FATALISM?

By Boris Shusteff

"The right way, to my mind, is the way of the Irgun, which does not reject political effort but will not give up a yard of our country, because it is ours."......Dov Gruner, a letter from prison (1)

Who are we, the Jews? Are we the people that was chosen by God to spread ethical monotheism through the world and to live as a moral "light unto the nations" (Isaiah 49:6)? Or maybe we are a "doomed and sinful nation., corrupt and evil people" (Isaiah 1:4)? What is our destiny? Are we going to be the nation that will live forever in Eretz Yisrael? Or maybe we are destined to be violently transformed into dust and ashes that will cover the tiny sliver of land where we were born as a people? Will our memory keep us going, and will it strengthen our resolve to proudly fight for our ideals? Or maybe we will try to escape from it, thus forfeiting our future and tearing away from the book of nations a page with the name "Jew" on it?

It appears that we will not wait long to answer all these questions. The answer will be given very soon, perhaps within couple years. Either the Jewish state will awaken from this terrible nightmare called "Oslo," or it will end up in the dustbin of history. No other choices are possible. It is we the Jews - the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora - who will give the answers to these questions. Every single one among us will have to answer to his conscience and will either help to save the Jewish state and the Jewish people or, through indifference, complacency, fear, self-delusion or whatever other reasons, collaborate in extinguishing of the flame of our national life.

It already happened once in our history - in this century. We lacked the will to fight; we were ready to accept the looming disaster. We froze up waiting for the ax of the executioner to do its work. In May 1939 at a meeting in Warsaw Zeev Jabotinsky predicted our tragedy:

"The most terrible thing is what I see among a great many Eastern European Jews: indifference, fatalism. People behave as if they are sentenced. This kind of submissiveness to fate is unknown in history; even in novels I have never encountered anything like it. It is as if somebody put a small group - some twelve million - into a cart and pushed the cart toward a cliff. The cart continues moving toward the cliff and the people inside - some weep, some smoke, some read newspapers, some pray - and it does not occur to anyone to take the reins and turn the cart. It is as if the people are anesthetized."

He tried to smash our illusions, he wanted us to do something, to run away at least. He begged us:

"I come to you with a last attempt. I call to you! Wake up! Try to stop the cart, try to jump off, to jam the wheels somehow, do not go like cattle to the slaughter! Even sheep try to run away when a wolf kills one or two from their flock. And here, O Lord, and here is an enormous cemetery!"

And a cemetery it became! Six million European Jews were gassed, shot, starved to death, executed, annihilated, slaughtered, put to death using every means known to mankind. Did we try to escape, to run away? We did, and we didn't. We wanted to believe the tales we were told. We waited for the miracle to happen. We wanted to be ignorant to what was already happening to our brethren.

How terrible are the images that are floating in our memory. The year is 1944. The Hungarian town Kluj. "There were only twenty Hungarian gendarmes and one German S.S. officer guarding the twenty thousand people in the ghetto. And there are thousands of able-bodied young Jews among the condemned. The border, and freedom, are only three miles away" (2). They did not overcome these twenty-one guards. They did not even try. Because they were betrayed, they were told by Rudolf Kastner and other Zionist leaders "No resistance! We are your leaders. You have nothing to fear. Everything is under control. Do not listen to the hotheads. We your leaders, are the only ones who can save your lives" (2).

The leaders saved their lives, their own lives. Their twenty thousand listeners were driven to death. They were clubbed and bayoneted into train compartments. Eighty Jews rode in every compartment. Where there were children, the Germans did better, they jammed one hundred twenty into each car.

"The eighty Jews must stand all the way to Auschwitz with their hands raised in the air, so as to make room for the maximum of passengers. They must urinate and defecate in their clothes. They must continue to burn with thirst until they arrive at the gas ovens. Arrived in Auschwitz - a hiss of gas, a roar of flames, and the multitude of lives are ashes (2)."

We calmly accepted our fate and quietly went into oblivion. "There was little hysteria among the doomed. Rich, poor, learned, ignorant, the yellow-badged Jews walked quietly in their streets, held their heads up, smiled at each other, dreamed of saving their children, and still tried to arouse the human conscience of their fellow citizens" (2).

