October 26, 2005

Progress with Iran

So, the new president of Iran speaks of 'wiping Israel off the map'.
I think this must be regarded as progress.
For most Muslim schoolchildren, Israel never appeared on any map.
Any more than it exists in the literature of universities and corporations who have feebly surrendered to the Arab protection racket in boycotting our prize-winning brains and world-beating products.
So, thanks Mr Ahmadinejad, for putting us on the map.
And as for ever wiping us off it, it's back to the classroom.
History has a few hard lessons for you.

October 20, 2005

Pushed into Survival

My father's Auschwitz nightmare began on a chilly October morning in 1944. At the tender age of 19 he watched his parents selected for death on the infamous platform at Birkenau, their parting blessings drowned out by the barking of crazed Alsatian dogs straining on the leashes of their jackbooted minders. The SS were determined to weed out any old or weak specimens unable to assist in Hitler's war effort. So, a further ‘selection’ was carried out in the barrack into which my father was marched along with the surviving members of that morning's cattle-truck shipment from his home town of Bratislava.

The barrack was bisected along its length by a horizontal brick-clad flue that ran along the floor from the stove at one end to the rising chimney at the far end. The inmates were ordered to line up on either side of the brick platform, on which the infamous 'camp doctor' Josef Mengele stood in judgement; who shall live and who shall die.
Now my father was not the healthiest looking specimen, with a pale and skinny physique and glasses that seemed bigger than his face. Far fitter types were being rejected as they shuffled in parallel files under Mengele’s thumb, gesturing alternately on either side of the platform.

And then, just as my father passed under Mengele’s arm, he was pushed from behind with a powerful shove. It sent him stumbling into the line in front and he scrambled to regain his footing. In that split second, as Mengele turned to my father’s line, he looked quizzically at the melée and continued his selection.

When the process was completed, Mengele let out a loud scream. “Etwas ist loess”, (something is wrong!). "Voh ist der mit die brillen???” (Where is the guy in the glasses?). Not to be cheated of the life of a single Jew, he called the whole group back to repeat the selection. However, by this time, my father’s comrades had told him to dump the glasses and switch berets with them to avoid recognition by the so-called Angel of Death.

And so my father was to survive the second selection and, ultimately, the Holocaust.

Two years ago I stood in such a barrack as a visitor to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I had come to witness the flypast of Israeli F-16s over the infamous railhead. And a week after returning home to England, I could not concentrate on my work. My wife suggested I clear my head by putting my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I did so, and the resulting
story was published on the front page of the Jewish Press in New York.I got many emails in response to that article. One was from a man named Fishof, with a stunning message. “My father was the man who pushed your father in that line.”

Last night I met David Fishof for the first time in his Succah in Jerusalem. This October month was a lot warmer in Israel than it was in Poland exactly 61 years before. And the sons of two Holocaust survivors were drinking a Lechayim as free Jewish men in the eternal capital city of their nation.

It is a story of Netzach Yisrael – the eternity of the Jewish people - who continue to grow and flourish whilst those who sought to destroy us have long perished.

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October 14, 2005

The Betrayal of Likud

"We are tired of fighting,
we are tired of being courageous,
we are tired of winning,
we are tired of defeating our enemies..."

From a speech by Ehud Olmert
Likud Deputy Prime Minister,
New York, June 9th 2005

"And you, brothers of our fighting family, do you remember how we started? With what we started? You were alone and persecuted, rejected, despised, and numbered with the transgressors, but you fought on with deep faith and did not retreat. You were tortured, but did not surrender. You were cast into prison, but you did not yield. You were exiled from your country, but your spirit was not crushed. You were driven to the gallows, but went forth with a song. You have written a glorious page in history. You will not recall past grievances; you will ask for no reward. But for the time being, let us think of the battle; for only the outcome of the battle will decide our fate and future. "

"We shall go on our way into battle, soldiers of the Lord of Hosts, inspired by the spirits of our ancient heroes, from the conquerors of Canaan to the rebels of Judah. We shall be accompanied by the spirit of those who revived our nation: Zev Benjamin Herzl, Max Nordau, Joseph Trumpeldor, and the father of resurrected Hebrew heroism, Zev Jabotinsky. We shall be accompanied by the spirit of David Raziel, greatest of Hebrew commanders of our day, and by Dov Gruner, one of the greatest Hebrew soldiers. We shall be accompanied into battle by the spirit of the heroes of the gallows, the conquerors of death. And we shall be accompanied by the spirit of millions of our martyrs, our fathers and butchered mothers, our murdered brothers, and strangled children. And in this battle, we shall break the enemy and bring salvation to our people, tried in the furnace of persecution, thirsting only for freedom, for righteousness, and for justice.

"Oh G-d of Israel, guard your soldiers and bless their swords, which are forging anew the covenant You made with Your chosen people, and Your promised land."

