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Israel: Young at 66: Baruch Cohen, May 6, 2014— Happy Birthday Israel! As Israel celebrates its 66th anniversary, the Jewish state is stronger today than ever before.
A Soldier’s Account of Grief to Happiness: IDF Spokesperson, Jewish Press, May 5, 2014 — Every year the moment comes when sadness and happiness have a strange meeting.
The Sky is Not Falling: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2014 — In recent months, the imperious US Secretary of State and others have warned Israel that unless it rapidly proceeds to establish a full-fledged Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the sky will come crashing down on the Jewish state.
Hating Israel, From Within: George Jonas, National Post, May 3, 2014 —Having marked the 154th birthday of Zionism’s founding father — Theodor Herzl was born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest — it’s worth recalling that his chief opponents weren’t anti-Semites, but Jews.
An Open Letter to Abir Kopty: Avi Tuchmayer, Jewish Press, May 4, 2014
‘The Pain Never Leaves Bereaved Families’: Ya’akov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, May. 2, 2014
Defining Israel as the Jewish State: Yitzhak Klein, Jewish Press, May 5, 2014
Jewish, Democratic and Independent: Prof. Asher Cohen, Israel Hayom, May 5, 2014
On its 66th Birthday, Israel’s Population Nears 8.2 Million: Lidar Gravé-Lazi, Jerusalem Post, May. 1, 2014
May 6, 2014
In Loving Memory of Malca z”l
Happy Birthday Israel!
As Israel celebrates its 66th anniversary, the Jewish state is stronger today than ever before.
From the ruins of Europe, the ashes of the gas chambers, the concentration camps, Egypt, Morocco, Poland, Russia, Romania and from dozens of other lands, the Jewish people have created one of the most vibrant and successful countries—Israel, sustained by our ancient faith. Am Israel Chai!
Because of the painful loss and sacrifice of some of our finest and bravest sons and daughters, we can proudly and strongly celebrate our 66th anniversary. Today, Israel reminds the world that it is facing increasing waves of radical Islamism and global antisemitism, a nuclear-bound Iran who harbours both global ambitions and a will to destroy the Jewish state. We must remember our ancient hope and belief that “the eternity of Israel will never falter.”
Netzach Israel Lo Yishker!
Hag Hatzmaut Saneach!
Jewish Press, May 5, 2014
Every year the moment comes when sadness and happiness have a strange meeting. I ask: Have I mourned enough for those who have sacrificed their lives? What is the width of the line that separates Israel’s Memorial Day and the Jewish State’s Independence Day?
In Israel, two special days take place one after the other – the very second that Memorial Day comes to an end, Israel Independence Day begins. It often feels as though there isn’t enough time to feel the sadness of Israel’s Memorial day–Yom Hazikaron, yet the celebrations of Independence day have already begun. Sometimes there is a inner-conflict in which the feelings of sadness have already faded and there is a restless wait until the celebrations begin.
This year, I experience this transition as a soldier for the first time. I joined the army just a few months ago, and am still trying to figure out how to carry the huge responsibility of protecting my family and country. Today, two contrasting moments come together and for me, raise many questions.
Why would someone make the decision to put these days together? I think that maybe it’s because it is the only way to really recognize why Israel is so precious to the Jewish people. The two days complete each other–the happiness rising from the grief.
Many times in life, you can only reach the top after you’ve been in the lowest place. My mother said to me once, “You can only become a complete person once you’ve had your heart broken in two.” That’s exactly the contrast I’m talking about–the juxtaposition of pain and joy – when remembrance becomes happiness. These days can only come together.
Now that I am part of IDF, I feel even stronger my personal connection to those fallen soldiers. They were mostly young soldiers just like I am and that realization is quieting. In their death, these soldiers pass on the heritage of loyalty and pride in the values of the IDF. I owe my life to them. We all do. These soldiers have motivated me to build a better future for Israel. And here I am. With pride I bear my heritage. Now I’m the soldier who is defending Israel. I’m one of those who look after my nation. Now it is me who carries the responsibility on my own shoulders.
Israel Independence Day for me is pride in living. Here is the only place in the world where being a Jew is normal. We are living by our own rules, under our own principles and beliefs, not dependent on anyone else–that’s what it means to be independent. If those soldiers hadn’t fought and died with bravery, the present would be completely different. We wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate the great gift that they’ve given us. A dream of 2000 years that the Jewish people hoped would come true. This is the gift of Israel’s fallen soldiers, and this is why on Israel Independence Day–we celebrate!
David M. Weinberg
Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2014
In recent months, the imperious US Secretary of State and others have warned Israel that unless it rapidly proceeds to establish a full-fledged Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the sky will come crashing down on the Jewish state. The doomsday diviners are certain that unless the “two state solution” is promptly implemented, Israel will molder, or atrophy into apartheid and inch into isolation.
