Friday, March 30, 2012

A few Micky Katz videos and a lot less lyrics


Borscht Riders In The Sky - Micky Katz

Duvid Crockett

Duvid, Duvid Crockett; King of Delancey Street.
Duvid, Duvid Crockett; this boy you've got to meet!.

Born in the wilds of Delancey Street
Home of gefilte fish and kosher meat
Handy mit a knife, oh her zich tsi
He flicked him a chicken when he was only three!

Duvid, Duvid Crockett,
(He sat in the sun and geracket und gebaket)
Duvid, Duvid Crockett; King of Delancey Street.

In eighteen-toiteen, he fought "Indianers,"
Den came the "Litvaks" and the "Galitzianers,"
A bi geharget redskins all over the shteitle,
He never lost his head...he never lost his sheitle.

Duvid, Duvid Crockett,
(He chewed tobacky and ge'hist und ge'chracket)
Duvid, Duvid Crockett; King of Delancey Street.

He went down south, lookin' for a meidle.
Met a little tsatskele named Daisy Freidle.
From near und far, dey came to the chippie
Elected him president of the B'nai Mississippi.

Mazal tov, Duvid Crockett!
(A mazal tov di mame un di alte Crockett)
Mazal tov, Duvid Crockett; King of Delancey Street

He went out west on his ferdele Shleim,
Took his wife Freidele, his vaibele shein,
Shleim hat g'fliet vie an aero-plane,
He got to Las Wegas ahead of the train.

Duvid, Duvid Crockett;
(he valked up to the crep table mit a full pocket)
Duvid, Duvid Crockett; King of Delancey Street.

He shot like a gembler, einer af die velt,
Up came two drerd di gelt.
He felt very sad, dat's my opinion,
He vould have said kaddish...but he couldn't find a minyan.

Duvid, Duvid Crockett,
(ferlorn di heizen, he went home nahkit)
Duvid, Duvid Crockett,
He's back on Delancey Street.
Duvid, Duvid Crockett,
He's back on Delancey Street.

How Much Is That Pickle In The Window?

Schleppin My Baby Back Home

16 Tons

Oh, I went to woyk in a delicatessen
Far draysik toler [for $30] and plenty to fresn [gorge]
The balebast [head cook] promised me a real gedila [glory/honor]
Instead of gedila I catched me a kila [hernia]

Sixteen tons all kinds smooked fishes
Latkes, blintzes, un heyse [hot] knishes
O Lordy nem es shnell [take me quickly] to the promised land
A fayer afn bus zol er vein farbrent [a fire on the boss may he get burned up!]

You load sixteen tons of lekakh [cake] un tagl
Herring mislines [fish intestines] stuffed heldzl and beygl
Genig tsu shlepn [enough to shlep] just like a ferd [horse]
Hert zikh tsu tsu mir mentshn [Listen to me people]
Es teyg in dred [It's good for nothing!][5]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Psalm 150 to Leonard Cohen's Halleluyah

The Max Chaiken Band is from Boston. According to his bio, "For nearly 10 years, Max has been song leading and writing original, contemporary Jewish music. He served as the Head Song Leader at the URJ Camp Harlam from 2004 through 2009, and currently serves as the Head Song Leader at the URJ Kutz Camp." Their raising funds / doing advance sales for their debut album "All That Breathes".

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Rousing Russian Folk Instrument Version of Hava Nagila

A very Russian folk ensemble with the English name Style-Quartet and a forceful, almost cantorial, singer named Maya Balashova, recently filled a concert hall in Russia where they performed a rousing version of Hava Nagila.

In this version, Balashova is accompanied by musicians playing the balalaika, a huge triangular guitar-like instrument, the domra, a mandolin-like instrument, and the bayan, a Russian accordion.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Frumest iPhone Ever

Here Are Our Purim Picks Of The Best Movies Of 2011

There are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards (Oscars). But who needs them when the best awards of all are the Silver Graggers. Jewish Humor Central is proud to present the movie awards from our sister publication, The Kustanowitz Kronikle.

The Silver Graggers are different from the Golden Globes and the Oscars in that there are multiple winners for Best Picture, the only award we give.

This year the Kustanowitz kids have been hard at work, deliberating which films released in 2011 merited consideration for this prestigious award. Today we are announcing the winners of the annual competition. Here are the best films of 2011, with a brief description of each one.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: An American tourist finds himself in front of a French synagogue at midnight when a young Rashi appears with casks of wine from Provence that he is selling for the Purim feast.

THE HELP: A nanny working for a Haredi family quits her job when her boss gets pregnant with her 17th and 18th babies.

THE DESCENDANTS: After 969 years, Methuselah looks back on his life and tries to remember the names of all his grandchildren.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE: The gripping story of an unaffiliated Jew trying to reconcile his newly discovered heritage with his first experience at an Orthodox kiddush.

MONEYBALL: A young mom creates panic and hysteria at her Passover seder after announcing that her three-carat enagement ring accidentally fell into one of the matzah balls that she was cooking.

DRIVE: With neighbors getting increasingly suspicious, a closeted nonreligious Jew must park further and further away from his Orthodox synagogue each Shabbat morning.

COWBOYS AND ALIENS: When a group of eight Jewish men get lost in Montana, they do everything in their power to find enough Jewish cowboys to help complete a Maariv minyan.

HORRIBLE BOSSES: The story of a woman whose supervisors don’t believe a word of it when she asks for time off to celebrate the last days of Passover.

ACT OF VALOR: Pushed to the brink by new halachic stringencies over which Ziploc bags are kosher for Passover, an Eshet Chayil goes rogue, blowtorching the entire house instead of just the kitchen.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT: Ruchie Horowitz, a Boro Park mother of ten contends with thirty incoming seder guests, each with different dietary needs.

THE ARTIST: A black-and-white silent film depicting a beautiful and delicate conflict as a baker of unleavened bread meets the seder leader who has attained international fame breaking the middle matzah in two precisely equal pieces.

THE GREY: The previously cinematically untold tale of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah’s overnight transformation from young Talmudic prodigy to wizened wise man.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY: Mrs. Goldberg’s got four children with four different careers. They’re all very good at what they do. But was it too much to ask that one of them - just ONE of them - go to medical school?

MAN ON A LEDGE: Moses is the leader of the Jewish people, but he hides a shameful secret: his paralyzing fear of heights.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: While on her junior year abroad in Israel, Aliza changes her name to Lisbeth and gets inked, causing her parents to say, “A tattoo wasn’t enough? It had to be of a fictional, non-kosher animal? Oy.”

IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY: Israel’s Ministry of Tourism makes a dreadful advertising misstep.

THE TREE OF LIFE: In this prequel to the famous story of Adam and Eve, we follow the early years of the lesser-known tree in the garden as it grows from seed to adulthood and tells the true story of Man’s first sin.

