Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Real Meaning of Never Again



"We, pilots of the Israeli Air Force, flying in the skies over the extermination camps, arose from the ashes of the millions of victims, carrying their silent cries, saluting their bravery, and vowing to be a shield to the Jewish Nation, and to its Land, Israel."

An oft-repeated cliche repeated by both Jewish leaders and the international community is that of "never again". Presidents and Prime Ministers visit Yad VaShem, pay tribute at Holocaust Memorials and shed crocodile tears over the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, while proceeding to condemn and attack Israel. The same leaders that stood silently in commemoration of the Holocaust denounced Israel with the most hateful vitriol during its moment of greatest need, as it was fighting to defend itself and its citizens. Never again, they pledged. Never again? Is that really so?

The Holocaust teaches many universal messages. It teaches mankind to be ever vigilant against the forces of hatred and intolerance, whenever they arise against any people or group. It warns us never to allow bigoted speech and ideas fester and grow. It shows the ease with which an entire nation can descend to the depths of depravity and immorality. Yet, for the Jewish people, the Holocaust has one sharp and poignant message: Never again to be weak.

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, for two millenia, Jews lived as strangers in foreign lands, minorities under the rule of others. In Christendom and in Islamic lands, Jews were forced to lived in ghettos, mellahs or juderias, to wear distinctive and humiliating clothing, had restrictions on their professions and employment and endured severe discrimination. Jews were at the mercies of the lords of the land and had to comply with their wishes, whether it be being forced to hear a conversionist sermon delivered by a priest in a synagogue on Shabbat, or to pay a jyziah tax in a debasing ceremony to their Muslim overlords. Jews were spat upon and cursed, beaten and abused at will. The two thousand years of Jewish life in Europe and the Middle-East, with the exception of occasional periods of prosperity and tranquility, was marked with constant fear and insecurity. Ravaged by pogroms and Crusades, Inquisitions and forced conversions, massacres and jihads, Jews lived with their lives always hanging in a narrow balance. A new king or pope, ruler or clergyman, could put the Jews in peril.

In this climate of ingrained loathing and despising of the Jews, Hitler came along. He used the traditional anti-semitic motives of the Catholic church as well as new anti-semitic racial theories to stir up the people's hate. The policies of the Nazi Regime, even before the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem was implemented, were designed to crush and dehumanize the Jews. The Jew looked in trepidation at the Nazi brownshirts, Gestapo and SS, unable to defend or stand up for himself. Like animals, Jews were crammed into cattle cars, suffocated in gas chambers and burnt in ovens. The Nazi beasts could not have accomplished their genocide without the help of their Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, etc. collaborators and executioners. Nor could they have managed without the world's silent approval. The Pope looked away when the Jews of Rome were rounded up from under his very window. Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill all knew about the death camps, about the killing fields and mass graves in the Ukraine, about the gas chambers and crematorium in Poland, yet closed their doors to Jewish refugees. Allied bombers flew over Auschwitz but the military didn't see the use of bombing the train lines. As Jews needed a place to flee to, the British, at the urging of the Arabs and the Nazi-collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, may his name be accursed, prevented Jewish aliyah to the Land of Israel, and even sent refugees back into the hands of the Nazis.

Just yesterday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, a group of partisans who fought the Nazis in the forests of Europe, visited an IDF air force base. One woman asked an officer in our air force if our pilots could reach Iran. "They can reach anywhere," he answered. This answer, powerful and moving for its simplicity, conveys the true meaning of never again. Never again will we wait in vain for Allied planes to bomb the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for world aid which did not come. Never again will we allow ourselves to be weak, to be victimized, to be powerless. Never again will we accept any conditions on where we can live, what we can wear, on our professions or possessions. Never again will we be at the mercies of the gentiles, begging for our lives. This pilot was saying that we may have been 60 years too late for the Jews of Europe, but we were not too late for the Jews of Yemen or Ethiopia. Never again will we be too late! We may not have been able to save the Jews of Warsaw, but our planes reached Iraq and Entebbe. Our planes can fly to Lebanon or Gaza, and they may yet fly to Iran, destroying the enemies of the Jewish people. We will not stand idly by our brothers blood, whether they are being rounded up and deported to annihilation, living under constant bombardment and rocket attacks or in the shadow of a nuclear attack. We know that the world abandoned the Jews to their fate, that deals were not made and safe havens closed off. Today, we can reach anywhere.

