Two traumas shocked this country's Jews at the tail end of sizzling August. Both were defining watersheds but they occurred 76 years apart. The time lapse alone appears to rule out any correlation between the two. Yet, as is almost invariably the case here, the past is never irrelevant to the present and seemingly distant history is ever interconnected with what took place just a chronological microsecond ago.
On August 23, 1929 - before the appearance of any supposed casus belli like mass aliya, Jewish independence and certainly 1967's Six Day War with its resultant so-called occupation - incited Arabs rampaged throughout the land and butchered Jews in a savage killing frenzy. Their victims were mostly members of the pre-Zionist "old community," comprised of religious Jews who had resided for many generations particularly in the holy cities and passively awaited the messiah.
They were precisely the sort of politically inactive Jews, who, according to Arab propaganda, the PLO is magnanimously willing to tolerate. Yet agreeable meekness didn't stand in their good stead. The marauders swooped down on unsuspecting families. Shouting Alahu akbar [God is great[, Itbah el-Yahud [slaughter the Jews[ andDin Muhammad besayeff [Muhammad's religion by the sword], they massacred anyone they encountered - young and old, male and female. Many Jewish communities were dislodged and others changed forever.
ON AUGUST 23, 2005, the "disengagement" from Gush Katif and northern Samaria was completed. More than 9,000 Jewish pioneers, Israel's most devoted sons and daughters, were forcibly removed from homes and farms they built and cultivated for decades. Most remain dispossessed to this day. Twenty-five communities were razed to the ground and returned to the desert from whence they were reclaimed.
With frenzied screams of Alahu akbar, Gazan marauders demolished the public structures bequeathed them and they tore to shreds the hi-tech hothouses left behind as sources of employment and hope to ordinary folks whose "humanitarian plight" is decried worldwide and which, so conventional wisdom asserts, instigates terror. Verdant fields were soon turned into rocket launching pads and terror training grounds, where new recruits are schooled in the arts of Itbah el-Yahud.
So where's the tie-in? Perhaps Arthur Ruppin and Dov Weissglas can link it all up for us.
Ruppin, the famed "father of Jewish settlement," was one of the founders - in 1925 - of Brit Shalom, forerunner of Peace Now and assorted allied outlets of unflagging Jewish liberality, naivete, trust in the essential goodness of man and in the destiny of reasonable compromise to triumph over all adversity.
Such utopian sentiments, then especially prevalent among the more refined and urbane Jewish intellectuals of western Europe and America, gave rise to pacifist dreams of kinship, cooperation and harmony with local Arabs. These were to facilitate the creation of a binational state with joint government and blissful communal coexistence. "Mutual voluntary nondomination" was envisioned. Pretty sweet and alluring stuff - if you can get it.
In 1929, though, Ruppin realized that all that sugariness was - alas - unattainable. His rude awakening followed the bloody jihad set off by preceding Arab exhortations to "holy war to protect al-Aksa from Jewish conquest." To fan the flames, provocative photomontages of Herzl (then deceased for 25 years) ostensibly near the Aksa compound were circulated.
The fanatic Muslim agitation, which would eventually trigger Ruppin's walkout from the credulous Brit Shalom, sprouted with the British Mandate's inception, when Muslims expediently evinced overnight attachment to the Western Wall, claiming it to be the hitching post where Muhammad tethered his winged steed Burak. Jewish wailing was abided occasionally after remittance of exorbitant fees for the privilege, providing Muslim sensibilities weren't offended.
The problem was there was no telling what would give offense. In 1919 wooden benches for the old and infirm were cited as insufferable affronts. The British promptly removed them, but Arabs then began to regularly drive cattle and laden donkeys through crowds of Jewish congregants. From 1920 the muezzin was dispatched to bellow his loudest chants precisely during Jewish services.