Showing newest posts with label Zionists. Show older posts
Showing newest posts with label Zionists. Show older posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triumph

In our annual build-up to the anniversary of Israel's rebirth we have taken a somber reflection on some of the great calamities of the 20th century and how they have played a role in the history of the Middle East and the world at large.

Nightmare

Nakba

Catastrophe

Today however, we celebrate the greatest triumph of the Jewish people since the dedication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem. It is important to remember that in the grand scheme of history there is no precedent for what occurred in the spring of 1948. Never before had the hopes and dreams of a broken people lain dormant for nearly 2,000 years before they were finally realized. This fact was not lost on the Zionist founders of the State of Israel. Secular (even non-religious) as they were, they still had a deep respect for history and appreciated the gravity of the moment,




as reflected by headlines from that day that not only speak of the "birth" of the state of Israel



The State of Israel is Resurrected


but of a REBIRTH of the first Jewish state in 19 centuries. The Founding Charter itself makes mention of this amazing turn of events:

IN ERETZ ISRAEL [the Land of Israel] arose the Jewish people, in which was formed its spiritual, religious and national image, in which it lived official sovereign life, in which it created national and universal cultural treasures and bequeathed to the world entire the eternal Book of Books.

After the nation was exiled from its land by armed strength it remained loyal to her in all the lands to which it was spread and did not cease to pray and hope to return to its land and to renew in her its national freedom.

From this historical and traditional connection strove the Jews in every generation to return and to grasp their ancient homeland, and in the last generations they returned in their masses, and pioneers, illegal immigrants, and defenders made spirits blossom, revived their Hebrew language, built villages and cities, and established a large and burgeoning community which controls its economy and culture, promotes peace and protects itself, brings forth the blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the Land and bears its spirit towards sovereign independence.




The charter also states the following:

The Holocaust which befell the Tribe of Israel in recent times, in which were led to slaughter millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew succinctly the necessity of a solution to the problem of the Jewish people lacking homeland and independence through the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, which will open wide the gates of the homeland to every Jew and will grant the Jewish people the stature of a nation of equal standing within the family of nations.

The remainder of the refugees which was saved from the terrible Nazi slaughter in Europe and the Jews of other lands did not waver from immigrating illegally to the Land of Israel in spite of every difficulty, obstacle and danger, and did not cease to demand their right to live in dignity, freedom and honest labor in the homeland of their people.


And further:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles; will strive to develop the land for the benefit of all her inhabitants; will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace in the spirit of the visions of the Prophets of Israel; will implement equality of complete social and national rights for all her citizens without distinction between religion, race and gender; will promise freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; will protect the religious places of all the religions; and will be loyal to the principles of the declation of the United Nations.

In one of my first postings on this site I spoke of why it is important for ALL Jews to stand behind Israel...whether they live in Israel, have family there or don't even know where to find it on a map. The mere existence of the state is our only insurance policy against future atrocities and Holocausts. In addition to the charter's stated purpose of being a place of refuge, the fact that we have an independent, sovereign home, with its own military transforms 2,000 years of Jewish suffering into 61 years of Jewish triumph.



Never again will we have to hope and beg and plead to be saved by the outside world.

Never again will we have to hope that our host countries will be good to us and hope that kings, dictators and presidents will bestow upon us their good will and let us live in peace and quiet.

The triumph of the state of Israel is the triumph of the Jewish nation in rising up from the ashes of a broken, homeless people to take its rightful place in the world and have the freedom of self-determination and most importantly self-defense.

To our neighbors the Arabs and even the Persians I say, as in 1948 when we said to them the following:

WE CALL - even during the bloody attacks which have been carried out against us for months - to the members of the Arab nation residents of the State of Israel to keep the peace and partake in their share in the building of the State upon the principle of full and equal citizenship and upon the principle of appropriate representation in all institutions, temporary and permanent.

WE EXTEND a hand of peace and good neighborliness to all the neighboring nations and their peoples and call upon them to partake in cooperation and mutual assistance with the independent Hebrew nation in its land. The State of Israel is prepared to contribute her share in the joint effort to advance the Middle East entire.