Speech by Menachem Begin
Founder of Likud
Tel Aviv, 15th May 1948

October 06, 2005

It's All in the Mind

It’s the occupation. It’s the fence. It’s the settlers. Those seem to be the three main bones of contention in our national struggle in this region. And it’s all to do with land; its occupation, its settlement and its division by the separation fence.

But what happens if we take land out of the equation?

Many have said that the real occupation is of the minds of a generation of Palestinian Arabs. Demonisation of Israel, as an opiate of the Arab masses, is the only way that despotic mullahs and sheikhs can keep themselves in power. It follows that no matter how much territory we yield up, there will be no peace for as long as a single synagogue is left standing upon what they like to call Mohammed’s Peninsula.

So, what happens if we take land out of our part of the Middle East equation?

Throughout history, our greatest threat has been from within, from amongst our own people. Thousands of years ago we lost the Temple because of hatred between Jews and in recent months many expected the disengagement rift to carry a serious risk of civil war.

Even secular Israelis of the hard Left had to accept that, with very few exceptions, the settlers of Gaza and Northern Samaria displayed exceptional qualities during their eviction. (Imagine if hundreds of secular university professors and their families had been evicted from the former Arab village of Sheikh Munis that is now called Ramat Aviv?) The enlightened Left has learned something from their religious brothers and sisters in the same way that the Kotel bus bombing provided a telling insight into the trauma of terror from a religious perspective.

Perhaps the settlers and their religious supporters need to start a new occupation: of the minds of their secular brothers and sisters. The timing has perhaps never been more propitious. People lament for the glory days of 1967, when Israel seemed invincible and we were perceived as the underdog who vanquished three Arab armies in six days. Whilst those days may never return, from the ideological and spiritual perspective, Eretz Yisrael is vastly more powerful than ever before. There are more yeshivas and seminaries, more outreach programs, more Torah education aids in translated print and online than ever before.

Most impressive of all, there are more kippas than kibbutzniks in today’s IDF and 40 percent of the officers keep kosher and Shabbat. However much the secularists tried to marginalize and stereotype the religious in Israeli society, they have to face up to the fact that their sons and daughters are going to be exposed to the true and worthy face of religious Zionism in what will be their most formative years of life: in army service. All this augurs exceedingly well for the future of Israel as a truly Jewish state and will ultimately protect us from the enemy within better than any Sinai buffer zone could protect us from our external foes.

Which brings us to the security fence. Take the land out of that and you have the old ‘them and us’ divide. For the last 50 years a barrier has existed between the religious and secular in Israel. By settling and occupying the hearts and minds of secular Jews, the religious will have achieved more for Eretz Yisrael and its future as a golden Jewish medina than the building of a thousand settlements.

October 03, 2005

Through the Looking-Glass

The trauma of disengagement has left all of us with mixed emotions. Anger at the government's trampling of the democratic process and the human rights of Israeli citizens. Deep sadness for our brothers and sisters many of whom are still displaced in refugee camps living on handouts. And yet, above all else, immense pride in the humanity of our extraordinary and well-chosen people. But, of all the sights and sounds of disengagement, it is its fiery finalé that will remain etched on our collective memory for decades to come. The Kristallnacht of Katif provided a stark and compelling preview of what awaits us at the end of the Road Map and whatever follows it in the so-called peace process. It is of course possible that Palestinian Arabs may genuinely wish for peaceful co-existence with Israel. But such sentiments will be irrelevant so long as the aim of their controllers in Saudi Arabia and Iran is nothing less than the total erasure of the Jewish state. They will not rest so long as a single synagogue stands on - what bin Laden likes to call - ‘Mohammed’s Peninsula’. In leaving them synagogues to burn in the Gush, we enabled our enemies to touch something they had previously only dreamed of. After Barak retreated from Lebanon in the middle of the night, they started to believe they could actually defeat the army of Israel. Now they see the IDF as useful allies in the ethnic cleansing of Jews within their own homeland. And who needs to develop longer-range Kassams when the Jews will happily draw the border closer to Ashkelon? Sadly the gift of empowerment was not limited to our Arab enemies. Worse still was Sharon’s empowerment of the Left and the resuscitation of a pipe-dreaming “Peace Now” movement that Oslo had almost totally killed off. These elements act like an auto-immune virus eating away at its own host. Together with their soulmates in the Supreme Court, the Ugandan Zionists of the Left seem happy to give up anything short of Haifa and Ramat Aviv to ingratiate themselves with the European Union and will support any proposal that empowers Arab rights at the expense of Jewish national aspirations. We shall only be able to stop this rot through the ballot box. But next time our campaign must be headed by a Likud leader who will hand his defeated opponent a spade instead of a Vice Premiership ●
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