These words are being written during the most solemn week of the year, between Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars, and Yom Ha'atzma'ut or Independence Day. In the modern Israeli sense, these are the Days of Awe.
Today, 55 years after the creation of the state, we have our criticisms of Israel's founders, but their decision to schedule these special days so closely together, thereby concentrating the essence of Jewish-Israeli history into a single week, was nothing short of brilliant.
These days connect the two decisive moments in our history, moments of such importance that the distance from them is still too brief to assess correctly. But it is clear that between the Holocaust and martyrdom, and Israel's wars and independence, the fate of the State of Israel and of the Jewish people in this century was decided.
Every year it feels as if the subject of the Holocaust has been exhausted. What more can be said? Yet every year the Holocaust embeds itself deeper in our national and personal consciousness.
The first generation was mute, carrying its pain inside. Then came the second and third generations, reopening the wounds, peering in, wishing to hear and know. Precisely because they did not experience the events themselves, these generations feel they have a historic obligation to carry them forward from one generation to the next, as Jewish tradition teaches.
Those born in Israel myself, for example ignored the Diaspora. The system educated us to separate from that world. The distancing was a national and personal one. Children hushed parents who wished to speak the languages of exile. They shut their ears to parental stories about "over there."
But the passing years have bridged that artificial gap. They have given way to dialogue and the stubborn demand by young people to know more about their parents. Interest has replaced indifference, intimacy has come instead of alienation.
And, finally, there is the "March of the Living," the delegations to the death camps as well as family "roots" journeys to Poland, Russia, and Eastern Europe.
That is how Holocaust Remembrance Day now gains new currency and generates fresh commitment.
Our founders gave us seven days from Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day they insisted on heroism, even though its dimensions were nothing compared to the dimensions of the Holocaust itself to Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars to Independence Day.
The link between these days is a tight and painful one, because it is clear that had it not been for the Holocaust, in which a third of the Jewish people were annihilated, the world's uncompromising commitment to this people would not have created the circumstances that led to the state's founding.
True, the Yishuv too prepared itself for building a state and laid the right foundations, but only after that enormous tragedy could a broad consensus of the nations be forged on the question of a home for the Jewish people.
The chapter that opened in 1948 is still being written in blood. Army and civilian casualties still mark our independence struggle. Previous generations are astonished to discover that their children and grandchildren are still bearing arms in order to preserve the one and only Jewish state.
So I see a firm link between the Holocaust experience and the generation that created and preserves the state. The Holocaust fortifies us, not only because we vow "never again," but because we understand that our strength to fight comes from the previous generation's rebirth.
Outsiders look at Israel especially since October 2000 and are awed by our tenacity and vitality. We ourselves often wonder how we go on despite it all, hanging onto an almost normal routine. We are connected to the nature of this time and place, seizing the culture and the music and the education and the science so we can get from one day to another, one month to another, one year to another.
That is why it was such a brilliant concept connecting those two memorial days and ending them with Independence Day. That wondrous, instant transition from Remembrance Day for the Fallen to Independence Day, from the half-mast flag to the full mast, from the trumpets' wail to their blast of victory. At that moment the word "independence" assumes its true meaning.
Only by living through these days, by thinking about their meaning, studying their lessons, and going through this time tunnel can we see the light at its end.
That light is the light of hope, the beginning of good things to come.
The writer is the director-general of the United Jewish Communities-Israel and recently retired chairman of the board of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
I have been biding my time in discussing the whole Abu Mazen, new Palestinian leadership, now let's publish the road-map nonsense....
But today's suicide bombing in Kfar Saba that killed a 23 year-old security guard, and injured 14 by Arafat's Fatah is the last straw. This comes only hours after the so -called Egyptian-engineered "compromise" that supposedly "bent" Arafat to the American will to see a "moderate" take control of the Palestinian government-to-be and has made it impossible for me to ignore this line of propaganda any longer.
Abu Mazen wrote a doctorate denying the Holocaust. As Arafat told a cheering crowd of Palestinian well-wishers aired on the Israeli news tonight: "I am the one who picked Abu Mazen."
Yes, Arafat's hand-picked successor is now going to fight terror. Hello? Is this the same Abu Mazen who made it clear that killing Jews over the Green Line was perfectly legitimate? Is this the same Abu Mazen who picked as his Chief Head of Security Muhammad Dahlan? As Dr. Aaron Lerner points out: "...despite his"moderate" rhetoric, the Preventive Security Service under Dahlan's leadership played a key role in the manufacture of illegal weapons and coordinated and initiated terrorist attacks by the various terror groups. Dahlan himself ordered the bombing of the bus of children in Kfar Darom on the 20th of November 2000.
