbid video including a song in Hebrew, taunting the families of Goldin and Shaul, again in breach of international law. To this day, almost three years since their abduction, Hamas refuses even to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access.

 

That Hamas, a fanatical Iran-funded Islamist terrorist organization, does not abide by even a modicum of international law and basic human decency is beyond dispute. But where is the international outcry? Only last week, the international community was up in arms over a large group of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israel. These were however violent murderers convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Moreover, Israel affords these prisoners full rights under international law, including access to ICRC, and returns bodies of terrorists killed attacking Israelis.

 

Yet the same international community, overflowing with concern over the welfare of Palestinian terrorists, can’t even feign interest in the Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hamas. Where is the Red Cross? Virtual silence. Where is the UN, under whose auspices the cease-fire during which Hadar was killed and kidnapped was brokered? Silence. Awaking only occasionally to condemn Israel in New York or Geneva, but turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism. Where are self-professed human rights groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch? Silence again.

 

Perhaps to them the human rights of Jews and Israelis are not worthy? What about Mahmoud Abbas? The Palestinian Authority president claims he wants peace, yet instead seeks to embrace Hamas and glorify those who kill Israelis. You can be certain that if Goldin and Shaul were British, Australian, American, French or Russian soldiers, there would be an international outcry. But only silence and sheer neglect when it comes to the lives of Israelis.

 

We understand there are many pressing humanitarian concerns facing the world today, not least in the Middle East, but the world must not forget Hadar Goldin, who was killed and taken hostage during a UN cease-fire, as well as Oron Shaul. This is not only a matter for Israelis, but a basic humanitarian issue. These young soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, could be any of our soldiers, defending the West from global jihad.

 

The international community, which is seeking to rebuild Gaza and promote peace in the region, should make any further efforts conditional upon the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies. The Red Cross also has a fundamental duty to speak up. Meantime, the UN, aided and abetted by the Obama administration, exerted great pressure on Israel to accept this cease-fire, and therefore bears primary responsibility for ensuring the return of the bodies of Goldin and Shaul. The families of these young men deserve, and by law are entitled to, a proper decent burial at home in Israel. It is time the world showed that Israeli lives matter too.                                   

 

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ISRAEL'S COVERT WAR AGAINST HEZBOLLAH'S ARTILLERY

Ron Ben-Yishai                                                            

Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017

 

Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran. This self-defense has lasted for more than a decade, but now it seems that it focuses on one particular thing: defense against artillery; mainly, the missiles and rockets that Iran provides the Hezbollah to strike a critical blow against Israel's home front. Hezbollah and Iran's goal is to be able to threaten vital infrastructures—water, electricity, healthcare services, transport, airfields and emergency supplies—in a way that Israel will have a difficulty to recover from should a strike occur.

 

The new stage in Israel's strategic defense may have not started today, but is now picking up pace as Israel has completed its multi-layer missile defense system David's Sling, which became operational several weeks ago—completing what may be the most important layer in Israel's defense system. This system, formerly known as Magic Wand, is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km, which essentially covers most of Israel's territories.

 

The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that the IDF's missile defense system, which is the first and only of its kind, challenges them and their ability to threaten and deter Israel. Even if they are not interested in starting a war with Israel at the moment, they always seek to preserve their level of deterrence against it. For that reason, Iran has decided to change course and instead of arming Hezbollah with hundreds of thousands of imprecise missiles, they are now transitioning to an arsenal comprised mostly of precise missiles and rockets, some of which are even GPS-guided.

 

The explanation for that is simple: The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that David's Sling is capable of intercepting more than 80% of their rockets, and so they intend to battle it using sheer volume—making it so that the IDF's defense system has too many threats to defend against than it possibly could. The Iranians also want to make sure that at least some of the missiles that will manage to pierce through Israel's defense system will not just land in open fields, and so they are upgrading Hezbollah's massive artillery—which is estimated to have more than 130 thousand missiles and rockets.

 

The aim is for the arsenal to be comprised of a larger percentage of guided and precise missiles and rockets, which even if only a few of them manage to avoid being shot down they will still inflict massive amount of damage. This strategy is obvious to the IDF and worries Israel's security operators a great deal. In fact, due to Iran's increasing potential of nuclear capabilities it is now considered to be the main and most dangerous threat to the State of Israel due to its potential for large devastation in Israel's home front.

 

Israel is fully aware of these threats, and is therefore making efforts to gain intelligence on Iran's attempts to arm Hezbollah with precise artillery and prevent Israel from stopping those shipments, sent to Hezbollah forces through Syria. The attacks attributed to Israel on arms depots in Syria, if indeed carried out by it, show the increases efforts by both the Iranians to arm Hezbollah and by Israel to prevent it from taking place. Iran is sending these shipments by—among other methods—commercial flights of Iranian or Iranian-owned airlines out of the assumption that Israel won't know that a regular commercial flight from Tehran to Damascus will also carry missiles and rockets, most of which in pieces.

 

It is not unthinkable that Israel's intelligence is working to learn of these attempts. The battle between Iran and Israel's intelligence systems is held behind a thick cover of secrecy. The Iranians don't want to admit that they are arming Hezbollah through Syria since it breaches rules made by the United Nations Security Council. On its end, Israel is not admitting or denying that it is sabotaging these shipments. And so, both sides are exploiting plausible deniability for their own interests, even if these "military installations" are hard to hide or ignore once they catch fire do to some "unknown missile strike."                

 

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NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN SYRIA? GO THANK ISRAEL                                                                    

Louis René Beres                                                                                                 

Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017

 

Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons. In this connection, US President Donald Trump might have had to make far more risky calculations in launching his recent retaliation for the Syrian chemical weapons attack if Bashar al-Assad had already acquired a recognizable nuclear counter-retaliatory capability. Also worth noting is that if the long-lasting Damascus regime had not been the object of very successful Israeli defensive strikes back in 2007, nuclear weapons could eventually have fallen into the fanatical hands of Shi'ite Hezbollah, or – if the al-Assad regime should fall – Sunni ISIS.

 

Israel's first use of anticipatory self-defense against a potentially nuclear Middle Eastern adversary was directed at Saddam Hussein's Osiraq reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. Precisely because of Israel's courageous and correspondingly international law-enforcing operations in both Iraq and Syria, America and its allies do not currently have to face enemy nuclear regimes or their terrorist nuclear proxies. Significantly, as corollary, it was the world community's failure to act in a similarly timely fashion against North Korea that contributed mightily to our now expanding security woes regarding Kim Jong-un.

 

In essence, thanks to Israel's Operation Opera on June 7, 1981, and also its later Operation Orchard on September 6, 2007, neither Iraq nor Syria will be able to provide Islamist terrorists with game-changing kinds of destructive technology. To be sure, nuclear weapons in these countries could conceivably have made End Times theology a meaningfully palpable strategic reality. We may now be more operationally precise. On June 7, 1981, and without any prior forms of international approval, Israel destroyed Osiraq. Left intact, this Saddam Hussein-era reactor would have been able to produce enough fuel for an Iraqi nuclear weapon. Moreover, had Prime Minister Menachem Begin first pleadingly sought formal approvals from the "international community," that residually vital expression of self-defense would assuredly have failed.

 

Law also matters. Under international law, war and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. Although it had been conceived by Mr. Begin as an indispensable national security corrective for Israel, one desperately needed to prevent an entirely new form of Holocaust, Operation Opera ultimately saved the lives of thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of Americans. These were and still remain US soldiers fighting in all the subsequent "Iraqi wars."

 

During the attack on Osiraq, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it was ready to go "on line." Ironically, immediately following the attack, the general global community reaction had been overwhelmingly hostile. The UN Security Council, in Resolution 487 of June 19, 1981, expressly indicated that it "strongly condemns" the attack, and even that "Iraq is entitled to appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered."

 

Officially, the United States, perhaps not yet aware that it would become a distinctly primary beneficiary of this unilaterally defensive Israeli action, issued multiple statements of conspicuously stern rebuke. Today, of course, particularly as we worry about both al-Assad war crimes and prospective ISIS advances, matters look very different. Indeed, in June 1991, during a visit to Israel after the first Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney presented Maj. Gen. David Ivry, commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), a satellite photograph of the destroyed reactor. On the photograph, Cheney inscribed: "For General David Ivry, with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi nuclear program in 1981, which made our (American) job much easier in Desert Storm."

 

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel did not act illegally at Osiraq. Under the long-standing customary right known as anticipatory self-defense, every state is entitled to strike first whenever the danger posed is "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation." For such manifestly compelling action, it does not require any antecedent approvals by the United Nations.

 

It was the United States, not Israel, which issued a unilateral policy statement, in 2002, declaring that the traditional right of anticipatory self-defense should immediately be expanded. Here, Washington's strategic and jurisprudential argument hinged, correctly, on the starkly unique dangers of any nuclear-endowed enemy. The National Security Strategy of the United States was issued by the most powerful country on earth. In comparison, Israel, which had claimed a substantially more narrow and conservative view of anticipatory self-defense back in 1981, is small enough to fit into a single county in California, or twice into Lake Michigan.

 

Serious students of world affairs are more or less familiar with what happened at Osiraq back in 1981. But what about the attack that took place in Syria, during Operation Orchard, in 2007? In this second and later case of an Israeli preemption designed to prevent enemy nuclear weapons, the operational details are much more hazy. In brief, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, consciously reasserted the 1981 "Begin Doctrine," this time within the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. Several years later, in April 2011, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) authoritatively confirmed that the bombed Syrian site had indeed been the start of a nuclear reactor. Olmert's decision, like Begin's earlier on, turned out to be "right on the money."