"Hello" - from "The Book of Purim" - Official Jewish Parody of "The Book of Mormon"

A Tribute to the Jewish Mother

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stuff Kosher Meat-Eaters Say To Kosher Vegans with Mayim Bialik

The Anti-Missionary
by Daniel Asor

Sometimes it takes one to know one.

I was sitting in a Fuga, an acrobatic plane in the Israeli Air Force. An IDF commanding officer was in the pilot’s seat, ready to take me on an aerial tour of Israel’s southern region. This was my reward for having led a battalion of Air Force cadets, training them in street-fighting tactics.
We flew over the Negev and my spirit soared as the vast desert spread out below. Later, as we descended and approached the Air Force base, I noticed it was surrounded by a long, high fence, broken periodically by watchtowers. Suddenly I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. I had been here once before…
My mother was a widow and I was living in a dormitory high school in Be’er Sheva. I wanted to go home for the weekend, but we were poor and I had no money for the bus. So I decided to walk home, a distance of 15 miles. It was a hot summer day and I headed out on the road, jogging to make good time. After a bit, I took a shortcut, angling off the road into the desert. Before I knew it I had lost my way. I didn’t know the route back to the road, so I decided to push on.
It was very hot and I had run out of water. I was getting faint and all I could see was desert sand. Eventually I reached a large, fenced-in area. There was a guard tower and I shouted for help, but nobody answered. I set my sights on the next tower, a half-mile away.
I was exhausted and stricken by the heat. I crept slowly along the fence, and as I reached the next tower I collapsed. Again I cried out but no one was there. Then I saw an Air Force jet making a landing approach. He flew so close to me that I could make out the expression on his face. But he did not see me.
I dragged myself a bit further, then blacked out. When my eyes opened, it was the middle of the night. "Help!" I weakly called out. My faint echo was all that answered me. This is it, I told myself. You’re not coming out alive. I mustered my last ounce of strength and cried out the final words that a Jew says, "Shema Yisrael!"
Suddenly I heard the sound of jeeps. Flashlight beams arced through the darkness. The security system had detected a strange object outside the fence and they had come to investigate. I couldn’t believe the miracle.
In order to rescue my limp body, the soldiers had to cut away the bottom part of the fence. They gently hoisted me onto a jeep and brought me to the base to recover.
Now, six years later, I was landing at the very same base where I had been given a second lease on life. After disembarking the plane, I asked the pilot to accompany me on a walk out to the fence. I searched a bit, but found what I was looking for – “my spot” in the fence, demarcated by the steel cables used to mend it years before. It stood before me as a testament to my narrow escape.
At that moment I had an epiphany. Someone, somewhere was watching over me. Was it a coincidence that I ended up at the exact same spot where my life had been spared? I sensed that this power was sending me a message about the deeper meaning of existence. I didn’t know who or what, but I was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Manhattan Life
A few months later I finished my army service and, along with rest of my buddies, headed to New York – they pursuing dreams of riches, me on a grand search for Truth. I read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel, and books on meditation and yoga. I became a vegetarian.
But along the way I got distracted. Life in New York quickly became a whirlwind of running from pubs in the Village, to happenings in Central Park, to museums on the Upper East Side. I was drawn into the vast, warm sea of aimless existence.
I hung out with other Israelis who were looking to disengage. We started a business distributing fashion accessories. Before long I was making a ton of money. I got my pilot’s license and bought an airplane.
At one of the pilot lessons I met a cowboy. When he heard that I’m from Israel, he perked up. "I observe kashrut,” he told me, “though not for religious reasons. It’s healthier. Rabbis come to our ranch to buy cattle for slaughter. At first I thought they don’t know what they’re doing, but then I realized they are top professionals. Just by examining the animals, they can tell which are the healthy ones. I’m telling you, they are top professionals!"
An American F-15 pilot was listening to our conversation. "I’m not Jewish," he interjected, "but during the Gulf War I came to Israel with the Patriot missile defense system. I must say: You are God’s nation. The 39 Iraqi scuds that hit Israel miraculously caused no casualties. God is watching over you quite nicely."
I was trying to opt out of my Jewish connection, and here I was surrounded by praise for my people. It was not so easy to escape my destiny.
Comparative Religion
I wanted to become a flight instructor, so I moved to Florida and pursued a degree in professional aviation. There were Christian students on campus who used to get together for Bible study. I became curious and signed up for a course in comparative religions taught by a local priest. He started with Oriental faiths and reached Judaism toward the end of the course. He said that Abraham "worshiped the mountain gods, whom he called El Shaday." Shocked and surprised, I raised my hand. "Did you know that this name, ‘Shaday,’ appears on the mezuzah at the entrance to every Jewish home? Are you suggesting that contemporary Jews also worship ‘the mountain gods’?"
The priest stood silent as tension filled the room. Suddenly, a tall and longhaired Catholic student rose to her feet. She felt the need to defend the honor of her religion and turned to me angrily. She pointed an accusing finger and yelled: "You! We did not come here to listen to you! Get out!"
Before she could finish speaking, she suddenly choked and fell to the floor, with her accusing hand clasped to her throat, choking and coughing as she fell.
I sat there, stunned, not daring even to breathe. Students rushed to her rescue. They gave her some water and soon she recovered. Other students just glared at me. It was very tense. The class went on a break and the priest asked me not to attend class anymore.
This event was confusing for me emotionally. But even more so, it made me interested in the differences between Judaism and Christianity.
Things got even more confusing one weekend at a cocktail party where I met a friend from my time in the Israeli army. He was married to a Christian woman and invited me to join him for Shabbat services at a Messianic Temple. To my amazement they had a cross on the Holy Ark. Some of the worshipers wore kippas. The chants sounded Christian, but the lyrics were definitely Jewish. After the prayers, the “rabbi” handed out the Eucharist, sacred wine and bread, just as in a Catholic church.
I pushed it aside as an aberration. I was immersed in my aviation studies and couldn’t give it any more attention.
Missionary Days
During this time I met a Dutch woman and got married – she a Catholic, me a Jew. We wanted to find some common spiritual ground, so we went on a spiritual search. Hare Krishna, Lifespring, Transcendental Meditation. We tried it all.
I eventually met some nice Christians who had a Bible study group. It was comfortable to be with them – I had some knowledge of the Bible from my youth, and their theology was familiar to my wife. Without making too big a deal of it, I converted to Christianity.
One day, the main donor of our church invited me to attend the weekly Bible study of all the pastors in town. He wanted to draw me closer to the inner circle. So every Sunday afternoon, I sat with these Christian leaders and studied in great depth. I was the darling of the group – young, Israeli and a flight instructor. From their perspective I was a great success story.
I became an active missionary, sharing the light with whomever I met.
Once, my friends at the Florida church asked me to give a lecture about the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. I showed them how to wear a tallit, the prayer shawl, explaining how it wraps the body. I went on to explain that the arm-tefillin is placed alongside the heart.
In medicine, a person is not declared dead when their heart stops pumping, as long as the brain still functions. That’s where a Jew places the head-tefillin. Just as there are four kinds of brainwaves, the head-tefillin is divided into four sections.
Questions came pouring from all directions. “What is the meaning of the knot on the back of the head?”
