24-25 October 2011


A few months ago, the Associated Press reported that newly released tapes from US president Lyndon Johnson’s White House office showed LBJ’s “personal and often emotional connection to Israel. The news agency pointed out that during the Johnson presidency (1963-1969), “the United States became Israel’s chief diplomatic ally and primary arms supplier.”
But the news report does little to reveal the full historical extent of Johnson’s actions on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Most students of the Arab-Israeli conflict can identify Johnson as the president during the 1967 war. But few know about LBJ’s actions to rescue hundreds of endangered Jews during the Holocaust – actions that could have thrown him out of Congress and into jail. Indeed, the title of “Righteous Gentile” is certainly appropriate in the case of the Texan, whose centennial year is being commemorated this year.
Appropriately enough, the annual Jerusalem Conference announced this week that it will honor Johnson.
Historians have revealed that Johnson, while serving as a young congressman in 1938 and 1939, arranged for visas to be supplied to Jews in Warsaw, and oversaw the apparently illegal immigration of hundreds of Jews through the port of Galveston, Texas ….
A key resource for uncovering LBJ’s pro-Jewish activity is the unpublished 1989 doctoral thesis by University of Texas student Louis Gomolak, “Prologue: LBJ’s Foreign Affairs Background, 1908-1948.” Johnson’s activities were confirmed by other historians in interviews with his wife, family members and political associates.
Research into Johnson’s personal history indicates that he inherited his concern for the Jewish people from his family. His aunt Jessie Johnson Hatcher, a major influence on LBJ, was a member of the Zionist Organization of America. According to Gomolak, Aunt Jessie had nurtured LBJ’s commitment to befriending Jews for 50 years. As young boy, Lyndon watched his politically active grandfather “Big Sam” and father “Little Sam” seek clemency for Leo Frank, the Jewish victim of a blood libel in Atlanta. Frank was lynched by a mob in 1915, and the Ku Klux Klan in Texas threatened to kill the Johnsons. The Johnsons later told friends that Lyndon’s family hid in their cellar while his father and uncles stood guard with shotguns on their porch in case of KKK attacks. Johnson’s speech writer later stated, “Johnson often cited Leo Frank’s lynching as the source of his opposition to both anti-Semitism and isolationism.”
Already in 1934 – four years before Chamberlain’s Munich sellout to Hitler – Johnson was keenly alert to the dangers of Nazism and presented a book of essays, ‘Nazism: An Assault on Civilization’, to the 21-year-old woman he was courting, Claudia Taylor – later known as “Lady Bird” Johnson. It was an incredible engagement present.
FIVE DAYS after taking office in 1937, LBJ broke with the “Dixiecrats” and supported an immigration bill that would naturalize illegal aliens, mostly Jews from Lithuania and Poland . In 1938, Johnson was told of a young Austrian Jewish musician who was about to be deported from the United States. With an element of subterfuge, LBJ sent him to the US Consulate in Havana to obtain a residency permit. Erich Leinsdorf, the world famous musician and conductor, credited LBJ for saving his life.
That same year, LBJ warned Jewish friend, Jim Novy, that European Jews faced annihilation. “Get as many Jewish people as possible out of Germany and Poland,” were Johnson’s instructions. Somehow, Johnson provided him with a pile of signed immigration papers that were used to get 42 Jews out of Warsaw.
But that wasn’t enough. According to historian James M. Smallwood, Congressman Johnson used legal and sometimes illegal methods to smuggle “hundreds of Jews into Texas , using Galveston as the entry port.”
Enough money could buy false passports and fake visas in Cuba, Mexico and other Latin American countries. Johnson smuggled boatloads and planeloads of Jews into Texas. He hid them in the Texas National Youth Administration. Johnson saved at least four or five hundred Jews, possibly more.”
During World War II, Johnson joined Novy at a small Austin gathering to sell $65,000 in war bonds. According to Gomolak, Novy and Johnson then raised a very “substantial sum for arms for Jewish underground fighters in Palestine.” One source cited by the historian reports that “Novy and Johnson had been secretly shipping heavy crates labeled ‘Texas Grapefruit’ – but containing arms – to Jewish underground ‘freedom fighters’ in Palestine.”
ON JUNE 4, 1945, Johnson visited Dachau. According to Smallwood, Lady Bird later recalled that when her husband returned home, “he was still shaken, stunned, terrorized, and bursting with an overpowering revulsion and incredulous horror at what he had seen.”
A decade later while serving in the Senate, Johnson blocked the Eisenhower administration’s attempts to apply sanctions against Israel following the 1956 Sinai Campaign. “The indefatigable Johnson had never ceased pressure on the administration,” wrote I.L. “Si” Kenen, the head of AIPAC at the time.
As Senate majority leader, Johnson consistently blocked the anti-Israel initiatives of his fellow Democrat, William Fulbright, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Among Johnson’s closest advisers during this period were several strong pro-Israel advocates, including Benjamin Cohen (who 30 years earlier was the liaison between Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis and Chaim Weizmann) and Abe Fortas, the legendary Washington “insider.”
Johnson’s concern for the Jewish people continued through his presidency. Soon after taking office in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson told an Israeli diplomat, “You have lost a very great friend, but you have found a better one.”
Just one month after succeeding Kennedy, LBJ attended the December 1963 dedication of the Agudas Achim Synagogue in Austin. Novy opened the ceremony by saying to Johnson, “We can’t thank him enough for all those Jews he got out of Germany during the days of Hitler.”
Lady Bird would later describe the day, according to Gomolak: “Person after person plucked at my sleeve and said, ‘I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him. He helped me get out’.” Lady Bird elaborated, “Jews had been woven into the warp and woof of all [Lyndon’s] years.”
THE PRELUDE to the 1967 war was a terrifying period for Israel , with the US State Department led by the historically unfriendly Dean Rusk urging an evenhanded policy despite Arab threats and acts of aggression. Johnson held no such illusions. After the war he placed the blame firmly on Egypt: “If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision, by Egypt, that the Strait of Tiran would be closed [to Israeli ships and Israeli-bound cargo].”
Kennedy was the first President to approve the sale of defensive US weapons to Israel, specifically Hawk anti-aircraft missiles. But Johnson approved tanks and fighter jets, all vital after the 1967 war when France imposed a freeze on sales to Israel. Yehuda Avner recently described on these pages prime minister Levi Eshkol’s successful appeal for these weapons on a visit to the LBJ ranch.
Israel won the 1967 war, and Johnson worked to make sure it also won the peace. “I sure as hell want to be careful and not run out on little Israel,” Johnson said in a March 1968 conversation with his ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur Goldberg, according to White House tapes recently released.
Soon after the 1967 war, Soviet premier Aleksei Kosygin asked Johnson at the Glassboro Summit why the US supported Israel when there were 80 million Arabs and only three million Israelis. “Because it is right,” responded the straight-shooting Texan.
The crafting of UN Resolution 242 in November 1967 was done under Johnson’s scrutiny. The call for “secure and recognized boundaries” was critical. The American and British drafters of the resolution opposed Israel returning all the territories captured in the war. In September 1968, Johnson explained, “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security.
Goldberg later noted, “Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem , and this omission was deliberate.” This historic diplomacy was conducted under Johnson’s stewardship, as Goldberg related in oral history to the Johnson Library. “I must say for Johnson,” Goldberg stated. “He gave me great personal support.”
Robert David Johnson, a professor of history at Brooklyn College, recently wrote in The New York Sun, Johnson’s policies stemmed more from personal concerns – his friendship with leading Zionists, his belief that America had a moral obligation to bolster Israeli security and his conception of Israel as a frontier land much like his home state of Texas.. His personal concerns led him to intervene when he felt that the State or Defense departments had insufficiently appreciated Israel ‘s diplomatic or military needs.”
President Johnson firmly pointed American policy in a pro-Israel direction. In a historical context, the American emergency airlift to Israel in 1973, the constant diplomatic support, the economic and military assistance, and the strategic bonds between the two countries can all be credited to the seeds planted by LBJ.