In an ideal world, the former Gazan chief of the Preventive Security Service would be sitting (once again) in an Israeli prison. But Israelis hope that Muhammad Dahlan's designation as the state minister for security affairs will help stem Palestinian terrorism."
This kind of delusional thinking on the part of Israeli leadership almost got my family killed last year. So this year, I am far less willing to sit back and be a good girl.
The problem, as I see it, is not the fact that Arafat, the discredited terrorist who should be hung for mass murder, is instead "president" and hand-picking people to head an American-supported Palestinian State ten miles from the heart of Israel's population centers. The problem is the Palestinian people, who supported Saddam Hussein, who are in favor of terror, who are anti-Semitic, who never cease their incitement to terror, and who have shown at every opportunity that they do not want a State, but the destruction of Israel and the continuation of terrorist attacks.
We cannot allow coalition victors to create a new set of rules for fighting terror that they themselves wouldn't dream of swallowing, but are willing to force-feed Israel. Rules that allow terrorist leaders who supported Saddam Hussein to pick their successors. That allow former terrorists to "fight terror." That allow people to continue to incite to terror and violence (below you will find the latest information on this incitement). Now is the time to fight this attempt, to expose it for what it is: a cheap way of appeasing Arab "pride" after their resounding defeat at American and British hands.
I am not going to let them take risks again with my life, and my children's so some wrong-headed, doomed theory can again be proven wrong-headed and doomed (how many will have to die to prove the Road Map won't work? A hundred? A thousand?). Mr. Blair is allowed to say the IRA's answers to three questions concerning their renunciation of terror were "conditional and uncertain." When is the Israeli government going to have the guts to say the same about Abu Mazen as Prime Minister, and Muhammad Dahlan as chief of security?
There is only one plan that can create what is necessary for peace in our region, and this is it:
Collect all weapons, and deport anyone found with illegal weapons.In the interim, Israel security forces are the only security forces in the region. Period.
We may not be able to stop the war against us. But at least we don't have to put down our arms and tie our hands behind our back. We don't have to walk over the cliffs like lemmings. Not this time. This time, I'm not going quietly, no matter what my elected leadership and their good friends abroad say.
You can never be the same.
Find yourself, as a gentile, standing on Jerusalem's streets as the air raid sirens sound their remembrance call for the Six Million Holocaust dead, and again a week later as they wail for those cut down in uniform since the blood-birth of their haven state.
Listen to the pain of a people which has suffered unparalleled persecution at the hands of others, and you can never be the same.
Where else in the world…? The question is spontaneous, unavoidable. In days when others try to play down the extent of Jewish suffering, this question demands a response.
Loud. Long. Keen. The rising sirens immobilize the nation, paralyzing movement up and down the land. Vehicles stop, their drivers alighting to stand, heads bowed, in the streets. On the sidewalks, in shops, offices, schools and cinemas, on beaches and playing fields, people stop dead in their tracks.
Life arrested. The world turned to stone. Sirens howl their pain to the skies. And in the howling are a myriad sounds, hard to listen to, impossible to ignore.
Screaming children torn violently from mothers' arms, their cries reverberating echoes in your mind. Despairing, pain wracked cries of tormented generations.
Listen - Rachel weeps for her children. Through the clash of hooves, tracks, jackboots, steel; the shouts of Roman, Crusader, Cossack, Nazi - impaling children, women, new-born babies on spear, sword, bayonet - she weeps, her cries drowned out by theirs.
"For the glory of Rome!" "By the blood of Jesus!" "Juden Raus!" "Itbach al yahud!" "Death to the Jews!"
Christian ears deafened to the hopeless pleas of families driven from their towns, burning homes behind them sending bitter black smoke into the skies. Roaring flames engulf temple and synagogue; exploding fires, crashing buildings; the screams of terror, horror and agony. The long, long silence of death.
For 2000 endless, blood soaked years, the deep cry of the Jew has sounded to seemingly unhearing heavens: "Our God, our God. Why have you forsaken us?"
In Israel, the sirens wail - audio-recordings of the expression of Jewish pain played, and replayed, year after year, to ensure that a nation which never could forget, never will.
It's a matter of honor.