The answer came in a flash. The brain stem, the "fifth brain" is at the spot of the tefillin knot. The brainstem is the instinctive brain, which orders the heart to pump blood and the lungs to draw air.
A woman in her 70s approached me with tears in her eyes and said: "In the name of the church, I am asking for your permission to hold on to the hem of your robe." She raised the hem of my tallit and cried: "Hallelujah!" The crowd echoed: "Hallelujah!"
She held aloft a Bible and said: "Whoever wants the Old Testament prophecy to come true, raise your hands!" The churchgoers all raised their hands.
She said: "May this come true: ‘It shall come to pass that 10 people will grab one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23)
I stood there, wrapped in tefillin, shocked. As I descended the stage, the church members continued to bombard me with questions, calling me “Rabbi.”
The Disputation
My family back in Israel didn’t know what I was involved in. But my sister’s husband, a former priest, figured it out. He himself has an amazing story. His father was the senior priest of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and he followed in those footsteps, also becoming a priest. But he left the church and began to research religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism. He skipped Judaism because his father had told him that the Jewish people had ceased to exist, and those living in modern Israel were European colonizers. But then, on a visit to New York City, he saw some chassidic Jews. This triggered a trip to Israel where he spent two years studying Judaism.
To make a long story short, he converted to Judaism and married my sister. He then invited his older brother to visit Israel, and the brother also converted. Before long their mother and other five brothers all converted and now live in Israel. It was later discovered that the Conquistadors who arrived in 1521 included several Jewish “marranos” who had faked conversion to Christianity in order to escape the Spanish Inquisition. By the mid-16th century, there were more crypto-Jews in Mexico City than Spanish Catholics – prompting Spain to open an Inquisition office in Mexico. Today, over 200 “marrano” families from the city of Vera Cruz alone have converted to Judaism.
My brother-in-law contacted me and said that what I was doing is wrong. He wanted to meet with me to discuss theology. When the priests in Florida heard about this, they saw this as an opportunity to win him back to Christianity. So they set me up with a private training program, showing me all the possible arguments and counter-arguments.
A few months later, I met my brother-in-law for a debate – a modern-day version of the Barcelona Disputation. We argued for days, and then continued for months of correspondence back and forth – me consulting with the priests and him consulting with the rabbis. After a year, I concluded that Christianity was false, as it became clear that Isaiah 53 and other biblical “sources” had been taken out of context and fabricated to fit their story.
I stopped attending church. Soon after I received a call from Steve, the son of our church’s priest, saying that his father had died and that he was now expected to take over the position. I congratulated him, but Steve stopped me. He was experiencing a crisis of faith and did not want to take over his father’s position. We had a long talk and as a result he traveled to Israel for two weeks. I arranged for my brother-in-law – “the former priest, son of a priest” – to show this “doubting priest, son of a priest” the sights and discuss theology.
When Steve returned from Israel, he told me: “What’s wrong with you? Judaism is a beautiful religion, and Israel is a beautiful country. You gave it all up for nothing!”
I went back to New York and was invited to the wedding of an Israeli army buddy. There I met many friends from my army unit – each one married to a non-Jewish woman, with kids wearing crosses on their neck. It struck me: We were trained for the military fight, but not the cultural battle.
Emergency Landing
After I left the church, I started to increase my Jewish learning. That’s when my wife gave me an ultimatum: “Either give up your Jewish books or give up me.” I knew that I couldn’t let anything stand in the way of the yearnings of my soul. The choice was painful but clear. She stepped on a plane and went back to Holland.
I decided to get back into the fashion business, and put my airplane to good use by delivering merchandise to the Caribbean Islands and the Florida Keys. One evening I made a delivery to Key West and by the time I headed back it was one o’clock in the morning. I had planned to refuel in Key Largo but there was a storm and I couldn’t land. I called back to Key West and they told me the storm was headed their way, so I should just try to make it back to Miami.
About 20 minutes later I ran out of fuel and my engines shut down. I was at 7,000 feet and radioed for help. I was losing altitude and only gliding. The coast guard told me about an emergency Air Force landing strip in the middle of the ocean, built onto floating barrels. Yet there was zero visibility – it was pitch black and raining – and there was virtually no chance of locating this tiny target. Not to mention that the landing strip had been half-destroyed in a recent hurricane.
The coast guard advised me to eject from the airplane with my life jacket and let the plane crash into the water. But that part of the ocean is infested with sharks and I would have had to survive for a few hours until daylight when a rescue crew could be sent. I decided that my only hope is to try a complex water-landing and somehow try to survive. I had to use all my flight expertise to keep the plane in the right position, hoping that the landing would not tear the plane to shreds or send it nose diving in to the deep.
It was cold and dark and I was terrified.
When I got to within 100 feet of the water, I shouted "Shema Yisrael!"
The next thing I knew my plane landed on something hard. I had hit the landing strip!
I brought the plane quickly to a stop. I got out and in the thick darkness started to feel my way around. The plane had stopped just five feet from the end of the landing strip. I sat there – cold, wet and frightened, waiting for sunrise so I could be rescued.
Here, a second time, God had saved me from the brink of death. Since age 15, I knew of a transcendental power watching over me. But all those years I was estranged. Sitting on that landing strip in the middle of the ocean, I asked myself: Why did I shout "Shema Yisrael" and not something else?
The answer is that when mortality is starting you in the face, everything melts away. All that exists is the unadorned truth shining forth. That’s when I made the decision not to run away any longer.
Gates of Rome
Today I am back in Israel, happily married to a wonderful Jewish woman and the proud father of Jewish children. I spend my days and nights reaching out to Jews who have become ensnared in the traps of Christian missionaries operating in Israel.
There are currently 90 Jews for Jesus congregations in the country 5,000 Israelis whose goal is to convert other Jews.
I authored a book called The Gates of Rome, explaining the truth of Judaism in light of Christian doctrine. Someone purchased 500 copies of the Hebrew edition and distributed them in Be’er Sheva. Feeling the heat, two leading missionaries undertook to write a rebuttal. They analyzed my book point by point, scrutinizing the sources and the logical arguments. Five months later they left the Church and became observant Jews. Their Christian wives and children all converted, too.
It is gratifying to see success. In another recent instance, an American Jewish college student had met a Saudi princess. They wanted to get married, but she insisted that he first convert to Islam. So he went to Mecca, fasted 30 days of Ramadan and converted to Islam. Meanwhile, his mother had moved to Israel, and this young man traveled from Saudi Arabia in order to say a final goodbye before getting married and becoming a Saudi prince himself. I was put in touch with him, and we spent many hours dealing with the basics of Judaism and Islam (the topic of another book I authored). I sent him to Aish HaTorah for a crash-course in Jewish education. He called off the wedding and is now living in Israel.
I often think about that fence at the Air Force base. In a way it represents my own path back to our tradition: A journey through a parched desert, and a breech that is mended, yet distinguished as a landmark – testament to the miracles performed by the One watching over me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern

