"The question was whether he [the American Jew] was prepared to recognize that, at a certain point, his spiritual mission did not begin with American culture and would not end with the realization of American aspirations, that the Messiah was not in Washington, but in Jerusalem." [Yaakov Herzog, 1970, Page 126].
Yaakov Herzog was the son of one of Israel's most distinguished families. His father was Israel's 1st Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi during the years 1936-1959, and his elder brother, Haim, initially served as Israel's Ambassador to the UN and ultimately became Israeli 6th President.
During the years 1956-1957, Yaakov advised PM Ben-Gurion. During 1957-1960, he served in Washington DC as a Minister in the Israeli Embassy. Then, in 1960, he was appointed Israeli Ambassador to Canada until 1963.
In the interim period until 1965, he helped improve relations with the Vatican after the 6 Day War and led diplomatic communications via secret contacts with King Hussein of Jordan ,assisted Lebanese Christians, helped the Imam of Yemen, and became a personal friend of President Kennedy.
From 1965 to 1972, Yaakov Herzog served as Director General of the Israeli Prime Minister's Office under the administration of Levi Eshkol and subsequently Golda Meir. This, after turning down an appointment as Britain's Chief Rabbi.
Sadly, on March 9, 1972, this extraordinary man fell in his residence, resulting in brain damage and after several months, his death. His highly acclaimed book, "A People that dwells alone", endorsed by Zalman Shazar, Sir Isaiah Berlin and others, was published on 1975. It includes Yaakov Herzog' s superb performance in his extraordinary debate with world -famous historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee. A salient extract highlighting his intellect and skills follows:
Herzog: "There has been a continuous link and aspiration towards Israel century after century. Some of our greatest religious thought and works were produced there: the Mishnah, the Jerusalem Talmud, the Midrash, the Targum, right down to the Shulhan Arukh, which is the basic code of Jewish law. ---You speak of the first settlement being in 1881. I can show you documents of Jewish settlements and towns in Palestine of those days from the tenth century."
Toynbee: "The sixteenth century."
Herzog: "Even earlier: Saadia Gaon, Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century, Maimonides, Judah Halevi in the twelfth century; Nachmanides early in the thirteenth century- continuous residence. ----We feel that the present revival of the Third Commonwealth in Israel is a vindication of immortal prophecy. We have traversed the Valley of Death, and now, under the grace of Providence , we have come to fulfillment.----We are the only people today in the Middle East speaking the same language, practicing the same religious faith, living in the same category of aspiration and spiritual continuity as our forefathers thousands of years ago and those who were exiled from there.
"There is nobody else from AD 132 in that category or in that continuity. ---There is also the fact that down the ages the Arabs never had Palestine as a separate political entity.---What I am trying to say is very vividly expressed by Professor Lewis Mumford in 'Conduct of Life'. He says: ' The binding force of an ethical force based on purpose has been dramatically confirmed in the history of the Jews. Its practical consummation in our time perhaps merits our special note.' "
Yaakov Herzog's named book could only have been written by an individual whose scholarship is beyond question. Every page engages the reader. Even Yehuda Avner in his masterpiece, "The Prime Ministers" drew attention to Yaakov's superiority on page141, " Dr Yaakov Herzog was one of Israel's commanding intellects, possessed of subtle and powerful mind, who was as equally at home with Bach as he was with the Bible. An impeccably dressed man, he had about him a quiet yet compelling charm , and his shrewd face showed the sensitivity of a scholar and the charisma of a cosmopolitan. ----
Described by Ben-Gurion as a genius in foreign affairs, and acknowledged by his peers as a prodigy in Talmud, philosophy, and theology, Levi Eshkol had recruited him early on as his most trusted foreign policy advisor."
Yaakov's elder brother Chaim authored a highly informative book entitled, "Who Stands Alone" published in 1978 on Israel's answers to its critics. Chapter 1 of the book includes his famous speech on Zionism and Racism, when as Israel Ambassador to the UN, he addressed the General Assembly on this contemptible accusation.
The date coincided with the 37th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Following a detailed description of this gruesome and equally disgusting event, Chaim Herzog wades in with, "Hitler would have felt at home on a number of occasions during the past year, listening to proceedings in this forum, and above all to the proceedings during the debate on Zionism."
