Saturday, June 28, 2008

Letter to the world


Eliezer ben Yisrael
Tuesday November 6, 2007-first posted
from The Times of Israel

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz.

After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, "The Times of Israel."

In the first issue of "The Times of Israel", Stanley Goldfoot wrote his famous controversial "Letter to the World from Jerusalem", which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant and, in his memory, I am sharing it with you.
A Letter to the World from Jerusalem by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to
believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and
blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.
I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a
diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you
or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build this city,
you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy

And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.
There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin,
Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a
thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which
you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves- a
humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning.

Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left
alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died
on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their
burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by
sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they
forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates,
their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome
guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we
petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners of the
world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem,
Thy city, and swell in it as Thou promised." On every Yom Kippur and
Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which
you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel
anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and
worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us.
They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed,
but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now
after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after
Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and

We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could
you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling
themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I
saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your
request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination
that did the job- British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And
then the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the
wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the
desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government
of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even

And you never said a word.
You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians
shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of
the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged,
incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from
you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened
fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your
airlift "to save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one
ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered
against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the
German capital- but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one
that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs
unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again,
did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last
reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice"
and need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.
The truth- and you know it deep inside your gut - you would
prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews.
No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices
seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots,
perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have
been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to
the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we
accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete
religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the
Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You
prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but
it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are
not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed
to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are
redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being
rebuilt. "Next year" and the year after, and after, and after, until
the end of time- "in Jerusalem"!

Stanley Goldfoot
Founder Editor
The Times of Israel
August 1969

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