The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern
May 14, 2011 | 0500 GMT
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of monographs on
the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.
The founding principle of geopolitics is that place --
geography -- plays a significant role in determining how
nations will behave. If that theory is true, then there ought
to be a deep continuity in a nation's foreign policy. Israel is
a laboratory for this theory, since it has existed in three
different manifestations in roughly the same place, twice in
antiquity and once in modernity. If geopolitics is correct, then Israeli foreign policy, independent of
policymakers, technology or the identity of neighbors, ought to have important common features. This is,
therefore, a discussion of common principles in Israeli foreign policy over nearly 3,000 years.
For convenience, we will use the term "Israel" to connote all of the Hebrew and Jewish entities that have
existed in the Levant since the invasion of the region as chronicled in the Book of Joshua. As always,
geopolitics requires a consideration of three dimensions: the internal geopolitics of Israel, the interaction of
Israel and the immediate neighbors who share borders with it, and Israel's interaction with what we will call
great powers, beyond Israel's borderlands.
Israel has manifested itself three times in history. The first manifestation began with the invasion led by Joshua
and lasted through its division into two kingdoms, the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of Judah and the
deportation to Babylon early in the sixth century B.C. The second manifestation began when Israel was
recreated in 540 B.C. by the Persians, who had defeated the Babylonians. The nature of this second
manifestation changed in the fourth century B.C., when Greece overran the Persian Empire and Israel, and
again in the first century B.C., when the Romans conquered the region.
The second manifestation saw Israel as a small actor within the framework of larger imperial powers, a situation
that lasted until the destruction of the Jewish vassal state by the Romans.
Israel's third manifestation began in 1948, following (as in the other cases) an ingathering of at least some of
the Jews who had been dispersed after conquests. Israel's founding takes place in the context of the decline
and fall of the British Empire and must, at least in part, be understood as part of British imperial history.
During its first 50 years, Israel plays a pivotal role in the confrontation of the United States and the Soviet Union
and, in some senses, is hostage to the dynamics of these two countries. In other words, like the first two
manifestations of Israel, the third finds Israel continually struggling among independence, internal tension and
imperial ambition.
Israeli Geography and Borderlands
At its height, under King David, Israel extended from the Sinai to the Euphrates, encompassing Damascus. It
occupied some, but relatively little, of the coastal region, an area beginning at what today is Haifa and running
south to Jaffa, just north of today's Tel Aviv. The coastal area to the north was held by Phoenicia, the area to
the south by Philistines. It is essential to understand that Israel's size and shape shifted over time. For example,
Judah under the Hasmoneans did not include the Negev but did include the Golan. The general locale of Israel
is fixed. Its precise borders have never been.
Thus, it is perhaps better to begin with what never was part of Israel. Israel never included the Sinai Peninsula.
Along the coast, it never stretched much farther north than the Litani River in today's Lebanon. Apart from
David's extreme extension (and fairly tenuous control) to the north, Israel's territory never stretched as far as
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 1 of 8 3/7/2012
Damascus, although it frequently held the Golan Heights. Israel extended many times to both sides of the
Jordan but never deep into the Jordanian Desert. It never extended southeast into the Arabian Peninsula.
Israel consists generally of three parts. First, it always has had the northern hill region, stretching from the
foothills of Mount Hermon south to Jerusalem. Second, it always contains some of the coastal plain from
today's Tel Aviv north to Haifa. Third, it occupies area between Jerusalem and the Jordan River -- today's West
Bank. At times, it controls all or part of the Negev, including the coastal region between the Sinai to the Tel Aviv
area. It may be larger than this at various times in history, and sometimes smaller, but it normally holds all or
part of these three regions.
Israel is well-buffered in three directions. The Sinai Desert protects it against the Egyptians. In general, the
Sinai has held little attraction for the Egyptians. The difficulty of deploying forces in the eastern Sinai poses
severe logistical problems for them, particularly during a prolonged presence. Unless Egypt can rapidly move
through the Sinai north into the coastal plain, where it can sustain its forces more readily, deploying in the Sinai
is difficult and unrewarding. Therefore, so long as Israel is not so weak as to make an attack on the coastal
plain a viable option, or unless Egypt is motivated by an outside imperial power, Israel does not face a threat
from the southwest.
Israel is similarly protected from the southeast. The deserts southeast of Eilat-Aqaba are virtually impassable.
No large force could approach from that direction, although smaller raiding parties could. The tribes of the
Arabian Peninsula lack the reach or the size to pose a threat to Israel, unless massed and aligned with other
forces. Even then, the approach from the southeast is not one that they are likely to take. The Negev is secure
from that direction.
The eastern approaches are similarly secured by desert, which begins about 20 to 30 miles east of the Jordan
River. While indigenous forces exist in the borderland east of the Jordan, they lack the numbers to be able to
penetrate decisively west of the Jordan. Indeed, the normal model is that, so long as Israel controls Judea and
Samaria (the modern-day West Bank), then the East Bank of the Jordan River is under the political and
sometimes military domination of Israel -- sometimes directly through settlement, sometimes indirectly through
political influence, or economic or security leverage.
Israel's vulnerability is in the north. There is no natural buffer between Phoenicia and its successor entities
(today's Lebanon) to the direct north. The best defense line for Israel in the north is the Litani River, but this is
not an insurmountable boundary under any circumstance. However, the area along the coast north of Israel
does not present a serious threat. The coastal area prospers through trade in the Mediterranean basin. It is
oriented toward the sea and to the trade routes to the east, not to the south. If it does anything, this area
protects those trade routes and has no appetite for a conflict that might disrupt trade. It stays out of Israel's way,
for the most part.
Moreover, as a commercial area, this region is generally wealthy, a factor that increases predators around it
and social conflict within. It is an area prone to instability. Israel frequently tries to extend its influence northward
for commercial reasons, as one of the predators, and this can entangle Israel in its regional politics. But barring
this self-induced problem, the threat to Israel from the north is minimal, despite the absence of natural
boundaries and the large population. On occasion, there is spillover of conflicts from the north, but not to a
degree that might threaten regime survival in Israel.
The neighbor that is always a threat lies to the northeast. Syria -- or, more precisely, the area governed by
Damascus at any time -- is populous and frequently has no direct outlet to the sea. It is, therefore, generally
poor. The area to its north, Asia Minor, is heavily mountainous. Syria cannot project power to the north except
with great difficulty, but powers in Asia Minor can move south. Syria's eastern flank is buffered by a desert that
stretches to the Euphrates. Therefore, when there is no threat from the north, Syria's interest -- after securing
itself internally -- is to gain access to the coast. Its primary channel is directly westward, toward the rich cities of
the northern Levantine coast, with which it trades heavily. An alternative interest is southwestward, toward the
southern Levantine coast controlled by Israel.
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 2 of 8 3/7/2012
As can be seen, Syria can be interested in Israel only selectively. When it is interested, it has a serious battle