The victory of 1948 need not only apply to the Jewish residents of Israel! Already today there are over a million Israeli Arabs who have partaken in the aforementioned equal citizenship. The solution to the Nightmare and the Catastrophe can also be the solution to the Nakba...if you only "partake in [your] share in the building of the State" - or at least live in peace as our neighbors in the West Bank and Gaza, you too can be a part of solution to both of our nations' problems!



It is then the our Triumph will indeed be shared by all of the residents of the Middle East. Until then, it is still just a hope. It is no coincidence that the national anthem of our country is called exactly that...

As long as deep in the heart,
A Jewish soul yearns
And to towards the ends of the east
An eye is scouting for Zion

Our hope is as yet not lost
The hope that is 2000 years old
To be a free nation, in our own country
The land of Zion and Jerusalem

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה,

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

That day is not yet here and until that day comes we will celebrate the anniversary of the Triumph of the Jewish nation, in the face of impossible odds, alone.



Happy 61st Birthday, Israel.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Catastrophe

Following our previous look at 175 years of Palestinian suffering on the anniversary of the Nakba (the Arabic word for catastrophe), it is important to remember that at the same time that the well-known and publicized Arab refugee crisis was developing, there was another catastrophe taking place all over the Middle East.

In 1945, there were approximately 1 million Jews living in various Arab countries across the Middle East, as well as Iran/Persia, Afghanistan and other Islamic, non-Arab countries. From Tehran to Baghdad to Beirut to Cairo to Tripoli to Tunis and beyond, bustling Jewish communities thrived for thousands of years. These indigenous peoples predated even the Arabs (and certainly the Muslim invaders who came in the 600's) by over a thousand years! The first Jews to arrive were forced out of Israel and Judea by the Assyrians and Babylonians after the destruction of the FIRST Temple and were later joined by additional refugees of the Roman exile as well the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and various other atrocities committed against them.

I recently had the privilege to attend movie showing and speech on the topic that was produced by The David Project. The film, entitled The Forgotten Refugees, relates the story of these communities and the terrible conditions that forced them out.




As the Jewish state was forming, the Arabs launched pogroms all over the Middle East. With scenes reminiscent of Kristallnacht from just 10 years earlier, Jews were taken out of their homes, beaten, hanged, robbed, looted and raped. In just a few short years, centuries upon centuries of Jewish culture were erased and these communities fled their homes in terror.

I'm not much of a movie reviewer but I will say that I myself was very affected by what I saw. Growing up, I knew a large percentage of Israel was made up of "Mizrahim" or "eastern" Jews (from Arab lands) but the fact that whole COUNTRIES were literally ethnically cleansed of Jews was not something I had really wrapped my head around before I saw the movie. The movie is filled with documentary footage as well as personal interviews with some of the survivors of these events. But perhaps the most shocking part of the movie was when they displayed a graphic that detailed the Jewish populations of these countries in the 40's and compared them to today...

Aden
1940's: 8,000
Today: JUDENREIN

Afghanistan
1940's: 5,000
Today: JUDENREIN

Algeria:
1940's: 140,000
Today: 80

Egypt
1940's: 80,000
Today: 40

Iran
1940's: 100,000
Today: 20,000

Iraq
1940's: 150,000
Today: 16

Lebanon
1940's: 5,666
Today: 20

Libya
1940's: 38,000
Today: JUDENREIN

Morocco
1940's: 265,000
Today: 5,000

Syria
1940's: 27,770
Today: 26

Tunisia
1940's: 105,000
Today: 1,500

Yemen
1940's: 55,000
Today: 100

Source: The Forgotten Refugees, this collection of statistics from Wikipedia and this BBC article on the last Jew in Afghanistan



And lest you think that these Jews were even allowed to take their personal belongings with them or that these people were not productive members of society, this estimate from 2007 that you never read, claims over $300 billion-worth of property lost and the deeds to over 100,000 square miles of land confiscated by the Arab governments. To give you some context - that's over FIVE TIMES the size of the entire state of Israel as it stands today. To give you a little more context, in 1948 (after the "Nakba" was over) the Palestinian population of Israel was 156,000.

Today that number has become 1,498,000.

A TENFOLD increase.

