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Israel 65…Happy Birthday To Us!
by Gerald A. Honigman
And, by the way, great timing, Mom & Dad.
With the stark reality of the world confronting it as the new year 2013 begins, it’s worthwhile to look back a bit regarding what the humanly imperfect–yet still amazing–reborn state of the Jews is all about.
There is no doubt that there is much to be concerned over given the bloody turmoil and uncertainty impacting most of the neighborhood in which Israel lives. Yet, is this really so different from the days which the Jews found themselves in over three millennia ago when King David united the Twelve Tribes of Israel and made Jerusalem his capital–and even much longer before? But, I’ve wandered–like those age-old “Wandering Jews” before Israel’s resurrection. So, let’s return.
Currently, it is beyond troubling that the reelected occupant of the White House (carrying 70% of the Jewish vote) and those deliberate appointees he continues to choose for key foreign policy-related positions will be a serious challenge to an Israel struggling not only to survive but thrive in this mess.
While ignoring more inclusive, tolerant elements begging for support in places like Syria and Egypt and cozying up to Islamists (as long as they don’t openly call themselves “al-Qaeda”) instead, Team Obama will likely continue to cause more anguish for Judeans–Jews–wishing to live in places like East Jerusalem (where the site of the Temple of Solomon is located) and other parts of Judea than for an Iran pledged to annihilate Israel, regardless of its size. For the latter, this is true whether Israel remains the 9 to 15 mile wide ghetto of a state that it was left as by the ’49 armistice lines or whether it gets the real, more defensible borders in a territorial compromise promised to it via the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 in the wake of the June ’67 War.
Yes, such things as the Hagel appointment as Secretary of Defense bother me, but they are only to be expected to anyone with functioning neurons. Those claiming otherwise have been living in a make believe world.
Personally, I prefer my anti-Semites upfront instead of the ones who wait until my back is turned.
Just the other day, I travelled to the Port Orange Sea Food Company to buy what I heard was the best “hot smoked” salmon (not lox) around. While staring at pictures of fish on the wall and contemplating my own next fishing trip, another customer came up and pointed out that those were giant Jew Fish (now finally renamed Goliath Grouper). I knew that and had caught younger ones myself–but then nicely asked him where the pictures of the Christian Fish were. He just stared. For many folks, they don’t even realize…yet many others certainly do. It is what it is, and the Hagels, Jeremiah Wrights, and so forth will always be with us.
While it is true that Chuck Hagel’s problems with an Israel longing to be wider than the length of a Texas driveway (just ask President George W. Bush) are indeed Tribal in nature, there is also no doubt that, in this, he also has plenty of company among Obama’s other close pals. Again, it is what it is, Jews have had to deal with it for thousands of years, and will have to deal with it again. And some will–at the very least–continue to jump ship along the way as well.
Israel’s case for relative justice among the family of nations is as rock solid as that of any state of humans can be.
What compromises, for example, have Arabs ever made with scores of millions of various non-Arab peoples on whose lands Arabs created almost two dozen “Arab” states on some seven million square miles of territory? The Jews’ sole, minuscule state sits on some12% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine–despite Arab lies to the contrary. As of 1922, Arab nationalism was handed almost 80% of the total area, with Judea and Samaria–the “West Bank”–remaining non-apportioned lands of the original Mandate where all residents could live.
But the Jews must now manage to get themselves leaders who will once again rise to the occasion. This has not always been the case.
They must not only laugh at such things as Hagel’s complaints about Jew Lobby and other nasty stuff, but must thrust into such folks’ faces such things as the enormous influence of the Arab petro-dollar lobby–one which dwarfs Hagel, Jimmy Carter, and others of their ilk’s preferred AIPAC bogeyman. Indeed, one which almost led America to not even recognize Israel in the first place back in 1948. I was involved in such research over thirty years ago.
Just ask such folks as former Presidents Carter and Clinton about where scores of millions of dollars for their libraries, foundations, and such have come from–not to mention the ever-presence in the State Department and other key government offices of Arab petro-teat-connected business folks who move through those revolving doors.
Okay–enough of that preliminary stuff for now.
As I prepare, G_d willing, to deal with my own Tevye moment (Sunrise, Sunset–Sunrise, Sunset…Swiftly Go The Years), let’s turn the clock back some sixty-five years…
My Dad, Edward Honigman, of blessed memory, had returned home after spending four years as a gunner in the U.S. Navy’s Armed Guard (assigned, especially, to protect Allied shipping from U-Boats and such) in World War II, met my mother, Sylvia Serota, and soon joined the ranks of many others siring another baby boomer…me.
While the date wasn’t perfect, it was close enough.
I made my grand debut on May 8, 1948, Harry Truman’s birthday…the President who, as alluded to above, would fight his own State Department within just a few days of my birth when he officially recognized the rebirth of Israel on May 14th. Thirteen years later I would become a Bar Mitzvah on that very same date.
So, I guess you could say that modern Israel and myself have sort of grown up together.
I have watched as Israel arose from the ashes–the risen phoenix of a millennially persecuted, subjugated, and massacred people. It did so on a tiny portion of the world’s real estate, where Jews have 4,000 years of continuous history, and proceeded to produce one of the most vibrant, advanced, and productive societies on Earth–things which only make assorted anti-Semites (including many now masking themselves as anti-Zionists) hate it even more.
