Remembering and Contemplating


I am following with concern what is going on in the US right now and also thinking about where I am in the context of it all. As I look out my window I can see the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) which from this vantage point looks benign but inside things are moving in some pretty disturbing directions.  I’ve been thinking that many of you on the north coast look out at the beautiful scenery and the ocean and all looks well though of course, we know it is not.

There are a lot of veterans in the classes I am teaching now and in classes of the past.  Most are veterans of wars that took place in this part of the world and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. It’s status quo in Jerusalem as I write but 6 people were wounded today in Petach Tikvah (a town in the center of Israel) and rockets were fired at Eilat.   Israel has had quite its share of wars from its earliest time.  There is a museum dedicated to a number of the previous wars that I’ve always been curious about but had never visited.

My curiosity was due in part to the fact that my father fought in Israel’s War of Independence and was a Canadian citizen and resident of the US at time which was illegal.  It’s a bit of a long story but enough to say that because he was American the Israelis put him in charge of the Sherman tanks they had captured.  My father was an intellectual with no military experience so it was a good thing he didn’t really see much action.  I had a picture of him (which I’m unable to share here but will add to the blog post when I return home) in front of the Sherman tank and showed it to the soldiers on duty at the museum.  They thought it was a marvelous thing and sure enough they have several Sherman tanks.  My father fought a war worth fighting and then spent the rest of his life seeking peace.

British Tegart fort built during the British Mandate of Palestine houses a library of historical documents and exhibits. The outer walls are pock marked, a reminder of the fierce battles fought here in the War of Independence.
British Tegart fort built during the British Mandate of Palestine houses a library of historical documents and exhibits. The outer walls are pock marked, a reminder of the fierce battles fought here in the War of Independence.
Wall of names of all Israelis who have fallen in all the wars starting in 1948. There is a daily prayer for the dead recited each day for any of the soldiers fallen on that given day in the calendar in front of the wall.
Wall of names of all Israelis who have fallen in all the wars starting in 1948. There is a daily prayer for the dead recited each day for any of the soldiers fallen on that given day in the calendar in front of the wall.  The tank on the watertower at the end of the wall is the symbol for the entire complex which in Hebrew is called Yad La’Shiryon: Memorial site for fallen soldiers
The main feature here are the tanks, some captured and retooled to Israeli standards and some developed and manufactured by Israel itself. It seems the tank is the main weapon of warfare here.
The main feature here are the tanks, some captured and retooled to Israeli standards and some developed and manufactured by Israel itself. It seems the tank is the main weapon of warfare here.
A tank captured in the Sinai campaign, in Egypt.
A tank captured in the Sinai campaign, in Egypt.
The Sherman tank, captured during World War II and used in the Israeli War of Independence.
The Sherman tank, captured during World War II and used in the Israeli War of Independence.

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This tank has an interesting story- captured by Syria from Israel, sent to Russia, and recently returned to Israel.
This tank has an interesting story- captured by Syria from Israel, sent to Russia, and recently returned to Israel.

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Leaving Latrun (Ayalon Valley) climbing up to Jerusalem, this is the modernized road that was so heavily fought over since during the War of Independence Jerusalem was under siege. In the Six Day War in 1967, the valley was captured and is now part of Israel.
Leaving Latrun (Ayalon Valley) climbing up to Jerusalem, this is the modernized road that was so heavily fought over during the War of Independence since Jerusalem was under siege and a serious blockade which meant no food or supplies. In the Six Day War in 1967, the valley was captured and is now part of Israel.
Across the road from the Armored Museum is the very peaceful looking monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence was eatablished at the end of the 19th century. The valley where both the museum and monastery are located was a battle site since biblical times: Joshua and King David both fought serious battles here. We can hope this valley remains as peaceful as it looks today.
Across the road from the Armored Museum is the very peaceful looking monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence.  It was eatablished at the end of the 19th century. The valley where both the museum to fallen soldiers and monastery are located was a battle site since biblical times: Joshua and King David both fought serious battles here. It now looks lush with agriculture.  We can hope this valley remains as peaceful as it looks today.

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