About leadership, education, the courage to dream and accomplish and the coming of the Messiah; about proportion, optimism, Jews and inventing Israel.
Sometime a word, a comment, a speech can bring to the open, affirm, embolden what you think; it inspires you to embellish on it.
This is what General (Ret.) Eliezer Shkedi’s speech, delivered at a leadership conference, did to me. Luckily, I speak Hebrew, the language in which the speech was delivered, so I can repeat a selection of its content and elaborate on it and beyond. The speech was about Zionism, the state of Israel, the Jewish people from education point of view, values and leadership. Some of that was through the eyes of his father, a Holocaust survivor from the village Tolcsva, in Hungary. The speech was about acceptance, love, proportions and optimism.
Acceptance and Love
So very often one losses oneself, the meaning and purpose of life itself, the meaning and purpose of what surrounds us.
Why the disunity and discord among Jews? Why do we, Jews, separate ourselves? What is the difference between an orthodox, a reform, conservative or secular Jew? Aren’t they all Jews?
“To each Jewish home I enter, I feel at home” Shkedi’s father used to say. “On the way to the ovens the Nazis could care less what kind of a Jew you are, what size Kipa (skullcap) you wear; so we must find a way to live in harmony and together,” Shkedi continued, quoting his father.
Yours and those you lead, values. In a war, in today’s war on terror, no Jew wants to kill an innocent woman or a child. This is a core value of our Jewish culture we receive at home. Therefore, Israel’s military avoids, at high cost, killing the innocent.
Israel’s enemies are not able to defeat her in a conventional way; all they can do is cause Israelis to act like them, be like them. They want to kill [innocent] Israel women and children. The moment Israelis think it is legitimate, the enemy WON! So Israel does all that is necessary to harm those who need to be harmed and not harm those who should not be harmed.
Our Jewish Democracy
If only once, we, Jews, destroy the democracy we have, what was accepted by the Knesset [Israel’s Parliament body], by the government and the court, we lose our state. And we must not let our free, democratic, Jewish and proud state be destroyed from within.
There are a few facets to being a leader. To be a leader is to be all, all the time. To be total. To work day and night tirelessly, to achieve what you believe in. There is no leader, or a commander, in a part-time job.
Everything, means to include everything. Leadership is a personal example. To speak and tell and say beautiful things is irrelevant. Do not be confused for a moment. Those around you, the leader, the commander, and those below you see what you do, in every field, in the operational, determination, in achieving the goal, the norms and the behavior, not just the laws. What you are doing, the group under you follows and does. And so, do the things you want to do so that those under you will follow you.
Who Is a Great Leader?
A great leader is the one who cares for everyone, for the entire nation; a lesser of a leader is the one who cares about his own circle, his own party or movement only.
When you are told that you can do something, anything, believe the person who told you and move forward with all your might. When you are told that you cannot do something, choose between the person who told you that and the leader who tells you that you are capable. When a person does not believe in himself/herself, his/her chances of succeeding are zero. When a person believes in himself/herself, he/she is already on his/her way to success. It is not certain he or she will succeed but he/she will try different ways until he/she succeeds, because he/she is already on his or her way to success.
Proportions and Optimism
“If, 75 years ago they had told us, Jews, to dream the most amazing, the most insane, the most irrational, the most inconceivable imaginable thing in the world, I would say it wouldn’t be even close to what I describe to be reality.”
Every Jew living today in the world is part of a miracle. Seventy five years ago the Jewish people were going through the greatest catastrophe in their history and today we are witnessing the greatest miracle in the history of the Jewish people, throughout the generations. We, Jews, have a free, democratic, proud, amazing, state of the art, in every field, Jewish state, something inconceivable.
The above anecdotes were excerpts from the leadership seminar in which General Eliezer Shkedi expressed his and his father’s wisdom.
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD! Seriously- please, please listen.Meet General Eliezer Shkedi….the former Commander of the Israeli Air Force. He's done so much for Israel , but when you ask him to tell you what story defined his life…this is what he tells.
