Beyond the Cusp

May 5, 2014

Israel to Span Emotional Gamut in Two Days

Yesterday at sundown Israelis turned the calendar to the new day as we do every sundown. This turn of the page marked the beginning of Israeli Memorial Day when we remember the military and security men and women who gave their lives in service to Israel and the Israeli people and we remember all those who perished resulting from terrorism. When sundown today ends Memorial Day and Israelis move to the next day the mood swings to the other end of the spectrum as we celebrate Israeli Independence Day, the anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel. This fulfilled a dream shared by Jews the world over for close to two thousand years that we would return to the lands of our ancient homeland, the land where King David ruled uniting the tribes of Israel and King Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem. The marriage of these two events on consecutive days allows Israelis to celebrate the glorious and miraculous rebirth of the Jewish nation but only after we remember and commemorate those who gave everything to make this miracle possible and sustain that Jewish State. What better way to commemorate these two days than to remember some of the facts and clear up some of the misconceptions which seem to become more accepted than is the reality and truths which are being blurred and concealed in the broad ranging efforts to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.

 

The most grievous misconception is that the Arab terrorism is driven by the Jewish settlements on their lands of their occupied state of Palestine, a state with a long and rich heritage and history. The Palestinian story line is that the Jewish people never lived in the lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the two Temples were never built on the Temple Mount or anywhere else referring to them as fables and children’s stories, and that Israel was built on the ruins of the ancient nation of Palestine. Palestine is a mispronunciation of the Roman name given to the areas of the Middle East which include what is today Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria which the Romans renamed after a revolt by the Jews against Rome in an attempt to erase Jewish history. The Romans named the region Syria Palaestina using a Roman approximation of the name of the Jews ancient enemies, the Philistines. After the fall of Rome the area continued to be called Palaestina or Palestine and much of the area became a wasteland with sparse population. During the entire time from the Roman exiling the majority of the Jews to the far corners of their empire, often selling them into slavery, there remained a core number of Jews living in the region and for much of the time Jews were the majority population in the city of Jerusalem. Starting in the middle of the nineteenth century the Zionist movement was born and Jews slowly but steadily began returning to their ancient homelands which were at that time a part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I ended the Zionist movement gathered their resources and lobbied to have Israel reestablished along with the other new nations being formed out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire and now under Mandates to the allied powers which were victorious in the World War.

 

The area where the Jews desired to rebuild their homeland was under British control and was referred to as the Mandate for Palestine. The Zionists’ efforts were successful and the British established the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and which was the source for the San Remo Conference that gave the backing of the League of Nations in support of the Balfour Declaration, and tasking the British to establish the Jewish homeland in the areas referred to as the Mandate for Palestine. From the end of World War I until the founding of Israel in 1948 the term Palestine as used in numerous British and League of Nations legal papers referred to the Jews living within the British Mandate region. When the British or League of Nations referred to the native Arab population they used the terms Arab or Palestinian Arab. The British census data for the Mandate area showed that the Arab population increased in parallel to the Jewish population and mostly they moved to the area to take advantage of new employment opportunities. At no point in history has there been an Arab or any other nation with the name Palestine.

 

As far as Arab-Jewish violence we always hear about how it is because of the Israeli settlers living on Arab lands that the Palestinian Arabs resort to terrorism. The problem with this claim is it does not explain the majority of the terrorism committed against the Jews by the Arabs. Some of the worst terrorist attacks were the riots in Hevron and Jerusalem which include the 1920 riots where six Jews were killed and some 200 injured in Jerusalem during the dates of April 4 to 7; in early May of 1921 there were riots in Jaffa and Petah Tikvah, instigated by the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin, which left 43 Jews dead; the week of riots from 23 to 29 August, 1929 where 133 Jews were killed by Arabs and 339 others were injured; and there were the Arab uprisings from 1936 through 1939 which were largely aimed at the British but included attacks on Jewish neighborhoods. All of these attacks on Jewish residents of the British Mandate lands occurred well before there was even a state of Israel, let alone any occupied area by the Jews. If anybody was occupying the area, it was the British between the end of World War I and the founding of Israel in 1948.

