Am Yisrael Chai — the people of Israel live
By Larry Freudenberg
For my last article of 2021, I considered writing about Israel or even Hannukah. However, I decided that I wanted to get something off my chest since I’ve been given this opportunity to write for a newspaper whose audience is upper class and probably not Jewish. So, why was I asked to write for the Mercury? Why are you interested in reading my articles? Or maybe you’re not? Are you a Zionist?
A Jewish person has been writing an article about Israel and/or Jewish issues in Charleston for more years than I can remember. Dr. Morey Lipton carried the torch for many years until his passing in 2014. Even before, Maury wrote for the Mercury, another Jew in Charleston had the honor of writing for the local newspaper. My grandfather, Maier Triest, was a friend of Thomas R. Waring, editor of the morning newspaper, the News & Courier, and the afternoon newspaper, the Evening Post. Maier, born in 1901, and Thomas, born in 1907, were of the same generation of Charlestonians. My grandparents, Miriam and Maier Triest, traveled the world and being a good writer, Maier wrote about their trips, and these were published by the paper. The last article written was about my grandparents’ trip to Israel in May of 1967. The Six Day War broke out June 5, 1967.
“Israel, just before the Crisis” by Maier Triest
I did not realize that my recent trip to Israel would be an anti-climax to one of the most dramatic events in Jewish history. We (Miriam and Maier) returned to Charleston on May 25th, a full ten days before hostilities broke out. Now I feel certain that there are few people in the world who do not know about the heroic exploits of General Moshe Dayan, the oratory of Abba Eban or the aims and aspirations of the people of Israel. There is little left for me to say, but nevertheless I will give you a few of our impressions, and in order not to be verbose, I have put them in writing. The will no doubt save your time.
Miriam and I have been abroad many times. This year was our first visit to Israel. Many people think Israel is just around the corner, whereas it is nearly 6,000 miles from New York. It took 12 hours in the air to get there by jet, not including stops in London and Athens. It was indeed an exhausting flight, and should we go again, it will be in stages, not in one direct flight. Israel’s summer climate is far from cool, so when we travel during the summer months it is usually to cooler climates.
We left Israel a few days before its 19th birthday celebration, a fact we regretted, but that was the way our trip was planned. I read later in the paper that the military parade was drastically curtailed and subsequent events proved this to have been wise.
We must remember that Israel is very small and very young and as such has a maximum of troubles. Israel is in the process of integrating 60 different nationalities and cultures. And most of these people come into the country badly beaten financially, mentally and even physically. Throughout Israel you see Arabs, but not Muslims. They are Druze, extremely loyal to the Jews. For 1000 years they have kept their identity and distinctive faith. … The Israelis are a different breed. They have sweated and toiled in a country capable of providing only a modest livelihood. But after their past experiences, neither Nasser, the United Nations nor the Soviets will deter their yearning to live in peace. Advisedly, “Shalom” is the first and only greeting in Israel.
Of course, Israel’s victory of the Six-Day War was a miracle. Every war fought by Israel against the aggressive neighboring countries has been a miracle. You see, the Jews of Israel must win each conflict. If not, then, Israel’s adversaries, who currently include Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, will kill every last Jew.
My love for Israel is not religious or spiritual. If you hold love in your heart for Israel, it may be based on your Jewish or Christian teachings. The article written was by my maternal grandparents who were descendants of Jews who came to America before the revolution. But my paternal grandparents and father only came to America in May of 1940 as refugees from Nazi Germany. They looked the beast in the eye. There was no Israel in 1940 and my father and his parents had very few places to go as refugees. Our president was told of Hitler’s final solution to eliminate all the Jews of Europe, but he did nothing until it was too late. My people, the Jewish people, the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have been persecuted far too many times in the common era. Israel is our last hope for long term survival. I am a Zionist because the Jewish people of this generation have one of the most powerful and advanced militaries in the world. We will not lie down to be slaughtered again.
I would love to hear your thoughts and why you’re interested in Israel or reading my articles. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah to all.
Larry W. Freudenberg is a sixth-generation Charlestonian and retired owner of his family’s 117-year-old insurance agency, founded on Broad Street in Charleston by his great grandfather. He has been to Israel three times and is a political activist for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.