Here is the audio of the lecture I gave last year on Yom HaAtzmaut on the topic of the miracles that helped the rebirth of Israel.
And here are the notes I used for the lecture. Sorry, I don’t have links to most of the sources any more. And the last few minutes I spoke without notes.
—As early as 1753 there were tracts in England about the “restoration of the Jews”
—John Adams, 1819: “I really wish the Jews again in Judea, an independent nation; …once restored to an independent government, and no longer persecuted…”
—On March 5, 1891, the clergyman William E. Blackstone presented what became known as the “Blackstone Memorial,” a petition advocating the restoration of Palestine to the Jewish people, to President Benjamin Harrison.
—All of this before the First Zionist Congress
—Generations of Christians were used to the idea
Could Zionism have gained traction without this?
The Balfour Declaration
—In 1915, Home Secretary Herbert Samuel (Jewish) presented a plan to the British Parliament to create a Jewish center in Palestine under British rule
—The only enthusiastic member of Parliament was Lloyd George, Christian who wanted to see a Jewish state in Palestine
—The Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, ridiculed the plan.
—Asquith lost his position in 1916, his successor was Lloyd George
—The other Zionists in the government at the time included Winston Churchill and Arthur Balfour, who pushed a Uganda plan for Jews many years earlier
—Amazing that this happened in 1917 before the war ended
—In 1922, George was replaced by Conservative politicians who had been opposed to Balfour (but reluctantly decided to keep it in order to maintain access to the Suez Canal and not to look bad to the League of Nations, which by that time had effectively ratified Balfour)
—Balfour could only have happened in that short time period 1916-1922
The UN Partition Plan
—Stalin had no love for Jews; quite the contrary, he murdered them whenever it suited his purposes. But during the crucial years 1947-48, he was guided by temporary considerations of Realpolitik, and specifically by what he saw as the threat of British imperialism.
—Stalin ignorantly supposed that the way to undermine Britain’s position in the Middle East was to support the Jews, not the Arabs, and he backed Zionism in order to break the “British stranglehold.” Not only did he extend diplomatic recognition to Israel but, in order to intensify the fighting and the consequent chaos, he instructed the Czech government to sell it arms. The Czechs turned over an entire military airfield to shuttle weaponry to Tel Aviv; the Messerschmitt aircraft they supplied were of particular importance. Then, in mid-August 1948, Stalin decided he had made a huge error in judgment, and the obedient Czech government ordered a halt to the airlift within 48 hours. But by then the war had effectively been won.
—President Truman was pro-Zionist, and he needed the Jewish vote in the 1948 election. It was his decision to push the partition scheme through the UN in November 1947 and to recognize the new Israeli state (de facto, not de jure) when it was declared in May 1948. But the contrary pressure he had to face, both from the State was immense. If the crisis had come a year later, after the cold war started to dominate the thinking of the West to the exclusion of almost everything else, it is likely that the anti-Zionist forces would have proved too strong for Truman.
—The five East European communist bloc, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Byelorussian SSR, and the Soviet Union all voted for a Jewish State. Were it not for Soviet influence, it is unlikely in the extreme that Poland and Ukraine, with their long and deep history of anti-Semitism, would have voted for the establishment of Israel. Benny Morris (“1948” pg. 60-61) notes the direct impact the United States had on the aye votes from Haiti, the Philippines and many Latin American countries which otherwise planned to vote against the establishing a Jewish State
Six Day War
—On the very morning of June 5th, three hours before the Israeli air strike, Egyptian intelligence did in fact issue a warning that an Israeli air attack would begin “within minutes.” At that point, Egypt still had time to get its planes off the ground and save them. The message reached the command bunker in Cairo. An aide-de-camp signed a copy, but no one bothered to look for the Commander in Chief.
—On the same morning of the attack, Egyptian officers stationed at the radar station in northern Jordan picked up the scrambling Israeli aircraft, and sent a red alert message to Cairo. The sergeant in the decoding room of the supreme command tried to decipher the message using the previous day’s code and failed.
—And where was Egypt’s Commander in Chief? The night before, he and most of his top officers attended a party at an air force base in the northern delta area, at which a renowned belly dancer performed. Early the next morning, he took off for the Sinai, where he had ordered all his top commanders to assemble in order to meet a high-level Iraqi delegation. When the Israeli strike happened, not one senior officer was at his post.
