Last Monday was a great and emotional day for supporters of the Jewish state in Israel and around the world. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his remarks at the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, “This is history.”
It was just a bit more than a half-century ago when, as a child in my parents’ Brooklyn home, I was awoken by an unusual tumult that was taking place, in contrast to any other morning when we children woke up, got dressed, and were packed off to yeshiva for the day.
It was a sunny and summery type of Monday morning. I wandered into my parents’ room to see my father sitting on the edge of his bed with the radio he used to listen to the usual daily newscasts blaring unusually loudly.
I don’t recall what I knew or didn’t know about Israel at the time, other than that it was the Jewish state (whatever that meant at the time) and that it was the place that my parents disappeared to every summer for five to seven weeks when we stayed with our grandparents.
Later that day in yeshiva — Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway — our rebbe brought in a radio and plugged it into the wall so the whole class could listen to the hourly news broadcasts about the battle for Jerusalem in the Sinai Desert and the Golan Heights.
By the end of the week, we sat in class stunned, and probably not sufficiently absorbing what had taken place, after Israel entered the then-occupied Old City of Jerusalem with the announcements in Hebrew by the commanders leading the charge, saying, “The Temple Mount is in our hands “ and “the Kotel is in our hands.”
Now, a half-century later, the events of that June day in 1967 have come full circle. It is now abundantly clear to me the patient and deliberate way the Creator of the world goes about so many things, perhaps all things — those that are vital and those that seem otherwise.
Rabbi Wolowik, Gidon Shema from Jerusalem Florist, and Sholom Jacobs in Israel.
But every now and then, we see deliberate slow progress jolted into taking a leap, and a good deal of that has now taken place in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. Even after President Trump announced in December that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital, conventional wisdom was that the move would take years, that the House of Representatives or the Senate would change hands in November, that the president would not possibly be reelected in 2020, and so on.
But that is not how things are done in the universe of President Trump. As far as the move to Jerusalem is concerned, no one expected these events to transpire over such a short amount of time, not even Israeli leaders. This type of historic leap occurred in June of 1967 and also again on Monday.
There are three other related items that need to be addressed: the number of New York and Five Towns personalities involved in the process, the prominent representation in the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem of evangelical Christian leaders, and the violence instigated by Hamas terrorists on the Gaza border with Israel.
We have previously noted in this space the prominence of Five Towns resident David Friedman, not just as the U.S. ambassador to Israel but in the formulation of overall U.S. policy in the Middle East. This fact was reiterated to this writer and others who visited Washington, D.C. recently as part of a day of lobbying with Evangelical Christians are some of the greatest supporters of Israel, and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the state of Israel.
NORPAC. In our meeting with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the senator, in an unsolicited fashion, pointed out the pivotal role Ambassador Friedman has played in the Trump administration policy in Israel and other areas of the Middle East.
On Monday, at the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy, an inspiring invocation was delivered by Rabbi Zalman Wolowik, the leader of the popular Chabad of the Five Towns. The rabbi has a close relationship with the ambassador and was flown in to deliver those remarks, as well as to install a mezuzah on the ambassador’s office door at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Also present at the dedication was Aryeh Lightstone, the deputy U.S. ambassador to Israel and a longtime resident of the Five Towns.
In the circles we frequent, there was a bit of pushback and criticism of the fact that two prominent evangelical Christian leaders had prominent roles in Monday’s ceremonies. Pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress offered their prayers. It is important to note two things on this matter. One is that this was an American-sponsored event despite the presence of rabbis and many wearing yarmulkes. And secondly, regardless of our position on the matter, evangelical Christians are some of the greatest supporters of Israel, and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the state of Israel.
Unfortunately, at the same time as the triumphant dedication of the new embassy, there was also violence orchestrated by the Hamas terror organization at the Gaza border with Israel. On Monday, Palestinian sources reported that 60 people were killed by IDF soldiers and 2,700 were injured. On Tuesday, the number was downgraded by other sources from 2,700 to 1,300.
That is good news in a way, because it means that about 1,400 people either recovered from their injuries overnight or that it was a fabricated number in the first place.
On Wednesday, a video was widely circulated online that showed an alleged 53 Palestinian victims of the IDF lying in burial shrouds side by side in one long row. The thing is, as the video shows, most of those lined up as if prepared for burial were fidgeting and moving inside their shrouds. Some had their heads momentarily uncovered and you can see them either smiling or giggling. I am not saying that no one was hurt in the rioting at the Gaza border, but the numbers seem to have been wildly exaggerated.
None of the fakery or misleading reporting was able to dissuade the media from reporting the Palestinian misinformation as hard and straight facts. The mainstream media’s objective here was to distract from the quick opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, a great Trump administration achievement and Israeli feat.
The mainstream media would have liked us to believe that the Hamas violence in Gaza was a result of the opening of the new U.S. Embassy. But that is a tough and dubious argument considering that Hamas has been inciting and underwriting violence in Gaza and in parts of Israel for decades.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority recalled their ambassador from Washington, which solved the problem of the Trump administration having to ask him to leave. There is no doubt that this was a great day for both Israel and the United States — attempts to turn it into something else notwithstanding.
All this and more is why on Monday I was able to flash back to that Monday morning in June of 1967 when my father was sitting on his bed and listening to the news about the war in Israel. He had a concerned and intense look on his face. He was thinking about his two cousins who resided in Tel Aviv, as well as the many friends, colleagues, and other people he knew who lived in Israel at the time. He was probably worried about the future of Israel.
If my father were alive today, he would be 100 years old. Though I was just a kid at the time, I absorbed his sense of concern and worry about Israel and the standing of Jews in the world. I think that after Monday’s ceremonies in Jerusalem, he would have been very pleased and significantly less worried about the Jewish future, knowing that the complete liberation is now closer than ever before.