Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lau & Lessons of the Holocaust!!

 Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi of Israel who is also a Holocaust survivor, author of a book about his Holocaust experiences, and the chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial project in an interview on Yom Ha'shoah praised the awareness of the Holocaust among today's youth, but warned,  “Neither the youth nor the adults, neither the Jewish people nor the peoples of the earth have learned the lessons of the Holocaust.”

One example, he said, is the fact that “the Exile is as strong as ever. We still have not had the wisdom to unite in a national homeland.”   This is totally in line with Torah teaching which commands living in Eretz Yisrael .....  
And Ha'Shem said to Avram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you."   ~ Bereshit 12.1 ~  &  "And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein;   for unto you have I given the land to possess it' ~ Bambidar 33.53~  .....  Living outside of Israel is viewed as an unnatural state for a Jew. The world outside of Israel is often referred to as "galut," which is usually translated as "diaspora" (dispersion), but a more literal translation would be "exile" or "captivity." When we live outside of Israel, we are living in exile from our land, this incurs a "curse" not a "bracha" during times when it is actually possible to make Aliyah.  It was NOT possible during the Holocaust!  

Another lesson that has not been learned is the fact that genocide remains a threat, he said  “The phrase, 'It can't happen to me' was made bankrupt by the Holocaust.  All the strong political organizations of German Jewry, all the Rothschilds and Einsteins, all could collapse together in the gas chambers. This lesson, that it can happen at any time, anywhere, we have not yet learned.”.

“We have not learned that we are one,”
he continued. “The polarization among us grows sharper, we see what divides, what separates us, instead of what bridges the gaps. We have not learned. Nazism could have taught us this lesson: for them, all of us ~ religious and not religious, chassidim and litvish, Sephardim and Ashkenazim ~ we are all Jews.”

Finally, he said, “Another lesson that has not been learned is the one question that is not asked. There are those who ask where G-d was during the Holocaust, but in place of that question, we must ask where man was during the Holocaust. How was it that cultured men, who loved philosophy and music, could tear a child to pieces and come home at night to kiss their children and water the flowers?  That is a question that we have not asked enough.”

On the Fogel Family Massacre: ..... "It seemed 66 years ago that the circle of enmity and pain had closed, but now, the river of blood flows onward. I do not compare anything to Nazism, and I do not compare anything to the Holocaust. It would be doing wrong to the Holocaust and to historic memory to compare anything to it.

I see the qualities of Amalek continuing from generation to generation. Hatred for hatred's sake, illogical anti-Semitism, that is Amalek. We did not attack Amalek or seek to rob, we did nothing to provoke them... This is the phenomenon. Anti-Semitism is a historic, international mental illness, one that is sometimes contagious.  When we were in Poland and we lived by the traditions of our ancestors, there were those who said that they hated us because we were different. We dressed differently, spoke differently, all those made us hated. And here, a short distance away, in Germany, there we were dressed like them, we spoke their language ~ sometimes better than they did ~ we had no beards or sidelocks, and did they love us there?

Another example .... in all the subway stations in Europe there is graffiti, 'Jews, go to Palestine,' 'Jews get out,' things like that. They said the Holocaust happened because we were homeless in their land, and here we came home to the land of Israel with United Nations recognition. Do they love us? Now they persecute us because we have a home. They pursue us for no reason. That is what I meant when I said that the chain of blood is a river that continues to flow.”

 In Europe, they argue that it is not anti-Semitism, but opposition to Israeli policy.  That is an empty excuse!   Because of this policy or that one, they spray swastikas on tombstones? They uproot graves and smash synagogues?  What does that have to do with Israeli policy?  There is no explanation.

 Holocaust Denial is on the Rise & the world is impatient with us.   Why do you Jews dwell on the Holocaust?  Why not forget it and go forward?  The very same mindset that was not disturbed while six million were butchered now resents our remembering those same six million. Forget about it, they say, and move on. What good does it do to keep remembering it?  One rule of thumb by which to measure the significance of the Holocaust is that it clearly matters to the enemies of the Jewish people ~ so much so that many would like to blot out its memory entirely. 

The first lesson is the importance of  Zachor,  of the duty of remembrance itself.  For as we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah ~ defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide ~ we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of non-Jews is not a matter of abstract statistics.  For unto each person there is a name,  unto each person, there is an identity. Each person is a universe.  As Talmud tells us: “whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.” 

By appeasing Nazi Germany in the 1930's, by turning a blind eye toward its policies of discrimination, hatred, and ultimately the wholesale murder of Jews, the so-called free world encouraged the Nazis to continue their evil ways, with the result that not only were six million Jews brutally killed, but countless others destroyed, and untold human suffering engendered. We made the mistake of not believing what they were saying. Early on, they stated precisely what their plans were. The world should not have been surprised.   One should never doubt the evil intentions of tyrants. Today, when we hear talk about destroying Israel and driving her people into the sea, it would be folly to discount it.  Today Israel faces the threat of  'The Third Intifada' in its own land .... with the threat of a new Holocaust continuing where Hitler's Holocaust left off!!

