The continuing existence of the Jewish people during the 2,000 years of the post-biblical era is surely a miracle, an enigma; indeed an astonishing testament to an enduring faith and that of its adherents.
For all of those long years the Jews lived in almost perpetual danger of extinction because they were stateless and at the mercy and whims from those within whichever nation they could find refuge.
Despite the oppression and misery endured by this most human of peoples, the People of the Book, defenseless and powerless, despised and persecuted, they nevertheless survived the fiery crucibles of the Church and the relentless subjugation of the Mosque.
The two daughter religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, though meting out horrific slaughters upon the Jews, nevertheless could not exist were it not for Judaism or Israel. And the world, be it religious or secular, has been forever touched by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Maimonides, Spinoza, Freud, Einstein, and by so many others who have sprung from this remarkable people.
Yet another miracle occurred to the remnant of the Jewish folk who survived the Holocaust or the mass expulsions of Jews from Arab lands. The European Jewish remnant arose like a phoenix from what Europe had become: One giant Jewish graveyard.
The Arch of Titus in Rome, showing the Menorah taken during the sacking of the Temple of Jerusalem.
They fought back against a cruel world and against incredible odds until the ancient 2,000-year-old dream of rebuilding and reconstituting the biblical and ancestral homeland in Israel became a reality.
Yet with all the long and blood soaked history that the stateless Jews endured during their dispersion, there are Jews in Israel and the Diaspora today, liberals and leftists for the most part, who would give away yet more of the biblical homeland.
I am reminded of present Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who, several years ago when out of office, stated that:
“Today, in light of our abandonment of Gaza and the Hamas takeover there, it is clear to anyone who considers himself a 'State of Israel lover,' and not just a 'Land of Israel lover,' that if we give away more territory, it will be taken over by Iran and its appendages.”
He was referring to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
But Netanyahu served some 15 years ago as Israel's Prime Minister and at that time was responsible for giving to the Arabs, who call themselves Palestinians, the city of Hebron, one of Judaism’s four holy cities: The other three holy cities are Tiberias, Safed and, the jewel in the Jewish crown, Jerusalem. Now a mere 3% of Hebron, that ancient Jewish city from time immemorial, remains for Jewish residency while 97% is occupied by hostile Muslim Arabs; a result of the cursed Hebron Accords.
Netanyahu nevertheless claimed that unlike his abandonment of most of the ancient Jewish city, the then leadership of Ehud Olmert was obsessed with a psychotic need to bribe an insatiable Muslim enemy with more and more Jewish land, and for what? Peace?
But never in a million years will the Muslim world accept peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state, or any other non-Muslim state, in territory Muslims previously conquered in the name of Allah. This empirical fact continues to elude so many, especially kumbaya liberals and those terminally blinded by the Left.
Indeed it is not just re-born Israel that the Muslim world will never accept but the entire Iberian peninsula, parts of France, Sicily, the Balkans, Greece and southern Russia. These lands were once under Islamic power and are targeted today for an eventual and triumphal return under the Muslim Waqf.
Other areas of Europe are already sliding under a stealth jihad combined with large Muslim immigration and the attendant rise of Sharia law. It is estimated that over 100,000 Brits have converted to Islam in recent years, the majority being women.
But for those Jews in Israel and the Diaspora who have forgotten the bloodstained pages of Jewish history during the long night of Israel's dispersal, it would be instructive for them to be reminded of the price a people pays for statelessness and the inability to defend themselves in a hostile and alien world.
Illustration from a French Bible of 1250, showing Jews being massacred by Crusaders. Christ and saints look on approvingly.
Those rushing to bribe and placate the relentless hatred and aggression of the Muslim Arab world by giving to them the reclaimed Jewish birthright in its ancestral homeland — including eternal Jerusalem — should read the words cried out in searing passion by their ancestors living in exile lest they condemn themselves to repeat the same fate.
Kalonymos ben Yehuda wrote this poem about the First Crusade in 1096, and about the slaughter of the defenseless Jews in Europe.
"Yea, they slay us and they smite, vex our souls with sore affright; All the closer cleave we, Lord, to thy everlasting Word; Not a line of all their Mass, shall our lips in homage pass.
“Though they curse and bind and kill, the living God is with us still; We still are yours, though limbs are torn, better death than life foresworn.
“The fair and young lie down to die, in witness of Thy Unity; From dying lips the accents swell, Our God is One, O Israel."
The French scholar, Peter Abelard, wrote in 1135 about the Jews:
"No nation has ever undergone such sufferings for God. Scattered among all the nations, having neither king nor secular prince, the Jews are oppressed with heavy taxes as if they must buy their lives anew every day.
