"Masada shall not fall again! Metzadah shuv lo tipol!" The legacy of the bold and the brave

By Beryl Wajsman on June 4, 2017

"Israel was not created to disappear. Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and honors the sword of freedom." ~ President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

This week we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Israel's victory in 1967's Six Day War. A war pre-meditatively planned and instigated by frontline Arab states whose leaders promised to "drive the Jews into the sea!" It was a victory for the frontline nation in the family of the free, a precursor of the time of terror we live in today, but more than all that, it affirmed President John F. Kennedy's creed that with, "Resolve and courage, the bold and the brave can assure the survival and success of liberty."

In the weeks leading up to the War - a war that took place just 22 years after the liberation of the death camps of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews - Arab states flaunted international law and the international community responded with submission and impotent silence. Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser unilaterally ordered the United Nations peacekeeping force out of Sinai. The UN left with hardly a whimper of dissent. That emboldened Nasser to close the Straits of Tiran, Israel's southern sea lane gateway to the world choking her ability to trade and receive essential materials. The world did nothing. He then went further closing the Suez Canal - built by the British and French and essential to world trade for all European nations - and again the international community did nothing. It was nation-state terrorism and the same alliance of nations that just two decades earlier had defeated the Nazis, remained mute.

Nasser then ordered his million man army into the Sinai within missile-striking distance of Israel. He promised that, "We will enter a Palestine whose sands will be soaked with the blood of the Jews." Syria moved its Soviet supplied tanks forward on the Golan Heights. Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia mobilized their armed forces. Israel begged Jordan's "moderate" King Hussein to stay out of the war. Yet when the war ended, Jordanian POWs were found to each have a letter signed by Hussein instructing them that, "When you enter West Jerusalem kill every Jewish man, woman and child."

As the Arab armies massed on Israel's narrow borders, and the orders for attack were clear, the first 36 hours saw a miraculous turn. On June 5-6, Israel's air force retaliated against a month of aggression by destroying most of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fighter planes on the tarmacs of their bases. That had been the greatest threat since the Arab fighter plane advantage over Israel was considerable. Over the balance of the week, the outnumbered Israel Defence Forces pushed back the Egyptian army in the Sinai, captured and reopened the Suez Canal, took the Golan Heights from the retreating Syrian army and ended the constant bombardment of Jewish cities and towns from those Heights and liberated the Old City of Jerusalem including the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives whose tombstones had been used as toilets by Jordanian occupying forces in the decades before. Though the Arab states tried again in 1973 to destroy Israel in the Yom Kippur War, it was this victory in 1967 that could rightly be said to have been the beginning of the process that eventually led to Israeli peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. It was in the Six Day War that the frontline Arab states understood that, "Metzadah shuv lo tipol! Masada will not fall again!"

Now let me share a personal experience from last week. When I talked to some friends and colleagues about my intention to write a column on this 50th anniversary, they cautioned that there would be criticism that I was somehow "celebrating" the continuing Israeli presence in the West Bank of the Palestinian Authority. Let me address that now. No party in the Middle East wants out of the West Bank more than Israel. But international law - in all its conventions and covenants - unequivocally permits the presence by an aggressed nation on territory of the aggressors who attacked it until peace is achieved. The Palestinian Authority has not only consistently demonstrated it's unwillingness or inability to stop attacks against Israel from its territory, but has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist and has also refused to renounce the aim of the first article of the Charters of Fatah, Hamas and the PLO, that aim being the destruction of the State of Israel.

That being said, let us not forget that at the time of the UN Partition Resolution in Nov. 1947 creating Israel and Palestine, only Israel recognized the state of Palestine.  The frontline Arab states launched a war to destroy the Jews and Jordan held the West Bank in a state of imprisonment and impoverishment for two decades so that the Arab world would have a propaganda tool to use against Israel. A tool forged on the misery and suffering of its own people. When Prime Minister Sharon unilaterally pulled Israel out of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority's leaders immediately ordered the destruction of the sophisticated infrastructure left in tact by Israel including basic necessities such as hospitals and waterworks. They also commenced incessant rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel that in some years numbered 10,000-15,000 leading to the necessity of several Israeli military interventions into Gaza.

Despite that, it is Israel that is Gaza's largest supplier of everything from food and water to medical supplies and Israeli hospitals routinely treat the families of Gaza's terrorist leaders, often using IDF helicopters to transport them. In the West Bank, Israel has invested in health and social services as well as education, almost at par with its per capita spending inside Israel. The result has been that the Palestinian Authority's West Bank has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Arab world, the largest number of schools and hospitals per capita in the Arab world and the highest percentage of university graduates in the Arab world many of whom go to universities inside Israel not just to the universities inside the West Bank like Bir Zeit. Israel even gave 150,000 pieces of military ordinance to the Palestinian Authority to help its police and militia maintain order. Critics of Israel like the to use the word "occupation" in its most derogatory definition. I would argue that Israel's presence in the Palestinian Authority is as much a partnership as anything else. All anyone is waiting for is that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exercises the political will to make peace.

Every generation has witnessed the oaths of free men and women maintaining vigilance for the survival and success of liberty. Defenders of the Spanish Republic swore “No Pasaran!” They shall not pass! The fascists shall not pass. The valiant souls of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters staved off Nazi might longer than any national army and swore that, “Yet one day our time will come!” The challenge of a brave, young American president standing in West Berlin and looking east daring Soviet tyrants that if they did not think freedom works “Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen!” Let them come to Berlin! Republican Spain; the Warsaw Ghetto; West Berlin were all tiny embers of freedom. But those embers kept hope alive and roared into great flames of liberty. Today, Israel keeps hope alive. 

Today, the free world once again faces a deadly threat. The citizens of London understand well over the past month what the citizens of Israel have faced since its inception.  After a century flooded by an orgy of blood that killed some 80 million, the free world is defied, and defiled, by the murder and mayhem of Islamism and the bloodlust of its theocratic hegemonists. Once again, free men and women are called upon, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, to “Pledge eternal vigilance over any attempt at tyranny over the mind of man.” 

nation_in_making_capture.jpgAs we commemorate this 50th anniversary of the spark of a lamp of liberty amidst a dark desert of despotism , we have words as well. Words as old as the scriptures and as bold as our dreams. And they come from today’s flame of freedom. They come from the family of free nations’ frontline defender. They come from the reborn David that withstood the onslaught of Arab Goliaths. The words are those spoken by tank commanders when they take up their commissions. They march up a mountain to an ancient hilltop fortress where 900 men, women and children withstood Roman assaults and finally chose suicide over submission. That hilltop is called Masada. And the oath that is taken promises that “Metzadah shuv lo tipol!” Masada shall not fall again! Not just the physical Masada. But the Masada of collective memory and witness. The Masada that belongs to all men and women who choose to live free.  

The free world is confronted on all sides with myths, lies, moral relativism and political equivalency. The false egalitarianism of many of its leaders has been demonstrated time and again to be ineffective and ridiculous. It has produced several generations of intellectual bankrupts devoid of moral compass or conscience. Perhaps this week - on this commemoration - we can sound a clarion call once again. And in this centenary year of President Kennedy's birth, let me close with his words, and his call,  that all those who cherish liberty should remember. "Israel was not created to disappear. Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and honors the sword of freedom."


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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