Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post of April 27, 2001
THE HOLOCAUST AND INDEPENDENCE
By Daniel Doron
There must be meaning to the proximity of Independence Day to Holocaust Remembrance Day, beyond the obvious fact that the Holocaust diminished, for a while, resistance to Jewish independence, enabling it to receive international sanction.
Only for a while. The world quickly recovered its composure, so that even 60 years after the Holocaust, few of the murderers were punished, and the multitudes that were implicated in its atrocities, and benefitted from them, were not held accountable. Only a small fraction of the vast property looted from Jews was restituted.
That, in a century in which sensitivity to justice and human rights seem paramount.
Israel, a state designed to protect Jews from genocide, remains the only state threatened with extinction by enemies armed by the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese with weapons of mass destruction. Yet the world is unperturbed. European states, past Nazi collaborators, still give aid and comfort to Israel's sworn enemies, supporting a Palestinian "moral right" to independence that implies Israel's destruction.
Even Germany, the chief Holocaust perpetrator, is ambivalent towards Israel. Despite its important (appreciated) support for Israel, it does not unequivocally fight those who would endanger Jewish survival. It fails to act against German firms supplying rogue states with weapons of mass destruction. Its intellectuals and media often attack Israel for alleged violations of Palestinian rights, but keep mum about the Arabs' deadly designs against Israel and the dictatorial, repressive and corrupt regime with which they would replace it.
German money subsidizes vile Palestinian antisemitic campaigns and an "authority" that promotes the killing of Jews for ideological reasons.
Shocking as it is, this is not really surprising. Barely three years after the Holocaust, in 1948, with the memory of the huge carnage still fresh and survivors waiting in DP camps in Germany, yearning for a safe haven in Israel, European countries headed by Britain tried to undermine a UN resolution calling for the establishment of a tiny Jewish state in partitioned Palestine. They armed Arab states to the teeth, knowing full well that they were planning to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. They then imposed a "Middle East" arms embargo depriving the nascent Jewish state of defense against attack by seven Arab armies. Even the great friend, the US, joined this embargo.
If three years after the Holocaust, Western governments were willing to countenance another mass butchery of imperiled Jews, why would they, 50 years later, be terribly upset by deadly threats against a strong Israel?
So the first lesson of the proximity of Independence Day to Holocaust remembrance is that responsibility for Jewish survival depends, in the last resort, on the Jews themselves. The second lesson may be even more upsetting because it raises doubt whether Jews realize this responsibility and are capable of acting on it.
In his heart-rending Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, Yossi Klein Halevy quotes his Holocaust survivor father - who as a youth refused to board the Auschwitz-bound cattle cars with most Hungarian Jews, hid in a forest pit and survived - asking in anguish why American Jewish leaders (and public) who "É knew what was happening; why did they not chain themselves to the White House, sit down in the streets of Washington, lose their minds with grief?"
Indeed, the question must be finally asked why no Jewish or Zionist leader, not Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, Stephen Wise or anyone else, declare a limitless hunger strike and sit in sackcloth and ashes; why were there no massive Jewish demonstrations in America or Palestine to protest Allied inaction? Why was there no Jewish kamikaze operation organized to attack the concentration camps? Why did Jews react so lamely when their next of kin, first-degree relatives were being brutally butchered?
And why, Yossi's father asked (which we dare not), "Why were Hungarian Jews, for example, taken by surprise even in 1944, five years after Polish Jewry was being destroyed? Why did they refuse to heed warnings and prepare for the worst? Why this paralysis?
Who knows. Perhaps Jews, who have survived for centuries by rejecting despair and refusing to go mad when subjected to unspeakable horrors, have made themselves immune to reality by embracing a reckless optimism and refusing to even contemplate what turned out to be so horrendous.
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality," T.S. Elliot observed. Otherwise no one could live on the slopes of Mount Etna, remain a Jew in Christian Europe, or keep a messianic faith in Oslo.
Jews must stop deluding themselves; they must acknowledge the bitter fact that nuclear-armed, crazed radical Islamicists and various other folk would still like to see them dead, and that it is their responsibility to prevent this.