Just hours after the announcement that President Obama would visit Israel, the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, Daniel Shapiro, gave several interviews to Israeli media. To Israeli Army radio Shapiro said “We have a very complex agenda about Iran, Syria and the need to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, so it’s important to
begin as fast as possible.”
Perhaps before Team Obama attempts to compel Israel to create a second hostile Islamist terror statelet along yet another border (to match the Gazan terror statelet) they should tour around a little bit, you know, to get a sense of the place. Here’s a list of eight places they should visit in Israel that will help them to develop a more accurate picture of the struggle to build the Jewish State.
Acre Prison is where Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his comrades were imprisoned by the British in 1920 for defending Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem from Arab rioters. Later the British imprisoned Irgun and Stern Group (LEHI) underground fighters in Acre. Several fighters were executed there by the British. The prison is perhaps best known for the escape of dozens of fighters during an underground raid that was depicted in Leon Uris’s novel Exodus and the subsequent movie.
Another prison where the British held Irgun and LEHI soldiers was Jerusalem’s Russian Compound. The museum there has significant exhibits that relate the stories of the Zionist underground.
The Irgun was also known as the Etzel. This museum in Tel Aviv details the history the Irgun and the movement’s impact on the British decision to leave the Land of Israel.
The LEHI underground also struggled against the British. Its founder Yair (Avraham) Stern had been a leader in the Irgun and formed the LEHI in order to fight the British at all costs. The LEHI museum is housed in the building where Stern was assassinated by the British.
Menachem Begin Heritage Center
To better understand this founding father of Israel and leader of the Irgun there is simply no better place to visit than the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was the Zionist leader that created a bold, new militant vision for Zionism. The Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv houses both a museum dedicated to teaching about to him and another that teaches about the Irgun which had pledged its allegiance to him.
Tel Chai was a settlement in the Galil that was the site of a battle against Arab raiders in 1920. The Zionist hero Joseph Trumpeldor and seven other valiant defenders died in the settlements defense against a much larger force. Trumpeldor had been instrumental in forming the Jewish Legion during World War One. Jabotinsky named his Betar movement after Trumpledor. A large stature of a lion sits at the site as does a museum.
Shlomo Ben Yosef is buried in Rosh Pina. Rosh Pina was an early Zionist settlement. In 1938 in response to attacks on Jews by Arab terrorists, Ben Yosef, a member of Betar and the Irgun, and two comrades organized a reprisal attack. They were subsequently arrested by the British. Ben Yosef was executed by the British in Acre.
What could team Obama learn from a visit to these sites? For one thing, that significant attacks on Jews by Arabs happened in the 1920s and 1930s and that this terrorism had nothing to do with settlements, occupation or provocations from the Israeli army. They will also learn that when the British used the term “Palestinian” in the 1930s and 1940s they meant the Jews and that Arab nationalists did not start using the term until after Israel was created in 1948. Lastly, they will learn that young Jews sacrificed everything to build a Jewish State in the 1920s and 1930s and that this Zionist work had nothing to do with Nazis and the Holocaust. Maybe than they will understand that Zionism was not another -ism but was nothing less than the movement of a people fulfilling the Holy Scriptures and returning to the Promised Land with the plan to never leave it again: no matter what any temporary resident of the White House may have in mind.
(Moshe Phillips wrote the above article for the algemeiner on February 7, 2013)