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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Read a book about the Jews

Read a book about the Jews - for instance The Jews in their Land, (conceived and edited by David Ben-Gurion, and first published in 1966 by Aldus Books, London) and you will see that we have always been in the Holy Land. The book mentioned is divided as follows:
Part One
Entry to Exile
1200 BCE - 587 BCE

Part Two
The Prophets

Part Three
From the Babylonia Exile to the Bar Kochba Revolt
587 BCE - 135 CE

Part Four
From Bar Kochba's Revolt to the Turkish Conquest
135 CE - 1516

Part Five
Under Ottoman Rule
1517 - 1917

Part Six
From the Founding of Petah-Tikva to the Present Day
Then there is the Epilogue, by David ben-Gurion:
In all the chronicles of mankind, the history of the Jewish people is unique. From the dawn of their days, 4000 years ago, they had to fight, without surcease, a battle of the few against the many. The battle raged even when the Jews were sovereign in their own Land. It was a battle of politics and armaments alike. And whether Jewry was home on independent and independenet, or whether it was condemned to interminable wandering in worldwide dispersion, it was also required to engage in a battle of spirit and of minds. . .

Of their (biblical Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Aram) tongues, cultures and creeds nothing lives.

The Jewish people, in the Land of Israel, are the only people in the whole of the Middle East who still speak the language that their ancestors spoke 4000 years ago, who still hold tospranggion that sprange from the Patriarch Abraham and the great teacher Moses. Twice the people of Israel were wrenched from the homeland. For the last 2000 years they have been scattered to the four corners of the globe, drifting from country to country .. . Yet never once did they sever their links with the Land. Each day, three times, they prayed: Sound the great horn for our freedom; raise the ensign to gather our exiles, and gather us from the four corners of the earth.. . . And to Jerusalem, they city, return in mercy . . . rebuild it soon in our days as an everlasting building . . .

Eighty-six years ago, this supplication bursting from Jewish hearts inspired a bold and unparalleled revival. On barren and malarious soil beside the Yarkon river, the first new Jewish village was founded; its name was Petah Tikva, Gateway of Hope. Then others; in scores and hundreds, the length and breadth of the Land. Hebrew came to be used for everyday speech. In 1948 a Jewish State was proclaimed and Israel was sovereign again, less than a decade after the most terrible calamity to befall the Jewish people in their lifetime, the murder of the 6,000,000. Among them were the Jews who, in the three preceding generations, had paved the way for the Return to Zion and the Rebirth of Israel and who, for the last 200 years, had formed the core and center of Jewry, intellectually, morally and culturally.

The first decade and a half of the State witnessed astonishing changes; a tripling of the population, enlargement of farming and industry, great strides in shipping and civil aviation, in research and science, advances that placed the Land in a class with the most progressive states of Europe.

Mass aliya stemmed from every continent, from almost every island of the world's oceans, thought in the main from Asia and Africa, from areas that were, materially and culturally, backward and abject. As yet, development has been marked only in a narrow coastal strip from Haifa to Tel Aviv and its sister towns. North Galilee and, more particularly, the Negev - a full 70% of the State's area - are still waste and empty.

Israel and her Arab neighbors are member states of the United Nations, the charter of which enjoins all members to solves disputes by peaceful means. But Israel is still beleaguered. Arab rulers still proclaim, day after day, their intent to destroy the Jewish state.
Ben-Gurion goes on to call for aliya, for settlement in the Galilee and the Negev, for closing the gap between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews in Israel, and for dispelling "the hostility of the encircling Arab peoples" by making "a covenant of peace between them and Israel that will culminate in economic, cultural and political cooperation, and advance the well-being of the whole Middle East."

Finally he calls for playing our part in "ensuring social progress" . . . because "our people believe that a new world will arise, a world of freedom, of justice and peace, of human partnership."

I beg you not to cower and allow this world to embarass you for your Jewishness. Read a book about the Jews, about our kings and kingdoms, our travels and suffering, our victories, our survival . . . and our contributions to the uplifting of humanity.

For crying out loud, plant a tree in Israel, vacation there, move your family there. Say a blessing, say a hundred. Uplift someone's well-being. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You who are born to this people of enormous integrity and righteousness, of learning and building, have a role to play. The battle of the few against the many rages on; no less so, the battle of spirit and of minds. Whether you admit it or not, whether you like it or not, the story of the Jews includes your life, your words, your actions.

What have you done for us lately?