 

It's not complicated. International law is not a suicide pact. All things considered, Israel's 1981 and 2007 defensive strikes against enemy rogue states were not only lawful, but distinctly law enforcing. After all, in the incontestable absence of any truly centralized enforcement capability, international law must continue to rely upon the willingness of certain individual and powerful states to act forcefully on behalf of the entire global community. This is exactly what took place on June 7, 1981, and, again, on September 6, 2007.

 

Going forward, Jerusalem and Washington now need to inquire further: What about Iran? Should Tehran sometime agree to provide its surrogate Hezbollah militias with some of its own evolving nuclear technologies, Iran could find itself marshaling considerable and potentially decisive influence in regional terror wars. Then, endlessly sectarian conflicts raging throughout Iraq, Syria, and other places could continue to grow until every remaining flower of human society were irremediably crushed. If that should actually happen – an even more plausible scenario if there should be a simultaneous or near-simultaneous coup d'état in already-nuclear Pakistan – we might then all still bear impotent witness to a world spinning further out of control… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017—Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital — but the UN is set to ERASE Israel’s right to any of the city. Demand the un stop its war of lies against Israel. Sign the petition here.

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017—The 23,144 thousands of Israeli soldiers and citizens who have been killed in the Land of Israel were the best and the finest of Israel’s youth. It is due to their bravery that we live the lives we live today in the Land of Israel. Their sacrifices are a beacon of light for all to learn from. They serve as role models of self-sacrifice to all for what we as an old nation, in an ancient land who have built up a modern-day State – need to do in order to preserve our way of life. May their memories be blessed.

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017—On Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance, let the politicians and generals talk of “heroes” and “commemoration.” I can speak only of children. Heroes, after all, are just children who grew old enough that we forgot their childhoods. In this forgetfulness, we put rifles in their hands, ran their sore feet through mud and sand, and sent them out to fight.

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017—Israeli society is built in such a way that there is no one who is not connected to someone who fell during their IDF service, either during or between wars. Sometimes it’s a loved one from your immediate or extended family, a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, or a fellow soldier. They may be secular or religious Jews, Druse, or members of other religions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAMPUS “SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS” STIFLE FREE SPEECH & ACADEMIC FREEDOM; REMEMBERING FALLEN SOLDIERS & LEONARD COHEN

 

Jordan Peterson — a Real Professor, at Last: Rex Murphy, National Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson…

Professor who Tweeted Against PC Culture is Out at NYU: Melkorka Licea, New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned.

Angels of the Battlefield: Bernie M. Farber, National Post, Nov. 11, 2016— As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War…

The Extraordinary Israeli Story Behind Leonard Cohen's 'Lover, Lover, Lover': Judy Maltz, Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016— It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016

 

 

 

JORDAN PETERSON — A REAL PROFESSOR, AT LAST

Rex Murphy

National Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson, at the University of Toronto, who has expressed strong and vivid dissent over the university’s attempt to force him to use certain words — ersatz pronouns, a batch of neologisms (ze, zim, zer, and a raft of others, in place of he or she) coined by progressive groups, intended to apply to students who “self-identify” as other than the archaic and obsolete designations of man and woman.

 

Prof. Peterson will not use these new cant words. He will not be ordered by the university, or pressured by activists, to take their words and put them in his mouth. He goes further and insists that it is an abandonment of academic freedom, and freedom of speech more generally, for the university or others to insist or attempt to mandate such a practice. He has made three videos arguing his case. He points out the ideological forces, the “political agenda” behind “language politics,” and correctly argues and identifies that there is far more at stake in this instance than some local gripe about grammatical commonplaces on a single campus.

 

As a consequence, Peterson received from his university two letters of reprimand and warning, one of which I would like to deal with in some detail, for it is a most miserable document, in content, tone and misdirection. And, coming from a university, it is also simultaneously shameless and utterly shame-worthy. The letters are easily available online for your reference. There is much to object to, but let me concentrate just on the following passage.

 

As a result of Peterson’s speaking on these matters, “Some students have been the target of specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death against them individually and as members of the trans community. We trust these that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making (the controversial remarks). However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop making these remarks.”

 

Is the university seriously claiming, by inference or direct assertion, that because a professor has freely chosen not to speak a set of freshly made-up words that others insist he speak, that others, because of the professor’s intellectual dissent, have really been made targets of “assault, injury, and death threats”?

 

Has the University of Toronto been moved to Iran now, that such things happen? That such “impacts” fall from the serene academic sky when a professor unfolds a reasonable (if contentious) argument, an argument moreover which, if at all studied, proves to be an actual defence of the idea of a real university, one that respects standards of debate, argument, and illustrates the very academic autonomy university tenure was meant to buttress and consolidate?

 

Is it really their expectation or experience that Peterson’s defence of the centrality of free speech and intellectual exchange precipitate “assaults, injury or death threats”? I must believe, though it storms my senses of logic and credibility, that the university authorities do so, since they go on to “urge” him to stop making his arguments.

 

But if there are real threats of death, injury and violence, why “urge” him to stop? Why not, in so serious a matter, order him. Answer: because “urge” is a weasel word, and allows the enlightened authorities at the seat of higher learning to convey their sweet and sanctimonious concern without having the courage to actually command what, if the danger was real, they certainly would.

 

I simply don’t believe them. But if they present their police reports (for surely threats of injury, violence and death have been reported?), and show evidence of increased security and police patrols, I might change my mind. In the meantime, on the wild chance all this is indeed the case, every student should stay away from University of Toronto campus until the carnage stirred up by The Great Pronoun War subsides.

 

This is human resources-speak at its demeaning worst. The whole letter is the university’s leaders reaching for the stock phrases and code speak of “social justice” to coat their otherwise absolutely unsupportable efforts to contain their discomfort with an academic who is, actually, true to his calling. It’s a letter of threat, masquerading as an epistle of concern.

 

And following that logic, are they seriously asserting that the professor should abandon his absolute right to speak the thoughts and words he chooses to speak in the academy, because if he does not, then somehow should these “death threats” materialize, he will bear the burden of being their cause? This is an implicit accusation straight out of the nightmare pages of real world dystopias, all the menace of Animal Farm without Orwell’s drear wit.

 

Just who is “unsafe” here? Peterson himself, of course. When bravely and openly he went public to argue his case, a mob surrounded him, threatened him, drowned out his words with a “white noise” machine, and subjected him to a barrage of insults, slanders and pure insolence.

 

Were I a president of a university, and it sent out a letter of this intellectual fragility and insidious threat under the university’s imprimatur, I would see it expunged instantly, or resign for fear of disgrace by association. And were I a president, and a mob of hostile, anti-intellectual bullies harassed and threatened a professor on my campus, either the members of the mob would go, or I would. It should be as clear as that.

 

The older, raw, honest tyrannies told people what not to speak. But the new, wilier versions, midwifed by our famous human rights overseers, are proposing to insist on what we must speak. Here be the new axioms of our day: we own your pronouns, use no others. “He” and “she” are assault words. Freedom of speech is the life-raft flotsam of gurgling obscurantists and bigots going down for the last time. Prof. Jordan Peterson is a brave man. Better, he is an actual, a real, university professor. May his stamina and courage hold. Parents, send your children to his classes.

 

                                                                         

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PROFESSOR WHO TWEETED AGAINST PC CULTURE IS OUT AT NYU                                                                    

Melkorka Licea                                                                                                       

New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned. Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester. “They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” the academic told The Post.

 

Rectenwald launched an undercover Twitter account called Deplorable NYU Prof on Sept. 12 to argue against campus trends like “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” policing Halloween costumes and other aspects of academia’s growing PC culture.

 

He chose to be anonymous, he explained in one of his first tweets, because he was afraid “the PC Gestapo would ruin me” if he put his name ­behind his conservative ideas on the famously liberal campus. “I remember once on my Facebook I posted a story about a kid who changed his pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ because I thought it was funny,” he told The Post. “Then I got viciously attacked by 400 people. This whole milieu is nauseating. I grew tired of it, so I made the account.”

 

On Oct. 11, Rectenwald used his ­internet alter ego to criticize “safe spaces” — the recent campus trend of “protecting” students from uncomfortable speech — as “at once a hall of mirrors and a rubber room.”  Two weeks ago he posted on his “anti-PC” feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes. His caption read: “The scariest thing about Halloween today is . . . the liberal totalitarian costume surveillance. NYU RAs gone mad,” he wrote. “It’s an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can’t even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities,” Rectenwald told The Post.

 

But the Twitter feed soon sparked a “witch hunt” by the growing army of “social justice warriors,” he said. In an interview published Monday in the Washington Square News, NYU’s Independent Student Newspaper, the eight-year instructor admitted he was the Deplorable NYU Prof. “My contention is that trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hot-line reporting is not politically correct. It is insane,” he told the student paper. “The crazier and crazier that this left gets . . . the more the alt-right is going to be laughing their asses off [and] getting more pissed.”, he was quoted as saying. The divorced father of three came forward because “I thought there was nothing objectionable about what I had said.”

 

But Rectenwald says he began getting “dirty looks” in his department and on Wednesday figured out why: A 12-person committee calling itself the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, including two deans, published a letter to the editor in the same paper. “As long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas,” they wrote of the untenured assistant professor.

 

“We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation. Such efforts are not the ‘destruction of academic integrity’ Professor Rectenwald suggests, but rather what make possible our program’s approach to global studies,” they argued. Rectenwald likened the attack to “a Salem witch trial. They took my views personally. I never even mentioned them and I never even said NYU liberal studies program. I was talking about academia at large,” said the professor, a popular instructor who was graded 4.4 out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com.

 

The same day the letter was published, Rectenwald was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative, he says. “They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health. They suggested my voicing these opinions was a cry for help,” Rectenwald told The Post. “Then they said I should leave and get help.” He said, “They had no reason to believe that my mental health was in question, unless to have a different opinion makes one insane.” Students told him that professors openly discussed with students how he may be fired.