problem. To attack Israel, it would have to strike between Mount Hermon and the Sea of Galilee, an area about
25 miles wide. The Syrians potentially can attack south of the sea, but only if they are prepared to fight through
this region and then attack on extended supply lines. If an attack is mounted along the main route, Syrian forces
must descend the Golan Heights and then fight through the hilly Galilee before reaching the coastal plain --
sometimes with guerrillas holding out in the Galilean hills. The Galilee is an area that is relatively easy to defend
and difficult to attack. Therefore, it is only once Syria takes the Galilee, and can control its lines of supply
against guerrilla attack, that its real battle begins.
To reach the coast or move toward Jerusalem, Syria must fight through a plain in front of a line of low hills. This
is the decisive battleground where massed Israeli forces, close to lines of supply, can defend against dispersed
Syrian forces on extended lines of supply. It is no accident that Megiddo -- or Armageddon, as the plain is
sometimes referred to -- has apocalyptic meaning. This is the point at which any move from Syria would be
decided. But a Syrian offensive would have a tough fight to reach Megiddo, and a tougher one as it deploys on
the plain.
On the surface, Israel lacks strategic depth, but this is true only on the surface. It faces limited threats from
southern neighbors. To its east, it faces only a narrow strip of populated area east of the Jordan. To the north,
there is a maritime commercial entity. Syria operating alone, forced through the narrow gap of the Mount
Hermon-Galilee line and operating on extended supply lines, can be dealt with readily.
There is a risk of simultaneous attacks from multiple directions. Depending on the forces deployed and the
degree of coordination between them, this can pose a problem for Israel. However, even here the Israelis have
the tremendous advantage of fighting on interior lines. Egypt and Syria, fighting on external lines (and widely
separated fronts), would have enormous difficulty transferring forces from one front to another. Israel, on interior
lines (fronts close to each other with good transportation), would be able to move its forces from front to front
rapidly, allowing for sequential engagement and thereby the defeat of enemies. Unless enemies are carefully
coordinated and initiate war simultaneously -- and deploy substantially superior force on at least one front --
Israel can initiate war at a time of its choosing or else move its forces rapidly between fronts, negating much of
the advantage of size that the attackers might have.
There is another aspect to the problem of multifront war. Egypt usually has minimal interests along the Levant,
having its own coast and an orientation to the south toward the headwaters of the Nile. On the rare occasions
when Egypt does move through the Sinai and attacks to the north and northeast, it is in an expansionary mode.
By the time it consolidates and exploits the coastal plain, it would be powerful enough to threaten Syria. From
Syria's point of view, the only thing more dangerous than Israel is an Egypt in control of Israel. Therefore, the
probability of a coordinated north-south strike at Israel is rare, is rarely coordinated and usually is not designed
to be a mortal blow. It is defeated by Israel's strategic advantage of interior lines.
Israeli Geography and the Convergence Zone
Therefore, it is not surprising that Israel's first incarnation lasted as long as it did -- some five centuries. What is
interesting and what must be considered is why Israel (now considered as the northern kingdom) was defeated
by the Assyrians and Judea, then defeated by Babylon. To understand this, we need to consider the broader
geography of Israel's location.
Israel is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Levant. As we have seen, when Israel is
intact, it will tend to be the dominant power in the Levant. Therefore, Israeli resources must generally be
dedicated for land warfare, leaving little over for naval warfare. In general, although Israel had excellent harbors
and access to wood for shipbuilding, it never was a major Mediterranean naval power. It never projected power
into the sea. The area to the north of Israel has always been a maritime power, but Israel, the area south of
Mount Hermon, was always forced to be a land power.
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 3 of 8 3/7/2012
The Levant in general and Israel in particular has always been a magnet for great powers. No Mediterranean
empire could be fully secure unless it controlled the Levant. Whether it was Rome or Carthage, a
Mediterranean empire that wanted to control both the northern and southern littorals needed to anchor its
eastern flank on the Levant. For one thing, without the Levant, a Mediterranean power would be entirely
dependent on sea lanes for controlling the other shore. Moving troops solely by sea creates transport limitations
and logistical problems. It also leaves imperial lines vulnerable to interdiction -- sometimes merely from pirates,
a problem that plagued Rome's sea transport. A land bridge, or a land bridge with minimal water crossings that
can be easily defended, is a vital supplement to the sea for the movement of large numbers of troops. Once the
Hellespont is crossed, the coastal route through southern Turkey, down the Levant and along the
Mediterranean's southern shore, provides such an alternative.
There is an additional consideration. If a Mediterranean empire leaves the Levant unoccupied, it opens the door
to the possibility of a great power originating to the east seizing the ports of the Levant and challenging the
Mediterranean power for maritime domination. In short, control of the Levant binds a Mediterranean empire
together while denying a challenger from the east the opportunity to enter the Mediterranean. Holding the
Levant, and controlling Israel, is a necessary preventive measure for a Mediterranean empire.
Israel is also important to any empire originating to the east of Israel, either in the Tigris-Euphrates basin or in
Persia. For either, security could be assured only once it had an anchor on the Levant. Macedonian expansion
under Alexander demonstrated that a power controlling Levantine and Turkish ports could support aggressive
operations far to the east, to the Hindu Kush and beyond. While Turkish ports might have sufficed for offensive
operations, simply securing the Bosporus still left the southern flank exposed. Therefore, by holding the Levant,
an eastern power protected itself against attacks from Mediterranean powers.
The Levant was also important to any empire originating to the north or south of Israel. If Egypt decided to
move beyond the Nile Basin and North Africa eastward, it would move first through the Sinai and then
northward along the coastal plain, securing sea lanes to Egypt. When Asia Minor powers such as the Ottoman
Empire developed, there was a natural tendency to move southward to control the eastern Mediterranean. The
Levant is the crossroads of continents, and Israel lies in the path of many imperial ambitions.
Israel therefore occupies what might be called the convergence zone of the Eastern Hemisphere. A European
power trying to dominate the Mediterranean or expand eastward, an eastern power trying to dominate the
space between the Hindu Kush and the Mediterranean, a North African power moving toward the east, or a
northern power moving south -- all must converge on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and therefore on
Israel. Of these, the European power and the eastern power must be the most concerned with Israel. For either,
there is no choice but to secure it as an anchor.
Internal Geopolitics
Israel is geographically divided into three regions, which traditionally have produced three different types of
people. Its coastal plain facilitates commerce, serving as the interface between eastern trade routes and the
sea. It is the home of merchants and manufacturers, cosmopolitans -- not as cosmopolitan as Phoenicia or
Lebanon, but cosmopolitan for Israel. The northeast is hill country, closest to the unruliness north of the Litani
River and to the Syrian threat. It breeds farmers and warriors. The area south of Jerusalem is hard desert
country, more conducive to herdsman and warriors than anything else. Jerusalem is where these three regions
are balanced and governed.
There are obviously deep differences built into Israel's geography and inhabitants, particularly between the
herdsmen of the southern deserts and the northern hill dwellers. The coastal dwellers, rich but less warlike than
the others, hold the balance or are the prize to be pursued. In the division of the original kingdom between
