I am very ashamed of the Holocaust. How my people were taken, stripped, humiliated, tortured and led to their deaths – before the eyes of the joyous Poles, Ukrainians, French and other offspring of Christian enlightenment; how newborn babies were impaled on pitchforks on the way to the death pits; how millions were led to the factories of death, and suffocated and burned, fertilizing the fields of Poland and Europe with our people’s ashes – and all with almost no resistance.
I am very proud of the Holocaust. If the German Asmodeus – the most explicit essence of absolute evil ever revealed in history – sees me, the Jew, as its ultimate enemy, then that means that I am on the other end of the scale. In other words, there is something very good about my people. If the German Asmodeus represents absolute evil, then it is very afraid of the absolute good – G-d – which I represent.
There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there – and I have neither the ability nor the desire to do so. But irrespective of the theological questions surrounding the Holocaust, one thing clearly occurred in its wake: Jewish history stopped being written in exile and started to be written in the Land of Israel.
Now, for the first time since the First Temple period (!), the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Holy Land. This fact constitutes a spiritual critical mass. Jewish law changes in several realms by virtue of the demographic fact that “most of its sons are on [the land].” The absolute number that we are approaching in the Land of Israel is chilling. Six million.
G-d, Who chose us to be His eternal people and to attest to His existence, has made us a target for extermination by every evil in the world. It is certainly understandable why there are Jews who constantly try to escape this fate. As individuals, this may be possible – an individual may be able to assimilate and rid him/herself of this trouble. But as a people, we cannot escape our destiny. We cannot exist without it.
When the time of national awakening comes, when the gates of the Land open before us but we insist on remaining merely the bearers of religion in exile – the ground burns under our feet. And when we flee to the other extreme, create an alternative Israeli nationalism and shun Judaism and the Torah, then even if we have decided that we are no longer Jews, but only normal Israelis, even if we have established a modern state and hold 200 atom bombs in our nuclear arsenal – we are still six million Jews under the mounting danger of annihilation.
Our obsessive need to maintain international recognition of our normalcy forces us to pay in the hard currency of homeland and security in exchange for the peace process – or in other words, the process of our “acceptance” as a normal people among the nations.
There are two historical lessons that we should remember well from the Holocaust:
One is that the armies of Czechoslovakia and France – both much stronger before the war than the German army – went down like dominoes, because their leaderships failed to understand the nature of the conflict and based their policies on peace processes.
The second lesson, which pertains directly to us as Jews, is that before physical destruction there is spiritual destruction. Before we are murdered, our dignity is murdered, and we are rendered illegitimate. Der Stuermer always precedes Auschwitz. When you agree to be humiliated, you have not forestalled your end; you have brought it closer. Jewish history is being written today in the State of Israel. The desire to destroy the state is the same desire to destroy the Jews – to fight against good.
When the state’s leadership lets Biden or Erdogan humiliate us, it sows hope and uncontrollable desire to destroy us. When Ahmadinejad started to talk about Israel’s destruction – it should have been clear that from Israel’s standpoint, he had lost his right to breathe in this world. Since we did not eliminate him, he has been gaining strength. He and his ministers roam freely around the world, while Israel has become a pirate ship that has lost the legitimacy for its existence, its ministers fugitives in European capitals. We have returned to the days of the “Jewish Question.” We are no longer in 2010. It is now nineteen thirty-something.
Whoever warns against a preemptive strike in Iran and prefers to let the world do its work, is behaving just like the Jewish community leaders who denounced anyone who tried to resist the German annihilation machine. It is clear that resistance had a terrible price. But the price of appeasement and cooperation was a thousand times more horrific.