Another survivor made her own request of the air force of Israel, "What I ask of you is to make sure that there will not be another Holocaust." As long as brave Jewish men and women don the uniform of the Israeli Defense Force and protect the Jewish people from on land, sea and air, there can never be another Holocaust. We have learnt the terrible price of being weak. Being defenseless and without a homeland came at the horrendous cost of a third of our nation. The hatred of the world for the Jews has not diminished one iota since the trains came to a halt and the crematoriums stopped giving off their accursed smoke. Across Europe and North America, in public forums and university campuses, the Jewish State is being delegitimized and marked as a pariah. We must not heed the words of these haters for we know too well how dearly we pay without a state of our own. The only thing that stands between us and Auschwitz-Birkenau are the soldiers of the IDF. Those who condemned the army going in to Gaza must know that they only went in there to protect and defend the Jewish people. They are what keeps us from the narrow brink, from the mound of ashes at Majdanek, from the halls of shoes and piles of hair. To the Jews of Europe, massacred because of the world's apathy and our own weakness, scattered in the forests of Teblinka, the fields of Birkenau or the mass graves of the Ukraine, we promise never again to be weak, to allow ourselves to be bullied and beaten. For this is the true meaning of "Never Again".



Cross-posted to Stop Raping Israel

15 comments:

yaakov said...

this is a very powerful post.

my torah teacher in yerushalayim says that the real protection of the jewish people is H' yitborach.

He is our Shield. and, the more fully the jewish people keep the torah, we actually would not need an IDF. the yeshivas and people who daven, who keep mitzvos, this is the spiritual IDF. this is actually the foundation of the military IDF.

for now, because all of am yisrael is not keeping the torah completely (i myself am not doing enough, but i try my best)...we need the military IDF.

it is very moving to read and understand these things and see the air force over the camps.

still, we must, it is absolutely essential to understand 'from where our help comes, from H' who makes the heavens and the earth' (tehilim 121).

Bar Kochba said...

Yaakov,

HaShem demands hishtadlut. At the Red Sea, Moshe said to the people: "Stand still and see the salvation of HaShem... Hashem will fight for you, and you will be silent." And immediately after that, Moshe told the people to "Go forward" and jump into the Sea. Similarly, in Divrei HaYamim (20:20), the King Yehoshaphat said to the people: "Have faith in HaShem your G-d and be loyal to Him, have faith in His prophets and be successful", and immediately after this the army went out to fight and win. Trusting in G-d does not mean doing nothing or sitting around and reading Tehillim- Torah, davening and mitzvot must be coupled with action.

There is no clearer proof of this than how even the most righteous Jews who davened and cried out with all their might perished in the gas chambers. Of course HaShem is our Shield! There is no question about this. But we must couple faith in Him with action, with Jewish might and Jewish strength.

yaakov said...

correct: please see my point, or, better, my teachers point:

there are also instances in tanach of armies just being wiped out by H'.

the point is a clear statement of priorities. unfortunately, there are many who see israel's strength as the IDF. or their main strength as the IDF. our main strength is H' and His torah, period.

i wasn't saying don't have an army. look at what i said. i said that one day our emunah and torah will be so strong we won't NEED a military. until then we need both, and we need to be clear on our perspective.

NOTHING, as you know, happens w/o the will of heaven.

please re-read what i said.

thanks.

Cabbage said...

Yaakov: "I'm totally all about condoning the colonialist occupation of indigenous lands under the name of hashem!"
Bar Kochba: "No! We must go further! We must kill all the brown children and make their mothers cry, and then laugh! God is behind our every action, no matter what we do! Isn't this a lovely self-fulfilling political philosophy?!"
Yaakov: "I totally agree. Let's watch videos of the Israeli Offensive Forces bomb Gaza and then blame the inhabitants of those buildings for being inside their homes. Hah, losers."

Young Activist said...

Bar doesn't typically celebrate specific Israeli atrocities, he just denies they exist, and when the evidence is too difficult to deny he simply blames the victims. It sounds a lot like some neo-nazis defending their ideologie's track record in the arena of human rights.

Bar Kochba said...