We ended the tyranny of Saddam Hussein in but a few weeks -- but we didn't do it alone. The honorable course of action would be, at the least, to acknowledge that we had some very significant help from our friends.
I'm not talking about the Brits, the Aussies or the Poles, who all, generously, offered manpower. I'm talking about the Israelis, who provided brainpower.
Our capable ally not only supplied us with weaponry for use in Iraq, including Israeli-armored bulldozers and Israeli-made pilotless planes, but, as reported in USA Today, played "a key role in U.S. preparations" for the war, even "helping to train soldiers and Marines for urban warfare, conducting clandestine surveillance missions in the western Iraqi desert and allowing the United States to place combat supplies" within her borders.
We also went to the Israelis for advice on such things as how "to spot a suicide attacker on his way to attack, how to deal with roadblocks, overpowering a suicide bomber," reported the Israeli mass circulation daily Ma'ariv. That paper reported too that before the start of war Israeli Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz "was summoned for a few consultations" with Washington and "recommended a great increase in the number of soldiers (from 50,000 to a quarter million), to combine air strikes with broad ground operations, to attack Baghdad from many directions and be careful not to wind up in a death trap inside the city. In the end, the Americans are doing precisely that."
One can only guess, then, how many American lives the Israelis are responsible for saving.
Also revealed this week, to U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA.) by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was that the Jewish State played a key role in providing critical initial intelligence that helped locate U.S. Army PFC Jessica Lynch and other American military. This, according to the New York Post and Ma'ariv.
Shamefully, though, we have shunned our ally from manifest participation in our "coalition of the willing." Like a faithless teenage girl afraid to be seen with an unpopular friend, we prefer to associate with Israel out of public view. So rather than welcome our ally to stand beside us openly -- a powerful statement that we will no longer pander to the Arab world's rejection of Israel's existence -- we instead treat that country's friendship as a dirty little secret.
Our failure to behave honorably toward that loyal ally is nothing new. During the first Gulf War, too, as Israel's then-Defense Minister Moshe Arens writes in his scathing book, "Broken Covenant," Secretary of State James Baker and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney "avoided Israel like the plague." The Americans "seemed to have forgotten that Israel was their ally."
Today, even the American press is likely to forget. Thus, for instance, before the start of action in Iraq the New York Post wrote that "the United States of America has one wholly reliable ally on this troubled, turbulent and dangerous planet: Great Britain," while the Washington Times opined that "Turkey retains its position as our most underappreciated ally."
Apparently, in politics and punditry, discretion counsels against putting "Israel" and "ally" in the same sentence unless it is whispered.
American reluctance to be associated with causes that might be perceived as "Jewish" dates back at least to World War II when Franklin Roosevelt refused to publicly address the issue of the Nazi death camps because, as Michael Beschloss notes in his book, "The Conquerors," the president was "sensitive to complaints that his government was too abundant with Jews." It is a similar nod toward the sensibilities of anti-Semites that we are reticent about our friendship with the Jewish state.
Blacklisting a friend from our war coalition would be perfidious at any time. But with a gathering movement worldwide trying to isolate Israel through economic, cultural and academic boycotts, our improbity is all the more unconscionable.
But then, so is George Bush's failure to keep his promise of May 2000 that his administration would move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem -- "the city Israel has chosen as its capital." And so is the Middle East "peace plan" known as the "roadmap," which, as Ha'aretz columnist Israel Harel put it, "is about to be forced down our throats."
How easily the line blurs between the pretense that America is no friend to Israel and the actuality.
On the more hopeful side, 75 senators and 250 members of the House of Representatives so far have signed a letter to President Bush urging him not to pressure Israel through the roadmap. These statesmen understand the meaning of the Marine Corps creed, *semper fidelis* -- that loyalty is a matter of honor.
The president needs to understand it too.
(Steven Zak is a writer and attorney in California.)
“From the mountain of fire [Nablus] came the rebels… Everywhere there are settlements. Oh brave Nablus, keep the cauldron ablaze/ Pour over the settlements great flames/ Foreigners have no place on this land/ Foreigners have no place where Shahids [‘martyrs’] were killed.”—Words that repeat throughout a music video broadcast on official P.A. television, which call for the murder of Jews in the disputed areas, even showing a scene of Jewish teenage girls who are among those targeted for death. [The clip coincided with the approval of Abbas as prime minister.] (Palestinian Media Watch, April 30)
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