But what if the battle isn't quite over yet?
Then the history is controlled by whoever has the most control.
Growing up, I was taught to be proud of the State of Israel and its army. I was taught that the modern State of Israel was brought about by kibbutznikim and the Haganah. Needless to say, kibbutznikim and many regular (not rabidly anti-Torah Leftist) Jews in the Haganah did indeed fight on behalf of the Jewish people for the State of Israel.
There are even unnamed graves of Jews who survived the Holocaust only to die fighting for the Jewish people after smuggling themselves straight to Israel and not fully recovered from the death camps. They hadn't been in the country or their military unit long enough for anyone to know them and all their family members had been murdered. Consequently, when their lifeless body was found on the battlefield, no one knew exactly who they were. Yet they received an honorable burial and until today, grateful and humbled Jews visit their graves to pay homage to their anonymous sacrifice.
Yet throughout all this, Torah observant Jews never made an appearance.
That's right -- not even the dati-leumi, Religious Zionist Jews.
The settling, rebuilding, battling, and establishment of the Jewish country was portrayed as a completely secular enterprise. Orthodox Jews only made an appearance as pesky interferers but never as contributors.
Yet contrary to the establishment history, Orthodox Jews -- even ultra-Orthodox Jews -- were the first settlers and the first fighters in modern Eretz Yisrael. And they worked and sacrificed despite interference, sabotage, and other forms of discrimination set against them by the anti-religious reps in charge (not to mention the discrimination by the Turks and later the Brits).
Without any relief in sight, these people went up against malnutrition, disease, unimaginable poverty, harsh living conditions, oppression, and Arab attacks -- all to create a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land, and pave the way for their fellow Jews suffering from pogroms.
The REAL First Modern Jewish Defense Force
This Jewish Guard even had headquarters (in the Old City of Jerusalem) and was commanded by some of the most outstanding students of the Vilna Gaon along with other rabbinic leaders.
Yes, that's right: The very first weaponized Jewish defenders in Eretz Yisrael were also armed with Gemaras.
(Sorry for the unpleasant shock, Torah-hating Leftists.)
Many members of the Sefardi community also joined with their Ashkenazi brethren to protect their fellow Jews from marauders.
Unfortunately, the brilliant talmid chacham, Rav Yosef Shick was slain in the line of duty. Rav Menachem Mendel of Shklov was also seriously wounded and blinded in one eye.
But you'll probably never hear about them on Yom Hazikaron (or any other time). These kinds of warriors aren't considered part of the "cool" crowd.
Guns 'n' Gemaras
Because two Jewish Guard leaders were both named Shmerel (short for "Shmaryahu") and because the two Shmerels dedicated themselves to making sure every Jewish Guard member owned a pistol, pistols became popularly known as "shmerelach."
In addition to guarding the homes and families, circumstances also forced the Jewish Guard to accompany travelers and stand watch over storehouses of building materials and food.
As Jewish settlement expanded outside the walled city of Jerusalem, new and more dangerous positions needed to be put into place by the Jewish Guard. These men stood guard day and night to protect the innocent Jews, taking a shift of guard duty and then a shift of Torah study throughout this time.
A Daring Rescue Mission
After consultation between the leaders of the community and the Jewish Guard, they all formed a plan. Pretending to have the ransom in a bag, two Jewish Guard men would set out with the kidnappers' representative.
In the meantime, all the members of the Jewish Guard stole after them along winding routes to near where is now Bnei Brak.
(While all this was going on, the Jerusalem community fasted and prayed for their success.)
At that point, the Jewish Guard launched a surprise attack which freed the prisoners, demolished the camp, and killed the leader along with many other bandits.
Who's the Israeli Superman now, eh?
(You probably have never heard of this stunning Raid on the Outskirts of Bnei Brak. You likely will not hear about it on Yom HaAtzmaut either, nor will a movie ever be made about it. But I am profoundly grateful to Jews like this who first enabled Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael, from which I personally benefit today.)
The First Anti-Terror Unit in Eretz Hakodesh
Later in 1873, Bedouin terrorists attacked Jewish homes nearly every night.
Turkish police proved unhelpful.
At a gathering the home of Jerusalem's chief rabbi, Rav Meir Auerbach, another surprise attack was planned.
The night before the attack, Jewish inhabitants filled the synagogues and study halls to recite Tehillim/Psalms and pray for the success of the Jewish Guard.
At midnight, the Jewish Guard launched a 3-prong assault on the hideout in the mountains.
The attack was so unexpected that the stronghold was demolished within 30 minutes with 150 dead on the enemy side.
The Jews no longer suffered from this group.
More Jewish Fighters
Much later, the tzaddik of Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Levin smuggled dozens (or maybe hundreds) of messages in his coat for the Haganah fighters imprisoned by the British, whom he visited frequently.
In her searing Holocaust memoir, From the Depths I Call, Lea Fuchs-Chayen was a strictly religious teenage survivor who regularly allowed the Jewish Underground to store weapons in her easy chair, despite the risk if she was caught and despite the danger of explosives in her furniture.
And there are many more to tell of, but that's enough for now.
Every Jew Counts
But they did exist.
And we in Eretz Yisrael are here today in their merit.
Please remember the first Jewish Guard and all the others.
Just because they were what today would be called ultra-Orthodox doesn't mean their contributions don't count.