Our instincts of self-preservation became nonexistent. We ourselves signed our own death sentences and strictly followed them. What can be better proof of this than the episode which happened with a group of EIGHTEEN Jewish men and women who fled the Warsaw ghetto. The episode was described in the diary of Tzalik Parachodnik, a Jewish ghetto policeman who was killed in Warsaw, and whose diary was published only a few years ago. He wrote of these eighteen Jews,

"Since they had nowhere to go, they stopped in a field, not far from Karczew. Several hours later, a gendarme was crossing the field, and he saw the group of Jews and ordered them to lie down on the ground. One shot was fired, a second, and a third, and then the rifle suddenly refused to obey him. It turned out that he had no more bullets in his magazine. He sent a Polish youth to the Commissariat of Karczew with instructions to bring him back the needed ammunition, and then he sat down and waited, entirely unarmed "(3).

The next several sentences in Parachodnik's diary are simply impossible to read. They tell us what happens to people who are self-programmed for inevitable death.

"And what did the Jews do? Did they attack him to avenge the blood of their loved ones? Perhaps they turned and fled? They continued to lie there, with their faces to the ground, and they waited. They waited more than half an hour for the bullets to be supplied -- the bullets that would bring them deliverance, apparently. Finally a Polish policeman arrived with the ammunition. The gendarme shot the rest of the Jews" (3).

How prophetic were Jabotinsky's words: "People behave as if they are sentenced." Did he really picture in his mind the kind of nightmare described by Parochodnik? If so, what would he say about today's Israel? What would he say about the indifference and fatalism that shrouds in mist a Jewish state tired of fighting for its survival? Is Israel waiting for her deliverance like the eighteen Jews in Karzcew?

It happened once, it happens again. We again lack the will to fight. We are ready to acquiesce to the establishment of another Arab state on the land that was not only promised to us by God, but was also given to us by the League of Nations, which encouraged our "close settlement on the land" there. We are ready to sacrifice our national interests in order to fit Israel, sized like a coffin, into the New World Order. We want "Peace" so much that we forgot that the soldier's duty is first and foremost to save the life of his country and only then his own life. Our enemies kill us with bombs, bullets, and knives. Since the beginning of the "peace process" more than 300 of our brothers and sisters have been killed, several thousand have been wounded, but we keep licking our wounds and crawling on our knees to a safe place, hoping that when we give our enemies everything that they ask for, they will give us peace. "We hoped for peace and a time of healing, but it was no use; terror came instead. .Our enemies have come to destroy our land and everything in it, our city and all its people" (Jeremiah 8:15,16).

Where are the followers of the Maccabeans? What happened to the spirit of Bar Kohba? Do the names Dov Gruner, Dov Rosenbaum, Mordechai Alkoshi, Eliezer Kashani mean anything to us? Why do we lie with our faces to the ground and wait? Is it because our leaders have told us that we have nothing to fear, that everything is under control, that we should not listen to the hotheads, and that they, our leaders, are the only ones who can save our lives?

The leaders are usually the ones that survive, while the people pay off their bills. Ben Hecht tells us in Perfidy how Rudolf Kastner and three hundred prominent Jews safely escaped and 800,000 ordinary Hungarian Jews were gassed in Auschwitz. During Kastner's trial the Attorney General defending Kastner's actions said that "Kastner was convinced and believed that there was no ray of hope for the Jews of Hungary, almost for none of them, and. he, as a result of his personal despair, did not disclose the secret of the extermination in order not to endanger or frustrate the rescue of the few." (2). However, Moshe Silberg, the Supreme Court Judge, rejected this line of defense. He said, "Can a single man, even in cooperation with some of his friends, yield to despair on behalf and without knowledge of 800,000 other people? How can he examine the tens of thousands of possibilities? Does he decide instead of God?" (2).

How dare the Israeli leaders today to despair on behalf of millions of the Israeli and the Disapora Jews and continue along the road of selling out Eretz Yisrael? Who contracted them for the construction of a Palestinian state? How dare they squander the eternal patrimony of the Jewish people? How dare the Israeli leaders deprive the millions of Israeli Jews from the knowledge of real Arab intentions? Do they decide instead of God?

"All the leaders, who are supposed to warn my people, are blind! They know nothing. They are like watchdogs that don't bark - they only lie around and dream. These leaders have no understanding. Every one of them does as he pleases and seeks his own advantage" (Isaiah 56:10,11). It is we who have chosen our leaders and if they lead us towards destruction it is we and only we who should be blamed.

[11/28/99]

NOTES:

1. Menachem Begin, Revolt.

2. Ben Hecht, Perfidy.

3. Eliakim Haetzni: "Waiting for the Bullets," October 1999

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Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.



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