Again, while imperfect for sure, as all human endeavors are, and considering that not one day has gone by in which it has not had to struggle to just survive, when compared to the largely tyrannical mess which surrounds it in its neighborhood, Israel is indeed a light unto the nations…the Biblical mission of its “chosenness.”
While Arabs deliberately target the most innocent of Jews, Israel’s Hadassah and its other hospitals fly in Arabs for life-saving medical treatment unavailable in their own countries…including Hamas family members.
Recall that when Theodore Herzl–the father of modern political Zionism–approached Pope Pius X for support around the turn of the 20th century, he was told that this would be impossible since Jews–the alleged deicide people–were condemned to be perpetual wanderers since they rejected the divinity of Jesus. Herzl was later quoted as saying that, in retrospect, maybe his refusal to kiss the Pope’s ring ticked the latter off even more and sealed the fate of their meeting.
No surprise here, however.
The road to Auschwitz was paved by many of such “sacred” teachings…including those of the Vatican’s nemesis, Martin Luther, and even earlier in the Christian New Testament itself. The Gospel of John calls the Jews–not “just” Pharisees–children of the Devil. Not to mention similar problems in the Arab Muslims’ Qur’an.
If ever an Hebraic prophesy could send chills up one’s spine, certainly Ezekiel 37 (The Valley of the Dry Bones) rang true in the aftermath of the slaughter of one third of all world Jewry during the Holocaust. Check out some excerpts:
The hand of the LORD was upon me…set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones…and, lo, they were very dry.
And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD…Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you…
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, Son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
So I prophesied…and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet…
Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
Wow…How’s that for a piece of “Zionist propaganda”–written some twenty-six centuries ago?
Within a few years of the Holocaust while the stench of Auschwitz still permeated the land, besides remnants from the West, more Jews would flee Arab/Muslim lands returning to Israel from the East than Arabs who fled in the reverse direction as a result of the combined Arab invasion of the renascent Jewish State in ‘48.
For over four decades, I have watched (and fought with my pen) from afar as an Israel, constantly in the spotlight’s glare and subjected to hypocritical double standards by much of the rest of the world, struggled–as hard as humanly possible–to honor the moral and ethical imperatives of its Hebraic traditions while fighting enemies who delight in disemboweling Jewish children and turning their own into shahids.
To truly understand the meaning of reborn Israel to the Jew, one needs to know what Jewish history was like for two thousand years after the Jews dared to take on the conqueror of the world for their independence. A reading of the contemporary Roman-sponsored historians–Tacitus, Pliny, Dio Cassius, Josephus, etc.–gives a “non-Zionist” account of the fervor with which Jews fought for the freedom of their land.
Here are some favorite excerpts from Vol. II, Book V, The Works of Tacitus:
“Vespasian succeeded to the command…It inflamed his resentment that the Jews were the only nation that had not yet submitted…Titus was appointed by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea…he commanded three legions in Judaea itself… To these he added the twelfth from Syria and the third and twenty-second from Alexandria… amongst his allies were a band of Arabs, formidable in themselves and harboring towards the Jews the bitter animosity usually subsisting between neighboring nations.”
This was during the first revolt in 66-73 C.E. The Arch of Titus stands in Rome to this very day to commemorate this victory over the Jews.
Later, the emperor Hadrian became so enraged at the Jews’ persistence that in 135 C.E., after the second major (and even more costly) revolt, he renamed Judaea Syria Palaestina–Palestine–after the Jews’ historic enemies, the non-Semitic, non-Arab Philistines (the “Sea People” who originated in the area around Crete), in an attempt to end the Jews’ hopes once and for all. Open to the front cover of my book to see a Judaea Capta coin issued to commemorate this Roman victory http://q4j-middle-east.com. Note please, Judaea Capta–not Palaestina Capta. Think about that a minute…
Forced conversions, being branded the “deicide people,” inquisitions, demonization, dehumanization, ghettos, blood libels, massacres, expulsions, the Holocaust, and constant existence as perpetual stranger in someone else’s land became the plight of the Wandering Jew.
Scholarly estimates have placed the number of Jews murdered as a result of these experiences, prior to the Holocaust, in the millions. Whether in the Christian West–where they were accused of blood libels, considered to be “G_d killers,” poisoners of wells, children of the Devil, and so forth–or in the Muslim East, where there was no Holocaust per se, but where Jews were still regarded as “killers of prophets,” sons of apes and pigs, kilab yahud “Jew dogs,” and also periodically massacred, forcibly converted, and such, Jews never knew what the morrow would bring and to what other refuge the survivors would have to flee.
With all the imagined, real, and potential sins of nationalism (and there are indeed many–especially if those involving the Arabs’ own quests are ever scrutinized in academia and elsewhere as much as those of the Jews have been), if ever a people needed the protection of their own nation state–for just their very survival–the Jews certainly fit that mold. Even the United States’ General Ulysses S. Grant (the future President) issued expulsion orders to the Jews of the South during the Civil War.
As May 2013 approaches and I struggle to decide what Medicare Plan to chose as both Israel and I contemplate our 65th birth or re-birthdays on the Gregorian Calendar, my wish for the long-awaited, resurrected land of my people is that, while it aims for the highest standards allowing it to indeed be that light unto the nations spoken of earlier, it does so in a way which does not sacrifice its own basic security needs and well being in the process–no matter who is tightening the screws and threatening it with sanctions from abroad.
The hopes, dreams, and prayers of countless Jews in the past and in the future are at stake.