History has many lessons for this generation. For Jews, the lessons are much harsher and much more clearly defined. The Holocaust looms as not only an overwhelming tragedy, but as a lesson in the failure of Jewish leadership. Too many people excuse that generation by claiming that the Nazi horror was beyond comprehension. This is foolishness. Every step that the Jews trod on that path of anti-Semitism from Hitler's rise to power in 1933 to the killings machines of Auschwitz was known to Jewish leaders within months. Their response was weak, timid and in many cases criminally negligent. The failure to confront President Roosevelt with a vigorous demand to save European Jewry will forever be a horrendous blot on our history.
The nations of the Western World committed the great sin of convincing Hitler that no one would allow the Jews refuge or even care about their survival. England, especially, preferred that the Jews be exterminated so that they would not immigrate to Palestine after the war. There is plenty of guilt to go around. The nations of the world have always been reckless with Jewish lives. The Jewish failure is much more shocking, as common decency would expect us to care about our own people.
I first began to study Jewish history in the early 1950's. To me the Holocaust was an enormous, overpowering evil that would seem to mock Jewish destiny. Then as I studied Zionism and the rise of Israel, I understood something significant. The Jews of Europe were ill prepared to defend themselves and were at the mercy of their gentile neighbors. In the geographical area encompassed by Hitler's armies, 90% of the Jewish population was exterminated. Jews often talk about the loss of a third of their people. This greatly underestimates the impact of the Holocaust. The Allies may have won World War II, but the Jews were, for the most part, dead and unable to celebrate the victory.
The Israeli war for survival during the years 1947-9 tells a remarkably different story. A Yishuv (Jewish community) numbering only 600,000 souls defeated at great cost five Arab armies and established the State of Israel. Some 6000 of their finest sons and daughters died in the conflict. That is 1% of the Jewish population compared to the 90% of European Jewry exterminated.
No longer were the Jewish people a branch swept along by the currents of the non-Jewish river (world). Israel was a boat, powered by its own engine, that could navigate history as an independent nation. This was a quantum change and improvement in the Jewish condition of more than 2000 years.
As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Israel's birth, we must reflect on its long term viability. I fear that the seeds of Israel's destruction were planted in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo Accords. Just like Israel's birth changed forever the condition of the Jews, Oslo has given a great boost to the aspirations of 'palestinian' Arabs. Those aspirations include the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a State of Palestine. Oslo has given them the opportunity to utilize the Phased Plan (for the destruction of Israel) of 1974. As one watches the behavior of terrorist Yasir Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, it is clear that this plan is in operation.
The evidence is all there, for all to see: the failure to revise the PLO Covenant; the failure to fight terrorism and root out the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad; the continued incitement of the their population against Jews and Israel; the use of Nazi themes in their propaganda; their falsification of history; their Nazi-like lies against the Israeli government; their attempts to seize territory outside their boundaries; their failure to extradite terrorist murderers; the blatant praise of terrorist murderers; their organization of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers; their participation in continued terrorism; their threats to resort to terrorism; their participation in treaties with Syria, Iran, and Iraq to attack Israel; and much more. All of the above are contrary to the Oslo Agreement signed in 1993 and all of this behavior continues today in 1998.
These violations by the PA are verifiable facts. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows all these things to be true. The reason I question Israel's long term viability is the failure of its leadership to ACT on these facts. Netanyahu is still negotiating with Arafat, despite his knowledge that every previous agreement with him has been violated immediately. This is what troubles me the most. The failure to recognize reality and then make decisions based on Israel's true interests. Believe me, creating and nurturing a renascent irridentist Palestine, is NOT in Israel's interests.
Israel's sovereignty and freedom of action seems to be increasingly restricted by the United States and Europe. Fifty years after Israel won its freedom to determine its own destiny, it is quite sad to see this growing dependence on the "goodwill" of the world's nations. Remember: "Those who fail to learn from history, are condemned to repeat it."
...........Bernard J. Shapiro, Editor