Conveniently, the Arab world has seen to it that the Jewish communities that used to exist in their own lands have been stricken from the record. The Jews who fled have been turned into forgotten refugees because to admit the facts is to admit that the crocodile tears they cry over the Palestinians are exponentially MORE hypocritical when taken in the context that the accusers are actually GUILTY of the behavior they falsely pin on the victims! In reality, if Israel was really looking to "ethnically cleanse" itself of its Arab population - they would do much better to follow the example of the very neighbors who are the loudest to dump this crime on them.

So, as tonight marks the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day, the RONMOSSAD blog would like to dedicate this space to those forgotten refugees and the memory of those who did not make it to a better life in Israel or elsewhere. While the hypocritical West and United Nations pass hundreds of resolutions on worldwide refugees (including over 100 on the Palestinian refugees) and create "Bureaus on committees on exercises" to deal with the problem...as usual not a word is said about the catastrophe that befell the Jews of the Middle East at the same time! Instead those victims are demonized and cast as the oppressors.

I hope you will now join me in taking every opportunity you can, to remind those who seek to eliminate the Jewish communities of the Middle East from our memories, that we will not allow them to rewrite history and to hijack the narrative for their political gains.

The world must know that Israel is NOT made up of "European invaders" - rather that these communities existed in Israel and in the Middle East for thousands of years before the first Zionists set foot in Petach Tikvah.

That the descendants of these now-destroyed Jewish communities are still very much alive and part of society and that they will not be silenced by a world that finds their existence inconvenient.

That they will be forgotten and cast aside no longer.

Skip to the next post in this series: Triumph or the previous post: Nakba


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nightmare

This past weekend the Yankees opened up their new ballpark in the Bronx. Fans have been gushing about the improved sight-lines, the beautiful new architecture, fancy, shwanky new restaurants, the food court and yes, it's true EVERY seat now has a cupholder. Fans have complained about higher ticket prices ($2,500 for a one-time experience of watching your team lose 22-4? Really?), reduced number of "cheap seats" and a bizarre tendency for pop fly outs to turn into grand slams. Some have even claimed the new Stadium is cursed by the ghosts and memories of the old Stadium...which still sits across the street. Crumbling. Full of gaping holes. Just living out its last days. Waiting for the inevitable nano-thermite demolition...



Still it is a beautiful new stadium. Able to support 50,000 fans with all the luxury a modern baseball Temple should offer.

50,000 fans.

I tell you this, not just because I have been to the Stadium twice now and have seen it full of these screaming fans...but also because I want you to have the mental image of these fans...in this full stadium of 50,000 because I want you to imagine them all being loaded into a massive gas chamber, gassed, murdered and then their remains shoveled into several crematoriums where they'd be burned...incinerated, their ashes rising up into the sky in clouds of black smoke.

Pretty terrible image isn't it? Now imagine that instead of baseball fans these are Jews in Poland, Greece, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Holland and all over the rest of Europe. And those 50,000 Jews? Imagine that after they cleared out the stadium they filled it up again and repeated the process. And then they did it again. And again. And again. AND AGAIN. 120 times.

Do you understand what that means? 120 times? And that's just talking about the 6 million Jewish victims. Let's not forget either the gypsies, homosexuals, mentally handicapped and all the rest of Hitler's "undesirable" peoples.

Today commemorated the event you know as the Holocaust. But for the people who lived through it they just knew it as a nightmare. A nightmare that began in 1933 and steadily got worse until it finally ended in 1945. A nightmare they were unable to wake up from until their liberation at the end of the war. A nightmare that some have been unable to wake up from until this day - or until the day they die.

You think the imagery is terrible? Using something so wholesome...a symbol of American freedom, a nice day enjoying the great American pastime to talk about something so terrible - it's pretty awful isn't it?

Guess what - that's how it was in 1939. And if you don't like it you have the freedom to go elsewhere and continue arguing about ticket prices and cup holders.



The Jews of Europe on the other hand, did not have that luxury.

In memory of those that didn't make it out of the German nightmare.



And in defense of those who did.


Always.


Skip to the next post in this series: Nakba


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Burging Bridges

Flipping through the channels aimlessly after another insane episode of Lost, I stumble across a Charlie Rose interview with Avrum Burg. They are discussing Burg's somewhat-new book, The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes. Intrigued I stop to watch the exchange...and am somewhat less-than-shocked to see that Burg was arguing that Jews (and Israelis) today are still plagued by an obsession with the Holocaust that colors our everyday lives. His original title for the book was "Hitler Won" because in his opinion we are consuming ourselves still with hatred and paranoia...that we over-inflate every threat to Jews and Israel and that every enemy of Jews is elevated to Hitler status.

