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I stand with Israel

Published May 28. 2011 09:03AM

There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about Israel being forced to retreat to their pre-1967 boundaries. I would like to relate some personal experiences and then draw conclusions as to why President Obama is wrong concerning Israel.

I was born in Canada. When I was 12 years old, my father moved us to the West End of Toronto. This area was populated primarily by immigrants, many of them Eastern European Jews, who emigrated to Canada from Europe after the Holocaust. My high school, Harbord Collegiate Institute, was primarily made up of Jewish students.

This was great for me. Not only did I get all of the Christian holidays, but the school shut down for the Jewish holidays as well. It also meant trying many types of food when I dined in the homes of my Jewish friends.

One of those friends was Irwin. He was a kind and generous young man who did his homework and followed the rules. His mother always wore a sweater no matter how hot it was. One summer day as we went over to his house to play Monopoly, his mother had her sleeves rolled up. She did not expect me to come in with Irwin. On her left forearm she had a tattoo. It was her serial number, her inventory number, assigned by the Nazis and permanently etched into her skin when she was in Auschwitz.

She and her husband survived and came to Canada after the war. They were not rich people. In fact most of my Jewish friends had fathers who were tailors, shoemakers or dry cleaners. One was a "sheeny man." He scoured the streets and alleys in a horse-drawn cart looking for junk no one else wanted.

In 1967, Irwin went to Israel to fight in a war that only lasted six days. By the time he got there, it was over. He stayed there and I never heard from him again. I suspect he got married and had a family.

I had another Jewish friend who was from Hungary. John's father was a dentist and part of the intelligentsia in Hungary prior to the revolution. He was quite wealthy from his dental practice and other investments and he wanted to free Hungary from the Russian occupation.

In 1956, the Russians invaded Hungary, killing thousands of Hungarians. John's father put him on his back, his mother carried his sister and they walked almost 200 miles to freedom in Austria. As they walked through fields, they could hear the tanks rolling down the highways and the soldiers shooting people by the sides of the road. They made it to Canada in 1958. John's father was unable to practice as a dentist because the government did not recognize his training. He worked as a janitor at night to support his family.

They lived in a two room flat. Through the day, John's father went to school, first to learn English, and then to university to become a Doctor of Dental Medicine. When he graduated, he set up a practice and did quite well. He didn't give up. He didn't take welfare. He used his own resources, pinched pennies and did what was necessary to provide for his family. As a successful dentist he did not forget his roots. He always ensured that a portion of his earnings went to support the new nation of Israel.

In 1948, the United Nations approved the partitioning of the British Mandate For Palestine to create the nation of Israel. The new country was to be created on May 15th, 1948. The Arab nations moved their troops to surround the new nation of Israel on all sides. At midnight on the 15th they would invade and wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. In a surprise move, David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli leader, declared war on May 14. The Israelis did not have a formal army. They had several brigades such as the Hagana that protected Jewish farms and villages from Arabs.

The British troops favored the Palestinians during the British Mandate for Palestine. As the British withdrew on May 14th, they gave the best military positions to the Arabs. The British also trained the Jordanian Arab Legion to be the finest fighting force in the region. Not only did the British train and equip the Legion but they provided the senior officers for the initial attack on Israel!

The vastly outnumbered and outgunned Israelis pushed back the Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and even a few Saudis. A new nation was born from the fire, just as our nation was born in the U.S. War of Independence. The nation of Israel was immediately recognized by United States. Almost twenty years later, in 1967, I listened to the newscasts of the Arabs wanting to push the Israelis into the sea.

The Arab armies amassed on the border ready to strike. The Israelis struck preemptively and captured much of the land that is today Israel. The mistake the Israelis made in 1948 and 1949 was to give back the captured Arab territory. There was no buffer to enable the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to respond to another Arab attack. In the Six Day War of 1967, the Israelis again defeated the Arab military, stunning the world. This time, they kept the land and will defend it with their lives against all who wish to take it from them.

The land that they captured in 1967 was nothing but useless desert. Settlers moved into this godforsaken place, bought the land from those who owned it and set up irrigation systems. They turned the desert into a Garden of Eden. Jaffa oranges were grown where once there was only desert.

To this day, I love Jaffa oranges not only because they taste good but because they show what dedicated people can produce when they apply themselves to farming in a desert. Unlike the Arabs who possessed the land for thousands of years, the Israelis invested the labor and money necessary to turn their land from sand into a luscious garden.

I worked for banks and other companies in the Middle East and spent at least two years in the Muslim countries. The Arabs have always resented the Jews and Israel. Let us not forget that the Jews were God's chosen people. Israel was land given to them by God.

Almost 2000 years ago the Romans took that land away from them and the Jews were dispersed to the far corners of the earth (the Diaspora). In 1948, they got their country back. They purchased their houses and farms from the Palestinians. They invited the Palestinians to stay and live with them in peace. Most of the Palestinians left expecting their Muslim brothers to reclaim their land. Instead their "brothers" put them in detention camps, as they did not want the Palestinians to live in their countries.

Fifty-nine of these overcrowded camps remain in use today, housing Palestinians, their children and grandchildren. These poor Palestinians have been and continue to be ignored by their Muslim brothers. Almost one-third of the population of Israel is now composed of Muslims who live and prosper in peace with the Jews.

Unfortunately the rest of the Muslim world continues to be a threat to Israel. The Israelis suffer car bombings, missile and mortar attacks, and suicide bombers as part of their daily lives. They must always be vigilant, for any moment Iran, Syria or Lebanon might launch missiles into Israel. Soon, these missiles could be armed with nuclear payloads as Iran is close to fabricating nuclear weapons.

Now, I would like you to consider the President's speech of last week. He wants to see Israel return to indefensible pre-1967 borders. He must know that Israel is a country completely surrounded by Muslim nations. His comments indicate that he is a strong supporter of the Muslims. As President of United States of America, it is time that he recognizes that we Americans side with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Congress this week and received 29 standing ovations. Clearly the Congress also sides with Israel even if the President does not.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the first and only Prime Minister of Israel to actually be born in Israel. He fought in the Yom Kippur war in 1973. (The Egyptians and Syrians launched a surprise attack on Israel. The Israelis lost ground at first, but within days they regained lost territory. At the conclusion of hostilities, the Israelis were 25 miles from Damascus, the capital of Syria and 63 miles from Cairo when a ceasefire was negotiated.

This conflict brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. The Camp David Accords, negotiated by Jimmy Carter, resulted in Israel giving back the Sinai Desert land it gained to Egypt).

As a patriotic American, I stand first for the United States of America. But I also stand with Israel. God's chosen people deserve to live in the land God gave them. Leave the Israelis alone so that the region can have peace and prosperity in our time. Over one-third of our foreign aid goes to Muslim nations that hate us and call us the Great Satan. Lets stop funding countries that hate America and what we stand for. Lets stop arming the Muslim nations as the weapons we provide will likely be used against Israel and then possibly against us.

If the Muslims do succeed in pushing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea, then they will come after the Christians next. They have already started burning Coptic Christian churches and are slaughtering Coptic Christians in the Middle East. With Israel gone, we will no longer have a friend and ally in the Middle East.

Trivia Question: What comedy team went to Harbord Collegiate Institute and had more appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show (58) than any other entertainer(s)? Also what famous CBS news anchor went to the same school.

Answer Wayne and Shuster, comedians. Morley Safer, CBS News Anchor

© 2011 Gordon Smith All Rights Reserved

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