(photo credit: JP)
And that’s why
Sir, – In “Routine emergency” (My Word, March 27), Liat Collins answers the question on why she chose to leave England for Jerusalem. I found my own reply to this question by rereading the memoirs I had compiled for my children and grandchildren so that they could appreciate what so many sabras might take for granted.
Below are some relevant extracts, quoted chronologically.
“I must have been about 10 (when the country was still under British Mandatory rule) when a child shouted at me in anger ‘Go back to where you come from.’ When I insisted that England was my country and both my parents were born there, she replied ‘All you Jews should go back to Palestine where you belong.’” “I cannot remember the day the State of Israel was established, but I do remember that an editorial in one of the evening newspapers stated that Ben-Gurion was ‘not the first corporal to head a country.’ The cynicism was lost on a 12- year old, but I was incensed when it was explained to me that Hitler had also been a corporal.”
“I am not sure when the idea of abandoning everything familiar and emigrating to Israel began incubating; it matured into a resolve in November 1956, when an Israeli airborne battalion was dropped close to the Suez Canal at the beginning of the Sinai Campaign. At that time there was a treaty between Great Britain and Jordan, and my thoughts ran like this: ‘If Jordan helps Egypt – as she most likely will do – England will help Jordan, and so become Israel’s enemy. Where would my loyalties be? In the country that is my home; where I and my parents were born and which my family will never leave; where we are equal citizens, free of discrimination? Or Israel: a country I have never seen and where I know almost nobody; a country which threw off British rule less than 10 years ago, and has seen a lot of bloodshed?’ That evening I knew that if England became Israel’s enemy I could not remain there. I would have to leave the country of my birth and go where I now felt – as a child had told me long ago – I really ‘belonged.’ The international scenario that unfolded during the coming days was of course far different from the one I feared.
Nevertheless, I now recognized where my future lay.”
I closed my memoirs with the following: “When I came to Israel in 1957 I
found the country I had hoped for. There was a sense of purpose and
pride in achievement which needed neither approval nor criticism to
nurture it. My peers in the US and Europe were still trying to ‘find
themselves’ through various crazes, but here I had already found what I
sought. Life in Israel was not perfect – but I had not expected it to
Har Adar Back to Baskin
Sir, – Regarding “Palestine is inevitable” (Encountering Peace, March
29), just imagine what will happen when Gershon Baskin awakens from his
slumber and discovers that the State of Israel is an established fact
and he must come to terms with this reality.
He will encounter a wondrous, magnificent actuality, economically
thriving and among the world’s most technologically advanced, after
having opened its portals to welcome millions of Holocaust survivors as
well as refugees from the farthest corners of the earth. In addition, he
will behold the only flourishing democracy in the whole of the Middle
East, with several Arab representatives in its parliament.
Baskin may truly wonder how all this came to be.
After all, he probably began his long slumber just about when the
regular armies of several Arab countries invaded what was then Palestine
after they adamantly rejected the UN Partition Plan. At the cost of
many Jewish lives, those armies were miraculously defeated, but not
before they urged the Arab population to flee and thereby clear the
battlefield for the certainty of Arab victory.
The Arabs have continued their genocidal activities through terror and
consistent rejection of generous settlement offers made by several
Israeli prime ministers.
The State of Israel is thereby obligated to be vigorous in the defense
of its citizens and reject any and all demands made on it by those who
incite against its very right to exist.
It is to be hoped that Baskin will survive the shock of his awakening.ZEV CHAMUDOT
Sir, – I wish to thank Gershon and Elisha Baskin for the term that so
accurately describes our 70+ core family members’ strong “co-resistance”
to any further dangerous redivisions of our now excruciatingly tiny
ancestral nation.ESTER ZEITLIN