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Jews With Guns

By Tamar Yonah
1/4/2009, 12:00 AM

Oh but that the Jews had guns to protect themselves in Europe during World War II.
Oh but that the Jews had guns to protect themselves from Arab pogroms against us in Israel in the 1920's.
Oh but that the Jews had guns when we fought the British and then the Arabs in our war of Independence in 1948. 
My father is a holocaust survivor.  After having his father murdered by the Nazis and being a slave laborer, when he was finally liberated, he tried to make his way to the Land of Israel after WWII.  After working his way and crossing borders till he got to Italy, he was able to get aboard an illegal ship that was sailing and bringing holocaust survivors to Israel. He sailed with the hope of finally coming home. Just as they were able to see the port of Haifa ahead of them, the British surrounded and boarded the ship, forcing them to Cyprus.  They rounded up all the Jewish refugees and imprisoned them in a DP camp (Displaced Person's camp).  After months, he finally was able to get into the land of Israel.  Soon after, he was a soldier fighting for the liberation of Israel in the 1948 War of Independence. 
I will never forget one of the stories he told me, of when a shipment of guns used in WWII  arrived in Israel for our fighters. The guns were packed in wooden crates and were packed in grease, to keep the guns from rusting.

My father told us that he and his buddies were cleaning the grease off the guns, and while they were cleaning them of the grease, they saw that these rifles had swastikas on them.  They were rifles used by the Germans (purchased after the war, from Czechoslovakia).  I was aghast when I heard that.  I don't remember the exact wording but this was the gist: I said to him earnestly and with all the sensitivity I could, "How did you feel, Dad, being a holocaust survivor and knowing you were holding guns that were used to kill Jews?"  I was waiting for a deep and profound answer.  I was expecting him to say that he shook when he saw the swastikas and was unable to handle the guns, thinking what those rifles had done."  Instead he answered me and said incredulously, "What?  We were thrilled.  We didn't care about swastikas, shmastikas.  We were just happy to HAVE GUNS!"  
My dad.  (I am shaking my head in humor and amazement.)



And so, it is with great relief and gratitude to Hashem, G-d, that today we Jews in the Land of Israel and can defend ourselves.  I do NOT want to talk about politics today.  I want to just thank G-d for all the wonderful blessings he has bestowed upon us.  For two thousand years we have had to wander the globe, begging for mercy from the nations we had settled in or were forced to go to.  We had no one we could go to for justice, and kings and czars could transfer us, steal from us, pogrom us, and kill us, and we had no recourse to justice. 

It is my wish to share one last story with you, one that is from a very lovely book written by Roy S. Neuberger about his returning to Judaism with the guidance of Rebbetzin Esther Jungries who was integral in that process.   The book is called, "From Central Park to Sinai".  He shares a story from Rebbetzin Jungreis's family history.   http://www.tosinai.com/  

Pg. 188  (After the Holocaust) "In the 1950's it was still very unusual to fly to Israel, so he traveled by ship.  The ship docked in Naples, and Rabbi Jacob got off to stroll on the pier.  He saw a war ship and walked up to it, amazed to see that it flew the flag of Israel.  At the end of the gangplank was a sailor.  The sailor had a gun in his hand.  For Rabbi Jacob, coming from the Holocaust, it seemed as if he were looking at the angel Gabriel.  This was the first time he had ever seen a Jew with a gun.  He went over and asked the sailor, "Where are you from?" 
"Hungary"
So he asked in Hungarian, "Can i go up on the boat?"
"You cannot."
Rabbi Jacob noticed a Hungarian coin hanging around the sailor's neck.  "Where did you get that coin?"
"Nine or ten years ago I was in Szeged and there was a rabbi and a little kid, and the rabbi gave it to me."
Rabbi Jacob started to shake.  "I want you to know, that rabbi is my father, and I am that little kid."

The sailor looked at Rabbi Jacob, and then he kissed and hugged him.  Rabbi Jacob could not speak.  Two "defenseless" Jewish children, at the mercy of the seemingly invincible nations, survived through miracles and meet again to embrace.  Such are the wondrous ways of G-d.  Such is the eternal story of the Children of Israel.  The sailor said, "I am going to speak to the captain and get permission for you to go on the ship."  He started walking up the gangplank.  Rabbi Jacob called him back.  "I have a second thought.  I have experienced enough today to satisfy me forever.  I want you to know that it's the first time in my life I ever heard a Jew say no.  In the camps, even before the war, every time a German or a Hungarian spoke to us, we had to say, 'Yes, master.'  It's the first time I ever saw a Jew with a gun, and he said no.  That's enough for me.  I don't need to go on the boat."

In this violent world we live in, where we still have millions of enemies who want to kill us, it is a wonderful thing to see Jews with guns.  Enjoy the video and please pray for our almost one million civilians under rocket and missile fire and our sons, our brothers, our fathers who make up the IDF and are fighting the evil enemies in Gaza.