A Different Yom Kippur

On October 6th 1973, while the country was occupied with the prayers of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, the combined armies of nine Arab countries caught Israel napping with a devastating attack on all sides. The Arabs had learnt from their humiliation in the Six-Day War, and this time they were successful. The Israeli armed forces were overwhelmed by an army three times their size, and the country was quickly overrun. Estimates of the death toll in the chaos that followed cannot be verified, but by the end of the year the only Jews left in the country now partitioned between Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon had been forcibly converted to Islam.
About a million Israeli Jews had managed to flee, mainly by air and sea as any caught crossing the land borders were slaughtered out of hand. But where could they go? As in 1939 the face of the world was turned against them. Canada repeated Frederick Blair’s infamous decree: “None is too many”, and the whole of Europe and the Americas followed suit.
As in 1941, only one country opened its doors to the defenceless Jews. The Soviet Union, having emboldened the Arabs to destroy Israel, now invited the remnant of the Jewish people back to the country whose pogroms their grandparents had fled two generations before. But of course there was a catch. They had to prove themselves dedicated to International Communism: and for those whose dedication was found to be lacking the gulags of Siberia awaited.
Now the Jews of Israel were safely murdered, rendered dumb by conversion to Islam or imprisoned thousands of miles away in Siberia, needless to say the progressive social justice warriors of the West rose up as one to protest against their treatment, led by such principled luminaries as Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Desmond Tutu, Tariq Ali, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, and Jeremy Corbyn.
How they loved those wailing masses of tortured, helpless, impotent Jews. How right and proper their position seemed to be. And how furious they would have been if, against all the odds, those Jews of Israel had managed to turn the tables and, impossibly, had won that war in 1973?

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Trains from the East

I’ve been looking at those trains passing through Hungary, carrying refugees from further east, and seeing the Hungarian police offer them food and water, which they throw on the ground in contempt. And I’m reminded of other trains travelling the same route, 72 years ago, also en route to a place that in those days was in Germany. Those passengers, when the train stopped at a station, offered gold and jewellery for the privilege of a mug of water. But this was denied them. They arrived in a Germany, all right, but there were no lines of happy faces carrying placards saying ‘Welcome’. Just soldiers, dogs and whips. And a chimney.