Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The More Things Change....

Imagine the scenario. A homocidal maniac in a far-away country is planning the destruction of the Jews, while he is being met with nothing more than appeasement. The Arabs are involved in terrorist activities against the Jews, but their own casualties are double in number because of internecine battles and revenge-taking. There is heated debate whether to show restraint in reaction to the terrorist activity or to act aggressively against it. The die-hard Zionists want to build new communities, in spite of the dangers.

Sounds like reading the news, doesn't it?

Well, all of this was news - seventy years ago.

I received a pictorial history of Israel as a gift a number of years ago, and every once in a while I look through it. The chapters about 1936-1938 are fascinating in and of themselves, but even more so when you compare what was happening then to what is going on today.

Hitler was rising to power and wasn't met with much resistance at this point, the same way that Achmadinejad is today.

The Arabs started a wave of terrorist attacks in April 1936, which would last for three years. Statistics show that even in the worst year of Jewish casualties, the number of Arabs who died was double that of the Jews - because of their internal warfare.

Debate raged about how to respond to the Arab terror - with restraint or by acting aggressively. In 1938 a Scottish officer by the name of Orde Charles Wingate, who was very pro-Zionist, trained both Haganah members and British soldiers (who were also attacked by the Arabs at this time) to use aggressive tactics such as night raids and surprise attacks. These night squads were very successful, and paved the way for future IDF activities.

Despite the dangers, the die-hard Zionists of that time decided to build new settlements anyway (yes, the history book uses this term. Before 1967 "settlements" were considered positive things I guess) On December 10, 1936, the first stockade and watchtower settlement (called "choma u'migdal" in Hebrew) was built. Members of Hashomer HaTza'ir prepared the wooden components needed for sheds, a watchtower, and the outer double wall, and broke them down and marked them out for quick assembly. They then went to the site chosen (near the Beit Shean valley) and built the whole thing in one day. The Arabs were taken by surprise and did not attack them. In the next two years another thirty settlements would be built in this way.

The die-hard Zionists of today are also building despite the dangers. Today, unfortunately, the dangers are not just from the Arab terrorists but from Peace Now, but there are those who are braving them too. A group of Gush Katif evacuees have received permission to build a new settlement, this time in the Jordan Valley. Despite their mistreatment by the past government, they are continuing to put idealogy before personal security, and they are building their new homes in a place where it is strategically necessary for Jews to live.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Blogger aliyah06 said...

Excellent post--it helps to have you put it in perspective--in the immediate crises we seem to suffer, it's helpful to realize we're not the first to face this....

8:30 PM, December 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheer comedy!
you would think that the Jewish people would have a slightly better memory wouldn't you?
it seems the more we try to remember - Yizkor! - the quicker we forget.what a nation!

11:00 PM, December 26, 2006  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Though he's gotten away from this sort of history lesson, Elder of Ziyon, used to dig up articles from the Palestine Post that sounded distressingly contemporary on a regular basis. He still does this occasionally but go through his archives, there's some pretty incredible stuff.

12:43 AM, December 27, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

i don't think it's that we forget, but that we believe that these things won't happen again. unfortunately for our people, this continues to be a problem. whatever happened to "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it?"
as long as there are posts like this, and people who do remember and teach our history and learn from it, hopefully we can protect and educate this and future generations.

4:48 AM, December 27, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

aliyah06 - it really is amazing how things repeat

jerusalemjoe - I don't think it is a matter of just memory, I think that some people just want to hope that things are different now, and they let wishful thinking take over

soccerdad - you are right, Elder of Ziyon did this a lot, and I always enjoyed those posts

bec - hi there! Still with the big tummy? Hope you have an easy birth...

11:25 AM, December 27, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

thanks, wbmama!
not much longer now....!

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