Gabriel Mayer
Gabriel Mayer

Israel, Zachor and Judaism

In today’s complex world, dominated by politics, ill-defined borders and destructive rockets carried on supersonic jets; there are cultural nuances that are an integral part of the military political establishment.

Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Israel, which never ceases to flummox the world by nature of it’s dominant military.

How could a small band of ragged refugees and impoverished settlers develop the military might to defeat the military assault of the pan-Arabic armies and continue to develop the most dominant fighting force, the IDF, in the region?

What our research explores are the cultural components, which are the backbone of this military might. Our explanation offers a rigorous research process that demonstrates the fact that these answers lie not in the brainpower of brilliant persons, but rather in the spiritual forces and convictions born out of the spirit of Judaism.

Beginning with Zionism and the early settlement periods of the late 1800’s that preceded the Zionist movement Eretz Israel began receiving wave upon waves of immigrants mostly from Eastern Europe, but also varied countries as well.

Most of the early settlers were not particularly religious, but espoused a socialist viewpoint, even though the majority came from religious families. By the 1920’s the land known as Palestine, and later the British Mandate was being populated by a variety of individuals with multiple political viewpoints, but in general bearing a Jewish identity.  Led by Ben-Gurion the Jewish Agency became an enterprise that would form the structural basis of a new nation. This enterprise also launched a great social experiment.  No matter the extent of socialist leaning politics or lack of religiosity, idealism was suffused by a Jewish identity. IN1920 the founding of the “Hebrew Society for the study of Palestine and It’s Antiquities was aimed at taking possession of archeological research, which hitherto was in the hands of Christian academic researchers from Western Europe.

The aim of Hebrew Archeology was to reveal the deep roots of Jewish existence in the Land of Israel. Not only did Jewish archeologists take leadership of research in the land, they also began to connect to the social experiment led by Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency. The tragic events of the Shoah produced an additional wave of immigrants whose one and only commonality with the Jewish populace was Judaism. The historical facts around the drive for Independence and the war of Independence in 1948 created the framework of a new population known as the Sabra. Repealing the Arabic nations’ armies and the war of 19767 and 1973 were instrumental in further honing a new identity for the populace, which could readily identify with their forbearer’s through the transition of Jewish remembrance known as Zachor. The Jews in Israel held a fundamental commonality; their being was surrounded by an existential threat at all times. This was the point which all immigrants as well as locals shared with deep conviction. The army, IDF, and military venues operated under this survivalist mentality.

National armed service was universally applied and this translated into superior fighting forces. Today’s IDF has as its greatest advantage, not only the brilliance of individuals, but also a national spirit partly born from pride and most surely born from survivalist mentality that is ubiquitous. Thus the core of existence in the land of Israel is a melding of Zachor and a battle ready populace, which actualizes the legend of the Maccabees.

About the Author
Born in Cluj, Romania to Holocaust survivor parents, he and the family fled Communism at age 10 and lived as refugees in Italy for about a year. Arrived to USA at age 11 A graduate of Boston University Medical School, Dr. Mayer was the lead investigator and first author for a series of published research that introduced to the world peripheral thrombolytic therapy for myocardial infarction, a first-ever event. These procedures are commonplace today and have saved millions of lives. After years of work in the USA as a clinician, researcher, and professor he moved to Israel where he earned two back-to-back MA degrees from the University of Haifa: Holocaust Studies and Israel Studies. He continues to research and publish in the fields of identity and peoplehood as related to sociopolitical events with a concentration in museal studies and performative aspects of academic learning, i.e. experiential learning. His expertise in museal studies and Holocaust historiography resulted in him being named Head Historian at Martef Hashoah Museum in Jerusalem [2015-2018] In February 2018, according to, he was ranked in the top 1% of researchers worldwide As a way of introducing the whole picture, some other facts need mention. During 1989, Dr. Mayer returned to his native birthplace [Cluj, Romania] and was a prominent figure in the 1989 Romanian Revolution. He was for two decades an accomplished triathlete, competing at elite international levels. He competed in three World Triathlon Championships and completed multiple Ironman Triathlons in places ranging from China to New Zealand and Canada to Europe; in addition, a mention needs to be made of the 44 marathons he completed
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