Cabbage, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are despicable for using a post commemorating the Holocaust to attack Israel. Your comments are inappropriate and have no place here. "Let us kill all the brown children"? Disgusting. Why do you even assume that my skin is lily-white (although that is of course irrelevant)? The claim that Israel is a racist country falls apart when you realize that it is the most diverse place in the Middle-East, has a hundred thousands Ethiopian Jewish citizens and is majority Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews.

Similarly, YA, the fact that you compare Zionism to Nazism (le'havdil elef alafim alfei havdalot) on a post remembering the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, simply because they had no state to protect them, is repulsive. I am open to debate but not to this sort of twisted thinking. Please recant this horrendous comparison or leave my blog.

Just a quick note about Zionism and human rights. There has only been one time in history when thousands of blacks have been taken out of Africa, not in chains to slavery but to freedom and dignity and that was when Israel rescued the Ethiopian Jews. Why don't you visit Israel and see what a vibrant democracy it is before you open your ignorant mouth?

Young Activist said...

I didn't compare Zionism to Nazism (although it does appear there was some sympathy among Nazis for Zionists and their objectives) I was making a point about the way an ideologue thinks. Just because Israel has non-white citizens doesn't mean it isn't a racism country. Ignoring the racism of the Ashkenazim against everyone else, especially the Ethiopians and the Arabs, Israeli politics is guided by Jewish supremacism and a hate for Arabs. The ideology of Zionism is to establish an ethnically pure state, a white fortress, on another people's land, to expel that other people and to kill those who won't leave, I cannot conceive of an ideology more racists than that.

yaakov said...

bk, i think you should delete cabbage and y.a. posts. they are not only disrespectful, but epitomize the distorted hateful rhetoric used daily against jews and israel.

the sleazy 'brown children' line is slimey. these people not only do not know the history, they try to bait people and get them angry.

david hamelech in tehilim 83 described what happens to those people.

they do not deserve space on your blog.

yaakov said...

young distortionist:
i'll try this one time. but, typicaly people like you only hear the sound of their own voices.

1. from time immemorial, by joan peters
2. this land is my land, by chaim kramer
3. google "israpundit/hadrian's curse" and see how the fakestinians admit their ruse to delegitimize israel.
4. israel, echo of eternity, by heschel (sans intro by his nutty kid)
5. read standwithus.com
6. this whole racial thing is a lowest common denominator appeal to the base impulses of humans. the jewish people are not a race. we are all descended from ancient israel. the nasty muslims expelled almost a million jews from north africa in 1950.


israel is the jewish national spritual religious home. it is our sacred land just like any other indigenous people has their land.

the fakestinians are not indigenous.

they are not canaanites.

they are fake. they migrated in from syria, egypt and other places once the jews began to redeem the land and make it prosperous.

i've had it with this racial,leftist bullshit.

either get your act together or go somewhere and stink up someone elses blog.

Cabbage said...

Yaakov: "Gee, I hate it when people call it like it is. Grr, it makes me so mad! Bar Kochba, censor it immediately!"
Bar Kochba: "Listen, you lefty hippies, Israel is a democratic state and if you disagree we'll drop a democratic bomb on your house and kill all the children inside too. They deserve it, they would just grow up to be suicide bombers like the rest of the Arabs in the world."
Yaakov: "Look at these islamofascist enablers! They're enabling islamofascism! Right there, they're doing it! Someone stop them! Bar Kochba, censor them now! They're supporting the 'nasty muslims' and calling us racists! We can't be racists, Hashem stands behind us!"
Bar Kochba: "It's like manifest destiny, but right there, in torah! Kill the muslims! All of them! Stay away from our god-given homeland!"

Cabbage said...

Oh hey, and diversity doesn't mean shit when you've got a population starving to death for the heinous crime of being born Arab.
Of all the awful, awful states on the planet, Israel is truly the whiniest. "We don't like that you call us racist, so we're gonna boycott the conference on racism!"

yaakov said...

cabbage: the inanity of your statements speak for themselves.

yaakov said...

part of 'never again' means that the heavenly light will shine so bright that your stupidity will evaporate in the glow.

Anonymous said...

Never again must not apply to Arabs.

soos said...

Cabbage

so you are blaiming Israel for Fatah Hamass hizbolah PLo Etc for starving thier Fellow Palestinians to death by using all the $ 3 billion Israel have given them and Gazaa Green houjses to them etc so they can use all thiert resources to kill all Yahud in Palestine?