“Except for heaven, they have no safe refuge. When they wish to travel to the nearest town, they must pay large sums of money to buy their protection of the Christian princes who, in truth, desire their death in order to seize their inheritance. The Jews are not permitted to own fields and vineyards because there is no one to guarantee their possession."
Abelard remained a lone non-Jewish voice crying in the wilderness. He himself was persecuted by the Church for his outspoken compassion towards the stateless and ever suffering Jewish communities.
Ephraim of Bonn wrote in 1190 about the Second Crusade:
"In the year 1146 the Jewish communities were terror stricken. The monk, Rudolph, who shamefully persecuted Israel (the name often given for the Jews of the Diaspora) arose against the people of God in order, like Haman of old, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish."
In 1793, Isaac D'Israeli wrote about the slaughter of the Jews of York:
"When Richard 1 ascended the throne in England in 1190, the Jews brought their tributes to honor him. Many had hastened from remote parts of England and, appearing at Westminster, the Court and the mob imagined they leagued to bewitch His Majesty. A rumor spread rapidly that the Jews were to be massacred and the populace at once murdered the devoted Jews.
“Sadly, news traveled north to the city of York and the townsfolk soon imitated the people of London. A cruel multitude, united with the soldiery, forced the Jewish residents to seek shelter in York Castle.
“The Jews held out as long as they could against the fanatical mob that by now was roused to extremes of murder and plunder. But in the end, the survivors chose to die by their own hand rather than see their loved ones slaughtered before their eyes by the mob.”
Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York castle and scene of the deaths of Jews on Shabbat, March 16, 1190, some by suicide, others burned or brutalized. Daffodils are planted here in their memory.
Just as the Church did in its canon law, Islam instituted many prohibitions against members of other religions. Some of the worst Islamic restrictions resembled the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the Church throughout the Christian world. The severest punishments — usually death — were meted out to any who dared question the writings and sayings of Mohammed.
With the decline of the Islamic empire in the medieval period through the ascent of Christian Europe, the Muslim masses turned more and more upon the hapless Jews and Christians who were increasingly forced to live as dhimmis (inferior and third class citizens) among them.
Periodic persecutions and slaughters took place against the Jews who were forced to wear distinctive clothing, often absurd and humiliating, and live in ghettoes (mellahs) similar to those they endured in Christian Europe.
The yearning for relief from discrimination or worse, and the desire to return to Zion and the ancestral homeland, was as compelling for the Jews in Arab lands as it was for their brethren in Europe.
On August 3rd, 1492, the ancient Jewish population of Spain was driven out in the infamous Expulsion. Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were expelled, forced to leave all that their ancestors had built in Spain over centuries, and walk in a long trail of the dispossessed to the seaports. Here are a few lines from the long poem by Emma Lazarus called, The Exodus, written in 1883:
“The hoary patriarch, wrinkled as an almond shell, bows painfully upon his staff. The beautiful young mother, ivory pale, well-nigh swoons beneath her burden; in her enfolding arms nestles her sleeping babe, round her knees flock her little ones with bruised and bleeding feet. ‘Mother, shall we soon be there?
“The halt, the blind, are amid the train. Sturdy pack horses laboriously drag the tented wagons wherein lie the sick athirst with fever. Noble and abject, learned and simple, illustrious and obscure, plod side by side, all brothers now, all merged in one routed army of misfortune.
“They leave behind the grape, the olive and the fig. the vines they planted, the corn they sowed, the garden cities of Andalusia and Aragon, Estremadura and La Mancha, of Granada and Castile; the altar, the hearth, and the grave of their fathers.
“Whither shall they turn for the West has cast them out and the East refuses to receive?"
This, from Solomon Shechter, 1903:
“I remember when I came home from the religious school, bleeding and crying from the wounds inflicted upon me by the Christian boys, my father used to say:
“My child, we are in exile and we must submit to God's will.' And he made me understand that this was only a passing stage in history, as we Jews belong to Eternity, when God will comfort His people.
“However, my real suffering began later in life when I emigrated from Romania to so-called civilized countries and found there what I might call the higher anti-Semitism, which burns the soul though it leaves the body unhurt.”
Angry mob, in a Russian pogrom of 1881.
Mary Antin wrote in 1911 about the horrors inflicted upon the Jews of Russia especially at Passover:
“The Passover season, when we celebrated our deliverance from Egypt was the time our gentile neighbors chose to remind us that Russia was another Egypt. They made it a time of horror for the Jews.
“Somebody would start up that lie about murdering Christian children and the stupid peasants would get mad about it, fill themselves with vodka, and set out to murder the Jews. They attacked them with knives and clubs, and scythes and axes, killed them or tortured them, and burned their houses.