 

The leave has “absolutely zero to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day,” said NYU spokesman Matt Nagel. But Rectenwald is disheartened. “I’m afraid my academic career is over,” he said Rectenwald. “Academic freedom: It’s great, as long as you don’t use it.”                          

 

                       

Contents                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                         

ANGELS OF THE BATTLEFIELD                                                                          

Bernie M. Farber                                                                                                           

National Post, Nov. 11, 2016

 

As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War, and to remember that heroes come in all shapes and sizes — not all of them carried guns or flew Spitfires. Those who were part of the Canadian Field Ambulance Service are a fine example. Very often these angels of the battlefield undertook to administer to the medical needs of those who were wounded in action, dressing injuries and evacuating soldiers, very often risking their own lives to do it.

 

Pte. Harold “Red” Fromstein served with the Black Watch, Canada’s oldest Highland Regiment. Established in 1862, the Black Watch — based in Montreal, where it still has its headquarters — fought gallantly in battles from the time of the Fenian raids in 1866, through two world wars and even in modern Afghanistan.

 

Born in Toronto, Fromstein moved with his family to Montreal as a teenager. He and his brothers were well known for their athletic abilities and were active with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association there. When war broke out in 1939, the three brothers, like more than 17,000 other young Canadian Jews (fully 20 per cent of the entire Canadian male Jewish population of the time), enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

 

Fromstein was only 17 years old when he joined up in August 1940, but he was so anxious to see action that he used his older brother’s name and papers. He saw much action as a stretcher-bearer with his rifle company. While serving in France in July 1944, he was shot and treated in a French medical unit in Nazi-held territory, forcing him to remain in hiding until American troops captured the area.

 

A few months later, in February 1945, he found himself in the Hochwald Gap in Germany. Though by that time the Germans knew the war was lost, they were determined to make the Allies fight for every inch of the Fatherland. At one point during this ferocious clash, several Canadian tanks and a large part of a rifle company were pinned down under heavy fire. There were many casualties and moving forward was almost impossible.

 

Pte. Fromstein understood what he had to do. Oblivious to the gun and mortar fire, he scurried over to the wounded and tended to their injuries. Many had to be evacuated and it was up to him to make that happen. Disregarding his own safety, he organized the effort to move the gravely wounded. The tortuous path to safety extended over a mile of gun-infested trails and mortar fire. The heroic actions of Pte. Fromstein undoubtedly saved many lives.

 

As a result of his extreme courage under unspeakable battle conditions, he was awarded the Military Medal on June 5, 1945. The citation read, in part, “This soldier’s exceptionally courageous acts, which were far in excess of his normal duty, definitely saved the lives of several of his comrades and not only earned him the admiration and respect of all ranks of his company but assisted greatly in maintaining the morale of his comrades at fighting pitch.” Fromstein was among the 1,971 Canadian Jewish soldiers to receive military honours, more than 10 per cent of the entire Canadian Jewish fighting force.

 

 

Contents           

             

THE EXTRAORDINARY ISRAELI STORY BEHIND LEONARD COHEN'S 'LOVER, LOVER, LOVER'           Judy Maltz                                       

Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016

 

It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them. And it wasn’t only because he was a fellow member of the tribe. Leonard Cohen, who died on Friday at the age of 82, has long held a special place in the hearts of Israelis, thanks in large parts to his extraordinary act of solidarity during one of their darkest moments.

 

In October 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Cohen was living on the Greek island of Hydra with his partner Suzanne and their son Adam. Wanting to lend his assistance to the Jewish people but not knowing exactly how, he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, hoping to volunteer on a kibbutz. Israel’s collective farms were facing a severe manpower shortage at the time because most able-bodied men had been called up to combat.

 

He was sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street, engaged in conversation with a well-known Israel actor, when the Canadian songwriter and poet was recognized by one of his local admirers, the singer Oshik Levi. Levi approached Cohen and asked what he was doing in Israel. When Cohen relayed his plans to volunteer on a kibbutz, Levi immediately dissuaded him, saying he could put his talents to much better use elsewhere. Why don’t you come join me and some friends who’ll be performing for the troops in the Sinai? Levi suggested.

 

Cohen was initially reluctant. He didn’t think his sad songs were the best way to boost the morale of the troops, he said. “I told him that everything will be alright,” Levi later recounted in an interview with i24News.

 

Levi was part of a band known at the time as “The Geneva Conference,” which included one of Israel’s most talented musicians, Matti Caspi. For the next few months, Cohen joined them as a singer, with Caspi accompanying him on guitar as they made the rounds performing for Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War. A recently unearthed photo taken near the Suez Canal at the time shows Cohen standing between Caspi and the controversial general who would many years later become Israel’s prime minister – Ariel Sharon.

 

It was after his first performance in the Sinai that Cohen, according to various accounts, found himself a relatively quiet corner and scribbled down the words to what would later become one of his popular songs. He emerged with a piece of paper on which were written to words to “Lover Come Back To Me” and which was performed there in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur War for the very first time. Also known as “Lover, Lover, Lover,” It ends with the following words:

 

And may the spirit of this song,

may it rise up pure and free.

May it be a shield for you,

a shield against the enemy.

 

Cohen would later say he wrote “Lover Come Back to Me” for soldiers on both sides of the battle lines – Israeli and Egyptian. But at a performance in Tel Aviv in 1980, he said it was inspired “by the grace and the bravery of many Israeli soldiers at the front” and described his experiences with the troops during the Yom Kippur War as “invigorating and depressing.”

 

The song was eventually included in his 1974 album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.” That album also included another well-known song believed to have been influenced by Cohen’s Yom Kippur War experiences: “Who By Fire?” That song is based on the words of the Hebrew prayer, “U’netanneh Tokef” – recited on the Jewish High Holy Days.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016—A month ago, I posted three videos to my YouTube channel, as a means of speaking out against our culture’s politically correct insanity. I specifically objected to Bill C-16, a bill that has now passed second reading in the House of Commons, which adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of attributes protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and to similar legislation already in place in Ontario and other provinces.

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016—The Baker Boys had a grand plan. To celebrate Greg Baker’s 65th birthday, his brothers Randy and Bruce would join him on a trek they had dreamed about most of their lives. They would leave their Ottawa homes and fly first to England to see the small coastal town in Suffolk that their grandfather and two older brothers left in 1908 to settle in Canada.

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016—Leonard Cohen released a new song on Wednesday, which happens to be his 82nd birthday — but it isn’t quite a celebratory tune. Dense with Jewish language and themes, “You Want it Darker” will appear on the songwriter’s upcoming album of the same name (his 14th studio album) on Oct. 21. The song delivers on the promise of its title — it’s really, really dark. The song is an eerie, minimalist rumination with strong religious elements in the lyrics. At the end of the chorus Cohen sings “Hineni, hineni; I’m ready, my lord.” Hineni is Hebrew for “here I am,” and is the response Abraham gives when God calls on him to sacrifice his son Isaac.

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016—Picture this: Montréal is a regional epicenter of a thriving music scene. It’s largely based around the Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, in venues on Fairmount, St-Laurent, Duluth and St-Urbain streets. Its practitioners have flocked to the city from around the world, attracted by the music community’s vitality and international reputation. The best of them, some surprisingly young, are considered stars in the musical firmament, though many still toil away in poverty. The community is supported by an appreciative local press and attracts impresarios, audiences and money.

 

LEST WE FORGET: REMEMBRANCE DAY 2014 MORE POIGNANT FOLLOWING RECENT TERRORIST ATTACKS ON CANADIAN SOLDIERS

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 

 

Contents:

 

This Remembrance Day Will Be Different: Cpl. Cirillo Has Made it Real: Richard Foot, Globe & Mail, Nov. 9, 2014 — This year, at cenotaphs across Canada, Remembrance Day will be different.

Standing on Guard for Canada's Fallen Soldiers: Robert Sibley, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 10, 2014 — In the days after the murders of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, Canadians found numerous ways to express their sorrow and solidarity with the country’s military

Rare Canadian Jewish Comic Book Turns Up in Toronto: Renee Ghert-Zand, Times of Israel, Nov. 11, 2014— Thanks to a curious library volunteer, Canadians learned of the discovery of a rare comic book honoring Jewish World War II heroes in time for the country’s Remembrance Day, November 11.

Out of the Great War’s Trenches, a Poetry Fit For the Age of Industrial Slaughter: Rex Murphy, National Post, Nov. 8, 2014— Out of the First World War came something of a new poetry.

 

On Topic Links

 

Our Thanks to All Our Military, From This Century and Last: National Post, Nov. 11, 2014

Sea of Red: Tower of London Poppies Seen From the Air (Video): Telegraph, Nov. 11, 2014

Nov. 11 is a Day to Remember Together, Not to Holiday: Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Nov. 10, 2014

Why is Canada Botching the Great War Centenary?: J.L. Granatstein, Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2014

                                                                            

                   

THIS REMEMBRANCE DAY WILL BE DIFFERENT:

CPL. CIRILLO HAS MADE IT REAL                                                              

Richard Foot                                                                                                                 

Globe & Mail, Nov. 9, 2014

         

This year, at cenotaphs across Canada, Remembrance Day will be different. For the first time in many years, the ceremonies will feel relevant and raw to most of the gathered pilgrims. Corporal Nathan Cirillo’s killing has made sure of that. Canadians first started communing around military cenotaphs in 1902, at the end of the Boer War, when the nation indulged in a great, patriotic burst of memorial-building. Monuments to Canada’s first foreign war were erected in city parks and town squares from Victoria to Halifax. Over the next decade, huge crowds would gather around them to celebrate – yes, celebrate – the imperial victory in South Africa.

