gStraight from the shoulder g by Toshio Masuda Feb 1, 2008
( Free of charge to the people I met)
Masuda US Research Center LLC appoints Mr. Yaniv Berman , a journalist in Israel as a correspondent in Middle East.
I hope you will find who he is by his letter to me below:
Next Year in Jerusalem
by Toshio Masuda February 1, 2008
gWhere do I begin,h I asked myself following my meeting with Mr. Masuda.
gHow do I describe Israel to the Japanese people, who usually hear about it on the news when blood is spilt?h
gWhat windows do I open, to enable the Japanese to learn best about my people?h
gWho are my people, anyway?h
As a journalist with a passion for history, I would like, with your permission, to begin at the dawn of my peoplefs history, 3,000 years ago.
Abraham, my peoplefs Founding Father, was 75 years old when he heard a voice he had never heard before. The voice spoke to him in an authoritative tone, uttering three sentences that would change his life for ever. Without introducing itself (back in the biblical era it wasnft necessaryc), the voice ordered Abraham to pack his bags, leave his homeland, and go to a country whose identity it had not yet revealed to him. The voice promised Abraham it would make him the father of a great nation.
I know, I know, you probably think what most people would: Here is an old man, who is hearing voices. He should probably take some pills and see a doctor.
But in those days, pills were not available, and so Abraham did just what the voice told him to do.
So at the age of 75, Abraham left his homeland to become what we call today an gOleh Hadashh, or quite simply: an immigrant.
Just like my own father, who at the age of 24 left behind his homeland South Africa, Abraham ? the father of my nation ? decided to search for his destiny in the Land of Israel. Abraham did so out of abeyance to God. My father did so as a Zionist, believing that the Jewish people should be reunited in the ancestral homeland.
But how, you might ask, did my father ? a descendant of Abraham - find himself in South Africa?! Didnft Abraham establish a great nation in the Land of Israel, for all the Jews to live in?
Well, itfs not that simple, as nothing is ever simple when it comes to the people who invented Gefilte Fish, a dish of dubious distinction, which is served during the feast of Passover, making you regret you were ever born a Jew.
You see, some 900 years after Abraham arrived in the Land of Israel, King Solomon built the Temple of the Jews. It was a magnificent building, full of gold and silverc a real tourist attraction. But it didnft last for long. In the year 586BC a king, who was not particularly fond of the Jews, conquered our land and destroyed our Temple.
That year shaped the Jewish mentality for centuries to come. It was then when most of my people were forcefully relocated to Babylon. It was then when the longing for Zion (the Land of Israel) began.
Although there was always a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel even after the destruction of the Temple, my people have been largely scattered around the world ever since.
During more than two millennia, the Jewish people wandered around the world, stateless.
An ingrained memory of Jerusalem was always preserved in our minds and prayers, but it took hundreds of years of anti-Semitism and persecution until we understood what had to be done. We had to rebuild our national home, so that no nation or people would be able to persecute us anymore.
In the late 19th century the Jewish Congress was first convened. An old Jewish joke says that where you have two Jews, you will find three opinions. Unfortunately, the Jewish congress was comprised of a few hundred Jews, so you can imagine the chaos.
One bizarre idea was to solve the Jewish peoplefs suffering by establishing a state in central Africa, in the territory of Uganda. Fortunately for the lovely Ugandans, they were spared the awful taste of Gefilte Fish, after the congressmen failed to agree on the notion.
A second idea, which found much more support among the prominent Jews who gathered from around the world, was to make Zion the Jewish home once again. But with all due respect to the congressmen, the Land of Israel was under the control of the Ottoman Empire back then, and afterwards a part of the British Empire. Both were not eager to give up their property.
A few decades later, six million Jews - one third of my people - were slaughtered within a span of six years (1939-1945). They were killed because they were Jews. They were killed because they had no state or army to protect them.
In 1948, my dear patient audience, the State of Israel was born. Of course, this is a non-academic article, and so I skipped many important historical events and processes which lead to that moment. It is however important to indicate, that the Land of Israel was not chosen as the location of State of Israel in an arbitrary manner. It was chosen because of the long historical connection of the Jewish people to this land, as well as the continuous presence of Jews in it at all times.
At that time the newly-founded state comprised of 650,000 Jews, who were outnumbered by their Palestinian Muslim neighbors, but that is a subject for another article.
Since 1948, the Jewish people began assembling from around the world into its old-new homeland. Today 5.4 million Jews live in Israel, comprising 81 percent of the total population.
My father came from South Africa in 1971. My mother was born here in 1950, after her parents, who were born in Gibraltar and Russia, immigrated to Israel. My wife was born in Russia and at the age of two immigrated to Israel with her parents. My closest friends' families came from various parts of the world, such as Ethiopia, the United States, Argentina and Morocco.
In so doing, they all fulfilled the ancient Jewish prayer, which was never forgotten in over 2,000 years:
May we live next year in Jerusalem.
Anyone wanting to redistribute Straight from the Shoulder pieces or
excerpts from the texts should direct their request in advance to the
Toshio Matsuda Office at Sunraworld, Ltd. (Tel: 81-(0)3-3955-2121).
You may ask for redistribution.
BackNumber is HERE!
Your Opinion to FAX 81-3-3955-2122
Written by Toshio Masuda