Well, guess what, they’re wrong. The wisdom and utility of a two-state settlement aside, its absence is not a catastrophe. Israel will continue to prosper and achieve, despite long-term lingering conflict with the Palestinians and notwithstanding the apocalyptic agonizing of well-meaning friends like John Kerry. As Israel approaches its 66th Independence Day…it is important to emphasize and re-emphasize this; to shake off the bleak and sinister prognostications of our “friends” and enemies.
The gloomy, wintry forecasts are just not accurate. A cold evaluation of Israel’s strengths versus our enemies’ threats leads to the conclusion that Israel is winning on all battlefronts, overcoming every challenge, and advancing in all ways. Military threats to Israel have greatly diminished, as Arab societies and armies crumble across the Middle East. Soft power attacks on Israel – things like international campaigns to divest from Israel and to sanction Israel – have mostly fallen flat. The Chinese, the Indians, and even the Europeans are lining up to buy Israeli technologies, not to boycott them.
Palestinian attempts to prosecute or confront Israel are a nuisance and ongoing, but they are mostly empty threats, as the Palestinians are in disarray and deeply divided (despite the flimsy, fake, rehashed Fatah-Hamas unity accord). The amorphous situation in the West Bank is messy but manageable, and is far less bad than most alternatives. The dramatic weakening of America and the US-Israel relationship under President Barack Obama is of grave concern, but this is temporary and reversible. And for Israel’s major challenge – the peril of an Iranian nuclear bomb – that too will yet be dealt with, I believe, quite firmly.
In the meantime, Israel’s dramatic drive to succeed ever-more in all aspects of life continues unabated, with spectacular results: outstanding science and top-notch technology; leading brain scientists and rocket missile defense systems; Nobel Prize winners; first-class doctors and world-class healthcare; high levels of Torah study – only 70 years after the destruction of European Jewry’s Torah world; a robust economy and strong currency; massive foreign investment; innovative water desalinization programs and newly discovered, massive natural gas resources; a super-vibrant social assistance sector; multiple humanitarian missions undertaken abroad; and most of all, sensational activism and high motivation of our magnificent youth.
So my net assessment of Israel’s strategic and internal situation is astonishingly optimistic. Israel is stronger than any of its enemies. Neither the perpetual Palestinian conundrum, nor the acute Iranian threat, nor the unstable regional situation make me a pessimist. Nor do John Kerry’s miserable prophesies. If anything worries me, it’s our domestic disputes, social ills and spiritual deficiencies. Plus the hard-left negativism of mainstream media. But these are our challenges to overcome. Their resolution depends on our energies and wisdom, not on force majeure or the foibles and dictates of others. And note: Israelis are neither crushed nor dispirited by their challenges. They remain quite resilient and energized to build an even better future.
Listen to the words of the late, great Rabbi Dr. ambassador Yaakov Herzog, speaking in 1971 about “The Permanence of Israel”: “We face perils. No man can guarantee that fighting will not resume tomorrow, that our soldiers will not have to fight again bloody battles. But we know we have the strength to withstand them. The balance of arms is in our favor at the moment… We may face political isolation and pressures, but we face all this in the knowledge that we belong to a new epoch and that the Jew has changed – in Jerusalem, in Israel and across the world.
And though at times it looks dark, the light will reappear. With firmness touched with generosity, with strength uplifted by spiritual understanding, we can move ahead. With all the difficulties, with all the pressures, we are the generation of redemption. Let us indeed be worthy of this privilege that defies human logic and supersedes human vistas.” So on this Independence Day, count your personal and our national blessings. Life in Israel is full of meaning and delight – adorned by sacrifice, commitment, achievement and joy – all the components that make life satisfying and exciting, and certainly so for a Jew. Despite the overwrought friends, and the naysayers, boycotters and detractors – the Heavens are shining, not collapsing, upon Israel.
National Post, May 3, 2014
Having marked the 154th birthday of Zionism's founding father – Theodor Herzl was born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest – it's worth recalling that his chief opponents weren't anti-Semites, but Jews. In the period between the late 18th century and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, ideals of emancipation and liberalism appeared to make Jewish assimilation possible and desirable in Western nations. This made many Jews opposed to Zionism. They felt that Herzl's movement arose just at the moment when it was no longer needed, and when, despite such aberrations as the Dreyfus affair in France, assimilation into civil society offered more safety and better opportunities for Jews than a move to some distant "homeland."
President Woodrow Wilson's ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, evidently felt that Zionism was bound to rekindle anti-Semitism, raising the spectre of double loyalties for Jews in the Diaspora just at the time when they were gaining full citizenship and social acceptance. His granddaughter, the American historian Barbara W. Tuchman, recalled Morgenthau proclaiming his opposition to Zionism in an article she described as "exceedingly combative." Morgenthau called Zionism "an Eastern European proposal … which if it were to succeed would cost the Jews of America most of what they have gained in liberty, equality, and fraternity."