 

By 1918 the mood had changed dramatically. The trauma and slaughter of the First World War meant that new memorials would be built, but this time they were mostly sombre creations – like the National War Memorial where Cpl. Cirillo was gunned down on Oct. 22 – designed not to celebrate military achievement but simply to honour the dead. The hour of annual remembrance was fixed at 11 a.m. on 11 November, the time and date of the Armistice in Europe. Over the century that followed, through the Second World War, the Korean War and Afghanistan, Canadians have faithfully gathered around memorials each November to remember the legions left dead or wounded in these conflicts. When memories were still fresh – especially in the aftermath of the Second World War, with its huge number of returning warriors – Remembrance ceremonies were undoubtedly more relevant occasions. Many Canadians would have personally known the pain and heartache of war in their lifetime.

 

Ever since I can recall, however, Remembrance Day has always been about the past. We gather each year to honour ordinary soldiers who made extraordinary sacrifices in history. When surviving veterans of distant wars paraded past the cenotaph (and I can remember a time when First World War veterans were pushed along in their wheelchairs), the ageing warriors seemed too old, too frail to truly bring the past alive. Even in the hallowed presence of these men, Remembrance Day was for most of us a determined act of memory for a distant time.

 

The war in Afghanistan certainly made real the risks and consequences of war. Suddenly, there were families in our own communities with sons and husbands killed and injured overseas. These families were evidence of real loss and real pain. This was the first taste, for many Canadians, of military sacrifice in our own lifetime. Yet somehow, the war in Afghanistan was so complex – the causes and solutions too hard to figure, the battlefields too unconventional, the enemy too hard to identify – that this counter-insurgency campaign and its veterans failed to transform Remembrance Day from an exercise of historical memory, into something most of us could instinctively feel in our hearts.

 

But now that transformation has occurred. Nathan Cirillo is just one soldier, and not even a war veteran at that. Yet his shocking murder as he stood on sentry duty at the National War Memorial – the unforgettable image of him lying on the granite, directly alongside his First World War comrade inside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – has vividly linked the past with the present. The Unknown Soldier’s remains were brought to Ottawa in May, 2000 from an unmarked Canadian grave at Cabaret-Rouge military cemetery, not far from Vimy, France. Which means the soldier in the tomb in Ottawa very likely fought and died in the famous Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge in 1917. Two fallen soldiers lying side-by-side at the National War Memorial – one from a heralded battle in history, one from our time, taking his last breaths beside the other.

 

Nathan Cirillo’s death is a tragedy. But Cpl. Cirillo now speaks to Canadians in a way the Unknown Soldier can’t – by allowing those of us with little or no connection to war to know, if only fleetingly, what the killing of a Canadian soldier feels like; how it sucked the air from our very lungs, upon hearing the awful news. This year the crowds at cenotaphs across the country will surely be larger. The ceremonies will be more poignant. And our understanding of loss – and the need for memory – will be more real.

                                                                       

Contents   

                                                                                                                              

STANDING ON GUARD FOR CANADA'S FALLEN SOLDIERS                         

Robert Sibley                                                                                                       

Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 10, 2014

 

In the days after the murders of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, Canadians found numerous ways to express their sorrow and solidarity with the country’s military — everything from laying flowers at the National War Memorial to lining highways in flag-waving tributes to a passing funeral cortege. But perhaps no expression was more poignant than that of a 15-year-old Nova Scotia girl, Ceilidh Bond, a member of the 1917 Vimy Ridge Army Cadet Corps in Florence, N.S. Three days after Cirillo’s shooting, the young woman dressed in her uniform and stood alone and at attention for several hours in the pouring rain in front of a community cenotaph in North Sydney.

 

Her gesture, photographed by a veteran from a nearby legion hall, captured nationwide attention. “I’ve got my uniform on, and I am proud of what I am doing for Canada,” Bond was quoted as saying. “And I am remembering Nathan Cirillo.” The young woman certainly showed more courage than the National Defence bureaucrats who, in the aftermath of Cirillo’s death, ordered off-duty soldiers across the country not to wear their uniforms — combats as well as dress — in public. But then, arguably, Bond’s act also reflects something the bureaucrats have yet to grasp — the public respect and regard that has emerged in the past decade or so for the men and women of Canada’s armed forces. As Prof. Robert Rutherdale, a social historian at Algoma University, remarks: “There’s no question there’s been a significant increase in popular support for the military because of what has happened since, say, 9/11.”

 

It was a different story 20 years ago. In 1993, the dark cloud of the Somalia affair hung over the Canadian army. Public regard was at a low ebb. The Liberal government of the day cut military spending by 25 per cent. Troops were ordered to keep their uniforms in the closet, at least when on civilian streets. The media regularly ran stories about submarines unable to submerge, helicopters that couldn’t fly and training exercises where recruits, lacking bullets, were told to shout “bang.” Even worse, the military was the target of mockery. Pundits demonstrated their sophistication by referring to Canada’s soldiers as “boy scouts with guns” and how American boy scouts could easily invade the country. Some academics promoted the idea of turning the military into an agency for humanitarian causes.

 

Such arguments ignore the reality that Canada has historically excelled as a warrior nation. During the War of 1812, Canadian militiamen were crucial in helping the British army stymie an American conquest. In the First World War, Canadians soldiers were regarded as the “shock troops” of the Empire. Canadians fighter pilots were top aces in both the First and the Second World Wars. The Royal Canadian Navy, once the third largest in the world, did yeoman’s service protecting convoys from German submarines in the Atlantic during the Second World War. In 1951, at the height of the Korean War, 500 Canadian soldiers held off 5,000 Chinese troops at the Battle of Kapyong — a battle that should take its place in the annals of Canadian military history along with Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Anzio, Ortona, Juno Beach and the liberation of Holland. Most recently, of course, there was the war in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers patrolled the hottest combat zones — the two-month battle in 2006 between companies of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the Taliban is the stuff of legend — and took a disproportionate number of casualties.

 

But then even at the nadir of public regard, Canada’s soldiers continued to display consummate professionalism. In 1993, while the country attended to the Somalia affair, few Canadians heard about how a small troop of Princess Pat’s stood its ground against repeated assaults by Croatian troops. The Croatians were bent on ethnic cleansing in Serb villages, but the Canadians, doing duty as peacekeepers, kept them at bay until they retreated. The lives of hundreds of civilians were saved. Much of this recent history was ignored during that short holiday from history the West enjoyed after the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union imploded. But then came 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and Islamist terrorism.

 

“People are very much aware of Canada’s involvement in overseas conflicts since 9/11,” says Ruthdale. Canadians, he suggests, increasingly recognized the uncertainties and insecurities of our time, prompting them to acknowledge the necessity of the military. As he puts it: “There is a resurgence in respect for the military based on what (people) see and what they read.” A 2010 Ipsos Reid reinforced that view. The survey found most Canadians – about 90 per cent – described the military as “a vital national institution” and held a “positive impression of the people who serve.” A near equivalent percentage regarded the military as a “source of pride.” And at least half of Canadians said they believed the “top focus for the Canadian Forces should be international.”

 

Twenty years ago you might have seen a few thousand at the Remembrance Day ceremony at Ottawa’s National War Memorial. In recent years, those numbers are in the tens of thousands. The same holds true for ceremonies in communities large and small across the country. This year’s ceremony, following so closely on the deaths of two soldiers, may well generate even larger crowds. And so it should. Ceilidh Bond, the young Army Cadet, said it best in explaining her vigil: “I decided to go out in my uniform and stand guard and take Cpl. Cirillo’s place. It was honestly the least I could do.”

 

                                                                       

Contents                     

                                                                               

         

RARE CANADIAN JEWISH COMIC BOOK TURNS UP IN TORONTO            

Renee Ghert-Zand                  

Times of Israel, Nov. 11, 2014

 

Thanks to a curious library volunteer, Canadians learned of the discovery of a rare comic book honoring Jewish World War II heroes in time for the country’s Remembrance Day, November 11. The National Post reported on October 31 that the 1944 comic book, “Jewish War Heroes,” turned up in a box of books donated to the Kelly Library at the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College. The comic book was the first installment of a three-issue series published by the Canadian Jewish Congress to raise awareness about Jewish participation in the war effort against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. The series was a means of combating the incorrect perception among some Canadians that Jewish citizens were shirking their national duty.

 

Each page of the found comic book was devoted to a different featured Jewish war hero. Yank Levy wrote a book on guerrilla warfare and appeared on the cover of Life magazine; Israel Fisanovitch was a Soviet submarine captain; and Brigadier Frederick Hermann Kisch and Alfred Brenner received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The first issue contained an informational page stating that 1.5 million Jews were known to be serving in the various Allied armies, navies and air forces — the bulk of them in the US and Soviet armed forces (500,000 each). There were at least 12,000 Jews in Canadian uniform, the same number as from Australia, New Zealand and Africa combined. Palestine and the UK each had 50,000 Jewish officers and enlisted men and women.

 

It is not known how many copies of “Jewish War Heroes” were originally printed. It is believed that only a small number have survived. Sylvia Lovegren, the library volunteer who found the comic book tucked between the pages of a book on WWII, did some research that turned up a few other existing original copies (computer scans and photocopies of the series are more common). “There are two library-bound copies in Toronto…Other than that, there is a copy in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and one in the National Library of Israel,” Lovegren told The National Post. While most Canadians may not have been aware of this rare comic book, or of the extent of Jewish participation and valor in the WWII, the discovery of the “Jewish War Heroes” among the donated library books did not completely surprise Jewish comics aficionados. “I certainly knew about it,” Steven M. Bergson told The Times of Israel. In fact, the data processing specialist for the Toronto UJA and the editor of Jewish Comix Anthology has owned photocopies of “Jewish War Heroes” for some years.

