Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Hope

The Sergeants affair, פרשת הסרג'נטים‎. In July 1947 during the war for independence, Irgun members kidnapped two British sergeants, Clifford Martin and Mervyn Paice, and hanged them in a eucalyptus grove near Netanya. Why? Three Israelis, Haviv, Weiss and Nakar, captured by the British for being partisans in the founding of the nation, were hanged at dawn, 29 July. Irgun members, having in turn captured the British soldiers to prevent the hanging of their own, retaliated. they hanged the British. Tel Aviv mayor Yisrael Rokah, "feared Irgun would hang them in the city's main square, while in Netanya it was feared that they would be hanged on local lamp posts."1.

Irgun members released the following message regarding the British soldiers' hangings:

"We recognize no one-sided laws of war. If the British are determined that their way out of the country should be lined by an avenue of gallows and of weeping fathers, mothers, wives, and sweethearts, we shall see to it that in this there is no racial discrimination. The gallows will not be all of one color...Their price will be paid in full."2.

"As Britain entered the summer bank holiday weekend on Friday 1 August, 1947, the tranquillity of what should have been a quiet and restful public holiday was shattered by a torrent of anti-Semitic violence and rioting. The unambiguous cause of the violence was the Irgun execution of sergeants Martin and Paice. News of the 'cold blooded Irgun murders' quickly spread across Britain through extensive coverage in the British media, a development that served to unify the British public in shock and horror.... The provocative nature of the newspaper reporting contributed to the already tense situation surrounding Anglo-Jewry's position in British society, although it was undoubtedly the calculated callousness of the Irgun reprisal hangings, which acted to spark the violent backlash against Anglo-Jewry. The rioting began as a wave of anti-Jewish demonstrations, which started in Liverpool and subsequently spread across Britain's urban centres from London to Glasgow. These 'demonstrations,' fuelled by bank holiday high spirits, quickly turned into a violent outpouring of hatred against the Anglo-Jewish community, as a vendetta for the deaths of the British sergeants in Palestine."3.

Originally Israeli Independence Day or Yom Ha'atzmaut, יום העצמאות‎, was 14 May 1948, but is today this year, as it follows the Jewish calendar. 14 May 1948, "the day the British Mandate expired, was the official announcement that a new Jewish state named the State of Israel had been formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine and on land where, in antiquity, the Kingdoms of Israel, Judah and Judea had once been."4.

Hatikva. "The Hope." הַתִּקְוָה

כל עוד בלבב פנימה
נפש יהודי הומיה,
ולפאתי מזרח קדימה,
עין לציון צופיה,
Kol od baleivav p'nimah
Nefesh y'hudi homiyah
Ulfa'atei mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tziyon tzofiyah
As long as in the heart, within,
A soul of a Jew is yearning,
And to the edges of the East, forward,
An eye gazes towards Zion,
עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו,
התקווה בת שנות אלפים,
להיות עם חופשי בארצנו,
ארץ ציון וירושלים.
Od lo avdah tikvateinu
Hatikvah bat sh'not alpayim
Lihyot am chofshi b'artzeinu
Eretz tziyon viyrushalayim
Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.5.

2. Ibid
3. Ibid

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