Israel and Judea, we saw the alliance of the coast with the Galilee, while Jerusalem was held by the desert
dwellers. The consequence of the division was that Israel in the north ultimately was conquered by Assyrians
from the northeast, while Babylon was able to swallow Judea.
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 4 of 8 3/7/2012
Social divisions in Israel obviously do not have to follow geographical lines. However, over time, these divisions
must manifest themselves. For example, the coastal plain is inherently more cosmopolitan than the rest of the
country. The interests of its inhabitants lie more with trading partners in the Mediterranean and the rest of the
world than with their countrymen. Their standard of living is higher, and their commitment to traditions is lower.
Therefore, there is an inherent tension between their immediate interests and those of the Galileans, who live
more precarious, warlike lives. Countries can be divided over lesser issues -- and when Israel is divided, it is
vulnerable even to regional threats.
We say "even" because geography dictates that regional threats are less menacing than might be expected.
The fact that Israel would be outnumbered demographically should all its neighbors turn on it is less important
than the fact that it has adequate buffers in most directions, that the ability of neighbors to coordinate an attack
is minimal and that their appetite for such an attack is even less. The single threat that Israel faces from the
northeast can readily be managed if the Israelis create a united front there. When Israel was overrun by a
Damascus-based power, it was deeply divided internally.
It is important to add one consideration to our discussion of buffers, which is diplomacy. The main neighbors of
Israel are Egyptians, Syrians and those who live on the east bank of Jordan. This last group is a negligible force
demographically, and the interests of the Syrians and Egyptians are widely divergent. Egypt's interests are to
the south and west of its territory; the Sinai holds no attraction. Syria is always threatened from multiple
directions, and alliance with Egypt adds little to its security. Therefore, under the worst of circumstances, Egypt
and Syria have difficulty supporting each other. Under the best of circumstances, from Israel's point of view, it
can reach a political accommodation with Egypt, securing its southwestern frontier politically as well as by
geography, thus freeing Israel to concentrate on the northern threats and opportunities.
Israel and the Great Powers
The threat to Israel rarely comes from the region, except when the Israelis are divided internally. The conquests
of Israel occur when powers not adjacent to it begin forming empires. Babylon, Persia, Macedonia, Rome,
Turkey and Britain all controlled Israel politically, sometimes for worse and sometimes for better. Each
dominated it militarily, but none was a neighbor of Israel. This is a consistent pattern. Israel can resist its
neighbors; danger arises when more distant powers begin playing imperial games. Empires can bring force to
bear that Israel cannot resist.
Israel therefore has this problem: It would be secure if it could confine itself to protecting its interests from
neighbors, but it cannot confine itself because its geographic location invariably draws larger, more distant
powers toward Israel. Therefore, while Israel's military can focus only on immediate interests, its diplomatic
interests must look much further. Israel is constantly entangled with global interests (as the globe is defined at
any point), seeking to deflect and align with broader global powers. When it fails in this diplomacy, the
consequences can be catastrophic.
Israel exists in three conditions. First, it can be a completely independent state. This condition occurs when
there are no major imperial powers external to the region. We might call this the David model. Second, it can
live as part of an imperial system -- either as a subordinate ally, as a moderately autonomous entity or as a
satrapy. In any case, it maintains its identity but loses room for independent maneuvering in foreign policy and
potentially in domestic policy. We might call this the Persian model in its most beneficent form. Finally, Israel
can be completely crushed -- with mass deportations and migrations, with a complete loss of autonomy and
minimal residual autonomy. We might call this the Babylonian model.
The Davidic model exists primarily when there is no external imperial power needing control of the Levant that
is in a position either to send direct force or to support surrogates in the immediate region. The Persian model
exists when Israel aligns itself with the foreign policy interests of such an imperial power, to its own benefit. The
Babylonian model exists when Israel miscalculates on the broader balance of power and attempts to resist an
emerging hegemon. When we look at Israeli behavior over time, the periods when Israel does not confront
hegemonic powers outside the region are not rare, but are far less common than when it is confronting them.
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 5 of 8 3/7/2012
Given the period of the first iteration of Israel, it would be too much to say that the Davidic model rarely comes
into play, but certainly since that time, variations of the Persian and Babylonian models have dominated. The
reason is geographic. Israel is normally of interest to outside powers because of its strategic position. While
Israel can deal with local challenges effectively, it cannot deal with broader challenges. It lacks the economic or
military weight to resist. Therefore, it is normally in the process of managing broader threats or collapsing
because of them.
The Geopolitics of Contemporary Israel
Let us then turn to the contemporary manifestation of Israel. Israel was recreated because of the interaction
between a regional great power, the Ottoman Empire, and a global power, Great Britain. During its
expansionary phase, the Ottoman Empire sought to dominate the eastern Mediterranean as well as both its
northern and southern coasts. One thrust went through the Balkans toward central Europe. The other was
toward Egypt. Inevitably, this required that the Ottomans secure the Levant.
For the British, the focus on the eastern Mediterranean was as the primary sea lane to India. As such, Gibraltar
and the Suez were crucial. The importance of the Suez was such that the presence of a hostile, major naval
force in the eastern Mediterranean represented a direct threat to British interests. It followed that defeating the
Ottoman Empire during World War I and breaking its residual naval power was critical. The British, as was
shown at Gallipoli, lacked the resources to break the Ottoman Empire by main force. They resorted to a series
of alliances with local forces to undermine the Ottomans. One was an alliance with Bedouin tribes in the
Arabian Peninsula; others involved covert agreements with anti-Turkish, Arab interests from the Levant to the
Persian Gulf. A third, minor thrust was aligning with Jewish interests globally, particularly those interested in the
refounding of Israel. Britain had little interest in this goal, but saw such discussions as part of the process of
destabilizing the Ottomans.
The strategy worked. Under an agreement with France, the Ottoman province of Syria was divided into two
parts on a line roughly running east-west between the sea and Mount Hermon. The northern part was given to
France and divided into Lebanon and a rump Syria entity. The southern part was given to Britain and was called
Palestine, after the Ottoman administrative district Filistina. Given the complex politics of the Arabian Peninsula,
the British had to find a home for a group of Hashemites, which they located on the east bank of the Jordan
River and designated, for want of a better name, the Trans-Jordan -- the other side of the Jordan. Palestine
looked very much like traditional Israel.
The ideological foundations of Zionism are not our concern here, nor are the pre- and post-World War II
migrations of Jews, although those are certainly critical. What is important for purposes of this analysis are two
things: First, the British emerged economically and militarily crippled from World War II and unable to retain
their global empire, Palestine included. Second, the two global powers that emerged after World War II -- the
United States and the Soviet Union -- were engaged in an intense struggle for the eastern Mediterranean after
World War II, as can be seen in the Greek and Turkish issues at that time. Neither wanted to see the British
Empire survive, each wanted the Levant, and neither was prepared to make a decisive move to take it.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw the re-creation of Israel as an opportunity to introduce their