Jewish holiday
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not feeling well and concerned about his mortality goes to consult a Psychic about the date of his death.
Closing her eyes and silently reaching into the realm
of the future she finds the answer.
“You will die on a Jewish holiday”.
“Which one?'” Ahmadinejad asks nervously.
It doesn’t matter,” replied the psychic.
“Whenever you die, it’ll be a Jewish holiday.”


Are We In a Depression?

mideast experts,  : Dry Bones cartoon.

Are we in an economic depression? Are we unwilling to admit it? Those questions sparked today’s offering, which is one of the cartoons I posted before leaving for China on a university speaking tour sponsored by SIGNAL (the Sino Israel Global Network Academic Leadership).

I plan to return home to Israel on or about November 1st.

-Dry Bones- Israel’s Political Comic Strip Since 1973


Better a little late than never, this is a very good video.

Yedida Freilich’s newest song attempts to highlight the fragility of past Arab-Israeli Agreements and Treaties. The track conveys the existential dangers to Israel inherent in relying on signed agreements with surrounding Arab dictatorships. The timing of the song’s release coincides with present Palestinian attempts to use the UN to impose a solution. This process negates Israel’s right to secure and mutually negotiated borders.

Here in Jerusalem, during rush hour, a little old lady carry many bags gets on an overcrowded bus, the driver asked for her fare and she said to him, if you knew what I had, you would let me on for free, so he did. She starts pushing to the back, knocking into people with her parcels, and whenever someone complained, she simply responded, if you knew what I had you would let me pass, so they did. She gets to the back of the bus, and of course there are no seats, she looks at a man sitting there and said (you guessed it), if you knew what I had, you would give me your seat, and of course, he did.  A woman watching all this and approached the old lady and asked: What is is that you have? To which the old lady replied … :


Chutzpah. This all to lead into the next post.

