It is not true that great event are the products of great leaders. It is a myth that the individual gives birth to revolutionary change. He may be the spark, he may be the catalyst but, without something far more basic, his vision will never become reality, his dream will die along with those of so many before him.
It is not the individual leader but the individual followers, the dedicated, the unheraleded, the far-from-famous. It is the people who give of their time, who are called upon to work long, drab and undramatic hours, who are asked to make the great sacrifices. It is of these that we speak too seldom and it is of two of these that I come to write at this time.
Nancy and Avraham are accused of planning to seize an Arab airliner. Officials claim it is in retalitiation for similar, continuous outrages by Arab murderers. They are in prison today because, the authorities claim, they watched a world do nothing about Arab terrorism, beheld terrorist gangsters go free as a result of blackmail and envisioned continued Arab terror, seizures and murder.
The fact of the matter is that it is not true that Nancy and Avraham planned to seize an airliner. In the days that follow, the real truth will come out and they will be shown to be innocent of the hijacking charge.
But this is not the important thing at the moment. What is important is to know something about this young Jew that is beginning to appear today – thank heaven.
We live in a world of Jerry Rubins and Abby Hoffmans and Mark Rudds and Bendet-Cohens. We live in a world where the young Jew is apathetic, at best, and, too often, hostile to everything that is Jewish. Some say Israel is a puppet of imperialism; the synagougue is a corrupt and irrelevant tool; Jewish heritage and nationhood is an antiquity to be consigned to the trash heap of history. This we hear and we sigh; this we behold and mourn. All that we dreamed of and all that we fought for is despised and rejected and what will be the future?
Let us not despair. We have Avraham and Nancy. We have our young Jewish nationalists whose souls yearn for their people, whose spirits are united as one with the Land of Israel, who remember that Jews stood throughout the auto-da-fe and the Crusades and the Roman dispersion and all the exiles and kept the faith – the Jewish faith. We have Nancy and Avraham who remember that Jews danced in the streets on May 14, 1948 and wept unashamedly as they sang Hatikva. We have Avraham and Nancy who believe in the right of a Jew to live free – as a Jew; in the right of a Jew to live in peace-as a Jew; in the right of a Jew to smash his enemy before he smashes him. We have Nancy and Avraham who marched and fought for Soviet Jewry, who struck back at the neo-Nazis, who went and taught other young Jews that love of Jewry and Jewish pride and Jewish steel are good things. We have Avraham and Nancy who denied the Jewish ghetto comlex, who rejected the timid and frightened Jew and who preached Jewish self-respect.
Those who know them and saw them working at their jobs saw the meaning of dedication. In a business office one watches the clock; in a labor of love, one knows no hours. There were no days or nights for them. If a job had to be done, if mail had to be gotten out, if phone calls had to be made, if a thousands and one undramatic chores had to be finished, they did it. They did it because they knew that this was part of the great revolution that was taking place to recapture the lost Jewish youth and to re-create the strong and proud Jew.
One smiles when he listens to the little pygmies chirp their codemnations. One smiles, sadly, and remembers their carping voices in former days when other young Jews, who souls burned with zeal for their people were jailed. When vengeance was taken against Lord Moyne by two young Jews, the timid ones shrieked in panic and condemnation. When the King David Hotel was destroyed by Jewish patriots, the fearful ones panicked. In the light of the history it is the young and brave lions, the fearful ones panicked. In the light of history it is the young and brave lions who remain as the shining lights; it is they who brought us Israel. And the words of the Israeli poet, written in memory of Shlomo ben Yosef the first Jew to be hung by the British, remains with us: “One does not conquer the mountain top unless there is a grave on the slope…”
The charge against Nancy and Avraham is not true but this is not because they would not have done whatever they felt necessary for their people.
They take their place in history along with the true Jewish heroes. They take their place in the ranks of those of whom the great Zev Jabotinsky spoke when he worte of the simple soldier of the Jewish Legion of World War I, the first Jewish army since the day of Bar Kochba:
“The Jewish people did not thank those five thousand and they need no thanks. But in their inner consciousness there lives the feeling of pride to which I have given expression; the time will come when Jewish children will learn this truth together with their alphabets. And to each one of the five thousands, I say what I once said to my ‘trailoers,’ taking farewell of them at out last camp in Rishon:
“Far away in your home, you will one day read glorius news of a free Jewish life in a free Jewish country – of factories and universities, of farms and theaters, perhaps of M.P.s and Ministers. Then you will lose yourself in thought and the paper will slip for your fingers; and there will come to your mind a picture of the Jordan Valley, of the desert by Raffa, of the hills of Ephraim by Abuein. Then you shall stand up, walk to the mirror and look yourself proudly in the fact. Jump to ‘attention’ and salute yourself – for ’tis you who have made it’ ”
You will soon be free Avraham and Nancy and until that moment, know that we, all of us, all Jews who care and understand, look you proudly in the face, jump to attention and salute you.