Ezekiel at Bergen-Belsen

April 23 2021

Last week marked the 76th anniversary of British forces’ arrival at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A few days after their liberation—a Friday—some of the survivors gathered for what Meir Soloveichik calls “one of the most remarkable Jewish prayer services in the history of Judaism,” which was witnessed by the BBC’s Patrick Walker:

The worshippers, survivors all, had not participated in a minyan in years. The prayers concluded with words Walker assumed were standard Sabbath liturgy but were actually the words of “Hatikvah,” the anthem of the Zionist movement, and later of the state of Israel. As their voices faded, one of the chaplains leading the service declaimed three Hebrew words, a clarion call that can still be heard on the recording of the broadcast: Am Yisrael ai, the people of Israel liveth!

What Patrick Walker did not know is that what was taking place was an almost-literal reenactment of the biblical story that inspired “Hatikvah.” The prophet Ezekiel is shown a valley filled with dry bones that miraculously come to life for the purpose of returning to the chosen land: “Behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost. . . . Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the Land of Israel.”

Our hope is lost, in Hebrew, is “ovdah tikvateinu.” [Hatikvah’s verse] runs “od lo avdah tikvateinu”—our hope is not lost. At Belsen, biblical and contemporary times merged. The Jews were literally surrounded by skeletons and were themselves a “staggering mass of blackened skin and bones,” [in the words of a Jewish chaplain present at the service]. But they found within themselves the wellsprings of hope, illustrating why am Yisrael ai and embodying the conclusion of Naftali Herz Imber’s original lyrics: “Hear, my brothers in the lands of exile/ The voice of one of our visionaries/ that only with the very last Jew/ There is the end of our hope!”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Bergen-Belsen, Ezekiel, Hatikvah, Holocaust, Zionism

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror