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Cast a Giant Shadow

The birth of a nation

Mickey Marcus graduated West Point. He attended law school. As US Attorney, he prosecuted gangsters. Mayor LaGuardia praised him. Marcus was JAG. He was in the Organized Reserve, then activated in WWII. He worked in Hawaii & Washington before parachuting in Normandy in the first wave. He helped draw terms for the Italian & German surrenders; he helped feed the peoples the Nazis ravaged; he helped save people from the concentration camps. He was involved in the Nuremberg trials. David ben Gurion himself asked Marcus to help Israel.

Americans called him Mickey. His name was David. In Israel, he became the first general, preparing & commanding the army in her War of Independence. Israel was neither nation nor army. – When it comes to choosing between laws & army, army is the only choice. War preparations, the UN-imposed ceasefire, & impending war made Israel dead serious. In that extreme necessity was Israel founded. David then ruled & led an army for whom survival required victory. At the end of the war, he died, long before the time appointed by the psalmist.

The life of peace in post-war America left Marcus restless. Then Gurion appealed to him, to his Jewishness, to convince him to organize the Jewish army. Marcus faced three problems: The stiff-necked Jews lacked military skills & habits. Their enemies had states & armies – they would choose when & where to attack. & the major powers did not want to save Israel. The Jewish rulers could only solve the first problem, which could not guarantee victory, but only deserve it. So war was necessary for Jews to recognize necessity, but it was necessary to prepare for war to survive. War is a teacher of war & peace both.

Jews would fight or die. But war calls forth manliness. Manly war calls forth captains & orders. More than ever, the general was Israel in war. If Israel is to live, she must convince her people that her cause is worth their lives. That is impossible without the promise of victory, so that men may die for their children to live. David did not look like much of a winner, but he looked to his people like a winner.

So this is what it means to fight for your country. It happened long ago, in another country, back before what the many can remember. Everyone was in danger. There was then no civil life. Soldiers built the roads they walked & fought battles they were doomed to lose. One man had to rule the different armed factions to prevent civil war. One man alone had to rule & show Israel had her destiny. Then he died & the laws took over rule.

A great man’s story. Find it. See it.