After 63 years as a state, Israel is facing the threat of extinction at the hands of 300 million Arabs and Muslims who surround it, from the 'palestinian's on its borders to the Iranians thousands of miles away. The Arabs remain unwilling to let Israelis live in peace.  Going back to 1947 and earlier, the Arabs used the term "palestinian" to gain additional land from the Jewish people, and succeeded. We cannot let that happen again, wherever we live, Israel or any land.  The withdrawal from Gush Katif created a strongly militant terrorist state in Gaza that refuses ever to recognize Israel, and in fact calls for its destruction. Retreating from southern Lebanon only set up a new front for anti-Israel terrorists And let's not forget earlier withdrawals from the entirety of the Sinai and parts of the Golan that Israel made in the name of peace. Israel has given back more territory than the size of its entire country today for the possibility of peace.

The State of Israel today is on the historic land of the Jewish people dating back to Moshe and before. That land included Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem and Gaza, and in fact, a significant part of Lebanon and Syria. Through wars and extermination, the land of the Jewish people was reduced in size by foreign occupiers, until it was re-established and recognized again by the world community in 1948.  Multiple wars later, the Jewish people continue to fight for their right to have a homeland. The Arabs refuse to recognize this reality, and continue to use force, diplomacy, world opinion and terrorism to destroy Israel. Those are the facts on the ground. The Arab world's attempts to thwart peace, with the mission of ridding the Middle East of a Jewish civilization, must be seen for what it is, and brought to an end.

First, Israel should never again retreat from land it possesses. How outrageous to think that a peace agreement is being proposed and discussed based on the idea of all-Arab territory, where Jews would not be able to live, whether it be Gaza or Judea and Samaria, or even, as it was with Yamit, in the Sinai.  I hope that we have actually learned never again to accept the word Judenrein.  Secondly,  Israel cannot turn its enemies into friends through retreat, but only through strength!  This should be self evident.   Thirdly,  We must be proud of our Jewish heritage and our return to Israel.  We must remember certain facts. With the great wealth of the Arabs, and their vast resources of land, the "palestinian" people could be guaranteed by their brethren Arabs an incredible future on their land if they so choose. Jordan was to be the palestinian state, and that kingdom threw many of their "palestinian people" out of the country.  Maintaining the United Nations refugee camps has only continued the hardships of many of the "palestinian people".   Palestine is nothing more than a propoganda prop!!!

As esteemed author  ~ (& Holocaust Survivor) ~  Ellie Wiesel puts it ....  “Cold-blooded murder and culture did not exclude each other. If the Holocaust proved anything, it is that a person can both love poems and kill children”.   We have a responsibility to educate them .... but that is the basis of a new blog!!

 For the dead and the living we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories. 
~ Elie Wiesel ~

1 comment:

  1. Lau warns: “Neither the youth nor the adults, neither the Jewish people nor the peoples of the earth have learned the lessons of the Holocaust.” And he is mostly CORRECT. Not many people contemplate a clear potential danger because it doesn't feel very nice. But if Lau's thesis were in fact WRONG, then the genocides in Rwanda, the Sudan, and Cambodia could not have taken place. There exists a kind of fairy tale, magical thinking wherein well-off westerners (you and me) fantasize that the established governments will ride in on White Horses and stop the Evil doers. Nothing could be further from the truth. DESPITE all the rhetoric about "Never Again!" what *really* happens in government is Management by Committee and a genocide response is almost always miscarried. I am sure that everyone realizes by now that the UN is flatly incapable of anything more than running the international postal service, setting conventions on air traffic control standards (mostly imposing United States protocols on the world), and being a mouthpiece for Western governments who wish the appearance of being enlightened and all inclusive.

    Lau is correct. We have NOT learned the lessons and I believe that we are IMMUNE from edification in this respect.

    But what you CAN do, what any nation which wishes to survive MUST do is the following: Build up your defenses so that would-be attackers will never be willing to pay the price for an attack. This much is POSSIBLE. Educating the public and convincing them to voluntarily embrace this idea? Not so much.

    Further, we MUST, to the extent possible, REMEMBER and continue to tell the story of genocide despite its seeming futility. In the instant case of Holocaust Remembrance, you must continue to tell the truth. The world doesn't WANT to remember because confronting Evil turns the stomach and creates moral obligations that otherwise moral people would not willingly embrace. If you FAIL to REMEMBER, you FAIL to prevent a repetition. The West was struggling to forget the Armenian/Greek/Assyrian Genocide of 1915 even before it had even concluded. Everyone KNEW it had happened, but PRETENDED that it had not. When the world sticks its head in the sand like this, Nuremberg Laws become possible....

    And now, I would like to present a quote from philosopher George Santayana. It is a threadbare, overused, tired old cliche, but I would like to use it once more time because it is apropos:

    "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual- THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT."