Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2008.05.14 : Happy Birthday Israel
(from Mahmoud)
Plus Michael Yon Radio Interview
And Plus Wacky Dancing Soldiers
"We need people ready to serve at any cost at whatever task Palestine requires . . . The metal, whatever is needed to forge anything, whatever the national machine will require. Is there a wheel lacking? I am that wheel. Nails, screws, a block? Take me. Must the land be dug? I will dig it. Is there shooting to be done, are soldiers needed? I will enlist. Policemen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, water-carriers? If you please, I am ready to do it all. I am not a person. I am the pure embodiment of service, prepared for everything. I have no ties. I know only one command: Build."
- Joseph Trumpeldor, one of the founding fathers of Israel

Today, May 14th, is Israeli Independence Day. On this day, 60 years ago, the founders of Israel proclaimed a national homeland for Jews, a sanctuary from the slaughter in Europe, and an end to two millennia of wandering. So happy birthday, Israel – and here's to you:

The only liberal, consensual democracy in the Middle East (Iraq will soon be a second). The only country with broad protection for human rights, freedom of speech and conscience, an independent judiciary (where Palestinians can, and do, file suit to contest roadblocks and sections of the anti-suicide-bomber wall), a legislature where all citizens can sit and govern (including Arabs and Muslims, who do sit and govern). The only outpost of freedom and hope and self-determination for the world's most eternally oppressed people – which has weathered and won three existential wars of annihilation, when multiple Arab and Muslim armies have poured over its borders intending to drive every man, woman, and child into the sea, starting on the very first day of its existence . . . and extending right to today, when it weathers a brutal proxy war by Iran, via Hamas and Hezbollah, and in which Israeli citizens endure daily rocket attacks, and wait for the next brutal suicide mass murder . . . And which has nonetheless, through tireless hard work and innovation and perseverance, caused the deserts to bloom, and fostered industry and commerce and technological and medical innovation . . . which has more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than any country other than the U.S. . . . whose Hadassah and Tel Aviv Medical Centers treat Israelis and Palestinians alike and who routinely make major medical breakthroughs . . . whose writers (such as the incomparable Amos Oz) and musicians and other artists flourish and entertain the world . . . which has maintained nearly unbelievable protection for human rights and solicitude toward non-combatants, while enduring a campaign of terror that other countries can only imagine and toward which they would never show such restraint.

Here's to Israel.

The above, by the way, doesn't even scratch the surface of this heroic and amazing country and people. For the full story, I would very strongly commend anyone to Howard Sachar's magisterial (and even-handed) A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. And if you're – how to put it? – feeling the sway of the world's oldest hatred, in the form of Euro- and leftie- condemnation of Israel for "apartheid" and "Zionism = racism" and "human rights abuses of Palestinians" (who, it should nonetheless be stressed, have some claims and have suffered greatly), I would urge you to read Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel, which compellingly sets all these matters straight.

Here, by the way, are the Iranian President's birthday wishes for the people and state of Israel:

"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken. Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation."
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Nukes for Teheran, anyone? Let's pray together that Israel sees another 60 years. And let's not depend upon prayer. (Read William Kristol in the New York Times on why "as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us." Use this handy comparison chart to decide whether Ahmadinejad's ravings should be dismissed as bluster, just as Hitler's were in 1938.)

I previously published some excerpts from an interview with Michael Yon, author of Moment of Truth in Iraq – adding that I would review it as soon as I received and devoured my copy. Well, I've received and devoured – but I'm not going to review, for the reason that he puts it much better in his own words. Here's about a 30-minute radio interview with Michael Yon on the Hugh Hewitt show. I've suggested that Yon has spent more time in Iraq than any other reporter, and closer to the troops and the Iraqis, and has a better sense of what's going on than anyone you've heard from before. Well, please hear it from him in his own words, which carry much greater weight than mine:

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And last, but by no means least, May is Military Appreciation Month – during which our country "honors, remembers, recognizes and appreciates all military personnel; those men and women who have served throughout our history and all who now serve in uniform and their families, as well as those Americans who have given their lives defending our country." You can donate in honour of a loved one or (my preference) sponsor a care package, including your own message of support. A care package costs $25. Give several – you wouldn't have any money if it weren't for the unprecedented security, prosperity, and freedom which was bought for us with the blood and sweat of our soldiers. And if that's not enough motivation . . . they'll even dance for their supper for you. Hilarious.

"This book covered a time in which our men and women in Iraq changed the course of history. They did it against the odds, contrary to all expectations. The American combat soldier is responsible for this historic achievement. There are those who fought. And those who didn't. Our soldiers often said, 'The military is at war. America is at the mall.' It has been our soldiers' choice, but they saw it as their duty. And so they lived through fifteen-month deployments, multiple combat tours, often re-enlisting instead of going home to their families, watching snipers shoot their friends, and IEDs tear bodies apart. Some came home on Angel Flights, mourned by their families and comrades in arms, buried in flag-draped coffins while a bugle played Taps. For the rest of America, another dead soldier was just a scroll on the bottom of the television screen – not even a name, just a statistic, or worse, another argument for surrender.

American combat soldiers don't want pity. They're ready to fight to the end; they just don't want it to be for naught. They have been fighting for two nations, one of which didn't seem to notice. The Iraqis noticed."

- Michael Yon, Moment of Truth in Iraq

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close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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