“This was a pogrom. Jews who escaped came with wounds on them and horrible stories of seeing babies torn limb from limb before their mothers’ eyes. People who saw such things never smiled again.”
But these few examples of the many frightful persecutions and slaughters that the Jews experienced in their 2,000 year old exile are but a series of fearsome dress rehearsals before the great Destruction: the German Nazi Holocaust of the Jews.
In the mid-20th century, perverted science and German efficiency, along with the age old evil that is Jew hatred, combined to systematically exterminate nearly all of European Jewry — reducing the world Jewish population from 18,000,000 to barely 12,000,000 in less than a decade.
Now, in the first and second decades of the 21st century, a new Hitler is spewing the same familiar poison against the Jews, which the world has wallowed in for all the previous centuries. The Islamic Republic of Iran's Ahmadinejad is promising to murder yet another six million Jews; the Jewish population of Israel. He has declared that the Jewish state will be exterminated and is feverishly working towards that end with nuclear weapons.
But it should be understood that Ahmadinejad also exposes his belief that in time the United States will bow down to Iran and to triumphant Islam. The megalomania of Iran's evil clown and president should, in a normal world, eliminate any belief that what he says is just foolish posturing and babbling. But it seems our world is anything but normal.
A terrible mistake was made once before about a man who uttered similar rants. That man was the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, who well knew Luther’s Second Treatise on the Jews and the other hateful Church teachings against Judaism, which inspired him to replicate them in the infamous Nuremburg Laws.
It is against the backdrop of the threats of this new Hitler of our time, and with the historical memories of the 2,000 years of unbearable suffering that the Jews experienced as stateless refugees, driven from one land only to be persecuted in another, that those Jews and Israelis who today plot to give away the one and only Jewish homeland should take note.
Their foolish and prideful claims to speak for the Jewish and Israeli people in matters of security are invalid. Worse still, their betrayal and ignorance of Jewish history in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora is breathtaking in its enormity: J Street, the New Israel Fund, Peace Now - to name a few. And so many Jewish Americans still support the Democrat Party, even working for and within the Obama Administration, while remaining mute and even complicit in the face of advanced U.S. weapons continuing to flow to the de facto Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, which has all but torn up the peace treaty with Israel.
Such Jews should be reminded of the great Zionist poem — The Watch on the Jordan. Here are a few selected lines from that epic written by N.H. Imber:
"Like the crash of the thunder which splits asunder the flame of the cloud. On our ears ever falling, a voice is heard calling from Zion aloud. Let your spirits, desires, from the land of our sires, eternally burn. From the foe to deliver, Our own holy river. To Jordan return.
“And in pride of our people we will fearlessly face the might of the world. When our trumpet is blown and our standard is flown, then set we our watch. Our watchword, The sword, of our land, and our Lord. By Jordan then set we our watch."
Through heroic toil and immense sacrifice in blood by young pioneers, the sovereign and modern State of Israel was restored and Jewish patrimony once again brought alive in its ancestral land.
Is it now to be thrown away in stages by an ignorant and fraudulent Israeli Left who, now taking their cue from the international Left, would thus consign the nation - the emblem of eternity - to yet another inevitable dark and tragic exile? Is it to experience once again an existence as a stateless people at the mercy of strangers?
The Jordan Valley.
A report in the January 30, 2012 edition of Israel National News, if true, does not augur well for Israel’s survival. The report claims that during ongoing talks with the Palestinian Authority in Jordan, Israel’s representative, Yitzchak Molko, stated that Israel is willing to give up sovereignty over the Jordan Valley; Israel’s long and porous eastern border. Once again, putting trust in the hands of the implacable Muslim and Arab enemies of the Jewish state is a recipe for national suicide.
Sadly, doubt must again be front and center over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intentions. In a speech in the Knesset last year, Netanyahu laid out his principles for peace and security, but it did not include the traditional Israeli demand for sovereignty along the Jordan River.
The words in Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah, the Hope, include the following:
“We have not lost our Hope, of two thousand years, to be a free people in our land, Land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
Let all who love Israel and whose faiths and religions have been harmed by Islamic intolerance, be they Jew or Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Bahai - or from whatever faith or no faith they come - stand for Hatikvah, the Hope, and see that it is never betrayed.
Let us cling to the hope that Israel's leaders, now and in the future, do not forget those words. Let us pray that they are reminded of the horrors of exile and, in so doing, never lose the hope of two thousand years, so recently fulfilled, to remain a free and sovereign people in truly secure borders in their own land: Zion and Jerusalem.
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