Yom Kippur War
—Armored Syrian force of 1,400 tanks, 400 of the Syrian tanks were T-62s, state-of-the-art modern Soviet tanks at the time.
—Israeli force were the 7th Armored Brigade in the north and the 188th Barak Brigade to the south. Combined, they had 170 tanks, many WWII vintage
—By October 9, Israel was down to only six tanks protecting the northern section of the country. As the 7th Armored Brigade began to pull back, they were reinforced by a small force of 15 tanks. The Syrians saw the fresh Israeli equipment arriving and assumed it was the vanguard of major reinforcements. They immediately began to retreat.
—In the southern Golan, on October 6th an estimated 600 Syrian tanks attempted to breach the line held by the Israeli Barak brigade with just 12 tanks. A defensive minefield and heavy artillery fire destroyed several dozen Syrian tanks in the initial attack.Yet with overwhelming superiority, Syrian forces kept attacking. Israeli fighter jets were called in to even the odds but many were shot down by newly acquired Syrian anti-aircraft systems. The Israelis resorted to quick hit and run tactics with their limited tanks and artillery. This may have stopped Syrian forces from overrunning the southern Golan Heights that night. The Syrians apparently believed they were facing a larger enemy than was the case. On October 7, Syrian tanks started another advance. With almost no tanks left, the Barak Brigade commander, Colonel Yitzhak Ben-Shoham, prepared for a last stand. He fought in a holding pattern against the advance until he was killedand the Brigade completely destroyed. The Barak Brigade’s last stand and a Syrian pause after the battle bought Israel more time. By that time Israeli reserve units were streaming to the front. Within a few days, the Syrian advance had become a full retreat.
—On 9th October, the 9th Brigade (reservists) attacked a force that included about 600 tanks that were divided in all directions, mainly westward. The attacking force was 9th Brigade, a mechanized reserve brigade that included the old Sherman Battalion. These forty tanks attacked this huge Syrian defender, which also included additional forces, armored infantry, and anti-tank missiles. The attack started when the additional forces attacked first. Then brigade commander Motke Ben Porat sent the armored Sherman battalion, whose battalion commander was killed on a mine, but after a few hours’ battle they decided to storm the Syrian compound. The person who led the attack was an amazing armored officer named Yehuda Arazi from Ein Horesh. He was deputy commander of the Shermans and who had nine tanks; he flanked the Syrian compound, in the vicinity of the present-day settlement of Keshet, and attacked them from the rear with three tanks covering while six stormed. When they reached the line they saw before them a massive array of tanks and cannons and a huge arsenal of weapons. The soldiers said we needed to retreat and Arazi said there was no option of withdrawing, we storm into life or death.
—“He charged, and already at the first stage they overran the Syrian artillery, hit trucks full of shells and fuel and the whole Syrian compound turned into a big wall of fire and thousands of Syrian soldiers began a panic flight, and then the additional battalion stormed them. By nightfall the Syrian column collapsed. The problem was that the 9th’s tanks were out of ammunition. They entered camp at night and returned to the attack the next morning, and found hundreds of armored personnel carriers, cannons, trucks and tools up in flames, and they continued to the Syrian border.“
—Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
1991 Gulf War
— Yitzchak Shamir hesitant to act, GH Bush insisted Israel not respond to attacks
—This goes against Israeli DNA to defend itself
—Jews had nothing to do…but pray
—42 Scud missiles launched, only two deaths
—Patriot missiles ineffective – some caused more damage
—Would they be chemical or explosive? Sealed rooms in top floors, not bottom
—At about 7 am on 19 January, one of four incoming Scud warheads struck a building but failed to explode. Of the two warheads that did explode in or near Tel Aviv, one struck next to a municipal center, blowing open a basement that was used as a bomb shelter (but which was empty at the time), and the other fell in a park
—Empty buildings, collapsed houses with minor injuries, one case of people who went to an underground bomb shelter against the rules and survived (1/25)
—~Statistics based on V1 and V2 rockets estimated one or two deaths per rocket even with warnings
—Saddam had 50 rockets with chemical weapons and 25 with biological weapons, If he had used them hundreds or thousands would have been killed
—US military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 25 February 1991, when 28 soldiers were killed and other 110 injured
Yasher koach to my friend Jack who helped arrange the lecture. He’s a security network/firewall engineer and is looking for a job, so if you know anyone who needs a talented engineer, let me know.
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