Tuchman commented that much later in life, her grandfather "in his eighties, in the shadow of the Holocaust … privately acknowledged that he had read history wrong." But the interesting thing is that he may not have, even though that is how it appeared to him in his older years, as well as to Tuchman. When she spoke about her grandfather in an address to the American Historical Association in 1976, Israel's star, though past its zenith, was still shining brightly enough. From the perspective of our own times, however, Morgenthau's initial insight appears more justified. Zionism may have helped rekindle anti-Semitism – sometimes disguised as anti-Zionism – in America as well as in the rest of the world. Including Israel.
In Israel, everyone hitchhikes. The two girls I picked up in my rented car just east of Tel Aviv wanted to go to Jerusalem. "Good, you can show me the way," I said. "What way? You just drive straight ahead until you get there." This was the sabra speaking, the native-born Israeli girl. Her friend, also a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, came from Montreal. They were both going back to the campus at Mount Scopus after a weekend in Tel Aviv. "So you have never been to Jerusalem?" the sabra asked. "Hire us as your tour guides. We'll show you everything." "What do you charge?" "Lunch. Is it a deal?"
It was a deal. The girl from Montreal, as it turned out, knew the Old City inside out. She could discuss landmarks from the Antonia Fortress to the Via Dolorosa to the Wailing Wall. She had been living in Jerusalem for only two years, but seemed to know the history of every stone.
The sabra knew nothing and cared less. "This?" she would say. "It's an old building. It has always been an old building. Okay? Now let me ask you something: How does one become a stewardess for Sabena?"
The girl from Montreal was enthusiastic about Jerusalem, about its past, about its future. She was looking forward to living in Israel. After nursing school she hoped to join the medical corps of the IDF, the Israeli Defence Force. The sabra listened to her with an ironic smile. She was not only native-born: She came from an old family. Her Jewish community of about 50,000 predated Zionism by centuries. They had lived in the Holy Land for generations before the First Aliya, the first Zionist emigration, set out from Europe in 1882.
For this girl, they had lived there for much too long. "They kicked me out of the army," she explained. "I behaved so they would kick me out. I wish they would kick me out of the country, but they won't." "Why do you want to get out so badly?" "Are you kidding?" she asked. "Everything interesting in the world, everything beautiful, is somewhere else. This is a place for crazies.
"You think I want to spend the rest of my life watching old Jews swaying back and forth before a wall? Or listening to a bunch of kibbutzniks, in running shoes, sing about how great they are? Or looking at Muslims who spit in the street when they see me, then go stick their behinds in the air, five times a day, like big white insects?
"Only fanatics live here: fanatic religious Jews, fanatic Zionist Jews, fanatic Palestinian mechablim [terrorists], fanatic mullahs. When I was on leave from the army, I met this stewardess from Sabena. We chatted for hours. Now I want to live in Belgium, like a normal person."
We went to lunch. Was this an anti-Israeli outburst? I don't think so. Was it "post-Zionist"? Possibly, but it was delivered in 1982. Back then, European anti-Semitism seemed to have long perished along with Hitler in a Berlin bunker. Who needed Israel's lifeboat?
Does Israel help to create a need for the lifeboat it offers? Hardly, but success has a momentum that makes people reluctant to quarrel with it. So does failure. There's one thing that would increase anti-Semitism more than the creation of the Jewish State, and that's the Jewish State's demise.
An Open Letter to Abir Kopty: Avi Tuchmayer, Jewish Press, May 4, 2014 —Dear Abir, I read with interest your blogpost objecting to having been included in Ha’aretz’s list of 66 Israeli Women You Should Know, published by that newspaper ahead of Yom HaAtzma’ut.
‘The Pain Never Leaves Bereaved Families’: Ya’akov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, May. 2, 2014—Ahead of Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, Col. Yaron Beit-On, commander of the Jordan Valley Territorial Brigade, spoke to The Jerusalem Post about his experiences of loss.
Defining Israel as the Jewish State: Yitzhak Klein, Jewish Press, May 5, 2014—On Thursday, May 1st, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to press for the adoption of a “basic law” that would define Israel as a Jewish state.
Jewish, Democratic and Independent: Prof. Asher Cohen, Israel Hayom, May 5, 2014 —Independence, especially in Israel, is associated with defense and security.
On its 66th Birthday, Israel’s Population Nears 8.2 Million: Lidar Gravé-Lazi, Jerusalem Post, May. 1, 2014—As Israel prepares to celebrate its 66th birthday, the Central Bureau of Statistics released a report on Thursday estimating the country’s population at 8.18 million.
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