Wednesday, February 02, 2005


By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

The Holocaust. The word itself has the power to conjure up a sense of horror and unspeakable pain. Has anything more horrendous than the evil Nazi reign confronted us and the entire world in the past century?

As the years pass, it becomes easier for some to break their silence about a tragedy that no words in any language can adequately describe. World leaders feel a need to talk about it, too, perhaps to ease feelings of guilt.

Last week, an impressive array of world leaders gathered to solemnly commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz. A world which turned its back on the victims in their hour of desperation seeks to reverse that record of inhumanity today with eloquent words of compassion.

Even the United Nations, not exactly regarded as a friend of our people, held a special session last week in honor of this event. Over 40 politicians traveled to the desolate Polish town, trailed by photographers who recorded every step.

The well-written speeches of world leaders are meant to offer solace and encouragement to Holocaust survivors and victims. But do they? Does hearing platitudes from Kofi Annan—mired in all sorts of corruption scandals, with his less-than-honorable record on Israel— touch our hearts?

Where were the world leaders 61 years ago? Where were the photographers? Where were the speechwriters? Where were the media reporters?

We all know the answer. They closed their eyes, ears and mouths. They couldn’t be bothered. We look at the pictures of the dignitaries marching about Auschwitz wearing pained expressions with heads bowed, and we wonder: are they honoring the memory of the dead or are they trampling on it?

Shouldn’t standing at the spot where over one million people were gassed and cremated rob one of words? Send a shiver down the spine of even the most spineless? In the shadow of the greatest human slaughter the world has ever seen, how is it possible to pontificate? Is life to be reduced to a game of posing and positioning and photo-ops?

Where is the humility one would expect in the face of the realization that “Afar Atah V’el Afar Toshuv?”

The posing and posturing of esteemed world leaders appears so cynical against the backdrop of the U.N.’s demonizing campaign against Israel. A majority of the UN’s members have accepted the big lie, and equate Israel with the Nazis who perpetrated the atrocities at Auschwitz in an attempt to wipe out the Jewish people.

Is the world about to accord Israel the same treatment accorded other states, or will the hypocritical double-standard still remain standard operating procedure?

Along with the world’s pious pledges to guard against another Holocaust, Israel’s own leaders are busy propagating an equally hollow claim: a Holocaust will never again be possible, they say, because now “we have our own state.”

If in today’s enlightened times, Israel’s position is as endangered as a lone sheep among seventy wolves all seeking to devour it, why should anyone assume that a state of Israel fifty-five years ago could have thwarted the Nazis juggernaut?

Far be it from us to attempt to comprehend the Divine decree behind the Holocaust. But it should be self-evident that the state of Israel, unable to protect its own citizens adequately, could never save world Jewry in the event of another holocaust, chas v’sholom.

Anti-Semitism has only increased since the founding of the state, the Am Kechol HaAmim theory has not panned out. European sympathy for the Palestinians runs high, while hostility toward Israel is intensifying across the globe.

Delusions Of Grandeur

Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon and his vaunted army cannot even protect the citizens of S’derot from primitive Kasam rockets fired in from Gaza. Gaza is a mess which Israel has chosen to abandon. World opinion is forcing Israel to recognize the rights of the fictitious Palestinian people to a homeland on its border. The world is deaf to Israel’s concerns and the small country so dependent on U.S. aid cannot afford to thumb its nose at England’s Blair and France’s Chirac.

Isn’t it rather incongruous for the prime minister to guarantee the safety of Jews worldwide as he turns over more and more towns to Abbas’s terrorists-cum-security forces? Sharon speaks of a historical turning point right around the corner, but who with any knowledge of contemporary Middle East history and of Sharon’s about-face on his core principles can put stock in his grandiose predictions?

The leaders who deliver speeches every Yom Hashoa and Yom Ha’atzmaut promising “Never Again,” are implementing high-risk policies with little regard to the far-reaching consequences. Every Israeli prime minister has fought his way to office by campaigning on a platform that pledges not to surrender to terrorists or compromise on the State’s security. As soon as he is in office, however, the politician’s s campaign promises are forgotten and a new plan of capitulation to the Arabs is devised.