 

For Jewish comic book fans and scholars, what makes “Jewish War Heroes” so special, however, is that it is an early example of Canadian Jewish involvement in comics. Although by 1944 comic books were becoming popular with kids and some adults, there were really no Jews involved in the comic book industry in Canada. A few Canadian Jews eventually ended up moving south of the border to the US, where the industry was more robust and noted Jewish creators, like Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, were associated with it. Ironically, the Canadian Jewish Congress-commissioned comic book series was drawn by a non-Jew. George Menendez Rae, who is best remembered for his national superhero, Canada Jack, illustrated the work. “No Jews worked on comics in Canada, in either writing or drawing until the 1980s,” said Bergson.

 

According to Bergson, an auction house in Israel sold originals of issues 1 and 2 of the series for $800. The National Post quoted Peter Birkemoe, owner of Toronto comic book shop The Beguiling, as saying that he thought that the comic books would go for between $1,000 and a price “close to five figures” at auction now.

                                                                       

Contents   

                                                                                                                                        

OUT OF THE GREAT WAR’S TRENCHES,

A POETRY FIT FOR THE AGE OF INDUSTRIAL SLAUGHTER                        

Rex Murphy          

National Post, Nov. 8, 2014

 

Out of the First World War came something of a new poetry. From the days of Homer and his great Illiad, Western poetry, if it did not purely celebrate the glories or war, the prowess of its heroes, its contempt for the weak, certainly placed it in the highest category of achievement and honour. The bards of olden times were the memory-keepers of a tribe’s warriors. They wrote to celebrate and ennoble victory in war, and to provide verbal garlands that would lend lasting fame to the heroes of their day. Of war’s champions (Hector, Achilles, the Knights of the Round Table) and great slaughter-men (Shakespeare liked the term) poets have always sung.

 

Not so much have poets or poetry found time to tell of the brutal meanness of war, its spirit-crushing hardships, sufferings and deaths. And poetry has had little time for those nameless millions killed or mutilated while fighting under the banners of their high-born leaders – until The Great War. If smaller figures did emerge in the older Homeric tradition — an attendant or servant — they were rarely central. War was a tapestry in which Kings, Heroes and Knights were sung of and lauded, common soldiers just grey stitching in the background of the pattern.

 

Milton has an excellent summary of the tradition:

 

    Warrs, hitherto the onely Argument

    Heroic deem’d, chief maistrie to dissect

    With long and tedious havoc fabl’d Knights

    In Battels feign’d.

 

It was in the aftermath of the apocalyptic horrors of what we have come to call the First World War that poetry took on quite different tones, became more of a reportage on the sufferings of individuals in the mass, rather than a celebration of the few high names in command. It was a poetry that looked with anguish and pity at all the broken lives and limbs that are the real stuff of war, and traded the high tradition of trumpet blasts for heroes, to lament and anger over the treatment of those in the numberless ranks.

 

Of these poets, Wilfred Owen, a victim of war himself, remains the strongest voice, and his verse simultaneously the most touching and angry that sang that terrible conflict. Just as John McCrae’s Flanders’ Fields has become a universal anthem for the fallen dead of the war, one of Owen’s poems, Anthem for Doomed Youth — though lesser known — is among a small handful of First World War poems that retain their urgency and impact a full century after the conflict in which they were written. It is a very worthy Remembrance Day poem.

 

There are no services for the individuals killed in battle, no church with its solemn bells, its candles for the dead, the farewells of relatives and loved ones. Owen imagines the battlefield as providing “substitutes” for these, though substitutes is a poor word. A terrible irony is at work when from war and its weapons he weaves a metaphoric church service for the fallen. Their prayers are rifle sounds — the sounds from the rifles that killed and wounded.

 

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

    Can patter out their hasty orisons.

 

“Orisons” is an older terms for prayers (Hamlet: Nymph in thy orisons, be all my sins remember’d). And if the rifles are prayer, what supplies a choir?

 

    No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,

    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs —

    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

 

It is worth stopping here, for it is almost certain that Owen’s sonnet was reflecting one of the most beautiful lines in all poetry from the greatest writer of sonnets ever. “Choirs” is meant to echo the golden line of Shakespeare’s “bare, ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.” Owen’s allusion harvests some of the ineffable melancholy of that famous line, to give depth of the profound ironies of Anthem .

 

He makes a turn in the second stanza where he imagines what or who will speak or perform a farewell to the dead, a Requiescat. There is no priest or rector here so, lyrically inspired, he imagines their funeral candles will be in the eyes of young boys (brothers at home perhaps):

 

    What candles may be held to speed them all?

    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.

 

And in a final sweet touch, worthy of Keats in its slow-moving grace, he writes three lines which for sheer force of sympathy and beauty are without rival:

 

    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

    Their flowers the tenderness of silent maids,

    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

 

He called his poem an Anthem, but it is really a dirge or threnody, a poem of sad remembrance and farewell, in which the liturgy, the rites and ceremony of church burial, are drawn from the practice and incidents of that battlefields. Anthem is, as Owens insisted of all his war poetry, a song of pity.

 

It is, as I and others have said, a poem for November 11. On what other day would that fading last line — And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds — have such elegiac music? A remembrance from a poet who saw so many others killed one hundred years ago, and who was himself called out in the very blossom of his days by the first great cataclysm of the modern age.

 

Contents                                               

 

On Topic

 

Our Thanks to All Our Military, From This Century and Last: National Post, Nov. 11, 2014—Last year, as Nov. 11 approached, this editorial board noted thankfully that Canada had spent the past year at peace.

Sea of Red: Tower of London Poppies Seen From the Air (Video): Telegraph, Nov. 11, 2014 —The Tower of London has released previously unseen aerial footage of the Installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.

Nov. 11 is a Day to Remember Together, Not to Holiday: Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Nov. 10, 2014—Only twenty days after the murder at the cenotaph, today’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa will be more somber than most.

Why is Canada Botching the Great War Centenary?: J.L. Granatstein, Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2014—The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War will be marked all across the world in August.

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

ZACHOR, REMEMBER! KRISTALLNACHT, 1938, REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012 & JEWISH W.W. II MILITARY HEROISM

 

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Viennese Torah, Saved From Kristallnacht: Yvonne Margo, Executive Assistant, CIJR, Nov. 9, 2012 —On Kristallnacht, his two grandsons, Efraim and Zev Kritzler [Ben-Yehuda], risking their lives, were able to get into the shul, with all its windows smashed as a result of being firebombed by the Nazis. The boys took off the wooden spindles of the Sifrei Torah, folded the parchments, and took them home.

 

 

Recollections of Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938: Walter Bingham, Israel National News, Nov. 9, 2012 —Throughout the Jewish world, there will be meetings to commemorate “Kristallnacht”, – or the night of the broken glass – from November 9th to 10th 1938. That night, most Synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the by then annexed Czechoslovakian Sudetenland were set alight, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed and almost 30,000 Jewish men sent off to concentration camps.

 

Veterens: Crystal Clear Memories of Kristallnacht: Gloria Deutsch, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2012

John Katten tells of the night the synagogue in Bamberg, of which his father was spiritual leader, was burned to the ground – and how they escaped. Born Hans in 1928 in Bamberg, Germany, [he] remembers Kristallnacht as though it happened yesterday.

 

Remembering the Escape Over Berlin: Bernie M. Farber, National Post, Nov 9, 2012 —Winnipeg is known for many things, from its cold blustery winds at Portage and Main to its legendary kamikaze mosquitoes. What few people realize, however, are the number of Canadian Jewish war heroes originating from the gateway to the West; amongst them, Flight-Lieutenant Louis Greenburgh.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

German Army Was A ‘Criminal Organization’: Sheldon Kirschner, Canadian Jewish News, Nov. 6, 2012

The Great War’s Jewish Soldiers: Naomi Sandweiss, Tablet Magazine, November 9, 2012

 

 

 

 

VIENNESE TORAH, SAVED FROM KRISTALLNACHT,

IN USE TODAY AT KIBBUTZ LAVI, ISRAEL

Yvonne Margo

Executive Assistant, CIJR

 

My great-grandfather Bernard Hofbauer, a well-known Jewish Community leader, owned his own department store in Vienna, Austria.  As he was an observant Jew, he  maintained a synagogue next to  his place of business.

 

On Kristallnacht, his two grandsons, Efraim and Zev Kritzler [Ben-Yehuda], risking their lives, were able to get into the shul, with all its windows smashed as a result of being firebombed by the Nazis. The boys took off the wooden spindles of the Sifrei Torah, folded the parchments, and took them home.

 

They were later mailed to London, and when the boys eventually went from London to Palestine, they took the scrolls with them. Eventually, the Sifrei Torah were reconstituted at Kibbutz Lavi, Lower Galilee, where Efraim Kritzler lives and works, and where they are in use to this day.
 

 

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RECOLLECTIONS OF KRISTALLNACHT,
NOVEMBER 9-10, 1938

Walter Bingham

Israel National News, November 9, 2012

 

Throughout the Jewish world, there will be meetings to commemorate “Kristallnacht”, – or the night of the broken glass – from November 9th to 10th 1938. That night, most Synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the by-then annexed Czechoslovakian Sudetenland were set alight, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed and almost 30,000 Jewish men sent off to concentration camps. I was in a city called Mannheim and saw it all when I tried to get into my school which was behind the Synagogue.

 

But why did it happen on that particular night? What caused this outrage, the worst pogrom in Germany before the policy of extermination was formulated at the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942 in the presence of Adolf Eichman and other high-ranking Nazis.