I'm transcribing what was said in this interview so I may be off on the exact quote but I think he just said that "everyday the Jews kill Hitler again and everyday Hitler kills us again." This basically sums up the gist of his book apparently, as he feels it's time we "got over it" and moved on with our lives.

Just get over it...



Right.

His main complaint is that Israelis (and Jews) use the Holocaust as an excuse to commit "atrocities" in places like Gaza and the West Bank. He relates a conversation he had with a friend about the recent act of Jewish self-defense better known as Cast Lead. Burg argued with his friend that Israel was acting in similar fashion to the Germans during WWII. The Jews, claims Burg, have been targeted for annihilation so many times over the years that we must be sensitive to ALL attempts to extinguish a race. Like our old friends Vera and Peter, Burg believes that "Never Again" applies to all races...not just Jews.

To which his mythical friend...portrayed as a voice for all chicken-hawk Israelis...responds, "but Avrum, there are no gas chambers in Gaza..." Burg and Charlie Rose chuckle at this obvious silliness. To think, that a people could be so wrapped up in semantics that they cannot even see the similarities between Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel JUST because the methods of destruction are different! Oh the hilarity!

The conversation then turns to Iran and the nuclear threat it will soon pose to Israel Burg states that in order for Israel to get what it wants RE: an American attack on Iran, Obama should require Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. And why do we need to sell out the Jews of Judea and Samaria? Well you see there can be no attack on Iran without peace in Iraq. There can be no peace in Iraq without Syrian cooperation. There can be no Syrian cooperation without Israel conceding the Golan Heights which of course can't happen (for some unexplained leap of faith)



without ALSO creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank. We can go in to a discussion of the flawed logic in this leap...how wrong he is, but even if he were right, the fact that this former highly decorated Israeli paratrooper subscribes to the notion that the Jews are at the root of all of the Middle East's problems which by extension is the root of the world's problems speaks to the very root of the Jewish condition.

First of all, neither of Burg's parents were exactly in the Holocaust. His mother was already living in Hebron and his father left Germany in 1939. While his father suffered great discrimination and went through the awful experience of Kristalnacht - he was never face-to-face with the aforementioned gas chamber that Burg and Rose were chuckling over. With all due respect to Yosef Burg who I'm sure went through a significant amount of trauma - he at least had the courage, ability and foresight to leave the Nazi hell behind before it was too late. Others, like my grandmother, grandfather and millions upon millions of other Jews and "undesirables" were not so fortunate.

You have a lot of nerve Mr. Burg, to tell people who are still alive today, still have flashbacks to the screams from the gas chambers that they should just "get over it". My grandfather died over a decade ago but until the day he died he was tormented with flashbacks that he was back in the camps and that the Nazis were after him. He would jump out of bed in the middle of the night from nightmares about his brothers, parents and the wife and daughter he had before the war that disappeared into the fire of Auschwitz.

Tell that to my grandmother, also a Holocaust survivor. A woman who lost her ENTIRE family and can barely even remember her life before the camps. A woman who used to jump at the sound of barking dogs because it reminded her of the german shepherds that the Nazis would torment her with. A woman who never even leaves her apartment anymore because she is so consumed with sadness and pain. Should she just "get over it" as well Avrum?

But he's not talking to my grandparents is he? He's talking to my parents and me and other Jews and Israelis that cling to these painful memories and simply cannot move on. Well excuse me if I have a hard time just forgetting the fact that had I been in my grandfather's shoes I too would have been beaten within an inch of my life, starved, taken from my land, etc etc. If I have a hard time just forgetting that had they succeeded in killing him or my grandmother I would not be alive today. If I have a hard time viewing an attack on my grandparents as an attack on me as well.

But even so - maybe it is time I myself, personally, stopped holding on to this. Maybe the world really has moved beyond this "genetic Judaism" and we can finally put this racism behind us.