Posted by Natasha Kirtchuk on Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Israel, and the Messiah
There is a metaphoric story for those who do not see the miracle happening in front of their eyes.
God Will Save Me
A terrible storm came into a town and the local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.
A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”
The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”
As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”
The floodwaters rose higher, pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”
The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.
A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”
Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.
When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”
And God answered, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car, I sent you a canoe, I sent you a motorboat, I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”
Still Waiting for the Messiah
The followers of the Chabad Movement are waiting for the Messiah to come; but is waiting for the Messiah just a slide show? The Messiah has already arrived; it is the state of Israel that exists against all odds.
The Warning Message Arrived in 1917
In November 1917 Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, who served as Foreign Secretary under David Lloyd George, on behalf of the British cabinet issued the Balfour Declaration.
The Balfour Declaration was a public statement, issued during World War I by the British government, announcing their support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region, with a small Jewish population. The declaration was from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published in the press on 9 November 1917; it read.
His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
From 1917 till 1922, the land of Israel was desolate and empty of Arabs. There were no restrictions to arrive and settle the land. But the Jews did not arrive. They waited for the Messiah to come and cause them to move there.
San Remo Conference
World War One ended. At the end of the war, in 1920, the heads of the world powers met in San Remo for what is known as the San Remo conference. Held at Villa Devachan, in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920, it was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council as an outgrowth of the Paris Peace Conference. Resolutions passed at this conference determined the allocation of Class “A” League of Nations mandates for the administration of former Ottoman Empire three territories in the Middle East: Palestine-land of Israel, Syria and Mesopotamia-Iraq.
The land of Israel became the British Mandate for Palestine, valid from 29 September 1923 – till 15 May 1948. It was a “Class A” League of Nations mandate for the territories of Palestine, according to Balfour Declaration’s “national home for the Jewish people,” established on the east and west banks of the Jordan River. Yet, Jews did not arrive in the land in great numbers.
On 12 March 1921, then Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, endorsed an arrangement whereby Transjordan – east bank of the Jordan River, which was allocated to the Jews – would be given to Abdullah of the Hashemite family, as the emir under the authority of the High Commissioner, and with the condition that the Jewish National Home provisions of the Palestine mandate would not apply there. With that the Jewish people lost approximately 80% of the land the Balfour Declaration awarded and allocated to them.
Difficulties to arrive in the Land of Israel British Mandate began and Arabs, with the support and encouragement of the Brits, started to arrive in the land in great numbers.
Then came the White Paper of 1939 decree, a policy paper issued by the British government, under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in response to the 1936-39 Arab Revolt.
The policy was prepared by the British government, unilaterally, as a result of the failure of the Arab-Zionist London Conference. The paper called for the establishment, within 10 years, of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state, rejecting the idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 during a period of 5 years; further immigration was to be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Restrictions were put on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs (section III). This sealed the free movement of Jews to arrive in the land of Israel.
With the White Paper decree, the doors to the land of Israel were shut sealed to millions of Jews who could have escaped the Nazis’ Jew-murdering machine and arrive in their homeland. They had no place to run to and subsequently six million of them perished in the Holocaust.
Taking The Courage To Dream
Had the Jews not waited for who knows what, had they arrived, in large numbers, in the land, had all those six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust not waited for God to save them, there would not have been the Holocaust, there would not have been Arabs in the land, who murdered them then and still do today. There may not have been wars, and so much of what took place these past 70 years could have been nothing but a bad dream.
The Miracle of Israel
And yet, despite of all the wars, the mayhem, the inferior quality of government rule, despite of the double standard to which Israel is held to by the entire world, despite the so much wrong that was done to the Jews and Israel, one cannot avoid seeing the miracle the nation state of the Jewish people, Israel, has become; a miracle born from a major catastrophe.
And some are still waiting for some Messiah to arrive?
Each person has a story to tell, from his or her point of view; each person has a story to tell, from his or her point of view that may affect every Jewish person’s life.
Together we, Jews, shall have the courage to dream, the courage to do, and the sky must not be the limit.