 

Well, the trigger for these atrocities can be found in the events of a few years earlier. During 1938 the Polish authorities were concerned about the German annexation of Austria in March of that year and also about the increased persecution of German and Austrian Jews. It was not the Polish Jews' welfare that concerned them, but they feared that the many Polish nationals among them would either want to or be forced to return to Poland. So in mid-October the Polish government issued a de-nationalisation law which annulled the citizenship of Poles living abroad for more than five years, unless before the end of the month they received a special stamp into their passports from the Polish Consulates.

 

Not surprisingly, Jews were refused this facility.

 

German policy at the time was not yet the mass extermination of Jews, but to get them out of Germany; so when the Nazi regime learned that Polish officials would not stamp the passports of Jews, thereby making all of them stateless, without any nationality and hence without passports, they were concerned about their having to remain in Germany.

 

So SS Reichsfuehrer (Field Marshal), Chief of Police and the Gestapo Heinrich Himmler ordered that all Polish Jews be immediately and forcefully repatriated to Poland.

 

It was during the small hours of October 28th 1938, when about 20,000 men, women and children had to respond to the dreaded knock on the door. They were arrested, permitted to hurriedly pack just one suitcase and with an allowance of just 10 marks per adult transported to the Polish border in sealed trains.

 

When the Poles became aware of this, they closed the border. “No more Jews” was the order. With Polish machine guns facing them and German bayonets behind them, these Jews were stranded in no-man’s land. Jewish welfare organisations were allowed to hastily erect some shelter. The circumstances were grim and food was short, while the Poles and Germans argued for two or three days. Eventually the Poles were forced to accept this by now dejected, hungry and tired mass of people.

 

The largest number were interned in Zbaszyn, a small Polish border town, before some months later being moved to the Warsaw Ghetto. My own father was among them.

 

At the time, I was at a Jewish school in another town; had I been at home, I too would have had the same fate, because the Gestapo asked my mother where I was and she told them that I had gone out and she does not know where to. She herself was not arrested on that occasion but at a different time and fortunately survived the concentration camps and so was able to relate, and related, the events to me.

 

I left Mannheim on that fateful day to travel back to my home, some 72 km and even remember that it was the 3.22 pm diesel train. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I can’t remember.

 

Among those deported to Poland on October 28th were the Grynspans from Hanover. Their 17 year old German born son Hershel who lived illegally in Paris received a postcard from his family telling him of their deportation and desperate plight. He became so angry and enraged, that he called at the German Embassy in Paris, asked for the Ambassador, and when taken to Ernst Vom Rath a third secretary, he drew a pistol and shot him. Vom Rath died of his wounds on November 7th.

 

This was the trigger for the “spontaneous” pogroms three days later known as “Kristallnacht”. It is documented that plans for such an outrage had been planned in great detail and that the Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler only waited for a suitable moment to implement them. During the torching of the Synagogues the fire service was in attendance, not to douse the flames, but to cool and protect neighbouring German properties from being damaged.

 

Just one other fact is worth mentioning. After the event the remains of some walls of one synagogue constituted a danger to the public, and so to add insult to injury, the Jewish community was ordered to pay for the demolition.

 

When Hershel Grynspan was arrested by French police he protested – for all the history of Jewish persecution: “Being a Jew is not a crime; I am not a dog, I have a right to exist on this earth; wherever I have been I have been hounded like an animal.” There are conflicting reports about his fate, but it can be safely assumed that he did not survive the war.

 

Let us never forget the brave Hershel Grynspan z’l.

 

(Walter Bingham is a veteran journalist and broadcaster from London who now lives in Jerusalem.)

 

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VETERANS: CRYSTAL CLEAR MEMORIES OF KRISTALLNACHT

 

Gloria Deutsch

Jerusalem Post, November 8, 2012

 

John Katten tells of the night the synagogue in Bamberg, of which his father was spiritual leader, was burned to the ground – and how they escaped. Born Hans in 1928 in Bamberg, Germany, John Katten, remembers Kristallnacht as though it happened yesterday. “The older I get, the more I remember,” says the 84-year-old architect who grew up in England, who managed to escape with his family in 1939 and made aliya with his wife Brenda in 1988.

 

“My father was the spiritual leader of the Bamberg community and, even though the anti-Jewish decrees were getting worse, he did not want to leave,” recalls Katten. “Even when all the Jewish children, including me, were thrown out of school and shops had signs saying ‘Don’t sell to Jews’ and ‘Boycott Jewish shops,’ he still thought it could not get any worse. ‘We can live with it,’ he said. “My father was very German,” he continues.

 

“He had fought in the First World War and his family could trace their being in Germany back to 1646. My mother was Hungarian, the daughter of the head of a rabbinical seminary in Breslau, and they met when my father went to study there; He fell in love with her smile, he used to say. They used to argue constantly about leaving, but it wasn’t until Kristallnacht that my father agreed.”

 

On the night of November 9, 1938, the beautiful Bamberg synagogue was set on fire, as were hundreds of others throughout Germany. “We watched in disbelief,” he recalls. “At first we thought it had been an electrical fault. I was allowed to go and look and I cycled there, although my mother stopped my father from going, which probably saved his life, as the president of the community, Willy Lessing, was beaten and later died.”

 

The 10-year-old boy with artistic leanings assumed it was more of a lark than anything else. Only later did he come to understand the significance and the depth of hatred into which the German people had sunk. Many years later, when he took up painting as a hobby after he moved to Israel, one of his most searing works is of the synagogue of his childhood going up in flames.

 

With the intervention of Chief Rabbi of the UK Joseph Hertz, who knew his Hungarian grandfather, the family managed to get visas to England. “We flew from Frankfurt, and from the airport in London a bus took us and dropped us in the middle of London in Tottenham Court Road. My father had a pound and a few shillings and found us a hotel for the night. One of the waitresses spoke German, being Swiss, and she took us to her Italian landlady who had a spare room. My father spoke to her in Latin.”

 

The next day they found a soup kitchen where, for a penny, one could get a bowl of soup and for tuppence a piece of bread with it. Somehow, like all the other refugees, they managed to survive and made a good life for themselves in England. For John, everything was an adventure; for his sister the events were much more traumatic and affected her mental state for many years.

 

Katten became an architect and met his wife Brenda – a past president of WIZO as well as of the Israel, Britain and Commonwealth Association, and today chairwoman of the English-Speaking Residents’ Association – through a friend from his student days. “He said he’d met a lovely girl – eight years younger than us – and he really liked her but she was too tall for him,” he recalls. And indeed, even 50 years later, the Kattens make a very distinguished – and tall – couple.

 

With a son living here and a growing family of grandchildren, they visited often but could not leave elderly parents until 1998 when they settled in Herzliya Pituah. Brenda is busy with her various public offices and activities, and John decided to take up painting as a hobby.

 

In 1995 he received an invitation from the mayor of Bamberg to be his guest at the consecration of a monument that would mark the place where the synagogue had once stood. The event was to take place on November 9 and, together with 22 other ex- Bamberg Jews, the Kattens travelled to his old hometown.

 

“It was very strange to be back in Bamberg,” he recalls. “It was as I remembered it but it looked different, with modern cars on the roads and signs not in Gothic script as they had been when I was a child.”

 

The guests arrived at the place where the synagogue had once stood and the commemorative ceremony began, with speeches about the contribution of the Jewish community to the city. All Katten could see in his mind’s eye, as the officials droned on, was the picture of the flames engulfing their house of worship while the fire brigade stood by just to make sure that none of the adjacent buildings caught fire.

 

“This is where you stood and celebrated the destruction of our synagogue,” he thought, remembering the photo that documents the event in a 1995 book about Bamberg by Karl H. Mistele. He recalled also the photo dedicating the synagogue in 1910, with the speech from the mayor promising to protect the place, and looked around at the same German people now praising the Jews for their contribution.

 

“It just made me realize, listening to all this, how humanity can be manipulated and twisted by evil people,” he says. Today, a new community is growing in Bamberg and a small synagogue was dedicated a few years ago, established mostly by Jews from the former Soviet Union. “Jewish life is slowly returning to Bamberg,” he says.

 

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REMEMBERING THE ESCAPE OVER BERLIN

Bernie M. Farber

National Post, November 9, 2012

 

Winnipeg is known for many things, from its cold blustery winds at Portage and Main to its legendary kamikaze mosquitoes. What few people realize, however, are the number of Canadian Jewish war heroes originating from the gateway to the West; amongst them, Flight-Lieutenant Louis Greenburgh.

 

Born in 1916, Louis attended St. John’s Technical High School. He was a very colourful character who didn’t always play by the rules. In fact, he was expelled from high school after it was discovered that he appropriated the answer key to an exam. Yet Louis was not to be deterred; a short time later he travelled to England where in 1937 he joined the RAF as a flight mechanic. Not content with maintenance, and having always longed to be a fighter pilot, Louis trained arduously and in 1942 received his wings and commission.

 

Louis quickly became known for his courage under fire. He flew numerous sorties in 1943 and 1944, mostly in the Lancaster, a four-engine aircraft used by the RAF for heavy bombing. Indeed the Lancaster became the night bomber of choice during the Second World War, delivering over 600,000 tons of bombs in more than 155,000 sorties. Near the end of the war, this versatile war plane was outfitted to carry bombs that weighed over 12,000 lbs, known as “blockbusters”; they were used successfully in destroying Germany’s Ruhr valley dams.

 

In his first sortie in a Lancaster in December 1943, after dropping his load over German war factories, Louis’s fuel tank was hit, leaving him empty over open sea. He safely brought his aircraft to a landing on the water, ensuring his entire crew got safely aboard the rescue dinghy. Buffeted by stormy seas, Greenburgh kept the spirits of his crew up until they were rescued a day later. All survived.

