by Dr. Gerhard Falk
diploma chasers and business mavins we forget that there have been and are some
great Jewish heroes who had no diploma and who had no money but who had courage
and a fighting spirit. No doubt, Ariel Sharon is one of these. Yet he, now prime
minister of Israel, stands on the shoulders of those who went before him as all
of us must. Therefore it behooves us to remember Joseph Trumpeldor, the first
and perhaps the greatest fighting man Israel has produced.
was born in Piatygorsk, in the Caucasus region of Russia in 1880. His father,
like so many Jewish men, was conscripted into the Czarist army for 25 years in
order to extinguish his Jewish identity. Nevertheless, his father remained a Jew
and instilled a love for all things Jewish in Joseph. Joseph attended a
gymnasium, which is a European high school for exceptional students. (The Greek
word gyn means woman. Hence “gynecologist” or one who studies women and
“logist” from logos or word. The original meaning of gymnasium among the
ancient Greeks was a house of women who exercised inside while men exercised in
the nude, outside. Time changed the meaning of the word to include all those who
exercise. Hence the English usage “gymnasium”. In Europe the word attached
to a school for women but later was assigned to schools for both genders.)
also studied dentistry but relinquished this interest after he heard of the
First Zionist Congress, organized by Theodore Herzl in 1897.
Russia and Japan fought a war which was eventually settled by the American
President, Theodore Roosevelt. Trumpeldor volunteered to fight in the Russian
army in an effort to prove that the usual European bigotry about “Jewish
cowardice” was a lie. He therefore volunteered in the “shock troops” who
defended Port Arthur against a Japanese attack. Consequently, Trumpeldor lost
his left arm during another Japanese attack in 1904. Even the Russian bigots
admitted that Trumpeldor had earned promotion and made him a non-commissioned
officer. Thereafter, he received all four of Russia’s medals for bravery after
returning from Japanese captivity. During his imprisonment in a Japanese P.O.W.
camp he organized 500 Jews into a Zionist society.
Trumpeldor became the first Jew ever to be promoted to commissioned officer in
the Russian army. Nevertheless, Trumpeldor recognized that the Jewish community
in Russia, and for that matter in Europe, could not survive and therefore he
went to Israel in 1912 and settled in Dagania. In 1914, the Turks deported
Trumpeldor to Egypt because Turkey had become an ally of Germany, and Russia,
Trumpeldor’s homeland, was on the English side. England at that time governed
Trumpeldor joined the British army and formed a Jewish Mule Corps, the first
Jewish fighting unit in existence since 70 C.E. (common era). The Corps was
assigned to the battle of Gallipoli. That battle was a disaster for the British,
Australian and New Zealand troops. Commanded by the Jewish Australian General
Monash, the allies were slaughtered by the Turkish guns. Read about this in any
book on the First World War or in any biography of Winston Churchill, who was
held responsible for the disaster.
event, Trumpeldor fought with great courage in that battle. After the war he
returned to Russia briefly in the hope of organizing a Jewish Legion, a concept
turned down by the British. Then he returned to Israel.
It was now
1919 and Zeev Jabotinsky had founded the Revisionist Zionists, determined to
fight for the establishment of an independent Jewish state in face of British
duplicity. The British had promised such a state in the famous Balfour
Declaration in an effort to gain Jewish support for their cause. But when the
war over, the British sided openly with the Arabs and encouraged them to murder
the Jews in Israel, which the British had taken from the defeated Turks. The
Arabs, armed by the British, attacked all Jewish towns and villages. The Jews
formed a self-defense army called Haganah, but in face of British weapons in the
hands of the Arab killers, the Jews were outnumbered and outgunned.
on March 1, 1920 a gang of Arab killers attacked the Jewish town of Tel Chai
(Hill of Life) and a fierce battle erupted as the Jews defended themselves.
Trumpeldor was badly wounded and died with the words “Ein Davar, tov lamut be-arzeinu,”
or “it is good to die for one's country.”
Trumpeldor and to this day Israel must be defended again and again by the heroes
of Israel. Encouraged by the European haters and the so-called United Nations,
the Arabs will try to kill us all. But now, thanks to Joseph Trumpeldor, Israel
is a powerful state. Its armed forces are the spiritual daughters and sons of
Trumpeldor as are we, as we stand with Israel now and forever, bimhayro
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications,
A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002),
Ascent to Reason (2002).