power to the Levant. The Soviets thought they might have some influence over Israel due to ideology. The
Americans thought they might have some influence given the role of American Jews in the founding. Neither
was thinking particularly clearly about the matter, because neither had truly found its balance after World War II.
Both knew the Levant was important, but neither saw the Levant as a central battleground at that moment.
Israel slipped through the cracks.
Once the question of Jewish unity was settled through ruthless action by David Ben Gurion's government, Israel
faced a simultaneous threat from all of its immediate neighbors. However, as we have seen, the threat in 1948
was more apparent than real. The northern Levant, Lebanon, was fundamentally disunited -- far more
interested in regional maritime trade and concerned about control from Damascus. It posed no real threat to
Israel. Jordan, settling the eastern bank of the Jordan River, was an outside power that had been transplanted
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 6 of 8 3/7/2012
into the region and was more concerned about native Arabs -- the Palestinians -- than about Israel. The
Jordanians secretly collaborated with Israel. Egypt did pose a threat, but its ability to maintain lines of supply
across the Sinai was severely limited and its genuine interest in engaging and destroying Israel was more
rhetorical than real. As usual, the Egyptians could not afford the level of effort needed to move into the Levant.
Syria by itself had a very real interest in Israel's defeat, but by itself was incapable of decisive action.
The exterior lines of Israel's neighbors prevented effective, concerted action. Israel's interior lines permitted
efficient deployment and redeployment of force. It was not obvious at the time, but in retrospect we can see that
once Israel existed, was united and had even limited military force, its survival was guaranteed. That is, so long
as no great power was opposed to its existence.
From its founding until the Camp David Accords re-established the Sinai as a buffer with Egypt, Israel's
strategic problem was this: So long as Egypt was in the Sinai, Israel's national security requirements
outstripped its military capabilities. It could not simultaneously field an army, maintain its civilian economy and
produce all the weapons and supplies needed for war. Israel had to align itself with great powers who saw an
opportunity to pursue other interests by arming Israel.
Israel's first patron was the Soviet Union -- through Czechoslovakia -- which supplied weapons before and after
1948 in the hopes of using Israel to gain a foothold in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel, aware of the risks of
losing autonomy, also moved into a relationship with a declining great power that was fighting to retain its
empire: France. Struggling to hold onto Algeria and in constant tension with Arabs, France saw Israel as a
natural ally. And apart from the operation against Suez in 1956, Israel saw in France a patron that was not in a
position to reduce Israeli autonomy. However, with the end of the Algerian war and the realignment of France in
the Arab world, Israel became a liability to France and, after 1967, Israel lost French patronage.
Israel did not become a serious ally of the Americans until after 1967. Such an alliance was in the American
interest. The United States had, as a strategic imperative, the goal of keeping the Soviet navy out of the
Mediterranean or, at least, blocking its unfettered access. That meant that Turkey, controlling the Bosporus,
had to be kept in the American bloc. Syria and Iraq shifted policies in the late 1950s and by the mid-1960s had
been armed by the Soviets. This made Turkey's position precarious: If the Soviets pressed from the north while
Syria and Iraq pressed from the south, the outcome would be uncertain, to say the least, and the global balance
of power was at stake.
The United States used Iran to divert Iraq's attention. Israel was equally useful in diverting Syria's attention. So
long as Israel threatened Syria from the south, it could not divert its forces to the north. That helped secure
Turkey at a relatively low cost in aid and risk. By aligning itself with the interests of a great power, Israel lost
some of its room for maneuver: For example, in 1973, it was limited by the United States in what it could do to
Egypt. But those limitations aside, it remained autonomous internally and generally free to pursue its strategic
The end of hostilities with Egypt, guaranteed by the Sinai buffer zone, created a new era for Israel. Egypt was
restored to its traditional position, Jordan was a marginal power on the east bank, Lebanon was in its normal,
unstable mode, and only Syria was a threat. However, it was a threat that Israel could easily deal with. Syria by
itself could not threaten the survival of Israel.
Following Camp David (an ironic name), Israel was in its Davidic model, in a somewhat modified sense. Its
survival was not at stake. Its problems -- the domination of a large, hostile population and managing events in
the northern Levant -- were subcritical (meaning that, though these were not easy tasks, they did not represent
fundamental threats to national survival, so long as Israel retained national unity). When unified, Israel has
never been threatened by its neighbors. Geography dictates against it.
Israel's danger will come only if a great power seeks to dominate the Mediterranean Basin or to occupy the
region between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean. In the short period since the fall of the Soviet Union, this
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 7 of 8 3/7/2012
has been impossible. There has been no great power with the appetite and the will for such an adventure. But
15 years is not even a generation, and Israel must measure its history in centuries.
It is the nature of the international system to seek balance. The primary reality of the world today is the
overwhelming power of the United States. The United States makes few demands on Israel that matter.
However, it is the nature of things that the United States threatens the interests of other great powers who,
individually weak, will try to form coalitions against it. Inevitably, such coalitions will arise. That will be the next
point of danger for Israel.
In the event of a global rivalry, the United States might place onerous requirements on Israel. Alternatively,
great powers might move into the Jordan River valley or ally with Syria, move into Lebanon or ally with Israel.
The historical attraction of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean would focus the attention of such a power
and lead to attempts to assert control over the Mediterranean or create a secure Middle Eastern empire. In
either event, or some of the others discussed, it would create a circumstance in which Israel might face a
Babylonian catastrophe or be forced into some variation of Persian or Roman subjugation.
Israel's danger is not a Palestinian rising. Palestinian agitation is an irritant that Israel can manage so long as it
does not undermine Israeli unity. Whether it is managed by domination or by granting the Palestinians a vassal
state matters little. Nor can Israel be threatened by its neighbors. Even a unified attack by Syria and Egypt
would fail, for the reasons discussed. Israel's real threat, as can be seen in history, lies in the event of internal
division and/or a great power, coveting Israel's geographical position, marshaling force that is beyond its
capacity to resist. Even that can be managed if Israel has a patron whose interests involve denying the coast to
another power.
Israel's reality is this. It is a small country, yet must manage threats arising far outside of its region. It can
survive only if it maneuvers with great powers commanding enormously greater resources. Israel cannot match
the resources and, therefore, it must be constantly clever. There are periods when it is relatively safe because
of great power alignments, but its normal condition is one of global unease. No nation can be clever forever,
and Israel's history shows that some form of subordination is inevitable. Indeed, it is to a very limited extent
subordinate to the United States now.
For Israel, the retention of a Davidic independence is difficult. Israel's strategy must be to manage its
subordination effectively by dealing with its patron cleverly, as it did with Persia. But cleverness is not a
geopolitical concept. It is not permanent, and it is not assured. And that is the perpetual crisis of Jerusalem.
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern | STRATFOR Page 8 of 8