 

Louis flew many more missions. On a brisk dark night in March 1944, Flight-Lieutenant Greenburgh was part of a squadron tasked to bomb Berlin. As a result of a strong tail wind, Louis and his crew arrived well before the pathfinders, the smaller planes used by the RAF to mark targets using flares. Louis’s bomber was “coned” by Nazi searchlights. Nonetheless, Greenburgh managed to avoid the heavy anti-aircraft fire. Awaiting the pathfinders Louis and his crew began circling the target area. The night sky was thick with tracer rockets, ground flares and more anti-aircraft fire. Greenburgh’s steely nerves and expert flying skills kept them out of trouble. The pathfinders arrived, dropped their markers and Greenburgh’s crew hit each of their targets.

 

As they re-grouped for the perilous flight back to their airbase, the crew came under heavy fire by Nazi JU 88s, known as Junkers. To look at a Junker you would wonder how it even got off the ground, lumbering and odd-looking as it was. Nonetheless, the Junker was a lethal weapon in the sky, bringing down large numbers of British flyers.

 

While Greenburgh’s gunners returned fire during a ferocious battle over the night sky of Berlin, two of his starboard engines were heavily damaged. The trusty Lancaster spiralled out of control. Plunging close to 11,000 ft, Greenburgh ordered his crew to bail out. Most of the crew parachuted from the falling plane, but the rear gunner was trapped in the turret and the navigator had lost his chute.

 

Showing amazing courage, Greenburgh managed to get back into the cockpit. As the plane continued its rapid descent, Greenburgh skillfully pulled the Lancaster out at 4,000 feet over Berlin. However, they were not yet out of danger. A fire was raging in the fuselage. Greenburgh’s Wireless Operator, who also stayed with the plane, fearlessly fought the flames, extinguishing them before the fire did any more damage. With tremendous effort, Greenburgh managed to re-start one of his damaged engines. Even without the lost flight charts, Greenburgh was able to pull the bomber up to 6,000 feet so that they could fly back visually to air command in the U.K.

 

On March 14, 1944, Flight-Lieutenant Louis Greenburgh was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and on Oct. 31, 1944, he gained a second honour for bravery with a Bar to the DFC. The citation with the Bar read: “This officer has displayed the highest standard of skill, bravery and fortitude in air operations.”

 

During World War Two, 16,883 Canadian Jews enlisted for service. Close to 700 were killed in action. Flight Lieutenant Louis Greenburgh was one of 196 Canadian Jewish Servicemen decorated for heroism.

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German Army Was A ‘Criminal Organization’: Sheldon Kirschner, Canadian Jewish News, Nov. 6, 2012  —The [800 pages of transcripts of meticulously transcribed conversations of about 14,000 German soldiers who had been covertly bugged by the British and Americans] make it clear that practically all German soldiers knew or suspected that Jews were being murdered en masse,” the authors write in Soldaten. …[t]he Wehrmacht murdered about 20,000 Jews in the former Soviet Union and supported Einzatzgruppen units in the killing of more than one million Russian, Ukrainian and Baltic Jews.

 

The Great War’s Jewish Soldiers: Naomi Sandweiss, Tablet Magazine, November 9, 2012 —On Veterans Day, I remember my grandfather, who fought in World War I as a Jew and an American. In his book The Long Way Home, David Laskin recounts the experiences of immigrant soldiers who represented one-fifth of the U.S. Armed Forces in World War I. He writes, “In many cases just a few years or even months separated their arrival at Ellis Island from their induction in the American Expeditionary Forces.

 

 

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Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

THE SOUNDS OF BUGLES, AND OF SIRENS: LET US ALL REMEMBER

A TIME TO REMEMBER
Editorial

National Post, November 11, 2011

Every year on this date, Canadians pause to remember the more than 100,000 of our citizens who have died serving our country and protecting the freedoms we enjoy. The solemn marking of this great sacrifice, and the pain of those our fallen soldiers have left behind, is especially meaningful this Nov. 11. For the first time in many years, Canada is not at war.

It is true that a major Canadian contingent remains in Afghanistan, where 950 members of the Canadian Forces are mentoring Afghan military and police officers. The death last month of Canadian Army Master Corporal Byron Greff, killed by a truck bomb as he rode a bus in the Afghan capital of Kabul, should remind us all that while our combat mission in Afghanistan has ended, our troops are still at risk in that distant land. And only in the last few days have the Canadian troops that went to war in Libya begun to return home, after a successful mission that thankfully saw no Canadians killed.

These men and women will join the ranks of Canada’s proud veterans. In two world wars, the war in Korea, throughout the Cold War and numerous UN peacekeeping tours—and more recent battles throughout Afghanistan and the Middle East—our soldiers have accomplished much, and always for the right reasons. Canada does not fight for territory or resources. Our battles have always been in defence of our allies and our values.

Canadian soldiers, past and present, never ask for much in return for what they have freely given us. That makes it all the more important, on this day as all others, to keep them in our thoughts, and offer them all the respect and gratitude this blessed nation can spare. We hope all Canadians join us today in remembering our military heroes. They have our thanks.

THE WAYS WE REMEMBER
John Thompson
National Post, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day isn’t just an event on the calendar. It’s more timeless than that. Our annual Nov. 11 ritual taps into a set of feelings that are thousands of years old.

It is a central part of the human condition to wonder about what comes next when we finish the brief span of our lives. Does some part of us linger? Can we still connect with what we loved best? Will we remember?

Almost all human beings believe (at some level) that something of us remains, and we see the graves and tombs of those who have gone before us as a way of remembering and staying in touch with some element of our dead. It is also almost equally universal for humans to believe that lives ended violently are less likely to settle into whatever comes next as peacefully as those who experienced longer lives and more peaceful deaths.

For those who deliberately offered themselves to violence or sudden death, particularly to protect others, our need to assure ourselves (and the dead) is strong. This was a central theme in the works of Homer, who almost 3,000 years ago praised those who put their bodies between their homes and families “and the war’s desolation.”

It was the Greeks who also gave us the idea of the cenotaph (literally, “empty tomb”), so that those who fell far from home or at sea could have a symbolic resting place somewhere friends and families could honour them. Over 2,400 years ago, Pericles, in his famous Funeral Oration to the Athenians, argued that a cenotaph is a more honourable grave than most others—for it contains a purity of spirit with no physical corruption.

Stunned by the toll of the First World War, many Canadian cities erected cenotaphs. Erroneously called “war memorials,” these are the empty tombs for the 109,700 Canadian war dead who have fallen since the Boer War. It is where we go to honour these dead and hope—at some subconscious level—that they realize it. Ceremonies that take place in Canada and throughout the old British Empire include the sounding of the Last Post, the minute of silence, and the sounding of The Rouse. Following these, wreaths are laid.

The Last Post is a British Army bugle call going back well into the 18th Century, with Dutch roots before that. It is the traditional last bugle call of the day, signalling to all soldiers in ear-shot that the routines of the day are finished. Sentries are out, and everybody else should be in bed. However, like all bugle calls, it has a slightly different meaning on a battlefield.

Imagine some battlefield in the era of muskets as dusk is closing in. There is a gunpowder haze floating over fields coated with the dead, dying and wounded. In this circumstance, the Last Post is a rallying call for the wounded and those who have been separated: The day is done, the fighting is over. Here is rest, here is safety, here are your comrades, come here.

Do we imagine that, besides the lame and lost, those who were untimely ripped from life would ignore this call, too? Do we dare to think they couldn’t come? The question is seldom voiced and we cannot answer it anyway. But we sound the Last Post at our cenotaphs not only to symbolically end a day, but perhaps also to call in the missing to the empty tombs we built for them.

Reveilleor Rouse (to cite both the American and British names for it) is the other bookend to the minute of silence. It was the first bugle call of the day for centuries in the British Army, and the message is basically “Everyone get up!” It has a lesser meaning, but one that is still significant in Christian imagery: There will be that last morning someday in which all the living and the dead will arise together in a final resurrection, when all will be made whole.

The minute between Last Post and Reveille is the most charged element of all, and the oldest, of the ceremony.

Even in Prehistoric times, human notions of magic have held that to own a part of somebody might give you the means of controlling them even in death. Carrying off a trophy like a scalp or an ear from fallen enemies was deemed by many cultures to be a way of controlling their spirits. Another widespread belief was that to mutilate a fallen enemy even further would spoil his chances of enjoying the afterlife. More practically, scavenging animals have always feasted on the dead, and looters have often robbed them of anything valuable.

In consequence, whenever possible, you guarded your dead after a battle until you could properly dispose of them according to your culture’s rituals. This was done to protect from mutilation, trophy-seeking and from being dragged off by scavengers. In the long centuries before we got a grip on internal medicine, we also stood watch over the dead to ensure they weren’t just unconscious or in a coma.

Symbolically, the minute of silence is not just a pause for reflection. Sandwiched between the last and first bugle calls of the day, it is a ritualized night vigil for the dead to guard them from insult and further harm. By standing watch, we not only remember them but we pledge ourselves to protect them from dishonour.

Thus, here is the ceremony in brief: We call to the spirits of our slain to a tomb built for them and announce that it is nightfall. We stand vigil to guard and remember them, we end the “night” with the implicit hope that we shall meet together again.

As for the wreath-laying ceremony, human beings have been marking graves with flowers for at least 40,000 years insofar as archeological evidence is concerned. Moreover, to the Greeks and Romans (and so far as we know, other ancient European peoples), wreaths were offered as prizes to champions and heroes. Leaving a wreath at a cenotaph is another unconscious declaration that it is a home for the heroic dead who offered up their lives for our safety and well-being.

Doing all this on Nov. 11 provides a highly charged ritual full of significance. It is more than maintaining a memory and rending honours; it is a pledge and a shared hope in life after death.

Keep the faith.

LEST WE FORGET
Frederick Krantz

 

The following editorial by Prof. Krantz, published in CIJR’s Daily Briefing(Vol. IV, No. 885) on Friday, June 4, 2004, remains pertinent on this year’s Memorial Day.

