Jewish Military

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The existence of any society is highly dependent on security. Since antiquity civilizations have been exploited and/or decimated due to incapability's of providing for their own security. For centuries, the Jewish people, whether in the contemporary state of Israel or in the Diaspora have been victims of .persecution by superior empires and denied the right to their own sovereignty. Historically, world Jewry has experienced humiliation, persecution and at times decimation. Rejecting the Jews is best illustrated by observing Jewry under the most powerful and merciless of empires. The Romans, who ruled during the origins of Christianity, have been the most effective when it came to the persecution of Jews. The Roman Empire was responsible for the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem including the Temple while ruling over Judea. In the later centuries of Roman rule, the empire forced Jewish conversion to Christianity and transformed Jewish synagogues into churches (The Jew in the Medieval World: Source Book, 2000).

Around the year one thousand, the Muslim empire became the subsequent empire to persecute Jews. Muslims quickly conquered much of Spain where a large part of the Jewish Diaspora had settled. The Muslim empire effectively decimated Jewish settlement in the country. In the late fifteenth century Jews were either massacred or escaped the persecution of the Muslims. Jews were ultimately expelled from Spain taking their religion and culture with them. Prior to the twentieth century, in many states where Jews settled, they were denied the right to bear arms and were considered second-class citizens. Jews were motivated to fight in the armed forces in the countries of adoption hoping that their commitment to this obligation would entitle them to civil rights. For this very reason, states which denied Jewish civil rights frequently restricted their service in their armies (Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1973). This denial and rejection exemplifies the degree of insult towards the Jewish people.

The underlying importance of this rejection and inability to provide for their own subsistence through security is based on the idea that Jews have been deprived of their potentialities. The historical social, economic, political and religious rejection of the Jews reveals a sense of loss, the inability to secure themselves from the dangers around them, this has caused them to live with a continuous sense of fear. Jewry has been dedicated to a religion. Faith has kept world Jewry strong and provided for their subsistence. For the Jewish people faith has provided the basis for how a civilization of people could at times withstands the dreadful and radical perpetrators of persecution and violence, yet at times fall with the honour and faith to Judaism in which they have been for so long dedicated to. Past persecution of Jews has made the existence of a Jewish military a necessity for the revival of world Jewry and the protection of the Jewish people in the contemporary state of Israel. The argument is best supported by observing the systematic evolution of the restoration movement in the articles of Abraham Isaac Kook and Israel Eldad, followed by examining an article by Yeshayahu Leibowitz illustrating the event of Kibiyeh and the necessity for Jewish security in the contemporary state of Israel.

The destruction of our day is a preparation for a new and unique Renaissance (Hertzberg, 1997). A new beginning by means of an autonomous state of Israel. "The day has come, it is very near when the world will grow gentler; we can begin to prepare ourselves, for it will soon be possible for us to conduct a state of our own founded on goodness, wisdom, justice, and the clear Light of God" (Hertzberg, 1997). The creation of the state of Israel is not only essential to the securing of the Jewish people who for two thousands years have been deprived of political independence and the ability to develop military tradition, but also to the securing of the structure of the world. The early 20th century which was tottering in the bloody tempest of war, demands the upbuilding of a Jewish nation. The building of the state of Israel along with the revelation of its creation is one in the same process (Hertzberg. 1997). Furthermore, the rebuilding of a shaken world can be found in a unifying force in the soul of the Holy Congregation of Israel. World civilization is crumbling, the human spirit is weakened, and darkness is enveloping all the nations (Hertzberg. 1997). Considering the frail status of the world, the time is ripe and through the creation of the state of Israel humanity can rise to a level of consciousness enabling world reconstruction. According to the Zionist idea reflected in the writing of Abraham Isaac Kook, the Jewish people are called to provide for their own subsistence. Furthermore, Kook states that with the depth of prayer and commitment to the Torah along with the courage of faith the Jewish people can recognize the ultimate oneness of its own potentialities and become aware of God Who dwells in it. Therefore, this idea allows individuals to recognize their existence within the state of Israel is everlasting from the beginning to the end of time. Though it should be recognized that in this perspective a state of Israel is not yet existent, but through its creation a new beginning for humanity is possible. "All civilizations of the world will be renewed by the renaissance of our spirit. All quarrels will be resolved, and our revival will cause all life to become luminous with the joy of fresh birth" (Hertzberg, 1997).