Monday, March 5, 2012

DANNY BOY - Yiddish Version

DANNY BOY - Yiddish Version
Al Grand © 2006

Oy Dovidi, di fayfn rufn oys tsu dir
fun tol tsu tol, un fun di berg mit shteyn.
Zumer iz oys, un blumen iz nito far mir—
du geyst avek, un ikh blayb do aleyn.

Kum gikh tsurik yen zumer kumt shoyrt nokhamol,
oder yen shney makht ales vays un reyn.
IKh vel zayn do un un ikh vart far dir alemol—
Oy Dovidi mayn Dovidi, bist azoy sheyn!

Oyb du kumst tsrik yen ale blumen zaynen toyt
un ikh bin oykhet toyt, vi toyt ken zayn,
du vest gefinen vu ikh lig in toytnbet
Un du vest faln koyrim glaykh arayn.

Un ikh ye! hem vi du veynst un benkst nokh mir,
un af mayn keyver vestu kumen gikh.
Du vest onbeygn zikh zeyer noent tsu mir,
un ikh vel fridlekh zayn ven du zogst “ikh lib dikh!*

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dr. Tina Strobos, Who Harbored Jews From the Nazis, Dies at 91

Dr. Tina Strobos, a fearless woman who hid more than 100 Jews in a gabled attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam just a few blocks from the hideout where Anne Frank was captured, died on Monday at her home in Rye, N.Y. She was 91. The cause was cancer, said her son Jur Strobos.

The ethos of rescuing the imperiled was something Dr. Strobos absorbed from her parents — socialist atheists who took in Belgian refugees during World War I and hid German and Austrian refugees before World War II. Her actions as a young medical student were recognized as extraordinary by Holocaust organizations like Yad Vashem, which listed her with other rescuers as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

During the German occupation of the Netherlands, between 1940 and 1945, Dr. Strobos and her mother, Marie Schotte, set up a sanctuary in their three-story rooming house at 282 Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, behind the Royal Palace in the heart of Amsterdam. With the help of the Dutch resistance, they had a secret compartment built to hold up to four people behind a hard-to-spot door in the attic.

“A carpenter came with a toolbox and said, ‘I’m a carpenter from the underground,’ ” Dr. Strobos recalled in a 2009 interview with The New York Times. “ ‘Show me the house and I’ll build a hiding place.’ ”

A changing cast of Jews, Communists and other endangered individuals spent days or weeks on the upper floors, and if the Gestapo visited, an alarm bell on the second floor allowed Dr. Strobos and her mother to alert the fugitives. They also drilled them in clambering out a window to the roof to reach the relative safety of an adjoining school. Most Jews stayed in the hideout for brief periods until the Dutch resistance could find more reliable sanctuaries.

“We never hid more than four or five at a time,” Dr. Strobos said. “We didn’t have enough food.”

The Gestapo searched the rooming house several times. But Dr. Strobos, a tall, soft-spoken woman, beguiled the Germans with her fluency in their language and her cool, ingenuous pose. Among the Jews she helped hide was a close friend, Tirtsah Van Amerongen; an Orthodox couple with five children who brought their own kosher food; and her fiancé for a time, the particle physicist Abraham Pais.

Dr. Strobos rode her bicycle for miles outside the city to carry ration stamps to Jews hiding on farms. She transported radios to resistance fighters and stashed their guns. She created fake identity cards — ones that were not stamped with a J — either by stealing photographs and fingerprinted documents from legitimate guests at the boarding house or making deals with pickpockets to swipe documents from railway travelers.

She was cold and hungry when she took those risks and was interrogated nine times by the Gestapo. Once, she was left unconscious after an official threw her against a wall.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said when asked why she had taken such gambles. “Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young you want to do dangerous things.”

Donna Cohen, executive director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center in White Plains, said that Dr. Strobos found ways to help the beleaguered throughout her life.

She worked as a family psychiatrist, specializing in the mentally impaired, Ms. Cohen said, and used her modest fame to speak out against the torture of terrorists. After Hurricane Katrina, when she was in her 80s, she worked diligently, though unsuccessfully, to find homes for displaced Southerners at her senior-citizens residence in Rye.

Dr. Strobos was born Tineke Buchter in Amsterdam on May 19, 1920, the daughter of Ms. Schotte and Alphonse Buchter, who later divorced. While Dr. Strobos was studying medicine, her school was closed by the Nazis after she and other students refused to sign a loyalty oath. But she continued to study her medical books while working for the underground.

“You have to be a little bit selfish and look after yourself; otherwise you just die inside, you burn out,” she said.

Dr. Strobos finished her medical degree after the war and studied psychiatry with Anna Freud in London. In the early 1950s, she and her first husband, Robert Strobos, a neurologist, traveled to New York, where she completed her residency in psychiatry and neurology at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. They divorced in 1964. In 1967 she married Walter Chudson, an economist, who died in 2002.

Besides her son Jur, she is survived by another son, Semon; a daughter, Carolyn Strobos; two stepchildren, Lucy Chudson and Paul Chudson; seven grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren.

Dr. Strobos was so successful in concealing Jews that a note of exasperation sometimes crept into her voice when she talked about the more famous Anne Frank hideout at 263 Prinsengracht, where the Frank family was ultimately betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Why, she wondered, did the Franks or their protectors not arrange for an escape route in case the Gestapo barged in?

Thursday, March 1, 2012