 

There were numerous terrorist attacks before June of 1967 with a definitive and marked increase starting in 1964 with the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which was headed by Yasser Arafat and one of his top leaders was none other than Mahmoud Abbas. Both men fully supported, planned and aided the commission of many terrorist strikes with the most famous of the terror strikes aided by Mahmoud Abbas was the arranging of much of the training and established the financing for the Munich Olympics attack on the Israeli athletes in 1972. The claims that the PLO was founded solely in response to Israeli occupation of Palestinian Arab land is shown to be obviously false as the organization was founded in 1964, a full three years before the Six Day War which established the contested lands. The PLO Charter in its original form called for the destruction of Israel and the formation of an Arab state named Palestine on the to be liberated lands which were all of Israel within the 1949 Armistice Lines. The original goals of the PLO distinctly did not call for the conquest and formation of a Palestinian state in Gaza or the Jordanian held West Bank, actually ancient Judea and Samaria. Terrorism also seemed to slow during the late 1970s and through much of the 1980s and did not return to the levels seen immediately after the formation of the PLO until after the Oslo Accords were signed and Yasser Arafat and the leadership of the PLO were returned from their exile in Tunisia. It was the reinitiating of the so-called peace process which brought back a full-on return of terrorist attacks on the Jews both in Judea and Samaria and within the 1949 Armistice Lines including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 

 

The other groups of men and women honored today are the soldiers who died defending Israel. Their names start with the over six-thousand lost in the First War to Annihilate Israel and the Jews during 1948 – 1949. This war came about when the Arab League chose to refuse to accept an even patrician of the twenty-two-percent to form a Jewish state and an Arab state and instead attacked the nascent state of Israel the morning after she declared her independence the evening before as the new day begins at sunset. There were five complete Arab armies which included Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan along with additional troops provided by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and several militias and the Palestinian forces under the Mufti of Jerusalem. The six-thousand Israeli deaths totaled a horrifying ten-percent of the Israeli population; a very high price was paid. During the earliest stages of the war some of the men sent into battle had just arrived and gotten off one of the refuge ships and were trucked to the front and handed a rifle and pointed towards the Arab forces. These untrained refugees, many of whom had never held a firearm, let alone know anything about tactics and warfare, often paid a frightening cost in losses in their initial assault. There have been stories of these new arrivals actually singing as they entered battle gleeful to be in their homeland even if they were walking into battle on their arrival. There was another attempt to destroy the state of Israel in 1967 and again in 1973. Since 1973 the Arabs have taken up a new tactic trying to politically destroy Israel through propaganda and sewing hatreds throughout the world and especially in the United Nations.

 

This gives a brief thumbnail sketch of the Israelis as we stand and contemplate their sacrifice, even those who were murdered by acts of terrorism. We pay our respects by visiting the graves of those we knew and often those we may not have known but are laid to rest in a military cemetery or near to somebody we know and we see a grave untended. Memorial Day is a day where despite our grief we also come in contact with the fact that as Jews we are all part of a large family, there are no strangers and every single casualty is a relative no matter how many steps removed. We honor those who sacrificed everything so that we can live in our own lands and be protected by our own military, a gift the Jewish People had not known for almost two millennia. We also commemorate those who were victims of hatreds so base and cruel they are willing to murder infants sleeping in their own home. Hatreds that drive some to hurl cinderblock size boulders through vehicle windows which have resulted in numerous youths and infants receiving grievous injuries with some passing before their time and at the youngest of ages. We mourn teachers, students, friends, neighbors and just fellow Israelis for it is often said in Israel that when one is murdered we all feel the sense of loss for almost nobody in Israel has escaped the loss of a loved one or know somebody who has. On Memorial Day we mourn as a nation.

 

That brings us to tomorrow. Prophesy stated that the land of Israel, the Jewish State would return in a single day, and miraculously that is basically what happened. Not only was an ancient nation reborn but its ancient language which had not been in general use also for close to two thousand years also was given a new life. The New Hebrew language did face some challenges as new words and phrases were immediately a necessity as there were so many items, goods, occupations and other concepts which did not exist when Hebrew was last used in a general manner. We rejoice for being granted to witness and be a part of the renewal of an ancient land and its ancient culture and are here witnessing the returning of the Jewish People to their ancestral homelands. It is said that Israelis can find a celebration in almost any event, so imagine how we treat something like the rebirth of Israel and everything that that means to us. In the play “Fiddler on the Roof” there is a verse in the song “To Life” which goes as follows;

“God would like us to be joyful

Even though our hearts lie panting on the floor;

How much more can we be joyful,

When there’s really something to be joyful for.”

Today we remember and solemnly thank those who did what was necessary so we could celebrate tomorrow, and tomorrow we celebrate the ultimate blessings from Hashem; tomorrow we collectively exclaim, “Baruch HaShem!”

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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