(Note: this blog now reflects a clarification regarding
the picture of the ambulance)
At the heart of The Crisis of Zionism, the new book by Peter Beinart, is a simple morality play. On one side there is the tradition of “liberal Zionism” in which Beinart was nurtured. That tradition, in his account, runs from Beinart’s hero, Stephen Wise, America’s leading reform rabbi in the Depression era and leader of the Zionist cause...
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Beinart mourns twin historic groups: Labor Zionism and the liberal rabbis who provided the public face of American Jewish leadership for much of the 20th century...Beinart exemplifies the liberal rabbis with three names — Stephen S. Wise, Arnold Jacob Wolf and the scholar and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel. Each supported Israel but also believed that the teachings of the Jewish prophets commanded action to support the poor and downtrodden at home. Wise, in addition to his Zionist activities, was a co-founder of the NAACP...
And there is this from-the-Left critical observation:
Here is where Beinart’s profound unseriousness comes into view, which many critics detected in his 2006 Cold War liberal-revivalist manifestoThe Good Fight. For the historical hero of The Crisis of Zionism, Rabbi Stephen Wise, an arch-defender of the Soviet Union up to his death in 1949, was as antithetical a character to the narrative of the first book as could be asked for.
We'll skip over the preach-down against Beinart at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. And avoid Wise's antipathy for Jabotinsky.
But we will point out the irony in this picture as it applies, over 60 years later, to Beinart's "Zionism", so-called.
That is an ambulance.
It is full of bullet holes.
It did not save Jews.
Was it part of the Hadassah Covoy in Jerusalem that attempted on April 13, 1948 to reach Mount Scopus where the hospital was located (and has been renewed there. despite it being beyond the 'Green Line') or of another Arab attack on Jewish medical services?
Seventy-nine people, Jews, doctors and nurses and other medical and support staff were murdered, massacred, killed by Arabs and left to their fate by British soldiers.
Was the ambulance above the one is this description of events?
No one knew yet what was happening in the white ambulance with the big red Magen David. Because its armor was the thickest of all the vehicles, the wagon was the safest place to be in that corridor of hell. Next to driver Zecharya Leitan sat Yassky.
Behind him on the benches were Fanny Yassky, six doctors, a nurse and a wounded soldier. The ambulance, behind the two armored cars, was a poor target for the Arabs and so it absorbed the least punishment. Yassky, who sat by the driver because he had a revolver and could more easily use it, concerned himself with appraising the situation by looking through the tiny window in the vehicle.
“Every time he opened the window,” Yehuda Bromberg reported later, “a rain of shots was fired at him. At 2:00 pm, Yassky informed us that everyone had been killed in the burning buses.” After the buses turned into pyres, Yassky announced, “Now our time has come.
No escape from our fate is left. We must bid one another farewell.” He took leave of his wife, thanking her for the happy life that they had lived. At 2:30, Yassky was wounded in the liver by a bullet that must have ricocheted through the ambulance’s engine.
“I’m hit,” he said and then after a few minutes of continuous chatter, he whispered to Fanny, “Shalom, my beloved.” Pediatrician Yehuda Mattot, who sat on a bench behind Yassky, recalls: “Fanny Yassky took off her blouse and with it I bandaged Yassky. Only an immediate blood transfusion and an operation could have saved him.” Yassky lost consciousness and was dead five minutes later. There was nothing the six physicians and one nurse in the ambulance could do. Ironically, there was not even a first aid kit in the vehicle.
Fanny remained strong. Someone else began to weep. Fanny asked, “Why do you cry? Soon we shall follow him.” Zecharya the driver suddenly got up, opened the door and jumped out. He was shot dead a few yards away.
Dermatologist Haim Cohen asked gynecologist Bruno Berkovitz to join him in an attempt to run for it. But Dr. Ullmann said firmly, “Cohen, we have survived this together from nine o’clock. You can wait another few hours.” Mattot, who missed certain death by changing at the last minute from a bus to the ambulance, tried his luck a second time. He recalled: I thought that if I stayed put it would be the end. My wife later thought I did it because I could not stand to be without a cigarette. I jumped into the ditch and I began to crawl. The Arabs spotted me and began shooting. I got one bullet next to my spine. I kept going and got to Antonius House where the British troops welcomed me. Just opposite on the other side of the road were Arabs, apparently the leaders of the whole thing. The British took me in and bandaged me. They were apologetic. They said they were in a small unit and they could not do anything. They had been asking for reinforcement but could not get any. I was not able to convince the British to do anything for the convoy.
And as for that ambulance in the picture, can you read the dedication from the donors?
It notes that it was a contribution of the Sons of Zion Order in the United States in honor of...
Rabbi Stephen Wise.