Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

"Thank You For Standing Up Against An Injustice That Was Done To Our People": A Hero To A Heroine

Here's the text of a beautiful letter a serving IDF officer sent to a beautiful girl.  It's doing the rounds of cyberspace, but I can't resist posting it too (hat tip: reader Jean).

Who can forget the American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman, who to the upbeat strains of Hava Nagila performed this floor exercise routine (captured on camera by blogger Richard Millett) at the London Olympics, and dedicated her tally of medals (two golds and a bronze) to the memory of the Munich martyrs, for whom the International Olympic Committee had cravenly refused one minute's silence?



Wrote Dan Yagudin, described as a member of the University of Haifa Hillel, on her Facebook page:
"Dear Aly,
I want to tell you about how you became the hero of a gym full of Israeli soldiers.
The same Israeli soldiers who have to deal with Iran’s nuclear threat to the Jewish state. The same ones who serve two-to-three years of their lives, because we have to; because there’s no one else that would do it besides us, because our neighborhood sucks, and when the leadership next door in Syria massacres their own people, there’s no way we would let them lay hands on our kids, as foreign dictators have done for thousands of years.
You picked a song for your floor routine in the Olympics that every Jewish kid knows, whether their families came from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the Asian steppes of Azerbaijan, the mountains of Morocco or the Kibbutzim of northern Israel. It’s that song that drew almost everyone at the Israeli army base gym to the TV as soon as the report about you came on the news this morning. After showing your floor exercise to Hava Nagila, the announcer told about your gold medal with unmasked pride, and of your decision to dedicate it to the Israeli athletes who were killed in the Munich Olympics in 1972.
There were some tough people at that gym, Aly. Men and Women, Battalion Commanders from Intelligence, Captains from the navy, Lieutenants from the Armored Corps and more. You probably understand that words like ‘bravery’ and ‘heroism’ carry a lot of weight coming from them, as does a standing ovation (even from the people doing ab exercises.) There was nothing apologetic about what you did. For so long we’ve had to apologize for who we are: for how we dress, for our beliefs, for the way we look. It seems like the International Olympic Committee wanted to keep that tradition. Quiet, Jews. Keep your tragedy on the sidelines. Don’t disturb our party.
They didn’t count on an 18-year-old girl in a leotard.
There wasn’t one person at the gym who didn’t know what it was like to give back to our people, not one who didn’t know what happened to the good people who died in 1972, not one who didn’t feel personally insulted by their complete neglect in the London Olympics, the 40 year anniversary of their deaths, and not one who didn’t connect with your graceful tribute in their honor.
Thank you for standing up against an injustice that was done to our people. As I was walking back to my machine at the gym, I caught one of the officers give a long salute to your image on television. I think that says it all." 

3 comments:

  1. "...I can't resist posting it too"

    And THANK YOU for not resisting. I had not seen the video (I wonder if there is a technically better one around?). I watched the video and read the letter with a relatively a-political friend - and I think you made just another friend for Israel.

    Just wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rita. I hope so.
      As far as I know, Richard's footage is the only one available.

      Delete
  2. While I simply loved Aly winning the gold to the tune of Hava Nagila loudly filling the London arena, it must be noted that Aly did not intend this as a tribute to the murdered Israeli athletes. Interviews with her parents in the Jewish Advocate (and elsewhere) emphasize the family's strong Jewish identity while pointing out that they and Aly see this as consequential and that Aly is first, and foremost, an athlete who happens to be Jewish.

    ReplyDelete