Zahal - Jewish revival through the creation of the Israeli military. The Israeli army came as a startling revelation to the whole world and not least of all to the Jews themselves (Eldad, 1971). The event is best illustrated by the highly symbolic and historic coincidence. In 1953 a series of ancient letters were discovered in the Judean dessert. They were the letter of the last commander of ancient Judea, Simon Bar Kokhba, who led the last great revolt against the Romans. The true miracle lies in the fact that the person who found the letters of the last Jewish commander was well-known archaeologist, General Yigael Yadin, the first commander of the new Jewish army (Eldad, 1971). The letters were untouched until discovered. The letters of the last commander of the Jewish army reached the first commander of the new Jewish army after one thousand eight hundred and twenty years. The discovery of the letters was outstanding in itself, but the symbolism is concentrated in the idea of Jewish revival. When the letter of Simon Bar Kokhba was discovered, it symbolized a sense of Jewish military revival. Symbolically torch was passed from army to army, commander to commander.

Jewish military prowess has always existed; it is not modern phenomenon. Historically, Christian Europe understood that Jews feared death the least of all, preferring immolation to the betrayal of their faith. There have also been a number of Jewish soldiers. In Spain there were quite a number of Jewish officers and commanders, in France, England, Australia, and the U.S.A, there had always been Jews known for their courage and military talents. Jewish soldiers fought in both world wars, and there were Jewish fighters in the ghettoes and underground resistance movements (Eldad, 1971). In the early 20th century, not only did Jewish students master modern physical, but Jewish boys mastered fighter planes and modern tanks. The contemporary Israeli state is well known for its established efficient and mighty air force. Essentially Jewish military prowess has existed long before the creation of the state of Israel and with theexperiences of the two world wars, in conjunction with underground resistance to the Nazi's, Jewish military experience has systematically developed over time and accommodated the creation of the state of Israel by providing a strong military presence.

On October 13,1953, Arab infiltrators from the region of Kibiyeh, an Arab village tossed a hang grenade into a Jewish home in the village of yehud. A mother and two children died while they were asleep. In retaliation an Israeli force attacked Kibiyeh. More then fifty inhabitants of the village were killed and forty houses were destroyed. The actions made by the Israeli defense force caused a storm of protest by the global community. The UN secretary council condemned Israel for the actions it took in Kibiyeh (Leibowitz, 1992). In Leibowitz article Judaism, Human Values and the Jewish State, Leibowitz does not justify the war, nor does he apologize for Kibiyeh. Liebowitz explains the distinction between the justified and the blameworthy and between the permissible and the forbidden. Liebowitz argues that Israel did not act differently than the American against Japan. Therefore both were cruel mass punishment of innocent people for the crimes of others in order to prevent their recurrence. To conclude the article Liebowitz uses religious legitimacy to secure argument.

"The Rock of Israel" invoked by King David and the prophet Isaiah, and incorporated in the benediction following the reading of Shema in the Morning Prayer, is not an attribute of Israel but is above Israel and transcends all human values and manifestations, personal and collective. The "Rock of Israel" of the Declaration of Independence is immanent in Israel itself. It is the human essence and might of Israel; Israel as manifested history. The use of the term from the bible and the prayer book to designate values of consciousness, feeling, and the forces motivating our national-political activity leads people to transfer the connotations of holiness, the absolute normative force associated with this term, to these human values. If the nation and its welfare and its security are holy and if the sword is the "Rock of Israel" then Kibiyeh is possible and permissible" (Leibowitz, 1992).

The security of Israel is a necessity to the subsistence of the Jewish people. Persecuted in the past, the development of an army has transformed social and political conditions. Although war continues to be the situation in the contemporary state of Israel, a military has enabled Jewish citizens to be secured from eminent danger.

BIBLIOGRAPHYEldad. I. 1971. The Jewish Revolution. Jerusalem: Schreiber PublishingHertzberg, A. 1997. The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader. JerusalemJewish Publication SocietyLeibowitz. Y. 1992. Judaism, Human Values and the Jewish State. London: Harvard University PressEcyclopaedia Judaica