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Would the Holocaust Have Occurred If Israel Were Around?

by Rabbi Dov Greenberg

  

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Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Weisel was once asked whether the world had learned anything from the Holocaust. Wiesel responded, "Yes - that you can get away with it." If Wiesel is right ­ and the international fury against the collective Jewish existence in Israel in recent years seems to confirm his words ­ then for Jews, the lesson must be the exact opposite: never again will we allow a Holocaust to happen. That means first and foremost that Israel must be strong, spiritually, morally and militarily.

A Home and a Power

Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazi regime, with help from millions of other Europeans, murdered almost every Jew on that continent. Had there been an Israel in the 1930s, an untold number of Jews could have been saved. Here's why. At first, Hitler wanted merely to expel the Jews; only later did he decide to slaughter them. When the nations of the world gathered in Evian, France in 1938, fully aware of the danger facing European Jewry, one country after another declared: We have no room for the Jews.

From the beginning of World War II, the world was divided into two types of countries: those that expelled or murdered Jews, and those that rejected the Jews who had been expelled or who had fled from elsewhere. Had there been an Israel, there would have been a country willing to take in the Jewish refugees when America, Britain and the other nations refused.

Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Weisel was once asked whether the world had learned anything from the Holocaust. Wiesel responded, "Yes - that you can get away with it."
A second reason the magnitude of the Holocaust would have been diminished is that, unlike the Allies, who could not find it in their power to spare a few airplanes to bomb the tracks to Auschwitz and other death camps, Israel would have.

In his book A Durable Peace, Benjamin Netanyahu put it simply: "Until I stood there at Birkenau, I never realized how tiny and mundane the whole thing was. The factory of death could have been put out of operation by one pass of a bomber. Indeed the Allies had been bombing strategic targets a few miles away. Had the order been given, it would have taken but a slight shift of the bomber pilot's stick to interdict the slaughter. Yet the order was never given."

The Lesson from Entebbe

On July 4, 1946, forty-two Jewish Holocaust survivors who had returned to their home village of Kielce, Poland were murdered in a brutal pogrom by their Polish Christian neighbors.

Thirty years later to the day, on July 4, 1976, more than 100 Jews who were about to be murdered in Entebbe, Uganda were saved by the Israeli army in one of the most daring rescue missions in history. More than anything else, Entebbe demonstrated the importance of a competent Israeli Defense Force. When Jews had no military of their own, they were killed with impunity. With armed forces, for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews standing at the threshold of death did not need to rely on the goodwill of others.

When Pope Paul VI criticized Israel's "fierceness" during a private audience with Golda Meir, she replied: "Do you know what my earliest memory is? A pogrom in Kiev. When we were merciful and when we had no homeland and when we were weak, we were led to the gas chambers."1

Footnotes

  • 1. Golda Meir's biography, My Life (GP Putnam NY 1975)

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Israel » Arab Conflict
Philosophy » Pain and Suffering » Holocaust
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