The Bielskis are four brothers who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews by hiding them from the Nazis during the Holocaust. I learned about these heroes twice. The first time was about three years ago when I saw “Defiance,” a movie based on the true story. The second time was when I met Anna Monka, a beautiful senior citizen who resides near me during the winter months. Ms. Monka recalled some of her childhood memories and how she stayed alive in a remote forest.
“Go see the movie,” she said. “It really happened.”
During a wonderful conversation which had my brain racing, our discussion segued into a talk about the State of Israel. She concluded our chat with a sentence that I believe every American Jew should learn, understand, and believe.
“Israel is very, very important,” she said. “It is every American Jew’s insurance policy.”
How true, my beautiful friend. Down through the ages we have been chased from land to land with borders closed to us. Whenever there were problems it was “blame it on the Jews.” Although I have heard and read many reasons, I never really understood why. My people have contributed so much to the worlds of science, medicine, philosophy, and art, One would think that all doors would be open to them with great big “Welcome” signs.
Unfortunately it wasn’t that way. Only after the partitioning of Israel did we see the first great big “Welcome” sign. From the very first day in 1948, the Israelis have had to fight to protect that little piece of real estate, which is only about the size of New Jersey.
That brings me to my next thought. How could so many Arab nations that collectively outnumber and outsize such a teensy, tiny country, hate and want to destroy it? Why is there so much hatred spewed in the direction of this state which produces macro sized contributions to all mankind?
And now, of course, Israel’s biggest single worry is Iran’s nuclear threat to obliterate it. It is imperative that Iran’s boast be stopped now.
“When is the point at which it should be stopped? Just when the bomb is assembled on the tip of the missile and is ready for launch?” asked Dan Meridor, deputy Israeli prime minister with responsibility for nuclear and intelligence affairs.
The response from President Obama is that Iran is a long way from being ready. In recent weeks we have learned that our president has been wrong about the Mideast. What if he is wrong now? Are we ready to hear one great big collective “Oops?”
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We spent some time with friends during the Jewish holidays and naturally, as it always is these days, there were spirited conversations about politics. Some of them are livid that President Obama did not find the time to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He found the time to visit several Muslim countries, but in four years couldn’t find the time to visit Israel. These friends are so ticked off that they swore they will not vote for him this year. As devout Democrats they cannot find it in their hearts to vote for Gov. Romney either. They truly believe that if their right hand goes anywhere near a Republican lever, a bolt of lightning will strike them from above and inflict that hand with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis forever.
“We will be sitting it out this year,” they said.
I wonder how many of you will be doing the same?
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Starting with the Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry, economics, physics, and literature, there is a list on the internet of some of the amazing accomplishments that the young, tiny country of Israel has contributed to humanity. It is constantly attempting to make our world a better place in which to live. Here’s something to ponder – if Israel didn’t have to spend so much time, effort, energy, and money to protect itself, think about how much more it would be contributing to our world.
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About a decade ago I composed a glowing piece about the State of Israel. One reader asked, “Since you love Israel so much why don’t you move there?”
I am StanGershb