Sunday, June 6, 2004 is the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the massive Allied amphibious landings in Normandy which, along with the earlier Russian victory over the Germans at Stalingrad, marked the beginning of the end of World War II in the European theater.

Solemn ceremonies, many involving the last surviving participants in the landings, will take place. It is a fitting moment to remember (although the figure is incomprehensible) the probably almost 20,000,000 Allied soldiers who fell in that life-and-death struggle against fascism, and to remember too the major Jewish role in the struggle to defeat the Nazis and their Axis collaborators.

1,397,000 Jews, not including thousands of partisans, fought with Allied forces: 550,000 from the USA (5% of the American military, and approximately 15% of the Jewish population), over 500,000 from the USSR (including over 70 generals), and 91,000 from Britain and the Commonwealth (16,000 of whom were Canadians).

36,000 (an incredible 6% of the total yishuv population) from Jewish Palestine served with the British. This includes the Jewish Brigade, formed in 1944 as part of the Kentish Brigades [The Buffs], 5,000 men who fought under a Magen David flag in the Italian campaign.

400,000 Polish Jews were in arms in 1940, and after the defeat many fled to Russia (General Anders’ Army) and Britain. Similarly, many French Jews joined the Free French under De Gaulle, after France collapsed in June, 1940.

Jewish fighters rose against the Germans in the Warsaw Ghetto in April, 1943 (the first rising of an urban population against the oppressors), in the death-camps (as at Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, among others), and in the forests and mountains as partisans.

More than 50,000 American Jewish servicemen  were killed or wounded; many were among the over 5,000 casualties on the first day of the Normandy landings, June 6, alone. 10,000 Jews fought in the South African Army, where Major General Alexander Ohrenstein was director-general of medical services.

140 Soviet Jews received the title Hero of the Soviet Union; a Soviet flyer, Michael Plotkin, was given the honor of flying in the first Soviet air-raid on Berlin, in August 1941, and several Jewish generals were key figures in the decisive battle of Stalingrad. 20,000 Jews served as partisans on the Polish-Russian borders.

Jewish soldiers with Allied forces participated in the liberation of the death-camps in 1945, and both Palestinian and Diaspora volunteers (like General Mickey Marcus, buried at West Point) formed the core of the Israel Defense Forces in the 1947-48 War of Liberation in Israel.

A total of over 60 million human beings from all countries, including China and the Axis countries, and including the 6,000,000 Jews of the Holocaust—no other people, including the Soviets, suffered such absolute decimation—died in World War II. The Soviet Union alone lost 13,600,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen, and over 7,000,000 civilians. Great Britain lost 326,000 fighters, and 62,000 civilians; China 1,324,000 soldiers, and 7,700,000 civilians.

We are once again engaged in struggle with a death-enthralled terrorist foe who, like the Nazis and their henchmen, has made extermination of Jews, represented today by the State of Israel, its stated goal. D-Day this Sunday [and Memorial Day today—Ed.] should, then, remind us of the profound sacrifices made by the Free World in order to defeat the fascist murderers, and of the key role of the Jewish people, itself the sustained focus of the Nazis’ exterminatory drive, in the struggle, and the victory.

(Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
and Editor of the Isranet Briefings series.)

THE SOUNDS OF SIRENS
Charles Bybelezer

As the fire alarm sounded and soldiers exited from the Canadian Armed Forces building onto Montreal’s Ste Catherine and Bishop intersection, I could not help but think that a different time and a different place a similar alarm would have induced terror within the hearts and minds of these brave patriots. Such are the peculiarities of time and space: for most, a siren is only a siren; yet for those who have served on the front lines, the sound has often foreshadowed the end.

As I admired the men and women in uniform, unable to conceptualize the things they have done and the horrors they have witnessed, my thoughts turned to another region of the world, to another people on the front lines, who share with our servicemen and servicewomen an understanding of the life-and-death nature of the dreaded siren. That region is known to all of us, but the circumstances there often escape our comprehension: the sovereign territory of Southern Israel, bordered by a terrorist enclave, Hamas-ruled Gaza. In that region, blaring sirens precede the inevitable missile bombardment, indicating the immediate necessity to mobilize; not to the battlefield, but rather to bomb shelters, found in homes and schools alike. For the residents of Israel’s south are not soldiers, but civilians.

For the past ten years, many Canadians, myself included, conducted their daily affairs overlooking that, until last month, Canada was at war. As we endured life’s many complications, manoeuvring to meet and overcome challenges, we may have overlooked a fundamental truth: sometimes a siren represents more than mere noise. So too many of us now fail to realize that in certain parts of the world terror continues unabated; that every projectile emanating from Gaza has one tangible outcome: an explosion, which, in turn, wreaks destruction. Just ask the wife of Yossi Shushan, 38, of Ofakim, Israel, who recently was killed by a rocket while on his way to pick up his spouse, nine months pregnant.

The widespread ignorance regarding Israel’s plight often forces me into the position of safeguarding Israel’s right to defend its citizens. In doing so, I encounter a common retort: Israel brings terror upon itself due to its “occupation” of Palestinian lands. To which I reply: “Is the murder of innocents ever justified?” Moreover, this twisted reasoning ignores Israel’s reality—that it is flanked by a territory governed by a terrorist organization, Hamas, openly committed to “raising the banner of Jihad…in order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews.” Not Gaza or the West Bank, mind you, but all of ‘Palestine’, “from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.”

As a corollary, then, can any and every Israeli action vis-à-vis Gaza not be logically attributed to Israel’s need to contain its enemies, who have repeatedly, and overtly, declared war against the Jewish state? Yet reason is too often abandoned when it comes to the Middle East’s lone democracy. So I ask: Like Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, are Israel’s actions not aimed at combatting terror? Is this not a moral cause?

To hold democratic, embattled Israel to a different standard is to negate Canada’s legitimate involvement in just wars, and to tarnish the memory of those who perished therein.

Then, returning to “occupation,” the undeniable truth, with which all of Israel’s detractors must come to terms, is that Israel does not in fact “occupy” Gaza. Indeed, since its 2005 military disengagement, accompanied by the uprooting of every Jewish civilian, Israel has absolutely no footprint in Gaza.

Yet the sirens still sound.

Can this paradox be reconciled? Not unless we begin to view the situation from the correct perspective: Israel, the country, is itself on the front lines, defending itself against those who will not only her destruction, but our way of life as well.

Thus, my hope is that in the future the sounds of sirens will evoke from us more than mere sounds of silence. For in Israel, as for the Canadian men and women who valiantly risk their lives to ensure our freedom, the siren may be the last sound heard.

(Charles Bybelezer is Publications Chairman for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

DAYS OF MIRACLE AND WONDER
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2011

A momentous event took place last week: the largest gathering of rabbis in Warsaw since World War II.

The Conference of European Rabbis convened in this historic city, bringing together, among others, the chief rabbis of Israel, France and the Ukraine, Rome and Moscow, Austria and Poland; and dayanim (judges) from the Batei Din (rabbinical courts) of London, Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon and Amsterdam.…

There was one moment in particular during the conference that captured the awe and miracle of Jewish destiny: the mincha [evening] prayers in the Nozyk Synagogue, the only synagogue not destroyed by Germans, because they had turned it into a stable. As we began mincha, I looked around the synagogue. Seeing 200 rabbis, representing almost two million Jews in communities across Europe, the words from the Book of Psalms came to mind: “Some come with chariots and some with horses but we call out in the name of Hashem our G-d. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”

Who would have thought, at the height of Nazi power, when Jews were being murdered in gas chambers and when the Nozyk Synagogue was desecrated, that one day rabbis representing Jewish communities throughout Europe would return with strength and confidence to this very synagogue?… The Third Reich brought horrific destruction; but in the end, it lost the war against the Jews. In defiance of any normal laws of history and human nature…the Jewish people have survived.

These are indeed days of “miracle and wonder.” Some 250 years ago, long before these modern miracles, Rav Yaakov Emdin wrote that the miracles performed by G-d to ensure the survival of the Jewish people throughout the many years of exile are even greater than the awe-inspiring miracles of the Exodus from Egypt—the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, the manna falling from heaven and the Clouds of Glory.…

By any logical and rational assessment, we should not exist as a separate, identifiable people after almost 2,000 years of exile, dispersion and persecution.… The miracle of the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, which we have been privileged to witness in our time, is a remarkable endorsement of the prescient words of Rav Yaakov Emdin.…

Before the conference started, my son and I went to see one of the last remaining walls of the Warsaw Ghetto. As we entered, a group of Israeli soldiers left. On their lapels was proudly emblazoned the Magen David, now the emblem of the sovereign Jewish state. It struck me how decades ago, when Jews wore the Star of David on their clothing, it was a badge of dishonor, symbolizing their certain death. It has now become a badge of life, strength and pride.

Yet this kind of miraculous rebirth can be intoxicating. It is easy to forget that even now, when we have brave, strong soldiers who can defend the Jewish people, our destiny is in Hashem’s hands.

We learn this lesson from King David, one of our greatest military and political leaders, who bravely led and defended the Jewish State. King David was known not only for his political power and military genius but also as a great spiritual leader, learned in Torah and imbued with deep devotion to G-d, whose faith and connection to Hashem he expressed so eloquently in his Book of Psalms, which contains the verse quoted above.… King David…of all people knew the great necessity of a strong army, but he also knew that we cannot be defined by it.

We are defined by our moral vision, which G-d gave to us at Mount Sinai.… The future of the Jewish people…does not depend on chariots and horses alone. Throughout history, many civilizations and empires with mighty armies have come and gone; yet the Jewish people have remained throughout.…

(The writer is chief rabbi of South Africa.)