Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Yerushalyim: Returned to us, or did we Return?

Did the Jewish people return to Yerushalayim, or was it returned to us?

In June 1967, the overwhelming feeling was of witnessing a war of miracles. On the edge of destruction, the amazing successes of the war stunned even the most hardened of pessimists...the Haaretz Newspaper summed up the 6-Day War with the admission: “Even a non-religious person must admit this war was fought with help from heaven.” (source)

Arutz Sheva translated some of the miracles from this book, HaTekufa HaGedola, Rabbi Menachem Kasher, Chap. Sichu B’chol Niflaotav, 5761 edition]

The Conquest of Shechem
The town of Shechem [AKA Nablus] is one of the largest in all of Judea and Samaria. IDF analysts surmized that the conquest of the tens of thousands of Shechem’s inhabitants would likely be one of the most difficult and bloody battles of the 6-Day War.

As background to the following eyewitness account, it is important to understand that one of the largest crossings of the Jordan River leads from Jordan in the east to the Tirza riverbed, which contains a good road through the Samarian mountains right into Shechem. This is the crossing and entrance to Israel that the biblical Abraham, who was coming from the area of Iraq, used as it is written in Genesis 12, “And Abraham traversed the land until Shechem, until Elon Moreh.”

Assuming that the IDF would advance towards Shechem from Israel's coastal plain, the Jordanian army placed its heavy artillery and tanks on the other side of Shechem, in the hilly terrain overlooking the roads leading to Shechem from the west. The IDF decided therefore to outflank the enemy by fighting first to the north and west and coming back down to enter Shechem from the east, "the back door."

Colonel Uri Banari tells his eyewitness account of the conquest of Shechem:
"At the entrance to Shechem stood thousands of Arabs who waved white handkerchiefs and clapped their hands. In our naivete, we returned greetings and smiles. We entered the town and wondered: We are advancing and there is no disorder, no panic, the local armed guards stand by with rifles in their hands keeping order, and the crowds are cheering."

"Suddenly something happened which changed the entire picture in a moment. One of our officers wanted to disarm an Arab guard. When the latter refused, our officer fired a shot in the air. At that moment, all the crowds disappeared and streets emptied out. The Arabs began sniper fire."

"I didn't comprehend what had transpired. Only later, did I understand. The residents of Shechem thought that we were the Iraqi forces who were due to arrive from the direction of Jordan. The numerous enemy tanks were situated on the west side of Shechem. They woke up to their error very late."

"The Arabs were surprised; the fear of the Jews fell upon them. In Hevron, and in Shechem, in Jenin and in Jericho the Arabs were heavily armed. There was not even one small Arab village without arms. With great haste, the Arabs, however, hid their weapons and didn't consider using them. They raised their hands up, and flew white flags of surrender from every edifice. The fear of G-d fell upon hundreds of thousands of proud Arabs, who were filled with hatred and loathing for Israel. Only yesterday, they had sworn to fight until their last drop of blood." [ibid, p. 452]

A Direct Hit on an Ammunitions Pile
In the late hours of the night, an IDF truck loaded with arms and shells parked next to a Jerusalem building. Its mission was to bring a fresh supply of ammunition to the front line outposts. The element of danger was great in that were the truck to be hit by enemy fire, the subsequent explosions of all the ammo would bring down all the buildings in the area on their inhabitants. Suddenly the whistling of an approaching enemy shell was heard, and the shell, indeed, scored a direct hit on the vehicle.

But the Arab shell did not explode. It remained perched atop the pile of Israeli shells in the truck.
[ibid, p. 456]

18 Egyptians Against Two IDF Soldiers
Yisrael, a cab driver who was drafted to fight in the 6-Day War as part of the paratroop unit assigned with conquering the Straits of Tiran, told the following upon his return:

“The Israeli soldiers didn’t have to parachute out of the Nord airplanes which took them to the Tiran Straits. They landed like spoiled tourists in the airport, because the Egyptian regiment which was on guard there fled before the Israeli trips were visible on the horizon. After landing, I was sent with another reserves soldier, an electrician, to patrol the area. When we had distanced ourselves two kilometers, an Egyptian half track appeared before us filled with soldiers and mounted with machine guns on every side. We had only light weapons with a few bullets that couldn’t stop the half track for a second. We couldn’t turn back, so we stood there in despair, waited for the first shot, and for lack of a better idea, aimed our guns at them.

But the shots didn’t come.

The half track came to a halt, and we decided to cautiously approach it. We found 18 armed soldiers inside sitting with guns in hand, with a petrified look on their faces. They looked at us with great fear as though begging for mercy. I shouted ‘Hands up!’ As we were marching them and I had returned to a state of calm, I asked the Egyptian sergeant next to me, ‘Tell me, why didn’t you shoot at us?’ He answered, ‘I don’t know. My arms froze – they became paralyzed. My whole body was paralyzed, and I don’t know why.’
It turned out that these soldiers didn’t know that the Straits of Tiran were already in Israeli hands; why didn’t they elminiate us? I don’t have an answer. How can one say that G-d didn’t help us.”

