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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remembering Israel's Birth Pangs and Stern Group

Nadene Goldfoot
We had 650,000 Jews in  Israel in May 1948.  It went up to 806,000 residents including Arabs.  The 1948 War took 6,373 of their lives, or 1% of our total Jewish population there.  We remember that Moses, born in Egypt, son of Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi,  had left Egypt with 600,000 Jews bound for Canaan. 

The largest city in 1948 was Tel Aviv-Yafo with 248,000.  Today, there are 14 cities with more than 100,000 residents out of which 6 have more than 200,000.  The largest are Jerusalem with 773,800; Tel Aviv-Yafo with  393,900; Haifa with 265,600; Rishon LeZiyyon with 227,600, Ashdod with 211,300 and Petah Tikvah with 197,800.   Portland, Oregon in 2005's population was 533,427.  It's the largest city in Oregon. 

At the time of 1948, Israel had no cannons or tanks, only 9 obsolete planes.  The  Haganah, the Jewish self-defense group organized from 1920 to 1948, brought about for lack of protections for Jews under the British administration,  had only 18,900 armed soldiers.  There were other smaller groups such as the Stern Group (the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel-Irgun Tzevai Leumi or otherwise known as Etzel of which my cousin, Stanley Goldfoot was the Chief of Intelligence) and (Lohame Herut Israel).  Yigael Yadin told David Ben-Gurion that they had a 50/50 chance of survival.  David Ben Gurion became Israel's first Prime Minister.  Yadin served as chief of operations during the Israel War of Independence and as chief of staff of the Israel army 1949-1952. 

64 years later we find that Israel's population has survived the war of 1947-49, 1956, 1967, 1968-70, 1973, 1982 (I was there then), 1991,  and 2006 and more firing into Israel leading to Operation Cast Lead of December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009  to have a population of 7,836,000.  Of those, 5,901,000 are Jewish.  1,610,000 are Arabs and there are also unidentified 325,000, probably of which many are Christians.  Today 70% of Israel's Jewish population is made up of Sabras, or people born in Israel, compared to the 35% native-born in 1948. 

Among the nations of the world, Israel is a teeny country with a teeny population.  Jews make up less than 1% of the total world population as it is.  In the United States, we make up 2.1% of the population with New York having the most with 8.4% of that state having 1,635,020 Jews and California with 3.3% of that state having 1,219,740 Jews.  Our total population in the USA is at 6,588,065, making slightly more Jews living in the USA than in Israel.  We have just about the same number today in the USA that were killed in the Holocaust.  It's taken 67 years to reach that point. 

Our population as grown and our country, starting off like an arid orphaned  desert with swampy malaria- carrying mosquitoes has become a regular Garden of Eden, which our neighbors now covet.  Our numbers have slowly increased while our accomplishments have abounded amidst the hatred of neighbors surrounding us.  This little group of stubborn people have given much to the world already that they have created and shared.  I hope their love of life also permeates the air people breathe.  L'Chaim!  To Life! 

Book:  Genesis 1948 by Dan Kurzman

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