My father was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp and my mother a living remnant of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Both of them were mostly silent about the horrors they experienced during the Holocaust of European Jewry.
The black crows that circled relentlessly over Majdanek and the trees in the forest of Zbylitowska Gora will forever bear testimony to this nadir of human history.
Growing up, I read books on Holocaust history, survivor testimony and thought. I could never understand how the world remained silent when millions of Jews, only because they were Jewish, were led to the slaughter. I could not understand the callousness, deafness and blindness that overcame countries that preached a minimal ethical and moral code. Countries with enlightened constitutions that proclaimed human dignity, humans created in God's image, equality and liberty. Western democracies that failed to bomb the death camps, barred Jewish refugees from entering their territory and closed the gates of Palestine to desperate rescue attempts. Until the end of time, humanity will pay the price of its silence and obliviousness to the Jewish Holocaust.
Without comparing any event to the Holocaust, in recent months we have witnessed a kind of rerun, less intense but no less horrific. A psychopathic tyrant mercilessly slaughters his people and uses lethal chemical weapons against his own subjects. The entire world sees, hears and knows of the slaughter and is divided into two camps: those countries that are silent and ignore what is happening, and other countries that support and encourage Syria to complete its evil work.
The United States, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, is hesitant. It lost its determination and boldness on the killing fields of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. One can't expect much from England and France, whose social and political existence is based on chronic hypocrisy. Over the last two days there has been a certain awakening. Still, I doubt if there will be any significant intervention that would clarify to the tyrants and their allies in Russia and China that using unrestrained brute force will be met with an appropriate response.
As free Jews in the State of Israel, we must once again internalize the fact that we have no one to rely on but ourselves, with the help of God, of course. Israel must not give up a grain of land, a smidgen of weapons or a drop of determination. Only the strength of Israeli society and the courage of its soldiers can ensure the existence of our national home. We must not for a moment think that we can rest on our laurels and that the battle for our freedom has ended. The sowers of the illusion of peace on the one hand and the reapers of despair on the other are leading us astray and endangering the future of the country.
Our national leadership must speak in a loud and clear voice about our right to exist in security and peace within our historical borders. The citizens of Israel must understand that we must tighten our belts in order to be strong as iron, "strong as iron -- for iron breaks and smashes everything -- and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others" (Daniel 2:40). And we must also learn to laugh out loud with optimism, hope and Jewish belief. Sovereignty, iron and laughter will ensure the State of Israel's endurance forever.