Chaim's introductory remarks points to Kristallnacht as the night in 1938 when Hitler's Nazi storm troopers launched a coordinated attack on the Jewish community in Germany, burned the synagogues in all its cities and made bonfires in the streets of the Holy Books and Scrolls of the Holy Law and Bible.
"I do not come to this rostrum to defend the moral and historical values of the Jewish people. They do not need to be defended. They speak for themselves. They have given to mankind much of what is great and eternal. They have done for the spirit of man more than readily be appreciated by a forum such as this one.
I come here to denounce the two great evils which menace society in general and a society of nations in particular. These two evils are hatred and ignorance. These two evils are the motivating force behind the proponents of this resolution and their supporters. These two evils characterize those who would drag this world organization, the ideals of which first conceived by the prophets of Israel, to the depths to which it has been dragged today.-----It is no coincidence that the cosponsors and supporters of this resolution include countries who are guilty of the horrible crimes of anti-Semitism and discrimination to this very day."
Chaim Herzog's statement on a continuous Jewish presence , in larger or smaller numbers, which had been maintained in the country over the centuries, most certainly signified Jewish indigenous status in the Land of Israel. As further evidence of this, he referred to the reestablishment of Jewish independence in Israel, after centuries of struggle to overcome foreign conquest and exile.
Of particular consequence, was his quote from Andrei Gromyko of the Soviet Union in 1947 [Page 8] :"---During the last war, the Jewish People underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering. Without any exaggeration , this sorrow and suffering are indescribable----The Jews in the territories where the Hitlerites held sway were subjected to almost complete physical annihilation.-----The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would-be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter, which provides for the defense of human rights---.
On Page 23, Chaim Herzog displays his incredible personality, remarking, " Menachem Begin is a patriot who led an underground movement against the British in Palestine. Not all agreed with him, but he fought as a guerrilla and Jewish resistance leader against regular British forces. At no time did he call for the destruction of a nation or a people."
In Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik's HaMizrachi piece, "The life of Menachem Begin, one finds, "The British soldiers are long departed, thanks in no small part to the man------". Author Gil Troy in the JP International of March 4-10, 2022 speaks of "--this fighting Jew, this patriotic Jew, this proud Jew, this literate Jew, this menschedik Jew, this liberal-democratic Jew; let's demand leaders like Menachem Begin----" Even the leftist extremist Haaretz Magazine of February, 24,2012 referred to Begin's Legacy as "The Man Who Transformed Israel" and included an Op-Ed titled, "More than anything else, Menachem Begin was a moral figure." Writing on a book review in Tablet of March 07, 2013, author Kinkey Friedman writes, "In Israel and America, we do not see men like Begin in Politics today, and the world is all the worse for it." How true!!
From "Churchill's Promised Land" by Michael Makovsky- For Churchill, the Jewish people were the true indigenous population of the land: "They had returned to Palestine "---as of right and not sufferance and that this was based on their ancient historical connection." Menachem Begin's stature was such that he was granted audiences twice by members of UNSCOP to explain his groups aims, motivations and vision of a Jewish State in Palestine.
Towards Victory - Churchill :" ---how much longer will this squalid war go on ?: ---Is there no means of accelerating the appeal to the United Nations, or are we just to drift on , month after month, with these horrible outages and counter measures, which are necessary but, painful?---- In this small Palestine---we are to pour out all our treasure and keep 100,000 men marching around in most and painful vexations and painful circumstances, when we have no real interest in the matter."
By September 1947, the Irgun had achieved its objective.
In the matter of "Are Jews indigenous to the Land of Israel?" asks Ryan Bellerose, who also replies "Yes". He explains, "Archaeology, genealogy, and history all support the Jewish claim to indigenous status. Once a people have such a cultural, linguistic, and spiritual genesis as well as a coalescence as a people, they are generally acknowledged as an indigenous people.
"Until it is acknowledged by the UN and other bodies that the Jewish people and not the Arabs are the indigenous inhabitants of Eretz Israel, it is going to be difficult to break the impasse of anti-Jewish prejudice that is the real obstacle to peace." [Richard Mather, Jan 7, 2017].
Over the years, up to the present day, Jewish leaders proclaim peace while the Arabs claim rights. Hence the manifestations of the infamous "two state solution". In the above, we are referring to a few individuals who demonstrated leadership.
The responsible life is the life that responds. Is it a matter of ignorance or lack of courage? Why have so many leaders failed in this vital criteria?
We should have voiced our claims years ago and buried this impediment.