Jewish Peoplehood in Palestine
Eli E. Hertz
"During the last two or three generations the Jews have recreated in Palestine a community, now numbering 80,000, of whom about one fourth are farmers or workers upon the land. This community has its own political organs, an elected assembly for the direction of its domestic concerns, elected councils in the towns, and an organisation for the control of its schools. It has its elected Chief Rabbinate and Rabbinical Council for the direction of its religious affairs. Its business is conducted in Hebrew as a vernacular language, and a Hebrew press serves its needs. It has its distinctive intellectual life and displays considerable economic activity. This community, then, with its town and country population, its political, religious and social organisations, its own language, its own customs, its own life, has in fact national characteristics. " [italics by author]
|On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed
He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to
Israel and the Jewish people.
Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg , South Africa . Subsequent to his
hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, he headed for
Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz.
After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he
eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, "The
Times of Israel ."
In the first issue of "The Times of Israel", Stanley Goldfoot wrote his
famous controversial "Letter to the World from Jerusalem ", which caused
quite a stir. The article is still relevant and, in his memory, I am sharing
it with you.
A Letter to the World from Jerusalem
by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)
I am not a creature from another
planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man
of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my
I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do
not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you. I
owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you
did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we
will let you take it away.
There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York . When Berlin , Moscow,
London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish
community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have
rejected ever since you established yourselves- a humane moral code.
Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a
people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of
heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled
themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender,
and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity,
swore that before they forgot Jerusalem , they would see their tongues
cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.
For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we
prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the
Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to
our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem , Thy city, and swell in it as Thou
promised." On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope
that next year would find us in Jerusalem.
Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed
us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism,
and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying
disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what
little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do
you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you
really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your
threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of
your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could
I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves
civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and
children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to
internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job-
British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And then the
savage sacking of the Old City -the wilful slaughter, the wanton destruction
of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish
cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building
materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.
And you never said a word.
You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the
holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they
had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision
of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their
spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.
Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift "to
save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one ounce of food when
Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem . You thundered against the wall which
the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not one
peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart
And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a
savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do
The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then
you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice" and need for the
"Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.
The truth- and you know it deep inside your gut - you would prefer the city
to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how
diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.
If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had
better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are
not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are
to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.
For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious
freedom for all in Jerusalem . For the first time since the Romans put a
torch to the Temple , everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some
more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us
to take it up.
We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would
like us to.
We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander
over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge
made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" and the
year after, and after, and after, until the end of time- "in Jerusalem "!
The Times of Israel>