As my friend and e-pal Jack Englehard wrote: “Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hours away from giving the speech of his life. Pray for him to succeed.Pray for the welfare of Israel. Pray for the welfare of the United States. Both nations are in the same boat. We share the same values. We share the same perils.” Amen…rsk
The following column was written by Rick Richman in December 2013 . On the eve of Netanyahu’s momentous speech to both Houses of Congress…please take the time to read it.
“Jabotinsky’s June 19 speech is a forgotten piece of history, but it relates to the history we are living through now.”
Just weeks before he died, one of Zionism’s early prophets was starting to get real traction in his plan to create a Jewish army in the heart of the Holocaust.
In June 1940—at the darkest military moment of World War II—three speeches were given in two days: one by a prime minister; another by a general; the third by a Zionist leader. Everyone knows the first; some have heard of the second; few are aware of the third. But the three are of a piece, and the third still resonates today, nearly 75 years later.
On June 18, Winston Churchill—who became prime minister only five weeks before—delivered a lengthy address to a subdued Parliament, dealing primarily with the catastrophic Dunkirk evacuation he had ordered. In May, Nazi Germany had overwhelmed the low countries of Western Europe in a massive new blitzkrieg; Hitler was days away from defeating France, and Britain was unprepared for the invasion it knew would be coming next. Today everyone remembers Churchill’s speech by its final sentence: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
The same day, a little-known general, who had escaped the day before from France and would one day be heralded as the greatest French leader of the twentieth century, delivered a radio address in a London BBC studio. He called on French officers and men who were in Britain, or might be in the future, to get in touch with him, with or without their arms, to form a resistance. The next day he broadcast another call: “Faced by the bewilderment of my countrymen … by the fact that the institutions of my country are incapable, at the moment, of functioning, I, General de Gaulle, a French soldier and military leader, realize that I now speak for France.” In France, June 18 is now a national commemorative event, celebrated each year in memory of De Gaulle’s radio addresses.
On June 18, Vladimir Jabotinsky, head of the New Zionist Organization, was in New York City, preparing to deliver an address the next evening at the 4,500-seat Manhattan Center. He had spoken there in March to an overflow crowd of 5,000 people; now he held a press conference to preview the second address: he would call for a Jewish Army to fight “the giant rattlesnake.” On June 19 another overflow crowd showed up at the Manhattan Center, despite an extraordinary public effort by American Jewish leaders to thwart the event.