Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
The Days of Awe (5773)
By Bernard J. Shapiro
Chairman and Editor of all Publications
As we approach the New Year 5773, I am reflecting over lifetime surpassing the biblical three score (20) and ten. I have seen a lot, learned a lot, suffered and been redeemed a lot. I am not a perfect Jew. I have many failings. The worst, I imagine, is my failure to understand Jewish ritual.
Since I was very young, I never seemed to follow authority. It didn’t matter who it was: parent, political or religious leader. I was born a rebel and have been a rebel all my life. I was greatly influence by my grandfather, Harry W. Freeman, who had studied to be a Rabbi in the Russian-Polish Pale at the end of the 19th century. Like many young Jews of that period, he joined the Communist Party to overthrow the Czar. The believed that the Jews must be freed from the oppression and persecution that affected their daily life.
The Czar’s secret police blessed him by driving him out of country and he escaped to America. This saved him from Nazi extermination and thus I live today by that Mazal. He landed in Galveston, became an attorney and founded the first chapter of ZOA in Houston as the real solution to the "Jewish Question."
I had a productive career at San Diego High School (Clubs: chess, writer debate, leadership and fund raising for the poor). It progressed via Honors at Entrance to US Berkeley. There I fought for civil rights with the Student Zionist Group I had founded. We rented a hippie like minibus and drove from CA to Washington DC to March with Martin Luther King in 1963. If you look closely you will see white faces in that crowd of 200,000. I heard King’s "I have a dream speech" live. Before movies, TV and radio. It impressed me from that day forth. I have used his message in my editorials about Israel many times.
At Berkeley, as leader of the Student Zionist Organization and one time HIllel President, we raised money for Jews fleeing North Africa. Our greatest achievement was building bridges with the hundreds of African students on the campus. Our success was so great that Nasser of Egypt tried to intervene to stop the African loyalty to Jews and Israelis. He failed.
After the University, I went to Israel on aliya. Though full of Zionism and ready to make it as an Israel, I kept running into roadblocks. Few jobs, especially for Anglos and certainly no "protexia" (inside help to socialist youth). I went bact to America.
I went through several Jewish jobs: JNF and ADL before ending up back in Houston running a Jewish book store. As my bookstore closed after 23 years, I was forced to make a major decision. I was offered a job at one of the most prestigious investment and insurance companies in Houston. Owned by wealthy, long time Houstonians they tested me over several days. I was offered a job. When the day came for me respond to the offer, I simply said: "With the rest of my life, I choose to work for Israel. I then founded the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
The Arab propaganda full of slanders and libels; the media bias against Israel replete with double standards and the rewriting of history are all working to the same end: the delegitimation of Israel. Israel is the only country considered by many to be GUILTY OF ORIGINAL SIN by virtue of its very existence. This process of delegitimation has as its goal creating a world climate in which the DESTRUCTION of Israel is acceptable. Many in the Jewish community are either apathetic or fail to recognize this threat.
I founded the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies in order to create a powerful voice to arouse the Jewish community to the action necessary to frustrate the evil designs of the enemies of Israel. I need your help to accomplish this mission. In the coming year 5773, that mission is even more intense. The threats against Israel are much worse, primarily because of the incompetence of the Israeli leadership and practically traitorous actions of Israel’s justice system, border police, Shin Bet and many in the Foreign Ministry.
Yes, I have a dream (apologies to MLK) that Jews will no longer debate the obvious: like whether to hold onto what is theirs or trade it away; whether to struggle for survival or to give up from fatigue. I have a dream that the Jews of the kibbutz and the Jews of YESHA will be reborn as brothers and patriots. From the Galilee to Eilat, all the people of Israel will share the same dream of a powerful independent Zionist nation. I have a dream that this strong, proud independent Israel will win the respect of all the nations of the world, including the Arabs. Instead of the contempt it has earned in recent years, Israel will again be a light unto the nations. And finally, I have a dream that this new Israel will find the peace it so dearly deserves. A peace with strength and self-respect. As I look back at 4000 years of Jewish history, I have but one urgent hope and prayer: We must make this dream a reality. There is no alternative.
May the Lord bless the leaders of Israel with the courage to pursue peace and the wisdom to know when it is not attainable. May the Lord bless the Jews who return to Zion and give them jobs and new friends to ease their transition into Israeli life. May the Lord bless the war-weary Israeli people with the stamina to bear up under the strain, if peace not just around the corner. May they understand that their fate may be that of endless struggle to survive in a hostile world and may they have the strength to understand that there is still no alternative (ein brera). May the people of Israel prosper and go from success to success never forgetting that their destiny lies in their might, their righteousness and their faith in HaShem. SHANA TOVA!
--Bernard J. Shapiro,
Chairman and Editor of its Publications
The Freeman Center's Statement of Purpose:
"The primary purpose of the Freeman Center is to improve Israel's ability to survive in a hostile world. This will be accomplished through research into the military and strategic issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the dissemination of that information to the Jewish community. Essential to Israel's survival, we feel, is the preservation of its present secure borders including Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. We will seek to improve Israel's image in this country as well as counteract Arab propaganda in the community and on college campuses. In pursuit of these goals we intend to maximize solidarity with Israel among the Jewish community and combat media bias. We will also work to strengthen Jewish communities in the Diaspora and help ensure their survival."