For decades it was sacrilegious to suggest that settlements would have to be sacrificed to achieve a lasting peace. Today, people who don’t agree that settlements must be evacuated are viewed as jeopardizing the nation’s security.

Meanwhile, Palestinian elections earlier this month, putting Mahmoud Abbbas, Yaser Arafat’s deputy for 30 years, in office, have not changed the equation. Abbas wears a suit instead of army fatigues and he photographs better then his old boss, but he has refused to take action against Palestinian terrorists and in fact, has pledged to continue Arafat’s policies.

Abbas called for a cease fire of Arab attacks on Israel, and since it has been largely upheld for all of two weeks, Ariel Sharon seized the opportunity to proclaim a major historical “breakthrough.”

A phone survey published in Jerusalem Post showed that fully 70% of Israelis believed that the Palestinians intend to use the cease fire to organize and arm themselves against Israel. But ignoring what is obvious to the rest of the world, Sharon is not to be deterred.


He has allowed Abbas’s men to be placed in charge of security in Gaza and is about to empower them to take charge of the same in seven West Bank cities. Sharon is pressing ahead with his unilateral plan to expel all Jews from the Gaza strip and transfer the territory to Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

Sharon’s betrayal of his most cherished principles is as unfathomable as it is shameful. Here is a man who made a career out of fighting terror; the man who spent his professional life beating back Arab attacks on Israel. This self-described father of the settlements is engaged in a desperate battle to demonize those very people who gave him his rise to power.

Following his lead and trusting his word, thousands of settlers moved with their families to the outposts of civilization, building up the land that they vowed would never again be controlled by non-Jews. The thousands of families who attached messianic significance and fervor to living in trailers in areas surrounded on all sides by Arabs bent on their destruction, are now the bitter adversaries of Ariel Sharon, the man they had looked up to as their savior.

Many of the trailer parks grew into genuine cities bursting with men, women and children who had built local infrastructures of schools, businesses, yeshivos and shuls. With promises of governmental support, they were made to feel as if they were a crucial bulwark protecting Israel from enemies looking for any opportunity to overrun it.

Now they are painted as violence-prone fanatics obstructing peace.

Does Sharon’s plan hold the keys to peace or will it reward Hamas for their ongoing terror war of attrition? Will the Arabs perceive the unilateral withdrawal as a victory as they did when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon? Is this plan safer than the foolish and destructive ideas concocted in Oslo, which a decade ago brought Arafat back to the region and handed him the gift of the Palestinian Authority?

Nobody knows. All one can do is speculate, and try to connect the dots.

The country founded with so much hope is filled with thousands of worried citizens, fearful and pessimistic about the future. Apprehensive they should well be. The leaders they invested with the power to protect them from their enemies and to guide the country through dangerous waters appear unable to put the national security ahead of personal ambition.

In His Own Words

Ariel Sharon wrote in his autobiography “Warrior,” “Withdrawal from the territories is, unfortunately, an easy answer that may satisfy a certain number of people initially but which will inevitably create more violence and a greater threat to our survival than we have faced since the first part of the War of Independence.

”Gaza at this point is our southern security belt. What will we do once we withdraw from Gaza and find that squads of terrorists are again operating from there into Israel, murdering and destroying?

“What will we do when the Katyusha fire starts hitting Sderot, four miles from the Gaza district, and then Ashkelon, nine miles from Gaza, and Kiryat Gat, fourteen miles from Gaza.

“A Katyusha is nothing more than a metal tube seven feet long, easily transportable, virtually undetectable. The simplest of them has a fifteen-mile range; the more sophisticated can reach twenty-five miles.

“What shall we do if U.N. or multinational forces are positioned around Gaza and there is still terrorism? Shall we hit the Italians, or the British, or the Americans? What will we do when there are raids from Samaria and Judea into Kfar Saba and Petach Tikva and the suburbs of Tel Aviv?”

The same person, whose autobiography is replete with tales of how he himself built up the settlements and the cogent arguments justifying them, is today dismantling them one at a time as he negotiates with the enemy.

