• Thu, Jul 17, 2014
The unity of our people, in support of the current struggle for Israel, is challenging for a new generation of Jews. Previous generations, in some way, directly experienced or survived the Holocaust. Some are the children and grandchildren of survivors. World War II veterans, both Jews and Christians, witnessed the results of Nazi terror as they liberated one death camp after another. Of note is the 103rd Infantry Division of Texas (Cactus Division), which liberated Dachau (and Elie Wiesel) and other death camps.
Once the liberators returned home, they dedicated themselves to the difficult task of publishing a report that was circulated to members of the U.S. Congress and the media entitled, “Unquestionable Confirmation the Holocaust did in fact occur in Nazi Germany.” I was given a document, filled with photos and reports of what they witnessed. It is not pleasant reading, but its impact played an important role in understanding that there were more non-Jews than we might have imagined, who despite the dangers and the military ground rules, helped in the survival of many of our people and the telling of the true story of the Holocaust. Several of these guys, years later, volunteered and served in the Haganah and played a crucial role in the establishment
of the Jewish state.
Our current Jewish population, worldwide and in Israel, no longer is passive in their resistance. They may not know it, but they have bought into an observation made in May 1981 by former prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin on the lessons of the Holocaust:
“The world may not necessarily like the fighting Jew, but the world will have to take account of him.
“A Jew must learn to defend himself.
“Only when the enemy succeeds in turning the spirit of the Jew into dust and ashes in life, can he turn the Jew into dust and ashes in death. During the Holocaust, it was after the enemy had humiliated the Jews, trampled them underfoot, divided them, deceived them, afflicted them, drove brother against brother, only then could he lead them, almost without resistance, to the gates of Auschwitz.
“At all times and whatever the cost, safeguard the dignity and honor of the Jewish people.”
Finally, Israel was never a war-making nation nor one to look for a fight with neighbors. However, from the day that the United Nations recognized the State of Israel, many of the Arab nations pledged that they would drive the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea, leaving the new country no option but creating the Israel Defense Forces. Note: “Defense.” As hostility toward and denouncements against the Jewish state never ceased, military service was made mandatory for all citizens: Israel had learned that “friends” coming to their aid was not a reliable expectation.
Hence, what we see now is solidarity among our people to keep private whatever doubts and question we might have about the wisdom of the elected government of Israel and give our full support public for all to hear and see.
David Gottlieb, Ph.D., joined the Haganah in 1946, at age 16, to serve on the Josiah Wedgewood, as part of the Aliyah Bet, a clandestine operation bringing Holocaust survivors from Italy to Palestine. He lives in The Woodlands, Texas, and is author of “Almost a Mensch” and “Almost a Mensch: Part II.”
published in the Jewish Herald Voice