The Finger of G-d
IDF Director of Operations Maj. Gen. Ezer Weizmann was asked by Mr. Levanon, the father of a fallen pilot, how he explains the fact that for 3 straight hours, Israel Air Force planes flew from one Egyptian airstrip to another destroying the enemy planes, yet the Egyptians did not radio ahead to inform their own forces of the oncoming Israeli attack?

Ezer Weizmann, later who later served as President of the State of Israel, was silent. He then lifted his head and exclaimed, "The finger of G-d."
[ibid, p. 445]

A German Viewpoint

A German journalist summarized: “Nothing like this has happened in history. A force including a 1000 tanks, hundreds of artillery cannons, many rockets and fighter jets, and a hundred thousand soldiers armed from head to toe was destroyed in two days in an area covering hundreds of kilometers filled with reinforced outposts and installations. And this victory was carried out by a force that lost many soldiers and much equipment, positions, and vehicles. No military logic or natural cause can explain this monumental occurrence.” [ibid, p. 446.]

As in June 1967, we are faced with an uncertain future. We face an enemy who demands a State in the lands liberated in 1967 with Yerushalyim as their capital. We face an enemy who will bring their demands for a State to the United Nations, this coming September. We face threats of a new, violent intifada-war...and our enemies in Gaza, Syria, and Iran preach daily for our destruction.

This Yerushalyim-Jerusalem Reunification Day, we have much to be thankful for. While far from perfect, Yerushalyim has blossomed under the Jewish State's auspices. Gone are the days when Arabs would routinely destroy synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. Gone are the days of the infamous Mandlebaum Gate -- and the that wall split the city in half. Jews can now freely live in the Old City of Jerusalem. We can pray at the Kotel.

The majority of the Mezuzot on the Old City gates have been ripped down by Arabs. We still cannot pray on the Temple Mount, while Moslems play soccer on the Temple Mount and pray at their Mosque.

As Rav Hanan Porat said last week, "We weren't mature enough for the Temple Mount's liberation"..."we were ready for the Kotel, but not for the Temple Mount" (source)

Has we been mature enough, ready enough for the liberation of the Temple Mount, there wouldn't be so much apathy among the nation today (and the representative politicians) towards recognizing our sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Yerushalayim and Yehuda vShomron were returned to us, but the majority of the Jewish people did not return. To this day, it baffles me that world Jewry did not move to Israel post-1967....especially Religious Jews that pray 3 times daily for the return to Zion...and still reside abroad.

Had religious Jewry overwhelmingly moved to Israel, our position today would be far better.

Its not too late.

As in June 1967, when G-d surprised us all and returned our homeland and capital city to us, Jews can still return, move home to Israel and prove to the world (but most importantly, to ourselves) that we deserve Yerushalayim.

Yom Yerushalyim Sameach - A Joyous Jerusalem Reunification Day!


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Mrs. S. said...

Beautifully said!

!יום ירושלים שמח

Shlomo said...

About 600 Israeli soldiers died during the war. Every one of them is an "anti-miracle" which would seem to prove that God was not on our side. If you want miracles, look at the overall outcome of the war. Not at the anecdotes of individual soldiers, because many other soldiers had the opposite experience.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shlomo: We still say Al HaNissim -- the prayer thanking us for miracles, for Chanuka, despite the soldiers who died. Just because soldiers died doesn't diminish from the outcome. We were outnumbered, and still won.

The battle of Shechem and the bombing of the Egyptian airforce while still on land were miracles for everyone -- not individual anecdotes.

David Tzohar said...

You wonder why diaspora jewry especially datiim didn't make Aliya after the 6 day war. It is the same as it was in the time of Ezra when the majority of Jews stayed in Bavel. I think history ( and He who determines history) will judge very harshly those Jews who refuse to recognize the miricles and stay in the diaspora.

Shlomo said...

I agree about the Egyptian air force, which affected the whole outcome of the war. Not about "18 Egyptians Against Two IDF Soldiers" etc.

jonathan becker said...

great post, jameel. love the pics above too, had never seen them before.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shlomo: Of the 3 stories in the post -- only one was about the "18 against 2".

And the soldiers who that story happened to, will surely tell you that the situation was miraculous.

Becker: Thanks :-)

wilonrob said...

"It is the same as it was in the time of Ezra when the majority of Jews stayed in Bavel."

No it is not the same. Ezra rebuilt the Beis Hamikdash. Not so post 1967.

"I think history ( and He who determines history) will judge very harshly those Jews who refuse to recognize the miricles and stay in the diaspora."

I think you have no idea how G-d will judge anyone uless you are a navi. Why does living in the diaspora automatically mean you do not recognize the miracle that is modern-day Israel?

Anonymous said...

עיין במסכת סנהדרין - כ"ו. למטה

כתוב שם שאף אם הרוב, חס ושלום, ירצו לתת ירושלים להגוים - כשעשה שבנא - "קשׁר רשׁעים אינו מן המנין"

לפי גירסת הרמב"ם - קשר בוגדים

ברוך ה', היום רוב היהודים עכשיו רוצים שירושלים יהיה שלם תחת יד ישראל.

כשמו כן הוא: "ומלכי צדק מלך שׁלם" - פרשת לך-לך - ירושלים צריך להיות שלם.

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