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Israel, Land of Refuge

August 30, 2012

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Mikve Israel, Agricultural School, Israel

When I think of Israel I think of one story that was perhaps the single incident that propelled the idea of a Jewish state into reality.  The idea of Zionism was born out of the depths of European anti-Semitism.    Theodore Herzl was a young Austrian newspaper reporter who covered the trial of Captain Dreyfus in 1894.  Captain Dreyfus was a French Captain accused of being of traitor upon false charges.  When Dreyfus was found guilty of treason, the assembled crowd began to chant, “Death to the Jews, Death to the Jews.”    

Herzl was deeply moved by viewing the latent anti-Semitism of the French people. From this he concluded Jews could only live without persecution when a separate Jewish State was established.  Herzl’s idea was not new, but Herzl though his charisma and devotion laid the foundation for what would become the modern State of Israel. 

 A personal story.  In 1938 my father’s family had to flee for their lives from their native Vienna, Austria.  The only place in the world were my father could get a visa to enter was what was then British Mandate Palestine.  He was brought there under the direction of the Youth Aliyah, and was trained to be a farmer, at an agricultural school, Mikve Israel, which today is on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.  In 1948 this would become the State of Israel.  At the age of 16, all by himself, never knowing if he would ever see his family again, my father entered what today is Israel.    To Israel as a land of refuge, I am certainly grateful.

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