With the same fervor and stubborn determination he used to build and maintain the settlements, Sharon is now ready to demolish anyone who stands in the way of his attempt to uproot them.

Those who envisioned an Israel that would never bow to world threats or retreat in the face of terror should by now grasp the foolishness of depending on any politician to guarantee their safety. By this time it ought to be obvious that there is no one leader, from the Left or the Right, and no government that can stop the Hand that controls our destiny in the Diaspora.

Let us pray that the eternal Shomer Yisroel deliver us from the evil designs of all our enemies and bring a lasting peace to the land of Israel and to all of humanity, Bimheira Byomeinu.

An Everlasting Hate

Chazal Teach “Lomoh Nikra Sh’mah Sinai…” why is the mountain upon which the Torah was given called Sinai? Because from there ‘Sinah’ came down to the world.” When the Jews received the Torah and became the Chosen People, a virulent, relentless hatred for the Jewish people spread around the world that will persist until Moshiach redeems us.

Anti-Semitism will not bury its ugly head no matter how many Auschwitz commemorations are held, no matter how many settlements are built or destroyed. The existence of a vibrant and healthy Jewish state also will not rid us of that scourge.

It is only though our actions and deeds in following the Torah and its commandments that we will be a light unto the nations, “Ki Hi Chochmaschem U’Binaschem L’einey Ho’amim….”

It does offer up a measure of comfort when men of good will gather and express their determination never to allow another Holocaust but such acts should not lull us into thinking that genocide against our people can never happen again. Our fate as a people is bound up in the way we conduct our lives; our safety and security is tied to our devotion to observing Torah and Mitzvos in whatever circumstances and whatever region of the world we find ourselves.

Human Beings, Not Statistics

People can gather and speak at Auschwitz because they don’t look beyond the ceremonial fanfare. They think in terms of numbers and statistics. They don’t visualize individuals. One person and another person and another and another.

(That same tendency to depersonalize the victims explains why it is so easy for people to talk about uprooting thousands of people from their homes in Gaza. For them, Gaza is nothing more than a tiny piece of geography on the map. It matters not that its Jewish residents are families with parents and children. To the world, they are mere numbers and dry statistics.)

Think about all the people affected by the tragic and untimely death of just one person. Think about the parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins of that person and the pain they feel. Think about that person’s loved ones and close friends. Think about the neighbors, the workmates, the people that person came in contact with and touched in a myriad of ways during that person’s sojourn on this earth. Think about how they are affected for the rest of their lives. And then think of Auschwitz.

Multiply the tragedy of one death by two, by three, by a hundred, by a thousand, tens of thousands, a million. Multiply the cruelty, the brutality, the sadism. Multiply the suffering and anguish. And then think of Auschwitz.

Think about the tsunami that killed upwards of 250,000 people and how the world shook in horror, and then think of Auschwitz.

Think of a thousand years of history wiped out. Think of generations of Jews slaughtered. Think of a golden chain of generations interrupted. Think of all the Torah knowledge deleted from this world. Think of town after town emptied of its Jewish population. Think of one Jew and another and another and another. And then think of Auschwitz.

If we truly want to commemorate Auschwitz and strengthen Israel we should be nice to one Jew. And then to another. And then to another.

If we truly want to commemorate Auschwitz and strengthen Israel we should give one dollar to support Torah. And then another. And then another.

If we truly want to commemorate Auschwitz and strengthen Israel we should give one dollar to support poor people. And then another. And then another.

If we truly want to commemorate Auschwitz and strengthen Israel we should learn one daf of Gemorah. And then another. And then another.

If we truly want to honor the kedoshim massacred Auschwitz and strengthen Israel we would pay no attention to what Kofi Anan said or what Vladimir Putin said or didn’t say. We would study the words of G-d and revel in the words of the Chumash and Tanach. We would study and be touched by the immortal words of the prophets Yeshayahu and Yirmiyohu.

We would improve ourselves daily as we await the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Ve’alu Moshi’m Behar Tziyon Lishpot Es Har Eisav.”


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