Sure Avrum...just like after the Inquisition, the Crusades, the exiles and all that. Luckily, after the enlightened, progressive communists deposed the backward Czars and their Cossack friends the pogroms in Russia stopped and there was never anymore discrimination or action against Jews in the Soviet Union. Right Avrum????

And SURELY the poor innocent Palestinians of Gaza do not deserve the war against them just like the Jews of Europe didn't deserve the war against them. Right? Because unlike the Jews of Europe, it's not like the Palestinians were blowing up school buses, committing axe attacks against children, firing rockets at civilian population centers, declaring death on anyone who sells land to the infidels or keeping each other from getting medical attention due to political disputes like the Jews of Germany were, those vile instigators. Right Avrum???!?!?!

SURELY the evil Zionist oppressors would NEVER allow innocent Palestinians (who by the way voted overwhelmingly for a faction that was founded on the premise that it would destroy Israel and the Jews, called the Nazis oops I mean Hamas) into Israel to receive equal medical treatment that Israeli citizens receive, train Palestinian doctors, or allow Israel-hating, terrorist sympathizing Palestinians to serve in the Parliament...the same way the Nazis had lots of Jews in the Reichstag right before those sneaky weasels burned it down...................

Maybe it's more than just the lack of gas chambers in Gaza that separates this situation from the genocide committed against us...maybe it's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITUATION where one has NOTHING to do with the other!

Which finally brings us to the root of the issue here. And it's the same problem that plagues every "progressive" Jew today. Denial of the past is the surest way to move ahead into the future. If we burn our connections, our bridges to the past we can stop remembering our oppression at the hands of others and finally take our place as a "normal" nation. We can be just like everyone else, oblivious of the dark ages the world is desperately trying to plunge itself into again if we just STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO US. Just sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and wait for it all to come crashing down around us.

Unfortunately though it's not about the Jewish state of mind. You see the greatest lesson of the Holocaust was that this attempt to "move on" does absolutely NOTHING for us when a group of animals is determined to ruin our day. It was precisely the progressive intellectuals of Germany who wanted to put the exiles and catastrophes behind them that were among the first to be turned to ash. Hitler's victims weren't just the Jews who sat around on Tisha B'Av mourning the destruction of the Temple - he went after the secular Jews just the same as those who lived in shtetls! And it's the same today and it will always be the same.

Today there are people that are right now plotting new ways to kill you and me. Right now as you are reading this, there is some insane person, most likely in the Middle East sitting with his buddies and trying to come up with the best way to put an end to your life. And it won't matter if you're progressive, liberal, conservative, moderate, secular, Israeli, American, Orthodox, Conservative, Ashkenaz, Sephard or WHATEVER. It won't matter if you send your children on March of the Living or if Israel knocks down Yad Vashem as Burg suggests. The Holocaust lives on because the attempted PERPETRATORS of the NEXT Holocaust live on!

So while it's bad enough to burn a bridge to your past, your heritage and your culture (no matter how checkered or painful it may be, it is still a part of who you are) once you've crossed the river...how much worse is it to burn the bridge while you are still on it! This is a true ostrich mentality that it seems the entire world around me has adopted as its accepted policy.



“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
--Sir Winston Churchill


It's a cliche yes, but for good reason.

What makes it even MORE brazen is that in a society like which Mr. Burg describes he would be excommunicated...lynched even for the absolutely INCENDIARY suggestions he is making. And yet as this surprising New York Times article from December of last year points out...

what is perhaps most interesting of all is that Mr. Burg continues to play a public role in Israel. He is invited to speak to young people, he writes occasional opinion columns, and he is greeted warmly, even embraced, in this city’s cafes.

And why is this? Why ISN'T Burg treated like the traitor he sounds like, in the very country he has taken to thrashing on a regular basis? Because Jews need to stick together, precisely because of events like the Holocaust and the other horrors that have befallen our people before and after it. As the article continues:

This may be because, despite it all, Avrum Burg is family. And whether he likes it or not, Israelis look out for family.

The most ironic part of it all is that the very thing that Burg is denouncing, this obsession with the past that binds us all together is PRECISELY the thing that allows him to keep preaching without fear or reprisal.

Our past is what binds us together. Our past is what has held us together through it all. And no matter what we say or how we act, our past, if ignored will also be our future.