What is Chutzpah?
And is it good or bad?
By Tzvi Freeman

Guy Kawasaki was Steve Jobs’s original marketing man—the guy who invented “corporate evangelism.” He started his career working in the Jewish-dominated New York garment industry. He defined chutzpah as “calling up tech support to report a bug on pirated software.” Guy believed chutzpah was a vital element in successful marketing, a key to Apple’s success.

Aside from marketing, the term “chutzpah” has been used 231 times in American legal opinions. Standard translations include audacity, insolence, impudence, gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible guts, presumption and arrogance. Judges need to be very precise in their terminology, so chalk that up as evidence that none of the above translations could be used to describe the attitude these judges were looking to describe. It’s a word that demands some cultural context.

So what is chutzpah? It’s a kind of a cosmic attitude, as though there’s nothing really there stopping you from doing whatever you want.

That’s why chutzpah can be real bad and chutzpah can be real good. Bad chutzpah is something we all know about. But good chutzpah is one of the first rules of behavior cited in the Shulchan Aruch—the classic codification of Jewish Law. Citing the words of the Mishnah, “Be fierce as a leopard,” the code tells us that this means that when you go about doing all those Jewish things that Jews do, you shouldn’t feel the slightest embarrassment before those who ridicule you. You don’t have to call them names, you don’t have to react at all. Just keep on doing what you have to do as though they don’t exist.

Like I said, that’s at the very beginning of the book. The implication is that if you have no chutzpah inside of you, everything else in this book from this point on is going to be very shaky indeed.

So, to be a good Jew, you need two opposites: A sense of shame that prevents you from acting with chutzpah to do the wrong thing, and a sense of chutzpah that prevents you from being ashamed to do the right thing.

Abraham had a lot of chutzpah. He argued with G‑d over His plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Moses had a lot of chutzpah. He, too, argued with G‑d to save His own people, even when they were undoubtedly in the wrong.

King David had enormous chutzpah. He couldn’t fathom how anyone could be afraid of a giant warrior who was deriding and embarrassing the Jewish nation.

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, had no sense of fear of anyone or anything other than G‑d Himself. Those who knew him said that if a lion would jump out at him, he wouldn’t flinch.

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch defined the kind of chutzpah that the leaders of Chabad implemented in their fight against Czarist oppression, and later, Bolshevik anti-religious persecution: “Just go over it.” Meaning, no matter what they do, no matter how ominous it looks, just keep your locomotive steaming straight ahead as though there’s nothing in your way.

In our own times, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, several times insisted that we need that leopard’s fierceness and locomotive “just go over it” power when dealing with the world. For one thing, we need to walk right over the challenges that confront a Jew living his heritage in a secular world, pushing us from all sides to “just be like everyone else.” Yet aside from that, we also need the chutzpah to demand from G‑d the end of our exile and the long-awaited era of enlightenment, “the times of Moshiach.”

Yes, that’s chutzpah. But with all our people have been through in history, it’s a chutzpah to which we have a right

They vote in the United Nations:
Below are the actual voting records of various Arabic/Islamic States which are recorded in both the US State Department and United Nations records:
Kuwait votes against the United States 67% of the time
Qatar votes against the United States 67% of the time
Morocco votes against the United States 70% of the time
United Arab Emirates votes against the U. S. 70% of the time.
Jordan votes against the United States 71% of the time.
Tunisia votes against the United States 71% of the time.
Saudi Arabia votes against the United States 73% of the time.
Yemen votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Algeria votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Oman votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Sudan votes against the United States 75% of the time.
Pakistan votes against the United States 75% of the time.
Libya votes against the United States 76% of the time.
Egypt votes against the United States 79% of the time.
Lebanon votes against the United States 80% of the time.
India votes against the United States 81% of the time.
Syria votes against the United States 84% of the time.
Mauritania votes against the United States 87% of the time.
U S Foreign Aid to those that hate us:
Egypt, for example, after voting 79% of the time against the United States,
still receives $2 billion annually in US Foreign Aid.
Jordan votes 71% against the United States
And receives $192,814,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.
Pakistan votes 75% against the United States
Receives $6,721,000,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.
India votes 81% against the United States
Receives $143,699,000 annually.
Perhaps it is time to get out of the UN and give the tax savings back to the American workers who are having to skimp and sacrifice to pay the taxes.
Pass this along to every taxpaying citizen you know.
GO GREEN – RECYCLE CONGRESS IN 2012 ! ! ! (If you don’t know any taxpayers just delete it!)

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