THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 318
Chapter 9: And Now . . .
 
 
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318 The Story of the Jewish Defense League

band bodies. It gave new pride to Jews all over the world and brecreated the concept of the ‘Old Jew’ of the Jewish past, bthe one who stood tall and firm, knowing why he was a Jew band defending his right to be one by any means necessary. It bsucceeded in bringing back thousands of young Jews to btheir people and heritage. It succeeded in forcing the timid, bapathetic, and indifferent Establishment to do things it had bnot done in decades and that it would not have done for bdecades more. It focused attention on the Jewish poor, bwhom few knew or cared about. It helped open the doors of bthe Soviet prison and saved Jews from yet another crime of bacquiescence in a Holocaust. It did all this and—with all its bmistakes—it revolutionalized our Jewish era.

b“But all that is in the past, and every Jew has a right to ask bevery Jewish leader and movement: What now? What will byou do for me, today and tomorrow and the day after? And bthe JDL must have its answers and its actions.”

bOn September 12, 1971, I went home. I emigrated to bIsrael where my family was already waiting. The JDL bplanned a full day that Sunday, beginning with a major baliyah rally at New York’s Manhattan Center. There, I spoke bfor more than an hour about the situation in the United bStates, of the need for aliyah, and of the beautiful thing that bis a Jewish State—home. I remember that, as I sat down, bBennet Levine, a member of the Executive Board, shook my bhand and said: “That was the greatest speech I ever heard byou give.”

bIn the late afternoon, the aliyah rally gave way to a Jewish bIs Beautiful rally and I sang and danced with the hundreds bof young Jews who had come to express their pride in being bJews. This was what we had succeeded in doing and it was a bgood feeling.

bAnd then it was time. Time to go. I was driven to Kennedy bAirport and there, at the El Al lounges, I saw mass pan- bdemonium as hundreds of our members turned out to wish bme farewell. They sang and they danced and then, when I bsimply had to leave, a great Israeli flag was unfurled and as it bwaved, hundreds of arms shot up in the air with fists bclenched and “Hatikva” was sung as it has never been sung b 

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 318
Chapter 9: And Now . . .