CHOICES

OPINION GUEST COLUMN

by ELIEZER WALDMAN

Israel has two alternatives:
Complete independence or another holocaust.

Today is Holocaust Day in Israel. It is but the beginning of a period of time which is saturated with feelings of pain and sorrow. We must always remember how one of the most civilised nations of the world was capable of the most ghastly efforts in human history to physically annihilate the Jewish people . . . just because they were Jews.

This fact should enable us to realise why we can never place our trust in others, certainly not to the mercy of enemies. We cannot even depend upon our elite and cultured "friends", and those who are driven by religious "scruples". The lessons of the holocaust teach us we must never rely on others to defend Jewish lives and Jewish rights.

These days of reflection upon Jewish tragedy, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers, are followed by Yom Hatzma'ut (Independence Day). It is a time of jubilation and thanksgiving to God that we have our own independent homeland, defended by a Jewish army. The juxtaposition of these two extremes, tragedy and joy, teach us an important lesson. Freedom and independence come at a high price.

It is our responsibility to face the reality that our independence already cost us a very painful price. We cannot afford to jeopardise that which was paid for with so much Jewish blood in a vain effort to please the nations of the world. We have only two alternatives: complete independence or the danger of another holocaust.

Before we had a Jewish state, when we were dispersed among the nations, we assumed that Jew hatred was a result of our not having a country of our own. Because we maintained our unique and different customs in our host countries, people related to us as aliens. It mattered not that we learned the language and contributed to the development of all the lands of our exile. We were always outsiders.

There were some Zionist leaders who thought that this hatred could be removed with the re-establishment of an independent Jewish state. We would then become like all the other nations and no longer appear as aliens who needed to depend upon others. This line of thought has been proven untrue, because now all that hatred which was directed at the Wandering Jew, who lived without a country and benefited from others, is now directed against the Jewish independent state.

We have been hated and looked down upon as "sub humans" for so long that the nations of the world refuse to accept the phenomenon of a Jewish independent nation in their homeland. They feel a need to impose limits to our independence. They will determine for us how and when to defend ourselves. They will tell us where our capital should be located. They will decide where a Jew can or cannot live in his homeland.

Should we decide to defend ourselves against our enemies we are condemned for fighting as aggressors and terrorists. And should we decide to build homes in our capital city we are condemned for initiating a war.

History should have taught us that it is better to be hated and respected by the nations, than to be loved and memorialised by them. But it seems that we are poor students of Jewish history. After almost 50 years of Jewish independence the leftist leaders of "post zionism" are leading us back to a galut [diaspora] mentality of the exiled Jew, basing our security upon the goodwill of other nations.

Rather than defend ourselves against Arab terrorists who come to murder us and take our country from us, we are reduced to the absurdity of begging the terrorist leaders to help us stop terror. Those who serve as sponsors and havens for terrorist murderers are being asked to help us and be our partners. Thus we have voluntarily surrendered our independence and turned our backs upon Zionism. We have brought the exile home to Israel and created the greatest threat both to Zionism and our independence.

Two girls were brutally murdered recently [on April 25] while hiking not more than a mile from their home near Kfar Adumim. The mighty Jewish army responded by calling upon the PLO to find the murderers. Who would have imagined that the clever Jewish nation would think to place the wolf in charge of the sheep? As long as Jewish youth cannot hike in the hills and valleys of our own country and rely upon Jewish security forces to protect them then we are not an independent people.

What is independence? When we did not have a country we had no choice but to submit to the mercy of strangers. Now, when at long last we do have our own country, we have an obligation to take full responsibility for all of our needs. The only One upon whom we must depend is the God of Israel who brought us home in fulfilment of His promise to our father, Abraham.

The entire miraculous phenomenon of the ingathering of the exiles and re-establishment of Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael is a Divine Process whose goal is to reveal the morals and sanctity of Jewish traditional life to all the nations of the world.

We are an island of truth and morality in a sea of hatred and terror. Only when we recognise this Divine Process will we have the faith and strength to stand up to the challenges and obligations which confront us.

Attaining spiritual independence will safeguard our physical independence and guarantee that never again will there be another holocaust.

(Rabbi Eliezer Waldman is head of the Kiryat Arba yeshiva in Hebron.)


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